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sonrisu
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 01, 2008 4:45 pm    Post subject: Development Log - Zep's Dreamland iPhone Reply with quote

So, you may have been wondering what I've been up to for a while. There haven't been any updates to Neverfall, and I haven't announced anything. Well, I guess now I am announcing something: Zep's Dreamland for the iPhone!

I've been working on this in "secret" for about a month now. Actually, to be exact, this marks the 30th day this project has been alive. My baby is almost a month old. Aww! It's been a wild ride up until now, mostly like I've been working two jobs. The major functionality is in, and I have a few key items that are left to touch up. I figured it's about time I give an announcement regarding it because it will eventually come out soon. I don't have a set date for when it will be released.

If you're interested in a daily breakdown of the work I did over the course of the past 30 days, you can so so at this listing. Converting it all into board lists would be a PITA, so you get a static page. Note that I won't be updating this list, so the first 30 days is all you get in that format. I may or may not post the days from then on in this development log. Depends if people find it interesting or not.

I put together a short video (3:05) detailing how the game works and some of the new features. This is running in the simulator, so the actual performance varies from what you'd see on the phone. In particular, any time a new song loads there's a bit of a delay, and every once in a while the logic needs to play catchup. zd tech demo (~30mb / please be nice to my webserver -- if I get way too much bw hogging due to people constantly reloading instead of downloading it initially and rewatching it later, I'll remove the video). Note that I hacked this together in roughly 30 minutes, so the voice over has its flaws. The video is only for everyone here at the GDR community, so there will obviously be a nicer more professional video once the game is done.

Zep's Dreamland is my baby, and now that there will be more than one of them they have their own website at zepsdreamland.com. It's a work in progress, any suggestions appreciated.

Things left to do:
  • Replace dummy graphics (like in the stats screen)
  • "Fill in" all the original levels that were ported to not have "borders"
  • Create a new set of levels (aiming for 50)
  • Little polish items here and there
  • Fix animation timings (everything runs super fast)
  • Update website (move links from ls.net to zd.com)
  • Other assorted tidbits not worth mentioning on their own


It's a shame not many people here can play it, but I'm still accepting criticisms and ideas even garnered off what you've seen in the video and on the website. If need be, I'll post some screenshots here, too, so you can get a feel for some of the other things. My main area of concern is with control, so that will obviously be tough for anyone without the hardware to give feedback on. In any case, any comments/criticism/etc is greatly appreciated.

Amazing to believe that I achieved this much in a short 30 days. Yow! Definitely a lot of work. Part of me is yearning to get its life back. :)
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Gil
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 01, 2008 6:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm still downloading the video, but I'd like to say I'm not really surprised :). I knew you were creating an iPhone game and the obvious guess would be zep's dreamland. I was kinda waiting when you'd tell us :)
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sonrisu
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 01, 2008 6:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The signs were pretty obvious, right? I was hoping at least one person here would be picking up on all the clues and recognize that this was totally going to happen. :) Kudos to you. Dropping the little hints were fun. Of course, there were other times where it was impossible to be subtle that I was doing iPhone stuff.

In any case, I forgot to add that if anyone wants to make a reasonably sized level set (at least 10 levels or more), you can feel free to do so using the original ZD game and I can port them over to the new larger size. Unfortunately, it's impossible to make new levels since you need the phone version in order to be able to test them out. Mikedoty already has a set this size (evil levels). I may very well port those as an additional level pack (if that's alright with him. Mike?)
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PoV
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 01, 2008 8:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Woot! Movie!

Looking good! :D
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sonrisu
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 01, 2008 9:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks. Not much else to do except create new levels at this point and work out any graphical glitches with text that is simply too long. I ditched the story element in this version to make it more "pick up and play".
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PoV
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 01, 2008 9:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, there can always be a story in the sequel.

Keep up the goods. You might be on track to finish by the end of the year! :D
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sonrisu
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 02, 2008 4:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was actually wondering if I should hold off until at least January 1st. That way I wouldn't have to deal with having to do any taxes related to sales that might only exist for a short time span of a week or so. Let's face it, there's no way I'm going to churn out 50 playable, working, good, difficult levels in two weeks.
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PoV
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 02, 2008 8:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The earliest one could get paid is 2 weeks after a month, for a month. So I think that'll end up in the middle of January at the earliest. Plus, you need to earn $250 in a region, which might be tough for 2-3 days. ;)

Of course, you can always submit early and schedule it for a new years release. ;)
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sonrisu
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 02, 2008 8:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

All good points. Still not ready for submission. Need to pump out those levels. Many people are telling me to hold off, but I really want to tout over 100 levels at launch. I wanted the original game to do that, and I only had 40 there. It would be so great to redeem that one "failure" with this new release! :)
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 02, 2008 11:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sounds like a plan. Go for it. :D
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n29
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 02, 2008 8:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Looks great!

100 levels? You're crazy, you need to 'under sell and over deliver' ie promise twenty levels and then ship 40... Surprise! 20 Bonus levels!

Or when you cut the price from 4.99 to 2.99 AND include 40 levels instead of 20? Holy Christ that's a hell of a bargain!

