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Beals Software

Generic "Game Account Services" Service

Posted by , 28 March 2015 - - - - - - · 223 views

I'm hastily scrawling this down here, basically just brainstorming the idea that I have.

I spent a little bit of time today implementing the database structure for a generic game account services - high scores, achievements, game saves, parental controls, etc. I hate to use a big name, but the idea is basically Xbox Live/Steam for indie games without all of the store/game hosting/etc. I guess a good comparison would be what GameJolt offers through it's services, but, again, without the hosting.

Basically, I'd like to have a place to host my leaderboards, cloud saves, achievements, etc ("game account services" as I've been calling them), but without the restrictions that are placed by the other services available. For Xbox Live you have to be on the Xbox and (as far as I know) online services aren't available to indie games. For GameJolt you have to host your game there and it has to be free. Steam is a pain to get on to and some people simply do not like the service (I'm assuming Desura and such are the same.) As far I can tell, there isn't a service available that offers just the services, with no strings attached.

Originally I had planned on creating an account service like a lot of the big shot companies do (i.e. a "BSGames" account), but I don't want to add another account for users to manage and I believe other indie developers could benefit from a system (so I'd like to stay away from naming it a "Beals Software account".) To avoid the extra account, the idea would be to integrate with something else; we'll just use OpenID as an example.

So, you would go to the "Game Services" site, log in with OpenID and that would create your Game Services account. Whenever you wanted to log in there (or say a mobile app), you would log in with your OpenID credentials. When you wanted to log in through a game however, you would log in using your OpenID username and an authentication token that is made available from the Game Services site (which you can easily change/regenerate.)

The current structure already supports this (as well as a full user system in case I can't really find something to integrate with), along with high scores tables, data items (game saves), awards and parental controls. However, I'm curious if anyone else would find this beneficial or if I'm just wasting my time. Obviously I have visions of grandeur where lots of indie games utilize it, but I don't want to waste my time/energy if I'm overthinking it/missing something that already offers it.

Keep Them Sleeping on itch.io and GameJolt

Posted by , 06 June 2014 - - - - - - · 600 views
Keep Them Sleeping
I apologize, I'm terrible at keeping this blog up to date. I need to hire a socialite to do all of my social stuff while I'm working (that or get my wife to do it lol.)

Quite a bit has changed in Keep Them Sleeping since the middle of April. I'm going to be lazy and just post the change log:
Version 0.6.2
 - Asteroids will no longer damage pods of dead patients.
 - Updated initial sequence to be smoother and more involved.
 - Implemented bacteria level - not used at the moment, but will be in the future.
 - If a processor is lost, the last process is dropped (so, if you go from 4 to 3 processors, the 4th process will fail.)
 - Updated immune system stabilizer to order patients - diseased first, then infected, then by immune system level.
 - Updated chryo-sleep stabilizer to order patients by sleep level.
 - The chryo-sleep stabilizer now respects available processes (it won't use up the last process nor will it apply medicine when there are no available processes.)
 - Added Date/Time and emergency timer to UI.

Version 0.6.1
 - Added Firefly group to the name generator (enter 'browncoat' into the override panel.)
 - Added splash screen
 - Corrected issue with title screen

Version 0.6.0
 - Corrected some UI bugs (some calculations were off.)
 - Corrected bitmap font rendering (some calculations were off.)
 - Moved settings from C# Properties.Settings to custom solution (Properties.Settings was not working properly.)
 - Added help messages (popups show when a patient gets infected and such for the first time.)
 - Added context-based help messages (right click on a panel to get a popup about it.)
 - Started adding intro sequence
 - Adjusted score so that a patient waking up is counted as a negative (you are now deducted 600 points, up from 0.)
 - Chryo-sleep stabilizer administers shots at 30 or lower (up from 25.)
 - A negative response to the sleep medication lowers sleep level by 15 (down from 25.)
 - A notification is now printed to the console upon overdose and paralyzation.
 - A notification is now printed to the console to notify that a patient woke up, but they were pralyzed.
 - Added new events - projectiles can now cause additional damage (to the hull and pods.)
 - Added new game over scenario - ship is destroyed (hull integrity reaches 0.)
 - Removed Help option from the 'pause screen'.
 - Added Override Panel option to the 'pause screen'.
 - Added a load of cheats to use from the override panel after a game has started.
 - Added notification when the last of an inventory item has been used.
 - Corrected issues with cheat mode - disease, overdose and paralyze now work correctly.
 - Added 'Easy' mode - start with 2 processors, more repair bots (both hull and pods will repair quicker) and processes cannot fail.
 - Broke White Rabbit font
 - Fixed White Rabbit font
 - Fixed console window so that it displays the proper number of lines.
 - Added Tips section above.
 - Raised chance of injections succeeding - booster is now 95 (up from 85), infection is now 95 (up from 85), disease is now 95 (up from 90), sleep is now 95 (up from 85).
 - Added rare chance for two items to produced.
 - Updated cheat mode so that you can right click an action and it will finish immediately.
 - Cure infection and cure disease shots now boost the patient's immune system slightly (at the start of the process, rather than the end.)
 - Altered the override panel so that it is no longer case-sensitive.

