Well, now’s your chance to catch up!
I was interviewed by the awesome Man vs. Game on the Indie Dev Supershow, who managed to keep a coherent conversation going while racking up some impressive Hyper Gauntlet runs (and one bug found, yay!). It was a great experience, and the first time my ultra-posh voice has graced the internet airwaves. You’d be a fool to miss it.
It’s been a fairly slow time for me, as you may have noticed. I managed to annihilate my development PC over the Christmas period, and had to send it off for repairs. Turns out I’d fried the motherboard, and my processor wouldn’t fit the new one. Consequently I’m now rocking a pretty powerful new i7 and a large solid state drive. This computer fully boots Windows 8.1 before my monitor has woken itself up. Amazing.
Additionally, I’ve been very quiet on the article front. Sorry about that, it’s become very difficult working on Hyper Gauntlet while keeping the energy to write detailed blog posts. As such, I’ve decided to change my posting schedule a little. From now on you’ll get updates every Saturday (although I’ll probably aim for a time like 3PM GMT instead of this late), which will detail the progress I’ve made on Hyper Gauntlet, etc. Expect screenshots, videos, and detailed bug reports. In addition to this, I’ll try to post some more in-depth articles when I can. This draws the focus of this website away from the technical matters and towards the games, which is something I always intended.
So here’s a quick update: work continues on Hyper Gauntlet, and I’ve swapped out a few of the old systems with newer, shinier, more advanced ones which let me take control of the various systems in much more detail. It also means adding new features later will be a piece of cake.
All new features are complete, and all that remains is bug fixing. Not too many to go now. Expect a new build as soon as I’m satisfied with it, and then a release!
Speaking of releases, Noble Kale – a friend of mine – has just released his awesome rogue-like mining game Quarries of Scred on itch.io. The game is great fun and now you can get it for a discounted price, so what are you waiting for?
It’s been a big year for me. Udell Games did not even exist in January, and yet here we are with a website, a domain name, some content and a heap load of free games! In the last six months I have been incredibly productive. Here’s a look back on everything that’s happened over 2013 as we look forward to 2014.
The star of the show! Hyper Gauntlet started as nothing more than an idle play around while bug fixing the next big release of Fuse Breaker (my bad). I imagined a game with a third person camera, similar to Temple Run, and a character running and jumping over obstacles. I nixed that idea though, when I realised that being able to see the player meant not being able to see the coming obstacles. I tinkered for maybe 3-4 days, and ended up with a build that is remarkably similar to the one you can play today.
Well, except the UI perhaps.
I submitted that build (then called Speedrun) to Reddit’s GameDev Feedback Friday post, and it garnered a lot of praise. Besides the UI, people liked its punishing nature, how fast it felt, and how addictive it was. I felt like I was on to something and after a week of continued development, decided to shelve Fuse Breaker. A few weeks passed and interest waned. People were still enjoying it, but there wasn’t enough changing for them to feel the need to pick it up properly.
Meanwhile I made friends on Reddit and Twitter. Noble Kale, who runs an excellent website with guides on empire building, pointed out a dire problem – one that I’d been aware of but hesitant to change – the name. If you google “Speedrun Game”, as you might imagine, you are swamped with videos and articles about people attempting to beat a game as quickly as possible (“speedrunning” it). This pushed my poor little arcade game back ten or twenty pages in the search results, and nobody tends to look past page 1. Not one to rest on his laurels, Kale immediately offered to help “fix this” and started brainstorming like no tomorrow. Eventually we reached a couple of options. I liked “Hyper Gauntlet”, but he was a strong advocate for “Nozzlethruster” (which I figured might have slightly too much innuendo).
I decided to make a compromise. Go with Hyper Gauntlet, but keep “Nozzlethruster” in the subtitle. It’s eye catching and I can’t help but smile any time a journalist talks about it, and that’s the story of how Speedrun came to be Hyper Gauntlet: Legacy of Nozzlethruster III.
