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Sword of Fargoal 2 – Kickstarter, and more!

October 12th, 2012

So there’s a great game in the App Store called Sword of Fargoal (get it on iTunes now!) that I’ve played a lot of over the past few years… It was originally created by Jeff McCord way back in the early days of gaming, and brought to life again for iOS by Paul Pridham AKA Madgarden.

They have been trying to fund a greatly expanded sequel to this classic dungeon crawler on Kickstarter (please see their Kickstarter campaign here). Time is running out for them to reach their goal. I’ve made a large pledge myself, at the “HERO” level. But they still need thousands more from backers before 3PM Saturday PST to make the goal.

Jeff is hosting a “Kick-A-Thon” starting at 3PM today PST, and running for 24 hours until the close of the Kickstarter campaign. This will be broadcast on the web via Google Hangouts, with some great guest speakers including the likes of Brenda Brathwaite and Tom Hall! They will be talking about their upcoming game “SHAKER”, an old-school RPG also on Kickstarter.

Here’s some more fun news- I will be appearing via webcam on the “Kick-A-Thon” for an hour as well, starting 11AM Saturday PST (2PM EST)! We’ll be discussing retro-gaming, roguelikes, and a variety of fun topics including my upcoming games! ๐Ÿ™‚

Finally, I’m a co-sponsor for this last kick / push to the goal…

1) People who pledge to the “ROGUE” level or higher tomorrow will receive an extra bonus, in addition to the great items that are being offered in the KS- A Rogue Touch Promo Code to use or share with a friend as you see fit! Limited to the first 30 people who pledge on Saturday.

2) If you can pledge at the “MONSTER SLAYER” level or higher tomorrow I’ll allow you into my private beta test group for Dungeon Tactics: Spirit Hunter Mineko! Beta testing for Mineko is still quite a ways off, but you’ll be “in the club” and also get access to help me test other games in the future. This is limited to the first 20 people who pledge at this level on Saturday.

I’ll grant these extra gifts to people who can raise their existing pledge to the necessary level on Saturday as well as new pledges that appear, so if you have donated already but want in on this action… you know what to do ๐Ÿ˜‰ Note that Jeff McCord will be the final judge of who is awarded these gifts if there is any confusion, since he is in charge of the KS campaign.

This may seem funny, talking passionately about a game I’m not directly involved with, but I hope some of you can help them reach the goal. We can all benefit from more fantastic dungeon crawlers, roguelikes, and “Fargoal-likes” in the the world ๐Ÿ™‚

Rogue Touch v1.62 in the wild :)

October 10th, 2012

The latest update arrived overnight in the App Store, this one finally correcting all the issues with iOS 6 when playing Rogue Touch.

Definitely learned I need to check all aspects of gameplay very carefully whenever a new iOS update appears, probably on the final private beta… which means I need to pick up an iPod Touch this fall that I can screw up without destroying my iPhone while on the road ๐Ÿ™‚

I’ll also be setting up my TestFlight account for official development testing soon. There’s some long-standing forum members and friends out there that are must haves on my beta-list… Of course I will be requesting new eyes as well!

My apologies to anyone who lost a great “in-progress” game due to the iOS 6 related bugs, I hope you’ll continue to play and be ready for the future Rogue Touch overhaul, as well as Spirit Hunter Mineko!

Thanks for all your support! ๐Ÿ™‚

Rogue Touch v1.61 Update is Live!

October 1st, 2012

The title says it all… For those who missed the previous post, a strange bug affected RT v1.6 when played on the newly released iOS 6. This prevented you from using the popup menu to descend the stairs, or any other actions that are triggered on those menus. Downloading this update will fix you right up, and speed up your gameplay experience a bit more too!

Note that v1.61 only supports back to iOS 4.3 now, instead of iOS 3.0. This is due to changes with Xcode that prevent me compiling for older targets. The next major upgrade of Rogue Touch will likely boost that requirement to iOS 5.

Feel free to provide me some feedback here, and update your iTunes reviews when you have a moment. Thanks for your support! ๐Ÿ™‚

iOS 6 and Rogue Touch

September 23rd, 2012

Hello everyone, time for some bad/good news!

