Gaming Your Way

May contain nuts.

Stage3D stats for DN8:Pulse

That's quite a bland title for us isn't it, sometimes I guess we've got to be a bit literal.

Anyway DN8:Pulse has been out for 23 days now, so we've got some figures to share.

Thats some nice pie

No exact figures I'm afraid, more on that later. So, out of everyone who loaded it 81% had the best time ever, shit they loved it, they likened it to seeing the birth of their child.

14% were stuck with software mode, 2.7% were playing it on a site where wmode="direct" wasn't set ( I assume that for the most part that was shovelware sites who just blindly put up any game, I mean who cares if it works or not, they still get the ad rev, and if a games broken it's not the portals fault, it's those lame devs not checking their own work. And it seems after writing that I'm a lot more bitter about it than I thought ). Coming in last place is players without FP11 even installed, with 1.9%, which is much higher than I would have thought.

This is what we're looking at with stage3D right now then, only 80% of your target audience is going to be able to play it as intended ( Software mode is just poo and not worth entertaining ). Factor in that we all pretty much live and die by our ratings on portals, that's 20% of people thinking you suck so hard 'cause their machine can play WoW but not some shitty free Flash game ? Wow, that must have been coded badly, 1/5 for you. Now I mentioned above how 81% loved it so much they were willing to kill Helter Skelter style for you, but that's not true is it. At best you're looking at 80% of people who actually play a game really liking it ( And that's on a big fat hit, not a niche bullet hell shooter set in space ), so that of course is reflected in your overall rating.

It's like doing a AAA game for Kinect, you're reducing your audience before you even start and then you've got to hope everyone who does get to play it love it. DN8:Pulse is a good little shooter, but it's far from the best thing ever, I'm aware enough to understand that.

Ok, I don't want to give out exact figures for the number of players, as that's TurboNukes information to do what they like with, not for me to hand over ( That's like saying how much a game got sponsored for ), but even picking up a daily first on NG, and sitting on the front page ( And getting a great review on JIG ), it's done woefully badly. I mean really badly. It's had a lot of plays, and the average play time is 12mins, which I think is pretty good ( over 34 million baddies have been turned to pixel dust ), so people who have played it seem to like it, just no one has played it. It's currently on 98 sites but the traffic is just dire, and it's taken a while to spread to that many sites.

In terms of selling it, we couldn't have had less interest if we'd made a game about kitten genocide. Not one single site lock sold ( And only a couple of approaches for them, neither panned out ). We could say that a bullet hell in space is always going to be a hard sell anyway and it may not purely be because of stage3D, and I think to some extent that is true, but stage3D really hasn't helped it.

Anyway, time to wrap up this tale of woe. It's far from all bad, I'm really pleased with the game and I got to work with some really cool people to get it out of the door, so that's a major win right there. We've got the Android version 95% done and I got to take a crash course in ND2D and Away3D. In terms of performance, yeah it's blown, but quite a lot of players have really enjoyed it, and that's what it's all about.


PS. Look out for some info about our next stage3D game soon. Yep, we started it whilst DN8:P was under bidding. I'm never going to be a business man am I.

DN8:Pulse preview review preview review

We really like FlashMush, Robbie is reviewing lots of games and doing a really good job of it.

Because of that we asked him if he'd be up to review DN8:Pulse before release, and he said yes, and I said cool and then he reviewed and now I'm linking to that review.

Straight forward enough.

Go here my young beauties if you want to see if our game was good or a bit shit ( Hopefully by now you'd know we'd still write this post even if it was a bit shit, but without spoiling things too much, it has a happy ending ).


PS. Outpost:Swarm is still waiting sign off, DN8:P is waiting for someone to buy it, the Android version is coming along albeit slowly and we've started a new game which I guess we'll talk about soon enough.

Week whatever

We're getting there.

New in from last time are Perks. These are as you'd expect, unlocked at a certain rank and there are 3 available at once from a total of 6. There's nothing really earth shattering about them, it was more a way to justify XP / Challenges ( Which I've still got to do, but can't really face ).

Also we've got more levels in there now, I'm just starting on level 9 ( It's a bit of a slog ), there are some asteroids in the background to go with the planets which add a little something and the save routines have been tidied up a lot.

I'm trying to think what else has gone in there, obviously nothing too astounding otherwise I'd remember it ( I will the second I post this ). Hopefully either tonight or tomorrow I should get some new music and player sprites to go in there which I'm really looking forward to. Ah, pause mode, I think that's new from last week. How grasping at straws am I.

Shall we do a little beta ? If you fancy giving it a go post a comment and I'll hopefully post something up tomorrow ( via email, not the blog ) and then you can let me know I'm deluded and it's not really all that. Cool, it's a date then.


Week IV

Another pretty productive week on DN8:Pulse.

Particle orgy

I've managed to get all the player power-ups in there, and today added the first boss ( Which doesn't sound all that, but it meant doing the whole "Warning" text stuff which took a while to design nicely ).

We're currently up to 5 levels done out of 12, which is pretty good going. Also quite a bit of time has been spent on the Android version, the control mode is finally nailed in that now, it plays much better than I'd have hoped and we're not sacrificing too much visually ( Less particles, fewer use of blendModes etc. but in terms of gameplay it's exactly the same ).

I also checked how my phone, HTC Desire S, performs in comparison to other Android devices, and it seems pretty poorly actually ( Not that you can tell from the phone itself, it's silky smooth ), which is good news as the game isn't dropping too many frames on it. Anyone with a newer phone / tablet should get a really good 30fps experience with it.

