September 28, 2020
I've been quiet for a while, but it's time to get back to more regular updates and a shift in how I do things. Before I discuss the new project and Radiangames' future a little, let's talk about Speed Demons for a bit.
Speed Demons 1.3.1 came out in early June, and I'm just wrapping up version 1.4.1. There's a decent lead time for Apple Arcade updates these days, but hopefully 1.4.1 will be available sooner than later. The big new things for 1.4.1 are a new chapter, an optional event list UI (so you can track your overall progress better and see more at once), and Weekly Festivals.
The Weekly Festivals give you 3 new events in a single environment with precision-tuned difficulty every week. The upgrades for these events are fixed, and that means I can tune the goals to fit the vehicle exactly the way the player will be using it. Hopefully players enjoy the Weekly Festivals, as I'd like to expand them to 4 events per week, and right now there are 15 weeks worth of events to cycle through, but I plan to add a lot more weeks in future updates.
My new project, which I expect to announce later this year, is once again my main focus now that the Speed Demons update is finished. It's the same project I mentioned earlier this year, but it's gone through some major shifts in focus since then. A major part of the core technology is still the same, but there's a new layer of complexity that's been added, and I've leaning even heavier into the physics side of things. The game direction is stable now, and polish has become the main focus for the time being. This is a project I hope to work on for multiple years, though it will be available at some point in 2021.
When I'm not working on the new project, I've been doing a lot of research into the one aspect of game development that I've never excelled at: Discoverability and Marketing. There are plenty of great resources out there, including tons of GDC videos on YouTube, Simon Carless' Discoverability newsletter, the Clark Tank episodes by Ryan Clark from Brace Yourself Games, and the aptly named howtomarketagame.com.
It's pretty overwhelming to be honest, and definitely a lot of work to promote a game properly, so I'm trying to write down all the half-decent ideas that I find, and I'm slowly narrowing down the options to those that seem to have the best potential time-to-benefit ratio. I've wanted to have a more open development process for a long time, and the new project will have that soon. The one big upside of wanting to be more active in promotion and such is that I'll get to be more involved with players. I like talking about games and the behind-the-scenes stuff, and I also want to know what players think and want in my games.
I realize this one random blog post isn't really changing anything on its own. It's just a small step, but one I've been hesitant to take. One other small thing I've done is updating the Games page above so it has fewer links (so there's less chance of them being broken), while I added more information on the games themselves, including others I've worked on that aren't directly on the AppStore or Google Play. Should make that page a bit more interesting. Until next time.
A Big Wave of Anniversary Updates
May 5, 2020
The 10th anniversary of Radiangames first release, JoyJoy on Xbox 360, is coming next week. The game was officially launched on May 15th in 2010, and since then I've released nearly 20 games on various platforms. It's been quite the journey for Radiangames in that time, and at times my work on Radiangames' titles has taken a back seat to other projects, especially Overload from late-2014 'til mid-2018. But for the majority of the time since 2010, I've been working on Radiangames' titles.
Lately I've taken a short break from my big project and have been working on getting my iOS catalog fully up-to-date, aside from the titles handled by GameClub (they currently handle Fireball and JoyJoy, and probably Inferno+ in the future). Speed Demons is receiving another update as well, but I'll go over that in more detail when it releases in early June. The 3 titles that used to be on iPhone/iPad but aren't currently available are my top priority first, with updates for older non-iPhone X-friendly games being the next phase.
[Powerpuff Girls: Defenders of Townsville is the one exception, as I don't own that IP. Sorry!]
Bombcats is the solo game I worked on the most hours, aside from Speed Demons. While Speed Demons has been my most successful game, Bombcats was by far the worst investment of my time. Not because it's a bad game, but because I spent a very long time on it and it hardly made any money. Bombcats almost ended Radiangames 7 years ago, but let's instead focus on the positives. It's a large polished game, with lots of cute cats, nice physics, and most of the game is quite enjoyable.
