Trial and Epic Fail

Ventures of an indie game developer

Post mortem: NSAgent

Last night I came home from val d'Isere. 3.5 days of downhill was a good workout, as I've been having some periostitis trouble while running. I need to get going with the jogging though, if I am to beat my personal 10 year old record on the half marathon within one month. I ran a 10 km seeding race a month ago with lower average speed than my last marathon record, and 185 bpm average heart rate for 48.5 minutes. Not nice.

Something else that's not nice is my last game. Here's the post mortem.

What went wrongWhat went right
Highly repetitive
No variation at all.

Best game so far
I strongly disagree, but in this case I trust my family members more than I trust myself.

Custom built
Stated I would re-use tech from previous games, instead I custom-built the background uvst texturing. I generally don't like wasting days on building a feature that nobody appreciates.

Extremely simplistic controls. Only time is a factor between tap and rocket impact. (Next game I'll largely eliminate time too.)

Ugly-looking vehicles that doesn't go with the static but detailed photos. A texture on the body wouldn't hurt, nor would a bump map on the tires. Some detail to make the body meshes' env map shine. Pixel shaders. And so on.

Balanced difficulty
If you can throw a ball, you pretty much understand the concept of a parable. And time. Difficulty proportional to level.

No mayhem
Had to reduce the time that the broken vehicles stays on the road, as they otherwise blocked the road too often (resulting in a game too difficult). On the other hand: less debris on the road equals less mayhem equals less fun.

Anybody could understand and play. Guess that's not always a good thing. But it might be.
Dumb dumber
Had to remove “communist” as an enemy. Too bad I think, as Americans would have loved to shoot 'em, and the rest of the world would have loved to see how much Americans love to shoot commies.

Easter egg
Tiny wee thingies inside. Shhh! Our secret.

The truth is out there

I'll have to post-mortem another day. I'm off to the Alps for some skiing with a friend - YEY! (Btw: don't download/buy the game, it sucks ass!)


I'm going to roll with the Int Karate+ idea, and I'm going to make it awesome. Lessons learned so far has taught me:
  1. Controls are everything. Not just steering, but feeling, timing, the bigger picture.
  2. An opponent a is powerful thing and multiplayer in the right way is awesome. Badminton by yourself sucks.
  3. Aesthetics is crucial for getting spread, as opposed to getting noticed and forgotten.
  4. Minute attention to detail goes a long way. Don't design by refinement, use exploration.
  5. Sports (or similar) generally outperform games that are more of toys or survival games.
  6. Originality done right is well rewarded.
If a game gets full score, 6 points, according to these bullets, my previous games may have gotten just above 1 point, which is almost as low as it gets.

I think I can create this type of great game. I know for a fact it's going to take me a long time to do it, and I'm not going to work as intensively throughout the project, so it's going to require a big effort to not get tired of the whole thing and just dumping it on the App Store before it's done.

Sure I hope it's going to sell, but more importantly: do I want to play my own game? If I manage all the bullets above and want to play it; well to me that would signify that I have achieved Mastery of Game Development... Or perhaps I just have more bullets to learn in upcoming lessons. But after 5-6 games on the App Store, I'm pretty sure I'm finally starting to get it.

Pig-headedness can get you as far as cleverness, it just takes you 7 times as long.

Just made the world a better place

Eradicated Nazis and Fascists. Submitted to App Store. This time over the game is really going to get scrutinized; on my second attempt I got a remark that the game contains "intense realistic violence", so now it's getting rated 12+. Hehe. I replaced the Nazi and Fascists with Sith and Illuminati. Next time it's going to be something new. Perhaps design? Perhaps the "Sith" organization may exist in the future, or in a Galaxy Far Far Away... Or it might be that Apple's employees know that the secret Illuminati actually exists. If not, next time I'm going to write the NSAgent postmortem. 60/40 in my favor?


Over the last few months I've come to a profound conclusion: there is an afterlife! That is, during the last three months I've become 99% convinced that our spirits continue to "live" after our bodies die! To me, who's always been a bit of a sceptic, this is mind-blowing and turns my view of fact/fiction on its head.

