Aaron

Puzzle Puppets Release (For Reals)

It’s official, both versions (Windows Phone 7 and 8) of Puzzle Puppets are live on the Windows Marketplace!

There is even a trial version available, so tell everyone you know with a Windows Phone to check it out!

 

Puzzle Puppets Release

UPDATE

Due to some app store complications the Windows Phone 8 version has not gone live but we have chatted with Microsoft to fix the error. Unfortunately it may be a few days before this is fixed. We are sorry you cant get that version, however Windows Phone 7 users can still enjoy Puzzle Puppets.

We will update you all once the Windows Phone 8 version goes live.

ORIGINAL POST

Well wombats, it’s finally happening!

Puzzle Puppets is finally released and on the Windows Phone Store!

itshappening

Matt and I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who made this possible, they know who they are ;)

Expect more updates from us in the near future.

In the mean time here is the Windows Phone Store link:

Windows Phone Store Link

 

We hope you enjoy Puzzle Puppets and look forward to the upcoming content update we have planned.

 

Where have the Devs been?

Hey everyone, it been too long since Matt and I have made a post!

Things have been very busy for us since Christmas. Once we got our hands on the Film Victoria grant money we spent some time liaising with some people form the marketing company Surprise Attack to figure out exactly what we were going to try to get them to do for us to try to make Puzzle Puppets as successful as possible. After a few talks with the Surprise Attack guys we decided it would be for the best if we aimed to release a Windows Phone 7 and a Windows Phone 8 version of the game at the same time. Now, this seems like a solid plan but Matt and I have to eat occasionally and we are obligated to use the money received from Film Vic only for marketing our game. Luckily Matt and I have a few contacts at other game companies and were able to find ourselves some work with Wicked Witch Software for four days a week so that we could live a little while working on the Windows Phone 8 version of Puzzle Puppets in our time off.

This was fantastic for Matt and I as we got to work on something different, which we hadn’t done in a while, and see people other than one another every day for a change and generally had a really good time. Unfortunately for Puzzle Puppets, Wicked Witch were completing there own game during this time; meaning the crunch was on and everyone was doing long hours which meant that we sometimes ended up doing 5 or 6 day weeks instead of 4 days and on the days where we could work on Puzzle Puppets we were exhausted and work was much slower than usual. (This isn’t all that uncommon in the video game industry, especially for studios working towards their publisher’s deadlines).

Eventually Wicked Witch got to the point where they no longer needed us around as badly and we went back to working exclusively on Puzzle Puppets. Matt adding more content and me working on the Windows Phone 8 port as well as some extra tweaks and small additions that we had been wanting to make for a while. If you have been following our past Devlogs you may remember that I had started porting Puzzle Puppets into the Unity game engine, this approach has been abandoned for now since Unity’s 2D capabilities were lacking at best and my knowledge of Unity (or lack there of) meant that progress had been quite slow. Instead, for the WP8 port I’ve been using the still in development Windows Phone 8 version of the Monogame code library which has meant that, once I figured out a few bugs and quirks with the library, the port has been fairly fast. As of this writing the two versions of Puzzle Puppets are coded and just waiting on a few last additions to the content before we can send the whole thing off to Microsoft for approval. YAY!

Aside from the serious break we took working for Wicked Witch, Matt and I have also found time to get together with some of our friends and enter a Game Jam to create a game for the Oculus Rift virtual reality device. If you’re not familiar with the Oculus, it’s basically what the virtual reality headsets from the late 90’s should have been but never were. Matt got his hands on one of the Development Kits earlier this year so we took the opportunity to participate in the recent 3 week long jam and if you happen to have access to an Oculus Rift we heartily recommend you give our entry Bigzilla a try as well as the other great entries. While we are extremely happy with the game demo we put out at the end of the jam we do regret that we didn’t get to spend the entire three weeks working on it to make it as good as it could be; in reality we only really worked on the game properly and as a group for three DAYS.

 

Aside from the catch up I’d like to take this opportunity to mention the changes I’ve made to the discussion section of this website. Since I’ve been getting bombarded with discussion posts that need to be approved that have almost all been generated by spam bots, discussion threads will now be closed automatically after 30 days of an article being posted.

 

Well if you’ve come this far into the article well done for persistence! With any luck we will be posting here more often again with fewer walls of text and will soon have some concrete news about the release of Puzzle Puppets! Until next time guys, stay awesome!

Devlog #14 – Our dramatic return to devlogs

Lost ExplorersSo after dropping off the face of the planet for a couple of weeks you would expect us to have plenty of new things to be excited about!
Well you would be wrong!!

While there have been some exciting things happening for us not much has been happening on the Puzzle Puppets front. We are waiting on the final touches to be made to the final sound track that will be used so have been unable to send the game to Microsoft for certification. We are hoping to change that very soon though, so stay tuned for that update which could be as early as tomorrow.