For the re-release, I played through the whole game again, and focused on removing as many points of frustration as possible. That mostly means making the cost of skipping levels and replaying challenge levels a *lot* cheaper, and reducing the star-lock requirements by a significant amount as well. There were many other minor tweaks, and I decided to just call it Bombcats though it's based on the Bombcats Special Edition code.
Bombcats is available for pre-order for $0.99, but that's a first-week sale price, and it'll go up to $2.99 on May 21st, so grab it while it's cheap. Because the original app was completely removed when it was de-listed by Chillingo, this is a new app ID. If you bought Bombcats SE years ago and want a new copy, just email me and I'll send you a code.
Ballistic SE is an odd one because the 1.2 update removes the bonus mode (Chain Blast) that was added in version 1.1. I somehow lost the source code to that update a long time ago (the Android version doesn't have Chain Blast mode either), but I'd rather update it with better controller support and make it actually playable rather than have it dead forever. The gamepad support in iOS 13 is excellent now, and I'm making sure all my shooter games support gamepads in both gameplay and menus. Support for iPhone X was a little less painful than Bombcats SE, but it still wasn't fun to work on.
The update should be out in on May 28th for $1.99. Unlike Bombcats, this uses the same app ID as the original version did years ago, so if you bought it before, you don't have to buy it again.
Slydris 2 is probably the best touch-centric game I've made. I somehow stumbled into a very fun variation of a block-dropping puzzle game that fits perfectly on a touch screen device. But it hasn't been available for a year or so because I was working on a version of it called Blocks with the awesome TripleDot Studios. Blocks is a free-with-ads slightly more casual version of the game, but it didn't become quite as successful as TripleDot's other titles and I wasn't available to iterate on it regularly. So we agreed to stop working on Blocks, and Slydris 2 is able to come back earlier than I expected.
Aside from adding Undos, the biggest change is the game becoming paid. I think the game is actually well suited to being free-with-ads, and it would definitely make more money with that structure. But working on free-to-play mechanics is not enjoyable for me, and free games require more post-launch iteration and technical maintenance than paid games. In the time I could make a free-with-ads version of a game, I could probably make 2 paid games of similar size (outside of all the stuff for putting the game on the AppStore and promoting it). Slydris 2 is one of the games I definitley want to be playable in 100 or even 1,000 years, and having it free of ad-related and IAP-related logic makes that a lot easier to achieve.
I expect Slydris 2 to be available again on May 21st for $2.99. It'll use the same app ID as before, so if you downloaded it before, you get it automatically. If you paid for the IAP to remove ads and would like another game from the Radiangames' library, please email me.
GENERAL LIBRARY THOUGHTS
In playing all my games on iOS, it's interesting to see which games have held up better than others.
Of my shooter games, Super Crossfighter is easily my favorite these days. The controls are simple enough and fit pretty naturally onto a touch screen. On the other hand, playing twin-stick shooters just feels too exhausting without a gamepad, which is why I'm updating them all to have iOS 13 controller support. Devastator is the most affected by the touch screen controls being inferior to a gamepad. I really like the audio-visual experience of that game more than my other 2D-centric shooters, but the touch-screen controls just aren't responsive enough for its style of gameplay. Ballistic feels more natural to control because there are no obstacles and more momentum in the player's movement (and the pace of the game takes much longer to ramp up). Inferno 1 and 2 are nice to play, but I dislike their UI now, and the visuals pale in comparison to Devastator (not to mention Speed Demons + Scorcher).
