Gonna Catcha: Steam Greenlight and future plans

I’m pleased to announce that Gonna Catcha is now on Steam Greenlight! If you would like to see the game on Steam, be sure to vote “Yes” on the Greenlight page.

In light of this occasion, I’ve fixed up the trailer for the game:

Regardless of the status of the game’s Greenlight process, I plan on restarting development on Gonna Catcha some time in the future, adding new features and game modes. Here’s a summary of what I plan to do:

Score Attack mode

Gonna Catcha’s current gameplay has you play through a series of increasingly difficult rounds to see how far you can get and what is the highest score you can reach. In the planned Score Attack mode, you’ll play only one time-limited round to try to get the highest score possible. My plan is to make it come in three flavours:

  • Single-player: one person plays, self-explanatory.
  • Co-op: two people play as Pohena and Donum, working together.
  • Versus: two people play as the same character (two Pohenas or Donums), working against each other.

Change in Graphic and Audio styles

Currently Gonna Catcha sports an art and audio style defined by limitations inspired by the Namco Pac-Man hardware. While it has it’s own charm, I am prepared to push these limitations higher, perhaps forward half a decade to turn it into something from the latter half of the 1980s. (My baseline is a style like Bubble Bobble.)

Additional Mazes

The game in its current state has four mazes spread across 16 rounds, which cycle endlessly. I plan on adding new mazes to the game, though I still have to figure out how these new mazes will fit in with the current game progression.

Copyright © Quadolor Games. All rights reserved.

Welcome to Cloud Saving! (dot.Market 1.2 Update)

Welcome to Cloud Saving! (dot.Market 1.2 Update)

To: You, the Owner of this dot store

From: Dorothy A. Ellipsis, Dot Retail Strategist

Date: June 21, 2014

Subject: Welcome to Cloud Saving!

Hello You,

Our agreement to save our money and backup our business records in the Game Jolt cloud has begun!

Now if your dog ever eats our local records or you accidentally used them on your most recent papier-mâché project, you can just put in a request to download another copy from the cloud seamlessly and continue to run our business as if nothing had happened! Being stored in an abstract form, our puncta* are also much safer than hiding them away in the back of the fridge. The Tech Guy set it up so that your credentials are entered automatically when you come in for work, unless goes wrong then you need to enter your username and token manually. There were some other miscellaneous things that were also taken care of, you can read it here.

As an aside, I would also like to note that the big “Erase Data” you have set up in the Options room now will automatically destroy the records on the cloud in addition to the local ones.

It’s convenient should there, I don’t know, ever come a time when our business experiences complete failure and you want to, you know, torch the place for the insurance money. …Not that I endorse such extreme measures…

Actually, I did the calculations, out of pure curiosity and totally not because I think you should do this, and did you know that if you did burn the place down for the insurance, after the costs of registering a new business, buying a new location and bribing everyone, you would be left with 3000 puncta to buy new dots with. I find that quite peculiar, wasn’t that the amount you started with? Not that I’m implying anything…

OK… I think I should stop writing now.

Best Regards,
Dorothy A. Ellipsis, Dot Retail Strategist (And Totally Not Crazy)

* FYI: “Puncta” is the local currency. Just in case you forgot.

Copyright © Quadolor Games. All rights reserved.

Introducing a new member to your dot business team. (dot.Market 1.1 Update)

Introducing a new member to your dot business team. (dot.Market 1.1 Update)
My photo. I bet not many
people send you animated ones!

To: You, the owner of this particular dot store

From: Dorothy A. Ellipsis, New Recruit

Date: June 8, 2014 

Subject: My Introduction and Various Improvements Made to the Store

Dear You,

My name is Dorothy A. Ellipsis and I was hired as part of your “My Store Sucks, Someone Help Me Make It Better” initiative. I believe my previous experience as a “Lowercase I and J Quality Assurance Specialist” and my through understand of the book 44 Things Successful Dot Marketers Do While Sunbathing will make me a tremendous asset to your team. I am super excited to start working! In fact, I was so excited that I already rolled out some improvements to the store!

Low-resolution cursors

The old cursor was too expensive to replace when it broke. (It was like that when I got here! I swear!) They were high-resolution models that were made up of many dots, and have you seen the price of dots lately?! So, I decided to order another that are made of less dots and cheaper to maintain. I struck a deal with the distributor where if we put an order for the standard arrow cursor, they would throw in an animated wait cursor at no additional cost. A team of highly-trained stealth renovators have been dispatched to install the new cursors and they should be ready when you arrive at your store for your next shift.

