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AppGameKit/AppGameKit Studio Showcase / [WIP] Nexus of Power

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Lucas Tiridath
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Posted: 21st Apr 2013 13:52 Edited at: 11th Jul 2013 10:14


Hi everyone! Nexus of Power is the game I've been working on for the last ten months or so and I've finally got a beta together that I wanted to share with you and get some feedback on.

EDIT: Now that the beta is over, I've removed the downloads. However it is now available (for free!) on the following app stores:
- Amazon App Store
- Blackberry App World
- Google Play
- Intel AppUp

Background
I've had the concept for Nexus for many years and have tried to develop it in a number of languages for a number of platforms but this is the first one I've managed to get to beta. I've been working on this incarnation of Nexus for about ten months although the design and some of the graphics have been carried over from earlier versions.

Nexus is developed in AppGameKit Tier 2. The graphics fall into two categories. The cleaner graphics are done purely in GIMP whilst the stylised drawings are done with pen and paper and then scanned in and modified in GIMP. The power orb comes from one of The Slayer's sprite packs. The sound effects come from Soundmatter and the music is from Incompetech.

Plot
The archipelago known as the Dragon's Eye was once ruled by a council of the four Orders of Magecraft: the orders of Dawn, Dusk, Noon and Night. However after disaster befell their shared capital city, each blamed the others and they retreated to their separate capitals in the four extremities of the isles. Now they are at war and each seeks to conquer the entire archipelago for itself.

In the campaign game, you can attempt to conquer the entire archipelago for your chosen order, or you can simply play one off skirmish and LAN games if you prefer.

Nexus of Power
Each player starts the game with a castle. The aim is to capture the enemy castles. If you lose your own castle, you are defeated (even if you still control other types of building). Most buildings generate power. You can capture buildings by putting more power into them than your opponents. To do this, you drag out power lines from a building you control to a target building. The art of the game is channelling your power effectively around the map. As you only have a finite amount of power/second, if you create too many lines from a building, the power along each line will become too diluted to capture its target.

Features of the game include:
- 16 maps and randomally generated maps
- Skirmish games where you can play against 1-3 AI players
- 3 levels of AI difficulty and dynamic difficulty levels in game
- Campaign games where you fight a series of skirmish games to try and conquer the entire map
- LAN games where you can play against a mixture of human and AI players
- Achievements to unlock

Deployment
I've been developing Nexus for Windows in VS2010. I plan to release Nexus for Windows XP-7 (and Windows 8 if TGC fix the fullscreen crash bug), Blackberry Tablet OS and Android.

I will release the game once I'm happy with how stable it is, but at a minimum I will wait until v108 leaves beta in the hope that TGC will fix it for Windows 8.

Screenshots




Anyhow if anyone could test it for me, that would be really great. All feedback and glitch reports welcome, although realistically major feature requests may have to wait until after the first release now. Thanks for your help!

Release 1.2.3 - 11/07/2013

Release 1.2.1

Release 1.2.0

Release 1.1.0

Release 1.0.1

Release 1.0.0 - 05/06/2013

Beta 5 Changelog - 30/05/2013

Beta 4 Changelog - 06/05/2013

Beta 3 Changelog - 23/04/2013


To Do List - (✓ = done, x = wip, ? - possibly fixed, ~ = undecided on)

mr_d
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Posted: 21st Apr 2013 15:05
Hi Lucas,
this looks very interesting. is it possible to upload a copy to either the TGC forum itself or another file host that doesn't need an account to be logged into?

Lucas Tiridath
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Posted: 21st Apr 2013 15:27
Quote: "is it possible to upload a copy to either the TGC forum itself or another file host that doesn't need an account to be logged into?"

Sorry about that Mr D. It's probably just that I've messed up the permissions as I'm pretty sure you can share files in Google drive with people without a Google account. Anyway I've uploaded a copy to my website and added the link to the first post so hopefully you can download it from there. I'll see if there is anything I can do to get the Google Drive download working as well. Thanks for taking a look!

Clonkex
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Posted: 21st Apr 2013 15:55
I'll download this tonight and tell you what I think some time tomorrow.

Hmm...the description sounds interesting but the pictures leave much to be desired. In fact the pictures make it look utterly boring.

Anyway I'll tell you what I think after I've tried it

Clonkex

Lucas Tiridath
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Posted: 21st Apr 2013 17:34
Quote: "description sounds interesting but the pictures leave much to be desired. In fact the pictures make it look utterly boring."

Haha! This has to be the first time having screenshots made it less likely people will test the game . I'll bear that in mind when preparing the screenies for the app stores.

Frank feedback is good. It's always better that it's your beta testers saying it than the customers after all! Anyhow let me know what you think once you have a chance to try it out.

