I don’t really have anything to say… nothing that exciting has happened this past week. TITOLT is doing great across the web, which is awesome.
Make sure to check out the forums, they’re quickly becoming a happening place.
So after all this type and posts and whatnot… the game is now out. Play it. Post comments telling me your thoughts on it.
If you need assistance (you probably will… the game is harder than the first!), try this.
Ever wondered what it would be like to work side-by-side with one of your favorite developers and create a game? Well, with This Is The Only Levels 2 slated for release tomorrow, these are my thoughts from the process:
Developing games, when you don’t have to do any of the grunt work, is REALLY fun. I got to come up with a ton of really fun levels and assist with the entire creative process throughout development… without having to do any of that pesky “work”, like coding or making graphics.
A lot more goes into a game than just code and art. Besides all the creative stuff, which we pretty much hammered out on the 1st day, all of this stuff needed to be done as well: UI for the menu and other off-menu screens, game save system, high scores, bonus modes, and API implementation.
It’s amazing how many bugs pop up in the oddest areas. This is something I already know, from all the testing work I do… but that is all AFTER the dev QAs his game. In a game as simple as TITOL2 (same engine as last game, just new levels), we easily found 20 bugs. From a certain level having an unexpected exploit to the save file not wiping deaths when you clear your level progress, and everything in between.
You can’t get too attached to any one idea. Given unlimited time, John could code any crazy level that I came up with… but one level we wanted to use left gravity for the level, so you’d have to jump from left to right on the edges of the platforms to reach the exit. Sadly, the engine (which John said could DEFINITELY handle left/right gravity) did not like this idea. I wasn’t given the full explanation, but it would have taken a lot of time to mess with the engine to get this 1 level to work. Better solution was just to use a different level idea that didn’t make the original cut. One other level that we liked wound up not being nearly as fun in actuality as it was in my head… so again, we tweaked it… and now it’s one of my favorite levels.
Don’t rush the process. The first TITOL took John 12 hours, start to finish. So going in to this project, I thought it would take 2 or 3 days, tops, for this one. It’ll wind up being released on the morning of the 10th day. There’s a lot more extra features in this game, and my level designs are a bit more complex than what was in the first game. Combine that with the AS2 to AS3 conversion… and a 1-day game becomes a 2-week game. At the same time, you don’t want to take TOO much time… when you think everything has been found and is ready, let it loose. I’m really nervous that we’ve overlooked something, or some major bug will pop up as soon as it’s released… but, if that happens, we’ll know about it soon enough. Not much more we can do about it now.
Altogether, this was so much fun. I hope that all of you guys wind up enjoying the game as much as I’ve enjoyed working on it. And give insane props to John… all the little things he puts into games are what makes them great, not my level designs. The UI, the elephant, the polka music, and a dozen other things that I won’t mention so that you can discover them all tomorrow.
6:00 – Wake Up
6:01 – Overwhelming desire to break iPhone and accompanying alarm
6:03 – Sit down at computer to do a quick run through morning routine
6:09 – Shower
6:32 – Dry off from quickie shower
6:35 – Set building queues in HoG and make sure DW guild is in order
6:49 – Lose track of time from trying to squeeze in just one more daily task
6:50 – Get dressed, brush teeth, etc
6:55 – Grab pop-tart and leave
7:03 – Get stuck in traffic on the 101 nearing the 405
7:04 – Start slinging obscenities at LA traffic
7:07 – Decide it’s more fun to mock Colin Cowherd than be annoyed at LA traffic
7:59 – Finally get to downtown LA and onto the 5
8:45 – Arrive outside Armor Office
8:48 – Arrive at Armor Office, having not gotten lost in the passageway to their back-of-the-building suite like last time
8:50 – Commence with the eating of the bagel
8:53 – Give the iron armor-clad sentinels guarding Dan’s corner office dirty looks
9:01 – Get shot in the chest by nerf projectile. Realization that Jared Riley is a cool dude solidified
9:02 – Relief at not being shot any lower. Or higher, I guess
9:05 – Watch John fail miserably at converting the tile engine from AS2 to AS3
9:10 – Start going over level design for TITOL2
9:12 – Relief at my design not being as crappy in John’s eyes as it is in my own
9:20 – Begin going over my stage ideas
9:22 – I am the most creative dude on the planet
9:37 – Damnit, why does nobody else appreciate my masturbation-themed stage ideas
9:38 – Contemplate explaining why we also need a “Droppin’ Loads” level
9:39 – Decide to keep that one to myself
10:02 – Watch Joey play with amorphous cats
10:08 – Transcribe stage ideas onto post-it notes
10:31 – Begin hashing out which stages we’re keeping, and a basic sphere of difficulty
10:39 – We have exactly 30 post-it notes. Cheers of joy
10:51 – Order post-it notes from 1 to 30
11:00 – Make sure that all stages are possible within the current level design
11:20 – One more check to stages and level
11:30 – Chik-Fil-A baby!