Faster news tickers

I’ve heard of slow news days, but I thought the old tickers were ridiculous. I gave the order to install new tickers with dot presses that work 50% 100% faster. Now you can spend less time reading the news and more time conducting business. If you’re really in a hurry, you can put them into overdrive by clicking and holding anywhere on the news screen.
As the owner of your own business, you don’t have the time to deal with petty things like remembering to save your game every once in a while, and quite frankly, I don’t want to do it either. That’s why I hired a Records Saving Technician, who will update your business records at the end of each business day. The Tech Guy (I don’t remember his name) only comes in at closing, so he won’t get in your way of your daily routine and, for all intents and purposes, is invisible.
If you want the boring version, you can read it here: Changelog.
In addition to these changes, I’ve come up with a few other ideas we could do to improve the store further:
Game Jolt integration

I’ve heard about your problem with your business records and cash box being put out on the curb with the trash. I won’t pry into how this could even happen, but I’ve come up with a solution that may help. We can backup all our data onto servers run by this company called Game Jolt, and lucky for us they also offer banking services so we can put all our extra cash with them too. I’ll get the Tech Guy to work on it right away! Sure, I didn’t put this in his job description, but I’m sure he won’t mind the extra work without compensation.
I’m seeing great potential in using Game Jolt’s data storage in other areas. I’ll send out another memo when I get the details all worked out.

Best Regards,

Dorothy A. Ellipsis, New Recruit

Copyright © Quadolor Games. All rights reserved.

dot.Market Released on Game Jolt!

dot.Market Released on Game Jolt!

The LOWREZJAM has ended and dot.Market v.1.0.0 has been released on Game Jolt. Here are some screenshots of the current version:

I have already received some feedback on the game and I would like to continue to improve on the game. However, since I will be working on other projects in parallel with this one (oh, by the way, keep your eyes peeled for when they pop up on this site), it might take some time.

Enough talk, here is the link to the game:

Copyright © Quadolor Games. All rights reserved.

The Dots are coming! The Dots are coming!

The Dots are coming! The Dots are coming!
No, no, no, stop trying to click on it. This is just a picture.
The real thing will be coming soon.

The end of the month is nigh, and there’s not much left to do. I’ve noticed that I haven’t posted something regarding dot.Market in a while, so here we are. Like my previous two posts, I had some GIFs prepared to show, but the design of the interface had changed during the process of writing this blog post, so they’ve already become obsolete. Instead, here’s a video a quickly whipped up showing me fooling around the game for several minutes. (I would also like to note that this is also the first time I’m showing off the audio of the game.)

Things that have changed since last time:

  • The obligatory auto-save feature – So you can keep your play money safe between sessions.
  • New title screen – When I’m working at such a low resolution, using Photoshop suddenly became much easier.
  • New main menu buttons – I designed them to look like cash register keys, for that extra retaily-goodness.
  • Transitions – The transitions don’t only serve the aesthetic purpose of making the switches between certain screens less jarring, but it also cuts down on input error when the interface layout changes between screens.
  • Interface improvements in stock menu – I managed to fit in more buttons and widgets to make the process of stocking and replacing dots on the shelves and repricing them faster.
Things I still have left to do:

  • Some of the buttons still don’t play sound effects when clicked.
  • An options menu, where you can reset your save file and see the credits.
  • Whatever I may have forgotten.

That’s it for now. Until next time.

Copyright © Quadolor Games. All rights reserved.

1024 colourful dots arranged to look like a business simulation

1024 colourful dots arranged to look like a business simulation
With the month (and the LOWREZJAM) coming to a close and all the basic game mechanics completed, I decided to focus on making various screens and menus more presentable by adding backgrounds and coloured text. Exciting! These are still not the finalized graphics (the buttons in particular still need to be redone), but it’s getting there.
So without further ado, here are some animated GIFs of the various changes I’ve made since last time. 
Stats screen
Note the new barebones income statement that shows the previous day’s revenue (in green), expenses (in dark red) and profit/loss (in this case, a loss, in bright red).
Market Stats and Buy screens
Aside from the added background and coloured text, I added horizontal grid lines to the price history graph for better readability.
News screen
Added transparency to the news tickers, just because.
Copyright © Quadolor Games. All rights reserved.

Hey, you there! Wanna buy some dots?

Hey, you there! Wanna buy some dots?