I’ve been away, out of the country for a number of weeks… Never updated my iPhone to any beta of iOS 6 because my 4S is my lifeline for everything, and I have had some very bad experiences with beta-expiry at inopportune moments while on the road. Returned at the end of this past week after the release of iOS 6 into the wild… and suddenly received reports of an issue with Rogue Touch!

So the bad news- If you have iOS 6 and tried to play RT, you’ll note that the pop-up sheet buttons for context-actions like “Descend Stairs” don’t seem to do anything. I have upgraded and confirmed the issue on my iPhone now that I’m home in the USA as well.

Now the good news- I believe I have discovered the issue, and have a fix in testing on my device now that looks good. I will be testing this with a couple of people over the next few days and then submitting it to the App Store. Hang in there, I promise you’ll be able to play normally again very soon! ๐Ÿ™‚

Note this quick-turn update will not contain any of the new fancy graphics and other stuff I have in progress, it is just a minor revision to v1.61 for this bug and a couple of small performance tweaks.

******* UPDATE *******
Rogue Touch Version 1.61 was submitted to Apple on 9/25/12. If all goes well they should review it and have it go live next week! This update fixes the iOS 6 “Descend Stairs” gameplay bug (and other popup menu items), and includes a few new performance tweaks.

New Rogue Touch and Spirit Hunter Mineko information and photos are coming up next!

Rogue Revisited

March 4th, 2012

Its been far too long since I have spoken up here… time to change that!

Rogue Touch turned 3 years old last month. When I look back in the source code, and especially when I play it now, it shows signs of age. The little things that my love of the game blinded me to have become more obvious and annoying. I’m still proud of what I accomplished, especially since I’d never completed a game before or developed anything for iOS. But it could be better.

Visually, I wanted Rogue Touch to evoke images of the Atari ST and Amiga days of Rogue, just slightly more modern. I accomplished that fairly well, but in a fit of nostalgia I have alienated a lot of younger gamers who have never played the old games. Everything in the App Store is judged by its appearance… is the icon pretty? Yes, well let me look at the screenshots… which is probably followed with “Ugh, programmer art!” and a lost sale ๐Ÿ˜‰

But lets be honest with ourselves. A pretty coat of paint is not the only thing that Rogue Touch needs. There is a lot that can be done to the user interface and gameplay to improve the experience. I was happy with my UI solutions at the time, it took some serious thought and planning to boil down the large keyboard command list to something that was more playable than hair-pulling on a touch screen. I patted myself on the back for the clever fast-play implementation that allowed your little rogue to run down hallways to the next point of interest without the tedium of directing him one step at a time. However, it still takes more taps than it should to get things done at times, the popup menu can be annoying, inventory management could be better, exploration and *searching* need to be streamlined… This is no longer the Rogue of the 1980s. It needs to be even more playable while on the go!

To address the visual quality I have been getting some professional artwork assistance, and now I have a set of monster tiles with a lot of detail and personality. To address the performance, UI, and gameplay enhancements I am taking some of the core routines from RT and transplanting them into a completely new Xcode project and new engine.

With all of my planned changes, I need to decide whether this is even still an “update” to Rogue Touch, or is it more rightfully a sequel, a brand new app? Some people may strongly dislike their nostalgia taken away from them with a large update, while others may be offended that they have to buy a new app to get the slick new visuals, UI, and gameplay changes. Another important issue- currently Rogue Touch is playable on devices back to iOS 3.0, whereas this “New Rogue” will only be compatible with iOS 5.0 and newer, so people with older devices will be left out.

I am very interested to hear your thoughts, please share them in the comments!

( PS – Mineko is still in development, I’ll be talking about her more next time! ๐Ÿ™‚ )

Long Time, No Objective-C…

August 8th, 2011

As the summer approached I was full of hope, game code was expected to flow abundantly from my fingertips, whole worlds were going to be created!

Immediately after WWDC, things fell apart. I had to focus on my industrial consulting business when a number of projects decided to align like the planets for installation in July. Working seven days a week, and long hours to boot, meant there was no time for game design. I won’t even touch upon issues in my personal life, but they have had an impact as well.

Its a shame that the time-out happened, but it is a necessary evil. The completion of these projects over the past 6+ weeks has brought in more income than the last 2+ years that Rogue Touch has been on the market! Without the money obtained by my consulting business, I cannot work on games. Someday I hope to transition to my older games sustaining me and funding new games, but for now I have to lead a double-life.