On the puzzle side of things, Crush sounds really good but is too shallow. Sideswype is my least favorite puzzler to play, but looks and sounds great. Just not quite enough strategy/depth/choice in the gameplay. Pivotol is decent but unexceptional in any particular category (more fun than Sideswype and Crush). Slydris still holds up pretty well though it looks a bit dated. It feels different enough from Slydris 2 that I like that both exist. But Slydris 2 is my clear favorite of the two because of how all the elements work together. I have many more ideas for puzzle games, but none of them will likely be as fun as Slydris 2 (unless I make a Slydris sequel/spin-off). That doesn't mean I shouldn't try making them, just that I won't be surprised if they're more like Pivotol than Slydris 1/2. And maybe they'll need a sequel to reach their full potential...
I think that's enough rambling thoughts for now. Just to be clear, the following games will be updated sometime soon with iPhone X support: Inferno 2, Super Crossfighter, Devastator, Fluid, CRUSH, and SideSwype. Pivotol and Scorcher don't need updates, while Fireball SE and JoyJoy were updated by GameClub, and Inferno+ will probably be updated by them as well.
As for the Google Play versions, I'll do them all at once when the iOS versions are done being updated. Updating goes much faster when I don't have to jump between platforms, and I already have a tough time keeping track of everything for just one platform. I'll do my best to make sure all the games are available on Android again, as Google randomly removes one every once in a while for reasons I don't always understand (usually some random unused API in Unity or a plug-in becomes a problem to their automated checks).
The next time I post will likely be about Speed Demons 1.3.1 when it releases.
Speed Demons 1.2.2 Now Available
February 20, 2020
Speed Demons is now at version 1.2.2 on iOS and tvOS (with the Mac version coming soon) on Apple Arcade. Version 1.2.1 released a couple weeks back, and 1.2.2 submitted shortly after that. 1.2.2 fixed a couple minor issues and made the tutorial a bit more robust in a number of minor ways, and it just released last night.
After updating the tutorial, I decided it was time to reset the ratings on the AppStore. The game has had somewhat mixed reviews for all versions of the game, with many players loving the game, but some hating it. The controls are the most divisive issue by far, with some complaints about there not being enough of an introduction to the controls as well. Hopefully the tweaks in 1.2.2 will help new players and get the game back into the 4+ star rating territory (it had been averaging 3.9, which is quite low compared to most of my other games).
Rewinding a bit more, I wanted to talk about 1.2 in general a bit more. The game now feels as complete as I ever intended it to be, and the overall play time exceeds 20 hours by a significant margin. 1.2 adds a lot of new cars (5 of them have a top speed greater than 200 MPH), a monster truck, some new modes and modifiers, and a lot of new events. It's a very long game, and any future updates will need to stretch the game in new directions if it's to add anything of value. I have some ideas for the next big update (later in 2020), but I'm not going to commit to anything yet.
The new trailer has been out for a couple weeks, but here it is in case you missed it:
With Speed Demons work on hold for a while, I've been working on a new prototype project. It uses top-down low-poly art, lots of particles, and relies a lot on physics, but is otherwise quite a bit different from Speed Demons. I can't really say anything more about it, but I'm aiming to hit my first big milestone at the end of February. Depending on how things go in March, I'll either start discussing it more in public, or keep it quiet for a while. Sometimes working on a new project can be a bit of a grind while you build up the basics and flail around for the key elements, but other times it's just plain fun to work with new mechanics and controls. It's been a bit of both so far, but now I need to focus and just get to the next milestone and prove that the prototype is more than just a tech demo.
Speed Demons 1.2.1 Coming Soon
January 21, 2020
Version 1.2.1 of Speed Demons has just been submitted for Apple Arcade. It might take a couple tries to get thru submission, though it's been well-tested and I don't expect it to be more than a few weeks before it's out. This update has taken a lot longer than I expected for a few reasons. The three main ones are:
1) The update is bigger than I expected, with 150+ new events and 13 new vehicles (I originally expected around 100 and 10 for those numbers). I also modified some existing events to highlight the new modifiers. The original game shipped with 205 (or so) events, and the first update added 40 new ones, but now the game has 401 events.
