PC is not Windows

I today saw on Indie Games Blog a post about MindWall; that post mentioned that you could download the PC and Mac version of the game.

And I came here to say: PC IS NOT WINDOWS.

I know lots of people will argue (you are free to do so in the comments or in the forums by-the-way), but PC is an architecture, and it is important to use words correctly, because it is important for communication.

PC is an architecture, for that architecture currently we have several OSes, and the 3 most popular are Windows (by a large, but slowly shrinking lead), Mac OS X and GNU/Linux (with both of these based on Unix, or at least compatible).

One of the things that perpetuate the dominance of Windows and its monopoly is the thinking that PC means Windows, I see people buying PCs and expecting them to come with Windows, someone having their Windows failing and buying a new PC…

And it gets worse in marketing when we have multi-platform games. I say that my game is for PC. Which is for the three major OSes. Some people say that their game is for PC, but it only works on Windows, which is unfair to users of other OSes of whom are confused.

Thus I defend that PC should be only used to denote the architecture, and that you specify if your game works on Windows, in what version, and etc…

Seriously, some people still make games even for DOS, and OS/2, and those are PC too.

I think that is it. If you disagree, feel free to argue on the comments or on the forum (forums.agfgames.com)

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Christmas Gift!


Hello!

Well, this is late, but I just uploaded a Christmas gift :D

The beta is now public! This also means that Beta 3 cycle is over.

Ok, new stuff on Beta 4:

  • Fixed several minor bugs
  • Now you cannot heal yourself for free using the fast power (it still heals you, but you need balls)
  • Finished fixing the new menus, now everything have tooltips, the options menu positioning of items improved, and the fullscreen button actually saves the option.
  • Sound was added to the time powers, so you can notice that you activated them when nothing on the screen is moving.
  • Now you can return to the menu, and later return to the game from where you left it, instead of quitting the level reloading the game and you having to return to the level start.
  • You cannot press the resume button anymore when you should not be pressing it anyway.
  • The power items had their value tripled, this will make the make a big easier and the power items more important.
  • The energy levels had power items added to them.
  • The ball is slower on the invader level, making that level a bit easier and more fun.
    Switched the order of the levels, to make some harder levels be later.

  • Also the icon of the game got updated :D

Ok, the thing that matter, the download link:
(Note: if you are using Firefox, it may try to “display” instead of download the file, if this happen, right-click the link and ask it to save-as instead)

Windows download
Windows mirror 

Mac download
Mac mirror

C++ source
Source of ClanDUMB

Thanks to Jam for the OS X version, who compiled, converted the icons, packed the dmg and uploaded it to Mediafire :D

Also the IRC server is being rather active, visit us on IRC: irc://irc.agfgames.com/agfgames

And we made some forums (that still has lots of work to be done, but they work already): http://forums.agfgames.com

And the donation link: http://indiegogo.com/Paddle-Wars-Hit-The-Wall-for-MacOS-X

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Beta 2 over

Hello! Beta 2 is over, I just uploaded the Beta 3.

New stuff in Beta 3:

Fixed some game-breaking bugs (that noone reported, this is sad, it shows players are not reaching the end of the game!)
Put a warning that you unlocked a paddle.
Changed a bit the color scheme.
Changed the behavior of the fluid grid.
Fixed the framerate bug when you die while using time distortion powers.
Improved a bit the particles.
Fixed a bug of text not updating after language change.
New ball trail

Also I hope to open the new forums soon, and finally, stay tuned for a nice xmas and new year gift to you all

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Beta Cycle 1 over!

Hello loyal fans!

The first Beta Cycle is over, with the most obvious change being the logo and the title screen.

Old logo:

New logo on the new titlescreen:

Also this version had bugs of the Beta 1 fixed (including some crashes), now there are gray buttons (so you don’t keep clicking buttons that don’t work…), some balancing changes, some level changes, the paddle unlock system is now working properly, and the power that accelerate time was tweaked a bit.

