the online ramblings of a generally confused game designer

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Visiting Day Launched!

I know I've been missing for a while, but I'm back, and I come bearing gifts.

Today I release Visiting Day for PC and PSP two days ahead of schedule :) There is now a minisite on which you can access for both the PC and PSP versions of the game. It should all be working, but please report any bugs that you find. It's also worth noting that the psp version is being released both as an online game via my server, and a download to be transfered via usb (specifically designed for bus stop play).

Oh, and no music as of yet, Odeevil has been sick (even the immensly talented can catch colds) so that will be added into the game in a few days, alongside a blog post.

can I just take this oppertunity to thank those who've been involved in helping to promote the game, and those who gave the great advice on the beta. It's all really appreciated, and your stuff has really aided in making Visiting Day the game it is. Hopefully people will play and enjoy this game, and that's where I'm gonna have to ask you all for help again. Please blog this game, let it spread like wildfire over the internet. The beta recieved a good deal of attention, and I'd love to build on that.

Thanks again, and enjoy the game :)

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

the invisible games designer


I'm still alive...

I'm using a university computer, and my girlfriend's logon to make this post, as we're still sorting out an internet connection at home. For the time being I will continue to be a bit sporadic in my posting. The game coding is going well.. and the new improved emulator for PC play is comming along rather nicely, so I'm all set for simultaneous release for PC, Mac and PSP. PSP will still be the favoured format, but at least those without can still have a go.

About to go for lunch with a couple of lecturers who have been kind enough to offer advice on the game, so expect another list of jobs to appear very soon...

more info (and media) next time :)

Thursday, September 14, 2006

collector's item of the future?


This image shows the custom designed Visiting Day publicity postcard. 25 have been made, and on the 30th of September they will be recieved by my favourite game design companies, magazines and newspapers. Coordinated with a press release (an altered version of the introduction which appeared on the blog back in June) these postcards will hopefully start the publicity for the game going.

This post is also part farewell, for the time being at least, as I'm moving soon... Once back in Wales I hope to unpack really quickly and get back online to carry on with the game, but if for whatever reason I dissapear for a few days, don't worry... I shall return :)

Monday, September 11, 2006

jobs left before the key test

well, I've completed the last list of jobs, so here's a new one.. things i have to do before the sit down play tests on psp that i mentioned earlier...

  1. fix the qte microgames so they too respnd to the difficulty settings picked at launch
  2. make it so the halving of the score, which happens if you fail, produces an integer rather than a decimal... i've seen my little sister score 130.329721089 too many times
  3. fix a couple of the fail animations.. they are a bit shit
  4. sort out the pc shell so it looks purdy. I really want the emulated pc version to be available on the 30th along with the psp version. No promises though.
  5. produce a little trailer for youtube
  6. prepare a list of email addresses of important industry types to send info on the game to. I will stop at nothing short of international fame for this game

Sunday, September 10, 2006

psp portal

Right, I've decided to be brave (at least initially) and provide the portal for online play via the psp (as opposed to the download pack, which they can get from their PCbrowser) from my own site. With that in mind I've been doing some good old fashioned HTML coding to put together the PSP frontend. Obviously the flash site on that I'm sure ALL readers view daily is too complex for the architecture of psp flash, so this provides a nice, clean way for eager alien destroyers to get into the game wherever they can get to a wireless hotspot...

it's kinda cool to be back where I started, coding very simple webpages... imagemap goodness :)

more soon...

Friday, September 08, 2006

forget memory sticks

and now for something a little different

well, my work at the moment on visiting day has gone back to the usual tweaking and bug fixing, so nothing that exciting to report. For that reason I decided to write a post on the music of the game. I then remembered that my knowledge and understanding of music and the way it's created is 'i like it' and 'i don't like it'. Sadly Kittyhawkdrive, the band who were working on the music have dissipated for a while, but Odeevil Jazz, the friend i initially approached with the project, has promised to keep going on the mix. I've asked her to give you guys a little introduction to her, her music, and what she's going for in the soundtrack to visiting day. That's enough twaddle from me though, I'll let her talk now...

odeevil jazz

Don’t ask me where the name came from, I’m really not sure. When I was a teenager and wanting to be punk rock I racked my brains to try and think of a stage name like “Polystyrene” from the X-ray Spex or “Manda-rin” from Bis. I think my friend Dave misheard the word oedema (thank God!). Odeevil was born in a sixth-form common room to a 17 yr old girl who loved to play jazz on her trumpet...

Music was a constant fixture in my life, and then one summer I bought a four-track tape recorder. I took it to my friend Alex’s house and then forgot about it for a year as we took up getting stoned, listening to Jefferson Airplane and playing Super Bomber Man with a vengeance...we ran out of money for weed which was fantastic because then I remembered the four track and my tentative beginnings at songwriting began. I played guitar (badly), I could play keyboard (by “play” I mean I owned one) and best of all my keyboard had pre-programmed drums, so that was great (groan). It’s surprising how good you can get when you hear how bad you sound on a very unforgiving format. Kittyhawkdrive was the band and the learning curve. It strengthened my song writing skills, my voice and my resolve. I could write songs and people did like them! I had a fantastic partnership in Alex who could write the hooks to perfectly complement whatever vocal style I was going for.

