Announcement: Bullfrog Released

After a ton of work over the past month designing and programming my first Mac game, it is finally finished.

All the final artwork and animation is complete. All known bugs have been fixed. The final executable binary has been packaged and zipped.

Bullfrog has been officially entered into the 2005 OMG Cup and public voting opens December 1, 2005 at midnight.

If you’re interested in playing the final complete version of the game, you can find it on the official contest entry download page along with all the other games entered in the competition.

I would love for you to give the game a try and if you like it, please take the time to vote for it.

While you’re trying out games, why not support independent Mac game development and try out some of the other entries. There are some fantastic games waiting to be discovered. Don’t forget to rate each game you try. Who knows, you may discover a new favorite.

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Bullfrog Teaser Screen Shot

I haven’t posted any updates on my development progress on Bullfrog for a while. I’ve been very busy trying to get the game ready for the OMG Cup 2005 deadline of Midnight, November 28.

Once I get through the deadline, I’m planning on writing a postmortem on the development of the game. I’ve learned a ton throughout the game design and development cycle and will try and share as much of it as I can.

For now, here’s a teaser screen capture straight from game play.

Not all the final bug animations are included, but it gives you a much better peek into the final look.

You can get the latest version of Bullfrog on my game downloads page.

Play it Safe vs Play it Risky

Thomas Warfield of “Pretty Good Solitaire” fame says that playing it safe is risky ala Seth Godin’s adivce in Purple Cow.

So many newcomers seem to believe that the key to success is to make a game just like some other successful game.

But the reason the original game was successful was probably because it was original. You won’t be nearly as successful with a copy.

Phil Steinmeyer says that Thomas Warfield is wrong and that casual game developers should stick to established genres and styles or risk failure.

However, I think he’s wrong for the games sub-sector, and that far more first-time game developers fail by being too different from the market leaders rather than too similar.

To throw in my humble two cents, I think developers should work on projects that excite them but are also within reach.

Instead of worrying about finding a game that will sell as well as Bejeweled or a game that will define a new genre; a beginning game programmer should worry about finding an idea that will be inspiring enough to keep them motivated to complete the game project.

I think more beginning developers fail because they never complete a project than any other reason.

OMG Cup: One Week Left

One week to go until the Original Mac Games Cup deadline.

The game is code complete barring no bugs or serious performance issues over the next week of testing and game play balancing.

The majority of the work left to do is to incorporate the final artwork. I’m only waiting on the final animated sprites and the background scenery to be completed.

I’m tired and ready to be done. Just one last push through to midnight November 28th.

Game Developers’ Bill of Rights

The IGDA (International Game Developers Association) has posted a Game Developers’ Bill of Rights on their site.

Some interesting rights are listed. Though I agree with the thoughts behind them. I would think these are all contingent on the contract you sign with your publisher.

For example:

1. The right to full ownership of what we fully create.

While this is certainly a desirable outcome. If you sign this right away in your contract, who’s fault is it? Certainly not the publishers. If you don’t like the deal don’t sign the contract.

Now, I realize that this is a very simplified take on the issue. But is it really? If you don’t like the deal, walk away. Find another publisher, bootstrap the project, or don’t do it.

I face this sort of decision all the time for my day job when doing consulting for clients. 99 times out of 100 they own the work. For the type of work I do, it only makes sense. They aren’t selling the work, they are using it for their internal business process.

But if the project were for sale, you better believe that I would rethink giving away my rights to anything I produce. At the very least I’d want my fair portion of sales.

I understand the frustration that game developers are feeling. The publishers have the upper hand. But, this is the world of the internet. How about self publishing? How about not spending 200 billion dollars on writing that next flop and try self funding?

Turn the market upside down. Get rid of the middle man. Eliminate the publisher, the gatekeeper between you and your customer.

Will you sell as many copies? Maybe not. But you’ll keep more of the profits. My guess is if you do your marketing, you can at least make enough to profit and fund your next project.

Best of all: you get to keep full ownership of what you create.

Bullfrog Alpha v0.80 Released

I’ve been very busy with the new day job. It’s really taken a huge chunk of my time. Fortunately I’ve been able to eek out enough time to finally ready a new build of Bullfrog.

This past week of heads down game programming has produced the following changes for this new release:

  • heavy bug animation optimization
  • added “loading…” title screen during pre-rendering of animation frames
  • all rotations are now pre-rendered for improved performance
  • rebuilt the bug rendering system to support full unlimited animation frames
  • upgraded project to Xcode 2.2
  • ScoreBoard is now renderred directly on the main game view instead of its own custom NSView

Items still to complete:

  • Add more bug varieties
  • Incorporate actual animation artwork
  • Add background to game view
  • Play Balance Levels/Rounds
  • Instructions/Help Screen
  • Options preferences need to be saved between sessions
  • Custom Control bindings
  • Allow player to enter their name for high scores
  • Registration/Demo handling
  • Difficulty Levels?

Some of these features most likely will not make it into the game by the OMG Cup deadline of Midnight November 28. But I’ll do my best. The OMG Cup only requires the game to be in Beta condition to be eligible, so some of the minor things can probably be pushed off until after the contest.

Download Bullfrog

Spammers Found Me

The spammers finally found this site.

So I’ve implemented spam prevention for the comments section. If you are a logged in registered reader, there is no change. For unregistered readers, there is now a security number to enter in when commenting. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Game Icon and Artwork – Part 3

In Part 2 of this series of articles, I presented Jordan Langille‘s initial sketch for the application icon for Bullfrog. His first try was dead on with what I was looking for.

After approving the sketch, Jordan set off to create the initial version of the icon graphic. A week later, Jordan came back with his first attempt at rendering the sketch into actual icon ready art.

I found this version to be a great conversion from his original sketch, but not perfect. I wanted some changes made.

Here are the exact comments I sent back to Jordan.

Looks pretty good. I like the eyes, the back legs and feet very much.

A couple of changes though:

The front two legs look strange to me. They don’t look like they are in the right perspective. They also look like they aren’t quite long enough, like they aren’t really reaching the ground.

The frog’s face and the center point between the front legs don’t quite line up either.

Also his left back leg and left front leg are too close together when the graphic is smaller. They look like they merge together. Maybe some space between them?

Also it looks like he’s resting on his butt instead of squatting on his hind legs. The heel on the right back leg gives me this impression.

Twenty-three hours later, I received an updated version.

Perfect! The front legs and eyes are now lined up. The frog now looks like he’s resting on his legs instead of his backside. Jordan also made the whole frog skinnier, which made the whole image look a bit more balanced.

The next step, creating a Mac .icns file that can be linked with the compiled binary of Bullfrog. Once that is completed, Jordan will attack the artwork for the in-game animated sprites.

Game Icon and Artwork: Part 1, Part 2