I realized that I haven’t been posting here for a quite a while. Between the various game jams and whatnot, I had created a bunch of game prototypes, all craving for my attention to polish them up. I spent some time working on some of them on and off, until I stumbled across a link to the LOWREZJAM 2014 on /r/gamedev. I forgot how it came to this, but I got the idea to make:


A Blocky Business Simulation

Enter the exciting and lucrative world of… dot trading? In this game you take the role of the sole proprietor of a store that specializes in selling dots. You buy dots from the wholesale market, stock them onto your shelves, slap price tags on them, open up for business and watch your merchandise disappear off the shelves, replaced by gross profit. The dots come in many variations (read: colours), each with their own individual markets (i.e. prices and customers) that change from day to day, following trends, depending on the forces that shape them. The game is currently open-ended, though the largest number I can fit in the window is 999999, which currently serves as a cap on your bank account.

I spent just as much time, maybe even more, testing formulas and crunching numbers in Excel trying to create a model of the dot market as I did coding the game itself. The model seems reasonable in it’s current state. Note that I only took one course each on microeconomics and statistics in university, most of which I quickly forgot.

My inspirations are from other business simulations games, ranging from totally serious to quite fantastic:

Anyways, time for animated GIFs showing the basic functions of the game! Now with 100% more animation! (Note: these are not finalized graphics)

Checking out your bank account and inventory
Checking out price history and other market stats
Checking the news tickers

(Boy, the quality of business journalism has sunk to a new low.
But seriously, these are just placeholder news items that
don’t do anything.)

Buying dots from the market
Stocking dots onto shelves and pricing them
Opening for business and checking the changes to the market

Stay tuned for more information. I promise to post sooner this time.

Copyright © Quadolor Games. All rights reserved.

My GM48 10 submission: Fodder Cannon

Out of the blue, I decided to participate in the GM48 10 game jam held on r/gamemaker on Reddit. The theme was “Guns that don’t shoot bullets”. So I decided to make a game with guns that shoot minions at your opponent, and kick them into submission. Here is the result: Fodder Cannon.

You can download the game from itch.io.

Kick, punch. It’s all in the mind.
I regret nothing!
It’s been a long day.
Sometimes you just can’t win. ¯_(ツ)_/¯
And here’s a time-lapse video of the process:
And here is the brief post-mortem I posted on r/gamemaker:
Did you succeed with your plans?

Finishing a full-playable game? Yes. Finishing absolutely everything I wanted to do? No. I wanted to implement a single-player option in my game but didn’t have the time.

Did you come up against any obstacles?

The only obstacle I came across was a technical one. I had been testing my game on both the Windows and HTML5 platforms during the jam so that I could release a standalone and a web version of it afterwards. During the last hour of the jam, the health and ammo meters stopped working in HTML5 for some unknown reason, so I decided to drop it for the jam since I figured my time was better spent on polishing the Windows version.

What did you think of the theme?

This was the theme I wanted to do most. I was pleasantly surprised when it was actually chosen.

Did you learn anything new?

  • When I don’t filter character and graphical designs in my mind and just draw whatever I feel like, things get a little bizarre.
  • I can compose something resembling background music in as little as two hours. I think it still needs a lot of work, but it turned out better than I expected.
Copyright © Quadolor Games. All rights reserved.

Eaten… by some… Linux, or something.

Gonna Catcha v.1.1.1 has been released! And much sooner than I expected. This version also marks the first release of Gonna Catcha on Linux (so far only tested it on Ubuntu-based Linux Mint).

Minty fresh.

On the technical side of things, I overhauled the graphics code to make the game’s codebase compatible with GameMaker: Studio 1.3. Up until release, Gonna Catcha was written with GM:S 1.2. When I tried to run the game in 1.3 (which was released as a beta) for the first time, I was greeted with this:

Gonna Catcha is now F2P.
You get the other 8/9 of the screen as paid DLC.
$10 for each ninth.

One of the big changes in 1.3 was the major changes to how it drew stuff on screen. I naturally assumed that the update broke my graphics upscaling kludge code.

#GameMakerStudio 1.3 changed up the 2D graphics engine, breaking my game slightly. Good thing I didn’t delay the release any further.
— Quadolor Games (@QuadolorGames) March 15, 2014

Since I had read that the changes to the drawing engine in 1.3 made it much easier to upscale graphics pixel-perfectly and therefore made my workaround obsolete, I decided to rewrite Gonna Catcha‘s graphics code in accordance to the new method of upscaling.

About an hour later, I had finished the rewrite. I tried running the game again, hopeful that the problem was solved:

*cue losing horns*

Thank you internet!