2) I changed how AI steers, and that took longer to get right than I expected, and it led to me needing to re-test/re-balance the entire game. I had to test all the new/modified events anyway, but I had to 3-star everything, which was harder than I expected, and I slightly re-balanced a good number of events that had no other changes.
3) My motivation has been lacking in consistency. At times I've been productive over the past months, but other days I've gotten very little done. Perhaps I took on too much with this update, but none of the tasks were especially painful or tedious. I believe I'm past the worst of the recent laziness, but I'm not certain of that.
Regardless, here's a screenshot from the progress menu taken on my iPad, showing the 2,000+ miles I've driven over the past few weeks:
I'll be working on a new trailer for the update starting today, and will release that when the update is out. There's a lot of cool stuff in the update, particularly if you like fast cars, but I'd rather show than tell, so I'll save further details and elaboration of the update highlights until it's available.
After the trailer, I'm going to focus on figuring out my next game. I have a number of ideas for what that might be, but it may take a little while to sort it out.
As for the future Speed Demons, version 1.3 won't be released this Spring like I originally planned. I have plans for additional vehicles and features, but I need a break from the game, and next time I won't be changing anything that affects the whole game like the AI steering did this time. At this point the game is so massive that it doesn't need more content, but there are a few more vehicles I'd like to add, and right now I think a custom mode (where you get to create and save custom events and settings) is the next logical step. I might also revise the UI a bit more, but after playing through the whole game, it doesn't feel as important as it did last fall.
A little time away from Speed Demons will help me gain a little perspective. Right now I'm looking at it as a player who has finished everything there is to do, but I also need to look at it with fresh eyes as well. Either way, the game is in a really good place as of 1.2.1, so I'll write down all my current ideas and reevaluate them later this year.
Speed Demons 1.1.1 Now Available!
November 8, 2019
The first big update of Speed Demons is now out on Apple Arcade. Version 1.1.1 adds a bunch of new content, Daily Quests, landscape mode for iPad, and a few other minor fixes. It also breaks the non-standard camera angles on iPhone X/11, unfortunately. That will be fixed in 1.1.2, which was just submitted this morning.
There are 40 new events in Chapter 6, with 6 new vehicles introduced, 2 of them being large trucks, 2 are everyday vehicles (minivan and compact SUV), and 2 high-speed cars. There are also 2 new environments. The new vehicles are really the best part of this chapter, with the Apex, Maverick, and Vault being the 3 that really stand out to me.
As for other features, landscape mode is now available on iPad. You have to go into the Graphics settings (in the Options menu) to change the orientation. And the Daily Quests are an extra way to add a bit of variety and motivation to the game. Initially you'll start with 3 quests, and you'll get new ones every day. They are all pretty simple to achieve, and each gives a bit of XP along with an extra coin. So now it's theoretically possible to upgrade all the cars to their maximum level, but it would still take a while to accumulate enough coins.
I've been working on various additional features for the next update after that. I'm pretty sure I'll call it version 1.5, as it has so many new features and such that it's more than just another update. There will be two new Chapters (7 and 8, with 13 new vehicles), two new game modes, new major modifiers, AI and visual tweaks, and more. I expect there to be over 350 total events with version 1.5 (there are 246 in 1.1, I believe), with most existing vehicles also receiving new events as well. I believe 5 of the cars will be faster than the current fastest car (Voyager). Hopefully it'll be out in December, but I don't want to make any promises since so much is being added. I'll likely create a new trailer when that is done.
Beyond that, I'm currently planning on one more major update for early 2020. In addition to new content (Chapters 9 and 10) and other modes/tweaks, I'll probably revise the event list UI in that update. There are just too many events, and scrolling through a mega list is becoming cumbersome. I have a few vague ideas, but I'm definitely open to suggestions on how to best organize the chapters and events in a more readable and usable way.
Hope you guys enjoy version 1.1.1, and definitely let me know if you have any questions, suggestions, or other issues.