Those iStore iFools with the iMonies will never know the difference, and the iProfit will be all iYours....
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PoV
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 03, 2008 3:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There's always updates too. Could start at 50, and grow over time.
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sonrisu
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 03, 2008 4:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I plan on growing over time. If anything, I want at least 20 or so original, new, and iPhone specific levels. The undersell and overdeliver works if people are actually waiting for the release, but I'm under the (probably very correct) assumption that people will simply notice Zep's Dreamland on the store and that's it. I won't be doing a super huge push for a release date. Most likely I'll put more of a push once it's actually out there.
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PoV
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 03, 2008 6:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Even though it's just a date, being able to say you finished (and/or released) a commercial iPhone game in 2008 would be a really classy way to top off the year. ;)

20 original levels sounds good. Quality over quantity and all.
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sonrisu
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 03, 2008 8:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Day 32 (2008.12.03)
* Fixed a bug in SuperMissile for right click detection on 1 button mice on Macs
* Did some icon retooling
* Fixed up the background images to remove creases on texture wrapping
* Created 3 new levels (3-5)
* Fixed a bug where you could walk through blocks moving left if tunnels were positioned in just the right spot
* Fixed link to puppy linux build on zd.com

Day 31 (2008.12.02)
* Touch up to the main font (weird clipping)
* Changed level set completion rate to a percentage instead of "X of Y" notation
* Created 2 new levels (1-2)
* Started looking into what it takes to actually sell an app for money and loathe to see there's a bunch of tax-related things to do

Day 30 (2008.12.01)
* Announced publicly that I'm working on Zep's Dreamland iPhone
* Created short video for GDR members
* Updated website
* Fixed a bug in SuperMissile that would prevent texture drawing if a mode wasn't set in the editor
* Filled in the empty border for levels 1-40 (classic)
* Filled in the empty border for levels 1-10 (forgotten dreams)
* Fixed level statistics page background and formatting

I'm too lazy to make proper phpBB lists. So annoying/tedious. Anyhow, progress over the past few days (most recent is at top, if you're careful enough to read). Simply churning away on those levels at this point, and ironing out any bugs I find in the process. Wooha!
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 03, 2008 8:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

SuperMissile is back! :)
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sonrisu
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 04, 2008 4:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

SuperMissile's been around forever. I didn't realize it had "gone somewhere!" To straighten out any misconceptions though, I am not using Smissile code for Zep's Dreamland iPhone (the actual game). It's the editor (not to be distributed) that uses Smilssile as its back end. :)
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 04, 2008 12:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just hadn't heard stories of teh missile in some time... or I suck at reading. ;)
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sonrisu
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 04, 2008 12:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's only because it finally hit that stage where it's stable enough to do most of what I want, and only requires minor changes here and there. Win!
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 04, 2008 12:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Win indeed. Go libraries! :D
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sonrisu
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 04, 2008 7:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ouch. Feeling some level burnout already. So far I've managed to create 6 new maps. I consider that a pretty good achievement over 3 day's work of working time. Remember that there were days, maybe even full weeks when working on the original game where I just simply couldn't come up with anything at all.

I have a bunch of "could be's" for level 7 right now, but each of them has their own weak point that is difficult to fix without completely altering the map (and thus changing its complexity and difficulty level [usually to something much too easy]).

Just random thought process and stuff/etc. Figured I'd share as I try not to give up and get at least one more level done. If I make it to 7 complete tonight I will be happy!
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 04, 2008 7:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah. Having to make puzzles sucks. That's why I keep trying to conceptually push back iPuffBOMB. :)
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sonrisu
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 04, 2008 7:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Don't think I'll have a complete level 7 by the end of night tonight. Long day, totally unrelated, and totally stuff I cannot talk about to the public (work related). I have something fairly challenging in the works now, but the level is about 1/2 filled. I have the other 1/2 of the puzzle to flesh out. Probably need to clear my mind and attack this with fresh ideas that aren't closely related to what I've already done in this level set.

One is better than none, right? :)
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 04, 2008 7:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Don't feel bad about taking it easy for a couple days. You crunched the game to nearly Alpha in a month, in addition to a day job. That's a notable accomplishment in and of itself.

Nothing wrong with taking "research" days too. Play some similar genre games, or polar opposites to get the brain juices flowing. Lost Vikings, Lolo, Jump Man, Jetpack. Stuff! :)
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sonrisu
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 04, 2008 8:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was falling asleep looking at the level and thinking of a way to make it work just right when I posted that last message. Then I jumped into the editor and it's like I gained a second wind full of insight and wisdom + 1. While level 7 isn't "prettified" yet, I just finished up the base layout of a very challenging level. It feels good to have done two levels (that was my goal, 2 per day if there wasn't any coding to do).

And as for taking it easy, I think I will stick by what I've been doing so far: taking weekends off and cramming on the weekdays. It has actually worked surprisingly well for me so far (as you can see). I wonder how long I can keep up two levels, or more, per (work) day. At that rate I'll have 20 in no time.

Day 33 (2008.12.04)
* Fixed a bug where exiting the map after walking off a crumble block would cause the crumble to destroy in the next map
* Created 2 new level (6, 7)
* Banking related items in preparation for app submittal
* Tweaked animations for exit and portals

And that's a wrap for day 33.

[On a side note, Keeping a daily log and making a bullet list of everything I've done is awesome for motivation. Every time I look at the complete list I'm blown away by the progress. Has anyone else tried this?]
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