And before this turns into an advert rather than a dev update I'll wish you a fond farewell until next time.


PS. Outpost:Swarm should be gold, or near as damn it, we're hoping for final feedback this Friday, so hopefully some news about that soon.

Week III

I was in two minds about posting this, the past week or so have all been about Outpost:Swarm so DN8:Pulse hasn't progressed much, but I've had a stupidly productive day today so take my hand as we talk about new things.

As you can see baddie bullets are in now. They didn't take long at all as I'm lifting so much code from the original DN8 its almost obscene. To test how well the game copes I just get each baddie shooting a bullet every frame, and even with all those bullets with a blendMode we're not dropping a frame. Nice.

I added the floating points to the game the other day, updated the skybox to make it more colourful, altered the baddie explosion particles ( I spent hours on Friday doing that, and the end result was just dog shit, I mean really bad, so I ripped it all out and started again ). Last night that little planet in the background you can see there gained a ring ( A sphere with it's z scale set to 0.1, then rotated around ).

Today after the baddie bullets I've been working on the level progression code, and it's nearly there, and to celebrate I nailed down level 1's attack waves, so that level is officially done. It's amazing how one good days coding can give you a real lift.

And I think that's enough for Pulse this week, more soon...



As you can see, my imagination for snappy post titles has long gone.

Ok, we're two weeks into DN8:Pulse, what's new ?

Well we've got baddies in there now. They follow patterns and detect the player bullets. In terms of the sprites themselves, I use the same code as in DN8 to generate them, creating 30 random ones every level. These are stored in one bitmap and then converted to a texture which we can then use to batch all the baddies.

As you can see we've got paths in there too. These are again batched sprites just plotted on the curve which we use for the baddies movement. You'll notice they're strangely thicker in places, that's because they pulse to the music ( Yeah, the name makes more sense now doesn't it ).

The baddies move and blow up when shot, the explosions are also connected to the music, and the paths are drawn. That's about it really. Last night I reduced the stage size from 854x480 to 700x480. Not for performance reasons, but to make it more portal friendly.

Also a couple of days were spent playing with Air 3.2. It's mentally impressive ( Even more so when I remember back to struggling with the very first beta Air for iPhone ). The paths affect the performance, but when they're not displayed it's a rock solid 35fps, and that's on my Desire S. It's feeling good that this is going to make it to the Android market.

And I think that's about all. Not the same huge steps that happened in week 1, but that's to be expected. It feels like it's going to be really good and that is more than enough to make me happy. If it turns out to be really good, well we'll have to see.



You've got to do a blog post on leap day haven't you.

Work started on new game a week ago, and somehow I've managed to get a fair bit done. Want to find out what ? Sure you do, because if I ever found out you weren't interested in our games I'd start hurting myself.

Let's start with a screen grab, it's easier to talk around that.

It's a little cut off as it's a big ol' screen, it's not that wonky in real life.

So as you can see it's a sequel to DN8. In saying that, it's going to be more of a 1.5 than a full blown sequel, a directors cut where we give it a visual overhaul and fix all the things which needed fixing.

The major thing with this bad boy is that we're going the stage3D route. And just to complicate matters, its using 2 engines. The background ( So the skybox you see, the planet with nice bump mapping and specular lighting ) is powered by away3D. It's really great to use, I've only ever used the lite version before so it's not as if I knew what I was doing, but I managed to get one planet and the skybox up and running in a couple of hours.

The downside to away3D is that its 2D support is limited, and for particles the general consensus is to use something like Flint. Now Flint produces great results, but packages like that are all singing and all dancing, which means an overhead which you can't really afford in a game ( It's like say Tweenlite, knock the shit out of that on the title screen, but in-game it's a little too costly ). I've being eyeing up ND2D for a while as it seems the best of the 2D GPU powered engines ( Friends who have tried Starling say its a little bit bloated as it's trying to be very transparent and displaylist like. Just to point out, I'm not slagging it or Flint off, I'm just going on hearsay as I'm far too lazy to do lots of tests to find things out ).

Now, how to add ND2D running on top of away3D ? Well I noticed you can have multiple stage3D indexes, I'll drop away3D at [0], ND2D at [1], set the transparency and swallow a little extra overhead as well, shit, we're on the GPU baby, everything is free and runs like liquid gold. Ah. the different stage3D "levels" don't have a transparency setting. Ah.

Plan B, download the away3D source ( I was just using the swc ), shove ND2D into the same package, find the render call in the away3D code and after that call the ND2D mainloop. Fairly simple. Hang on, it's displaying my simple particle test, but for some reason it's above the skybox, but below the planets. That's so close to working I had to pursue it, as if I could get it working we'd be laughing. A whole day of swearing and looking through both engines and I was having no joy. It was making me want to kill.

It takes a big man to admit when he's wrong. I'm far from being a big man, so I just posted on the ND2D forums asking for help. Lars is as good as gold and pointed me in the right direction, one changed line later and it works.

So in the first week we've got the look & feel nailed ( That was actually day 1, a whole day just to sort out a logo, a font and a rollOver style ), got a lovely looking background rotating around, most of the flow from title screen to actual game, the main player sprite moving and shooting ( The bullets using batched calls ), the music from DN8 as a placeholder playing a random mix each time and... I think that's it. I couldn't be more pleased with how its going, I don't have the first clue about 3D so to bluff my way through like this makes me happy.

Should we come back in a week to see if I'm still loving this ? Yes, lets.