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  • Archive for March, 2013

    Mine Your Step – Autopsy


    2013 - 03.28

    Wow. I have to say, I had no idea about how popular Mine Your Step would be. After an initial review on IndieGaming.com my Google analytics went crazy. That story then got picked up on RockPaperShotgun and PCGamer. I can easily say that my web server has never seen so much traffic. The more amazing thing was the number of tweets and emails I had about the game. It was a very simple idea, but people really seem to dig it. It is really satisfying as an indie gamedev to see people playing your game, even more so when they take the time to actually give you feedback. And so for everyone who tweeted me and e-mailed me about it – thank you :-).

    One of the most interesting parts of the feedback was about ‘The Sergeant’ – which ( as far as I was concerned ) was just a simple text output element. Though it was just text ( I had debated having audio of me shouting the hint, but I really don’t sound like a military person ) people associated a personality with a simple line of white writing – something I found fairly interesting :) Also, I was very impressed at how quickly the levels became solved. The first levels were completed by the time the second review – so I spent a busy night writing a few more additional levels. Thankfully these are actually pure evil, and no one has managed to complete them yet :)

    So after having a rather random success story with one of my games, what do I do next? I’m debating a sequel to be honest – though this may be milking it :) I’d really love a multiplayer environment – to actually see all your fellow cadets running around the battlefield, randomly exploding. I’d like to keep it in html5 – as I think the fact it required no plug-ins helped it somewhat. I’ve played around with a unity first person prototype, lots of fog, random explosions – and it made the game, well, pretty dark and scary to be honest. The explosions where simulated but random – the idea being that though you wouldn’t see anyone else walking around the battle field, you would hear and see explosions of other players in real-time. Creepy.

    One idea that came up pretty consistently was checkpoints – I agree they would help especially with the more complicated levels. Also checkpoints would give me a chance to be evil with level design :) ( ‘oh you set your checkpoint to that place? shame it is a dead end :-) hehehe’ ).

    One other thing that people said they enjoyed about Mine Your Step was the way that everyone was working toward a common goal. I’ve had a few ideas now which play on this idea. I think random strangers working together to achieve a goal is pretty damn cool idea. So if I don’t produce Mine Your Step 2 for my April #1GAM it will probably be working with this idea of players trying to defeat me.

    The game itself was pretty easy to write. I think about two days worth of work went into it – the most complicated bit was the level design ( as I found a decent tileset, but my art skills are poor ) and of course the client/server interaction – which I hadn’t done with html5 before, but it was pretty simple. The last minute addition of the music I think really helped the atmosphere of the game – though after checking out my bandwidth use, I had to quickly compress it from a 7 meg mp3 into a 2 meg mp3 :-) The player sprite was built with the most excellent charas-project.net. I modified the sprite that came out of that by making his helmet much bigger to give him a more toony look. For people who have asked how the client/server bit was done, it is fairly easy – on death a message is sent to a php script which stores the x, y, level and player name in a MySQL db. On level load another PHP script is called which contains JSON encoded data containing all the death x, y locations on a level for the past 24 hours. And that is pretty much it. If anyone is truly interested in how this is done, more than happy to do a tutorial about it :-)

    Well, I guess that is it for now :-) thanks for reading!

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    Setting up node.js on appfog – a quick tutorial


    2013 - 03.25

    I’ve been playing around with node.js and loving it so far. I wanted to find a third party host for it, as my current host won’t let me play with it without it getting expensive quickly. So after some googling around, I decided to give AppFog a go. It’s free and from my limited exposure to it so far, does the job pretty well. I ran into a few stumbling blocks as I went, so decided to put a mini-tutorial together to explain how to get node.js running.

    Firstly, you need to sign up to an account. No credit/debit card details needed. Once signed in, you need to go here : https://console.appfog.com/apps/new. Simple enough. To get an instance running, simply select node.js from the first menu :

    Then select where you want it hosted, followed by giving the app a name :

    Once done, click on Create App, and you are re-directed to something similar to this screen :

    Congratulations! You have just created a node.js instance. Now, with a process as simple as that, why on earth do I need to write a tutorial? Well, I spent some time sorting out the environment to properly edit this instance, so this is the ‘meat’ of the tutorial.

    Firstly, you need to install ruby. http://rubyforge.org/frs/download.php/76804/rubyinstaller-2.0.0-p0.exe should run fine. Install it, and then from the Ruby 2.0.0-pl folder, select start Command Prompt with Ruby.


    cd\
    cd\Ruby200
    mkdir src
    gem update --system
    gem install af
    af login
    cd src
    af pull slimetutorial
    cd slimetutorial
    dir

    This basically creates a /src/ directory within your ruby install and sets everything up nicely. AppFog tutorial suggest an af update – but if you have nothing created already, it just deletes the instance – d’oh! Presuming the above works you should see something very similar to this :

    That file is your node.js file. Open it up in your environment, and lets change the code slightly :


    var http = require('http');
    http.createServer(function (req, res) {
    res.writeHead(200, {'Content-Type': 'text/html'});
    res.end('Many happy slime monsters from AppFog.com !');
    }).listen(process.env.VMC_APP_PORT || 1337, null);

    Silly I know :) but anyway, you have this file now saved, how do you deploy it ?

