This past weekend I participated in my first Ludum Dare game jam and I’m alive and here to tell the tell! Admittedly, I did not spend a ton of time working on my game for the simple fact that I have 2 kids and wife that also need some attention throughout the weekend. I’d estimate that I spent about 20 hours in the allotted 72 hours for the game jam. Of course the final version of the game did not have all the mechanics and ideas I started with, but without a doubt it was an excellent learning process that has given me a lot of confidence moving forward with game development. Now, let’s talk about Hotdog Harry’s Food Truck Racing!
When I started programming The Christmas Trail, it was a very fluid process. I thought about some cool game mechanics and implemented them, not thinking too much about how everything would work together in the end. I’ve found this to be a great approach when prototyping or exploring new mechanics. However, I got to a point where every time I went to implement a new feature or mechanic I was forced to do a lot of refactoring and bug fixing. I also came up with some better ideas to implement core functionality that I has sloppily implemented in the beginning. It was at this point that I should have put my hands up, stopped coding, and started planning. I didn’t do that.
The Christmas Trail is a game based off the 1974 hit educational video game The Oregon Trail. I’m not entirely sure where this game idea actually came from. I’m a big fan of Christmas time, and I tend to theme my crazy game ideas as such. There was a time I was very keen a dwarf fortress-like game based at the North Pole, where the elves were the dwarves and the goal was to please a rather eccentric Santa Claus and his over-the-top demands… but let me stay on topic.
So here we are with The Christmas Trail. You’ll get to manage your crew of elves and reindeer through the long journey from continent to continent, delivering presents to all the good boys and girls in the world. The RNG gods will be active, determining if any of your crew comes down with an assortment of sicknesses. You’ll stop at major cities along the way, giving you time to evaluate your situation. Stock up on more cookies or carrots to feed the lot. Call in for a delivery of presents from the North Pole if you’re running low. Make sure this next leg of the journey won’t be your last!
So it's been a while since our last post. In fact, the last time we posted it was to tell you that UPSAT Version 2.0 was launching with all kinds of new bells and whistles... well this time it's to tell you we've added even MORE fun stuff with Version 3.0!!
Buckle up boys and girls, you’re in for a wild ride on the news train! In case you haven’t noticed we’ve taken some long strides in UPSAT Version 2.0. Among other minor fixes, the big changes were the addition of a “Send to Facebook” button on the Game Over screen that lets you show off your awesomeness to all your friends, and the creepy-crawly Alien Invasion Mini-Game Pack! To go along with the new game pack we’ve implemented a new mini-game unlocking system which individually unlocks the new games according to your lifetime points. It looks a little something like this:
Due to our new found fame tiny community of players, we’ve decided to put the afterburners on all of the improvement projects we had scheduled for UPSAT. Some of this you have already seen when we released the Version 1.1 update last week which featured some minor bug fixes, but I’m here to tell you that, “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet!”
Throughout the past couple of weeks, Ryan and I have had many meetings and brainstorming sessions to come up with all the improvements we’d like to see implemented. The first major improvement will be a developer notification system. We want to be able to communicate with you about promotions, sales, upcoming updates, etc from right within the game, so we’re working on something that will allow us to do so easily. The second major improvement is going to be the addition of several language settings from within the options menu. I’m developing a list of all the text we currently use in game and we’ll be translating it into Spanish and German to start. A huge, “Thank You!” goes out to one of our Twitter followers @kurtextrem for helping us with the German translation. We’re working hard right now to get these out to you by late next week with a Version 1.2 update.
Guess what!? UPSAT has launched! If you haven’t already, go check it out on the Android Market!
It has been an insane couple of months, and I personally cannot believe we made it this far. It’s been a great experience and I have to thank so many people. Of course, I have to thank Chris because, without him, there wouldn’t be any game (just silly, stationary pictures!)! Also, my girlfriend Ali, who had to put up with me on many occasions telling her I couldn’t spend time with her because I had ‘just a little bit more to do tonight.’ And then there are all my friends, family, and followers who were so supportive through this whole process. I’m really glad that we got this project done, and I am very much looking forward to starting work on the next one! (With a short break of course, I’m sure my girlfriend would appreciate that!)