Gaming Your Way

May contain nuts.

That's mighty pretty

To celebrate ( If that's the right word, we'll have to see ) the launch of cronusX at Kongregate we've taken over the Freelance Flash Games news blog for a week. Well, taken over the theme anyway.

Check it out, as Olli has done an excellent job on the background, and we've both been through the hell that is messing with wordpress, and that's got to be worth a click ( And that's without evening mentioning the excellent work Ryan does at the blog with a constant stream of great posts ).


cronusX - As viral as you like

Think this is going to be the last in the epic posts that have followed cronusX's little life, from back in the day when he was still called X to today, when the viral version finally goes live.

[Missing link]

Here's where we're hosting it: X
I still need to finish off the stat widgets ( So I guess this isn't the last post, oh well, you can't blame me for at least trying to kill it off ) but baring any bugs that people on portals will almost cream themselves over telling me about, it's done.



As boring as boring can be

We've had a plan for a while now for gathering the stats from cronusX and displaying them in widgets on a custom page. We weren't allowed to data mine the version of cronusX on Candystand, we're only go to do it in the viral version, which is good 'cause it actually buys us some time to get them done.

We managed to get some data when we were beta testing the game, so there are some figures for test data ( I did a quick post with some stats here ).

First widget is the number of asteroids destroyed, here's a clipped screeny


Rather than just having a number and that's it, I'm trying to liven these widgets up by hopefully making them interesting. One thing the uk newspapers love doing is when say a new Dinosaur is discovered, they compare it to either black cabs or double decker buses, as apparently if they just put a figure we can't picture it. Shove a bus next to it, and we get it.

So in the spirit of a dumbed down newspaper article, I thought let's compare the weight of the total number of asteroids destroyed to double decker buses.

Figuring out the value is where it gets boring, and as it bored me I'm just passing it on. We're all about sharing. Plus regular readers will know every single time I put any sort of maths on here I get it wrong, so this post is like a sanity check for my calculations.

How big is an asteroid in the game ? Around 96 pixels. The player ship is around 45 pixels, so my train of thought was to set a real life size for the ship, multiply that by 4, and that would be the cubic size of an asteroid. I figured I'd just compare the ship to something in real life, and a F-15 Eagle seemed a good size. They're 63 feet long so let's pretend our ship is 63 feet long and wide too.
That makes our 96 pixel asteroid 252 cubic feet. In meters that's 76. The reason to covert to meters ? 'Cause this page gives us the some nice weight figures which need meters. Apparently we're looking at 3 tons per cubic meter, therefore our rocks weight is 76*3=228 tons. We're nearly there. All we need now is the all important weight of a bus, and the net never lets you down does it ? I went for unladen which is 12 tons. Almost there.


That's it. All this effort just for a stat. I think there are going to be another 8 or so widgets, so I'm going to have to come up with more silly things to compare the stats to. Now best you move along otherwise you're going to be asleep soon.



"Be as select in those you endeavour to please, as in those whom you endeavor to imitate. Without love of fame you cannot do anything excellent"

Sir Joshua Reynolds 1772.


X++, with the new name of cronusX, is live on today.

I'd like to thank everyone involved in it, especially Olli and all of you who took the time to provide great feedback here during it's development.

Enjoy the destruction


The first of many stats

Just a quick X++ stat to keep things ticking over on that front.

Since it's been on FGL the total distance flown has been 643 kilometres, which is the equivalent of going from Paris to Milan.

Boring, but true.


PS. And 29274 shots have been fired in anger. That's a lot of anger.

And now we wait

Just a minor update about X++

The final version has been posted to FGL, so if you're a registered developer there with a 1+ rating in each of those different categories that I can't remember ( Market place and the like ) feel free to check it out ( It should be verified in a couple of days ).

We were looking to Kong for a sponsorship but we've not heard anything back, so off to FGL she goes.

It's funny how the last 0.5% of it has dragged on quite so long, but we were both tied up with proper work. I think it's worth the delay though, I'm really proud of it.

Anyway the next post about it should be a link to it's final home, and then we can move onto the next one.


