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An interview with me, to be sung *with feeling*

The good people at 925Rebellion (there’s a story behind that hard-to-remember name) did an interview with me, and how I got into making games 🙂

There’s a singalong, I challenge anyone to actually sing it with me 🙂 Here’s the excerpt:

Gundams, Evangelions and Lars A in Tekken
Super Nintendo and my iPad and iPhone
Brown suits and brown shirts and brown pants and shoes
These are a few of my favorite things 🙂

Android Netrunner and BSG the boardgame
Cut-throat deception and lying for my own gain
Stabbing friends in the back and taking their loot
Only in games will I enjoy these dick things 🙂

Girls who read smartness and dress like fine lasses
Sushi and ramen and well-made tempuras
Making all kinds of stuff with art and code
These are just few of my favourite things 🙂

When the bugs bite
When the game’s bad
When the client moans

I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don’t feel so bad.

Full interview here: http://925rebellion.com/steven-tu/

Dead Run Beta release!

OK guys, unfortunately we were not able to get a beta iOS build out due to some performance and framerate or something issues (and time), but in the meantime, here’s a beta WEB build 🙂 It’s hosted on a different location than the previous one so do take note:

PLAY THE BETA HERE: http://tuism.com/deadrun/

  

Changes:

1. All the spiffy pretty day/night cycle stuff
2. Zombie head juice
3. Misc communicative juice
4. The swing is WAY faster
5. The game’s harder with the inclusion of… Something. You’ll see. But not much yet 😉
6. Delays and things work properly now
7. Basic instructions!
8. You’ll notice… decorative elements 🙂 They’ll be earned and have certain effects come the final game.
9. Various other things.
10. Player will use the bat unless there’s something to shoot, where it’ll attempt to use the gun.
11. Bat-spam removed.

Known issues:

1. Difficulty ramp is still to be tweaked, will get harder, at the same time give the shotgun a better reason to exist, hopefully. I’d talk about it but it feels like it’s better tested than talked about.
2. Pause causes crash in one scenario. Don’t find it 😉
3. Achievements still need to be added.
4. Sharing to be implemented (only works from iOS)
We’re almost there! Last mile is always the hardest, really… Thanks for all your input!

Enjoy the beta! 😀

 

One last thing:

As we’re nearing the finish line (last 90% of time spent on the 10% of the stuff), we want to ask you guys’ honest opinion on monetisation. Should this be a $0.99 paid app or a free with ads?

The original plan was to make something quick and toss it out as free with ads as an experiment. But with research and reading I find that there are two points of views to this all:

1. These days free apps fall into two categories – crazy IAP things or throwaway Flappy clones. That means the perception of free apps fall under those two categories too. The original intent with free with ads was never to “mint it”, but more to try and reach a big audience and gauge response. But if the impression of free apps are poor, then even before it gets into people’s handsets it’s already gonna be labelled as being an unworthy game. Thoughts on this?

2. If going as a paid app, we’ll drop the ads naturally, but the barrier to entry is higher. Even though a dollar is not a lot at all, we’re now competing against other dollar games like Cut the Rope, PVZ (even if IAP infested), Bad Piggies, etc, which obviously out-trump us. Obviously the app store doesn’t work like that, with only the top games getting all the attention, but is it worth trying to play in that arena with such a delicately small offering? I do think that going paid ups the perceived value of the game and may get it more attention than if it were free.

Overall, rather than a money-making exercise, this is more about learning how the market works, an experiment with real results, however it goes. We’d rather maximise it one way or another (exposure mostly), so it would be great if you could help us with valuable insights!

Thanks!

Polishing the crap out of Dead Run

In the last week, we’ve been polishing the crap out of Dead Run, with a long list of stuff to be implemented, including lots of juice, adding more challenges, tweaking gameplay balance, and longevity in terms of achievements and such. The build is currently not table enough for a beta release, but it’s getting there – but in the meantime, here’s a glimpse of what we’ve been putting in!

Play the game online right now! -> Click here to play Dead Run

Dead Run, a game we made in two weeks, inspired by the spirit of Flappy

Play the game online right now! -> Click here to play Dead Run

It’s not a Flappy Clone

One day, myself and Loet was working on Rocketto, and we got pretty tired. It was taking so long. So we started talking all sorts of rubbish, which naturally included Flappy Bird. (just kidding, we actually like Flappy quite a bit as a well-polished focussed piece of entertainment with some good hooks)

So, inspired by the Flappy Bird story, we decided to take a break from our usual project and spend two weeks to create something with minimal scope, hyper-focussed, with enough time to polish the crap out of it, with the goal of releasing.

