Devlog #10

Hello, after a bunch of retakes because they were rubbish or had interruptions in them, here is the video!

Well at least now you can see the game in the flesh, video updates in the future will probably just be cut and voiced over to show the new stuff.

Tomorrow however we will be going back to the city to show off our game to some judges from Freeplay. So fingers crossed we will be accepted and get our game at that exhibition.

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.




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!

Devlog #7

Good Evening, a short sweet and to the point update.

Started throwing together a video so you could see some gameplay but without a direction of what I wanted to show you the video was just ending up way too long. Nobody wants to watch me play puzzle puppets for 8 mins, however the game did look awesome sped up 400%. So alas no video update this week but with some preparation perhaps next week will be a video dev diary instead.

So the update. The shop works great! You dont earn any money but when you do you can goto the shop and buy all sorts of things to make your puppet look even cooler.

Well thats basically it. We are excited to show you gameplay so I suppose the first video will be rather long but you will have my lovely voice to keep you entertained.

Enjoy the weekend, it seems winter is slowly getting kicked out for nicer weather and I can’t wait.


This is how the shop looks right now. All the functionality is there and its just waiting now for me to come in and jazz it up a little.


Devlog #6

The weekend is upon us. This week we will give you a sneak peak at the new interface, the shop and explain how the cutscenes have turned out.

Lets start with the new interface. As we said last week iFest was the wake up call to make the interface brighter and more interesting to look at. You can check out the concept I made for the new battle screen below. Firstly the boring greys of the borders have been replaced for a much brighter yellow and lovely blue. The major change however is the HUD (Heads Up Display) layout and sizes. These changes are fairly necessary as it helps draw the eye to the various aspects of each one. The big text the top is meant to make the score stand out a lot more. The experience bar now connects to your level bubble so it ties both of them together more so hopefully people understand they are connected. Taking health off the bottom of the puppets gives us more room to position and size them on the stage, also it should help drive home the fact which is your health and how much health the enemy has. The money you collect after defeating enemies is down the bottom as it isn’t as important to the gameplay as the other elements.


Some may think its silly to spend more time on rearranging these elements but it can make a huge difference to your game. Moving these elements should make things more obvious and help accentuate what things are important gameplay-wise.

Next we wanted to show you what the general idea with the store is. If you have been following, you can customise your puppet to look however you want by changing things such as your hat, eyes, clothing, face accesory etc. The shop is going to be where you can spend in-game coins to purchase other items for your costumes. You will earn these coins everytime you defeat a monster, and the amount of coins will probably relate to how hard you hit them on the last hit. It’s always nice to be rewarded for playing games and so having cool items for you to buy and dress your puppet in is a nice way to say thank you.


The final part of the devlog will be the current state of the cutscenes. Azza finished writing the code to handle them all and all thats left is to write lots and lots of content. We had a few ideas of how to so the cutscenes, and the obvious one is to just have the puppets come on stage and act their part. This does fit the puppet show theme to a tea however it reduces some of what we can do with the story. What we have ended up with is a sort of comic book style paneling where the puppets act their part and when the major bit of story is done there, the next panel lights up and progresses the story. We think this way it will be more exciting for the player, it also allows us to show a more complex story quicker and considering its designed as a mobile game its always a good thing.

I’ve attached a quick story board i drew up this week of the Ogre Weddings opening and closing cutscenes. I have felt guilty that the last 2 entires haven’t had any eye candy so I’m trying to make up for it this week. It may be rather hard to tell whats going on with my scrappy concepting but I’ll give you the quick rundown of what the opening cutscene to this play is.

Panel 1: The princess is sleeping in her bed.

Panel 2: The door slowly creaks open.

Panel 3: The princess is startled by the sound and wakes up.

Panel 4: The ogre groom shows his face and says hi.

Panel 5: The princess runs back and forth screaming.

Panel 6: The princess gets bonked on the head by the ogres club and it fades to black.

Panel 7: She wakes up in a wedding dress.

Panel 8: It shows shes standing next to the ogre who is in a Tux and is making Kissing sounds at her.


So the direction we are taking in the cutscenes is quick and cute. All the puppets will speak with chipmunk voices and express what they are feeling through their actions. This was a good way to make things easier for ourselves but also gives the player a chance to use their own imagination and fill in the gaps on what exactly might be going on or what the puppets are saying to eachother.