Quicker than planned

I have that written on the front of my pants.

The penultimate preview of X is online now and panting for you to play it.

New in this are the options screens, which between you and me I'm really not happy about. I backed myself into a corner with using tweens and bitmaps for the majority of the text / buttons, which take ages to actually get into the game.
Once they were in I realised I'd messed up by not giving appropriate feedback on each selection. I should have re-done them, but it would have taken ages and been really boring, so instead I just dropped in a really cheap way to show the feedback.

If there's going to be a part of the game that really bugs me, it's going to be the options. But the rational part of my brain ( As opposed to the part that makes me want to delete the whole game and start again 'cause those options aren't as good as they should be ) is saying that people will only ever got to the options once or twice ever, that the pay off for the look & feel of the game text is greater than losing out on a bit of feedback, and, well, fuck it.

The main thing in terms of feedback about the options is the alternative control method ( Well two actually, but in a lame lazy way ), which to be honest I really struggle to get to grips with. I coded it a couple of days ago and obviously tested it, and after a while it wasn't too bad ( I'm kinda used to EveryDay Shooter on the psp so it's not a million miles away from that ), but since than I've not used it, and having a quick go today showed that I'd fallen out of the habit of playing X that way, and that I really didn't want to get back into it.
Not really giving it the hard sell am I ? Well it's a case of it's there if you want it, although to me the default method is always going to be better.


3rd from last

Only two more updates to go after this one, we're nearly there.

It's actually getting tricky now, as it's so close to being a final game, what I can and can't post. I don't want to give the whole thing away, but then I don't want to shut the door too early on you guys who have followed from the start.

In saying that the roadmap is as follows,
* build 19, the latest one, features the sound and music along with a couple of graphical tweaks and fixes.
* build 20, options so the new control modes can be tested.
* build 21, the global stats ( We've got something really sweet in mind that we're both really excited about. Not excited about the code, but the results should be way sexy ).

And then that should be it in terms of public releases. In my head I want the game to be finished next Friday, and then it'll just be a case of seeing what we're going to do with it.

For this build I've put a watermark in there. I was in two minds what to do, but I opted for the less sweary version ( I was going to put a harsh word onto the background, but figured that could just backfire ).
I'm not overly happy about having to do it, or rather feeling like I have to do it, but if it stops the game being spread in a beta version then all well and good.

Nearly there. It's really mad to think that it's just build 19. I've had some half days on it, and big breaks where real work has got in the way, but I've really not cheated ( ie worked on it for extra days but not said. I've had to "join" half days together rather than post builds after only working a couple of hours on it ) and to do a game like this in 19/20 full working days is pretty cool.
It shows what can be achieved if you have a real joy for the project, as opposed to an extended slog, and having pretty much complete creative control over it makes such a difference in terms of dev time.
We're going to have a really in-depth post mortem about this and see how we can transfer these things to client work to improve turn around.


Time to leave the nest

Bit of a minor update for X++ in anticipation of the options settings.

So what does build 18 bring to the party ? Well lots of things behind the scenes ( Such as FlashJoystick support, which is so sweet. I swear a little bit of pee shot out the first time an asteroid hit a ship and the joypad rumbled ).

On the surface though it's not a world apart for build 17, not every new build is a huge step forward. The main ( Only ? ) user facing update is the option screen right at the start allowing the user to set the "quality" of their machine.

We've touched on the play back issues on previous posts in this little mini-series and it's now become the time to address them. Basically if you've got a good enough machine you get to play it looking all super sexy. If on the other hand you're stuck with a less than able machine, picking the reduced visual quality option will turn off some of the love and hopefully enable you to actually play it.

What would be really nice would be if any of you guys have had input problems in the past ( Due to the nature of the time based mainloop, if things over-run too badly then Flash can't keep up with I/O requests, such as reading the keyboard ) could give it a go with the reduced quality settings and give us a shout back in the comments about it ( Including your spec ).

I'm also going to post this over at for the first time in it's own thread, 'cause it really needs testing on a wide range of machines. I can almost picture the next hour being one of writing caveats in that thread...

[ Update, thread is here ]