Version 0.5.5
 - Improved tooltip handling
 - Added background image.
 - Added scrolling space background.
 - Adjusted patient score calculation.
 - Adjusted time calculation.
 - Gain for curing disease increased to 40 (up from 30.)
 - Tooltips no longer contain levels (leveling was initially planned, but is not going to be used as it doesn't fit in the timespan of a playthrough.)
 - You can no longer repair a pod that is not damaged.
 - Added cursor to UI skin.
 - Corrected typos in the immune system stabilizer output.
 - Chryo-sleep stabilizer now actually displays output.
 - Chryo-sleep stabilizer now properly injects sleep medication.
 - Disabled profiling system.
We still have a bit to do - mainly adding support for loading compressed audio and adding audio (there is currently no music and only 1 sound effect.) Other than that, we're going to be working on some more UI options for it as well as refine the gameplay mechanics and make it more intuitive.

You can pick up a copy on itch.io at http://bealssoftware.itch.io/keep-them-sleeping or on GameJolt at http://gamejolt.com/games/strategy-sim/keep-them-sleeping/27679/ . As always, any and all feedback is welcome.

In other news, we are still working on Seeking Imagination, but we're putting Lord Sen's Battle Arena on the backburner until we can resolve the issues with it and implement some sort of servers system for multiplayer. In the meantime we're fleshing out the designs and prototypes for a few other games.

That's all for now; my lunch break is over so I'm back to work.

Failed Kickstarter and New Projects

Posted by , 16 April 2014 - - - - - - · 528 views

Whelp, unfortunately our Kickstarter for Lord Sen's Battle Arena wasn't successfully funded. The game will still be coming out, but we're not sure how we're going to approach it. Our options are to finish the work and put it out with my ugly art or put it off until we have the funds to pay the artist. This also gives us a chance to review the direction of the project before continuing, so we're taking a little break through April on it.

Keep Them Sleeping
In the meantime we're going to be working on smaller projects and ideas. The first of which is Keep Them Sleeping - a small Windows game that puts you in the shoes of the Emergency Pod Management Bot on a spaceship.

The inhabitants of the medbay pods have been put into chryo-sleep due to the length of the journey. Somewhere along the way, disaster strikes, ripping apart the hull and disabling most of the automated systems. It is your job to keep the patients alive and asleep.

Here's a screenshot:
Posted Image

You can see some more on our website (http://bealssoftware.com/?module=project&id=14). You can also download it from there or directly here: http://www.bealssoftware.com/download.php?id=2.

Most of the primary features have been implemented, now we're just refining some things, adding better visual feedback and adding audio. I'm also contemplating changes due to the mechanics not being completely intuitive.

As always, any and all feedback/suggestions/etc. are welcome!

Weekly Update # 16

Posted by , 22 October 2013 - - - - - - · 509 views

Mikeyo and I were quite busy last week with our day jobs, so I missed out on my tasks and Mikeyo's had to take this week off for his. So, the Kick Start video below is for last week and we'll be back on track next week.

As usual, Mikeyo kick started our week with some crowdsourcing projects:

YouTube Link

He follows that up with his weekly update:

YouTube Link

Let's Play Indie Games
The indie games that we played last week were:
Savage XR

Black Ice

Castles in the Sky

We've got quite a bit going on over at www.letsplayindiegames.com. I'm working on getting dedicated hosting for it, rather than routing to a subdomain on our main site. Also, the contact page has been fixed (again; every time I make a change I manage to break that page even though it hasn't been touched since the launch of bealssoftware.com's new layout.)

We've also added a ton of Let's Players that play indie games to our wall; 30 of them at the time of posting. To help promote them (and also because I apparently am too busy at the moment to be able to work in recording and editing a video every day), we're going to be highlighting one of their video on days that we don't post one. In the future, when I'm able to hand the project off to someone else, we may change it to one of our videos a day and a video from one of the Let's Players. I'm not sure, this is the part where the fact that I shouldn't be in charge really comes to light: I'm too indecisive to pick between a couple videos, let alone 30; the entire point of the site is to help promote everyone, how am I supposed to pick a single video a day? We'll see though, maybe a good idea will pop up.

Another idea is having the Let's Players sign up for a mailing list and then dev's can submit their game's information through the site and we'll send it out. Not really sure how effective it would be; some improvements have been offered up (like allowing the Let's Players choose a genre to receive notifications for.)

Kind of a spin off of that idea - I know I plan on putting up a notification for our games that anyone and everyone can make a let's play and monetize it. So I'm contemplating adding a page to the site that will basically be a collection of authorizations from developers for let's players to make videos (and possibly monetize them.)

So, we have a lot of stuff in the works for it. The whole idea is to help promote indie devs, Let's Players that play indie games and to help bring them together. I personally think that let's plays are one of the best forms of advertising (I don't know how many games I've bought simply because I saw the guys from Rooster Teeth having a blast playing it), so I'm really putting a lot of time into getting that off the ground.

Indie Spotlight
The indie spotlight for this week is Black Ice. You can find out more information about it on the project page: http://bealssoftware.com/?module=project&id=10.

