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.


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Three point one lives

I was scared to make the change to XNA Game Studio 3.1 merely because ... who knows what could happen? I've been waiting a while to upgrade just to make sure the kinks were worked out and thankfully everything went rather smoothly.

For those developers still waiting to upgrade from 3.0 to 3.1, the only issues I had were the following:
  • It asked that I uninstall 3.0. When I went to Add/Remove Programs it also showed I still had GS 2.0 installed. It never asked to uninstall that, and I never did... so I guess that's good? Uninstalling 3.0 requires a reboot.
  • As I installed 3.1, it 'got stuck' on installing Games for Live Redistributable stuff. I let it sit for about 10 minutes and the progress bar never moved. After that didn't work I started shutting stuff down via Task Manager. I then restarted the installation, and it jumped past that point. Everything seems to work, so again... I guess that's good.
  • At first I forgot to actually upgrade it since the 3.0 to 3.1 shift is not automatic--silly me! Here's the helpful article on that.
Other than that, it was very smooth and I'm glad its finished. It does take a little while... maybe 20 minutes total. Or 30. To wait through all the updating and installing and such.

After that I made sure Grapple Buggy still runs on the Xbox 360--and looky there--it does!

Okay, so this is my standard-def-test mega TV. It's huge, ugly, and blurry, but this helps me figure out what text is unreadable to us 'second class' TV viewers that haven't upgraded to HDTV. The faint red lines in the middle of the screen are actually debugging text for framerate, objects updating, and other programming stuffs. (But the orange-red, sausage thing to the right is really in the game and looks pretty interested in the buggy.)

Thankfully I have recently acquired a smallish HDTV to do further testing, so hopefully Grapple Buggy won't come out all stretched on rich bastard TVs like Weapon of Choice woefully did/does/dain.


Kris said...

Good the update when smoothly and welcome to the world of HDTV (it's a wonderful place to visit).

I have yet to upgrade to 3.1 myself, but that is because I'm on the verge of releasing a game for the XBLIGs service which still requires 3.0 (though to submit to DPB, you need 3.1). It's all so confusing, it makes my head hurt.

Anonymous said...

Looks like your TV is eating up your minimap there. I always hate it when that happens.

It's funny when I leave on the uber safe frame settings intended for standard def TVs when testing the PC versions of my stuff. There's so much empty space there that just gets lost to overscan! :o

Nathan Fouts said...

Yeah, I'll punch the TV in the gut and get that minimap back somehow.
I agree, developing on a PC monitor then shifting to an SDTV is so sad. Bye bye screen real estate!

Jason Doucette said...

Nice post. I programmed the HUD to respond to a safe-zone setting that the user can set (which is saved for future reference). It even allows it to be off-center, and X sized differently than Y (since I made the decision to always maintain widescreen view, as changing aspect ratios changes the difficulty of the game, which is a no-no for online/global scoreboards -- thus on a SDTV, you'd likely want Y to be full, and X to be shrunk, since you have the letterbox effect).

The only issue is how do you let the user select the setting? I resorted to a mere 80..100% setting that jumps by 2%, so I don't even let the user fine tune it as much as the code allows! This is because complex UI is just annoying when something simple suffices. Because of this the HUD is always centered, and Y shrinks with X even when undesired. Surprisingly, the overscan on most TVs are visibly off-center, even on HDTVs, and this X scaling with Y isn't much of a problem. I figured any UI that allows scaling of X and Y anisotropically and adjusting the center would be beyond complex, and the time to implement something that works nicely is better spent on gameplay issues.

There's no perfect solution. At least everyone can read what I have to show if they desire, and that's the point. It just seems cheesy to have a static HUD after implementing this, especially when you play a game on a HDTV where the overscan is small, so the HUD appears to cover way too much gameplay. :/

Commodity Culture said...

curious what you guys think of bionic surfer:

Nathan Fouts said...

Sounds like you've got a solid plan for Duality ZF! Good luck. I think the only other change I would suggest would be to set the options you mentioned from 80-100% to something normalized like 0-100%. Like you said, 80% is sort of odd, giving the user a 'full range' to 0% may make more sense (even if it doesn't make sense in the programming).

Wow.. that's some pretty aggressive viral marketing there, big guy.

Well, regardless of how uncouth your approach was, I think the game looks pretty cool! I like the monsters and the swanky physics. I think the backgrounds and environments are a little mismatched though, and your main character could use some more animations and possibly more joints. Such as in his ankles, and probably at least a falling animation (he's too "upright" right now).
Sadly I don't own an iPhone, but if you brought your game to the Xbox 360 via XNA I'd definitely give it a try.

Just next time, show a little interest in the topic at hand *then* sell your game. We get it-- we're devs too, selling our games-- just work on your approach a little.

Commodity Culture said...

Uh, it's not my game and I definitely wasn't selling it. I was commenting because I thought it looked like a pretty blatant poor man's version of Weapon of Choice.

Nathan Fouts said...

@Commodity Culture:
Sorry, 'uncouth' rescinded!
Just give a disclaimer next time that it's not yours. Guess I'm trigger happy but it goes with the territory.

Like I said, I think the game is impressive on the iPhone and I liked the physics. I just don't enjoy playing games on tiny handhelds so maybe they could bring it to the 'bigger screen' so to speak and polish it along the way.

CC, have you played it? While poorer looking, is it fun?

Matt said...

You know...that surfer doesn't seem bionic at all... No wait. He does animate like a I guess that makes him bionic (assuming he was subnormal prior to his robotic assistance). I didn't see any water either. He just stood on a plank for a few seconds and coasted down a hill. I think that magical surfboard is bionic, because it has no friction on hard surfaces. It should be called "The Sometimes Rider of the Bionic Surfboard".

Nathan Fouts said...

I think the surfboard needs a face. And a cool hairdo.. probably dreadlocks.
That seemed to work for the new Bionic Commando. Not sure if that game had surfboards though.