Clonkex
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Posted: 22nd Apr 2013 04:21 Edited at: 22nd Apr 2013 04:26
Quote: "Haha! This has to be the first time having screenshots made it less likely people will test the game"


lol yes

Ok, I was completely surprised that I actually enjoyed the game (until it crashed, that is). It's a game that doesn't appear at all interesting on the outside. It'll be really difficult to market so that people will actually buy it.

Now, about that sliding tablet....it's SO. ANNOYING. When I first dragged it out I expected it to come out a tablet width and then stop, but I was annoyed when I discovered that it could move across the entire screen. It got in the way ALL THE TIME. In the end I took absolutely no notice of the tablet and just shoved it off the left side of the screen. I wanted to be able to use it but it just kept getting in the way. What I would do is make it part of the permanent gui (so it's always visible at the left of the screen) but make it so the scrolling stops at the right side of the tablet, so that right side of the tablet is effectively the left side of the screen. It's hard to explain. Also I'd make it smaller so it uses less screen and I'd make the font more readable when it's small (I don't know how I'd do this, though).

I actually had almost no idea what I was supposed to be doing, and what building towers actually did, but I managed to capture a yellow section and a purple section. I think I was brought into a war in a neutral section because there were stupid little white power orbs floating around, disrupting my power lines

With regards to the orbs themselves...make them resize according the amount of power they carry. So if your lines are very powerful (a single line from your castle, say), the orbs are the size they are now. If the lines are weak (many lines from your castle), the orbs get very small. That would drastically improve gameplay because we wouldn't have to rely on that stupid sliding tablet or waiting until the orbs run into something to tell how strong they are. It should be very easy to do, as each orb would simply be resized when it's created.

Also, the tutorial didn't explain what exactly building towers did. Am I right in saying they don't produce power? Do they simply redirect it? Also, it said something about not bothering to capture a tower for the time being but I had no idea what it was going on about.

If you make that sliding tablet part of the permanent gui (ie. it never moves and is always there and the screen can be scrolled over far enough that nothing gets hidden under it....I highly recommend doing this), make it narrower. Split the "Power Generation" line into two lines (one above the other) and make the tablet just wide enough that text doesn't stick out the sides.

For the record, I loved the introduction, but there's so many options on the main menu that most people probably won't even see it, so it should always play during startup (but make it skippable so we don't have to watch it every single time ).

My brother and I will test the LAN gameplay later today.

I love the graphics and art style, very cool. It's all very well finished and feels quite professional (which is unusual for an AppGameKit game, because they're so easy to make people to tend to forget to polish them), but again, that tablet....annoying...

I can't think of anything else that I needed to point out.

Oh yeah, in the description, change this:

Quote: "The archipelago called the Dragon's Eye was once ruled"


to this:

Quote: "The archipelago known as the Dragon's Eye was once ruled"


Sounds better

EDIT: Ah yeah the crash. It crashed with a Windows error saying it was searching online for solutions. I don't know what I did but I think I had just tried to drag a new power line to an enemy castle. Not sure.

Clonkex

Clonkex
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Posted: 22nd Apr 2013 09:29
Ok, we tried playing LAN but it didn't work. I hosted a game and my brother tried to connect. He could see my game in the server browser but when he tried to connect it said "Sorry, network connection failed." every time. He tried hosting with me joining and it still failed. We even disconnected from the internet and used private IPs (169.254.x.x) and it failed that time too. Obviously the broadcast packet is getting through perfectly because the game shows up with the correct name but it's a no-go when we try to connect.

We're not using a router (we run through a switch) and we can connect in every single other multiplayer LAN game we have. Multiplayer would be fun but not if we can't connect.

Oh and I remembered what game this reminds me of: GalaxIR. This game has the potential to be as cool as GalaxIR and even better and could work really well on large phones and tablets (the in-game text is hard to read on a Windows PC, imagine what it'll be like on a phone).

Clonkex

Funnell7
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Posted: 22nd Apr 2013 11:29
I pretty much agree with everything Clonkex has said. The 'tablet' is most definitely annoying. I completed the Campaign (on Easy), and didn't use the tablet once. As soon as the level started, I simply moved it as far right as I could... As Clonkex has suggested, a permanent GUI would be better IMO...

One thing Clonkex didn't mention (so maybe this is just me), the transitions seemed incredibly slow. It was painful to sit here and watch who won what after each attack. Personally I would prefer either for this to be a lot quicker, or the ability to skip straight to who was victorious.

I also experience a crash, this was when I tried to load a previously saved game. As soon as I click load, the level appears for a fraction of a second (I could just about make out that the tablet had been loaded) and then I get the 'Windows is looking for a solution' error...

