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Why Service monopolies are bad for your business, and how to avoid them.

It's like you spent your life savings building a house with rented bricks, and now the price of the bricks is going up. Unless you want to rebuild your house, you have no option but to pay the price demanded of you.
Today the idea of games as a service is growing. But not everyone thinks that might be a good idea. Why is the service model so attractive to developers, retailers and publishers and why might it be bad news for you, as an indie developer or a player of video games?

What is "Monopoly?"

A monopoly is when there is only one seller of a commodity. That seller is able to manipulate prices since buyers have no alternative source of that commodity. A similar and related system (oligopoly) is when there are just a few sellers who work together to influence prices for their own benefit. Both systems have almost the same outcome as far as customers are concerned.



Everyone knows the board game; In 1903, an American woman named Elizabeth Magie invented an educational game…
Recent posts

Alpha line up.

Right now the line up of tanks and vehicles for the alpha version of the game is being worked on. This version won't have the custom vehicle builder, but will be a chance to get people to play test the basic combat engine and get feedback on tactics and game play improvements that need to be made.

The first line up is for Vinland:
It's 1936 and military designs are not well advanced. The Vinland line up includes a couple of big tanks, these are not well armored and while robust and fairly reliable for the time, they have under powered guns and engines.

Some light tanks are a little better. Their smaller size allows for a little more armor and their small caliber guns have good penetration and rate of fire.

For artillery guns, they have a useful 60mm general purpose gun which makes a good antitank gun for the period. Just one of these will make quick work of any enemy tank, but they are heavy and not easily relocated. There is a short barreled 75mm support gun, not real artil…

No Logo

I saw some amazing logos today on the Indie Game Developer page on Facebook. I was inspired to make a splash screen for my own game.

I'm not much of a graphic designer, I trained for it, but I fell out of practice. So today I wanted to put my arm to work drawing up a page which will display when the game starts:
It was fun making the "Celtic" knot type decorations. There's a certain geometrical genius to how they are made, I'd love to understand exactly the maths behind how to generate them. It was hard drawing them by hand.

I learned a lot from this exercise, for example, don't design your logo with the final bounds you intend to display it. It's easy to cut down a larger composition, but it's impossible to uncrop a smaller, unbalanced one.

EDIT:
I darkened some elements to bring the text in to main focus:


Play Test Write-up Number 2

The second play test of the Alpha build went well, lasting about 30 minutes of real play before an unexpected crash. There were a number of small issues and things that need to be re-balanced, but overall, the game was great fun.

When comparing to the real-time version of the game from 6 months ago, there is a marked improvement is fun, and real moments of excitement, at least for this play tester.
The mission chosen was one with multiple small groups of enemies scattered around the map. The player had limited artillery and air support, one unit of each. Both sides had a combat support unit for de-buffing opposing troops, and the enemy also had a general support unit for buffing friendly troops.
A short time limit meant that the player had to split their troops to tackle several objectives at once. This made the mission quite interesting as several small combat arenas were active simultaneously. The small map size (32x32) wasn't a problem, it never felt that cramped, and at times,…

Particle Tests 2018

With the infantry mostly done, work continues on the particle system.
Some of the particle elements have been migrated from the old project. But some parts have been reworked.

If you don't have a particle debugging tool in your game, I suggest adding one. It's great to be able to "paint" with particles at the mouse cursor. It saves a lot of time. Instead of adding a unit to the map and having it shoot at another unit, different particle effects can simply be mapped to keyboard keys and dropped on to the map at will.

The particles are arranged like this:

[hit particle]
----[sound particle]
----for i in range(amount):
--------[smoke particles]
--------[fire particles]
--------[spark particles]
----[crater particle]

In the main code we can just call a ShellExplosion(target_position, size=6) to place a particle and let it control all subsequent values and sub particles.

Infantry Tests 2018

Infantry are being added back in to the game. The sprites look great, even though they are really small. They seem to suit the turn based gameplay better than the real time version of the game.



There will be some more previews over the next week as more functionality is added. Particles and decals are being added back in to the game as well, much of the code and graphics are reused from the earlier version of the project, which helps to save time.

New Worlds Part 2

There are still some thing to add to the terrain set, but its mostly finished for now. It's really great to have a fully featured level editor so that the map elements can be tested right away. No messing around with modifying text files or external programs. Just switch modes and paint.
The terrain has achieved the appearance I aimed for, which is similar to a table top gaming board. I never wanted a photo real game environment, and I'm happy with the way it has turned out. It reminds me of bonsai trees or miniature gardens.
It is quite obviously tile based, there's no getting around that, but it's important in any case, since otherwise it could be difficult to know where units can move or not as well as guessing lines of sight.
Most of the techniques I've used here are things I tried before, but I never got them looking so nice or running so well. Drain on the graphics card is negligible at this point. The shader works really well.
The movement shader and fog of …