Lord Sen's Battle Arena
Last week I showed off screenshots of the multiplayer lobby that I through together for Lord Sen's Battle Arena. However, know that there was a fundamental difference between TCP and UDP, I decided to dig deeper before moving forward. Lots of reading later, I decided that it would probably be best to switch to UDP before moving forward. So, I took our core library, ripped out all of the TCP stuff and integrated in Lidgren.

We're now back up and running and moving forward. I've added a screen for entering the settings when creating a lobby (your username, the port number and the lobby password):
Attached Image

I've added a screen for entering the setting when joining a lobby (your username, the host, the port number and the lobby password):
Attached Image

Here's a shot showing some different teams:
Attached Image

Here's a shot that shows actual map files and map previews working:
Attached Image

And finally, here's a shot showing the host in game:
Attached Image

At the moment the client doesn't actually get "in the game", he just sits at the lobby, but the host can start and move around. I'm hoping to be doing some connection stress testing this weekend. Following that, I get to try to figure out network prediction.

For anyone looking into networking - I definitely recommend Lidgren. It is super easy to get set up and the library itself is just really well laid out.

Well, that's all for this week's update. I'll be back next week, on time and with more info. We're quickly approaching the alpha, so there will be lots of screenshots and some videos coming out. Keep an eye on my twitter, @Programmer16, or check back here next week. Thanks everyone!

Still not dead

Posted by , 14 June 2013 - - - - - - · 659 views

Mike and I have been very busy working on getting things rounded off so that we can move forward with our current projects. We're going to be doing at least weekly posts, he's working on fitting videos into his schedule (I'll be doing the same in the near future) and we're both working on keeping twitter and the facebook page active. So, basically there will be a lot more activity from both of us moving forward.

Sadly we don't have much to report on the art side at the moment. We've got a few portfolios for artist, so hopefully in the near future we'll have some art to show off.

On the design side, Mike is hard at work writing the script for our current project, Seeking Imagination [working title]. He has a few more milestones to reach and then that will be finished (the main storyline and it's dialogue anyway; we'll add some side stories and such once he is finished with that.)

I am currently working on designing the prototype for a a simple puzzler based off of the mechanics of Minecraft's redstone system. It is a level based arcade game where each level has certain objectives that you must accomplish using the supplied objects. You'll have a "wiring layer" where you can place wire, switches, repeaters, inverters, pulses, etc. which affect the object layer above it.

I am almost done with the prototype for Seeking Imagination; I have to create some brains in Scribe to verify that it will run fast enough and then add the combat system. I would provide a screenshot, but sadly I broke the engine last time I was working on it and have yet to fix it (I added the map system into the state machine and it's not happy that it is null.) I will provide some sort of screenshot for the post next week.

I do however have a screenshot of the Redstone Game prototype:
Attached Image
There isn't a lot going on in this screenshot; I was testing the new repeater block. The buttons along the bottom (left to right):
Pointer (clear the currently selected block), wire, inverter, power, light, switch, command, repeater, branch, TNT, and clear. This is just a prototype for a possible future project,

It was originally titled Block Coder as it was going to be a strictly programming based game (think Redstone and Command Blocks, which I didn't know existed when I started working on this prototype), but I didn't like the results so we switched over to this idea. I am working through adding rotation to the engine so that wiring and objects can rotate (turrets will be an object, so those should be fun with a pivot gear, a timer, and a resistor.)

Sage/The Mysterious Life of Aaron James
I have been asked by a couple people about Sage and the Mysterious Life of Aaron James - these have been moved back to the "Future Projects" pool for a couple reasons:
1) As much as I hate to say it, I can't bring myself to work on it anymore. Sage is a husk of what it was when I made the demo for Aaron James, the feature set is almost completely different and the fact that I want to make it cross platform means I basically need to rewrite it and I have absolutely not ambition to do so. I spent 2 months trying to rewrite an engine that took 14 days to write and all I had was a (barely working) title screen.

2) We cannot provide the art that we would like, nor can we afford an artist that can provide the art.

3) I was taking input from anyone and everyone and I was making it up as I went - causing lots of plot-holes, poor dialog, etc. I am going to convene with Cierra (this storyline was originally hers) and we'll work together to rewrite what we have and to finish the design document before I start developing it again.

Long story short: Sage WILL return in the future as we have at least one other point and click adventure game that we want to develop and The Mysterious Life of Aaron James WILL return, I'm just not sure when. Mike and I are both constantly working on two projects, so if we get bored we have something 'fresh' to work on, and Sage/Aaron James are my 3rd project - I'm working on them, but they don't get my attention very often.

I am working on updating the website - adding a control panel, database support, etc. I'm basically bringing it up to date until we can bring in a web developer to do it properly (I know the languages necessary, but I am terrible at web design and I abhor web development.) The new version will be up at some point this weekend, once I get Mikeyo's approval.

Last, but not least, Cierra is in the last couple weeks of her pregnancy, so I may not be able to get any development done in the near future. However, I will still post an update on what Mike has been up to and any news we have. I am going to try to keep the posts regular on Thursday evening or Friday afternoon, but it depends on where Mikeyo fits the videos into his schedule.