A very good game though, I played a full campaign, not because you wanted beta testers, but because I actually enjoyed playing it! Trust me, that says a lot... Well done!

Looking forward to trying this out on my Phone (Android).
Clonkex
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Posted: 22nd Apr 2013 11:46 Edited at: 22nd Apr 2013 16:24
Quote: "One thing Clonkex didn't mention (so maybe this is just me), the transitions seemed incredibly slow. It was painful to sit here and watch who won what after each attack. Personally I would prefer either for this to be a lot quicker, or the ability to skip straight to who was victorious."


Ah that! No, it's not just you, I just forgot. They are indeed painfully slow I agree they should be both faster and skippable.

Quote: "I played a full campaign, not because you wanted beta testers, but because I actually enjoyed playing it!"


I also am in the process of completing the campaign (on Normal) because I like the game. It's way better than it looks in the pictures

Something my brother pointed out: when you first start a level, the little shockwave thingies that appear around your castle are slightly low-framerate and tend to make the game appear as though it's running slowly (until you start doing stuff, that is). It's a little thing but if my brother finds it annoying, so might others.

Clonkex

baxslash
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Posted: 22nd Apr 2013 12:32
This looks really addictive. I just did the tutorial and I'm looking forward to trying the whole game out.

A couple of minor niggles. The text in the tutorial is too spaced out, you can change the spacing using setTextSpacing. The enemy castle image shows black lines at the edges, this can be sorted out using power of 2 images and/or by making sure the outer edge of pixels are transparent.

Other than that it looks great and I can't wait to play it properly nice work lucas!


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Lucas Tiridath
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Posted: 22nd Apr 2013 13:20 Edited at: 22nd Apr 2013 13:21
Hey thanks for all the excellent feedback guys! Given the quantity of high quality feedback I'm getting here, I'm going to post my internal to do list in the first post so you can see which of your points I've taken on board. I'm working on adding these features now and I'll let you know once I release the next beta.

Quote: "Now, about that sliding tablet....it's SO. ANNOYING."

Haha this is just why I need testers! You know of the various things I thought you might comment on, this one didn't occur to me, but now you say it, I realise I never actually use the tablet when I'm playing either. I just leave it stuffed to the side of the screen which is a waist. I'll definitely work on improving this. Any ideas for synonyms of "generation" that are a little shorter that I could use? Would "Power\nRate" make sense or "Power Per\nSecond"?

Quote: "With regards to the orbs themselves...make them resize according the amount of power they carry."

Good thought. I'll need to cap the extremes though or it could cause some graphical glitches. The trick to this will be working out the best scale for it.

Quote: "Also, the tutorial didn't explain what exactly building towers did. Am I right in saying they don't produce power?"

Yes that's right. They primary function is to allow you to make links that would otherwise be impossible, but all your power must come from fixed towers. Also you can't build towers from stone circles. I'll make this clearer in the tutorial.

Quote: "For the record, I loved the introduction, but there's so many options on the main menu that most people probably won't even see it, so it should always play during startup"

Glad you like it! I'm not sure about having it run at startup though, even with it being skippable, as it has quite an additional overhead for load time and might be kind of annoying on a tablet. I've been wondering if I can reduce the number of buttons on the main menu though, maybe through sub menus. I'll think about it.

Quote: "It crashed with a Windows error saying it was searching online for solutions. I don't know what I did but I think I had just tried to drag a new power line to an enemy castle."

Hmmm, I've not noticed this one and I've got a feeling it may be tricky to track down. I can say with 99% certainty that it's probably a vector out of bounds error but that doesn't help much! I'll look into it.

Quote: "Ok, we tried playing LAN but it didn't work."

Thanks for testing this for me. The LAN game is definitely the least tested part of the project but I'm slightly surprised that it failed at the first hurdle. I've had a look and that error means that the network is becoming inactive. Here's the code.

My thought is that IsNetworkActive may be returning 0 after the network is created for a bit, perhaps while is does some asynchronous handshaking with the host or something. As I usually test with both client and host on my local machine, it may be that the latency is so low that this error doesn't occur. Anyhow I'll look into it further and try and fix it for the next beta.

Quote: "the transitions seemed incredibly slow"

Ah yes, I remember seeing something like this on my dad's computer now. I think it is something to do with what your screen resolution is. I'll look into making it scale better and make it skippable too.

Quote: "I also experience a crash, this was when I tried to load a previously saved game."

Hmm, again I don't think I've seen this one. Do you remember if you were loading a skirmish game or a campaign game?

Quote: "when you first start a level, the little shockwave thingies that appear around your castle are slightly low-framerate"

That should be pretty easy to fix. It's a procedurally generated graphic anyway so I'll just re-render it with more frames.