Matt has kept himself busy by tweaking cut scenes and improving artwork so there are some more costume in the game that otherwise wouldn’t have been there on release which is brilliant.

I have started trying to learn to use Unity3D so that I can start trying to get Puzzle Puppets working on Android and eventually iOS. I also briefly explored another option (Mono for Android) that I had hoped would speed up the process but something appeared to be wrong or incompatible between Puzzle Puppets and Mono and would result in a crash before even rendering the loading screen. I may have another look into what went wrong in the coming week as I have had to install a fresh copy of Windows on my computer since then to fix some other unrelated issues which could make all the difference.

I know that a few people who are familiar with Unity3D occasionally read our devlogs, if any of you know any good resources for getting started with Unity when coming from a programming background please feel free to let me know in the comments or via email. At the moment I am struggling to figure out how to change all of the existing code I have to work with “the Unity way of doing things” :P

Some fairly exciting news for us is that we had Puzzle Puppets judged for Freeplay 2012 in Melbourne. While we weren’t fortunate enough to win any of the categories that we entered into; Puzzle Puppets was named as a Highly Commended title for the Best Art in a Game award which we were both quite chuffed with.

Devlog #13 – The devs ramble for a bit.

Bert and Ernie

Just a couple of mates.

Matt – So this week we couldn’t decide who to do the devblog.
Aaron – So Matt will write a line, then I will.
M – Because thats just how we roll, anyways to start off, we went to the IGDA meeting on Tuesday night.
A – We have also nailed down a list of tweaks, adjustments and other final touches that we need to make before submitting the game to MS.
M – Yeah we are submitting it next Friday so we have all the stuff we want to fix and add before it goes off.
A – That was in informative sentence that added a lot to the discussion.
M – Well you went off the topic of the IGDA so I was sad, perhaps you should elaborate on that.
A – I was summarising the week, we could have gone back to elaborate; think of it as an executive summary.
M – Righto, well lets continue the summarising.
A – Fatigue and insanity run rife through the BSW offices.
M – Its been mainly affecting the dogs but has slowly infected our brains too :(
A – I’m pretty sure the dogs are contagious.
M – Oh now I remember the last peice we were going to talk about, our other game dev mates who have released their game..
A – piece*
M – ……. ahem… Tasty Fish it is, it’s a fantastic game where you save fish from certain doom.
A – It’s on iOS and it’s FREE! (That’s my favorite price for things because I’m poor)
M – I have free hugs!
A – Back off, I have a stapler and I’m not afraid to use it! (note: I don’t actually have a stapler)
M – Seems like an office thing to have though, perhaps when we make it big with Puzzle Puppets?
A – We run a largely paper free office.
M – Well going back to the IGDA, that was very enjoyable. We got to speak to some of the guys that took their games over to PAX in the USA.
A – Those guys are cool. I wanna go to PAX.
M – Here here. Well perhaps that may come true, it seems its coming to Australia!
A – We also learned that there may be some things announced by the government relating to games and the film/multimedia industry that could potentially be of use to us in the future (Android release of PP)
M – Indeed, the rest of the night was spent catching up with mates and being sad ‘cause there wasn’t any burgers left to order.
A – And THEN we couldn’t find anywhere that would sell us Chinese food :(
M – But all was well, we had Indian food near the Hawthorn so we didn’t die of starvation.
M – Azza’s doing something so I’m having another turn, HA!
A – I didn’t realise you had finished, my bad I guess.
M – You are forgiven, also bad news everyone, we didn’t get accepted into the Freeplay to show off Puzzle Puppets.
A – As for as Puzzle Puppets goes, all that is really left for us to do is tweak some minor things and add lots of cute and funny sound effects that don’t annoy people after they have heard them 10000 times.
M – Yep that extra 20% that seems to take 80% of the time :\ But we should wrap things up as we have a very busy week ahead of us.
A – We also plan on releasing a trial version of the game on the Windows Phone since there is no easy way to have in app purchases that we are aware of and we have to charge money for Puzzle Puppets (which will totally be worth it btw)
M – It will be something we look into when we have more content that you can spend your hard earned monies on.
A – It’s also possible that the Android version will be free to play with in app purchases, but this hasn’t been finalised.
M – Is it weird that this feels like the most we have talked even though our chairs are metres away?
A – Quiet you, the sound of your voice is like nails on the chalkboard of my soul!
M – Some would find that alluring, but lets sign off so people can enjoy the Friday night.
A – Some would be sadists….  also : let’s*
M – Well hope you all enjoy this insight to our weird little world, and are looking forward to the release of Puzzle Puppets at the end of the week!
A – We also hope you find this format of post half as entertaining as we have!
M – Haha yeah, we wanted to rock off to do it but thought… Ok I just saw your correct annnnd I will deal with you off chat. Cya Wombats!
A – Have a great weekend everyone!
M – Bye!
A – Last word!
M – DAMN!
A – C ya! (hehehe)

Devlog #9

Hello again! It’s Friday so it’s time for a beer and another of our famous devlogs.