More releases, and more positive responses from Feedback Friday, coupled with all the indie dev blogs’ incessant harping on the subject of marketing finally gave me the courage to give my little darling to the brave new world of reviews. I scraped email addresses and contact details from as many sites as I could find, in any language I could just about parse. I crafted an email to every one of them (all right, I kind of cheated. I had a base message and I personalised it for each person I emailed Any email that began with editors@ however didn’t get the personal touch), hit the magnificent send button and waited with hot breath baited for the Google alerts to pile in.
I got my first response the next day. Surprised and groggy, I woke up to read that the ever great Chris Priestman over on Indie Statik had picked up on my email and played the game, and what’s more he seemed to like it! It floored me. The first piece of media notice for Hyper Gauntlet was positive! I felt like I floated down the stairs to tell my girlfriend. I’d had a sneaking suspicion, all along, that I was secretly the only person who liked Hyper Gauntlet, that perhaps people were just being kind to me because it was my first real game, or because I’d posted it myself to Reddit. I think every dev feels this, and probably every creator. The deep, insidious doubt that what you’ve made isn’t good enough. A hyper-awareness of your project’s every flaw. I knew that Hyper Gauntlet still had bugs, it didn’t have much in the way of replay value. It didn’t even have a High Score table then, and yet here they were, professional games journalists, talking about my game as if it was somehow worthy.
And then in came the Rock Paper Shotgun article.
I’d tried every major outlet, Joystiq got an email, PC Gamer got an email, Rock Paper Shotgun, everybody did. I didn’t expect any responses at all, but as the SAS will remind you: He who dares, wins. And I won that day. In an article titled simply, “HYPER GAUNTLET”, Nathan Grayson wrote about my game as if it were haunting poetry. I was overcome with a levity and sense of unbelievable warmth reading that article, there were genuine tears of joy in my eyes and if I could float before then now I was practically on my way to the Moon. I’d been reading RPS for over three years and there I was, on their front page. What’s more is it was picked up and redirected all over the globe. Hyper Gauntlet was worldwide.
With the hot fire of recognition burning at my soul, I set to work outlining exactly what needed to be done to bring Hyper Gauntlet to release. Since that day, there have been some major releases: power ups, the vignette system and the high score boards, and we’ve bolted closer and closer to the finish line. According to my list I have only one item remaining. Excellent!
So what happened then? The PSU on my development PC died. My computer can now no longer boot up for longer than three seconds. Thankfully, all of my code is backed up on Bitbucket, and I’m still able to get a hold of Hyper Gauntlet. Unfortunately my laptop is slow. I can add new code to projects, but bug fixing is a pipe dream. I’m doing my best, but now the best bet is to just get my old machine back up and running. Luckily a friend of mine runs a computer shop and is offering to do the fix for free in exchange for a copy of Hyper Gauntlet when it’s done, so all is not lost.
What does the near future hold? A fixed PC, that last bug shattered and a major announcement! Watch this space.
I’ve swapped iTween for HOTween over the last week because I managed to make iTween cause persistent crashes to desktop and the fault wasn’t my code. Additionally HOTween is allegedly faster, and I’m hoping to bring Hyper Gauntlet to mobile someday soon.
Swapping the tweening platforms out has created some interesting scenarios though. Whereas iTween will intelligently rotate an object by -30 degrees instead of 330 degrees, HOTween consistently will only rotate in one direction. I’m sure there’s a long debate about which one is better, but suffice to say a lot of situations where my code has made use of iTween’s intelligence are now broken. One such time is when you pass obstacles in Hyper Gauntlet. The screen shakes, and I fake this by rapidly rotating the camera towards a passed block, which simulates whipping your head back in the slipstream of the obstacles. With the new tweening system, this does not always work properly.
Note: DO NOT watch this video if you suffer from photosensitive epilepsy, motion sickness or anything else triggered by rapid movement.