War Mages is out on the Play Store!



It’s been one hell of a month. Since starting over in the 18th it’s been non-stop go go go to get this thing up and running.

Overall I’m really pleased with how well it turned out. I have a lot of little secondary features I want to add to it, but I think I need a week to recover.

It will be an interesting thing to see if the game finds any kind of an audience, I’m not aware of there being a whole lot of multi-player games on a single tablet yet.  However I think that it will be one of those kinds of genres where people can pop down for 5 – 10 min with a friend while waiting for the bus and play a game.

Time will tell.


Tough decision made.  The original planned February game isn’t going to happen.

The Bad News

As I rapidly approached the mid-month mark I realized that I had actually made Anti-progress… I had started out with working off of the base Jan game  and broken it to the point where  it no longer had sound, and was actually unbeatable as that would crash it.  And I hadn’t even finished adding a single new feature (other than preparing to get the Spine actors put into place)

Then to add insult to injury I found out about Impire, which comes out tomorrow.  It looks an awful lot like what I want my game to be, except with a helluva larger budget, and that was pretty damn demotivating.

So I moped, and pondered and had a couple beers.

The Good News

At this point I started going back through my mental pile of old abandoned games to see if there was something that I can make work and turn into a game in 2 weeks.  And by golly I didn’t have to go far. My original blog post, in fact.  It’s time to do BombBots over again.. except in a fantasy theme this time, on a tablet, in 2d.  Oh and finished, seeing as I never finished the Second Life version (LUA server implementation problems), or the Torque Version (TGB never solidified into what I needed).  So the goal, is to turn it into a 2 player on 1 tablet/mobile device game.  Who knows.. maybe it’ll work out and be fun.

So the awesome thing is that just being ok with trashing the original idea really got me re-invigorated again.  So perhaps the Drakkheim games this year will just be all little experiments and then I’ll see what sticks before committing to some grand master plan and in the meanwhile I’ll have a chance to build up a good re-usable codebase and master all the tools I want to.


January Postmortem

Going to keep this short and sweet, can’t stop and reflect too much.

What went right:

  • Web editor –  having a web editor where I can make changes and just re-launch a level for testing was incredibly useful
  • Music – the non repeating drumtrack for in game music works really well wit the musical queues
  • Title screen fire – Damnit particles just make me happy.
  • Pathfinding and combat –  while it’s not the most dynamic combat (see what went wrong) it’s fairly well balanced.
  • Flexibilty of code – adding new UI elements and restructuring how combat works 4 days from launch and not a glitch.
  • Game website – Im really happy with the new website.

What went wrong:

  • World rendering – having to re-write the world map rendering took a whole weekend of progress and as such required that things like traps, and ranged combat got cut. no Elves or Kobold archers.
  • Fun – the last minute changes to combat really improved the moment to moment gameplay elements, but really it’s not something you’ll be playing over and over.
  • lack of animation – lack of variety – essentially more time to create art assets would have been really nice.   I have a feeling this will be a recurring theme.
  • Broken analytics –  I totally messed up and forgot to install analytics on the website until 4 days after launch.. so I have no idea if anyone has even played it.

That’s it for now.


Day 27 – Weekly Update

Another long week.  I’m finding as the game gets tighter and tighter I’m spending more and more time re-doing things that don’t work.  While they make the game better, it’s not ‘fun’.  Mainly it’s actually pretty depressing to throw away hours and hours of work.   This is the part of the project where I guess  I usually get bored/frustrated and stop.  But Not this time.. This time I’m too damn close!  New Playable builds available here:

So what did get accomplished?

Bug Fixes

Lots and lots of bugs  and glitches. Revisions to prevent button click through and proper input handling seem to have been the biggest culprit.  The most common rendering bug / crash bugs centered around parts of the rendering loop continuing even if the monsters, enemies or any of the other arrays change size to 0 or trying to access things after starting to switch to the victory / loss screens.

Game Balance

So as of last week.. it wasn’t any fun.  Because once you discovered you can stack units and stack 3 or so units they’d instakill anything they encounter.  So the player winds up making a stack and then just sitting back and not doing anything.  This was because monster combat is resolved first.  So I changed that.  Even though stacks can still instakill most things, the attacks are calculated simultaneously.  This  suddenly meant that you have to constantly manage your monsters.  Which lead to a HUGE Problem.  How do you select a monster in the middle in a stack.    That leads us to ……

InGame UI Changes


A major revision to the in-game UI made it much easier to keep track of your monsters.   The only downside is that you now are limited to 20 monsters.  (I’ve never even come close to that, so this shouldn’t be a problem.   I also was able to tack on simple little health indicators beneath then portraits.  All of a sudden things were a million times more fun. Then a quick tweak to the map renderer means that I can now reserve the bottom part of the screen to prevent sending creatures to whatever is beneath the UI.   This alternate method of selecting units has a second unexpected benefit,  It’s playable on Android again!!!!  ok so no android build today, due to a some more event click through issues… but that should be fixable.