So, if you want to get the Beta 2, ask me on twitter, or on somewhere else…

Also the IRC chat is now working properly, irc://irc.agfgames.com/agfgames or http://blog.agfgames.com/chat, it has usually 2 people staffing the thing if you want to ask questions or something like that.

Soon the official forum will be put online too (btw: if don’t decided yet between PhpBB and SMF, I am taking suggestions on that).

That is mostly it :D

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Random news

Hello!

First, I got some trouble here at updating the arcade cabinet, know that it is working, even if slower because of a storm that prevented us from working 2 days (it rained inside the workshop, and the wood we are using can be easily damaged by water). But I will post news of it as soon as I can.

Soon the beta will “cycle”, with me uploading a new version of the Beta with things fixed from the previous one, if you want to join, just ask me on twitter (@agfgames) and I will direct-message the information needed, if you are ALREADY participating, e-mail me your report, and I will e-mail back the link of the new version.

Also I made a post on reddit, to attract more people to our efforts: http://www.reddit.com/r/gaming/comments/emd58/indie_game_from_brazil_need_your_help/ I ask everyone to read it, and upvote it, I would really appreciate, I am working alone on this, differently from Wolfire that has employee solely for marketing, thus the more time I have to spend finding players, the more time I am not working on the game itself.

Thanks everyone, keep the good work, and stay tuned, new versions of the game are coming with several tweaks and fixes.

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Controller electronics, part 1

The woodwork part is done, now the electronics, with a bit of woodwork…

First thing, I would like to show the trackball assembly, with a led attached below the trackball.

But since the LEDs are not done yet (as of the writing of this post), I will not talk more about them now, except for their assembly.

Now, this picture show a not assembled button, and a assembled internals of one.

So we have, from left to right: the microswitch (this is the actual button), a assembly thing, a special led that fits inside the button and inside the assembly quite nicely, a nut, and a plastic button. It cannot be seen in the photo, but the plastic button has inside it a spring, and when you press it, two white prongs protude, these white prongs hit the red part on the microswitch (kinda hard to see on the photo, sorry…).

The microswitch is the important part here, it has 3 prongs, one is the “ground” (black wire in the next photo), another is “normally open” (the other one with a wire attached) and another is “normally closed” (not used here). It detects when the button is in the opposite position than the position you put the wire. Thus, with the wire in “normally open”, the switch will “trigger” when it closes (useful for buttons for example). If you put the wire on “normally closed” the switch “trigger” when it opens. (useful to detect that someone has opened a door, or removed a part for example).

I inserted the buttons on the panel (from the “top” of the panel), then the plastic bolt from the below.

Then I plugged the white assembled stuff from the first photo inside the buttons.

Then the wires, basically I had all wires organized into a harness, that harness was plugged into the control board with a standard IDE hard disc connector, each wire means one button, and thus I attached some wires to the previously mentioned “Normally Open” contacts of the buttons, the ground wire can be shared by all buttons, thus I had a really long wire with several connectors on it in regular intervals, I then attached that long wire in all buttons.

And that is mostly it :D

That is how the entire thing looks now:

Now the lacking thing is the lightning electronics, all LEDs are in place, but they need yet proper electronics.

The trackball needs 5 volts, that is provided from the computer USB port (I actually made a mistake with the trackball wires and the USB wire nearly melted… happily I found out what it was and fixed it).

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Making a controller prototype, part 3

When I last worked in the controller we had cut wood, layout, what was missing is really assemble everything using glue.

The aluminium bar I mentioned previously, was dropped, we figured the thing was not flimsy as we were thinking, thus it would be not necessary and hard to implement anyway.

Those are the plastic washers I mentioned in part 2, that have the purpose of making the trackball stay some millimeters above the board below.

Now on the actual assembly, more than gluing it was decided to use screws too, just to make sure the thing would stay in place. Since this wood is of a rather mediocre quality (it is not bad, but not great either) and screwing directly would risk breaking the board, we made holes in the board using a manual drill (that drill was old when my father got it form his stepfather… now it can be considered “ancient” but it is one of the most reliable tools I ever saw, and can withstand a amazing amount of normal use and abuse).

