Pumpkin Patch Match Now Available on Windows

Pumpkin Patch Match is now available on the Windows desktop platform!

Pumpkin Patch Match is a spooky spin on a classic audio pattern matching game. Jack-o-lanterns will light up and display an audio tone in a random pattern.  Repeat that pattern to advance to the next level.  Pumpkin Patch Match will add one more jack-o-lantern to the pattern every time you are successful.

If you grew up in the 70s and 80s, the concept of Pumpkin Patch Match will be familiar to you.   Great for kids!  Fun for adults!   Great for Halloween, or anytime!

See how many jack-o-lanterns you can pick in a row.  If you make a mistake, a second chance is available.

Supports English, Spanish, German, Chinese, and Japanese languages.

Pumpkin Patch Match was originally released in 2015 for mobile platforms. A Macintosh version will also be available soon.

[divider]

My LD42 Results

Well, the results for LD42 are in, and this time, I am extremely surprised and pleased…

  • I placed in the top 100 in 7 out of 8 categories!
  • I placed in the top 10 in 2 categories!

I felt Johnny’s Flipbook Space Adventure was good, but I had no idea how it would rate.  Many thanks to those that played and rated.

As I mentioned in a previous Post-Mortem blog and video, this was a LD I almost sat out, but decided to jump in about 12 hours late. I am glad I did!

Looking at the graph, I normally rate somewhere in the middle of the pack, so the LD42 results really stand out. Some things that I find interesting, looking at the scores:

  • All audio was done by speaking into a microphone, and changing the pitch to make it sound more like a child. No computerized bleeps, bloops or tools to create sound effects. The results were obviously favorable.
  • Top 5 in Humor! I did try sprinkling in some funny things, so I am glad that it was noticed and appreciated.
  • Mood.  I always score very low here, and I guess it was because I am not sure what this is exactly… until now. Did the player feel like they were playing a flipbook game? Answer is “Yes”!

  

Continue Development?

After every LD, I feel that I should continue development on my game, but I never do for various reasons. With this game, I am still undecided. The high score is motivating me to continue development, and I feel that this may be a good Nintendo Switch game. I do have some enhancement ideas, like adding additional enemy types, but I also have an idea to add this style to the game I am currently developing, SMS: The Next Mission as a bonus level for early adopters. I would be interested in any comments around future plans.

In Conclusion

For a game that was almost never written, it scored beyond any expectations I had, and I am seriously considering continuing development as a stand-alone game as well as a mode in the game I am currently developing.

I also hope to keep the momentum going for LD43!

[divider]

Post-Mortem – Johnny’s Flipbook Space Adventure

Another Ludum Dare, another Post-Mortem.  This one is about the recent Ludum Dare 42 events and the development of my game Johnny’s Flipbook Space Adventure.

The Days Up To Theme Announcement

I was looking forward to LD42 for months, until about a week before the start. For some reason, I was not hit with the normal excitement, and decided that it may be time to take a break… after all, I did 5 LDs in a row and I am currently working on my pet project. I decided to press on and go through voting for themes.

Honestly, I wasn’t a fan of most of the themes to make the finals and when the theme was announced, I decided that its probably a good idea to take a break. Even though I was “out”, I was still thinking of a game, and about 6 hours later my game just came to me and I was in! At this time it was well after midnight so I decided to go get some rest and start early the next morning. By the time I got started, I was over 12 hours behind, but I was determined to ramp up and get to work.

Day 1

Day 1 for me was actually Day 2 of Ludum Dare. I decided for the theme I was going to use hand drawn images and animate them in a flip book style.  I used Adobe Photoshop Sketch (which I never used before) on my iPad to draw 5 images for each sprite, and animate them in a loop. It came out very nice.

I scanned some graph paper as a background image. I also scanned a piece of paper that I tore a hole into. Originally, this was going to be used when the player’s ship shoots an alien ship… I wanted the hole to appear at the spot where the alien ship was destroyed, but this was becoming quite a challenge. There was a lot of overlap with other holes and existing alien ships, and that was causing a lot of physics issues that I just could not work around. It also made the game a bit frustrating to play.

I decided instead to “tear” a hole in the paper between levels. That seem to work and made game play fun and challenging.

By the end of the day, I had a pretty solid space shooter with some audio in place. Since I was pretty far into development at this point, I decided to call it for the day, and pick it up again the next day.

Day 2

It’s not Sunday 8:00am EST. There is 10 hours of Ludum Dare left, but I was in a good position. I completed the audio, using Audacity and Adobe Audition (another tool I never used before) to make my voice more child-like, created the title screen, and back story, and after a bit of play-testing, it was time to submit.

What Went Well

  • Normally, it is a bit of a task to come up with something I want to develop and is fun to play. This time, the game idea just came to me so easily. This was a game I really wanted to make! That was an incredible motivator.
  • During development, I actually learned how to use 2 applications I never used before (Adobe Audition and Adobe Photoshop Sketch). I’m not a pro with them, but they are 2 more tools in the tool belt.
  • I made all the audio with my voice, and it was fun!