Tack on some interface sounds and things feel much more crunchy.

Base Levels

The base levels are in place.  Still need to tweak the hell out of them


Particle Friday

so over at someone started a particle Friday event.  The intent being, blow off development and put in place some gratuitous particles.  So I did, on the home screen, there’s now Fire.

Whats Left

Ok.. seriously.. with 4 days left..  too much.   So the real question  What Essential things are you missing?

That list, luckily, is much shorter.

  • Combat Sounds
  • Level tweaks and balance
  • Right Click / Drag issue that can cause monsters to go to unintended places.

Day 24 – Mid Week update

Today is officially the 7 day mark.

Holy hell, that’s not a lot of time to get the last stuff done.

BUT, the last few days have been pretty productive, I must say.

  • Music is in, particularly proud of the main level background music manager that has a pool of music tracks and randomly assembles them together on the fly.
  • Removed a bunch of the debugging information and such making things run a bit smoother
  • The final (for jan) menus are in,  Figures that I finally grasp how Scene2d.ui and its components work..just as I get to the point where I don’t have time to do anything with it.
  • I got it so you can now enter your own Code to play your own custom levels.
  • Rounds of enemies are now defined by the editor and passed to the game.  This means that playtesting a level is as simple as hitting save in the editor and then hop over to the window with the game in it and playing it in the game…
  • And the BIG HUGE brand new website look for the main  site that will hold this and future releases. WITH video! 🙂

And here’s the remaining to-do list:

  • Final Levels
  • Sound Effect – Combat
  • Sound Effect – UI
  • Main Game – escape = pause and show back to menu button and quit to desktop button.
  • Gameplay – Balance
  • Optional Goals
    • Title Screen Image
    • Revise in game UI Look and feel
    • Make Android Playable

So that’s not so bad.

3 of 5 levels are pretty much ready. And with the ease of starting and stopping rounds now, balancing is easier.



Day 12 – Update


 Time for the weekly update!


Lots of new functionality got put in this week. The biggest of which is clearly the pathfinding which.. in all honestly was a pain in the butt but has been rock steady since I got it working.  The map on the other hand..  I must have re-re-rewritten chunks of the rendering for it so many times these last few days.  That and tile picking (still  a wip) have both turned out to be deceptively huge pains in the ass.  The primary cause is that the world coordinate system and visible coordinate system and the map tile grid are all different and finding out what correlates to everything else is a pain.

Luckily I seem to have it mostly sorted out for now.  Well except the map renderer… that’s currently working on a sheer brute force approach, so I’ll have to limit the map sizes in the Jan build.

Other notable features

  • Select creatures (indicated by yellow glow)
  • Buy new creatures by clicking gold wolf button in the lower left.
  • Track, gold, stage and Dragon Egg’s health
  • 2 Monsters (goblin and Orc) and they can move about.
  • Monsters can be equipped with better weapons and armor.

er they say a picture is worth a thousand words so here’s an annotated screenshot.


Oh and here’s a couple of runnable Builds:

Windows Pc EXE > Here

Everyone  Runnable Jar > Here

Android…er.. it runs on my devices… however Im having issues getting the deployed APK file to work :-/

{Basic Instructions}

Click on stuff.  There’s no real gameplay yet.

Right Click and Drag to pull the map around.

Let me know if  it works


The rest of the weekend will probably not be nearly as productive :-/

However next up.   Invaders!  Collisions!  Combat!  Death!

But it’s gonna be close to see if I can get a functional game done by the end of the month.

Can’t say how much fun it will be.


Quick Sprites


More goodness to come later this weekend,  pathfinding, creatures.. and hopefully a UI..

But the hosting company had issues for a while so I took the downtime (no website -> no map server -> no debugging) to knock out the basic goblin an orc creatures and an upgraded version of each.




Stay tuned 🙂


Summer Heat

It’s over 100F outside again.

There’s just something about the summer here in Texas that just completely sucks the drive out of you. Even if you spend the day indoors in an office, just walking to the car and driving home, by the time 8pm rolls around any desire or motivation you’ve got left is a shriveled little mass of ambition that’s trying desperately to get into the shade and take a nap.

However, you’ve just gotta work through it, right?  Right??

So in the fine tradition of starting more projects…

There’s 2 new things in the works.

1 – Some really cool web/app/mobile/ fun in a techy sort of way.

That currently looks something like this:

2 – Something to get me away from the computer more and let myself switch gears completely.