Now that my schedule has finally opened up a bit, I have recently returned to the world of Xcode, Objective-C, and OpenGL for the first time in a few months. It feels good. It turns out that taking a substantial time away from Mineko and Rogue Touch code is a mixed blessing… I have had time to forget how some of it works, even though I wrote the code! The flip side is that I’ve been able to rethink past assumptions, find hidden bugs as I re-read code, and improve the foundations.

To reiterate some goals:
1) Rogue Touch 2.0 is still “coming soon”, and is shaping up to be a much more dramatic update than I’d first conceived. It will be interesting to see how it is received by old and new players alike.

2) Spirit Hunter Mineko is deep in production, with thousands of frames of animation, and many thousands of lines of code completed so far. It is my sincere hope to release her before the holiday season rush this year.

3) “Unnamed Tactical TBS”, which I’ve barely mentioned around the internets, will begin to advance at a faster rate as soon as Mineko hits beta-testing. Don’t expect to see this arrive until spring 2012 at the earliest ๐Ÿ˜‰

WWDC, game plans!

June 14th, 2011

Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) was held last week in San Francisco, and I was there for the whole experience! It was great fun exploring the city, as well as getting up and standing in line with everyone at 5AM to be able to see Steve Jobs at the keynote last Monday. Also cool was meeting the crew from TouchArcade, as well as Josh from Crescent Moon Games, and sharing stories and drinks!

If you didn’t hear or see any of the keynote introductions, I can share this with you: iCloud will be a hot item for iOS gaming in the future. Many developers I spoke to shared the same idea, using iCloud to automatically sync game saves and progress across all your devices. That means you could start playing Mineko on your iPhone at work, and continue where you left off on your iPad while sitting on the couch at night! This will be especially useful for RPGs and such that have a seriously long playtime associated with them.

Another WWDC item- I sat down and talked with Blake Patterson at TouchArcade about past, current, and future projects and showed him some interesting unreleased stuff… some of which was showcased on the TouchArcade front page last week. If you missed it, take a look here: TouchArcade – Mineko Article

Mentioned but not shown in that article was a bit about Rogue Touch. Unfortunately the update was not far enough along to do a video preview. The good news is that graphic work is at an advanced stage now, and the details are starting to come together. Bad news is I have a few weeks of heavy consulting work to get through before I can finish assembling all the pieces. My target is to have this ready in later July, and it will be worth the wait! Smooth and fast gameplay, all new and improved visuals, Gamecenter integration, and a couple other surprises await you…

The Future of Rogue Touch

May 23rd, 2011

Those old-timers that have been visiting ChronoSoft since 2009 know that Rogue Touch has had a long history of updates and added features. After launching in February 2009, it gained things in the following months like D-pad support, leaderboards, bones, and new magic items. Things slowed down when my “day job” projects picked up and of course when Spirit Hunter Mineko started to take shape.

The most recent update to Rogue Touch was back in July of 2010, and contained some enhancements for iOS 4, including retina-display text and multitasking. It also contained some modified display code to address screen update performance in iOS 4.0. Something was broken in Apple’s new OS that had been functioning well since iOS 2.0 – 3.1.3… the drawing performance of CGContextDrawImage dropped to between 1/10 and 1/20th of its original speed prior to iOS 4.0.

I optimized the dungeon and map drawing code and regained much needed speed in iOS 4.0. There was much rejoicing last July… Then things got *even worse* in iOS 4.1. Everything was slowed further, despite my optimizations. I kept holding out hope that another iOS update would rectify the issue, but that we’re in 2011 now, and up to iOS 4.3.X… WWDC is just around the corner, but I’ve given up on iOS CGContext drawing getting fixed.

Rogue Touch was written using the easiest methods I could learn while learning Objective-C and the iPhone & Mac platforms. There are much faster and better ways to get things done… All the cool games use OpenGL, GPU accelerated high-speed drawing!