Then we used a larger drill bit to make a hole for the screw heard, and then we screwed the screw in the hole (oh, and before all that we put glue there).

The board below is possible to remove, so I can do maintenance (like previously explained), I this time took a photo of the wooden pin that hold the board in place.

After the assembling was done, I figured I forgot to make a hole to put the cable of the machine outside it.. So, I made a hole, this time I remembered to take photos of it, so you can see. The first photo is the tool (it is a drill bit with a steel sawblade in shape of a cup around it). The second photo is the result of using that tool (with a electrical drill… the manual drill would require superhuman strength).


Now it was time to work on assembling the actual parts, as you noticed from earlier photos, the buttons did not fit properly the holes, thus hole enlargement was needed, I used a tool that is actually to work on steel… But it worked here anyway, the tool is a set of blades arranged in a conic shape, you twist them and slowly insert the tool forward, eventually the hole is on the size of the largest end of the cone.


Later some sandpaper was needed for a finishing.

Since the top part is made of cardboard, to attach it nothing better than glue and some small nails.

The actual woodwork of the controls are done now.

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Beta started, first competition, donate for Mac version.

So, the closed beta is finally ready to start! First, our little trailer:

A quick review of the new features of our totally incredible beta:

Several fixes (SEVERAL fixes, really).
Much better feedback on what powers active (including motion blur effect and other cool special fx)
Score system improvements
Resolution lowered to 800×600 for better game flow (the too big resolution caused the game levels take too long)
New gui, that look waaaaay better.
New bricks
Paddle selection screen is back
Color scheme tweaks
Rules about what happen when you run out of power improved.
Some new sound effects
Major menu rework
New power (that is a secret)
Levels completely reworked, now there are even less square shaped levels, and there are hopefully no more boring levels.

And complaints from the previous test version that has been solved:

You can now skip cut-scenes (all of them, even introduction)
Tutorials got improved to explain some stuff that they did not before.
Some special fx to indicate some things in the level were added.
ESC button now has a consistent behavior (it pauses the game and ask if you want to quit).
Now autosaving is more obvious (when you click a new game it warns you a previous save exists, and display data on it).
Pausing the game now show a pause screen (instead of just freezing everything).
And the biggest complaint of all: You no longer create balls when trying to unpause the game or get the focus back when you accidentally click on the desktop.

Joining beta:
Method 1, Twitter: follow @agfgames and tweet: “I want to join #hit_the_wall by @agfgames beta”
Method 2, Facebook: like http://www.facebook.com/pages/Awesome-Games-Factory/149228325100430 on facebook and write on the wall or in the discussions that you want to join.
Method 3, IndieDB: Go to game page http://www.indiedb.com/games/paddle-wars-hit-the-wall add to watch list, and write in the forum that you want to join.
Method 4, Steam: Go to game page on Steam, join it, and write a comment asking to join the beta.
After you follow any of these 4 methods, I will contact you and ask for an e-mail and what OS you are using, I will send the game link to that e-mail (and please, don’t spread that link, this is a CLOSED beta). If you are using Mac or GNU/Linux I will send a link to the sources too (sorry, I could not make a binary for GNU/Linux this time, and I don’t own a Mac, although Mac people have a hope, read the end of the text to know).

