Update September 2015

Man, it's been awhile huh?  One of those things, you keep meaning to update but never do.  Lots of fun stuff to announce:

  • The engine since announcing in July that it was converted to C#, is coming along nicely.  Height support and general combat is in.  Because I'm using a new pathfinding system, and im trying to make things more elegeant, new problems need to be solved.  For example, sometimes an archer's path can be blocked (Say he has height advantage on top of a platform, but cant reach an enemy) but is still in range for a shot.  Things like this.  That's actually a trivial example as i think about it but you get the drift
  • Dungeon Crawlers HD now supports Linux! Get it on Steam
  • The original DC Engine will be made available on the Unity Asset Store soon.  I keep running into some bugs though.

Conversion continues!

Just a smallish update.  The good news is the game is fully converted to C# now (save a few editor scripts that i'll fix later).  The bad news is trying to upgrade the Pathfinding system from Ver 2.9 to 3.6 has turned out to be really complicated.  But the good news is the new pathfinding systems is more robust, faster, and powerful.  The bad news is the pathfinding system is also cursed.

Converting the engine to C#...

I've been nerding out the last couple days, and using a Unity plugin called "CSharpatron" to convert the entire code base to C#.  This has several advantages.  First off, everything compiles exponentially faster.  Because JS is last in the compile chain, it always has to recompile the CS files first before it can compile the JS.  Each change took 15-45 seconds to complete compiling.  Now it's more like 1-5.  Second, this makes it much much easier for me to communicate between scripts.  The code isn't perfect yet, as there are some interesting builtin List<T> bugs, but it's getting there.

Underwhelming launch, but that's ok

As I march closer to the day, and it is coming soon, when i finally say goodbye to this game, I realize I made a lot of mistakes, and that means the future is bright, because I'm really excited about fixing those mistakes, and working on the next thing.

The facts are, I made this game to be tactics lite, and that was the biggest mistake of all.  Really there is no market for a title like this.  I think a lot of the core elements are there, and with some work, will be really pronounced.  For example I can lay traps in the level creator, but characters cannot lay traps.  etc etc etc, there's a million tiny things i'm going to add and fix.

But hey, it's also not over for this title.  Gonna keep making fixes, launch on some more platforms, then one day you'll see a post on this page that's titled: "Sayonara, Dungeon Crawlers."

Dungeon Crawlers HD has gone gold!

Well that's it.  Barring any major bug that needs addressing, the final builds of Dungeon Crawlers HD have gone up on itch, indiegamestand, and Steam.  They will all go live on midnight Monday morning (or Sunday night).  It's possible that because I will be on a plane, I may set the IGS and Itch builds live a couple hours early, but hey, who's watching?

Ok, VR is cool...

Well, I figured it out, and its pretty neat.  Originally, i wrote a overhead text and healthbar manager that adds healthbars and overhead text objects dynamically into the scene and draws them to a screenspace overlay camera.  So, because i already had the manager, i made additional prefabs that were in a world space canvas, and when detecting VR i added those healthbars to the real world.  The result is pretty great.  Honestly, the whole VR thing is really coming together, and i played an entire level the other day and loved the experience.

I love VR. I hate VR.

Man, sometimes things just aren't worth it.

For the most part, the VR transition has been pretty seamless.  I'd like to think the overall experience of Dungeon Crawlers in a VR headset is positive.  My favorite VR experience so far has been "Legend of Dungeon".  But I'm definitely running into problems that I couldn't have anticipated.

The main issue is the UI.  I have a hard time explaining exactly what the problem is, but essentially, the healthbars don't sit in real space.  What I do is grab the location in world coordinates of the objects that need healthbars, then translate their location to screen space based on the main camera.  This calculation takes a massive nosedive when you use VR, because there are 2 cameras in the scene, and because you can't overlay 'screenspace' UI overlays in oculus rift.

Then this gets even weirder - the "screenspace overlay" setting in Unity's 4.6 UI actually DOES work on Oculus, except it's upside down and backwards.  So in some weird way, it's supported, they just need to fix it.  But GOD FORBID that someone on the oculus team actually address my question on the forums....

So, probably, the game will ship with VR support, and no healthbars ;-)

Dungeon Crawlers HD will launch June 1st on more than just Steam

Just a quick blurb as I continue to create game store pages and get ready for June 1st!

I am happy to announce that Dungeon Crawlers HD will launch June 1st on the following portals:

  • Steam
  • Itch.io
  • Indiegamestand
  • Desura
  • FireFlower
  • LATER - Mac App Store

Links will be on the site come June 1st. And as a side note: The Steam version will come with 5 exclusive challenge maps, steam trading cards, profile backgrounds, etc.

The long road to VR

Have a little time to decompress today, as I made some major breakthroughs on the VR front.  Real quick some side-notes:

  • I'll put up some new demos shortly, I've heard that they aren't working for some people
  • we go into early access on May 14th, two weeks before official launch
  • for those of you waiting on some fixes to Dungeon Crawlers SD on iOS, my apologies, our latest submission was rejected, but a new build is on the way.
  • I've finally fixed the last major save bug, having to do with doors not always reacting the right way, so i will have saving for the challenge maps enabled for PC launch

Now, back to VR.

