Mommy's Best Games, Inc. is an independent game developer founded in 2007. This is a view behind the scenes of our game development and marketing!


Saturday, August 30, 2008

Weapon of Choice Approved on CG Beta

The game was submitted to the Community Games Beta a few days ago and cleared the Peer Review. Shew! The Peer Review involved other CG developers downloading the game to their PC and launching it on their retail Xbox 360. The idea is they play the game and test to ensure it doesn't crash, doesn't have prohibited content (such as porn or copyrighted material), and that it matches the descriptors I set when I submitted the game for review. The descriptors are things like blood and sexual content. The process gets more difficult when it asks how much cruelty is in the game. Its easy to say there's blood in the game but am I being cruel to the aliens when I blow them apart? I gave it a 1 out of 3. If other peer reviewers had disagreed with this or my other descriptors the game would have gotten rejected. From there I would have to readjust the self-rating based on others feedback and resubmit it.

Fortunately no one turned it downed based on the descriptors and even better--it didn't crash for anyone! I had tested it thoroughly and didn't find any crashes myself, but there's nothing like having someone that's never played it try it out. While the game is 'out there', it's not currently publicly available. Other Community Games developers can play a limited version of Weapon of Choice, but the full game won't go on sale until later this Holiday season.
While not technically necessary I was interested in putting the game through the complete Community Games process in order to see how it worked, how long the process took, and to force myself to work on the 'boring' things that needed to get done and were starting to accumulate. The big one of those was addressing the television 'title safe' region issues for text and menus. Developing on a new computer monitor, I had pretty much (foolishly) expanded everything to fill the entire screen. On a TV this doesn't work very well as lot of the edges of text and images are lost. This work took entirely too long, but at least it's finished and I won't have to deal with it too much in the future.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Greetings from the Future

Xerxes is one of the first playable characters to which you have access in Weapon of Choice. His Jet Engine gun is one of the most powerful weapons in the game and it gives you the ability to fly around in a jet-pack like fashion. His hovering spin double-jump lets you maneuver even further while in the air! Here's an image from the design specs for his weapon.

As it turns out Xerxes is based on a real person that just happens to live in the year 2188. Here's his new MySpace page. I'd like everyone to get to know him as he has some fascinating insights into the Earth's future. And please, show him some hospitality by adding him to your friends list.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Weapon of Choice launching on Community Games Beta

The game is about be released! That is, in a very limited fashion. I'm hard at work ironing out the bugs for a version to be published to Community Games beta. I've spent a surprising--annoying amount of time dealing with text and images that run off the sides of the screen with a standard-def TV. Early this coming week I plan to run the game on a HDTV. I hope there aren't any new text issues there too, but there probably will be. It will be good to see how the Peer Review process goes and to find what issues there may be. Also it will be nice to see what feedback we get from other developers.

In order to play games on the Community Games beta you have to sign up as a premium member. Only people that want to make games for Community Games should do that, though. Starting with the Holiday season of this year, the real non-beta version will launch and everyone that has an Xbox 360 and an internet connection will be able to play demos of Community Games and buy them. No special membership will be required! Microsoft says that Community Games will be available in a similar way that Live Arcade games are currently. You'll be able to browse a list of games and try them out as you please.

Currently there are over 70 games released to the CG beta 'games catalog'. I've tried a few so far. Swarm is a fun twist on Missile Command. Colosseum is very polished looking. Drop Engine is difficult but has lots of gravity gameplay in it. Spectrum is confusing in the same way that 'Double' mode in Raiden III can be. City Rain is more deep than most CG games, and has an entertaining environmental slant to it. ("Don't put a landfill near the river. You'll pollute the water supply!" Feels like something the a lame comic villain would do to Gotham city).

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Monster Watch

With the arrival of the Chuul on Earth and the devastating processes they've initiated, alien mixtures of various origins have been encountered.
Here is the most recently observed case.

Bombing Mushroom

Approximately 1.5 to 2.5 meters tall, 1 meter wide. Spore over 3 meters tall.

Known Behavior

When agitated closes cap quickly and thrusts into sky. While floating to new location, large seed-like entity dropped to attack or block pursuers.
Spore capable of lashing assault.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Saving and Marketing

While the conversion of the game to the 360 is 'over', along the way I tore up all kinds of things getting the game to work on the console. Among those was the ability to save and load game data. The game records data such as what level you've reached, what levels you've beaten, how many times you've taken a given path, what Operatives you've rescued, etc. Saving still worked fine on the PC, I just delayed making it work on the 360. Earlier this week, the time had come to fix it.

XNA made it fairly easy to save/load game data on the 360. Since I was already using a filestream on the PC, I was able to simply cut the saving and loading code out and place it in a separate function to run on the PC and Xbox. From there the PC and Xbox needed individual wrapper functions. The Xbox function was easy to setup using the StorageDevice. Before saving the first time the player has to choose a storage device (such as a hard drive or memory card). The snag I ran into was when I tried opening the Guide to have the player choose the device, it never showed up! It turns out help documentation in Visual Studio didn't mention that XNA auto-picks a device if you have only one, and never shows the Guide. I would have known this if I were using the msdn help because a user comment there explains this auto-picking behavior and links back to the XNA forums. That'll show me for thinking I can live without the internet!

Marketing for Weapon of Choice starts soon! While MBG has very little money for marketing we do have lots of moxie, and vim, and chutzpah and other descriptions that make it feel like we're working on a silent film instead of a video game. Those adjectives combined with elbow grease, knuckle cracking, and sweaty brows have created a really sweet trailer for the game! Sadly, not all the stars have aligned for it be uploaded yet, but that time will come very soon, along with several gorgeous screenshots and a snazzy new homepage. Yippee!

And just to spice up this entry a little and reward anyone that read to the end, I'll throw in this sketch of a very large creature in the game. He's all in pieces here, but through the magic of video games he'll come to life, right on your screen! Then he might crush you with his hooves.