Well that should do it for this weeks blog. Hope you are all enjoying reading this each week. Its looking like I will have finished making the new interface early next week and get onto that gameplay video I’m sure you are all waiting on.

Till next time!

Devlog #5

Hello again, time for another blog post to tell you whats been happening with us and Puzzle Puppets. iFest was fantastic, we had a great day meeting all the other indie guys from Melbourne, we got lots of feedback and people had a fun time playing our game which is always a good sign. I’ll tell you some of the note worthy things that happened that day:

  • We looked incredibly dashing in our t-shirts
  • An iFest judge said our game us “strangely addictive”
  • Being stuck in a corner behind a pole with no room to move makes it hard to grab people to play your game :\
  • We got more votes for our game then we thought we would so yay us
  • Everyone was very polite and gave great feedback
  • The kids picked up the game faster then most of the older gamers
  • Open bars are delicious, apple crumbles and chilli shots all round
  • The Melbourne indie guys are a good bunch of blokes

Well the week after iFest was more of a lazy week hence the no devblog for that Friday. We ended up working on some of the business side of running an indie company and trying to sort out funding and accounting stuff. We also tried to catch up on some games we haven’t played. For people wanting to make games, playing all sorts of games is a very good idea as you can learn something from every single one.

So what have we been up to this week working on the game you say? Currently Aaron is implementing the cut-scenes in the game. We always wanted some sort of story to help reward you for progressing through the levels and so Aaron has been working on making that happen. We had wanted to update the interface since we had moved further from the old idea and iFest was the last straw. The game looked less inviting and not as colourful as you would want for this cheerful puppet show and so I’ve been chipping away at the menu to make it look more pleasing and fun. The other reasons for the interface change is to also make certain aspects stand out more because players didn’t pay much attention to it during their demo.

Enjoy the weekend and once we have the new interface up we will post a video so you can see some puppet fighting action.


Devlog #3

Another Friday is here so its time to look back on the week. The iFest deadline is looming (next Saturday in fact) and so we hoping to give you all a great demo of the game. So lets talk about what we have been up to.

Cave Troll
Yay play progression is finally in! This was a major feature of the entire game and one of the things I’ve been excited about. Basically this feature just carries over your progression through one play into each act in that play. Its a minor thing but I feel its something that you don’t see in a lot of puzzle games. To put things in perspective you are attacking monsters by breaking blocks, which gains you experience points so you can level up and do more damage and earn more points when breaking those same blocks. So the idea of the progression is that a good player can go for big block breaks and combos and level their puppet up faster then other people so that when he plays the 2nd act of the play he will start at level 4 instead of 3 and be attaining more points when fighting monsters.

Now its ok, this isnt going to ruin the game for people who want to play it casually because the monsters level up with the character, this is more for people who love going for highscores. The only thing left to do with this is show the player when they have improved their score in a certain act that all the acts after that could be improved because they managed to progress further.

I spent some time fixing the progression curves of the game. This includes how many points you get for breaking blocks, what the blocks give you at different levels, how much experience points you need for each level, the blocking times for each group of blocks, etc. Needless to say there seems to be a lot to make sure the progression and difficulty of the game feels nice. Hopefully the thought and effort I’ve put in to make it all work together pays off because I have a giant worksheet of graphs, numbers and comparisons that I think explains it all.

The Monster Counter from last weeks blog has been implemented, as well as the profile picture in the top left has been replaced with a level indicator so you can see which level you are when you start an act.

Also we had lost some of the RPGness of the game but we may have an elegant solution to that which will also relieve some of the balancing issues we will run into later on but it wont be implemented before ifest so we will save that until we have nutted out the full details of it.

I had designed our business cards and some t-shirts for Aaron and I to hand out at iFest and they arrived this week, they are a little dark but still look great.

One final thing is a mate of mine has been nice enough to compose some music for the game. In the very short time he has managed to produce some great tracks, we have added the main one to the game which will serve as the battle music. Of course for his generous work we are going to name a boss character after him. So far its looking like he is going to be the final boss of the Gladiator Play where he will have a giant beard and be called Kirky.

It is Friday, and I’ve given you a wall of text so here is a picture of a cave troll and what it seems is a guy from the future with funky glasses.