[Apologies for not continuing the YouTube series, but there was a pretty low interest in them, so I'd rather keep focusing my time where it makes the most impact.]
DOUBLE LAUNCH DAY!
Speed Demons on Apple Arcade!
Inferno 2 on PS4 and Switch!
Septemeber 19, 2019
It's safe to say that today is the biggest day for Radiangames, ever. September 19th, 2019 is history in so many ways that I need to list them all out:
* Speed Demons is my first launch-day release for a new platform (Apple Arcade)!
* Speed Demons is my biggest solo game ever, and I'm not done working on it!
* Inferno 2 is my first Radiangames release on PS4 and Switch! (XB1 is coming soon!)
* Inferno 2 is my first Nintendo release of any kind (solo or otherwise)!
* Inferno 2 on consoles is my first co-op game since 2011!
* And both of these are launching on THE SAME DAY!
That's a lot of freakin' exclamation points!!! I can't believe this is all happening on the same day, but it somehow is. I didn't plan this in any way, so I'm as surprised by the dates working out this way as anyone else. Launching two games on the same day is not something I'd recommend to anyone, especially a solo developer, as I'm so stressed that I'm pretty much numb today.
Plus it's probably the biggest launch day in mobile games history (not just Apple Arcade, but multiple big Switch games are out today). Normally, getting any attention is difficult and requires some luck, but today it's even more difficult. Somehow, Speed Demons has beenverylucky.
Before I get ahead of myself, the important links:
Working on Speed Demons over the past 5+ months has been all-consuming of my life. I worked on it a bunch towards the end of 2018 as well. And though that doesn't add up to as many days worked as Powerpuff Girls or Bombcats, the number of hours worked on Speed Demons is definitely higher. I've had to become as efficient as I've ever been on any game in terms of producing content. And I'm not even close to being done working on the game, though I'm hopefully done working 12+ hour days. I anticipate by next summer, the amount of game content (cars/environments/events) in Speed Demons will be more than doubled.
I'm also starting a new series of videos on my YouTube channel about the development of Speed Demons:
Being part of Apple Arcade is both exhilirating and terrifying. The number of super-high-quality games is off the charts. Multiple people have said this is the best launch line-up for any new platform. I mean, technically, it's a service, but either way, Speed Demons is in the company of some amazing games, and I feel very fortunate to be part of the Apple Arcade launch.
I also feel fortunate about Inferno 2's launch. The amount of work I've had to do on the ports has been minimal. I worked on adding co-op back in the spring of 2018, but since then David and Alejandro at 2Awesome Studio have handled almost everything else. It's the "easiest" game I've worked on even if it did take longer than initially expected.
I have no idea what to expect with the console version of the game, but hope it's at least moderately successful. Super Crossfighter really deserves a console port as well, so Inferno 2 might make that a no-brainer or a non-starter based on what happens with it.
Speed Demons Coming Soon to Apple Arcade!
Septemeber 16, 2019
This is a big week for Radiangames (see the previous news item below). And it just got a LOT bigger: My biggest and most ambitious solo game, Speed Demons, is coming soon to Apple Arcade! I don't know the exact launch day of the game yet, though Apple Arcade launches this Thursday, September 19th. Here's an all-new trailer for the game:
It's very exciting being part of Apple Arcade, and I can't wait for everyone to try the game. I'll share more details about the game and everything that went into it (a lot!) once it's available to download.
Inferno 2 Coming to Console, with CO-OP!
Septemeber 3, 2019
I'm thrilled to let everyone know that thanks to the hard work of 2Awesome Studio, Inferno 2 will be coming to consoles (Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4, and Xbox One) on September 19th! Not only is the game on consoles for the first time, but it also will have brand-new 2-player support! Those are the 2 most common requests for Inferno 2, and now they're both happening AT THE SAME TIME!