An alpha build in 2 weeks: Dead Run.

  • The game is an endless runner, with a single input: attack.
  • You’ll come across zombies. Kill them or you get munched.
  • You’ll also come across other survivors. Kill them and you lose, don’t kill them to rescue them, and they’ll join your party.
  • How many survivors can you save?

The razor-sharp focus and concentration needed for something this simple is actually unnerving, even I still get tense further into the game 🙂

Discuss the game on the Dead Run thread on makegamesSA.

Learning by doing

This two-week exercise was super valuable in what it takes to finish a game.

  • One of the most important things we learnt was that keeping scope down is very important for a limited project. Everyone has great ideas, but ideas do many things: 1) Needs time to be created 2) Has implications on other things, especially game balance 3) Needs to be re-tested by more/other people.
  • Finish and polish is super important to create a good impression when you’re aiming for a public release. A good balance needs to be struck between good game and good juice/polish. They’re at least 50/50 in terms of importance.
  • Must. Show. Other. People. ASAP. This cannot be stressed enough, the sooner you show other people the sooner you’ll discover things that may be wrong with the game (no matter how good you are you cannot anticipate everyone’s understanding of your baby, and that’s really important), and the more time you have to fix them, and the less backtracking and useless work you’ll do.
  • Be ready to fail on any idea. Don’t hang on too hard to things that appears to be not working when tested against real people who are not you.

Spit and shine

The idea was to create a game in two weeks, then polish it up in the last and release, as a hyper-focussed exercise to learn from. So far we’ve got a few things that we still need to do on it to make it as juicy and crunchy as we want it to be before setting it out into the wild, but we’re pretty much on schedule, which is super damn exciting!

Again,  you can play the game online right now! Dead Run Web Build

Dead Run 1 Dead Run 2 Dead Run 3 Dead Run 4

Playing Netrunner Online

Update:

Octgn has since really fallen by the wayside, so if you want to play Netrunner online, the best bet is to play on Jinteki.net , it’s completely web-based and easy (enough) to use with no need for installation at all.

Psycho_Droid_ATTACK

So my favourite card game in the world is Android: Netrunner (ANR). In addition to running the local ANRSA Events group, I’m making an effort to see that more people can play it online, from the comfort of their homes.

What? Play online you say?! The idea should be superbly appealing to anyone who enjoys the game, but many are turned away by the seemingly complex setup of the game. Well, it’s not as straightforward as an iPad app, because it *is* a third party card gaming engine (octgn) with a fourth party plugin made by the dev whizzard DB0, and not officially by Fantasy Flight, but let me tell you this:

It is really a pleasure to behold once you know how it works, and an even more so if you don’t have people to run with nearby.

So the point of this guide is to get you into the world of online ANR play as painlessly and quickly as possible! Let’s go!

Quick Overview

First of all, this is not intended for absolute beginners of ANR. Although the system automates some things, it is not a fully automated commercial game. If you don’t know how to play ANR, get someone to teach you before you even try this and get the crap confused out of you. This guide assumes basic knowledge of the ANR game.

Here are what this guide will cover. These links will take you straight to the corresponding chapters.

  1. Installing Octgn
  2. Installing the ANR plugin
  3. Getting into a game
  4. Building deck/s
  5. Playing the game
  6. Advanced play conventions

1. Installing Octgn

You need Windows. Sorry Mac users, but you can use parallels or bootcamp or whatever method to run Windows on your Mac to play.

  1. Download the latest stable version from the official Octgn site: http://octgn.net/Home/GetOctgn
  2. Run and install.
  3. If your computer doesn’t have the .NET Framework 4.0, it’ll prompt you to download and install it. Don’t worry, it’s not a virus. The install will then continue.
  4. Once you’re in the application, remember these two things – the tab menu, and the drop down menu.

octgn_interface_1

2. Installing the ANR plugin

Most of this section is by none other than DB0, the creator of the ANR Octgn plugin: Kudos for the creation + concise instructions!

