Thursday, October 17, 2013

Hop Til You Drop PC Edition Revisited

So the other day I heard about this new indie game site called It's a really simple way for indie developers to distribute their games online. It allows developers to set up their own page for the game, personalized to their tastes (within limits of the editor) and set a payment amount. You can also set it up to be pay what you want, which I think is awesome. They only take 10% of the revenue and the payment gateway, currently either PayPal or Amazon, take their small cut as well.

This made me really want to work on the PC version of Hop Til You Drop. So I'm going through the code again to add some new features for the PC and hope to get it on the service within the next couple of weeks.

Some of the new features will include mouse support, online leaderboards, and power ups. The power ups are interesting because they are rewarded to the top 3% of players on the daily leaderboard, with the top 1% getting one of each powerup. In the game you can see how many users are currently connected, when there are multiple people playing the game you can use a powerup which will affect all other uses. One example is the invert controls powerup. When used it will invert the controls on all the other player's game. Currently there are two other powerups as well, which I will talk about later.

Anyway, I'm really excited about this and hope some people will download and play.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Hop Til You Drop Postmortem

Post Mortem Time

So Hop Til You Drop has been out for exactly two weeks today. I just wanted to go over some of the things that went right and some of the things that didn't go so well. I don't really make games to make money, of course that would always be awesome, but I do it because I enjoy it and it's one of my favorite hobbies. So I won't be judging this game on financial success, but I will give some numbers about how its been doing so far.

What went right

  • I had a blast making them game. It was very fun developing the game and getting family and friends to play it through the process. One of the key things about being an indie developer I think is make what you enjoy. I wanted to make something that was fast paced, difficult and could be played by multiple people sitting around a couch.
  • Short development cycle. Hop Til You Drop only took me about 3 months to make. This was working on it part time the entire time. There were a couple of weekends where I would do a ton of coding but most of the work took place late at night. A big goal going into the project was to finish it relatively quickly.
  • Some people really enjoyed it. There were some people who made youtube videos of them playing it. Some enjoyed it, others got frustrated with how difficult it was. Based on some comments on various reviews there were also some people who really digged it. It was definitely a niche game, something I didn't realize until after it was released.
  • I learned how to market it (somewhat). I had a small "twitter" campaign, got some hits on reddit as well. I was also able to get some reviews for the game, even if they weren't all positive. I learned how much time and effort it takes for marketing as well. I feel like I'll be better prepared next time.
  • I released an update. I was happy that I was able to release an update to the game that made it better. I didn't want this to be a game where I released then just stopped developing it. I also made a PC version that was a somewhat different experience without local multiplayer but had online leaderboards, bombs you could use against other players, etc.

What went wrong

  • First release was rushed. As soon as I got my approval in the peer review I pushed it out. I really didn't ever take a step back and look at the game in detail. I think this really hurt my sales and conversions in the long run. People who download a trial of an indie game are probably very unlikely to look at it again. First impressions are everything. Next time, after I think I'm ready to release it I think I'll wait a day or two, come back and look at the game as a whole and make sure I'm not missing anything
  • Lack of feedback. I did a couple of playtests through XBLIG but feedback was minimal. I did get more feedback in the peer review process but I thought it was so late in the game I shouldn't pull it. In the future I need to be more diligent about getting feedback.
  • No staying power. The game really didn't have the proverbial dangling carrot. Sure you could unlock characters but they were just skins. The only reason to come back to the game was to beat your highscore. In the Xbox version I didn't do online leaderboards so there was no sense of community there.
  • PC version was probably a bad idea. This type of game really isn't built for the PC. It's a game you play for a couple of minutes then turn off. I think this would be an awesome web game however, maybe something I do in the future. I did a lot of work for the PC version, setting up an online leaderboard server, powerups where you could affect everyone who was currently playing the game, etc. There is at least a couple of people who played the PC version as you can tell by the leaderboards on the right.

Sales Data

So as of yesterday there have been 1035 trials and 108 purchases. Not a huge success by any means. I think the first release being rushed hurt quite a bit regarding the conversion percentage. Since the update the conversion percentage has risen.

The future

I would really like to turn this into a web based game and get it onto some play service because I think it really fits there. However, with the XBLIG service coming close to an end, I really want to try and get some more Xbox games out. I'm going to take some time and think about what I want to do.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Hop Til You Drop Updates

So the new update for Hop Til You Drop is ready. The PC version is updated on IndieDB and can be downloaded from the link on the right and the XBLIG version will be submitted tomorrow (that's the earliest I can do it). The new update includes a number of additions and changes:

  • New gameplay mode Time Attack. You get one minute to score as much as you can. Deaths subtract 200 points from your score but you respawn instantly
  • New Characters
  • New gameplay mechanic. Whenever you are jumping and come close to an obstacle time will slow down and you get bonus points. It's a nice risk vs reward system.
  • Faster restarts. Whenever you die you can instantly restart a game, choose a new character, or exit to the main menu

I'm pretty happy with the new update. In other news I've been looking over distribution options for the PC version. I'm going to try out IndieCity first and and maybe Sellbox for hosting on the blog. I would love to get it on Desura but not sure if I'll be able to. I've also updated the leaderboard to not look so terrible. You can see it on the right hand side.

Happy Hopping!

