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TIGSource ForumsFeedbackDevLogsButton Up! - Android and iOS - latest release: 13th March 2015
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Author Topic: Button Up! - Android and iOS - latest release: 13th March 2015  (Read 34998 times)
oodavid
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« on: January 27, 2014, 06:53:41 pm »


previously known as "Molecule Match"...

Button Up! is a quick-fire spatial-logic game for Android and iOS. Connect buttons to complete patterns and score points. Sounds easy? This game will pop yer noggin!

Unlike many casual games that rely heavily on luck, Button Up! is challenging but fair - we have created something that is simple enough for a child to play, but difficult for a genius to master.


Latest Release: 13th March 2015







Milestones

  • 10% - Responsive Placeholder Views - Map, Game, Overlays
  • 20% - Basic Grid Engine and Moleule Logic
  • 30% - Level Rules in place - Goal, Limit, Atomic Probabilities
  • 40% - Level Modifiers / Boosters - Shuffle, Swap, Smash etc.
  • 50% - Progression Map Designed -
  • 60% - Online Analytics Service - I have unusual requirements for data analysis so I'm going to roll my own
  • 70% - Visual Level Editor - I expect to create many 100s of levels
  • 80% - First 50 Levels Created
  • 90% - 3rd party SFX and GFX Review
  • 100% - v1.0 Release

The game is officially "released" as there are playable versions out in the wild for Android and iOS; please download and play!

Why is the devlog still at 90%?

It should be well known that making a game is simply the first part of a long journey into success. We've given ourselves a primary target to meet in 2015, if we hit the target then it's time to go all-in, if not we cut our losses and run - it's difficult not to fall into the Sunk Cost Fallacy when committing so much time into a project; this is our life-raft that will save us from wasting our lives away at a futile endeavour:

By Tuesday the 30th of June 2015, we must have achieved one of the following: 10,000 MAU or £1,000 total organic sales.

So, at the beginning of 2015 we find ourselves entering the next phase: constant development and release cycles, promotion and monetization. The foundations are well in place for each of these and it's time to act on them. I believe it's important to continue the devlog as a way to broadcast the business and development decisions that we make after the well documented game development part. Hence 90%.

The Map

The map is divided up into themed chapters, at the end of each chapter a postcard is unlocked that can be used to brag your progress through the game:




This game is...

« Last Edit: March 17, 2015, 12:58:34 am by oodavid » Logged


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oodavid
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« Reply #1 on: February 01, 2014, 02:42:58 pm »



First bit of gameplay to show.

Each Atom requires a different number of bonds to be "net zero", at which point they turn white. Once you have a "net zero" molecule it's scored and removed. Or if you prefer, connect the dots till you have a group of white dots...


1-bond, 2-bonds, 3-bonds and 4-bonds; respectfully

Chances are in the game I won't use Chemistry terms like "Valence", "Bonds" or "Molecule" but will instead choose to explain it through doing and leave my wordspace to pure dialog; I've never liked the contrast in games between the story and tutorials etc.
« Last Edit: February 01, 2014, 08:33:17 pm by oodavid » Logged


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oodavid
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« Reply #2 on: February 02, 2014, 08:39:13 am »

Just implemented a probability system that allows me to start creating and balancing levels, takes an object of likelyhoods and converts that into boards of varying difficulty. It's gonna take me some time to figure out just how difficult any given combination is, I imagine through vigorous playtesting...

Code:
"valence": {
  "1": 3,
  "2": 6,
  "3": 2,
  "4": 1
}

The first screenshot will let you create small, simple molecules without much effort (and a small score), the latter two will be more difficult on account of the more demanding atoms...



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oodavid
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« Reply #3 on: February 03, 2014, 06:07:06 pm »


Having pondered long and hard about my approach to releasing 2 versions (ie: a "lite" version which just demonstrates the puzzle element followed by the full shabang with proper SFX, GFX, Story and Level design etc.) I've concluded that will only drive me up-the-wall!

So my new plan is:

10% - UI and UX placeholders - Title, FB Login, Adventure Map, Gallery, Game, Overlays
20% - Responsive Layouts for Different Devices
30% - Basic Game Engine / Logic
40% - Level Rules - Goal, Limit, Board Design, Probabilities, Win Overlay, Lose Overlay
50% - Adventure Map (placeholder), Story Cards, Psychology Cards, Gallery Tweaks
60% - Levels Designed / Balanced - probably the first 50 or so
70% - Analytics installed, Playtesting, Level Balancing
80% - GFX, SFX, Story - the third party stuff!
90% - In-Game Transactions
100% - Release
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oodavid
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« Reply #4 on: February 04, 2014, 01:28:18 pm »

Just successfully built and deployed my work to my Android phone, GameClosure has a superb rapid deployment system; I can upload patches of code in around a second!

http://docs.gameclosure.com/native/android-test-app.html

Very very cool IMO!
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« Reply #5 on: February 04, 2014, 01:30:25 pm »

Sounds interesting.  I can't really get an idea how it plays just from screenshots though.
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« Reply #6 on: February 04, 2014, 01:35:35 pm »