Coming in June 2011 is an overhaul of the classic! Rogue Touch will gain OpenGL rendering and quite a few new and interesting features. Can’t wait to share it with you all ๐Ÿ˜‰


May 10th, 2011

For my first “official” blog post I thought it would be fun to talk about some of the sources of inspiration for Spirit Hunter Mineko. The story itself has roots in a variety of movies and anime/manga. We won’t be covering any of that! Instead, I’ll talk about gaming influences ๐Ÿ™‚

The most obvious thing that can be seen in the few released screenshots and demo videos for Mineko is the pixel art and style of the sprites / tilesets. Some of the most well-loved RPGs came out during the rein of the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis, and I wanted to capture the feeling of games like Zelda, Chrono Trigger, and Final Fantasy (before they all went 3D)!. Everything is hand-drawn to approximate the best of the 16-bit gaming era. Even my choice of font (which has not been shown yet) is based on the bitmapped fonts that Square Enix used for games like Secret of Mana and Chrono Trigger back in the 1990s.

In addition to the classic elements, I’ve developed a new line of sight and shadow casting system for 2D gaming that you can see evolve in the older tech videos. Since those demos were made last year other more modern features have been added like lighting, particle systems, and even some special mesh-based effects. All of this is my own hand-written code and mathematics, no libraries or game engines were used.

Part of the delays in getting Mineko done are due to the gameplay. My first attempts were just not fun enough. Rather than make “yet another roguelike” or “dungeon crawler #8472” I discarded a lot of work and documentation. Core gameplay has been, and continues to be refined. Now I am taking some of the best experiences a number of games have to offer and blending them into a cohesive whole that fits Mineko’s universe.

Shiren The Wanderer is an obvious choice to take notes from, it is probably the finest roguelike ever created for game consoles. I’ve taken small ideas from Shiren like the mini-map (actually used in Rogue Touch, and making another appearance in Mineko) and the idea that you always have a standard ranged weapon available (unlike Rogue). One of the more interesting aspects of Shiren is being adapted as well- death is used to drive the story forward, and careful planning can allow you to accumulate useful items for your *next* play-through. This helps take away most of the sting from any one death, and even gives options for those who like to grind in RPGs for better gear to make things easier.

Note that grinding is not mandatory, but it may actually be desirable for a few reasons. 1) Mineko has some “collection” aspects that may remind people of Pokemon! The magic system can be used for summoning help if you find the correct things. 2) The item system will allow a stunning variety of weaponry to be created. Expect to find weapons from multiple “tiers” ala World of Warcraft (from common to epic and more, with familiar color auras), with more powerful ones containing several types of magical enhancements and modifiers.

There is no “skill tree” in Spirit Hunter Mineko, but the items you can collect provide such a range of effects that they serve as a function equivalent… without the stupid re-spec or class change penalties found in most Action RPGs these days.

Unfortunately this section is weak at the moment, but it is vital to the finished game! I’ve had a couple of false starts with very talented people, but hoping things are on the right track at last. Currently the idea is that “less is more”… many of the greatest themes in movies and classic games are simpler tunes, that just happen to be very catchy and memorable!

Spirit Hunter Mineko still requires several memorable tunes, combat / gameplay sounds, and a lot of ambient / background noises. If you are a good sound-effects person (or know of one) please post in the comments!

Hope you’ve enjoyed reading this, I’m still trying to get my blogger skill leveled up! Not sure what my next topic will be yet, but might be one on “what makes games fun” or perhaps on user interfaces and more specifically, touchscreen UI.

First Post!

May 2nd, 2011

Now that I’ve fulfilled my meme-related obligations, I am pleased to welcome you to the newly redesigned ChronoSoft site. The home page is now a blog which will house my thoughts on various classic and modern games, as well as game design and programming. You can expect to read regular news and technical related posts for all of my upcoming creations right here.

This is the first time my site has changed substantially since the release of Rogue Touch back in early 2009. In the past this was more of a shrine to Rogue than a website you’d expect for a company that, you know, might actually plan on releasing some new games ๐Ÿ™‚

ChronoSoft’s new design is the result of a collaborative project between Anna Ahearn and myself. She did most of the hard work you see here, but was also very flexible in allowing me to tweak graphics and HTML/CSS where I wanted as well. If you’re in the market for web design services I highly recommend getting in touch with Anna- she delivers hand written code, prompt service, and reasonable rates! You can find out more about her at http://www.annaahearn.com/

Finally, I’d like to say thank you to the die-hard rogues that visit regularly, and a friendly hello to all the new faces that show up! Please watch this space in the coming days for special news updates about Rogue Touch and Spirit Hunter Mineko.

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