What Could Have Gone Better

  • I’m not really sure… this is a tough one. My original ideal of ripping holes when alien ships were destroyed was costing me a lot of time. Same with my lack of enthusiasm during the start. I did turn these into positives and I think it helped me create a game I really enjoyed programming and playing.

 

[divider]

SMS: Next Mission – August Update

Time for another update… Space Mission Survival: The Next Mission development has been going well these past couple of months. Right now, I have the following modes in a playable state:

  • Arcade 70s – Blips, bloops, vector glow!
  • 8-bit 80s – Classic home computer pixel fun
  • Console 90s – Higher res, digitized sound effects

Screenshots are to the right… click on the pic for a larger image. I am also planning a short video to go over the history of this game, my development timeline, and of course, game play.

No more restarts… this is the project that will continue until release!

Some tweaks that I am planning on adding in the next couple of weeks:

  • Right now, the game plays very similar in all 3 modes (except for the sounds). I plan on adding some additional features to the 80s and 90s mode to include features that were available at the time.  Perhaps a boss level for the 80s mode, and more enemies in the 90s mode.
  • I am considering adding an additional mode for the 2000s. Roughly based on some ideas from my previously abandoned “Shmup Mode”. I have a couple of ideas, but no promises., and I won’t let me hold back the release.
  • I am thinking of adding something to the game for early adopters… perhaps a new mode (text-based 60s, anyone?), or a special ship.

The plan is still to put a version up on itch.io or Steam as soon as I can. I am working toward that goal now. Maybe that will generate some feedback.

[divider]

SMS:Next Mission – May 2018 Status

I guess it should not be surprising, after reading many of my previous status posts, that things have changed yet again. It seems like I never want to release this game. This time, though, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

After several attempts at trying to create a “Shmup” version of Space Mission Survival, it has finally occurred to me that I do not like any version I put together, and I should temporarily abandon the attempt, since that is the only thing holding up release. Instead, I decided to clean up the currently complete version of the 70s, 80s, and 90s modes, and release a beta on itch.io as soon as possible.

A lot has changed in the Unity world since I completed that version in 2017, and loading up the project resulted in a lot of errors and warnings. I’ve also learned a lot along the way, and some of the ways I went about coding the game makes me cringe.

Right now, I am migrating everything to a new Unity project, again keeping most of the code. When I get a playable version, I will release it on itch.io in beta, and then as a full release. This release will only include the 70s, 80s, and 90s styles, the “Classic” Space Mission Survival… with some minor enhancements for each decade’s mode.

Progress is great! I think I will be able to get an alpha version out on itch.io very soon!

It’s now been two years of restarts, and one year of a completed version sitting on my hard drive. The only delay in the release was that I wanted to add a Shmup mode to the game. Maybe I will one day, but I am no longer making that a priority.

[divider]

Bullet Hell Breakout: A Post-Mortem and My Results

I normally publish a Post-Mortem of my Ludum Dare game while the review phase is still underway, but this time I purposely decided to post this after judging is over. I didn’t want to influence the ratings given to me by people playing my game (in fact, I didn’t post a “play my game” message either). Since voting is now over, this post will be a combination Post-Mortem and review of my results.

Post-Mortem

This LD was probably the most difficult one for me… so much discouragement. I had a very difficult time deciding on an game to develop. Once I decided on my game, the development was such a chore.

Day Prior to Theme Announcement

I like to review the possible themes and put together a short list of games I would develop if that theme were chosen. I was dreading this theme, Combine 2 Incompatible Genres, because I could not think of anything I really wanted to develop.

Day 1

Of course, this theme is announced and looking at my sheet of ideas, there are none. I usually give myself about an hour to put together something before I start developing, but this time I am into Hour 3 and I haven’t put together any ideas that I like.

Bullet Hell Breakout Screenshot
Bullet Hell Breakout Screenshot

I hacked together a few ideas and a combination Missile Command / Financial Management game is my best bet. I start putting ideas together, and quickly realize that the financial management part would be a bit too difficult, but more importantly, I do not feel excited about this genre. It’s not a genre I enjoy.

I’m about 4 hours into LD, and I don’t have an idea. I finally decide on a bullet hell game, and a bit later, I decide to mash it with a breakout/pong clone. I do enjoy both of these genres and decided to finally start coding. It already 1:00am Saturday morning, my time.

I put about 2 hours into designing my game and laying it out in Unity. Around 3:00am (6 hours after the theme was announced), I decide that what I have is utter crap, and I scrap just about everything, and decide to get some sleep and try again in the morning.

Day 2

I get only about 4 hours of sleep and I am back at it. I put together a breakout style game where the player hits moving space invaders. I add an enemy that puts the player into bullet hell mode when hit.

Around midday, I am ready to gave up. The game just isn’t fun. I come back a few hours later and add some features. It’s better but I am giving up again. I do this “code/quit” routine most of the afternoon. I hate the theme, I hate my game, I’m not having fun, but I am not going to give up. I decide to finish today, get something completed, and enjoy my Sunday.