Quote: "The text in the tutorial is too spaced out"

Ah I'd noticed this but I'd missed the SetTextSpacing command. Thanks baxslash!

Quote: "The enemy castle image shows black lines at the edges, this can be sorted out using power of 2 images"

Oh is that it! Again I'd noticed this but as the castles are part of a sprite sheet, I assumed it was that the frames weren't quite lined up right, but despite significantly shrinking the castle sprites, I couldn't get rid of this. So does the power of 2 have to be the frame size or the size of the entire sprite sheet?

Thanks again for the feedback everyone! Keep it coming and I'll get the beta 3 out ASAP.

baxslash
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Posted: 22nd Apr 2013 13:25
Quote: "So does the power of 2 have to be the frame size or the size of the entire sprite sheet?"

It needs to be for each frame I believe. It's probably bleeding in from the next image/s in the atlas. If you use a power of two image for each image in the atlas and have an overall power of two size you should be ok. If you can't get rid of it though this game should run fast enough with individual images (for some images at least). Atlas images are great but not always necessary. I found I got much better speed increases from other things such as turning off transparency on images that don't require it


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mr_d
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Posted: 22nd Apr 2013 13:28 Edited at: 22nd Apr 2013 13:30
i'm still yet to try this out, but from the other comments, it sounds like you're onto a fun and hopefully successful game

my only question so far (again, without trying it out yet), is why is it 150MB? I hope you will look to reduce this footprint significantly (to be at most 10% of this, e.g. 15MB).

EDIT: Also the google download location still asks me to login, so i'm downloading (the updated beta) from your host again.

Funnell7
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Posted: 22nd Apr 2013 14:52 Edited at: 22nd Apr 2013 14:54
Quote: "Hmm, again I don't think I've seen this one. Do you remember if you were loading a skirmish game or a campaign game?"


It happens every time I try to load a previously saved Campaign Game...

EDIT: Also, I just started playing it again and I forgot to mention something else. There's another thing I do straight away after the level is loaded, and that is to Zoom out as far as I can. I think it would be better to be Zoomed out to start with. With the option to Zoom in if you want to...
Lucas Tiridath
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Posted: 22nd Apr 2013 19:01
Quote: "It needs to be for each frame I believe. It's probably bleeding in from the next image/s in the atlas."

I just took a look and it turns out I am using powers of 2, but I still seemed to be getting the bleeding atlas. Still, I think it's fixed now by just making each sprite a couple of pixels smaller.

Quote: "I found I got much better speed increases from other things such as turning off transparency on images that don't require it"

Unfortunately, aside for a couple of backgrounds, almost everything in my game needs transparency! And this is why I should use tile maps. Ah well; the framerate's OK at the moment but I expect I'll be returning to this more when I come to deploy to Android. Thanks for the hints .

Quote: "why is it 150MB?"

That would be because of all the background images. I'd be sorry to lose them but I may need to greatly scale them down or remove them entirely before distribution. I was toying with the idea of having a high res version for PC (I don't think it's unreasonable to ask people to download 150MB for a PC game) but a much lower res one for phones (where ~10MB really is the max that's reasonable). I'm not keen to add much data compression or anything as the load times are pretty horrible as it is!

Quote: "Also the google download location still asks me to login"

How odd. I've changed the settings from being available to anyone with a link to just anyone and it doesn't get any more open than that. It specifically says "No login" but whatever. So long as the other download is working, I guess it doesn't really matter.

Quote: "It [the crash] happens every time I try to load a previously saved Campaign Game..."

Do I take it that you mean every time you try and load the same saved game? If so, it sounds like the file as got corrupted somehow. Did it crash during a game and then you try to load it back again? If so, I think I can reproduce this bug and work on it.

Quote: "I think it would be better to be Zoomed out to start with."

I agree. Done and will be included in the next beta.

Clonkex
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Posted: 23rd Apr 2013 03:11 Edited at: 23rd Apr 2013 04:52
What...? No... Where'd my really long post go? I posted a post last night about what you should do about the size and some other things but it appears to have disappeared. I tell you there's strange things going on in this forum. Twice recently I got informed by mailback of a new post in a couple of threads and when I went to look, there was no new post. The next day they appeared in between newer posts. Hopefully my post will come back.

Just in case it doesn't come back: you can save 30-50MB by using GIMP to save the PNG province graphics (and indeed all the graphics) as JPG, but set quality to 100 or it won't be lossless. They should also load much faster than PNG.

Clonkex

Digital Awakening
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Posted: 23rd Apr 2013 12:21
Not yet tried the game but I wanted to comment on the image files. PNG is best when you have fewer colors or need transparency. JPG is best for photos etc. Depending on quality needs you can use 60-100 %.

mr_d
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Posted: 23rd Apr 2013 14:33
not sure if it's my computer only, but when i go to start the game, it freezes after displaying the menu screen...

