Starting a Dev BlogStarting a Dev Blog

October 17, 2015

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Hey there! I'm starting to dust off this blog and am going to try and post more dev diaries about my work in progress. I'm more of a hobbyist than a serious indie dev so sometimes months can go by without any progress at all, but maybe this will help.

Each week I'll try to post a little "State of the Project" video and just run through the current state of the game. Right now it's pretty bare bones and there’s no shortage of bugs and glitches. But since this is the first dev blog that's to be expected.

My current project has the working title "Tunnelship" for the Apple TV and tvOS. (I’ve actually picked a real title and backstory, more news on that soon). The game is a 3D one-button arcadey cave-flier with a resource trading metagame. That's a mouthful. Fly spaceship through cave, collect stuff, sell it. It's kind of a spiritual sequel to Droppyship, the original Droppyship was more of an engine test and a fun side project because I was really into the flappy bird thing at the time (you were too, admit it). This one going to be hopefully have a little more depth and replay value with the trading metagame, and will also have several ships each with its own mechanic (including the Droppyship of course), and more environments.

My goals for the project are pretty modest. Since this is a hopefully self- sustaining hobby, my financial goal is to make enough to be able to buy the ipad pro. Which is actually a pretty tough goal if you know anything about iOS indie financials -- games on the app store either hit it big or make a few hundred bucks. My technical goal is to prove to myself that the Haxe/Luxe/iOS combination can ship a serious game, this is still pretty uncertain for me right now. And my personal goal is to make a game where the visual quality is equivalent to a AAA console title (but with several orders of magnitude less content). Maybe that's a bit ambitious but I've always been a graphics programmer so that’s where I want to try and push things. Also it’s a lot easier to cheat if I'm just rendering a tunnel and not an open world, right?

What I've done so far

I’m writing this game mostly in Haxe, using the Luxe engine. Luxe doesn't officially support the tvOS target yet, but it's similar enough that the iOS target works with a little hacking. I’ve been tinkering with Haxe/Luxe for almost a year now, mostly for game jam projects, and I’m really falling in love with the haxe language. It’s just so beautifully pragmatic. It’s a language for getting stuff done. Plus you can target the web, which seems like it’s more and more of a requirement these days. Eventually emscripten will probably get us to the point where that’s true of any language (provided you’re careful choosing what libs you build on), but from my experiments it feels like it’s in very much a “proof of concept” phase, whereas the web output I get from Haxe feels like I could ship it today.

So far, over the last month or so, it’s been mostly laying the foundation. I’ve got Luxe running on the Apple TV, including hacking in some support for the MicroGamepad and the GameController framework. I’ve mostly ported the original Droppyship gameplay to Luxe (though it’s missing some minor details, like collisions. :) ) And I’ve started work on the “metagame” screens.

What’s Next

I’ve been accumulating little bugs, and have a handful of crashes and other problems. Most of these I can work around, but I need to take a step back and try and clean them up and get a solid foundation. I’d also like to throw in some debugging/tuning stuff so I might try and drop in IMGUI and maybe see if I can figure out how the hxcpp debugger works. And right now the shaders are a bit broken, I’m not quite at the point where I’m ready to do any serious shader work but maybe at least make it not look like garbage.

But I’ll be happy if the game is pretty much at the same point next week, maybe with the core loop ironed out a little bit, except feeling rock solid, which is does not feel right now. That’s it for this week.

That’s it for this time around. I don’t know if anyone will read this, but maybe it will help me keep on track with dev. I’ll try to post one of these every Saturday-ish. Maybe I’ll try and do some livestreaming of development or something, I’ve been watching a bit of that and it looks pretty fun. Anyways, if you are reading this, and have any questions about the game, or about the tools or tech I’m using, or iOS graphics or app development (cause that’s what I do) or just want to say hi in general, please don’t hesitate to ping me on Twitter at @joeld42, or email. Or I think the comment form on here still works.


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