Free Tools

November 16, 2010

I want to list some of the tools I’m using for the development of Brand Name Space Game in case anyone is interested.  My goal for this game is to have a budget of exactly $0, not counting my time.  To this end, I’m using a number of free and open source tools.

I use Mercurial for version control.  It’s free and it’s convenient to use, especially for a team of one.  Unfortunately, it lacks the ability to lock files, which is a necessity when you’re dealing with binary files that more than one user might edit.  So if I had a full development team with designers and artists, I’d have to come up with a locking solution external to the version control solution, or just use Perforce instead.

For issue and task tracking, I use the free “Student and Startup” version of Fogbugz that is hosted on their servers.  This has been very useful for tracking tasks and I hope touse it for bug tracking as well.  Its method of estimating schedules looks like it will be really useful too, given enough historical data.  I’d like to introduce this tool toa full development team to see if it would help putting together accurate schedules.

I use Gimp to do some light image editing and have found it to be powerful and convenient.I use it primarily to scale images, modify colors, and add transparency, so it doesn’t need to do an awful lot, but it fits my needs perfectly.

I use Audacity for audio editing, although I don’t do too much.  I usually just need to convert from stereo to mono or to cut out parts of sounds and Audacity works fine for that.  For sample rate conversion, I use the command line tool sox, which is great for doing batch processing on audio files.

I use the Tiled editor from mapeditor.org to edit 2D tile maps.  This tool has been great to use, especially since it transitioned from Java to C++.  It makes it really easy to create tile maps and the export format is convenient to use, although I did write a converter to take the XML and turn it into binary data that the game reads.

For text display in the game, I have my own font format.  I built some tools using FreeType 2(to render TrueType fonts to bitmaps) and DevIL (to convert bitmap data to PNG image data).

I use gnu make to build the webOS version of the app and Visual Studio 2008 to build a Windows version for testing.  I use the Visual Studio 2008 editor to edit source code.

Welcome

November 16, 2010

This blog is intended to track the development of Inertia 360 games.I started Inertia 360 to develop mobile games in my spare time.  I plan to blog a little about my background and development process, but mostly I’d like to share information about the game(s).

Check out the Inertia 360 website at http://www.inertia360.com.

I’m currently developing a space game called Brand Name Space Game for the Palm Pre,Pre Plus, and Pre 2.  I may end up supporting the Pixi and Pixi Plus but I don’t have a test device so I’m currently concentrating on the Pre series.

The current state of the game is pre-Alpha.  In this case, that means that I have an engine, some gameplay logic, and a few levels, but not a complete game.  It’s in a state where I’d like to start testing, but I don’t have any QA resources of my own.  My plan is to release it to Palm’s Beta feeds fairly soon.  I’d like to have the following implemented for the first release (which I’ll call an Alpha release even though it’ll be in the Beta feeds):

  • A training stage plus (approximately) 6 gameplay stages and 2 boss stages.
  • An auto-save feature that allows you to pick up at the start of the level you left off.
  • A website with information about the game, including screenshots, and discussion forums.
  • An issue tracking system in place.
  • A way for users to email feedback conveniently.
  • A way for users to email crash dumps.

I currently have all these things ready to go except a couple gameplay stages and a second boss.  I’m working on filling in some new enemy types and the second boss before releasing things.  When those are implemented, the game will have enough in it to get some meaningful testing (game testing and bug testing) done.  The levels are quite small, so there won’t be any more than about 10 minutes of gameplay.

After the Alpha release (hopefully someone will give some feedback on crashes or serious usability issues), I plan to release a Beta with a lot more levels and bug fixes.  I only get a few hours a week to work on the game, so the release schedule is going to be drawn out,unfortunately.

After Beta, I’ll release in the App Catalog if approved by Palm.  I don’t yet know if I want to release an ad-based free game or charge for it.  I expect it’ll be a small game, but I hope people find it find.  As Beta approaches, I’ll have to decide whether I think people will be willing to pay for it.