Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Things I did over the last year - A new platform, A new experience and A new game

So, its been a year again since my last post, and it has been a very long one as far as game development goes. After publishing Squareboy vs. Bullies and getting a mediocre response early this year, I was looking at all the different directions I could go in. I did not really have any new game ideas that I felt strongly about. I decided in the meantime it would be a good idea to port some of my existing games to Windows 10 UWP and put them up on the Windows Store.

Porting to Windows 10 was surprisingly pleasant and I did learn a lot of new things about the platform. I found myself enjoying the C++ framework that Microsoft has built and the experience with porting the renderer of my games to DirectX 11 was also quite interesting. Eventually I did manage to get two of my games, Jack N' Jill and Squareboy vs. Bullies onto the Windows store. I am satisfied with the response I've gotten for these games so far. Squareboy vs. Bullies seems to have gotten more exposure on the Windows Store than it has on the App Store and Play Store combined. Definitely a sign that I should pay attention to the platform for my future projects.

In the middle of porting my games to Windows, I was also trying to figure out what I wanted to do for my next game. I was experimenting with different things, like top down and isometric perspective pixel art, character animations etc. Working on new art techniques and experimenting with different styles has worked for me in the past as a way to get new game ideas. As a part of this little endeavour I also decided to challenge myself by helping out my friend, Thomas Knox (http://norseware.github.io/), with the art for two of his jam games, Mutant Chicken Death Jam and Chirp. During this time, I also revisited Blender 3D and learnt a lot about 3D asset creation. I found an easy workflow to create very simple 3d assets that would be usable in games. So, I started toying with the idea of a simple 3d isometric game. That is where I decided that my next game be an extension of the one button concept from Jack N' Jill to the third dimension, presented from an isometric perspective.

A top down 2d rpg scene
Experimenting with an isometric tilemap
The first concept look of Jack made using Blender
  

Soon after the game jams, I began work on the engine for the new game, and creating all of the art assets for it. I tried to keep things as simple and manageable as I could, since I was going to be the only one working on this. The 3D models for the game are all small and don't have a skeletal armature, for the sake of simplicity in asset creation. This would also allow me to completely bypass the need for a skeletal animation system in my engine. With some tests I found that hard coded animations using a single matrix transform for each model were all that I needed for a smooth looking anim for each character. The next step was to consolidate a level design workflow. Building a level editor felt unavoidable with my initial experiments. I knew this would be a very time consuming process. However, I was able to figure out a simple layering technique in Tiled, that let me design 3d isometric terrain in the 2D tilemap editor. While this workflow can be time consuming, I figured it was way better than having to create my own editor.

A 3d cube tile terrain design in Tiled

After a few long months of hard work, I had a complete game with decent amount of content to keep players engaged for a while. I had a lot of good friends of mine (mentioned below) helping me with the testing. Soon it was October and I could feel that it was time to put out the game. That is around when India's biggest game dev conference, NGDC, takes place. Thomas convinced me that it was a good idea to enter Jack N' Jill 3D into one of the award categories. Soon I found myself preparing for the event. Accompanied by my friend, Kishan (https://twitter.com/kishanm02), I attended NGDC 2016 and Jack N' Jill 3D made it into the top 5 in the "Upcoming Game of the Year" category for Indian games, and got a table at the Expo there! This turned out to be a great experience where I met a lot of nice and interesting people from the Indian game development scene.

Jack N' Jill 3D at NGDC 2016 Expo


Jack N' Jill 3D is out now and you can download it for free from the App Store, Play Store and the Mac App Store. The Windows 10 version of the game is still under development and hopefully should be out before the end of the year!

Trailer:

Links:

App Store: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/jack-n-jill-3d/id1166133795?ls=1&mt=8

Play Store: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=rnarang.android.games.jnj3d

Mac App Store: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/jack-n-jill-3d/id1165065886?ls=1&mt=8

Website: http://rohansgames.website/jacknjill3d/


A Special Thanks to all of my friends who helped me test the game!