Clonkex
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Posted: 23rd Apr 2013 14:38
Quote: "PNG is best when you have fewer colors or need transparency."


I forgot about transparency. In the province images you could use JPG and get about a 33% file size saving with no data loss whatsoever. The province images are "bumpy" and don't compress well with PNG, so JPG is better. The castle and other sprite images need transparency, though, so you have to use PNG.

Clonkex

Lucas Tiridath
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Posted: 23rd Apr 2013 15:20
Hi again everyone. Thanks for the continued feedback. I've been working on the beta 3 and although it's not quite done yet, I've got a screeny of the new UI. Of course, it looks fairly similar but it doesn't slide now and as you can see, it appears to the left of the map and so doesn't overlap.


Quote: "I posted a post last night about what you should do about the size and some other things but it appears to have disappeared."

That's a shame! And very strange! I've not noticed anything like this before but I guess even forums have glitches, right?

Quote: "you can save 30-50MB by using GIMP to save the PNG province graphics (and indeed all the graphics) as JPG"

I've had a go at doing this and I've got the project size down to ~110MB with 100% quality. Thanks for the hint!

Quote: "They should also load much faster than PNG."

This is also true. I'm very impressed with how much difference this has made. Darn, think how many hours of development I probably waisted over the last year waiting for those pngs to load!

Quote: "PNG is best when you have fewer colors or need transparency."

Ah thanks, that's good to know. Because JPG doesn't support transparencies, I've not been able to convert a lot of the smaller sprites, but their memory footprint is pretty tiny anyway and for the backgrounds, it has made a big difference.

Quote: "not sure if it's my computer only, but when i go to start the game, it freezes after displaying the menu screen..."

I've certainly not seen an issue like this on any of the machines I've tested it on, and from what other people are saying, I assume they've not either. Can you give me any more details about this? Do you get an error message? What hardware/OS are you running the game on? At what stage exactly does it freeze? On the menu? Or when you click a button? Thanks for your help with this.

Clonkex
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Posted: 23rd Apr 2013 16:28 Edited at: 23rd Apr 2013 16:31
Quote: "the new UI. Of course, it looks fairly similar but it doesn't slide now and as you can see, it appears to the left of the map and so doesn't overlap."


MUUUUUUCH better Can't wait to try the latest version

Quote: "Darn, think how many hours of development I probably waisted over the last year waiting for those pngs to load!"


lol Also, because you've made the error twice, and because you seem to care about spelling and grammar (I like you just for that ), I'll inform you that "waisted" doesn't really mean anything. I have a waist somewhere near my hips and I don't know what I would have to do with it to have "waisted" something The correct spelling is "wasted"

Quote: "That's a shame!"


It is! Luckily for you I'm pretty sure I managed to remember everything I'd said and put it in a compressed version in that previous post

Quote: "I don't think it's unreasonable to ask people to download 150MB for a PC game"


It's not, no, but just remember that it's in your own best interests to make it as easy for people to get your game as possible

EDIT: Darn, I need to cut down on smileys...

Clonkex

mr_d
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Posted: 23rd Apr 2013 17:37
Quote: "Can you give me any more details about this? Do you get an error message? What hardware/OS are you running the game on? At what stage exactly does it freeze? On the menu? Or when you click a button?"

no error message, it just froze on the menu screen, nothing worked from there, no mouse, no keyboard, nothing...i had to do a hard reset of my computer.
I'm running Win7 Home Premium 64bit with SP1 on an Intel i7 2.80GHz with 8Gb RAM PC. nothing else seems to have problems similar to this except an earlier version of AppGameKit when I tried to play music for my game (haven't tried since then as i dodn't want to repeat doing hard resets of my computer) - you wouldn't happen to be trying to play some background music when your main menu is displayed are you? if so, this may be a strange issue with how AppGameKit plays music on my computer.

Digital Awakening
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Posted: 23rd Apr 2013 18:11
Lucas:
If you use icons instead of text you can more than half the sidebar and maximize the game area. You could even make a small thing up in the top left corner and it would be almost gone. You don't need the words Type and Alignment. You can keep the word that describes the object (Castle) and just make icons for the rest. Add a menu button icon to the top right.