  1. Run Octgn.
  2. Register a new account or log in with an existing one if you have one.
  3. Go to the game manager tab and click the “Add” button. In the window that will open type: Name: OCTGN Directory
  4. Feed URL/Path: https://www.myget.org/f/octgngamedirectory
  5. and press “Add”. A new feed should appear on the left.
  6. Click on the “OCTGN Directory” Feed. On the right a list of games should appear. Android:Netrunner should be on the top
  7. Click on Android:Netrunner and click “Install”. After a short wait it should finish.
  8. You are now ready to play. The game will automatically generate proxy cards to use, so you don’t need to download anything else.

(Optional) If you want, you can have card art, instead of proxies

  1. Go here and download all the card packs (.o8c) you find. Anything that says “(Censored)” includes cards where the card text has been blurred out.
  2. In OCTGN, go to game manager and click on “Add Image Packs”
  3. Select the .o8c files you download them one by one and install them. You will see a install window and once each pack is installed, you’ll see a pop-up window confirming this. This should take a few seconds at most.
  4. Done! Your sets now contain card art.

Alternatively: Here’s a great guide on how to create an image pack on Boardgamegeek

3. Getting into a game

You’ll want to do one of these things:

  • Find an existing open match.
  • Find and start your own game, and wait for someone to join
  • Find your friends and join their game.

Find an existing open match

  • Just go to the Play tab menu, and use the button Hide uninstalled games to see only ANR games running.
  • Double click on an open game to go in. The common “LF Corp” or “LF Runner” notation shows the owner of the game wanting a runner or corp opponent.
  • In the game chatroom, discuss the terms of engagement (I corp or you run or whatever), and the owner of the game will click start.

Start your own game, and wait for someone to join

  • Go to the Play tab, and Start game.
  • Type in a descriptive name, like LF runner or LF corp if you’re looking specifically to play a side. I also use [beginner] or [experienced] or [experimenting]. Beginners who announce that they’re new are likely to get people helping them with the interface.
  • Choose the game. In our case it’s “Android: Netrunner”.
  • A password is optional if you want a completely private game.
  • Click the A or B next to your name to change sides – A is corp, B is runner, though it doesn’t really matter now as an update made the game update in the game according to the deck you load.
  • When two players are present, press Start to start the game.
  • If more than 2 players are in the game, the extra players beyond the two players can spectate the game.

Find your friends and join their game

  • To friend people on octgn, go to the Community Chat tab
  • Type in the friend’s name in the box – unfortunately offline accounts aren’t shown, so friends will have to be online to be added.
  • You can chat via the interface. If you’re in a game, incoming messages don’t have notifications and sit in the main lobby window, so they could be missed.
  • Start a game by going to the Play tab and creating/joining the right one (you can see the game owner) as usual.

4. Building decks

Of course you want to build your own decks. This is one of the best things about playing ANR online – not having to sift through boxes/folders of cardboard. There are a few recommended ways of deckbuilding:

1. http://www.cardgamedb.com/

A fansite that was eventually bought by Fantasy Flight Games. They have a great online deckbuilder, the only one with all thumbnails, and you can save all your decks online if you have an account registered. Exports to octgn, but may change (in fact did for a day) due to being officially owned now. Can be a tad slow. Good stuff.

2. http://netrunnerdb.com/

The fastest and cleanest online deckbuilder. Saves and loads speedily, can share, has cool keyboard shortcuts. This is the one I use now after the octgn export function threatened to disappear from cardgamedb. Unfortunately, no card art thumbnails, which I prefer to see as I’m quite a visual guy. Within a day, the creator of netrunnerdb.com changed it to include thumbnail views 🙂 Awesome guy 😀 Use netrunnerdb.com! 😀

3. http://netrunner.meteor.com/

Many players swear by this one, and it’s pretty good. Clean, has card art on hover. Also recommendable, but I haven’t really used it.

4. Octgn built in deckbuilder

Octgn also has a built-in deckbuilder. It works, but it lacks the speed and grace of the online ones. Also it doesn’t report stats. To find it, go to the Dropdown menu > Deck Editor.

All of these has the function to export octgn deck files, so build your deck, and load from octgn when you’re in a game.

5. Playing the game

NB: Whenever you use any keyboard shortcuts, make sure you’re not in the chatbox, or the shortcut won’t register. Click somewhere on the tabletop first to get out of the chatbox.

First things

Load deck Control + L Or use the menu bar and file > load deck.
Setup Control + Shift + S The first thing you do after loading your deck. Only do this after octgn checks your deck and it is ok. You can also just drag your identity from your hand to the table to do this.
Start turn F1 Typically, if you want to do anything before the start of your turn, after the opponent’s turn, do it first before you press F1.
End turn F12
Target card Shift + Click Before playing anything with a target (Parasite, Personal Touch, Oversight AI, etc), target that card first.Hosting works with this too. Target the thing your card will be hosted on before you play the card that will be hosted. Works for Caissas, programs played onto Dinosaurus, Djinn, Personal Touch, Oversight AI, etc.

