No more 52 Weeks of Game Development!



After much deliberation and a significantly busy week at GDC this past week, I've decided to stop doing 52 Weeks of Game Development. The epiphany from this week of enlightening talks wasn't that I didn't want to games anymore, but that I wanted to actually focus on specific projects. These projects revolve around my deep set want to create games for those who don't have the luxury of playing all the games that get released. Specifically, I'd like to make games targeted toward blind and low-vision gamers. While there are some companies that do tackle this, I feel the progress is few and far between.

Some Stats About Audiorun and Why Blind Gaming
Now, to shed some light to what has inspired me to do this. Do you remember my game Audiorun? It's basically a paid app for iOS that's like an audio only version of Canabalt. This was a game that I built across two nights during PAX Prime 2011 in my hotel room. I had an idea during one of the sessions, wrote it down, and coded it in a few hours.

The game's been featured in a few places, namely two separate lists targeting gamers with disabilities. Outside of that I haven't actually done any marketing outside of my own personal rants on my blog, Twitter and Facebook.

The game itself has sold roughly 300+ copies since releasing in September. That's about 150 days and averages to two sales a day. I know I'm not breaking the bank with that, but with such a niche title and so little marketing, I'm surprised when I even see a single sale a day.

So all of this got me to thinking that there are people who need and want this kind of thing (I've done a few e-mail exchanges with customers of the game). While there are some really great experiments over at Audiogames.net, I feel they're just that: experiments.

I know I'm not the only one doing this out there, but I'd really like to emphasize the value in pursuing experience-rich projects aimed for these gamers.

My next steps are: update Shen Games properly to reflect this shift (and offer a screen reader friendly site alternative), and display concepts for my upcoming three projects (one free iOS game, one paid iOS game, and one board game).

In the end the proof is in the pudding and I guess I've got Cosby this up. You know, because he used to endorse Jell-O pudding.

52 WOGD Week 9: Kyoob



DOWNLOAD THE RULES: PDF FILE

Here is Week 9 of 52 for 52 Weeks of Game Development. I wanted to work on a dice game that was actually based on skill. I don't mean skill as in there's some strategy in determining the statistics of dice rolling, like in Yahtzee, but actual skill. All the available moves are always front facing to the player (they just have to keep track) and the only random element is how your opponent moves.

The premise of the game is that you have two dice on two home squares and you're trying to get them to your opponent's home squares. Your opponent is trying to do the same. The way you move is what is listed on the top of the dice. So if a one spot is showing, the next time that die moves it can only move one spot. When you move the dice, you also roll it, which means the top facing side will change as you roll around on the board. There's also one special type of movement that lets you transfer movement points to another die, so you can boost a die if you'd like.

Thanks for your time! See you next week.

I've made a few photo references explaining how movement works:




DOWNLOAD THE RULES: PDF FILE

"I Think Traffic Is Killing Me" Game Cards



I had a sample deck made over at The Game Crafter. It reminds me of the first time I decided to have one of my comics made into an actual physical comic book. There's something about having it realized as a physical product that sends a pulsating thrill through the spine.

Here is a photo of the game partway through. You'll see on the left is the pile where I'm keeping score. The cutoff pile on the right is the discard pile. My car is currently in the right lane.

After playing it some more, I realize that there is a lot of card handling. It reminds me of solitaire in real life and how cumbersome the manipulation of the cards can be. This is probably why playing a digital version of it is so appealing: you don't have to deal with setup. In retrospect, this game will probably be a much better digital card game like my iOS digital card game Sheep.

I'll put it on the back-burner for future development!

52 WOGD Week 8: Tower Chuck



DOWNLOAD THE RULES: PDF FILE

Here is Week 8 of 52 for 52 Weeks of Game Development. I decided to do another tabletop game. This one is a board game that was inspired by games like Castle Panic and tower defense games. It's also a single player game. I have a feeling I've been interested in these single player board game experiences because my wife loves solitaire on her iPad and I see her play it often while we're watching movies/shows on the couch. It is interesting, however, to think about the nature of board games and the inherent social aspect in them, which becomes nullified in single player experiences. Why not just go play a single player video game, right? Hm. A point worth discussing at another time.

