Feedback, Shmeedback, I’m Done.

This post is only meant to serve as a courtesy for any lost soul who may have read them in the past.

I’m done with the blog and demos. My original concept of developing a successful game based on user feedback, from day one, has proven to be a failure. I wasn’t able to create a buzz on game development sites, so the feedback that I need wasn’t coming in the volume, or quality, that I required.

So, my initial approach failed, but this doesn’t mean that it was pointless because I learned something very important about myself: My tastes are not common, therefore it’s unlikely that I will make a game that appeals to the masses. I am okay with that. In fact, this game will be a glorious failure, which makes me even more proud.

I will continue to work on It Never Ends privately until I feel that I’ve made it the game that matches my vision. When it’s released, the game play will be primarily the same, but the name and marketing approach will be very different. I feel like my advertising for the game was misleading. When you mention a shoot’em up, gamers picture one of many mindless clones with ships that fire streams of endless bullets.

My game is not a mindless clone, and it is certainly not a casual game. The game requires you to analyze the enemy and develop a counter strategy. It encourages experimentation. The game requires you to learn how to pilot the ship. The randomized aliens and changing environments keep it fresh. Lastly, unlike many games that look like it, it has a story which will develop with time.

For those of you who offered feedback, I thank you. Some of it helped enhance my vision of the game. For those of you who wanted to hack my vision down to the standard clone, you helped me realize that I can’t please everyone, and that it is of vital importance that I’m happy with the game before anyone else.

If the finished product has even one fan, then I will be satisfied with the effort that I’ve invested.

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New Release of The Dead Miles

Version 1.1 of The Dead Miles is done. You can download it through the link below:

Download The Dead Miles, Version 1.1

The main difference between this version and the last version is the travel map. Travel in the last version had an abstract map.  Travel in the new version involves controlling your character on a map that is populated with zombie hordes.

Several glitches from the last version were fixed as well.

I would love to hear your feedback.

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Working On The New Version

Even though I only had six people provide me with feedback, I am confident that the game has improved because of it.  Thanks, Liza, Marshall, Don, S-M-R, Mark and Ari.

I’ve actually completed these changes already:

  • Prevent the player from being stuck on cars, barbed wire, boulders and other obstacles.
  • Provide the player with a glimpse of a directional arrow giving a clue as to where the next safe haven is. This happens later in the game when they are harder to find.
  • I removed numeric scoring from the game.  It was buggy, and not necessary.  The player is still given a rank though.
  • I clarified, both in game, and in the instructions, what happens with the stay and go options when on the safe haven screen.
  • When upgrading an attribute at a safe haven, you can see your current scores so that you can make an informed decision.
  • The flashlight is a little easier to see with.
  • The Camp Button, and its shortcut, has been added to the long and short instructions.

I still need to triple check the above and do the following:

  • Make sure that zombies aren’t killed for no reason in the city and suburbs.
  • Guarantee that zombies are spawned during combat.

That’s all for now.  I suspect that the final release of version 1.1 will be before May.

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New Dead Miles Beta Available

I’m finished with the beta.  It will be available until April 1st.

Here is the link: The Dead Miles 1.1 Beta (The link has been removed since the beta period ended on April 1st).

If you would like to help, please download the game and send me feedback here, or through e-mail: judoman@optonline.net.

I am unlikely to make any design changes, but I need to know if everything works as intended.  If you experience something strange, no matter how small, please let me know.

Thanks!

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Almost Done…. Really.

Honestly.  I’m almost done.  I really want to get this finished because I am eager to start my iPod/iPhone shooter game.  I also want to have it ready as a make-up assignment for my students.  That is a major reason why I made the thing.

Now that the travel map is done, and safe havens are dotted over the area, the game is a lot easier.  It’s probably possible to finish it in 15-30 minutes if you get lucky.  I haven’t actually had anyone play test the new version, so this estimate is probably way off, and doesn’t account for the learning curve.

I’ve completed most of my objectives and added a few minor things like a heart beat in the background.  The game still has the original title music, but I find the simple sound of a beating heart kind of creepy in a zombie game.

Here is the rest of my to do list:

-Add a permanent stat penalty when the character starves with low body fat. This may be a little harsh, but I could see players simply accepting the hunger penalty and skipping meals.  That isn’t the kind of message that I want to get across.

-Increase the normal penalties for hunger and starvation.

-Increase hit points by 1 when napping and not hungry.

-Solve the mystery of dying zombies.  They just drop dead.  It has something to do with collision detection and cars.

-Debug stuck zombies on trees and cars.  I thought that I had fixed this, but every once in a while, a zombie is seen doing a jitterbug dance on a tree or car.

The next update will be the release of version 1.1.

 

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Almost Done.

I’ve completed most of my initial check list for the update:

-The travel map is done.

-Calories, fatigue and hunger update when the player is on the travel map.

-I included an animated Camp button which allows the player to access the planning screen if no zombies are near.

-Randomly place safe havens on the map.

-Player and zombie swarm speeds reduce when on rough terrain.

-I added environmental sounds on the travel map.

-I switched the default state of the game to windowed mode.  It looks better.  You can still go full size if you’d like, but the game looks bad when you do.

