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Some Tips for Developing Successful Flash Games

Some days ago I released the DSDefense flash game on this blog. It is also available on some of the more popular flash game websites like on Kongregate and with ratings of an average of 3.8 (out of 5), DSDefense is one of the few flash games I wrote which also some people other than me liked. This was also visible by the quite huge amount of people visiting the games website:

The impact of DSDefense released on 16th August.
The traffic on that website is above that of an average website before that date already,
but exploded on the release date of the game.

So, if you want to create such a game as well, here is some stuff which I learned so far:

I'll write some details on what tools and techniques I used for DsDefense later as well.

Some new Coppercube Tutorials

coppercube Matthew Casperson just published four new tutorials for CopperCube on his website. They show how to create a 3D model viewer, how to do dynamic lighting and how to use ActionScript 3 with CopperCube in two examples: Modifying dynamic lights at runtime and how to switch between different 3d scenes using MXML buttons.

Nice to see more and more people using CopperCube and now even helping other people create content with it.

Short Inglourious Basterds Review

(no spoilers below)
Last week, I watched Quentin Tarantino's latest movie Inglourious Basterds. Living in a country where it is normal that denoting someone as 'Exile Jew from America' (original: 'Exil-Jude aus Amerika') causes the district attorney's office to think about jailing you (german article) (glorifying the National Socialist German Workers Party is strictly forbidden here), it is always a bit difficult to discuss movies like this.

Personally, I didn't like Tarantino's movie that much, but if you are watching the orignal (=non-dubbed) version and do understand german, than it can be quite entertaining: About one third of the movie is completely in german and in contrast to the usual approach of other movies from Hollywood, they used only native speaking german actors, resulting in an unusual experience: German characters in the movie don't speek 'fake-german' as usual and their dialogs even make sense :)

Inglourious Basterds is fictional, making up a story which cannot be taken seriously, but at some points you can get quite pissed: Like a lot other movies and computer games with a plot from WWII, also this movie tells you that all german soldiers have been Nazis and that it is completely ok to kill all of them, preferably in the most cruel way possible. Thinking that today most people seem to get their education from the movies, it is not surprising that most people have no idea that most people in the Wehrmacht have been normal soldiers and that German Soldier != Nazi.

The movie also has some entertaining parts, but I personally think I should have invested my money in a few good books instead. :)

Irrlicht Engine Users Group on Facebook

There is now a Irrlicht Engine Users Group on Facebook! Well there was before, and it was founded by Thomas, but now Gaz, Alvaro and I are moderators there as well and it has a more official name :) Join us!

Date My Avatar

Nice music video starring The Guild, directed and music composed by Jed Whedon (brother of Joss), lyrics by Felicia Day (Vi from Buffy):

Happy weekend.

Free Textures for CopperCube

GaŽl Romanet is a 2D/3D graphic artist and modeller, you can find some of his work here. GaŽl now released 98 new textures for free use with CopperCube.

You can download them here (11 MB).

Mac OSX installer for Irrlicht 1.5.1 available

There is now a OSX irrlicht 1.5.1 installer available at sourceforge: Download here
(provided by bitplane). It installs to /Library/Frameworks and has projects for compiling as a shared library.
Happy downloading!

Google not supporting Opera anymore?

A company's website telling you that it doesn't work with a specific browser version - in most cases with the browser you are currently using - usually is a good sign that this company either has no clue about the web or that it needs a new web developer. Since today, I'm getting the following message from google adwords:
sorry, the new AdWords interface does not work with Opera. We recommend using Firefox 3, Internet Explorer 8, or Chrome to manage your AdWords campaigns. Learn more.
WTF!? I'm not exactly sure, but isn't Google a web company? THE web company? And I'm even paying them for that service, it's not that it is free. There is really no excuse to make this f*cking web interface not working with Opera anymore. Opera usually supports the same or in most cases even more features than most other browsers.

