Ventures of an ex indie game developer


I'm in the middle of an experiment. I decided I wanted to try to be a fruit cake, just to try it for a month. An experiment, if you will; to see if I feel more alert or different in any way. I've just got one week left and I feel no different. On my birthday I had a mango. :) Fruitarians' intake consists of fruit, seeds and nuts, but this last week I'll just eat fruit to see if that makes any difference. Steve Jobs was a rabid fruitarian, who could eat nothing but apples for weeks, and that's one of the reasons Apple Computer got its name in the first place. He also knew that deprivation in its contrast creates yearn and with effort minimalistic grandeur. I have also known this instinctively my whole life. Nonetheless I long for proper food, especially Vietnamese. Next week the family is off to Vi Viet for some yummy grub.

I've been a bit quiet on this blog for some time. I believe the reason is that my GoToBed app is doing too good of a job. I used to write a post now and then when I had finished some feature in the middle of the night, but if I finish one the day before, I don't start writing about that before moving on to a new one (this post being an exception, I'm currently compiling on the Mac).

Kill Cutie is still being downloaded ("it's free!" they say and download all sorts of crappy software) in the hundreds per week. Americans are overrepresented both in free downloads and purchases, but it's interesting to note that a free game gets downloads from China, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine, Thailand, Russia, Italy and so forth, but that is not the case for lousy games which cost money. About 50% of the downloads of Kill Cutie are Americans, but the purchasers of Slime Volleyball (tire 1, $7) I estimate is about 95% Americans. I never knew (or even thought about) that I was making iPhone games solely for the American population. (I wonder what they think about the Swedish flag in KC; we hear so much about a patriotism in the Bible Belt, but that type of patriotism is almost unheard of in Scandinavia.) Most players quickly see KC for the stinky game it is, and only 138 people ever bothered to enter any high score. But it's still fun to see names like "артем" in a game you made yourself. Kill Cutie sells about two in-game things per week, it doesn't even pay the annual fee for the iOS developer program.

So what will I do differently in my next game (the hovercraft shooter)? Not sure. Steering sucked in KC, so I'll definitely improve of that. I'll improve looks. "The sandbox" feeling of KC also breaths a bit of "the developer didn't even bother to make proper levels", which essentially is true. So I'll make better levels. But apart from that? Not sure. I don't even know if I should make it Q3Arena-style with two teams, or a coop adventure game. Q3Arena works well enough in multiplayer deathmatch, but nobody will like it on an iPhone. The coop adventure game will require a lot of pickups, enemies and levels and a lot of work (on the game itself, not just the engine), and I won't like that. And I'm starting to think that the game won't be all that great even if I get the steering and the looks right. This is starting to sound like a bad habit, but I have a great idea for a "sequel", sort of, so perhaps I should just finish this game and make it "good" instead of "great". Nah. I'll put some more work into it and see how fun it seems before I decide.

Feature-wise I haven't made a whole bunch of stuff yet, but there are bomber planes and some explosives have been implemented, such as bombs, grenades, rockets and mines and the machine gun is a splendor. I'll also make the hovercraft fall apart when they die, similar to the vehicles in Kill Cutie; but it's not fully functional yet.

Just a sec... Port to Mac and iOS done, will try building the server on my tiny Linux machine so that I can connect from the iPhone outside of the firewall... I haven't built on Linux for two years and three months. Also, I never built any client code on Linux since I never took the time to port gfx & snd. My guess is that if non-Americans are a difficult bunch to bag, Linux users are even more resilient to commercial software, so why bother?

Regarding porting, I'm using quite a few third-party toolkits, which usually is a pain to compile for a new platform, even though they should all be portable:
  • ChibiXM
  • FastDelegate
  • HID_Utilities
  • freealut-1.1.0
  • happyhttp-0.1
  • jpeg-6b
  • libogg-1.2.2
  • libvorbis-1.3.2
  • lpng1212
  • minizip
  • ode-0.11.1
  • openal-soft-1.10.622
  • stlport
  • utf8cpp
  • zlib
I am also still writing my own code interface with the operating system and libc. At first it was fun and I learned a couple of new APIs, but these days it's more annoying than fun, and the APIs are never going to be fashionable again. I rarely add new code there though, but even though I haven't added much in the last two years (lookup for # of CPUs, upgraded ODE, added some template methods which weren't compatible with gcc 4.3.3, some file had an accidental UTF8-BOM in it, and so on) it takes an hour or two to update and compile completely. I guess that's okay for two years of development (still annoying tough). Ouch. Needed to download and upgrade Python to version 3.3.0 to get my data import toolchain rolling in the Linux can. Okay then.

Hm. Server up and running, but getting some type of networking error. I remember having the same bug when I started running multiplayer between the Mac and the PC, but can't remember the cause. Hm. Will have to come back to that some other night. Average indie game development sucks (albeit a whole lot less than contract development of business logic). At least tomorrow I have some fruit to look forward to. Yuck.

About the author

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Gothenburg, Sweden