Zalo DS Blog

Monday, March 11, 2013

Whack Mania: Post mortem


Ok, so it's been a month already. Time enough to look backwards and see what went good about this project and what went wrong. I have decided to post these conclusions here so they can become useful for someone else. Usually I prefer to begin with the bad things and finish with the good ones (that leaves a better impression)

Bad things! (things that should be improved in the future)
- First of all, and one that disappoints me a lot, working at home. I already work 8 hours and a half daily as a programmer so adding a couple more to do the same thing plus weekends can be exhausted. It totally affected my mood, made me angry easily and obviously making me less productive on an average. I haven't fully enjoyed my holidays (not summer, neither christmas) and I have suffered insomnia several days

- Working without a release date. Even thought the game was planned to be finished in two months, I have gone way too far from that date. Nobody really seemed to be worried about it, and some people were even asking me to constantly add new stuff to the game. I haven't feel capable of just stop adding content

- Listening to everyone without filter. I should have been more strong about my decisions. I listened too much to the feedback people were giving to me… first the game was too hard, then too easy, then boring, then the camera was not accurate, then we needed to add more stuff to the levels… I think there is a difference between lack of modesty and self confidence. It's not people's fault for giving me suggestions but mine. Trying yo make a game that everyone in this world like it's very hard (or probably impossible)

- Adding way too more content. Sadly for some reason the game doesn't seen to be working pretty good. Well, to be honest… it is doing terrible. I cannot publish here the number of downloads but for me it is very disappointing. Obviously I was expecting much more. Flurry is integrated in the app so I can see which levels are people playing. A big amount of the levels are still NEVER played. So, were those 40 levels necessary? Definitelly not. Besides not all the levels have the same quality. I spent a lot of time designing some of them and just a few minutes in some others. Sadly most of these levels are at the beginning so people give up before reaching the funny stuff

- Taking it personal. I don't think it will be very proffesional to post more info about this here... so just in case you are interested to know what I am talking about, ask me in private :P It is has a lot to do with that lack of confidence I was talking about before

Good things!! (The big amount of knowledge acquired!!)

- Whack Mania has been developed using my own engine. I am pretty happy with how the engine has evolved and the way everything on it is coded. More than happy, I feel proud about it. It has been released both in IOS and Android and there is also a Windows version fully working. Versions for Nintendo DS and Wii should work also, although I haven't had the time to code some new parts on the core of the engine for them. I feel that I am perfectly capable of porting it to any platform suppoting c++ as native language. More than that I have implemented: leaderboards, advertising, in app purchases, analytics and push notifications in a clean way (they are not implemented in Windows but the game still works, and even thought the behaviour in Android and IOS is very different they share a common base that makes it very expandable). I really have that feeling that I have learn from other's mistakes.

- So many changes in my 3dsmax exporter. I am pretty happy with it. I have fixed it a lot of times. I have removed a lot of trash, kept it simple and right now there are no issues that I am concerned of. No scale issues, nothing bad orientated, animations perfectly working… and if you have already worked with maxsdk you should already know what I am talking about 

- Back to maxscript! I have coded a few useful scripts for 3d max that have allowed me to use sprite atlas and define menus. Some of this stuff could have been very valuable on previous games I have been working on

- Several fights with Xcode and Eclipse had made me understand these IDEs much better (Eclipse stinks no matter what). I know how to handle libs, projects and everything. That makes me very capable of for example coding plugins for Unity3d in a safe way

- Some interesting components that I'll be using in future releases: camera safe viewport, HUD reorganization independent of screen resolution (and for the first time also, I have added a new behaviour that leaves some space for adds automatically so I didn't need to make any changes at all to support the same screen distribution both on full screen and when showing adds), input management (multiplatform), finger tracking (that I used for the movement of the planet), pathfinding (in a spherical mesh… not very different than a classic A* anyway), music synchronisation with game events (did you noticed?) . I have already coded these new behaviours into my new project in Unity without too much trouble, it is also good to realize that what really matters is the idea and not the code itself

- Interesting graphical effects (using fixed pipeline on OpenGL ES 1.1). The game doesn't use a single shader at all… I still consider that adding shaders to a cross platform engine it is a hard task and it will make things more complicated to maintain so I have refused to do it. I have used instead texture combiners for the first time that it is still fixed pipeline but when used correctly the final result can be amazing. The way for example the Wii works is pretty similar to this. I think the game performance has benefit form this a lot also.