Inferno 2 is the perfect title for Radiangames' first console release since 2011. I'm really excited to play the game as well, as David and Alejandro have put in nearly all the work on this one, and I don't have any development consoles at the moment. I helped out by putting co-op into the game and fixing a couple bugs, but that was a while ago, and they've handled pretty much everything else since then.
One more piece of good news: The game will be the same price as the Steam version, which means it's only $4.99, so there's no reason not to pick it up on every console you own. Now I get to link to Inferno 2 on Switch, which is something that brings me a huge amount of joy:
(The Playstation 4 and Xbox One pages are not up yet, but hopefully will be soon)
Eventually I'll try to find some time to bring co-op to the Steam version of the game, but I'm still busy working on another project. More details about the other project will probably be coming soon.
(It's not Inferno 3, though I still hope to work on that someday as well.)
Slydris 2 News
May 20, 2019
Just wanted to give a quick update about what's happening with Radiangames. Even though I've been quiet, there's been a lot of activity going on. The big news for today:
I've been developing a new "version" of Slydris 2 for a while now. As I mentioned in my GDC talk, getting help with free games is good idea, and I've been doing exaclty that in working with Tripledot Studios (a cool UK-based free games developer). I've learned a lot about what's important to a hopefully-successful free-with-ads game, and everyone at TDS has been great to work with. We've been working on the game since early this year, and the game (Blocks) is out now on iOS. That's obviously not the most exciting name, but it is very friendly to search, and it might be better to not have any association with Tetris (so players don't have certain expectations about the controls/etc).
The art style has changed a ton, and the sounds are completely new, but the game still feels great to play. And it really is a better experience in many ways. The tutorial is 10x better, the ad system is much simpler and non-intrusive, and the additions of hints and undos really add a lot to the game. Aside from the undos and hints, the biggest gameplay tweak was changing the dropping blocks to be immoveable. This will reduce player confusion immensely, and it doesn't hurt the game to have your focus always on the stack instead of worrying about what's dropping from above so much.
There's one other important aspect to today's news: Slydris 2 will leaving the Apple AppStore (it's already gone from Google Play) tomorrow. Blocks is just a better game (for new and non-paying players especially), and taking down Slydris 2 gives Blocks a chance to get the attention it deserves. You can still play Slydris 2 as is if you have it already or download it in the next day, and it may return in some form far in the future, but for now, Blocks is the way to play.
There are other things happening with Radiangames, but nothing I can talk about yet. I'm not sure what or when the next announcement will be, but there should be some big news later this summer.
GDC Notes Now Available
April 21, 2019
It's been a month, so I apologize for the lateness of this, but I now have the GDC slides available here. The slides are pretty image-heavy and substance-light, so you should definitely take a look at the notes while looking at the slides. I wrote the notes as a script this time, and I think that worked better than the other style that is usually recommended (where you write brief snippets to remind you of what you want to say). Writing notes in script form isn't for everyone, but it's worth trying if the snippets method doesn't work for you. Of the 4 GDC talks I've given, I felt this one went the best, but that's not saying much since the 2nd and 3rd talks weren't particularly good (or well-reviewed).
I don't know when or if GDC will post the video of the talk, but I'll be sure to add another entry about it.
New Website Live!
April 20, 2019
Radiangames has a new website. Sorry for the delay in getting it back on-line, but I spent too long looking at various things I could use, and decided a simple DIY site was the way to go. I don't want anything too fancy, and I finally decided it wasn't too much hassle to just figure out HTML and CSS. I've done HTML websites before, but it's been a while, as well as customizing my old website with a bit of CSS. Now I'm just googling my way to getting a website up and running.
I don't think a blog is as important as it was when I started Radiangames, so I'm going to scale back on the images and words a bit in the future. This new version has no comments or things like that, but the frequency of comments had fallen a lot since the early days, and there are plenty of ways to interact with me if you want to get in touch. I still intend to post every week or two as I had been before, as these posts still help me sort out my thoughts, and they are a nice record for what I've been up to.