May 26-31 Updates

The major updates this week are due to observations of people playing our game and some of their suggestions during the Casual Connect. Guess we still have a lot of work to do.

Disabled building options

This baby is disabled on first level
This baby is disabled on first level

Warrior Defense is a different kind of defense game in a sense that more moving defender means better defense instead of upgraded buildings. Units are the ones stopping the enemies, not the buildings. We saw a lot of frustration from players even in the introductory level when they opt to upgrade their buildings instead of building more. I guess even some tower defense players tend to do this. Enemies can pass through easily if there are less defenders. My solution is to disable the building options on the first few waves to force players to build more buildings, instead. I hope it works.

Tweaked second level

Another player frustration that we’ve observed is in the second level. A new unit is introduced in the second level, the Fire Mage. It’s just natural then that players would to try it. But when they do, there’s a chance that they may only build one more melee building, the Dark Knight which is another expensive unit. Since only melee units can stop ground enemies, enemies can push through easily if there are few melee defenders. I tweaked the level a bit such that enemies don’t come in so fast or they are reduced at some waves.

Gray out unit selection

A player from Casual Connect suggested to gray out the sprite of unit selection if it can’t be afforded. I guess coloring the price to red is not enough visual cue that something is unusable.

Instagram filters =)
Instagram filters =)

Used a box for touch area

I’ve observed that players have a hard time tapping on elements of the game like buttons even if they are already big enough. I hypothesize that it must be the touch point. A touch point is, well, too small. It may be the case that the touch point is already outside of touch bounds when it’s released. A simple fix is to use a box or circle as representation of the touch instead of a single point. I chose box because box to box tests are more efficient than circle to box or circle to circle tests. But the implementation is not so simple at all. It’s a global change and I had to tweak some other systems as well.

Attack logic of remaining enemy units

All flying enemy units in Warrior Defense are ranged attackers. Their attacks need a little programming. Projectile asset and impact visual effect are needed as well. It looks really good, especially the largest flying unit, but I can’t show it to you yet since the unit sprites are not yet completed.

Testing new levels

Warrior Defense has 30 levels! We have publicly released only 10 so far. I’m so busy working with Full Mana’s game designer in making and tweaking the rest of the levels. How many times have I mentioned that level designing takes the most time! At least for this game.

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Another round of updates

Aside from the usual fixes and balance tinkering, the following are the major updates to Warrior Defense.

UI

Development of Warrior Defense has moved so fast due to Full Mana’s backing. The money that I got from them was primarily used to pay the artists. Thus, they were able to provide an substantial amount of art assets every week. The required UI assets are almost complete.

Structure buttons looks so cool now.
Structure buttons looks so cool now!
Players now have an adviser
Players now have an adviser
5-25-2014b
Elements at the top left no longer look prototypish.

Input Recorder

I think I’ve mentioned before that Warrior Defense is going to be showcased at Casual Connect Asia in Singapore. As part of preparation, I implemented an input recorder that works in the background. We can’t afford to miss valuable play information from people who would try our game this time. Eventually, we will implement a system that reads this recorded data and replays the play session.

After 3 days of Casual Connect, we were able to collect around 60MB worth of play input data. I can’t wait to implement the system that reads it and replay the game sessions. This will give us a lot of insight. For future exhibits, we would also be implementing an auto play session. Remember those old console games where it shows the gameplay when the title screen has been idle for a long time? It’s actually a good eye catcher. Showing the mere title screen is boring. We got more people to try out our game when we are actually playing it.

New Sounds

I’ve integrated lots of new sound effects and game unit responses:

  • Defender unit response when they are upgraded
  • Defender unit response when they die
  • Enemy unit sounds when they die
  • Taunting evil voice whenever a wave starts

Kongregate Release

We’ve also uploaded the game to Kongregate (click here). This is not a release. This is one of our experimental releases to get more feedback. Kongregate is a good place for the game to be grilled because there are so many gamers and they are pretty honest. They would really look for negative things about your game and are very vocal about it. I wished we did this earlier. I would have gotten more feedback and save precious time. Based on players’ comments, we still have a lot of work to do.

Now that I have full mana

A lot of spells could be used and enemies could be defeated fast if you have a lot of mana. It’s also the same with game development. You can do a lot of things and finish your game fast if you have financial resources (mana). I’m proud to announce that I now have some mana from Full Mana Studios. See what I did there? I am now in joint venture with them to develop Warrior Defense. They are willing to throw money at me to develop the game while I agree that they can represent as a co-developer of the game and bring the game under their belt. I still retain the rights to the game and its creative direction. It sounds too good to be true, I know. But it’s all true and nothing is bad about it.

The game now has dev splash
The game now has dev splash

Full Mana Studios is a game development startup based in Manila. They kind of operate in the underground scene but nonetheless, it is composed of very talented people, even physicists. It is headed by a triad, 1 man and 2 women – Mars Balisacan, Jica Monsanto, and Mandee Cabato. This is actually the company that I work at as part time since October 2013. I’ve experienced the company’s rough ride. I’ve shed blood and tears with them. I swam with them in a pool. We even shared pizza together. In short, I personally know the people involved in this company. They are good people and I trust them.

