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Archive for September, 2010

To Do List

I thought I’d post a quick snapshot of part of my “to do” list, to give an insight into how I work.

Basically, I add to the bottom of my “to do” spreadsheet anything that comes to mind that needs doing in the game. Once I’ve implemented it, I write a quick note as to how I did it (including the solutions to any difficulties), tick the task, colour its row green and sort the part of the spreadsheet I’m working on so that all the ticked rows rise to the top.

I include the difficulties because quirks in the system that trip you up and waste your time often have a habit of turning up again some time in the future… usually when you’ve forgotten what it was that you did to solve it the first time! So, a quick scan of the ‘Resolution’ column should present the solution and allow me to tackle the difficulty without delay.

Animal Tracker To Do List Snapshot

Animal Tracker To Do List Snapshot

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Game Music

Having reminded myself about game music in an earlier post, I decided to make a list of old games which had great music.

What makes these more special is the fact that these tunes were created using only three 4-bit audio channels on the Commodore C64 and four 8-bit channels on the Amiga. Through clever programming and timing, the illusion of more channels was achieved, offering a far superior audio experience compared to the earlier ‘plinky-plonk’ game music.

Clicking on a link will open a new tab/window and play the track in YouTube.

Track Artist Format
Commando Rob Hubbard Commodore C64
Crazy Comets Rob Hubbard Commodore C64
Monty on the Run Rob Hubbard Commodore C64
Thing on a Spring Rob Hubbard Commodore C64
Zoids Rob Hubbard Commodore C64
Ocean Loader Martin Galway Commodore C64
Terra Cresta Martin Galway Commodore C64
Cybernoid 2 Jeroen Tel Commodore C64
Alien Breed Allister Brimble Commodore Amiga
Project X Allister Brimble Commodore Amiga
Turrican Chris Huelsbeck Commodore Amiga

I’ll update this entry every now and then whenever I find another track of note. You’ll be able to find it by clicking on the Music category in the side panel.

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Fortunately, it wasn’t an ED-209 giving that command.

When creating a game, there comes a time when you need to decide on what it’s going to be called. Hopefully, people will be calling it ‘brilliant’, ‘fun’ and ‘best game ever’ rather than ‘dull’, ‘boring’ and ‘worst game ever’, but before they can call it any of those, a game needs a name.

Now, as you may have guessed by now, my game is going to be called ‘Animal Tracker’. From it, you may surmise that it has animals in it and there’s some tracking to be done. All good so far. But that would be for nought if by the time I finish the game, someone else had already released a game with that name, forcing me to rename mine. This may or may not be a big deal, depending on whether the words ‘Animal Tracker’ are plastered throughout the game, in particular in pre-rendered graphics, or if any advertising or promotion has already been done using the original name.

So, to prevent a potentially time consuming do-over, once I’d decided on ‘Animal Tracker’ as the final name, I effectively reserved it on the Apple App Store by filling out all the electronic ‘paperwork’ for the game, but I stopped short of actually uploading the game itself (the binary), as it wasn’t (and still isn’t) ready yet. This means that no one else can use the exact same name as the title of their game.

However, you may be able to see a potential problem with this system. Someone could think up hundreds of cool names and reserve them all, just in case they come up with a game to match, but in all probability, they won’t use most of them. So, to prevent app names from being lost forever in limbo, Apple has imposed a 120 day expiry limit to a name reservation, by which time you must either upload a binary or prepare to have the reservation terminated.

Whether I could immediately re-reserve the same name or if I’ll be prevented from doing so for a period of time, I don’t know, but one thing that I do know is that the game won’t be ready by the deadline. Apple frowns upon uploading unfinished apps, so I’m not sure what I’m going to do.

I’ll probably contact Apple within the next couple of weeks and explain the situation, and hopefully they’ll reset the deadline. Otherwise, I’ll upload a bare minimum version of Animal Tracker which I hope will do the trick, before taking it down again until the game is actually ready.

UPDATE:

It’s been some time since I first posted this entry and I now know the answers to these questions.

I did contact Apple, but unfortunately (and I’m afraid unhelpfully) I’m not at liberty to reveal what was said.

However, with regards to what happens if you don’t upload a binary within the time limit, the app name is removed from your account and you cannot re-register the same name for that same account.

Ultimately, if you are sure that you will be submitting your app for public consumption some time in the future, you can indeed upload a binary of your app in its current state and immediately reject it, so that the Apple reviewers don’t waste their time on your unfinished app. This will fulfill the upload requirement.

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It’s been a while since my last post, which may imply that I’ve either been extremely busy… or extemely lazy. Well, it’s actually neither of those. I’ve been fairly busy working on Animal Tracker, but I’ve also been doing other things – in particular learning music theory.

Naturally, I want Animal Tracker to be an enjoyable game – one which I hope people will play not only for the gameplay, but also for the music. Back in the day, many games on home computers, such as the Commodore C64 and Commodore Amiga, had such great music that I’d often load them up, just so I could listen to it whilst I was doing something else. These were the creations of musicians such as Rob Hubbard, Martin Galway, Allister Brimble… who no doubt had years of experience and innate musical talent.

Now, fast forward twenty years or so and Animal Tracker is just around the corner. It’s unlikely that any of the aforementioned artists would be willing to make a soundtrack for my game for free, so no prizes for guessing who’ll end up doing the music… lol Actually, I’m enjoying learning about quasihemidemisemiquavers, perfect fourths, the circle of fifths, etc… and ultimately I hope, all the necessary components of what it takes to compose a killer soundtrack! Stay tuned! ;o)

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