After you are done testing the game, you send me (via e-mail) the results of your tests, and I will send the link to the next version (versions will be made more or less from 5 to 7 days apart).Those that gave the most useful information will get in the credits. Those that got all versions (by timely delivering information), will also get on the credits.
I may decide to award some steam games to people that were really helpful or something like that, but there are no guarantee of that.
Finally, all those that got the name in the credits, or at least 2/3 of the versions will get “registered”, meaning you won’t need to pay for the “registered” user benefits. (Also I may invite you again to test, and keep for free, future expansion packs, or even other games).
Objectives of the beta:

First, fix any serious bug, those are not supposed to exist, but if you find one, report it.
Second, improve balance, it is mandatory that you say your preferred style of play, and why, and even better if you give suggestions.
Third, improve other areas, like  graphics, audio, music, text… But those are less important, if you don’t want to say much, talk about gameplay.
Fourth, fix miscelaneous bugs.
Reasons to join beta:

You play the game before everyone else.
You actually have input in the game development, making it better suited to your tastes.And you may get the mentioned goodies (credits, steam games, free registration, etc…)
Note that although the game file is secret, everything else is not, you are free to take screenshots, videos, talk about it, advertise it, put youtube videos, make a wiki with hints and tips, fan page, whatever you desire, just don’t distribute the game itself… When the time comes, we will do it ourselves.

Known issues of the beta:

The music and sound is mostly not done, the level and mode selection is not working, paddles don’t get unlocked, and finally, the logo is very ugly and need rework.

Thus I am also announcing here a competition for the title screen, take the title screen file picture (click to see full version):

Then edit it, put whatever you want over it, including a logo, and some “push start button” or whatever phrase you want, and anything else you want (copyright notices, information, whatever…). After all that, send to me (compo@agfgames.com), when the forums get better organized I will post there or allow posting directly there. The ones that I decide to use on the game (even only as inspiration to make my own version) will be awarded a game on Steam (sorry, this is the only legal method for now that we have to give something). For now the choices are Audiosurf, Osmos and Trine.

Now, to Mac people, or those that want me to make a Mac version, as I stated I don’t own a Mac, but I am pretty sure that if each fan donate a little, eventually I will be able to buy a Mac, and thus create the Mac version. Thus, if you want a Mac version, or just want to help me, visit this link: http://www.indiegogo.com/Paddle-Wars-Hit-The-Wall-for-MacOS-X I will be eternally grateful for those that donate something there.

Also, forum moderators and administrators are needed (it is phpBB, and I don’t have time to take care of it), irc operators are needed too.

Posted in Community News, Development | 2 Comments

Making a controller prototype, part 2

Hello, I did more work on the controller prototype today ^^

Ok, the photos you saw yesterday, the controller was not locked the parts, it was only “assembled” so I could see if they fit each other. Today it was time to start gluing the parts (we planned to use glue, as I mentioned in yesterday post). First we needed to make all wooden parts even, to do this we (I am saying we, because it was me and AGF co-owner, of the business software division) sanded the parts (sorry, no photos of that for now). Then we made small holes in the wood, inserter some wooden pins, and used that to lock some parts, as you can see on the picture.

The box you are seeing here is the controller seen from the top, the side that has nothing is the “back” and will go against the arcade cabinet. And yes, the thing in the background of the photo IS a barred door, here in Brazil we lock themselves inside, and the bandits outside (instead of putting them in the prison… actually, we have prisons, but we have waaaay more people to put there than it fit… I wonder if someone can make a russian reversal about this fact :P ).

Anyway, returning to our subject here, after the box was properly working, we fit the trackball, the usual mounting is using a metal plate on the top of the trackball, but I think it is very ugly to do that, as seen on this photo (note: this photo is not mine, I just grabbed a random photo on google to show what I mean)

The reason people do this is because it is easier, the trackball has only some milimeters on the top side, meaning that it is almost impossible to fit it on regular wood unless you do some serious woodwork, since we are using a wood-like cardboard, there was no need, but then people would put the screws on the top (no need to show a pic here I think, just imagine a trackball and 4 screws being visible on the game board). But the trackball holes for screw actually has space to insert a nut nicely, and it happened that I had the exact size of nut for that holes :D

Now if you pay attention to the photo (sorry for the bad quality, taking photos at night without flash, and having shaky hands…), you will see the bolt is jutting out… It means that we actually made some calculations wrong. We tried fixing it by inserting several washers below the trackball, but it don’t worked, because we ran out of washers… Until we noticed some old nylon washers that were just the size we needed (I dunno where they came from, it was from some other project), so we used the nylon washers, fixed the problem, and now we had the trackball fitted. Notice the boards seen on the first photo are not there anymore, is because we fitted them with wooden pins, on purpose, so we can remove this lower part (and the trackball) at will, to do maintenance (not that prototypes are supposed to need maintenance… but just in case).