This is the standard layout for the game. You're essentially defending your tower from monsters like a tower defense game, but your ammunitions are the stones that actually make up your tower. So as monsters cross the tower spot and damage your tower, decking your play deck, so is throwing rocks at the monsters.

I had fun working on this one this week. I wanted to see if I could make a game that utilizes some kind of game mechanic that automates the game's enemy movements. I also wanted to do something where the stats for enemies were randomized without the use of dice, thus creating a structured random experience.

Anyhow, thanks for checking it out!

DOWNLOAD THE RULES: PDF FILE

52 WOGD Week 7: I Think Traffic Is Killing Me



DOWNLOAD THE RULES: PDF FILE
DOWNLOAD THE CARDS: ZIP FILE

Here is Week 7 of 52 for 52 Weeks of Game Development. I decided to work on another table top game for this week's piece. This one is a solitaire type card game based on the fact that I hate sitting in traffic when I go to work. I know my commute isn't the worst, but it's not optimal to say the least. An average day I probably have a 180 minute roundtrip commute. That's a lot of Game of Thrones on audiobook, but I'd much rather avoid it.

The game is pretty simple: you have three stacks of cards that represent the three lanes of traffic. Each deck has the top card facing up. Each traffic card has a value (minutes) associated with it as well as a rage value. During your turn you decide to drive down the lane you're in or try to switch into another lane. The goal is the arrive at your destination with the lowest time possible. Since there are 15 cards per stack, the fastest time to completion is 35 minutes, which is probably impossible.

I'd say this game was more of a way for me to express myself than anything else.

DOWNLOAD THE RULES: PDF FILE
DOWNLOAD THE CARDS: ZIP FILE

52 WOGD Week 7 Progress: I think traffic is killing me.



This week's game is going to be a physical card game where you're stuck in traffic. The goal of the game is to get the lowest time possible while avoiding raging out too much (as rage ultimately affects your final score).

I bought some index cards today and will prototype the cards. It's meant to be a quick single player solitaire-esque game. I wonder if it will make me appreciate my drive to work more. I also feel like I should provide a soundtrack to play this game to: The Honking of Horns Suite in E Flat Minor. That or just watch the first five minutes of Office Space on loop.

Custom Dice Are Expensive... Maybe I have an Alternative!



So these aren't the dice for my game Punch City Fighters. They are, however, pictures of the type of dice I would like to have made for the game through the funding of a future Kickstarter project. I was all gung-ho for this idea until I read this article from Daniel Solis, indie game designer extraordinaire. He talks about how getting custom dice (especially if you require multiple custom dice) gets increasingly cost prohibitive when trying to actually get a Kickstarter project successfully funded. He's had experience with his Writer's Dice project, so I trust his judgement.

So my dreams for this project are somewhat postponed. An idea did, however, come into my brain and lay some invasive eggs, which immediately hatched thereafter. What if I created an iOS app that handled the dice portion of the game? It wouldn't be resource heavy and it wouldn't be too hard to make. I would also be able to focus on the cards manufacturing portion of the game, which is much cheaper to get made. Also, since I still do the Flash to iOS export, I could offer the dice roller as a Flash app for folks who don't have iDevices. If I get Game Maker HTML5 working, maybe I can simply make an HTML5 version so you just need a web browser to get it to work!

It could happen and it'd be one of the first of its kind... barring the very polished Arkham Horror Toolkit app.

Punch City Fighters Update - v1.01



DOWNLOAD THE OFFICIAL UPDATED RULES: CLICK HERE (.PDF)

Josie and I played the game last night. She said the game is too slow, too complicated and there's too much randomness (which is actually a main reason for the slowness). Someone on the Board Game Geek forums called it akin to a "tax audit". They're all right.