    Simply run an update :


    af update slimetutorial

    If everything went ok, it should look like this :

    This handles stopping the node.js instance, staging it, then re-starting the server. Assuming no errors of course :) Things may look slightly different if your server is started/stopped – visit your control panel and click on the Visit Live Site button. Congratulations, you can now start playing to your hearts content with node.js – for free ! :)

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    Mine your step – dynamically generated heatmaps


    2013 - 03.07

    With the massive amount of attention Mine your steps is getting, I thought I’d quickly throw together some ( ugly ) heatmaps of all the deaths. These are generated by php using gdlib to build the pictures. Click on them to get a bigger version. Hit refresh either on this page, or on the graphic, and it will update with the latest info :)

    Level 1 :

    Level 2:



    Level 3:



    Level 4:



    Level 5:



    Level 6:



    Level 7:



    Level 8:



    Level 9:



    Level 10:



    Level 11:



    Level 12:



    And to see all the heatmaps in one place – click here!

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    Mine your step


    2013 - 03.07

    Introducing : Mine your step

    Originally an idea I had on a Sunday morning after watching Futurama, this game has come together pretty quickly. You will die, a lot. Your deaths ( well more accurately, your pile of remains ) help other people navigate the dangerous terrain. It was going to be called ‘Blind in a minefield’, with the idea being that the screen was totally black and all you could see would be deaths and your avatar. This was primarily because my drawing/art skills suck bigtime :) But I found a nice tileset for it and the game evolved from there. I’m quite amazed that I managed to get March’s #1GameAMonth done by the 6th :)

    How to play

    Story :

    You are a marine. Get to the base. End of story :)

    Controls :
    Arrow keys to move.
    Stepping on mines to die.
    Music controls are in top left hand corner of the screen.

    Notes :
    There are currently 12 levels and I am shocked so far to see that people are currently on level 6. If it continues like this, I will most definitely add some more additional levels. You will die a lot ( said that once or twice ). That is fine. Think of it as massively co-operative game. The more you die, the more you help others. Mouse over bloody remains to see who made them.

    The game can be found here : http://www.greenslimegames.com/games/html5/mine_your_step/. You will need a modern browser to play it. If you find any bugs feel free to let me know! My #1GaM profile is : http://www.onegameamonth.com/BeeBug_Nic feel free to leave some fan mail <3 ... or not :)

    EDIT : This was written on the release night, but decided to wait before publishing it ( as it takes me hours to blog about anything ). At the time of hitting the publish button, I’ve received an amazing amount of feedback! I treasure all of it! :) Amazingly I also appeared on indiegames.com. Many thanks to all of you for playing and dieing – as well giving me feedback! Currently the global death toll is 2741 people lost! Thank you for your sacrifices soldier!

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    War is Hell …


    2013 - 03.05

    Imagine you and your squad need to get to re-enforce a military base. You need to cross a minefield. But alas, these mines are cloaked. The only way you can cross is to send wave after wave of your own men to determine where the mines are by avoiding the bloody mess left by your former friends ( yes most of this was a Zapp Brannigan quote ).

    Now imagine, instead of a gritty real life war simulation, it’s a computer game you can play online with all your friends. And random strangers.

    Welcome to Mine Your Step

    The above is a screenshot after much testing of the first level. Guide the army dude from his starting position, to the bunker. Invisible minefields are everywhere. Stepping on one, and a brief explosion later you have to start again. Sounds unfair? It is. Remember, before I started the testing, the field looked more like this :

    The blood marks are all from my old attempts to try and reach the bunker. Each bloody pile of guts when mouse over-ed will tell you the name of who died, and when they died. Semper Fi.

    What benefits do you have? Aside from an exhaustible supply of army dudes? Every one plays in the same game. You step on a mine, your blood splat appears in their game. They explode in their game, it appears in yours. There is no way to win this game alone. Only by the entire internet joining together and sending wave after wave of themselves into the minefields will you be able to determine the safe route home. And by the entire internet, I mean a small group of people, because otherwise my hosting company will probably complain :)

    This was an idea I had on Sunday and have just got it too a workable point. I want to add some bling, sound effects, logos etc; but quite happy with how is. Got ten levels so far, each one getting increasingly more evil.

    Any ideas or comments? Let me know! Hopefully the slaughter will start this week :)

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