Lucas Tiridath
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Posted: 23rd Apr 2013 18:29
OK beta 3 is now here! You should be able to download it from the links in the first post. Here is the change log (also included in the download)


In addition to these changes, I've had a stab at resolving the LAN issue by waiting until the network starts registering as active before continuing. However the nature of university internet is such that I'm not easily able to test this myself, either to reproduce the bug or to test the fix. Therefore I've not included it as a fix because I think there's only a small chance that it will have worked. In addition, I've added a smaller, clearer font that is loaded in place of the normal one for smaller screens. However the results are still far from perfect so I'll be playing around with other possibilities to see if I can get anything that works better. Finally as discussed above, I've reduced the download size from ~150MB to ~110MB by converting the background images from PNGs to JPGs but again, I'm not marking this as resolved because the download size will need to go much lower for some of the mobile platforms I hope to deploy to.

Quote: "I'll inform you that "waisted" doesn't really mean anything."

Gah! I knew I shouldn't have wasted my education sitting at the back of the classroom making computer games!

Quote: "remember that it's in your own best interests to make it as easy for people to get your game as possible"

True that! Thinking of which, have you had any thoughts on how I could best describe/show the game on the app stores to attract people to play it? Saying it's all about dragging lines between towers is unlikely to attract many customers after all!

Quote: "you wouldn't happen to be trying to play some background music when your main menu is displayed are you?"

Sorry about the hard reset!! Yes there is background music (mp3 format if it makes a difference). Well at least that (kind of) explains the crash. Have you reported this as a glitch? Nexus is compiled with the latest beta (beta 11) so the issue obviously hasn't been resolved yet. It's very odd because your computer's spec sounds very similar to mine. Do you have a strange audio card or something?

Quote: "If you use icons instead of text you can more than half the sidebar and maximize the game area."

Very interesting idea. I'll think about how I could best do that and maybe try some mock ups to see what people think.

Digital Awakening
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Posted: 23rd Apr 2013 22:33
The game is not for me. But others seems to enjoy it. I wish you good luck with it

Clonkex
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Posted: 24th Apr 2013 03:47
Quote: "OK beta 3 is now here!"


Yes! Only I have to wait 'til tonight to download it...

Quote: "In addition to these changes, I've had a stab at resolving the LAN issue by waiting until the network starts registering as active before continuing. However the nature of university internet is such that I'm not easily able to test this myself, either to reproduce the bug or to test the fix. Therefore I've not included it as a fix because I think there's only a small chance that it will have worked."


I'll do some tests myself and see if I can replicate the problem. If I can, I find a good way to fix it and tell you

Quote: "Gah! I knew I shouldn't have wasted my education sitting at the back of the classroom making computer games!"


lol

Quote: "Thinking of which, have you had any thoughts on how I could best describe/show the game on the app stores to attract people to play it? Saying it's all about dragging lines between towers is unlikely to attract many customers after all!"


Yeah I know. I have been thinking about this and do have some ideas, but give me a bit more time to get them sorted out in my head and then I'll tell you how I think you should go about this.

Clonkex

Lucas Tiridath
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Posted: 6th May 2013 13:43 Edited at: 6th May 2013 13:48
Hi everyone. Sorry for the delay; real life and all that. And to be fair, a bit of Ludum Dare as well .

Anyhow I've finally got around to releasing the beta 4! The full changelog is in the first post and is included in the download as well but there are a few major notable changes.

I've decided against the idea of icons, because I couldn't quite figure out how I wanted it to look. However what I have done is added a feature by which the information tablet disappears if it is not in use (meaning that nothing is selected). In case anyone finds all this appearing and disappearing annoying though, there is a new setting in the options menu that allows you to force it to remain visible all the time. Following on from representing the amount of power in power orbs through their size, the glow around the base of each tower now indicates how much shield it has. Additional information on how the game system actually works has been added to the tutorial to hopefully make making tactical decisions easier. After much playing around with fonts, I think I've managed to improve the readability a little. It's not perfect but it's a lot better than it was. It works by using fonts from the AppGameKit font pack, which work much better, and using clearer fonts the smaller your screen is. Finally, following what can only be considered a crime against art, I have managed to reduce the download size to under 15MB. Naturally the media assets are now of considerably lower quality, and on my high res development machine, I can see the difference, but I think that on a lot of smaller screens, it shouldn't be so noticeable. However as I have been messing around with the graphics so much, do let me know if you notice any graphical glitches I've managed to introduce.

Having done this, it leaves three major outstanding issues. First is the crash Clonkex reported at the start. As I have been unable to reproduce this crash, I have no way of fixing it. However as I continue playing the game, I can just hope that at some point, the error occures for me and then I can attempt to debug it. The second issue is the fullscreen crash on Windows 8. However this is an AppGameKit issue and so I can but wait for a fix from TGC. Finally there is the issue of the network failing to connect, which as mentioned earlier, is impossible for me to work on until I go home due to not having a LAN to test it on at uni. In addition, there is the question of porting to other platforms, but I'll probably leave that until I've ironed out the remaining issues in the Windows beta and until TGC release the final version of 108 so that I don't have to keep changing the templates .

