Puzzle Puppets

Information which relates to the Puzzle Puppets game.

Devlog #12

Yep its polishing time, everything is in so we just have to make it sparkle and fix all the dents. Our last feature the leaderboards is all working and it’s fantastic, we have already started competing highscores against each other.

On the business side of things, our bank account is set up which is nice, we are still waiting for the paperwork to come through so we can access it online however its an important step to sending our game off to Microsoft.

So whats next on the horizon? We will still be polishing things next week, more cut-scenes need to be added. We will be making some extra sounds as some things are reasonably dead. Then we will send the final build off to Microsoft and wait for it to get certified. While that’s going on, hopefully we would of been selected for the Freeplay event and can show off our game there. We will be putting together a launch trailer and press kits to help get some hype around the game and then once its live in the Marketplace we will see how things go from there.

Well its the weekend, enjoy it. We are going to play some Awesomenauts while we settle into the Friday evening shenanigans.

 

 

Devlog #11

Hello again for another friday update.

So on the weekend we had our appointment with the Freeplay judges to show them our game. Freeplay is an independent game festival a little like iFest and we decided to enter our game in the hopes that it gets selected to be shown during the event. Lunch on Sunday at the State Library was where we needed to meet the Freeplay guys to show our game. We sat in a room with the lappy and phone setup to show them Puzzle Puppets, excited to see what they would think of it. Two other developers came into a room for a chat, finding out that they had been kicked out of their room as the judges wanted to play the game without them anywhere near them. This was not great for us, we weren’t exactly expecting for them to have free reign of the game without any of our guidance. We had heaps of debug stuff still left in the game because it takes time to rip them out and we had only been using them the previous day and needed them for work on the Monday. So after a slight stressing out session we decided we would be fine as we could tell them to avoid these parts of the game as they arent intended for anyone but the developers. So as they came into the room to kick us out we quickly explain for them to only play the Ogre Wedding and Gladiator plays. “Ahhhhh” we felt relieved that it was all sorted. While we waited for them to play our game we chatted to the guy that organises Freeplay, he has a love for the theatre and so enjoyed the idea of our game.

It was probably 20-30 minutes before the judges came back to us to tell us they were done. The whole process was interesting, because they had so many entries this year they needed to get through them as fast as possible and so they couldn’t chat or give us any feedback on our game. We thanked them for their time and were looking forward to hearing from them about whether we made it in the finalists (10th of Sep it seems). So while not the demo we had in mind it wasn’t the end of the world… then we checked the phone and laptop and saw their saved progress… They played all the debug dev stuff :( They played the test play which has a whole bunch of yellow puppets that take 1 hit to kill and it looked like they did the smallest amount of customising of the puppet. We are really hoping this hasn’t made their experience of our game a terrible one and hasn’t hurt our chances of hopefully getting into Freeplay.

But we move forward, we still have our debug stuff in there but we are getting very close to what we will send of to Microsoft to start selling our game. This week we have been working on final things and starting to polish everything. In the picture below you can see what my placeholder art was to the version I made yesterday on the right, a little nicer and more consistent to the art style I’ve settled on. I’d like to still add more details to the map like small little jokes or interesting bits but time is running out and we can always patch things in later if we really need.

The other thing I spent some time on was making an actual tutorial level. Tutorials are always a funny thing with games, they can cause much rage to some players and then others cannot function without something telling them what they need to do. I personally like to experiment with a game and enjoy learning the game as I play so tutorials that are mandatory and cant be skipped annoy me. The one we have in our game is made the same as all our other plays, its the first play in view when they start the game but can easily be skipped over. The tutorial is a couple of small battles with a cutscene before each one pointing out an aspect of the gameplay and giving them a dummy puppet to practise on.

The last thing I’ll chat about is the most exciting, Azza has been coding away at implementing leaderboards to our game hurray! We are using a service called Mogade to bring online highscores to Puzzle Puppets. I asked him if theres anything he wants me to talk about in regards Mogade and all he said is “It’s and awesome free service”. So if you’re thinking of adding online leaderboards to your game you should check them out MOGADE. There seem to be a fair few Windows Phone games using it already and apparently an Android version is in the mix as well. So yes leaderboards are coming and you can check out the concept art that Azza is adding into the game as we speak. He seems to be getting all the information correctly handled and has some of it displaying already in game.

Leaderboards are a big part of any score based game and ours is no different. Mogade allows us to set leaderboards for all the plays and acts in each play so you can compare yourself against the world. It also lets you see your rank in the Daily, Weekly and Overall flavours.

Well I think that’s all the waffling on I have for you this week. We are sort of at the crunch end of the dev cycle and have heaps of things left we need, want and would like to do but also need to get this game out to the public. We have no idea how the process will be once we send it off to Microsoft for review but we are aiming for that to happen very soon. Once its been sent off we will be focusing on making more content, providing updates and looking at the best way to port the game over to Android and iPhone. Also during the certification process I’ll probably throw together an awesome release trailer to get people excited about the game.

Oooh one final note before we head off into the glorious weekend, I really hope its going to be sunny and nice. Our fantastic mate Kirky has given us some more music he has been working on to help make Puzzle Puppets a great game to play and listen to. So we should have all the major pieces to round out the game and only need to add extra sound effects to small things. So a massive thank you goes to him for having musical talent and being awesome enough to spend his free time making tunes for us. His latest song is very catchy and so we are thinking of putting that as the fighting/gameplay music and putting his other more colourful/circus piece to be the menu to give the dressing room more personality.

 

Ok I’m stopping now so you can all go and enjoy the weekend. A happy fathers day to everyone, and as always we look forward to seeing you next week.

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.

Good News Everyone!

A video devlog is happening tomorrow!

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!

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.

Shop

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.

Interface

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.

Interface

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.

cutscene

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.

 

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