Mommy's Best Games, Inc. is an independent game developer founded in 2007. Our seventh game, currently in development, is Pig Eat Ball on which we started working in 2013. This is behind the scenes thoughts about game development and marketing.

Nathan

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

PAX West 2018 Wrapped!

Sexy side-view with a lucky cat (he's in World 2!)
I spent several days this past weekend in Seattle at PAX West. The convention runs for 4 days, Friday to Monday. I didn't do it all, but got there on Saturday spending some time exploring the show floor.


Before the chaos starts.
Pig Eat Ball was accepted to the Indie MEGABOOTH which helped get it a good spot on the show floor, for a much cheaper cost to me.

Poke-4-Players

The Minibooth is a single kiosk station, instead of a 10x10 foot proper booth. I elected to stay in the "Minibooth" for a few reasons:
  1. It costs me much less money.
  2. It gets the game on the show floor and in front of people. 
  3. You only get to show it two days (my set was Sunday and Monday). This sounds bad (and is since you see half the people), but it also costs me much less since I did it all myself. Getting a 10x10 booth I would have definitely needed extra help.
  4. I was able to show it to some press. And I showed it just about as many people as I could as it was pretty much constantly busy. 
  5. Great show floor position as handled by the Indie MEGABOOTH people.
Note the cool, extra-layer of signage I added to the top!
The cons of taking a Minibooth position include, of course, fewer days to show the game and fewer people playing, but also less room to do my wild "show" stuff. I had made some "photo props" for Pig Eat Ball, but with the kiosk space I didn't have enough room to let people take pictures with them.

Here's my new booth-mates from the game "EastShade" kindly taking a fun pic using the props! Most of the time people would play the game, but feel too crowded to make use of the props.
Made friends with another dev who had a glitzy booth and a cool platformer game called "Exception"!
I call this photo/cosplay "Attack on Pig" :)

I spent two nights at parties meeting other developers. Both were good events and I had several chance encounters that may yield important business in the future. I also met again with Sony and Microsoft reps which I find helps them to remember that "Pig Eat Ball is coming"!

I also dropped in on the Seattle Indies party and it was filled with lots of games being made in the area.
Good turn out for the local devs event.

By far my favorite game at the Seattle Indies event was an up-and-coming one (still early in the works) called "Fowl Damage". It's a puzzle platformer that reminds me mechanically of Escape Goat.
And finally, there's nothing quite like stickin' it to the MAN.
I'm pretending to punch AAA games. Does it look like it? No?
And why would I punch them? Because I'm indie! Okay I dunno why.

Pig Eat Ball is coming soon and still needs fixes, so I better get back to work!

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Alpha Pig!

Pig Eat Ball has finally hit "Alpha"!
That means all the gameplay, levels, and characters are in, but there's still some things to rearrange and big bugs to fix. But that also means we're releasing the game SOON!


If you backed the game long ago, check your inbox, because I've emailed out all the Steam keys. If you didn't get one, check your Spam folder. And email me if you still can't find it.

Here's some art I did to encapsulate what going Alpha feels like. 

Yeah, that's me blissfully driving the spaceship while my tech lead, John Meister from Super Soul, is pushing this crazy thing :)
Now we'll see if the wheels stay on this jalopy as all the testers play the game for the first time!


You can complain about bugs over on the Steam forums here: https://steamcommunity.com/app/339090/discussions/
And we will be chatting with folks on our Discord server here: https://discord.gg/q4fCzjs
Finally, for all those interested, please Wishlist the game on Steam!
https://store.steampowered.com/app/339090/Pig_Eat_Ball

And tell any friends about it too, it really helps. 
Thanks all!

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Going for the Gold... Clam?