I’m coding late into the evening, and after playing a few rounds of my game, I decide that it’s not that bad, so I will polish it up tomorrow.

Day 3

Sunday is spent adding audio, graphic improvements, instructions, and some effects. It’s not great, but I like it.  It’s pretty close to submission time and I don’t think it is worth trying to cram any more features into the game at this point, so I do my final compile, and submit it.

What Went Well

So little went well in this LD, but looking back:

  • I do like the work I did on the pixel enemies, and the graphics and layout of the game screen.
  • The mash-up between Breakout mode and Bullet Hell mode is interesting.
  • Despite a constant feeling of discouragement, anger and sadness, I finished this game!

What Did Not Go Well

  • The switch to Bullet Hell mode needs improvement. I do like the sudden switch, but maybe a visual or audio clue would be helpful.
  • The ball/paddle movement and collisions can be improved. The “floaty” control of the paddle is something I don’t really notice, but it was a comment made by just about everyone who played.
  • Due to the time it took to decide on a game, and the Saturday discouragement, I felt a bit time-constrained.

Voting Results

The comments around the float-y controls, the paddle, and the bullet hell mode discouraged me even more than normal, so I was expecting a dismal result. It turns out there are some positives.

Overall, I finished somewhere in the middle of the pack, and pretty close to the results of my LD40 game, ANTagonist, which I actually liked better. I’m not sure what to think about this.

What was a pleasant surprise was that the results of the audio and graphics categories were the best out of all 7 Ludum Dares I took part in. These always seem to be weak categories for me, so this is a great news and hopefully a step in the right direction. As I mentioned before, I am very happy with the look of my game.

Conclusion

Despite an absolutely terrible Day 2, I managed to submit a game, and the rating is somewhat better than I expected. I guess the take-away here is to never give up no matter what you are up against.

[divider]

 

Alphabeta Asteroids Now on Itch.io

The PC and Mac desktop versions of Alphabeta Asteroids is now available on itch.io

Alphabeta Asteroids was originally released (and is still available) for Android , iOS and Kindle devices way back in 2013. Along the way, we’ve added some things and improved some things, and we finally decided to give a desktop build a try.

The PC and Mac versions are available to you for free, although any donation would be appreciated. these donations, along with your feedback, will help further development of Alphabeta Asteroids.

I hope you enjoy my game, and I welcome your feedback.

[divider]

LD41 – Update 2

It’s about 24 hours into Ludum Dare 41, and after a lot of thinking, prototyping, getting and getting frustrated, I decided to create a Bullet Hell Pong game. Here is a very short video.

It was so difficult to work on this all day… I do not really like it, and I hate the theme (Combine 2 Incompatible Genres). I think it’s getting better slowly, but. I do not think it will rate very high when I submit it.

[divider]

Another Unity Object Pool Update

It’s time for another update to my Unity Object Pool library. I previously wrote about it here and here, and this update streamlines the code a bit and makes it even easier to use. I am also going to open source this library (more on that later).

I’ve been using this version for some time and have had no issues, so it’s time to make it available. Feel free to grab a copy to use in your projects. If you like this library, and you want to see some features added, please let me know, or consider sharing your updates.

What Was Updated

  • This update no longer requires a Unity GameObject for every pool. All pools are stored in it’s own Queue and the Queues are placed in a Dictionary. When the library is started, it will create nested game objects under the main pool object and will then populate each pool with the correct objects. This makes it easier to see what’s going on in the Inspector.
  • When items are placed into the pool, the object name is appended with “(Inactive)”. When objects are taken from the pool, that is removed. Again, this makes is easier to see what objects are being used at any given time within the Inspector. Inactive objects are in the pool waiting to be used.
  • The library has been created as a Singleton so that it can be used throughout your project via the static Instance variable.

How To Use

  1. Download and import this asset into your Unity Project.
  2. Drag the GBC Object Pooler prefab into your Unity scene.
  3. Click on the prefab in your scene, and in the Inspector you will notice a script named GBCObjectPooler.
  4. Enter the number of pools you wish to create.
  5. For each pool, drag in a prefab, enter the number of items you wish to create in the pool, and the name of the pooled items.

As of this post, there are 3 methods.

GetPooledObject(string poolName)

This will return an item from the pool specified.
If the pool does not exist, or if there are no more items in the pool, null is returned.

ReturnToPool(GameObject object, string PoolName)

This will place the specified item back into the correct pool, and will disable it.

ItemsInPool(string poolName)

This will return the number of items still available in the specified pool.
If the pool does not exist, null is returned.

Open Sourced

I am placing the source code (with example) on github for all to use and update. This is a simple “quick and dirty” library and I would like to keep it that way, but I am sure there are a lot of other useful features that can be added to enhance functionality. I don’t want to add a lot of unnecessary bloat… there are some very good pooling libraries on the Asset Store that contain a ton of features, but my intent is to provide an easy to use pooling library, but let’s see where this goes.

It’s a small project, but it is my first open source attempt, so this is a learning experience for me as well.

Link to GitHub project

[divider]