Google, you really can't be serious here. [Yep, I'm a bit angry now. Asked the adwords team for a statement already, but didn't get a response until now]

Not 100% finished flash game - DSDefense

The flash game I developed (recently mentioned) is now - since the main menu was finished this weekend - ready to be played. It would be nice if you could try this out and give me your feedback. Simply click the link below to start the game directly here on my blog or start it in a big bigger resolution on the Darkness Springs website:

The game is a mixture of real-time strategy and defense game, and settled in the Darkness
universe for a simple reason: I was able to simply reuse the graphics of Darkness Springs. It also shares the iso rendering, menu system and AI code with that role playing game, so it wasn't that much work.
But I'm not sure about the gameplay yet, so any constructive feedback is welcome. If there is some interest, I'll also write some blog posts about the technical details of that game in a following blog post.

Mass Effect

Some time ago, I bought the rpg Mass Effect. Played through the first few levels and really liked the environment rendered by the Unreal Engine 3, especially the dialog scenes with the nice character models, the lightning and the tracking shots (wondering if the movement of the characters and cameras during the dialogs were scripted or generated on the fly, btw).

The game felt quite boring in the beginning, and unfortunately, still after playing 3 or 4 hours, it kept being boring. I thought I'm simply getting old, having played through dozens of RPGs already. But googling for "Mass Effect Boring" reveiled that I'm not the only one with this feeling.

Now, the DVD is lying next to my screen for several months already, and I didn't feel motivated to put it into the DVD drive again, until now. I hope this is really the fault of that game, and I'm not getting too old to enjoy playing computer games. :)

Designing Game Menus

One of my hobbies is - you might have noticed it already - creating complete computer games for fun, including programming the whole thing, composing the music and even creating the graphics (Not to be confused with the fact that I am working on real computer games as freelancer from time to time). Recently, I found it interesting to develop flash games using Adobe Flex, and maybe you've even played my last game Darkness Springs already.

One problem I always have when creating such games is the main menu and the user interface in general. The problem is that in games, you usually don't have standard UI components, and you are completely free to design the game dialogs. But all this freedom is actually making it more difficult: In a lot of games, this is resulting in ridiculous complicated UIs, UIs where you have no idea where you have to click at to get the result you want.

The image above shows the map selection screen in a new game I am currently working on when I have time for it. It's not a screenshot of the actual game, but a image composed using Paint.NET, which helps me to think about how the menu will look like when it is implemented. Painting game menus before implementing them really helps and avoids a lot of work.
This is now the 3rd iteration of the screen, and I think I can implement it now as it looks like. Maybe I'll finish this game up very soon afterwards, it has been idling around on my hard disk for too long already.

Link Exchanges

Is it just me or are those request-for-a-link-exchange mails getting out of control? It started slowly, but currently I'm getting quite a lot of such requests. Hope this is just summer, and most people owning websites don't have anything to do...

Game Soundtrack Quiz 7

It's been a while since the last one, but welcome to the 7th game sound track quiz on this blog. Your task: Hit the play button and recognize which computer game this is:

Which game is it?
It's not really a hint, but this one is my all time favourite computer game until today.


This week I used an editor and had to make some changes with it in a small project. It was a repeating task with a lot of small changes and at the end of each iteration the editor did a tiny small thing different from what I was expecting it to do. Nothing big, but after each change, it became more annoying.

At the 5th or 6th edit, this glitch became really annyoing and I wanted to scream angrily: "What stupid lame programmer wrote this f*cking part of that editor!?"

This was when I stopped, and remembered: "OMG. That was me."
In fact, I had implemented that part of the editor years ago and it was totally my fault. Too bad.
At least I was able to fix this problem afterwards :)

Irrlicht 1.5.1 Released!

irrlicht logo I just uploaded Irrlicht version 1.5.1 to the sourceforge servers. This version contains a lot of bugfixes and corrections, but also some few new features: Support for range fog in OpenGL, improved X11 support, Better .x, STL and Collada file loading, terrain rendering using hw buffers and a lot of bug fixes and corrections.
Thanks to all people involved in this project, especially the irrlicht team doing all the hard work. Always nice to have a new release out.
Happy downloading!