Cheers Udderdude, it really needs a playable demo TBH; I think GC can "compile to browser" so I'll be doing that in due course. It's not hard, but I think my choice of chemistry nomenclature raises the barrier to entry a little! I'll probably not refer to the terms in-game... Maybe I can explain it with a video; I'll get my microphone fixed :-)

It might be an original concept, but I'd reluctant to say so without doing a lot of research, the closest I've seen are the unusual far-eastern puzzles you sometimes see in the newspapers.
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« Reply #7 on: February 04, 2014, 07:09:48 pm »

It resembles the logic puzzle Hashi (the "eastern puzzle" you allude to), though only very basically. It does seem like you can just keep drawing lines until the molecule works or you hit a dead-end, which seems like a good design for an action/puzzle game without being a match-3-er.

Will you be incorporating real microtransactions or fake microtransactions? It seems like a lot of what make Candy Crush and Farmville so exploitative are connected to microtransactions, and not including at least fake microtransactions will rob you of that opportunity.

I'm also kind of worried that if you simultaneously reward the player with information about being exploited while exploiting them, you'll reach a point where the player wants to stop playing, but also wants to learn more about these exploited games. Will you be designing levels so that the exploitative behavior can be turned off once it's understood (eg, once the player understands the logarithmic score bar, give them a normal score bar that tracks their progress linearly)?
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oodavid
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« Reply #8 on: February 04, 2014, 07:21:14 pm »

Yeah Hashi was an influence, as was the old Apple II game "Chiral", the puzzle part is really just a lucky experiment that I pursued until it revealed itself! Quite possible to spend time on a big molecule only to realise that it's impossible so you have to throw away all your work. Probably with a "shuffle" button.

Quote from: SirNiko
Will you be incorporating real microtransactions or fake microtransactions? It seems like a lot of what make Candy Crush and Farmville so exploitative are connected to microtransactions, and not including at least fake microtransactions will rob you of that opportunity.

I actually think you could prove "fake microtransactions" would also be a manipulation, especially if the resource was finite as the player will project value to them. It gets a bit headfuckery after a while but I'm confident I can approach it right. Fiscally I'm thinking of a single paywall after 50 levels, essentially making the first part the "lite" version and everything afterward that is "full".

Quote from: SirNiko
I'm also kind of worried that if you simultaneously reward the player with information about being exploited while exploiting them, you'll reach a point where the player wants to stop playing, but also wants to learn more about these exploited games. Will you be designing levels so that the exploitative behavior can be turned off once it's understood (eg, once the player understands the logarithmic score bar, give them a normal score bar that tracks their progress linearly)?

You've really hit on what I'm aiming at; it's a very perverted approach (the "collectable" items are also a psychological trick in themselves). Ultimately I want to employ as many of them as possible in order to make the player really think about how they play games, turning them off would only limit their opportunity to reflect on them.
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oodavid
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« Reply #9 on: February 05, 2014, 09:40:49 pm »

Implemented a few helper methods, one of which turned out quite nice "shuffle":



The shuffle button could be used when the board looks unsolveable, obviously you'd lose all your work on any on-screen molecules so that's the cost to it...
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« Reply #10 on: February 05, 2014, 10:45:45 pm »

Really cool idea, but I think you'll probably need to get the art/juice up to a really good level for it to work - those are what keep players interested long enough for the less reputably psychological tricks to start working.
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« Reply #11 on: February 05, 2014, 11:06:56 pm »

Really cool idea, but I think you'll probably need to get the art/juice up to a really good level for it to work - those are what keep players interested long enough for the less reputably psychological tricks to start working.

You're probably right, I see a lot of amazing visual talent here on TIGSource and that receives by far the most focus and discussion, which is cool. I must confess that I live under a rock when it comes to trends, styles and all things "pop culture" which makes me terribly positioned for artwork.

That said, a visual-centric approach isn't the only way to tackle game design. I've planned this game knowing exactly what my weaknesses are and am circumnavigating them to the best of my ability. If I can create a fully cohesive game with plot, excellent mechanics, optimised, cross-platform that is enjoyable without reliance on graphics then I am better placed to approach designers.

Just took a peek at Xenoraptor;  holy moly that's beautiful! I might approach you in a few months ;-)
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« Reply #12 on: February 05, 2014, 11:29:28 pm »

I don't really mean it from a 'must have good graphics' point of view. It's more that visual and audio rewards for the very basic actions in a game are very important for keeping people engaged in the short term, and that short term engagement is often needed to get people interested long enough for the deeper stuff to start working. This applies equally to when the thing which keeps playing is good game mechanics/story or when it is psychological manipulation - games like Quake and Starcraft have excellent mechanics, but no one would have engaged with them enough to see how deep they can get if the simple things like hitting rockets or building battlecruisers weren't satisfying.

Of course, there are exceptions, but I think you need to get quick engagement if you want to use it to teach people who aren't experienced gamers about the manipulative parts of casual gaming.
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« Reply #13 on: February 06, 2014, 12:28:11 am »

Ah, so you think suitable visuals lower the barrier to entry / increase initial retention. I guess people drop off the curve for any number of reasons.