First off, I had my first VR experience (well, technically my first VR experience was in san francisco playing Duke Nukem 3D, but it was a joke compared to what we're talking about now) last September at Unite.  Instead of playing some mind-blowing first person demo, the Oculus folks were showing off what a platformer looked like in VR, and I was mega impressed.  I should mention, for those of you who don't own the Oculus DevKit, that really, we're not talking about anything much different from a 3D TV or a Nintendo 3DS.  Because you put on a giant helmet and can't see anything around you, it is by far the most immersive virtual experience I've ever witnessed, but if you're wondering what Oculus VR looks like, well, it looks like the things i mentioned before.  I believe VR and AR (in particular the HoloLens) are of immense importance as the video game landscape continues to mature and grow.

Today was the first day i could say i have a legit VR demo on my hands.  When you look around the cursor moves with you, you have a full 360 degree view of the playing field, controllable with the controller.  It's the only version of the game that lets you look at the game as if it were a 3rd-person adventure, instead of the board-game style presentation it has now.

But, the Oculus SDK is not without its drawbacks.  First off - it crashes, A LOT.  The builds seem to be stable, but Unity must've crashed on me 50+ times on my way to making that build.  Second - UI in Oculus is giant, nasty, pain in my ball sac.  

There are two main issues with UI's in VR:
1. The documentation is poor, and its very difficult to get a UI up and running.  Basically it relies on 'tricks'.  You render the UI camera to a texture, then draw that texture to a plane, then attach that plane to the VR camera.  It's stupid.  They should add native UI support and thats that. and
2. You have to rethink your UI strategy, because text at the top and bottom of the screen on a monitor doesn't fly in VR.  Think about it - the UI moves where you move, so when you tilt your head down to look at the UI, its still lower than you can visibly read it.  it's very tricky indeed.

but hey, its working, and about 3 days ago i wouldn't have thought i'd get this far this fast.

The trials and tribulations of the App Store

I'm getting hammered on the App Store! YAY!
I've posted about this before... 3 years ago ;-), but here we go again.

There are, to oversimplify it, A LOT of problems with the App Store.  But this is isn't solely on Apple, this problem comes from all sides.  Let's take a look at some of the pitfalls that i currently face.

  1. Older Devices - Apple, which has very few SKU's in comparison to Android, does not allow you to limit the devices an app will run on.  This is a huge problem.  Just yesterday i received a 1-star review from a guy playing on a non-supported device, claiming it ran slow.  Well of course it does.  
    The one way to get around this is to warn people when they launch the product, but it doesn't matter.  Once they make the purchase, the damage is done.  Instead of being mad that it doesn't work, they'll get mad that they wasted the 5$.  Nevermind that they can come back to it when they inevitably upgrade their device, or that its their fault they didn't read the description.  There's nothing else we can do as developers, sadly.
  2. Users judge you with ratings instead of emails - As a developer, i cannot stress enough what a terrible idea this is.  What you are essentially doing as a user is crippling any potential revenue the game might generate, destroying all momentum, because of a bug that WILL get fixed.  By doing this, you make it almost impossible for the developer to even want to fix the bug.  Why fix the bug of a game that isn't generating any revenue? Congrats, user.  The classic "This gets a 1-star till fixed" review is the worst.  I completely understand the desire to tell people: "Hey, this doesn't work".  But in an app-world where you get 1-week to successfully get the product into people's hands before it disappears, all this does is cripple the game instead of help it.  Just send an e-mail!  So far i've gotten 3 1-star reviews that are taking up the app store page, and 0 emails.  Thanks, users.
  3. The inability for a publisher/developer to effectively reach the purchasing audience before and after purchase. I think on this a lot.  NO ONE reads the description, so what do you do? The only thing i can think is that games should come with a latest news dialogue that pops up no matter what.  That way, if there is a bug, users aren't blind-sided by it as they launch for the first time.

Maybe i'll edit this post as i think of more things, but these are just a few of the things i have to deal with.  And its bad for everyone.  Users need to calm down and save their ire, and developers need Apple's help to better communicate with the buying public.

The more you do, the more there is to do...

You know, there are two things I love to do: Make Games, and perform Stand-up Comedy.  I will probably never willingly stop doing either of these things, but as a 1-man studio at the moment, trying to churn out 3 ports, I have to say: Sometimes the mountain seems insurmountable.

Mostly what i'm talking about is the little things.  Example: Ayopa Games distributes my game on mobile, but not in PC Land. So in my main menu, I need to make sure the area where it says "Ayopa Games" changes to "Josh Chudnovsky Presents", and accounts for all platforms.  Now obviously there are tools for this, and i utilize them.  But it's not about one thing, it's about finding 1000 things like this, throughout the course of your day.

To get the game on steam, you have to pass a checklist a mile long, make 100 icons, add achievements, stats, playing cards, etc etc etc.  Also I want to add joystick support.  You have no idea how much of a headache this has been.  Unity's in-house joystick solution for use with their UI is almost non-existent.  The interface is exposed, so you can make it work, but good god.  Every button needs a special script on it to detect if its current and set a cursor, every menu needs a detect script to set the default button.  And don't even get me started on how Google TV (ADT-1) has some kind of weird implementation of their axis, and my joystick always goes backwards no matter what i do.  UGH.

We've Been Greenlit!

Well here it is.  3 years in the making.  Dungeon Crawlers - finally greenlit.  I couldn't be happier to announce this.

I've been spending a lot of time on social media.  Really enjoying it.  Hopefully it doesn't become a Phil Fish situation.  But overall the social media thing is starting to make sense to me.  Hopefully I can make something of it and really give this game the exposure it deserves!