I still have a few things to do:

-Re-do three zombie death graphics.

-Fix a glitch where all the zombies instantly die in the city and suburban screens.  I think it has something to do with zombies spawning on cars, and then being destroyed.  Instead of killing the zombie in question, the program kills all of them.

-There’s another glitch where a dying zombie continues to chase and push the player.  I’ve almost got this nailed down.

-The last glitch is a double or triple instance of a dead zombie when it dies.

-After the above is handled, I need to run it through another round of testing.  E-mail me if you’re interested:

donovan@misterdonovan.com

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The Travel Mini-Game Update

Slowly, but surely, I have started modifying how The Dead Miles handles travel.

Here is a list of what has been completed:

-The map is randomly generated. The northern coast is all beach, but everything else is random.

-Clicking and holding the left mouse button moves the player at maximum speed toward the cursor.

-Clicking the right mouse button moves the player at 1/3 speed toward the cursor.  Moving slowly allows the player to potentially hide from visible zombies.

-Sighting distance is limited unless the player is on, or looking through, open fields or beaches.  Once the player is in, or looking through any other terrain, vision is limited to the next map tile if close to the edge of the current tile.  Even when sight isn’t obstructed, vision is limited to 3 tiles, or roughly 6 miles.

-Tiles that cannot be seen clearly will be darkened.  A light tile indicates that the player can see inside and determine if zombies are present.

-Time has been integrated at a pace of 6 seconds of real time to one hour of game time.

-As the sun sets, the map becomes gradually darker.

-Time, hunger and fatigue levels are displayed.

-Zombie groups are spawned on the map.  There are four size categories of zombie groups.  The speed of each group is determined randomly, but doesn’t differ too much.

-When a zombie group contacts a player, play shifts to the appropriate combat screen.

I still have a lot to do:

-Create graphics for map terrain, zombies and the player.

-Integrate calorie use during travel.

-Integrate fatigue and hunger with travel.

-Include a “Camp” button which allows the player to access the planning screen if no zombies are near.

-Randomly place safe havens on the map.

-Reduce player speed when on rough terrain.

No other changes to the game have been made. When on the planning screen, there is a chance to get attacked by zombies when an activity is selected.  I will eventually fix a few graphics, and make a couple other changes, but after the travel map is done, so am I.  If this fix doesn’t make the game playable, I’ll have to cut my loses.

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Redesigning The Dead Miles

I didn’t get a lot of feedback for The Dead Miles, but what I did get says it all.  The game isn’t fun.  It was too statistical and not many people really enjoy interpreting data.

So, after taking a break to look at the game from a fresher perspective, I’ve decided to redesign it.  Since the game is all about travel, I think the Travel stage requires the most attention.  I have decided to add a few things to travel:

-The travel map will be randomly generated at the start of each game.

-Map locations will be hidden if you can’t see them, and in shadow until they have been explored.

-It will be more difficult to travel through forest, beach and crops.

-Safe havens will be randomly added at the start of each game.

-You score points when you discover a safe haven.  You end the game when you discover all of them.

-Groups of zombies will be wandering the map.  Collide with a group, and you will fight in the environment that you’re in.  The proximity of zombies on the map increases your Fear when doing other actions in the game.

-The player’s line of sight will be limited to 3-5 miles, and will be blocked by forests, cities and crops.  Unlike the combat screen, players will have 360 degree vision.  If you can see a zombie group, they can see you, and will move towards you.  Darkness will reduce how far the player can see.

-Factors like lack of sleep, calorie consumption/starvation, carrying too much gear, and sprinting fatigue will be reflected in travel speed.

-The control system will be simple.  Left click to walk to a destination. Right click to sprint to a destination.

-There will be one menu button which leads back to the Planning screen.  From there you can access the other game functions like inventory, searching, eating, napping, sleeping and rampage.

I was happy with the combat portion of the game.  It looked okay, and was appropriately tense.  I intend to change two things in combat:

-Two zombie death animations look horrible and need to be re-done.

-When a zombie dies on a fence, it shoots away at a fast speed.

Other than that, I have to look at the inventory system which, all of a sudden, doesn’t work.

That’s it.  As always, your thoughts are appreciated.

Donovan

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Feedback needed for The Dead Miles

I’ve made freeware games before.  I did it only for the challenge and the knowledge that I produced something that entertained some people; if only for a few minutes.  In 2000, I would get feedback on the software that I made.

Today, I get nothing.

Perhaps it’s because there are so many other games out there.  Perhaps it’s because people think their opinions don’t matter.

Feedback is important.  Feedback is valuable.  It lets me know when I did something right, and when I did something wrong.  Also, I’m just one guy.  If you send feedback to Blizzard, your opinion will most likely be lost in the crowd.  I will definitely see your comment, and probably respond.  If I receive enough feedback on an issue, it will change how I do things.

So, please give me your opinions and feedback on The Dead Miles.  It’s a free program.  Think of this as an equivalent exchange.  You give me your opinion, and I’ll make a better game.  Forget money because we’re all pals, right?

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Welcome.

This site exists as a way for me to share my games and ideas.  Your comments, including criticisms, are welcome, but please keep it clean or they will never see the light of day here.

-Donovan

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