Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Skip and Save launch

Today my first non-game app, Skip and Save, launched on the App Store.
You can download it from the App Store here.

To be honest, I have no idea how it will fair, or if anyone will be able to find it. I did a lot of research into app marketing - I followed sites that review apps, listened to app developer and app marketing podcasts and tried to understand the app market place. But it's still a new world for me and quite different to games.

Making the app was a lot of fun, so I would love for it to have some success to give me encouragement to make more apps. We'll have to wait and see how it goes. Expect a blog post on how the market perceived it in a month or two :-)

In the meantime, Pete and I are making progress on Billy Carts. I've been reworking the Track Manager code that builds the world around the player as they travel in whatever direction they choose. Will post some more screen shots soon!

- Johnno

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Billy Carts (Back on Track Part 2)

Last year I wrote that I had finally wrapped development on my Ultra Dash game and was diving back into Billy Carts.

Well, a few other things popped up and in the time between then and now I made a new iPhone/Apple Watch app and put together a major update for Ultra Dash while Billy Carts languished...

Skip and Save is my Apple Watch app and will be coming out the 24th of January. It's an app that lets you track skipping treats to help you save for something special. You can pre-order it now by clicking this link. You can also read my blog post about making the app here.

Ultra Dash is an arcade endless runner I wrote in Swift. The game didn't set the world on fire, but I felt like there's something fun in the game so I wanted to do one last update to see if it can find it's audience. The update will be out in February.

Now, with all that out of the way, I can honestly say that Pete and I are back on track with Billy Carts!

So, what is Billy Carts you ask?

Well, it started out well over a year ago as a down hill endless racer, inspired by Faily Brakes. It's our first Unity game together (though not our first game as Pete and I had previously worked on TY the Tasmanian Tiger, Flight of the Amazon Queen and other games in the past) and we wanted to make something fun and distinctly Australian.

But now that we've had some time away from it (and with an improvement in my Unity skills and confidence) we've decided to change the game play a bit while still retaining the unique Aussie theme and racing elements.

So with the start of the new year Pete and I have ripped the game apart and reset it to make it something a bit more unique. My goal is to share our process of building the game and to do more frequent and smaller blog posts to show off our progress.

The first thing we've done is to change the environment from an endless down hill runner into an endless open world explorer. Previously the game created a series end to end tracks that appeared in front of the player - now we're using a 3x3 grid of square titles to create an open space that reforms around you as you race around the world.

First pass of 3x3 grid that is built around the player.
And this is how it looks in game. There are no props yet - I took out the trees, rocks, etc. to focus on the track generation.

Open world with new skybox.
One thing I want to do is to try out new stuff as we build the game, so the design is fairly light on. It's procedural and you collect stuff while avoiding obstacles and rack up a score - but what else can be done to make it feel great? This is what I aim to find out. I'm sure there will be a lot of missteps and travelling down the wrong path, but that's the fun of making games, right?

As well as the development work-in-progress updates I'd also like to talk about some of the decisions we've made in developing the game. In particular the Australian aspect of the game. As I mentioned both Pete and I worked on the TY series (I co-created, designed and wrote the script) and I have an affinity for making Aussie games. I feel like there is so much richness to explore, but I've only made two Aussie games and want to make more. This is something I'd love to talk more about.

I hope you'll join Pete and I as we try and make a fun game!

- Johnno