 

General actions

Play a card from hand Double click it
Click for a cred Control + C
Draw a card Double click deck R&D/Stack
Create a remote server marker Control + S Use this to indicate that there’s a remote there. Runners interact with the marker to make runs.

 

Corp actions

Rez Ice Double click it Usually use this only during a run
Trash a resource (if runner is tagged) Target, then Control + Del When rezzing Archer, target the agenda you will forfeit first.
Advance a card Mouse over it, Alt + A
Install Ice Double click it from hand, move it manually Remember to pay for install costs when you install above first level of ICE.
Virus Sweep Double click the Virus Sweep card on the right Make sure you have three clicks to do this.

 

Runner actions

Remove tag Control + R
Make a run Double click the server marker During a run the runner signifies where they are by targeting the piece of ICE he is on, and wait for the corp to respond.
Use Icebreaker Double click it, and make multiple selections

Even after learning all the shortcuts it’s still good to remember that:

  1. You can change things manually – this is invaluable for take-backs and mistakes.
  2. Right clicking on the tabletop and cards will give you a lot of context menu controls.

6. Advanced play conventions

The above are the basics of play native to the system. Over time, players have developed certain conventions to help make playing the game smoother without having face-to-face communication tools. Knowing them really helps!

  • Making a run:

    When making a run, as the Runner, we usually use targeting (shift + click on card) to indicate which ICE we are on. So if there is an unrezzed ICE, target it to indicate you are waiting for the Corp to rez it. After breaking a piece of ICE, target the next one to indicate that you are continuing, otherwise there’ll be a tedious exchange of Corp: “Do you continue?” “yes” “ok let me think”. Bleh. Use targeting! Targeting is your friend to show your intentions!

  • Tracing:

    Whenever a trace happens, the corp starts by running the card and running the trace. The Corp will be given the chance to boost that trace. Then the runner must double click on this to set how much they will spend towards their link, remembering that Link will be added, and any recurring credits will be automatically spent (so if you have 3 Compromised Employees and want to spend those credits, you have to set 3c spend.)
    trace

  • Viewing archives:

    When the runner discards it should only got to the face-up archive. If you put it in the face-down, you’re doing it wrong. Put it into the first one. Then, because it’s super useful, you can keep a window of archives open (yours and opponent’s, make sure it’s the face-up one) by right clicking the archive and selecting view > all cards. Don’t bother with visibility.

  • Remember to target:

    (shift+click a card) before playing any cards that require a target. This includes Parasite, Dirty Laundry, Femme Fatale, Test Running for a Femme Fatale/Parasite, Psychographics, Personal Workshop (target the card in your hand and double click Personal Workshop), Aesop’s Pawnshop (target the card on the table and double click Aesop’s Pawnshop), and many more.

  • Icebreakers and their strength:

    Icebreakers (all except some of the Shaper ones) are supposed to lose their strength after each ICE encountered. However this is not automated in Octgn, so just remember that. You can take the strength counters off manually, or you can just remember that it needs to be pumped again.

  • Stealth Credits and other kinds of specific credits:

    It would be best to manually take them off of cards (by dragging them off the card and releasing) and tell your opponent what you’re doing, or you’ll find yourself spending your Cloak credits on your Corroder and running into an Archer with 200 normal credits. There is also the option to right click on the card (in this case Cloak, not the Icebreaker) and find the Reserve Credits selection. Stealth and things are generally tricky to deal with in Octgn.

  • Bioroids:

    to break them using clicks you just manually set your clicks down. Some things aren’t automated and you don’t really need them to be.

If you still need it, here is a video made by ANRBlackhats that will show you a how to use Octgn:

Annnnd as a last bonus, here’s the official Octgn ANR keyboard commands cheat sheet for a really extensive play aid. I personally find it a bit too extensive but it’s good to have for completeness 🙂

And that’s that! Enjoy Octgn and ANR online! If you have any problems and questions, feel free to ask in comments, on twitter or wherever 🙂 Run ya later alligator! (Though I enjoy corping more)

Oh, one last thing, fellow South African Netrunners – please remember to join us on our ANRSA Events group where we’ve always got events and things going on!

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