Steam refunds aren't the end of the world

So Valve now allows you to get refunds on Steam games, provided you have played them for less than 2 hours. This has obviously sparked a lot of discussion as to whether this is a good thing for players and developers. One thing that really rubbed me the wrong way was this blog on Gamasutra where the phrase "refund privilege" is tossed about. For a start, in many countries it is the law, your legal right, to be able to refund a product you are not satisfied with.

How to use GLSL shaders to create a damage flash effect

You know the effect, seen in tons of classic games -- an enemy flashes white to indicate they have taken damage. An example from my own game Tiny Robot Justice Squad which is on Steam Greenlight can be seen below:

Launching on Greenlight at last

So this week I launched my game on Steam Greenlight and released a trailer:

Obligatory end-of-year blog post

So I thought I would write a post talking about the progess I've made, and some of the things I've learned over the past few months. Everyone else seems to be doing it, and I'd hate to be accused of being the kind of person that does not follow trends.

Making progress by doing nothing

I recently took a (unplanned) hiatus from game development. Partly due to my actual, real-world person job and responsibilities eating up a lot of my time, but also due to illness. Over the last couple of days I sat down and had a proper look at the state of the game, and it was really weird that I noticed all of these little things that I hadn't seen before -- glitches, gameplay problems, stuff that needed tightening up etc. I came to the conclusion that you can get quite blinded to these things if you sit and work on something constantly, as I had been doing previous to this.

GFYs: Why you should be using them, and how you can make them!

So since I started developing my stupid game I've been posting GFYs of it. I am a massive advocate of this format, and I think more people should use it. Sadly I don't see a whole lot of uptake, and oftentimes I see people using animated gifs or YouTube videos where GFYs would be way better. So I thought I would write something up to advocate and argue for their use, and also explain the technical steps I take in order to make them myself, so anyone reading this might get a headstart.

Work work

So this week I started doing something that I found to be very, very useful: I have been reading Steam reviews for games that are similar to mine in order to get a feel for what players feel those games did right, and what they did wrong. I read reviews for a few games that looked very good, but were (apparently) executed poorly and received very low ratings. Luckily I've so far managed to avoid many of the things people complained about in the reviews, but there have been a few things that have given me pause for thought.

Things are getting exciting

I had a minor freakout the other day when I realised how much content needs to be created for this silly little game. Watching video game playthroughs of old Amiga games, and episodes of Adventure Time, made me think about all the awesome visual elements and polish that probably took someone hours and hours to design and realise, only for it to be visible on screen for ten seconds or so. Then I had a good two days or so of solid work where I finished about 50% of the second level of the game.

A good week

So I built some boss behaviours, drew some guns, fixed a lot of bugs, and realised I'm about a boss away from having a finished first level.

Guns are hard: Notes on designing a weapons system

I think I've come to the conclusion that designing a set of weapons for the game is like playing a musical instrument -- it's not important what notes you play, it's the notes you don't play that are interesting. It's the gaps, the intervals, between different weapons that make the whole system something interesting.

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