Tiny Turrets: Dev Diary #1, Humble Beginnings

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BEHOLD! My very first Dev Diary. As you can tell, things have been moving a little slower than I had hoped. I’m not too worried though, I’ve learned a lot and seeing the game at such an early stage will be great to look back on in a few months. I have two more little bits of news too.

A New Name: Tiny Turrets

As it turns out, a game called “Tiny Defense” just launched on the App Store. They sent me a kind email asking me to rename so I turned to trusty twitter to find “Tiny Turrets”. Terrific! (Seriously, try saying that fast – I now have a speech impediment)

A Coding Time Lapse

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This Time Lapse documents me putting together the Gui System. It’s pretty short and not all that interesting, but it does give you a bit of an insight into my work flow. I should note – I actually hid my browser in this time lapse, I spent almost 50% of my time checking the cocos2D forums and stack overflow… not all that fun to watch.

You’ll also notice I’m working full screen in XCode and using “ALT TAB”. It makes a ton of difference to my productivity.

Tiny Defense: Using UIScrollView in Cocos2d

So as you know that I spent the weekend trying to get xcode, objective c and cocos2d to be my bitch.

Most of my time I was working on a solution to implementing scrollviews in cocos2d. Turns out this isn’t as straight forward as I thought, but I found a tutorial over at getsetgames.com which gave me a good place to start. I have to warn you, the code in that tutorial is pretty messy. I’ve cleaned it up a lot below.

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Tiny Defense: Concept Art Time Lapse

Lee Lee is still going full pace on the concept art for Tiny Defence. Most recently, did some more refined, more stylised tower sketches. I bullied her into capturing the entire process in a time lapse and man it looks cool!

As someone who has very little artistic talent and quite frankly has no idea how them artsy types do it, it’s exciting seeing the process. Here you can see her work at hyper speed from concept to… well, concept art:

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Tiny Defense: Early Concept Art

My first Tiny Defense update is ready. Excited?

Lee Lee has been hard at work. Right now her job is not to create sprites, but instead explore different styles, colours and concepts so we can nail down what the final game will look like.

This is an important process and might take a little while! Once we’re done, the next step will be to begin to turn these sprites into game ready sprites – smaller, more stylised and more polished. Before that happens though, feast your eyes upon these:

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Tiny Defense

So a lot has been happening in my life recently: I launched Mr Runner 2, I moved from Australia to San Francisco, I scored a job working for Zynga and now I’m being kicked out of the country while my visa is being sorted out. Things have been pretty exciting.

But somehow, amidst all this chaos, I have two months of complete freedom. I’m going to use this two months to start work on a new game. But this time, I’m going to do things a little differently.
Here is what will be new:

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Will Make Games for Food

So earlier on in the year I did a presentation at iFest Sydney about how to turn a passion for making games into a profession. It covers my journey from a student to a developer who makes a living off flash games.

I hope it has some useful perspectives you can take away if you’re looking to get started making money off flash games. If you have any questions just leave a comment!

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Mr Runner 2

What are you waiting for? Go play it here! And then, if you would be so kind, rate it five stars on Kongregate

To everyone that has been waiting with baited breath for the last few months – I’m sorry! Hopefully the extra few months that I put into the polish of the game will be worth while. Make sure when you play it you submit to leader boards, and race against all the people on the leaderboards, including me. If you can’t keep up to them, you can also watch their replays to see how they beat the level.

When you finish the game, send me an email! I’d love to hear what you thought. If anyone can get all platinum medals and all the treasure, I will knight them – this game is not easy.

So my adventure developing mr runner 2 has finally come to an end! Thanks to everyone that supported me and beta tested. It’s made a huge difference to me, I really appreciate your help. And thanks so much Zack James who did all the art, and Paul Kopetko, who did the amazing music. I love you guys!

Mr Runner 2 Trailer

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If you’ve been following the beta tests you’ll know that it’s almost upon us. I’ve just finished uploading the game to Flash Game License to find a sponsor, so he’ll be ready to run within a few weeks.

In the mean time – enjoy the trailer above with a juicy remix of the music by Paul Kopetko.

The Art of Level Design

Of all of my time spent on Mr Runner there is one thing which takes up most of my time – designing the levels.  I’d like to share a few lessons I’ve learned about level design that I think are really valuable.

1. Work out the feel of your game

Sounds simple, but its not. Mr Runner isn’t just a platfomer, it’s about conserving speed and momentum. Super Meat Boy is about very precise death-evasion. Knytt stories is about exploring. These are all platformers that have very different feels.
It’s important that you get a feel for your own game. When you work it out, this feel will be the root of all your levels. You’ll keep asking your self, does this level feel the way I want it to? For example, every level in mr runner you can do quickly by conserving momentum.

2. Only design levels that fit that feel

When I opened up Mr Runner 1 to the public, I let them design their own levels. Of these, only a handful were fun. This is because Mr Runner requires a very specific style of controls.

In Mr Runner, the controls are designed to be fun when you jump large distances, conserve momentum, time jumps perfectly, make big wall jumps. They aren’t designed to deal with very precise movements in small areas, stopping and starting, or waiting. The level design had to reflect this. It was never cramped, never required anything to finicky, and instead included large flowing movements that let you keep up your speed.

Put more simply, the game was never difficult because the controls were difficult. At all times, the player should feel as though it’s their fault they died, and this is almost entirely up to level design.

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Mr Runner Makeover

One of the most interesting things about writing a sequel is that you feel obligated to fix everything that was wrong with the first game. I’m being almost OCD about it, which might explain why the game is running very very very slightly late.

The latest thing that I’ve been working hard on is Mr Runner himself. I feel like he deserves extra treatment since the game is named after him. The first game didn’t really give him much context or character development. He was just a cute black square thing running through world. It was cute. He’s still a cute black thing running through a world but now, well,

Now he’s even cuter

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And has a pet, Sir Scruffs

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