Then we placed all the wooden planks back, and we figured we had a problem: Where we would place the wires? I then took the electronics to our woodworking bench, and stared at it a little, then we made some calculations, and finally the result was that we needed to make holes in the wooden planks.

Now, planks with holes, time to fit them :D

But when we tried to fit them, we noticed another issue… We forgot to take in account the size of the microswitches (I will explain what they are in the part about electronics) when making our calculations, so, I took two microswitches, fitted to two fully assembled buttons to our panel, and made the test.

So, even in diagonal, and then taking account the wires (not in the pic), the thing was failure, the structural board did not gave sufficient room to the button. We needed something to give structure, yet not tall, and strong, the solution is a aluminium bar that we had (I need to mention AGF was a factory? we have all sort of stuff here, although for metal working, this our first time with wood).

But that is for tomorrow, it is night already, and time to eat here. Tomorrow probably I post about the fitting the parts (oh yes, I said we planned to use solely glue, but we realized, specially now that we will use aluminium, that it won’t work, we need to buy screws…)

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Making a controller prototype, part 1

So, the first thing in making a controller prototype is design the controller! One thing was obvious, the game needed a way to control the paddle, and another to activate powers, since there are 8 powers, I would need 8 buttons. On the PC originally the powers were activated by pressing 1 to 8 in the topmost row of the keyboard, but this really sucked, since it was REALLY easy to screwup and press a wrong button. I added another control method, that was using a block of 8 keys distributed in 4 columns and 2 rows (qwerasdf if you are wondering), and then I decided to use this same method on the arcade controller. So, the first thing after deciding the inputs, was make a basic design, this is the result (note, this is a PROTOTYPE design, the final design may be totally different) So, as you can see I decided to use 8 buttons, in 2 rows, the upper row is blue (like the game), the lower row is red. The trackball is red too, but that was the only color available that would fit (the other color that I could buy was white, and not glowy). Notice that I’ve put some instructions there, telling what each button do, and also in each column of buttons I’ve put a symbol of one of the powers available in the game, so if you press for example any of the buttons near the green pentagon, you will see energy being spent in the game in the green pentagon bar. All this is for usability, the MOST IMPORTANT thing when designing this, is usability, don’t get fooled, prettyness factor is important, but secondary. After that, I took all the parts, positioned them in the same position, and pretended to be playing the game (sorry, I don’t recorded that… I bet you people wanted to see me looking retarded :P ), and then I noticed a little problem: I designed the panel to have 150 millimeters in depth, but I realized that frequently I would hit my fingers in the monitor while using the trackball, and considering the violence and size of some people, they would hit their fingers pretty bad (or hurt my really expensive monitor). So, I decided to use 270mm instead (actually I wanted 250mm, but the board I had was 270mm, no point in cutting 20mm out of a board). And this is a good number, still smaller than the height of a A4 paper (more than this size, it gets more expensive to print the artwork, as the press need a bigger printer, and they charge for the total amount of paper used, not only the strip that you asked). After that I grabbed a board, cut the needed holes on it, and voilá! A board with holes! That fit the parts

Since the top board is actually a very strong cardboard, and not wood, it is still flimsy, and thus a internal structure is needed.

And finally, the thing more or less assembled (I need to buy glue…) on my bedroom

Don’t ask me where to buy wood, I don’t bought any wood yet, I found all that wood in the trash… (I actually wonder why someone threw in the trash perfectly good wooden planks).

In some other post, I will talk about the parts specifically. And also I will resume talking about the game development itself (today for example a new cursor was added to the game, and a very common complaint was addressed, now the cursor is hidden unless it is really needed on-screen).

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