I went and made some changes to streamline the experience and to require less components.

Damage: Instead of five health bars corresponding to five Fighting Dice, there is now only one health bar. As the Damage Counter moves down the health bar, it will periodically knock out Fighting Dice along the way. This provides a lot of options for character creation in terms of the rate of how Fighting Dice are lost, how many can be lost before defeating an opponent and making it less based on luck for matching.

Dice Change: The dice now have these faces: blank, block, hit and double hit. No more need to match kicks and punches and all that other jazz.

Super Moves and Spirit Counter: I took a page out of Street Fighter and Red Dragon Inn. Instead of having a different Spirit Bar to charge up for a Super Move, I have a Spirit Counter that starts at the bottom of the health bar. As it charges up, you just move the Spirit Counter up the health bar. If the Spirit Counter ever meets or passes the Damage Counter, you then have enough to do the Super Move.

This is more like a fighting game, which is what I wanted, since you typically gain Spirit during the match from doing attacks or getting hit by attacks. In the latter example, as you get hit and lose health, you're essentially closer to being able to do the Super Move.

I've updated the rules and hopefully this plays faster. I wonder if I can get Josie to test it out again tonight.

DOWNLOAD THE OFFICIAL UPDATED RULES: CLICK HERE (.PDF)

52 WOGD Week 6: Punch City Fighters



DOWNLOAD THE OFFICIAL RULES: CLICK HERE (.PDF)

Week 6 of 52 for 52 Weeks of Game Development has dropped like it was hot. This week I have a board game for you, just like I promised I would! I've had this need to do a dice based fighting game for a long time. Unlike other dice games out there like Cookie Fu, the dice play more of a Yahtzee role than anything else.

You can download the official rules above, but the quick run down of the game is as follows: two players choose a character to fight with. Each character has five Health Bars and Health Bars determine how many dice you roll (for example: 5 Health Bars = 5 Dice to roll or 3 Health Bars = 3 Dice to roll). Dice have four different faces: punch (x2), kick (x2), block and blank. You roll the dice at the same time and calculate hits from the results.

Simple, right?


The strategy comes from when the moment after the dice are rolled. You can see what your opponent has rolled, but then you place the dice behind a screen and arrange them in any way you would like on a grid of six slots. So when you start comparing the dice, you compare them in sequential order from the slots (so the less dice you have the more likely you'll get hit, but not necessarily).

My future plans with this game are to distribute and update the game rules while keeping the game free for all. I also plan on doing better artwork when I have more time (and am not under the "game a week" ruleset). I also plan on starting a Kickstarter project to fund a Deluxe version of the game. The Deluxe version will have custom dice (versus the ones I've made or substituting with standard six-sided dice), professionally printed Character Cards and nice box.

If you have any ideas or comments about the system, character balancing, new modes or even new characters, please let me know! I'd love to continue to support this game and keep it free as long as possible.

DOWNLOAD THE OFFICIAL RULES: CLICK HERE (.PDF)

Creative Commons License
Punch City Fighters by Alexander Shen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at www.shengames.com.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://www.shengames.com.

52 WOGD Week 5: Mailing a Package



Week 5 of 52 for 52 Weeks of Game Development has arrived earlier than expected. I was actually going to do a word game, but have pushed that aside for this choose-your-own-adventure about my horrible experience at the post office yesterday. Mind you that it wasn't, strangely enough, the fault of the post office but of my own negligence.

The interesting thing is that I decided to use this piece of software called Twine. It's essentially a piece of software that let's you make interactive websites. I always find it easier to lay out ideas and game flow in my sketchbook, so finding software that mimics this (and is free) is always a plus. Its exported project is also a webpage, which makes it widely available for others to experience. I think it's a wonderful prototyping tool and would look into using it more in the future.

Related Link: Mailing a Package