Monday, May 27, 2013

New play mode and bullet time tweak

I recently submitted Hop Til You Drop for Desura so that I could do some beta testing over there. Unfortunately it was rejected for being too simple. One of my main goals was to keep the game simple but maybe it is too simple. There are also some parts that are too complicated.

New Play Mode

I was thinking about how to add some variety to the gameplay through new features or maybe a different play style mode. One idea I'm testing out right now is a Time Attack mode. In this mode you get 2 minutes to score as many points as you can. However, when you die the game doesn't end but instead you lose X amount of points. This would also have it's own daily and high score leaderboard section for this game type.

XBLIG removing some complication

In the XBLIG version there are separate scores for each "mode of play" based on the number of players. This is because in two player mode you get twice as many coins to fight over. I was worried people would play 3 player mode with just one person just so they could inflate their score. This was dumb to worry about I think... My goal will be to trim down the menu and only keep track of one high score and one daily high score

Bullet Time Tweak

Finally, a small bullet time tweak. It will now trigger around mines, chasers, and missles. However, it will only trigger when you are jumping. In the current version you can just stand next to a turret and keep getting bonuses constantly.

I'm still exploring some other gameplay tweaks and maybe one more gameplay mode for future updates. Keep Hopping!

Also just wanted to give a big thanks to the people who have downloaded and tried out the PC beta. There is one person in particular who keeps challenging me on the daily high score leaderboard.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Hop Til You Drop PC Beta

So I got around to getting the beta PC version of Hop Til You Drop up on IndieDB. That was really awesome. However, I found quickly that some people were having trouble playing the game after install. It would crash for them on certain screens. Naturally I was trying to debug into the client and couldn't find anything there (well, that's somewhat of a lie, more on that later). It was working fine for me on my laptop so I couldn't reproduce it either. So I thought maybe it has to do something with a new user being registered on the server. I looked on the server and found the problem, there were times when a new user registration was failing and the client wasn't getting back proper data.

First order of business on the next update is make the client more fault tolerant when it comes to the server being down etc.

Anyway, if you want to check the beta you can head on over to IndieDB or you can use the widget to the right.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Hop Til You Drop XBLIG Update

So I'm working on getting the first update for Hop Til You Drop ready for the XBLIG version. Here a few of the planned features for the update. Hopefully I can get it into playtesting early next week and shoot for an update the week after that or the following week.
I plan on adding three new characters. These should be fairly easy to unlock. I looked into giving each character different speeds and attributes but I really just want to keep the game fairly simple.
I plan on also looking into adding "online leaderboards" for the XBLIG version. These are implemented in the PC version but getting them on the XBLIG version is a little bit trickier. I'm not promising anything but I do think it would be a cool feature to have.
Lastly the most import new feature of them all is that it's a lot easier to play again after you are done. The results screen has been melded into the gameplay screen.
This is a screenshot from the PC Version but the Xbox version is the same except the text is for controller buttons
This allows you to get back to the action quickly. When I was making the game this never really seemed to be a problem, because I was thinking with a programmer's mentality. Game end = True. Show Results(). Go to Main Menu(). This is how it was supposed to work based on the code and that's how it did work. This was terribly wrong. I was so use to playing the game in this flow that it never occurred to me that I should be letting them get right back into the action. This did come up in peer review on the last review that pushed Hop Til You Drop into the marketplace. However, I did have a chance to pull it and change it and resubmit it. Unfortunately I thought it wasn't a problem. Luckily someone let me know how big of a mistake this was
Edit: I totally forgot to mention the new bullet time effect. Currently in the game whenever you are near any type of enemy you get bonus points. In the new update whenever you have a close call with a missle it will slow down time and give you more bonus points. I'll try to get a video of it up today.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Hop Til You Drop PC Edition

I wanted to take some time out today to go over some of the new features I'm planning on implementing for the Windows version of Hop Til You Drop. The main reason that most of these features will be on Windows and not on the XBLIG version is that on the PC I can contact an external server. This allows for easier multiplayer components and storing data such as Global Leaderboards. Without further ado lets get on with the new features:
  • Global Leaderboards

    I get to use the term Leaderboards on Windows! XBLIG prevents the use of the term because they don't want users to think they are actually looking at a real Leaderboard. In the Windows version all highscores and daily highscores will be tracked on an external server.
  • Online User Counter

    This will show you how many players are currently playing the game. This is important because now players will get ...
  • Bombs

    Everyday the server will compute the top 1% and top 3% of the players with the highest daily highscore. The top 1% will get one of each bomb that is currently in the game. The top 3% will get one random bomb. These bombs are used to mess with other players who are online. One example is the invert controls bomb. Whenever a player uses one of these bombs, all the players who are currently online will have their movement keys inverted. So far there are 3 bombs (Scary, Invert Controls, Slow Down Player) but I want to add more. I hope this brings a community feel to the game
So not a huge amount of new features but I'm planning on adding plenty more and some bug fixes along the way. A couple of ideas I'm contemplating is making it so the Hoppers have different attributes such as speed and jump speed. I'm also playing around with the idea of having power ups appear that would give certain things such as a speed boost, surviving one hit, double your score for a limited time, etc. A beta for the Windows edition will start hopefully sometime soon so I can gather more feedback on what to do to improve the game.