11:35 – Arrive at chik-fil-a and continue non-stop talking
11:37 – I’m supposed to order food now, but haven’t stopped talking to look at menu
11:38 – Quickly decide on the spicy chicken sandwich
11:41 – Sit down with John and Joey and notice that all 3 of us have spicy chicken. We are badasses
11:46 – Discussions include old flash rhythm games and creative level design within iPhone crush the castle. We are nerds
12:05 – Back to the office
12:07 – My ghetto laptop turns on. Great success
12:10 – Laptop won’t connect to wifi network and John mocks my AIM 5.9
12:14 – Laptop still won’t connect to wifi, even after super genius trouble shooting methods… such as punching it and calling it a little girl
12:16 – Saved by an ethernet cable
12:21 – Begin work on naming the 30 stages
12:24 – Lament again at the lack of support for my masturbation stage
12:40 – Consult wikipedia for the 6th time as part of my stage name research
12:52 – Names sent back to John
12:57 – More mocking of John, as the tile engine still rejects AS3
1:32 – Still watching John fight valiantly against the evil of AS3
1:41 – Send sarcastic IM to Greg
1:45 – Boast about my amazing game designing skills in IiN
1:57 – Talk to Dan about secret things
2:24 – Continue to mock John’s failure at fixing the engine in AS3
3:01 – John is the man. Engine fixed and is a sexy, sexy beast
3:15 – John approves of my stage name ideas. Where are my 70 virgins
3:21 – Testing in the engine begins
3:24 – Elephants waddling to polka music is the most awesome thing ever
3:55 – More tweaks to level design to make it roomier
4:07 – Verify that all stages will work in the new level design
4:37 – Joey begins tossing out possible stage designs
4:39 – Tune out Joey’s ideas, as they are overly complex and complicated
4:40 – Request once again for my masturbation stage to be considered
5:00 – More testing with elephants and spikes
5:12 – John and I team up to send Greg IMs that amuse us
5:20 – BS out a few extra content concepts so people will play the game more than once
5:35 – Leave office for brewery / restaurant with John
5:48 – Order adult beverage
5:52 – It’s happy hour! Cheap appetizers are demanded
5:57 – Dan arrives
6:12 – Burger ordered. It has bacon, cheese, and an egg on it
6:14 – Sweet potato fries are delivered. Mouth stuffing begins. People really put ranch on fries? Gross
6:23 – John informs us of being pre-approved for his house buying
6:24 – Bad joke made about pre-approval vs approval and the ridiculous terminology used today
6:45 – Burger arrives
6:47 – Burger now also has ketchup and hot sauce on it
7:01 – Alcohol is taking its effect on Dan; he informs us about the Mickey Mouse tattoo on his behind
7:02 – I ask to see said tattoo and am sadly informed that it does not actually exist
7:18 – 1/3 of burger left. It kicked my ass
7:25 – Leave restaurant. Thank Dan many times for dinner and the opportunity to help on the game
7:31 – Arrive back at the office with John to get my car
7:44 – Still talking John’s ear off in parking lot. See annoyed look in his eyes and call it a night
7:47 – Begin drive back home
7:50 – Curse LA for caring so much about the Lakers. Do they play EVERY night?
7:55 – Back on the 5, enjoying some classic rock on KLOS
8:45 – Arrive back home. Exhausted
8:46 – Affirm hatred of LA traffic for the umteenth time
8:47 – Affirm hatred of Whorli. She has all the doors locked and gave me a set of keys with no house key on it
8:48 – Bang on window to get her attention
8:50 – Kisses
8:52 – See that not one, not two… but THREE different companies sent me emails to work on games for them while I was gone. It is a blessing and a curse
There’s more from there, ending in bed around 11:30. But not important to my day with Armor. All in all, it was a really fun day. A great experience. And it’s going to be a kickass game when it’s released next week.
A few months ago, I mentioned that I was writing the script to a game and working with some friends to do the coding/art. That project is currently on hold, but I’ll probably finish working on it at some point. I need to figure out what I’m trying to do with the game… otherwise it’s just going to suck. And I won’t put my name on a project that sucks, especially when I’d be the major reason it sucked.
I’ve also been approached by a few different developers to design levels… and I shudder at this thought. Playing and solving levels is super fun; the battle of wits between myself and the cunning developer. Coming up with 20 or 30 creative levels to try and stump players, having a linear ramping difficulty curve, and designing levels that are all going to be unique… it’s daunting. And that’s just the design process; then you actually have to do the grunt work of making the levels in whatever editor you’ve given to work in, which may or may not be user friendly. It’s tedious, arduous, and is the complete opposite of fun.
However, there is one game that I had a different reaction to. It’s a game that when I played it, I immediately started to bug the developer about wanting to assist on designing levels for a sequel. Ma nishtana ba-mischak ha-ze mi kol ha-mischakim? (That translates to, “Why is this game different from all other games?”) The answer is simple… it’s a game where level design is not tedious, arduous, or un-fun. It’s a game where levels can be designed in seconds or minutes and each level has 1 specific trick to it. The goal of level design in this game is to screw with the player in a way that the player is still enjoying himself (or herself). And I get no greater pleasure than screwing with people… why not take it to the grand stage?
So you must be asking what game this is. I gave a vague hint about it the other day. The game is This Is The Only Level, and I’ll be working in the Armor Office later this month (or early next month) on the sequel. Expect fun and delightfully evil levels from yours truly. :)
I’ve also been working on a big project for the past 2+ months, but I’ve been asked not to talk about it. Expect some stuff about it once I’m cleared to discuss it or once it’s public.