OK well I hope you like the improvements. Like I say, I wont probably be able to deal with the outstanding issues I know of for a while, but of course I'll still be watching this thread so if you have any further suggestions or find any new glitches, I'll try and have a go at resolving them.

And for your patience, have some Nexus inspired box art. Yes, I can't draw, but I had fun making it .


Lucas Tiridath
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Posted: 31st May 2013 00:49
Hi again, sorry for the delay. I've just uploaded the latest beta to correct a few issues. I've found the bug in the LAN game that was preventing it from connecting, and have fixed that. I've also discovered, with Paul's help, that the Windows 8 crash was to do with the drivers of my machine rather than AppGameKit so it is (and always has been) Windows 8 compatible after all! I've also fixed a few graphic issues and issues with the LAN game, and added notifications of achievements that you unlock.

The next stage is to start porting the game and getting it ready for publication. I've spent most of the day trying to get it to compile for Android and Blackberry Tablet OS, and have succeeded in neither, which is why I'm updating the beta now. I'll obviously have to keep working on this but given the difficulties I'm having, I'll probably look to getting it published on Intel AppUp first.

Naturally any other suggestions or glitch reports are most welcome. I'll post again if I make any progress in compiling for other platforms and when I submit it for the dreaded validation .

Lucas Tiridath
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Posted: 1st Jun 2013 21:27
Well I've spent today working on compiling and deploying the game and have managed to get it working on both Android and Blackberry Tablet OS. I've now submitted the app to Intel and RIM for validation and the app is ready for publication on Google play. I'm also looking into publishing through Amazon although I don't have a Kindle to test on so I don't know if that's wise...

I've got an exam on Tuesday which I really need to focus on so if all goes to plan, I'll publish to Android on Wednesday and just try and get the others through validation as soon as I can after that. If anyone's interested in beta testing for Android, just post here or drop me a line and I'll add you to the testers list on Google Play. I'm only supporting Android 2.3.3+ with "large" or "xlarge" screens (basically phablets and tablets).

I'll leave the beta version up here until the first app store publishes it (most likely Google Play) so if you feel like grabbing the windows version for free (the beta 5 is almost identical to the final release), then do so now!

It really is amazing seeing the game on all these platforms now. Maybe it doesn't seem as astounding to Tier 1 developers because they can test on all their platforms from the beginning, but having worked on the app in Tier 2 for the best part of a year, testing it entirely on Windows, to be able in the space of two days to port it to my Android tablet and Blackberry Playbook just seems amazing. And all the more so given that the game was designed with tablets in mind. Being able to finally drag out power lines with my fingers is just great! Really big credit to TGC here.

Well other than that, thanks again for all your useful comments and wish me luck!

Ancient Lady
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Posted: 1st Jun 2013 22:10
Good luck with all the submissions and your test.

Cheers,
Ancient Lady
AGK Community Tester and AppGameKit Master
Lucas Tiridath
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Posted: 5th Jun 2013 11:28
Thanks AL!

Well RIM have excelled themselves once again and have been the first to publish, so Nexus is released! I've also just published it on Google Play but it will take a few more hours to show up I think. Still waiting on validation from Intel and Amazon.

Lucas Tiridath
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Posted: 7th Jun 2013 00:29
OK well that all went as predicted. Blackberry? Validated. Amazon? Validated. Google Play? Fine but store is lagging. Intel AppUp? REJECTED.

The guys at AppUp have truly outdone themselves this time. I'll post the details in case it helps anyone else pass validation.

The first fail was because "The application contains advertisements which are currently not permitted". By this, it turns out that they mean the "More Apps" button. So I'm not allowed to link to my own website within my own game?? A clue is that on visiting my website, they appear to have believed that the LineMap Plugin, which is a plugin I wrote for DBP which is freely available to download from my website, is a plugin for the game (they clearly did their research well). Interestingly I resubmitted RADAR and RADAR Free at the same time to fix some long standing bugs and they were rejected on exactly the same grounds (the plugin is apparently for all three games then!).

The second fail was because it wouldn't launch on their XP machine which doesn't seem to offer OpenGL 2.0 support. Which you would think would be fair except that I did clearly state, both in the description and in the "special instructions to the validation team" that an OpenGL 2.0 compliant graphics card was required!

So what I am supposed to do about all that? I guess I can remove XP support (not going to be many people on XP with AppUp installed anyway) but I'm less keen to remove my link. There is no point trying to contact them as they never respond. My question on their forum about my Abacus App is still unanswered. And, I might add, they took the best part of a week to get back to me just to fail me. Ah well. Sorry for the rant, needed to get that off my chest. Thank goodness I don't try and publish to iOS! I don't think my blood pressure could take it!

