Trial and Epic Fail

Ventures of an indie game developer

Nice cow... nice cow...

Today when I was out jogging I saw the most peculiar thing: a cow that had hung herself between two tree trunks. It looked as if though she'd stuck her head in, and then slipped with her hind legs down a steep slope. Either she broke her neck or choked, I didn't stick around to check. I ran to the house and told the framer's son what had happened. I bet not a lot of people will ever see that.

I don't usually eat red meat, but perhaps I should have taken a bite to not let it get spoiled. Well, perhaps next time.

Three crooks and a fourth

The Economist talks about organisational complexity, meetings and e-mails as debilitating clutter. Interestingly a lot of people work for these types of companies. Are we just born dumb, or is it something we become as we start working? I believe the latter, but guess it's part of a trade. Bigger company = less stress/more clutter, smaller company = more stress/less clutter.

It would be great to at some point work in a relaxed, uncluttered, small company. And if they were developing something fun it would be fantastic. But that would probably be unlawful, and certainly violate the laws of nature.

After my last post I realized that The Tetris Company probably will sue if I make a clone, even though would probably be an invalid claim. They've won in the past. Hm. I might have to think of something else.

Less is more

For my next game I've been indecisive weather I should make a bit more complex game, or a simpler one. My main concern is that I want to make a commercially viable game, I don't want to make another "learning experience." So what makes people buy games? Well, they need to be good. That's pretty much it. Does it matter if the game is simple or not? I'd say no. But I've always wanted to build complex games. On the other hand I could always do that later. And it's far easier to make a simple game shine, like, say, Hundreds. And it's never/always too late to build something utterly complex.

So after a long vacation and allowing my mind settle on the topic I decided to run with a very simple game, but on a large scale, i.e. multiplayer. I also feel that real-time multiplayer can kill the casual part of gaming. I loath causal gaming.

The game I decided on is a game I've tried before and know rocks: multiplayer tetris.

We played this game in college and I was the worst player in our class, but I liked it the most. When you get two or more rows in a single move, you push as many "crap" rows to the bottom of one of the opponent's matrix. The goal is of course to be the last man standing. It's a fantastic adrenaline rush. Which is also to say that it is exhausting. "Exhausting" does not make successful iOS games in the long run, but I think it will get me a bunch of buyers when it goes viral. And if it's half as good as I remember, it will.

The original Xtris source code is only 3047 lines of C. Unfortunately I'll have to rewrite it, because I want peer-to-peer networking with UDP/STUN. Which means it'll scale immensely well, as all my servers have to do is to help blow some holes in everyone's firewall. I'll buy some type of Virtual Private Server for this. I'll also implement some different types of bots which will make it seem like there are actual players online (until I reach critical mass). These bots can run on the VPS as well. Hm. Or maybe I'll just run the servers on the VPS, and skip P2P. In that case I wouldn't have to rewrite much. But my minimum requirement is 15k simultaneous players, I'll let some early performance tests decide.

Perhaps I'll use Amazon's VPS solution, it's only $0.05 per "VPN Connection-hour." Hard to say what that means, but anyhoo. I'll steal controls from EA's Blitz. They're certainly better than anything I could come up with. Regarding payment model, I'll give X multiplayer matches away for free per day. If you want to play more multiplayer matches, you'll have to pay a one-time fee (tire 1=1 USD).

I looked back at my old postmortems in this blog to see if I can foresee will go right and what will go wrong. One obvious thing is of course that a lot of people hate tetris. On the other hand there are plenty of people who thinks otherwise. Myself I used to hate it before I tried the multiplayer version in college. I'll balance the difficulty through some automatic ranking system, so the common problem of making a too difficult game pretty much goes away (especially if I run some bots at both ends of the scale). The only problem I'm unable to solve is the intermission from when you've lost a match until the next one starts. Hm. I'll think about it, but apart from that I really don't think I can go wrong with this game.

I'll start working on MMO tetris in a few days. First I'll do my load test to see how many players I can support in a client/server architecture.

Great filter behind us?

Ever heard of the Fermi Paradox? Well worth a read.

NASA tests microwave thruster

This is the third time someone verifies a working microwave thruster. It would be seriously interesting to know what causes microwaves to yield an actual momentum. Perpetuum mobile anyone? I'm betting this has something to do with gravity.

Bitch in heat

Had a heated discussion yesterday with an dumb, über-convinced feminist who claimed that men and women are born tabula rasa, while I made the statement that for instance interests are pre-disposed by our hormones, and that would be the reason that for instance few women in the west (where interest is key) work in IT. Of course I didn't mean anything on an individual level, but I was talking about an actual distance d between the bell curves. She claimed there is none.

So today I did some studying and found that already Darwin knew many mental traits were inherited by animals:
So in regard to mental qualities, their transmission is manifest in our dogs, horses, and other domestic animals. Besides special tastes and habits, general intelligence, courage, bad and good temper, &c., are certainly transmitted. With man we see similar facts in almost every family; and we now know through the admirable labours of Mr. Galton10 that genius, which implies a wonderfully complex combination of high faculties, tends to be inherited; and, on the other hand, it is too certain that insanity and deteriorated mental powers likewise run in the same families.
Home free! But wait... Cattell and Eysenck found that:
One of the first of these twin studies measured 800 pairs of twins, studied numerous personality traits, and determined that identical twins are most similar in their general abilities. Personality similarities were found to be less related for self-concepts, goals, and interests.
Shit! I hate it when I'm dumber than dumb, über-convinced feminists! I can only hope there's a small d in that "less related" part of the interests above. What the heck, I'll go all in and say there is a d, and I'm sure of it. And even though I've never been, I belive the reason that Malaysia has about half female IT workers has nothing to do with personal interest, it has to do with landing a job.

Radio 2.0

It seems at least one more developer than me got tired of the current state of affairs in the music player business: finite, static playlists which you have to maintain. So Albertz deviced Music Player. It seems to contain everything I need, except a Grooveshark plugin. I'll build one of those and two frontends: one headless (keyboard only) and one similar but for mobile web. The mobile version doesn't even have to show songs, just an input field so we, or our guests can flip over to some song of their choice.

I'll hard-code F1-F4 or so for radio channels, grunge, rock, etc., and for hardware I'll use a Raspberry Pi for 50 bucks.

One other thing that I personally think would be awesome is to install a mic and let it double as a long-distance walkie-talkie. I could shout at the kids to stop fighting when I'm at work, or I could scream my last words if I get fatally injured by a moose in the forest... It's going to be awesome!

About the author

Min bilder
Gothenburg, Sweden