Screens-wise I don't have too much to tinker with, I can add fun particles and whatnot, but I can imagine that'll come later. I did consider having the antagonist (Edmond Dantès if you will) on-screen during gameplay and his appearance matches your progress. Felt a bit gimmicky so it's on the backburner.

Once I've hit my next milestone (40%) I should be able to release a super-crude demo :-)
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« Reply #14 on: February 06, 2014, 07:57:32 pm »

After DarthBenedict's comments about visual design I thought I'd chat to James Taylor (a local animator) we had a nice cup of tea, I showed him my demo, explained the concept etc. and he seemed keen to take a look :-)

While graphically retarded, I'm most certainly a visual thinker so I've decided to quickly doodle the beginning of the Adventure Map for James to look at and also so I can use it as a placeholder in my game.

This part map represents (pretty much) the start of Dantès journey, arriving in Marseille by boat, visiting relatives, then the local magistrate (blue house with "evil windows", bad guy) who sends him to the château d'if (prison island), where he escapes, and swims to the island of Monte Cristo...


click for big


I'll quickly smash this into my map screen to see how it looks :-)

EDIT: Code-Wise I've just used an imagemagick script to break up the image into "sprites" for a list-view:

Code:
#!/bin/bash
convert map.png -crop 640x150 +repage +adjoin tile_%d.gif
« Last Edit: August 14, 2014, 12:49:45 am by oodavid » Logged


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« Reply #15 on: February 07, 2014, 12:43:29 am »

After DarthBenedict's comments about visual design I thought I'd chat to James Taylor (a local animator) we had a nice cup of tea, I showed him my demo, explained the concept etc. and he seemed keen to take a look :-)

While graphically retarded, I'm most certainly a visual thinker so I've decided to quickly doodle the beginning of the Adventure Map for James to look at and also so I can use it as a placeholder in my game.

This part map represents (pretty much) the start of Dantès journey, arriving in Marseille by boat, visiting relatives, then the local magistrate (blue house with "evil windows", bad guy) who sends him to the château d'if (prison island), where he escapes, and swims to the island of Monte Cristo...

I'll quickly smash this into my map screen to see how it looks :-)

EDIT: Code-Wise I've just used an imagemagick script to break up the image into "sprites" for a list-view:

Code:
#!/bin/bash
convert map.png -crop 640x150 +repage +adjoin tile_%d.gif

I mean stuff like

as much as nice looking graphics - it makes the engagement come quicker and ties into the 'psychology of game design' theme pretty well, although in a more positive way.
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« Reply #16 on: February 09, 2014, 01:56:02 pm »

Having just saw Rebusmind's world map, I've decided that on my map that I want the optional side-quests to only become unlocked once the previous level has a 3-star rating on it. A small touch that means that those quests become extra rewarding without obstructing the regular storyline...

[snip]
I mean stuff like

as much as nice looking graphics - it makes the engagement come quicker and ties into the 'psychology of game design' theme pretty well, although in a more positive way.

pacing - something my mates have said when they've played the not-quite-demo is that they don't get to see the molecule before it disappears, so I'm going to take a cue from that video, highlight the molecule add particles, smoke etc. and see how that feels

permanence - in my early notes I wrote "store all the molecules and tally them up" but realised that undirected graph comparisons are an NP-hard problem (and one I don't fancy implementing) but a nice halfway house would be to save the highest scoring molecule per-level and show it when retrying a level. It could be an interesting way to leave a "marker" on levels as you play through and also act as a memory device upon returning to the game...
« Last Edit: February 09, 2014, 10:44:13 pm by oodavid » Logged


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« Reply #17 on: February 09, 2014, 10:27:02 pm »

Bit gutted I missed Screenshot Saturday (one busy weekend!), but I woke up early and decided to add a little depth to the completed molecule animation. Previously they would instantly disappear meaning the user couldn't enjoy their molecule, now they hang around for a moment then POP! into bits (there's a nice "pop" sound effect too)...

Before (instantly removed)


After (now with pacing!)


PS - am I right in thinking any work of this ilk can be called "screenshake" or is that reserved for actual screen-shaking?
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« Reply #18 on: February 09, 2014, 11:02:56 pm »

I've heard the word juice used for it a lot. Adding a tiny bit of shake to all the atoms (maybe with falloff based on how far they are from the one you made) might give it a bit more impact too, but it's looking a lot better already.
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« Reply #19 on: February 09, 2014, 11:30:00 pm »

I don't really get the link between the adventure mode and the molecules... maybe because I'm not familiar with the Monte Cristo story and I miss a reference.

I quite like the concept, but I think the mechanics would fit a minimal theme better. I wanted to write something about it to explain what I meant, but it may be easier with a drawing:

     

edit: added another colour palette (and I stop messing your thread)
« Last Edit: February 10, 2014, 01:46:59 am by Sved » Logged

... but that is mostly psychological. Check my devlog!
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