It’s quite hard to look for a company that allows you to work as part time so you could work on your personal project. In translation, I was looking for a way to live so I could spend more time with my project. Full Mana was the answer. Now that I think about it, by paying me for part time work, they were actually helping me while I was still struggling with the early stages of Warrior Defense. Fast forward to now, they are fully on board to see the game get released well and on time while still letting me hold the reins. What company does that?

I’m grateful for this interesting event and I thank Full Mana Studios for the support and the trust they have on me. I thank the universe for letting this happen. Do wish us luck. There’s still so much to do. Like a 70’s rocker would say, It’s all happening!

Major Updates Throughout April

With so many events and interesting developments of the project lately, I forgot to post about actual updates to Warrior Defense. I work on this game almost everyday so there’s been lots of bug fixes and updates done. I’ll just post about the major ones.

Silver Knight is imba

Right after releasing the fourth experimental release, a player noticed that the game can easily be beaten by just spamming the most basic unit, the Silver Knight. This is a deal breaker and something has to be done right away! Unit stat changes are scary because a major overhaul might be needed. When one unit’s stats changes, the other might need changes, too, including the enemies. This could also mean that the existing levels might have to be updated as well. Let me tell you that level design takes too much time.

Apparently, these guys are too strong
Apparently, these guys are too strong

After a little stat changes and some play testing, I’m glad that I don’t have to overhaul the whole thing. Its stats have been reduced together with its price of creation. The current 10 levels are untouched but they are still beatable. It’s now a little more challenging but at least the required unit composition to beat levels do not remain constant.

Upgrade items completed

Boring screens are boring. The Upgrades screen is one of these, but this one is quite essential. It’s probably the only thing that would drive monetization to the game. I’m glad to say “It is done!

This includes the unit upgrades and their effects to the game system. Both consumable and non-consumable spell upgrades are in as well. The UI elements are not yet final, though. Most of the stuff in the screen are still placeholders.

Upgrades screen functionality is done
Upgrades screen functionality is done

Meadow tilemap, new UI assets and the return of the minimap

In the fourth release, you’ll notice that levels 6-10 are still using placeholder tilemap. Not anymore. After securing the town, our warriors will move to defending the meadow outskirts. This is how it looks like:

Trees, shrubs, and flowers!
Trees, shrubs, and flowers!

Notice that there’s also a minimap on the left side. The minimap has always been there even before the final tilemap assets were integrated. Its background used to be white. When the tilemap assets have been integrated, the minimap blended too much that it’s no longer recognizable. I removed it in the fourth release. But then somebody complained that he didn’t expect the map to be bigger. I had to find a way to put it back in. The easiest way turn out to be coloring the background black.

New UI assets have been integrated as well like those on the top-left and the ‘start battle’ icon.

I can attack now

In the current implementation, nothing kills mages but they have life. I’ve struggled on how to work around this. Then I realized that flying enemy units are boring. They just fly by even when they are getting shot by mages. To add more action, I’ve decided that they should attack as well. Now they retaliate when mages pick on them. See that green projectile!

I'll spit on you
I’ll spit on you

Casual Connect Asia – Indie Prize

I’m proud to announce that Warrior Defense is now part of Indie Prize in the upcoming Casual Connect in Singapore this May 20-22. It’s a games contest but at the same time, it’s also a games showcase. I’m more interested on the latter. I get to show off the game to a lot of people. Who knows, some publisher might take an interest to it. Winning an award would just be collateral damage.

Yey!
Yey!

Fourth Experimental Release

I just released my fourth experimental release. There has been a significant amount of improvements from the previous release. The enemy sprites has now been completed, the tile map for the environment for the first 5 levels are now using original art, lots of audio improvements, game progression is now saved in PC and in Android versions, unit upgrades are now available, and many many more (see third release here). Play/download the latest release at the following links:

Web/Browser

PC

Android

Here’s a sample gameplay video:

Updated Difficulty of Levels

I test played the later levels of the game yesterday and found that some have become too easy while others are impossible. Let me tell everyone that the tasks that take up the most time is level designing, at least in this game. Adding a game feature is fun and takes less time. Level designing is the real time sucker. I have made some tools to help me in making levels. It still takes time. How much more if I hadn’t created the tools. This is one of them.

My Wave Editor
My Wave Editor

The main purpose of this tool is to help me design the timing of enemy spawns. See that Spawn Curve? There shouldn’t be a time where it’s too high nor staying flat for too long. I didn’t include it in the screenshot, but there are more computed data like total power of the wave, life spawned per second, total reward, total enemy units, etc.

I’ll post about my other tools when I’ll start creating levels again. There’s this one tool that I’ve made that’s really cool. It gives me a combination of enemies that meets a certain criteria like total power value, and the number of unique enemy types to generate. This tool uses genetic algorithm.