Bernardo EspaƱol: https://twitter.com/Nardionet
Jordan Pearson (Calley's Caves): https://twitter.com/CallysCaves
Ben Thumbs: https://twitter.com/ThumbsBlue
Thomas Knox, Norseware: https://twitter.com/NorsewareOrg
Alya Isa: https://twitter.com/the_vet9
Kishan Motiramani: https://twitter.com/kishanm02
 

Friday, November 27, 2015

I have a new website

A few days back I decided that it would be a good idea to have a personal website showcasing my work for the purpose of marketing my games. Of course I had made a simple one page website before for promoting my game Jack N' Jill, before. Back then, I had used Apple's iWeb to build it.

The problem with iWeb is, that Apple no longer supports it and it has become quite outdated. The websites exported from iWeb are not optimized for mobile. So, I began searching for other WYSIWYG webpage builders that would help me quickly build webpages for my games. Although I did find a few intersting programs, none of them seemed to meet my needs.

Finally, I decided that I just spend some time refreshing my html, javascript and css and use a good old text editor to build a website. You can check the result at http://rohansgames.website/. The website is pretty simple and completely static as of now, but atleast it is better than having nothing.  Building this website was a fun learning experience for me. One new thing I learnt was how to construct fonts. If you visited the website, you might have noticed the pixelart fonts on it. These fonts were all designed by me using FontStruct. FontStruct is a great tool and I can see myself using it as a better option to design the text in my games too!
 
I have quite a few plans to improve on my website and make it more interesting. For one, my engine already has the ability to export to web (using Emscripten). So, I can see myself publishing my games on it too!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Squareboy vs Bullies

Another blog post after another long interval. Fortunately, I wasn't away from game development too during this time. I've been working on an old school beat 'em up game, in the style of Double Dragon and Final Fight. Double Dragon used to be one of my favourite games growing up and even now I quite often feel the itch to revisit one of my old beat 'em up favourites. So, naturally, I should develop a beat 'em up of my own, right?

I initially started the development by redesigning and reimplementing my "engine" and I'm quite happy with the result. It is cross platform (iOS, OS X, Android, Web using Emscripten) and built in a way that I just need to have one C++ codebase for my game, and can easily build an executable for one of the above mentioned platforms. Squareboy vs Bullies is, of course, built on this "engine" and I'm very satisfied with the game itself and the way it runs on all of the platforms.

After the game was "almost ready", I decided to send it out to a few people for feedback. One of them was Bernardo Espanol (from Nardio). Bernardo liked the game a lot. In fact he liked it so much that he felt it deserved to be showcased at an event, PlaycraftingNYC. Being the awesome guy he is, he took the Squareboy prototype, along with two other amazing games, Cally's Caves 3 and Tottoko Dungeon. Squareboy being a part of this bunch was very special for me. According to Bernardo, the game was received well at the event and one person even found it hard to get away from it. This makes me all the more excited to get the game out there as soon as I can and hear what people think about it!

Currently the game is ready, but needs to be reviewed (on iOS and Mac) and published. If everything goes well the game should be out before Christmas this year. I'd like to thank all the people who helped me test the game and provided their valuable feedback, and I believe they all deserve a shout out! Be sure to follow them on twitter,  because some of them are working on their own amazing projects, which are definitely worth looking at!

Bernardo Espanol: https://twitter.com/Nardionet
Don Boody: https://twitter.com/donboody69
Jordan Pearson (Calley's Caves): https://twitter.com/CallysCaves
Ben Thumbs: https://twitter.com/ThumbsBlue
Colin from Quikding Software: https://twitter.com/Quikding
Thomas from Norseware: https://twitter.com/NorsewareOrg
Rahul Lakhi: https://twitter.com/RDLakhi
Mohit Lakhi: https://twitter.com/MohitLakhi

Also a big thanks to people from among my friends and family, who tested the game and gave me their feedback but don't use twitter (as far as I know)

Now, finally, on to the good stuff!