Well, that was a bust. The 1.3 update didn’t break my old graphics code after all. After another hour of probing my code, I finally found what was causing the problem. It seems that the function that toggles between windowed and fullscreen modes was preventing the window size from being changed. Not knowing if this was a bug or feature at the time, I just implemented workaround to get around it. Yes, I wrote out a workaround from my game just to write in another workaround. Based on other people’s reports on the problem, now I’m beginning to think that it’s a bug.

The rest of the updates are just bug fixes and interface improvements:

  • Fixed a bug where movement keys would get “stuck” if they were pressed or released while the game was paused.
  • Fixed a bug where lives were not being counted correctly after one player borrows a life.
  • Factory Reset now properly resets [Borrow Life] for both players.
  • Default key for [Borrow Life] (Player 2) moved from the 2 key to the 9 key (only takes into effect if you install a fresh copy of the game or do a Factory Reset).
  • Credits screen can now be exited by pressing any key or Start, Back or A on a controller (formerly just Esc).
It seems that by solving one big problem, the life-borrowing mechanic create a few small ones. Also, I moved the default key that allows Player 2 to borrow a life from 2 to 9 because it didn’t make much sense for it to be on Player 1’s side of the keyboard.
Copyright © Quadolor Games. All rights reserved.

Hey buddy, spare an extra life?

Gonna Catcha 1.1.0 is out now! Short version, here are the changes since v.1.0.0-B:

  • Added life-borrowing in co-op mode. If one player has lost all their lives but the other has some in reserve, then the first player can borrow one and resume playing the current round.
  • Added “Online Help” in Service Mode. Opens an online copy of the documentation in a web browser.
  • When player(s) die due to the timer expiring, their spirits-in-hand are released one at a time instead of all at once. This makes it consistent with the game’s other death scenarios.
  • Background music in tutorials now loop.
  • Reduced startup time for Preta tutorials.
Looooooooong version…
  • Added life-borrowing in co-op mode. If one player has lost all their lives but the other has some in reserve, then the first player can borrow one and resume playing the current round.

In many of my co-op mode playtests, I would often see the following scenario: one player would lose all their lives quickly due to inexperience while the other managed to keep on trucking and finish a round by themselves, allowing the other player to come back. However, the first player would lose their “continue life” very quickly and would have to again wait for the other player to beat the round by themselves before they could come back. And the cycle repeated. This seemed like a very boring and passive experience for the inexperienced player, but at the time I couldn’t think of a way to alleviate it.
It wasn’t until it happened again a few days after v.1.0.0-B was released, during a playthrough with me playing with someone new to the game, that the solution came to me: allow life-borrowing between players. It was so simple and done many times before in other games; I was surprised that I didn’t think of it sooner. Now if one player loses all their lives, they can borrow (read: take) a life from the other, provided that they have extra lives in stock, and continue to play the current round.
But take note, just because you have the opportunity to borrow lives doesn’t mean it’s always tactful to do so. If one player borrows a life and then both players finish the current round alive, the player that borrowed a life won’t get a “continue life” in the next round (or the “single point of shame”), because they are only granted to players in a “game over” state, i.e. is dead and have no lives remaining. So think carefully about the pros and cons before you borrow one of your partner’s lives. Or not.

I added this to future-proof the game, if I decide to bring the game to platforms that don’t allow or don’t have easy access to an external manual file on a local drive, e.g. HTML5, Steam Workshop. It also adds redundancy for the platforms that have local help files, which is… good…. in this particular case? I think.

  • When player(s) die due to the timer expiring, their spirits-in-hand are released one at a time instead of all at once. This makes it consistent with the game’s other death scenarios.

This was an oversight of a rare occurrence; the timer rarely went down to zero in all my playtests, so I didn’t notice that a death in that case resulted in the (really) old spirit-releasing behaviour.

  • Background music in tutorials now loop.
Small bug fix.

  • Reduced startup time for Preta tutorials.
I noticed that nearly all first-time players skipped the first preta tutorial (the one after the first bonus round) by mistake. My best guess as to why this was happening is: there were several seconds of inactivity at the beginning of the tutorial, which made it look like the game was frozen or required some kind of player input to start. This lead to players pressing random buttons to try to “fix” the problem but it only lead to them skipping the tutorial completely and have no idea how to deal with the pretas. Hopefully by speeding up the start of the tutorial, I can prevent people from accidentally skipping it.
Copyright © Quadolor Games. All rights reserved.