- Implementation of my first asset manager, that can regenerate all assets form scratch just running a simple script (not true, because I coded it in C++, because it is much better :P). After too much suffering with others implementation It's hard to say how happy I am to successfully had implemented this in just one week. It is once again simple and very expandable to support new platforms or new type of assets (or even different configurations for the same platform)


And, that's it! I was right… it is good to finish with the positive stuff. As a general conclusion I'd say Whack Mania has been a total failure as a project (if you give something for free and people doesn't like it, there is no other way to consider it) and that makes me feel very disappointed, but on the other hand it has given me a great opportunity to improve my coding skills, which is something that I as a programmer need. 

I also would like to show my appreciation to the other guys who worked with me in this adventure: Domingo, David, Raquel and Antonio and all the other people who helped me to improve it: Josh, Cesar, Adrián, Juanma, Josemi, Curro, my brothers and of course Lucia who has suffered it more than anyone else. Thank you very much for your help! Even thought it is a failure it is still a game that I really enjoy

I'd like to finish this with the hands on video we released a few days, so you can see the how the game works a little bit more



Thanks for reading! ;)

8 Comments:

  • First of all sorry for no reply in english
    Creo que después de ver tu post, puedo ver tu evolución personal lo cual me gusta mucho.
    El juego no importa que hayasido un fracaso, si te contara yo los mios....
    Primero, creo que te has dado cuenta de lo necesario que es el perfil del producer, una persona que tiene que saber decidir cuando cortar por lo sano, no se pueden tener en consideración a toda la gente ni todos los comentarios, sino nos arriesgamos a que el proyecto nunca salga a la luz, como pasa con tantos buenos títulos, este es uno de los fallos de los que pecan la gran mayoria de desarrolladores o equipos indies.

    La lista de cosas positivas, nos hablan de tu realización personal que al final creo que es lo que buscabas. Con lo cual podemos hablar de que tu juego ha sido todo un exito.

    También has conseguido que te siga respetando como Developer (no te voy a respetar más de lo que ya lo hacia, eso sería dificil), también sigo pensando que eres un puñetero friki y tengo ganas de tocarte las orejas de elfo o de señor spock que tienes

    By Blogger Daniel Navarro, at March 11, 2013 11:10 AM  

  • Gracias, me gustán este tipo de críticas que acaban metiéndose con mis orejas de dumbo. Siempre son las mejores :D

    By Blogger Zalo, at March 11, 2013 2:09 PM  

  • Está guay. Sé que deprime, pero debes saber que no tiene nada que ver con que el juego sea bueno o no, sino de la exposición. Si la gente no sabe que existe no lo baja.

    Y hay mucha gente que se baja todo lo que es gratis (y ha encontrado no se sabe como) y juega dos minutos y lo deja porque no es el estilo de juego que quiere, que no porque no sea bueno ;).

    Si salieses destacado ya verías ya... pero el espacio en la estantería es muy pequeño y hay muchos juegos que mostrar. Por eso cada vez más el 50% del trabajo es hacer el juego y el otro 50% intentar hacerlo conocido de la mejor forma posible.

    By Blogger Xanday, at March 18, 2013 11:48 AM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger radagast.pardo, at May 11, 2013 7:54 PM  

  • It needs to be said: IMPRESSIVE JOB.

    Whack Mania kicks ass in so many levels that whatever attention it gets from the public it will still stand out for being an exceptional piece of work. It looks great, it behaves great, it has so many features that people give for granted and that are hard to get right (from aspect ratio and resolution independent interface layout to multiplatform notifications and in-app purchases, the list is big).

    I believe you are familiar with the work we've (at Pyro) done with our own smartphone games in the recent past and I wouldn't put them up against Whack Mania without being embarrassed in several aspects of the comparison. We are hopefully getting much better at it with our second wave of products, but that's a completely different story.

    Once more, great job: it is a game to be proud of.

    As a last thought (I'm going to be one of the 'bad' guys telling you yet another twist to add to the game), when I heard and saw the moles in synch with the music it got me wanting to play the music along as I whacked them. Kind of an 'Osu Tatakae Mole' wich I would looove to play and would certainly be a big hit on the Asian markets :D (dibs on that idea: let’s do a joint venture to make it real)

    Best!

    By Blogger radagast.pardo, at May 12, 2013 12:01 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger radagast.pardo, at May 12, 2013 12:01 PM  

  • Bài chia sẻ này rất có giá trị? Và zalo ds blog của bạn sẽ được tuyền bá nhiều người biết? Khi bạn dành tất cả tâm huyết cho nó?Mình có video hướng dẫn cách đăng ký zalo page?-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DnGBJK90xuY

    By Blogger Trần Công, at November 08, 2014 10:45 PM  

  • thanks?bài viết của bạn rất tuyệt vời và dành cho người đọc có suy nghĩ hơn?Chúc bạn thành công?

    By Anonymous Trần Công, at November 08, 2014 10:47 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home