Sure, I've always hoped that whatever it is that is "I" wouldn't simply vanish within fifty years, but while I was hoping for such a thing, I felt it was ridiculous. (Instead I tried to formulate some personal theory around jojoing branes in an Ekpyrotic Universe and infinite time, after which everything would repeat itself.) Despite hard evidence of other paranormal phenomenon, such as anomalous cognition, and somewhat-less-hard evidence in things such as Global Conciousness, the leap to an afterlife is long to say the least. And sure I knew modern research is much more open to the spirit world, but openness is just another word for hope.

Ok so anyway, I won't detail the reason I now know of the sprit world (that's part of a much longer post some time in the future, and it's not as you might think that I've experienced something paranormal), but instead I'll try to explain some of the implications for a grown, white, western man whom have only been fed western science all his life.

Btw: Cartesian dualism, as introduced by Descartes in the 17th century, helped us make fantastic strides in the materialistic world (for instance, the last famine to hit Sweden was 150 years ago), but left the unmeasurable realm of mind and spirit dangling.


Ok, enough about that for now. I just got rejected by apple as I use terms of real groups such as "Nazi" and "Fascist". OMG! Apple: go to the moon and get some perspective! You can afford it.


Apple rejected my app, stating the following reason:
15.3: "Enemies" within the context of a game cannot solely target a specific race, culture, a real government or corporation, or any other real entity
Ok. Not much of I surprise there, I guess. Perhaps apart from "Al Queda" explicitly mentioned as one of the entities which cannot be targeted. Sure, it's a real organization, but I thought it would be acceptable as it's classified as a terrorist group by Australia, Canada, EU, India, Iran, Russia, UK, UN and the US. So I'll remove "al-Quaeda" and "Communist" and try again.

I won't start working on it for some time yet, but as I've stated in some earlier post I'm now going to leave the crappy games behind and make a great one next time. I spent some time pondering what that game might be. It's going to have to be a game that I enjoy playing. And not just a couple of minutes, but really play. It's going to have to be iPad-compatible, which means lousy controls. And it's going to have to include humanoids, as that's the only type of game that I really like.

So one of my first thoughts was to make an agent-style game, seen from the side with 2D controls. I saw a web game more than ten years ago, which was a bit like what I want to make. Think C64 Barbarian, but agents with guns... something like that.

I'll probably intermix with some vehicle styff, like one 3D offroad monster truck thingie and one 3D helicopter run (inspired by the 3D vehicle part of Mass Effect). And it will be single player. Something like that. It will be a huge undertaking for me, but I won't let it go until it's great!

This would perhaps be biting off more than I could chew, so I'm thinking about taking one step at a time, as I've never done any editor, indoor environments, generated terrain, skinning, nor humaniods. So perhaps I could do an intermediate Tekken style game to get the skinning+humanoids in place. Or perhaps more like Int Karate+. Multiplayer. That should also be a great game, if I'm able to pull it off properly.

There are certainly some technical aspects that are crucial to get right, such as human motion. Stand, crouch, run, jump, ragdoll. Hitting different body parts. Perhaps I'll use a capsule for collision detection when moving. Then I'll have to have different sizes of the capsule for walking and crouching. And the limbs should be used for collision detection as well to some extent when fighting (and hitting a limb). Exactly how I'll pull this off along with multiplayer latencies I don't know. Hm. I'm not finished thinking about this yet.

One main thing that would be very different between these two games outlined above and the previous six is that I think that I would like to maintain them, upgrade with new features and so forth. My logic goes as long as I like to play them, I'd also like to improve and upgrade.

But first I have a terrorist organization to wipe out.


I'm currently releasing the rocket launcher game. I call it NSAgent. I've made the 10 icons; the five splash screens; the 15 screen shots (although I cheated a little bit on a couple of iPhone 5 shots). I wrote the description in Swedish and English and added the app in iTunes Connect. Currently archiving in Xcode as Universal. It's built for iPad, but works well enough on iPhone; but I draw an ugly black border on the sides of the iPhone. Possibly Apple can use that to reject the app.

There is also a pinch of satire in there, but I'm hoping it will fly. Apple cut me down when I was too direct in my ping pong game. This time I'm not as much in anybody's face, and I think no sane user will ever care or even notice, but Apple might. But I hope and think not. Or perhaps I have to change some details, and in that case I hope they inform me of what it is that might be offensive. Grumpy fuckers.

Oooh, compile done! Uploading! Nah... didn't work. I just renewed my iOS developer program. I guess I need to download new certificates and what not. Uh. This is getting on my nerves. Soon sleep, ahhh!

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Gothenburg, Sweden