Devlog #2

So what have we been up to this week? Not a whole lot, the weather has been terrible in Melbourne all rainy and cold. But we have managed to do something.

Monster Count
Aaron and I have had some chats about old features that were needing to be added but since cutting certain ideas they have become less useful. We were going to add a ‘Distance Bar’ in the space between the stage and the block grid so that the player would know how much of the battle chain they had left. This made more sense beforehand but we have simplified the way we handled battles and so we thought it would be nicer to drop the bar, add in a monster count icon, and open up the stage space some more so we can fit in bigger and more menacing enemies like the Ogre. One of the other ideas was a character profile page to look at stats of your current puppets adventure, but since most of it was just for show we have decided to drop that and replace the puppet icon in the left corner with an icon to display your current level instead.

Some of this week was spent cleaning the game up so it looks more polished and less like a dogs breakfast. We added in transition states between most of the game screens so things fade in and out nicely. I finally settled on a font for the game so we have now gone through and made sure all the text fits in buttons and is sized and positioned correctly.

We have been adding more sound effects to the game. Most of what we had so far was Aaron making a noise in the mic to use as a placeholder. It served its purpose but now its time to get some real sounds, but I’d be lying to say I wouldn’t miss them.

I’ve been looking at making some of our existing plays to have some more enemy variety. Adding some assassins and orcs to give the player some extra challenges when playing some of the different plays. One of the last things I did this week art wise was drawing the Colosseum. This will be a simple 4 act play with a boss fight in each one. When we add a new play we try to fill different gaps in play styles or gaming sessions the player would want. We have one play that is a long 3 act play for people wanting to commit to a big adventure, the Colosseum play will fill the gap where you can play the same boss over and over to improve your score because the play session is only about a minute.

The game is coming together nicely, I think next week Aaron’s big focus is on the persistent score progression and mine will be on more content for the plays and polishing some of the stuff already there.


Have a nice weekend, and we will see you here again next Friday.

Devlog #1

So we were trying to think what we should talk about for the first devlog, and then it hit is, the PUPPETS! They are the stars of the show, they are what give our game character and life, how could we not talk about them.

We have spent a good chunk of time making our puppets the best they can be. The very first puppet started out as a static image that resembled a lumberjack dude that you can see on the left. However we always had the grand vision of these awesome puppets that actually animated, held weapons, and celebrate when they win battles. So Aaron set off to create a system to piece our puppets together and to make sure we could animate all aspects of them. I set off to make as many drawings of arms, hats, eyes, clothes etc so our puppets looked unique and interesting. The puppet we use now in the game is the one on the right and we are very happy how they turned out.

Old HeroNew Hero

So we finally had our puppet for the game and we were very happy. Our system allowed us to make lots of monsters for the player to battle and make them look different by swapping various parts out between them all. The fantastic thing about our puppets is that no matter what the player decides for the look of his/her puppet, it will work with all the acting that each play requires.

Puppet PiecesCostumes

So the puppets are created by using lots of little parts and attaching them to the main body, sort of like real puppets. For each puppet part such as an arm or piece of clothing we use spritesheets. You can think of sprite sheets as a giant picture with smaller pictures (such as our puppets clothing) arranged like a chess board.

Due to the use of sprite sheets for all of the games puppet costumes we have been constrained in how we go about bringing the characters to life. We have found that the best way for us to achieve this is to give the puppets plenty of facial expression through the use of different eye and mouth combinations.
The puppet’s expressive face combined with their exaggerated arm movements (because they don’t have elbows) has allowed us to let the puppets feel animated and expressive without them actually having much in the way of body language; many games that do use character body language just make their characters look awkward, which is something we wanted to avoid.

A Fun Fact (without the fun)
In the initial design of puzzle puppets there was going to only be two characters that the player could choose from (a boy and a girl). We found the system we had created to allow us to include many varied enemies fun and decided to extend the puppet show theme to include the dressing up of the player. Since then we have probably spent as much time creating awesome looking player costumes as we have playing the actual game.


So theres an introduction to the stars of the show, a little about how they work and where they started. We will be doing these devlogs every Friday but we would love to hear what you might like to hear included in these posts. We havent gone very techincal atm but there might be other fellow game makers out there wondering what we did and so we can dedicate some posts to explain the more detailed aspects of game making.

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