Screenshots (Desktop Version)
Title Screen


Bullies at the bus stop

Screeshots (Mobile Version)

Landscape UI on the iPad

Portrait UI on the iPad

Trailer:



Squareboy vs Bullies will soon be out on iOS, OS X and Android. If the game does well, I might also consider releasing it onto other platforms like Ubuntu and Windows!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Interview on Nardio.net

Bernardo from Nardio was kind enough to give me an opportunity to be interviewed on his website. If you like my work, then that is a really good place to know more about yours truly! :D

You should also check out all the other stuff on Nardio as well. There are quite a few fun and interesting games and apps reviewed there, along with reviews for books, movies, tv shows etc. You can also read interviews from some other very interesting game developers!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Jack N' Jill Pebble Watchface

I recently got a Pebble smartwatch as a gift from one of my uncles. So, I decided that I'd make good use of it and develop something for it. I started off by looking at all the available apps and watchfaces on the pebble appstore, which revealed a lot of cool and interesting stuff that people have done there. Finally, I decided to develop a Jack N' Jill themed watchface for it. I figured that it would make a cute little display for a watch and it might also get some people interested in my game.

I also thought that it would be a good idea to put in some useful features like displaying the current location and the weather/temperature for the said location, along with displaying the time, date and day. Doing this wasn't as hard as I initially thought it would be. In fact it was quite easy to understand, thanks to all the guides and tutorials available on the net, and also the well made Pebble Native SDK.

The native SDK is C based and uses JavaScript to communicate with the host smartphone device (and consequently the web). Although I do know C programming, I've never developed a functional app using the language. Figuring out how to do things within the boundaries set by the platform was quite an enjoyable experience and I learnt quite a few new things in the process.

Screenshots:





If you use a Pebble smartwatch you can download the watchface for free




Thursday, January 1, 2015

An update of my work over the past year

It's been a while since I last updated my blog, almost a year in fact! So first of all, to everyone reading this, wish you all a happy new year!

Jack N' Jill

Although I have been inactive on my blog, I have worked on quite a few things in the past year. Jack N' Jill has received numerous updates and now it has a total of 140 levels, along with its own walkthrough series on YouTube. Although the daily downloads of the game have understandably fallen since last year, the game has been doing really well on Android and iOS. I am really thankful to everyone who took the time to play the game! If you still haven't, I highly recommend you to try it!

 The Pit

Around sometime in May and June, I participated in a gamejam called lowrezjam. The idea of the jam was to make a game in a 32x32 resolution. My entry was a story based platformer game, called "The Pit", with multiple outcomes based on the various decisions the player takes within the game. I used a C++ to JavaScript cross compiler called Emscripten for this game. While it took some time to figure out a few things, it was great to see my OpenGL / C++ code be compiled into something that could run in a web browser. You can play The Pit for free on gamejolt!



Zie Invades Earth

Around September/October, I began working on another new game. This time I wanted to make something a little more casual, mobile friendly and quick and easy to play. I took my inspiration from the old Game & Watch games and came up with an idea, around that concept. The player has to help an alien steal candy (or anything else) from a kid. The goal is to keep stealing and score as many points as possible. Once again, I made use of pixel art graphics for this game as well, but this time the game is in color. The game is called "Zie Invades Earth". As of now, the game is available for free on the Play Store, and should soon be out on the App Store



Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Jack N' Jill - City in the Sky


I've made another new update for Jack N' Jill, with a new world consisting of 20 new levels. Two new game mechanics have been added to keep things interesting. The first is of moving platforms or "lifts" and the other is of "wall lifts". Download the new update and try out the new levels!


I am really thankful to everyone who took the time to play and enjoy the game, leave me reviews and also tweet to me about how you all enjoyed Jack N' Jill. You all make it worth putting in the time and effort into all this.


https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Bdt793bCMAAat0d.jpg

Download Links:

Google Play Store download

App Store download

Mac App Store download