Fast-forward and somehow by virtue of a cobbled-together Myspace page and the fact that I am willing to dance like an idiot at work Mike has asked me to compose a soundtrack to a video game. It’s all rather exciting and quite naturally I jumped at the chance. Luckily I had the perfect track half-done, already waiting. Some years previously I had begun work on an instrumental track inspired by Papa Lazarou’s circus from the television series of League Of Gentlemen: a brooding eerie piece with a fairground feel of a derelict funhouse filled with clowns like Stephen King’s “It”.

I’m sure that the constant reworking to get the right length, the endless battles with split clarinet reeds and face muscles that just want to give up after constantly flitting between the clarinet and the trumpet will all drive me completely potty. However, I was keen to do everything I could to enhance the feel of the game. I find Visiting Day an absolutely beautiful little premise. The story line is cute but the animation is quite dark. I loved that juxtaposition and want to help Mike achieve that through the music. The tune itself is sinister and this atmosphere is heightened by the presence of sweet tinkling bells and chimes faintly playing in the background. Visiting Day is a fantastic project and I am very grateful to have been given a part to play in it. Odeevil xxx

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

rhys in technicolor!

video here


looking good and playing well so far (although as you can see in the video i am by no means an expert yet).

The big job now is making the game work in any context. At the moment it can be played through game select, but is not yet compatible with solo play. This boss fight is not available through the multiplayer mode, as it's not a points battle, all you are fighting for is the 'good' or 'bad' ending. There is also no QTE in the level, as it would really interfere with the brain exploding. This level should be fully integrated in the next few days. we'll see. Then it's a break from Visiting Day for a week so I can finish off some uni work i've been doing. Then I move back to Wales with my girlfriend. Then i sort out a web connection there. Then I do some in the flesh testing on the game with some local game designers who have kindly volounteered to help. Then.... I RELEASE IT! Then you can expect a PC / MAC port a couple of weeks later.

A busy few weeks ahead

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

the brains of leadership revealed...

a few more pics of the now working rhys level. No text (i'm tired) but I'll be more talkative tommorow, and I will have video :)

the updated game select screen...

looks better with 5 games doesn't it :)

rhys being attacked, whilst trying to hit the brains with his trusty pair of alien killing yoyos

more to come.. and that image is of me actually playing, rather than just a mockup... video tommorow. promise.

Monday, September 04, 2006


just a quick post today to show off a proof of design image.. just checking colours, shapes etc before i type the first line of code.. all subject to change of course, but im liking it so far...

Sunday, September 03, 2006

progress report.....

I've decided to get more reliable with my posting, if only as a sign of respect to the number of people who have supported me in my recent quest for world domination, and PSP coding.

Today I'm doing a bit of everything, I've been writing for my university dissertation, watching dvds and coding for both my website and the game. The dissertation writing will be expanded upon in later posts.. but I just want to let you know what I've been up to coding wise...
Primarily I browse the internet with firefox. I don't do this for politically motivated reasons, I just think it's faster and more comfortable to use than ie. For that reason the testing of was done in firefox, and it seemed to work well. It was only when I tried to access it from a PC with only ie that I realised just how incompatible it was. The front page didn't load at all, and those industrious enough to get past that were confronted with external links which produced ugly, nasty frame arrangements. Thankfully I've now fixed it, so I know the site to be 100% ie and firefox compatible. I still have to test it on a MAC, not to mention all the other browsers out there. If anyone has any troubles on the site please let me know...

visiting day
Nothing knew or exciting to report here I'm afraid. As previously mentioned QTE now works great, and the difficulty system is now working with all the games, so that you can enjoy the game no matter what your experience of videogames. The neutral difficulty is in line with the beta, with the hard and easy settings falling either side of that. I am now working on making Laura more user friendly, and have started sketching out the designs for the final level.. Rhys' Battle, in which the player must enter the visitor mothership and fight their terrible leader. No more on that yet, as it only consists of some biro scribbles, but more to come in the next few days. The game will go through my usual design mockup, code test, combination and execution stages, all of which will be shown on here. I think the development of this level could serve as a pretty neat insight into the process I go through to design the mini-games which make up Visiting Day, so keep on watching.

Oh, and I got my little sister the mario dancemat for her birthday. If Nintendo can make the wii controller half as much fun as the mini games on that, I can't wait.

Friday, September 01, 2006

the most important screenshot ever ;) ... image that will make more than a few of the guys who've played the beta very happy...

so.. i've got back to working on Visiting Day, and it's going well. The QTE issue is fixed, they are now far less frequent, as well as there being an option at startup to disable them altogether, for players who would rather have an arrowless game. In fact, on seeing the above screenie, I think that arrow really needs to be orange, anyways, not important.

I've started on the difficulty toggle, which will appear upon loading the game... the input's working, and thus far it dynamically alters the play of Team B to make it welcoming to all skill levels... I just have to implement it in the other three games... then I have to fix Laura's readability issues, and then maybe that final game I keep talking about.

I've been looking into online distribution of the game (not download, but live online play direct from the PSP, download play will be available from, which I aim to do via one or several of the many flash games sites... not being a big player of flash games (i find my self lost in them for hours when i do) I would really appreciate any advice on which sites may be interested in hosting what I think is the first freeware mini-game collection set in a welsh primary school for the PSP. The only site I've contacted so far is Newgrounds.