Goal Types

Pig Eat Ball has a large Adventure mode filled with a variety of action-puzzle levels.
Beating action levels are how you progress the story in Adventure mode.
There are 3 main 'goal types'.
  1. Eat All Balls: every level requires that you eat all the balls to complete the level. It's sort of like a free-form 'puzzle' version of Pac-Man levels. There's no special restriction here, just figure out how to do it. 
  2. Timed Eat Balls: You still have to eat all the balls, but now there's a time restriction.
  3. Survival Eat Balls: You can only take three hits of damage, or you fail the level. The goal is still to eat all the balls.
You won't get to pick the mode; it will be particular to each hand-designed level. The levels in the game have been designed by myself and Andrew Curry. If a level is introducing a new enemy or level object, it will probably have the easiest goal which is Eat All Balls. Once you've seen a certain enemy, new levels with new designs will probably require tougher goals like Timed or Survival.


By the way, have you tried the Demo???
Check the "Download Demo" button on the right. 
https://store.steampowered.com/app/339090/Pig_Eat_Ball/
I encourage you to try the demo and Wishlist it on Steam!

Medals


Every action level is timed. Your "time-to-complete" the level is checked and you are awarded 1 of 3 medals. Bronze, Silver, and Gold.
Bronze means you completed the level. It's the easiest version.
A Silver time is a little tougher. And a Gold time means you completed the level pretty fast!
All of the Medal times are hand-designed and balanced. As we get closer to finishing the game, we're constantly playing the levels and looking at metrics to balance the Medal times.

We won the Pearl from this Royal Clam. It had 4 action levels to beat.

Gold Clams


Pig Eat Ball is meant to be a "good challenge". It's not supposed to be the hardest game ever, and it's not supposed to be a baby's game either. It will feel tougher than a Kirby or Yoshi game, but much easier than a Super Meat Boy or Dark Souls. I'm trying to hit the Super Mario Galaxy difficulty.

However, there are some tough challenges in the game. Getting a Gold medal on any given level requires some skills! And the toughest levels in the game are in the Gold Clams.

That Royal Clam (upper left) has four levels for you to beat. You can see the shadows of four medals under him.
Action levels are given to you by Royal Clams. If you get a Gold medal on every level in a given world, a new section opens up. This gives you access to the Gold Clam. The levels these clams have are pretty tough. If you beat all of the Gold Clam levels in a world, you get access to the special, custom Disguise with unique gameplay abilities!

Polishing the Gold

This is a level from world 1 Gold Clam, it's a tough but satisfying challenge!

That's where development is at right now. We're almost done designing all the Gold Clam levels, and actually almost done with all the levels in the game!
It's a very exciting time.
Pretty soon we'll be able to test the game from start to finish. I'm pumped to see that finally happen.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Word for Word

We're initially translating the game to French, Italian, German, and Spanish.
As such, I'm knee-deep in localization preperation.

That means I'm taking any and all English text in Pig Eat Ball and changing it out for a list-look up.
Basically there's a big spreadsheet of all the text in the game. Each text entry has a name. The list redirects to the language the game is set to be played in.

Here's a pic of the spreadsheet:


The column on the left is the look-up code word. The column on the right is the text to be used in-game.


Below is the C# code in the editor.
The red text in quotes is the special look-up word.
It then checks the spreadsheet to find the actual, translated text.




That's the C# code.

Below is what it looks like in the helper system in Unity.


We're using I2 in Unity to get the text into the game.
https://assetstore.unity.com/packages/tools/localization/i2-localization-14884

Agile is the Word

 Why didn't I just do this all from the beginning?
Well, that would take foresight. :)
But also it'd be a lot of wasted effort. The game changed a lot over the years. Even for a smaller game the design can change a lot. To be on top of it and have the look-up system already in place would be a good amount of work and commitment to a certain design. It's much faster to prototype things with English baked into the code.

I'm sure it's possible to make a game with the localization system in there from the start! I just don't think the design would be as agile, and I might be less likely to scrap work and make changes. That worries me as I could end up with a worse design, because I didn't want to waste earlier work.

Text Me When It's Done


In any case, we're almost done getting all the localized text ready.
After the spreadsheet is ready we'll send it off to the localization company to be translated.
Then all the text will just magically appear and be wonderfully translated in game!

I'm very excited to see all those languages be possible, and I can only read English!

Pig Eat Ball is getting close to finished. 
Please be good and Wishlist it on Steam, then tell a cool friend of yours!
http://store.steampowered.com/app/339090/Pig_Eat_Ball/
Thank you.  💗💗💗