But hey, the other platforms are doing fine so I'm pretty happy really . Although I did spot one minor bug I'll need to patch at some point.

xCept
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Posted: 7th Jun 2013 00:55 Edited at: 7th Jun 2013 00:56
Welcome to the club of disgruntled AppUp developers Submitting to iTunes for iOS is actually a dream compared to AppUp.

My honest opinion is that AppUp is a failed initiative and not worth pursuing. Even my competition winning free app Ballastic has not had 500 downloads after 8 months. They originally rejected it for not having the trademark symbol next to the word Ultrabook. The certification process through Comodo was also the most nightmarish ordeal I ever went through.
Lucas Tiridath
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Posted: 7th Jun 2013 10:12 Edited at: 7th Jun 2013 10:13
Quote: "Even my competition winning free app Ballastic has not had 500 downloads after 8 months."

Yeah I know the feeling. RADAR Free has managed to rack up about 1600 downloads over 2 years of being on the store, but then it is free, and it's only earned me about £15 in ad review and Google wont pay out until I hit £60 so....

Quote: "The certification process through Comodo was also the most nightmarish ordeal I ever went through."

Tell me about it! The first time, they insisted that I pretend I was a company and made me list my address and phone number on some business directory website. It was only up there for a few days during the validation process but by that time, it had been scraped by a load of other business listing websites and I'm still battling to get it taken down and receiving telemarketing calls.

Quote: "Submitting to iTunes for iOS is actually a dream compared to AppUp."

Interesting! I can't currently develop for Apple because I don't have a Mac to compile on or any iOS devices to test on, but if I get the opportunity, I will certainly have a go.

I wonder though, is there any good alternative to AppUp for Windows apps? The Windows App Store only supports Metro apps, right?

The Zoq2
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Posted: 7th Jun 2013 12:16
I think the Windows App Store supports desktop apps, but you have to host your download yourself
Lucas Tiridath
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Posted: 7th Jun 2013 14:57
Ah thanks for the info The Zoq2. I just had a look and you're right. I have a web host so the hosting is not in itself a problem (it wouldn't be able to handle many downloads but then I'm unlikely to get many). I'm not really sure how I would go about setting up a payment process on my website (after all, if I upload the file to a public area of the server, anyone with the URL can download it), but I guess I can do some research into thanks. So yes, this might be a good way to go. Has anyone tried doing this?

Lucas Tiridath
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Posted: 12th Jun 2013 14:54
Following some more user feedback on the game, I've made some changes and launched version 1.1.0. It should be available on Android now, Blackberry soon, and Intel.. Well whenever I guess. They responded to my protests by telling me to submit the app again and so hopefully it will pass this time.

The main changes include randomised maps for skirmish games to increase the replayability of the game and a completely new tutorial. Although I tried to improve the old tutorial, and I think it explained the UI well enough, it failed to explain the mechanic and the tactics and without these, a strategy game becomes very difficult and boring. Also the tutorial was mundane. Therefore I've changed it to be more like a narration of a past battle, which allows me to not only explain how the UI works but also how you should go about winning. There are also many other smaller improvements and bug fixes including more detailed minimaps in the game setup screen, hints in the results screen when you lose, more background etc.

Also on the issue of other Windows stores, in another thread on the forum, Naphier linked to this great article on Gamasutra listing many of the stores around. I still intend to try and get on AppUp but I may consider some of these as well, although many I suspect are looking for larger games than Nexus.

Lucas Tiridath
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Posted: 11th Jul 2013 10:06 Edited at: 11th Jul 2013 10:31
Well it may have been a while but I'm making progress! So Nexus is now available on all my target stores, including Intel AppUp. I've also made the decision to make the app completely free so what do you have to lose?? Here are all the links:
- Amazon App Store
- Blackberry App World
- Google Play
- Intel AppUp

I'm currently finding that Nexus has done far and away the best on Blackberry App World, has a few downloads through Intel AppUp, a handful through Amazon and none through Google Play. I think Google Play is a very flooded store now though so it's quite hard to get noticed.

I've also made a series of updates with numerous bug fixes and tweaks. Oh and Clonkex; I finally managed to track down the crash you reported in your original post! I had been unable to reproduce it and hand't even seen it but suddenly, whilst I was playing Nexus for fun late one evening, it happened. This allowed me to track it down and squash it.

Here is a video of Nexus gameplay.


I've not got any more updates in the pipeline right now but of course, I'll be keeping a close eye out for any new bugs that arise and I'm always open to new suggestions on how to improve it.

Anyhow thanks again to everyone who made such helpful comments and suggestions.

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