That currently looks something like this:


You’ll notice a new look for the site.. a slight decrease in the emphasis on games, and a bit more on development and consulting work.

Oh and a quick update on the Barnyard Bonanza Development,  It’s been real slow due to the really cool bit of consulting work that’s eaten every spare waking hour for the last 40 days.  However it looks like the launch has been pushed back from Jul 28 to some time in Feb.. So  I’m taking a deep breath and re-introducing myself to the codebase.. It appears that there’s been a significant couple of updates to LibGDX in the meanwhile so I may decide to tackle that, but seeing as I’m using large chunks of the Scene2D api that’s been completely rewritten.. I may just cross my fingers and skip em for the initial release of BB.

Latest Barnyard Bonanza Test Version

[Edit:  Fixed the problem with downloads failing for android 2.2 users  (stoopid mime types an htaccess) ]

Very productive evening.  Fixed the basic timing on reel spin slippage so at the end of every spin things wind up in their proper place.  Lines now generate payouts properly 🙂

Looks like the odds need to be tweaked a bit.. more low paying  hits would be good,

Have an Android device?

Want to test something for me?


Download the latest beta

Next up:

  • Adding bonus calculations (5 in a row with a bonus or more as a wild card kicks off a bonus round)
  • basic sounds
  • Odds tweaking
  • A main menu.. saving and loading games
  • Bonus games.
  • Animating the icons that hit on a spin. and special FX showing winning on a pull.

Android Deviations

Oops, meant to post last week’s Screenshot Saturday.

As pennance here’s 2 screenshots from the in progress Android game, that’s coming along nicely.

(yes Irismel is taking a little development break while I work on some of the mechanics in spreadsheet and paper form. The RTS elements weren’t working right. Now I’m leaning towards something a bit more Tower defensish)


Yaay Death and Stuff

So while it’s only 2 new tasks complete, there’s 2 more that are 80% there and others are planned out.

Here’s a recap of new stuff:

  • PCs and monsters now shoot and damage each other with functioning ranged combat!
  • PCs can die!
  • Monsters can die!
  • Monster spawner behavior is 90% there
  • PC equip-able items / attacks are close to being there.
  • New portraits are almost done.. then we’ll have 3 different PCs
  • Project title finally announced:

And Here’s a new Screenshot showing some of the things that you can see:

Tech Choices: Walls

Assuming you’ve decided to build a 2d engine for a non side-scroller you quickly come face to face with one of the biggest decisions you’ve had to make so far.  How are you going to represent the game world? Basically there’s two choices each with their own benefits and issues.  There’s the ‘Walls are a block’ approach where everything is a block and the ‘Walls are an attribute’ approach where walls are things that are part of a tile and appear on the edge of a tile.  Here’s a little Pro/Con info that I jotted down while deciding on which way to go for BSDDoD.

Walls are a block.

Example: minecraft, zelda This is probably the most obvious approach to building a 2d world.  Everything about the world construction is handled in a simple array of blocks letting you quickly build a map.

Basic implementation:

It’s essentially a lardge 2d array that contains the structure of the world.  With each location in the world represented by a number.  For pathfinding you can easily implement floodfill tests and even weighting the passability of tiles is pretty trivial.


They’re easy to implement and fairly lightweight, make a whole bunch of visibility / raycasting real easy and fast.


Aesthetically they’re not as nice/real looking as what can be achieved with thin walls.  Destructible walls are more unrealistic and the wall type is determined by the block that is the wall.  So if you want blocks with different wall textures you have to create and track many more entities. Windows are pretty much out of the question and doors tend to look a bit odd.

Walls are an attribute

Example:  X-com, project Zomboid, old Gold box D&D games, the Sims

Basic implementation:

Every game tile has 4 flags associated with it used for indicating if there’s a wall. This means that there’s a bit of extra overhead but it comes at some interesting benefits.


Aesthetically having walls look like walls is a big bonus.  Also the ability to do things like have windows, half height walls, one way doors and portals is nice too.  Also the ability to have different textures for a wall regardless of whats in the neighboring tile is nice (but there’s workarounds for tile based maps for this as well).


Complexity.  Pathfinding, line of sight and collision detection all become significantly more involved, not necessarily slower,  just more complicated.

What did I choose?

Well since I’ve got a bunch of the art assets already created for a straight on view, I eventually settled on the Block based walls with the Straight on view (right side of the image above).  Really that was the deciding factor.  The straight on Blocks as an Attribute would just wind up looking odd and I have no need for windows or doors since it’s essentially an arena based shooter.

For the next project I’m leaning toward an isometric Block based map, however with blocks being smaller than the characters, so that will give thinner walls and hopefully a more enjoyable dungeon building experience… but that’s still way off in the distance, percolating on the back burner.