Preparing for Early-Access

When you’re making a game, of course, it’s hard to tear yourself away from programming to manage stuff like writing. So ignore the date on this entry – this will be about getting the game ready for early access, which happened on 23rd December. (I know details like that because I do actually keep a daily development log detailing what progress has been made each day, it’s just a lot less well-formatted than this.)

Behold! The Bumpmap-creatinator!
Behold! The Bumpmap-creatinator!

In November I made a new, and hopefully the final, iteration of the Bumpmap-creatinator, which is used for rendering the game’s balloon-animal enemies. The first thing I made with it was the UFO enemy, shown in the picture having one of its frames rendered. Next came a logo screen, and a basic opening screen and the font needed to display things in it.

Welcome to the Minus World!

Shortly into December, I started trying to add the balloon animal.  Since I had some slowdown when I had lots of them, I soon found myself profiling and optimising, and feeling that I should try the game under all conditions, I tried compiling the HTML5 version, and found that the game displayed slightly incorrectly – the colours were basically inverted, although not quite, and I spent hours trying to rectify this before realizing that a Chrome plugin was affecting it, and all I had to do was disable that plugin and it worked fine.

In the weeks leading up to releasing an early access version I was mainly making new enemies – which frequently highlighted more bugs with collision detection or rendering, the ironing out of which would actually take up the majority of the time.  For example, it was while making enemies that could jump that I realised that my player could never actually jump high enough to reach the platform above him – he only managed it because, having reached a few pixels below, the bit of code that wouldn’t allow him to be stuck inside the floor pushed him up the extra bit that was necessary.

It reached the day on which I was determined to get the release out, and I still had all the levels to make, the title screen with all it’s illustrations, game-over screens – all the bits of polish needed before a game can really be seen.  And then for it to go on a store, even an early access one, meant taking screenshots, cropping and scaling pictures (of course, every different store wants stuff like your logo in a different picture size from every other store, and usually decline to tell you any of the details of what artwork they’re going to want until you’re filling in the submission form, so you’re always left doing loads of art editing right when you’re tired from a day of getting the game finally ready).

A screenshot of the game, as it was at it's early access release.
And this is the result. This is why you need a daily log – otherwise you can easily think this shouldn’t have taken this long. You forget how much debugging every feature took.

But I made it, which still kind of surprises me (although not all features made the cut – it was supposed to have sound effects at that stage, for instance, which weren’t actually added until a week or so later).  In case you’re reading this and haven’t seen the early access release, you can get it here.  It’s not pretty, but it’s a playable game – to the extent that I keep on getting sucked into playing through levels when I’m supposed to be testing a certain bug-fix. There’s still a lot to be done to make it something that can have any success, and I’ll try to comment on that in my next post.