In this weeks episode Byte Sized Wombat does business things, Puzzle Puppets returns from the grave and Matt gets confused over the question “So what have you been doing this week?”!

Business Bear So this week we have been doing some things to further Byte Sized Wombat as a whole. This was somewhat prompted by an email from our accountant informing us that we have been refunded a fairly trivial amount of money and they needed our business bank account details in order to pay us. Up until this point we had not actually needed a business bank account; Puzzle Puppets is still weeks from certification so we were not expecting to need a joint account to be paid into for some time so we have just been making any business related transactions through our individual accounts. Given that this account will essentially sit dormant until the game releases we ended up dedicating a day to finding a bank that would provide an account with no maintenance fees or fees associated with online banking. Matt is currently in the process of filling out a whole bunch of boring paperwork to sign us up with an account that will give us just that as well as a debit card that we can use for online transaction.

The other business related thing we have done this week has been to attend a monthly meeting of the IGDA in Melbourne where we got to meet a bunch of other indie developers from Victoria. While we were there we also got to catch up with a few of the guys we met at iFest a couple of months back, including members of Electric Mammoth Studios and Dime Studios who are both planning to release their own games in the near future.

Zombie PhoneOn the actual development side of things I’ve been getting “tombstoning” functionality working in the game. Without going into too much of a technical explanation, the gist of what I’ve done is make Puzzle Puppets restore itself to approximately the state it was in when if the user has been playing the game and then been pulled out of it somehow (via phone call, pressing the search button, etc) and then had the game dumped from memory. The slightly frustrating thing is that even when the user is pulled out of the game, the game may not actually tombstone and will instead resume from the exact moment the user was last playing; So it’s possible that many people may never actually have the game tombstone so it feels like I’ve added a feature that many people will never see. To make myself feel better about it I doubled up some of the functionality from tombstoning to allow the game’s progress to be saved, even mid battle, so now it’s possible for people to play smaller sessions of Puzzle Puppets without having to worry about not getting the highest possible score because they didn’t have the time to be able to chain all the battles together.

When I asked Matt what he’d been up to this week he was neck deep in legal mumbo jumbo associated with signing up for a bank account and making sure we had all the required documentation (including an official looking partnership agreement that he just made up and made me sign) so he was making very little sense. After a moment to gather his thoughts and some beer to bring him back to his senses he told me he’s been hard at work filling in the price list for the in-game costume shop, doing more work on the cut-scenes and finalising more of the new menu look.

 

EDIT : Fixed link to Electric Mammoth Studios and appologies for not even getting the studio name right :/ . Let’s just blame that one on Friday afternoon autopilot brain.

Devlog #8

Hi everyone,

I’ll be giving Matt a break from writing the devlog this week in the hopes that we can both start our weekend by a reasonable time.

This week we have been busy trying to deal with various government organisations trying to obtain some funding for our work. If you have tried dealing with these kinds of services before then you’ll understand why when I say that this week has been an exercise in frustration. For the uninitiated, lets just say you know you are going to have a bad time when the two organisations that you should be able to get information out of each tell you to contact the other organisation because they can’t help you.

Long story short, we have given up on government funding for now; after having spent several days going to meetings, interviews and information sessions that ultimately informed us that if we participated we would be completely occupied doing things to qualify for the grant for the next three or so months with no guarantee that we would actually get any funding at the end of it.

 

Dance My Puppets!During the time we haven’t been running around like idiots Matt has been working hard at trying to get a cut-scene up and looking nice using the basic XML scripting system I wrote for him to use. Progress appears to be slow but steady. This was always to be expected due to the way we have chosen to build cut-scenes; purely using XML with no visual aides means that there is a fair degree of trial and error involved in getting scenes looking and performing just the way we want them to.

If we had more time and I was less busy working on other areas of the game we would considder building some tools to help to streamline the process.

 

Nooooooooo

Noooooooooo!

Meanwhile I’ve been cursing both the unnamed government agencies and Microsoft. One of the most useful places on the web to find solutions to programming problems can be forums and discussion boards where people have already solved a similar problem to the one you are having. Unfortunately for me Microsoft is in the process of upgrading some of it’s developer websites, including the forums, and so a number of pages I had bookmarked and hoped to use this week were unavailable. Here’s hoping it’s back up soon.

Aside from muttering and grumbling to myself  about this I’ve actually gotten some work done too. Yay! The game will now actually save your progress if you are part of the way through a play-through of an act! Next week I’m planning on tackling “tomb-stoning” which is the term MS uses for when an App is deactivated unexpectedly, due to an incoming phone call, search button press or other event that would usually cause the game to lose focus, and then manually attempting to restore the app to the state it was in if the user happens to come back to it; so all kinds of fun there :/

Anyway, lets hope we are more productive next week and I didn’t come across as someone who just whinges all the time. Enjoy the weekend everyone!

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