Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Update on Alta, Texas for Android

Since a couple of people have asked, here's some items for your consideration.

First off, the link:

There have been a few more than 50 sales with no returns and two five star reviews. So in terms of being a critical or artistic success I would say that it has done well.

In terms of being a commercial success, I suppose the argument "for" is that it has paid back the investment in time it took to do the port. The argument "against" would be that it has not made enough for me to be able to do a sequel or another game in this genre.

I still get, at least once a day, some offer related to helping me increase visibility/ranking of Alta in return for either several hundred dollars (or more), as well as the occasional invitation to join an "I'll vote for your app if you vote for mine" list. I find the second type more concerning as it seems to be a bit outside what I understood the TOS to be, though they usually make the argument that it's no different than supporting your friends - just you support them and then they become your friends. Does make me wonder what their school life was like though...

In terms of what I'm working on at the moment, there is nothing really game related at this time. Since I can't seem to market myself out of a paper bag (to mix a couple metaphors), I am waiting until I get some spare time from some of my other efforts to see if it would be worth revisiting Project Gliese, or doing another VN.


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

"Visit" Alta, Texas for Christmas - Special Sale ends December 31

If you are looking for a warm get away, there's nothing like "visiting" Texas this time of year. In honor of the season my game "Alta, Texas" is on sale over at

And this is one trip you can take over, and over, again :-)

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Final Beta of Project Gliese Released

Have just published the "Final Beta" version of Project Gliese.


- Final Beta Version -

* What has changed
    * All Talismen have been added to the first level - collecting all of the first set triggers the appearance of the second set. Collecting all of the second set takes you "automagically" to Level 2
    * Capture sounds and some other sound effects have been added on Level 1
    * Initial Talisman has been added to Level 2 and Level 3

* What To Watch For
    * If you are so inclined you can explore past the edges of the terrain - not recommended if you suffer from vertigo as Unity will let you fall, and fall, and fall...

About the tip jar - any tips/donations will go toward the development of the full version of Project Gliese which would have better graphics (since I could buy the Pro version of Unity), five full levels, a much more graphically complete menu system, and proper voiceovers and cut scenes.

There will not be another release of this unless enough tips or other funding comes in. So the more donations, the faster we get to the end!

Even if you don't tip, though, I do hope you'll at least give this a play to see what I was trying to do!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Alpha Beta Version of Project Gliese Published

Have just published the "Alpha Beta" version of Project Gliese. Using to host as it allows me to avoid some of the Google Drive gyrations, as well as the addition of a tip jar - hint, hint - :-)


- Alpha Beta Version -

* What has changed
    * Talisman added to Intro Level. Touch it with the ship to be immediately transported to the First Level
    * First Level now has music added
    * All of the first group (four of them) of talismen have been added. Collecting all four triggers the first of the second group to appear

* What To Watch For
    * Talisman have not yet been added to levels 2 and 3, and not all of the second group have been added to level 1
    * If you are so inclined you can explore past the edges of the terrain - not recommended if you suffer from vertigo as Unity will let you fall, and fall, and fall...

* Coming Up Next
    * Will probably only do one more public version which will be the "Final Beta". This will complete the talismen on level 1, and add at least some of the talismen on the other two levels

About the tip jar - any tips/donations will go toward the development of the full version of Project Gliese which would have better graphics (since I could buy the Pro version of Unity), five full levels, a much more graphically complete menu system, and proper voiceovers and cut scenes.

Tip or not, I do hope you'll give this a play!

When People Don't Play Your Game the Way You Expected them to...

So let me start with a quick PSA - if you are playing the online version of Project Gliese I currently have up, and are in the Intro level with the spaceship, make sure to hit ESC to go to the main menu to allow you to select one of the "real" levels. Preferably Level 1 at least once so you can see some talismen.

As the previous paragraph might suggest, I was surprised to learn that some folks were getting bored with the game because of all the "flying around with nothing to do". It had not occurred to me that folks might think the Intro level was actually level 1, and looking back I have to agree that leaving that level playable essentially implied there was something to do besides just look at the setting and then get to the "real game".

In the next version I am adding a talisman to the Intro level to whisk you away to Level 1. This does a better job of showing one of the main concepts of the game, and to let folks be more immersed in the game rather than have to keep going back and forth between the main menu and the other levels.

I suppose this is a lesson I "should" have already learned. When I was first beta testing Alta, Texas I was surprised by many folks complaining how short it was. After some discussion, I realized that many folks were only playing through once, and taking the "easy" path were never running into most of the other scenes in the game, IOW, I had written two thirds of the game that very few people were seeing. Based on that, I changed the route to make it a bit more obvious there were other choices that you really wanted to test, to make you run into some of the scenes through other paths, and I started making sure there were screenshots showing all five of the young ladies so that a player would realize they hadn't run into all of them and might go back to see why.

As a developer, it is part of my job to figure out when people are playing the game differently than I expected. As a player, this is where providing feedback is most helpful. If you are one or the other (or both), hopefully this provides some ideas for your next play through :-)

Sunday, October 26, 2014

What SyncToy tells me about Unity

I have a nice Core i7 machine with decent RAM and Graphics downstairs, and a somewhat nicer and more recent one upstairs. Depending on what is going on, I like to be able to development from either machine. My first attempt was to add a USB drive to my router, and then try and work from that directory. In addition to making me nervous that I had only one copy of my work, it took FOREVER to load each time I started Unity.

Instead, I made a directory on my external drive upstairs, and one on the one downstairs, and figured I would just sync the changed files with Microsoft's SyncToy tool. Since the directory is over 1.5 gigs in size, copying the whole folder over each time would be a pain and take quite a while. SyncToy reduces the time by quite a bit.

However, even the smallest changes to a scene seem to touch an obscene number of files. I changed one script and changed one material and SyncToy had to change almost 1000 files out of the 15000 files it finds in the directory. It seems a little odd to think Unity is having to touch and modify (even if just by the date/time stamp) that many files for each change.

I have to wonder how much easier it would be to develop on a system if Unity were a little smarter about which files it was updating.

One other thing while I'm complaining, having to use the magnify tool because the Unity editor does NOT allow you to change the font or font size used by the UI is almost unbelievable in this day and age. They do provide a link where you can vote for them to add the feature, but given it was setup in 2010, I think it's safe to say that voting is not going to get much traction. I can only hope that Unity 5 will have an option for this. I would hate to have to port to Unreal Engine just to make it easier to read my code. At least with the recent addition of C#/Mono to Unreal that is now a possibility...

Giving a try

In the middle of working on the next update to Project Gliese, and as I was discussing the project with a couple other Indy Developers, they mentioned I might want to put it over at I had never heard of the site, but after spending some time there it appears to be a bit of a cross between Steam and Kongregate.

Have now put up Alta, Texas there as an alternate way to sell that game, and will see how that compares to the provider I have been using, as well as to see if I would want to use it for Project Gliese. They appear to have some Web Playable hosting options, and that might make it worth creating a "full" version of Project Gliese for the web as well as the Desktop and Android versions I had been planning.

Whether you play games or develop them, you may want to check the site out as well!