The Blog of Ryan Foss

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Rocket Builder Prototype

This Rocket Builder Prototype is something I’ve been playing with. Inspired by Kerbal Space Program and my kids interest in Bad Piggies’s sandbox mode, I built a quick prototype for testing. When I showed my kids its was a hit, and I’ve never experienced better motivation.

CLICK TO PLAY

This prototype was built in Unity 3.5 and works on Android, PC and web. I used Unity’s built in physics of rigid bodies and joints for the parts which I think works great.  I’m aware of a number of bugs or strange behavior, and the interface needs work, but it is a prototype after all.

There is still a lot I want to do with this, and my kids have more ideas too. Hopefully I can get back to it in the near future.

If you have any ideas or comments, or a cool design you want to share, send me a note!

Fireman Run Menu Development

Over the last week I’ve started implementing the menu and interactive buttons into the Fireman Run game. Rather than describe some of those changes, I recorded a quick video to show how my development is going.

Fireman Run is a game I’m developing with a few friends. It’s made in Unity, using C# and primary testing is on Android devices at the moment.

Project: Fireman Run Reveal

This isn’t much of a post I admit, but I’m so overdue and I have to much to say about it that I’m boiling over. So for now, I just want to say that I’m working on a Android mobile game called Fireman Run. It’s a rooftop running game, but with fire, and you can spray to put out fires if necessary.

Photograph is Fun!

I’m working on a freelance gig for a mobile app. I won’t go into much detail, but its very entertaining. I’m building some interesting photography setups to take some pictures of things I never thought I’d be taking pictures of.

Deadly Chambers Controls

Making a game can be fun and profitable (so I’ve heard), but its also a learning experience.  One of the main criticisms of Deadly Chambers is the controls.  It’s a mobile phone game granted, and a shooter at that, but we fell we did a pretty good job dealing with some of the limitations and oddities of Android and the numerous devices to make a control system for the game.  Yes, it has its issues, it isn’t perfect granted, but it’s pretty ok.  In some ways I think it works really well, innovative even.

Regardless of how much I pat myself on the back, or how close to the design and biased I am as co-inventor, it still comes down to the user experience.  That made me think not only about how people play, but what they may be trying to do.  If they are anything like me, they skip the tutorial, skip the control scheme image description, etc. and just jump into the game to figure it out.  This isn’t a big deal I think, unless you make some misinterpretations about how it works, maybe even blame it for doing what you are telling it to do but not realizing it.  Then I found a video on YouTube of someone else playing and it made sense.  Of course people don’t play it the same as I do, but why don’t I show them.

New Android Project Underway

I’ve singed an NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement), which means I can’t talk about it.  However, the picture above pretty much sums it up.  I’ll be posting more about it once the project is complete, which I think will be after CES.

Deadly Chambers Sales Per Month, Oct

Here’s an update plot showing how Deadly Chambers sales are doing.  I wish I had more resolution to the trends of this plot, but the only data I get is the monthly run down.  The spike in September is a result of our Feature status on the market, and maybe also our marketing efforts and reviews.  We expected a decline in October, with the Feature ending, but we had hoped for a little better of course.
I’m still excited to see how we do in the following months.The trend is subtle but upward.  My (hopeful) prediction is similar sales numbers.

Android Me 2

Remember Android Me?

I’ve upgraded.  I’ve got the Google G2 Android phone now.  With flash!

Review of the AppJudgement Review of Deadly Chambers

You guys, Anthony Carboni over at AppJudgement recently reviewed Battery Powered Games’ Deadly Chambers for Android devices.

WAIT, don’t click play yet!

The review isn’t favorable even though Anthony is giving it the 5 finger solute there.  In fact, considering all the positive reviews and comments we’ve gotten its surprising the level of which Anthony dislikes Deadly Chambers.  If only he knew how much time I spent watching Bytejacker and playing Free Indie Rapid Fire games instead of working on level designs, improving textures and character animations…  All the time I spent watching him with enjoyment and laughter, now replaced with a sour taste and sadness…  He really didn’t seem to like the game. Oh Anthony!!!  NOOOOOO!

We are really honored to be reviewed by AppJudgement, don’t get me wrong.  I’ve been watching them for over a year now and I’ve come to enjoy their productions and trust their reviewers (was hoping for Jackie to review to be honest, no offense Anthony).  I don’t know if Anthony, or the AppJudgement team got my requests for review, or if he found it as he stated (which would be awesome), but being noticed is a plus in and of itself.  Even after the review I still love you Anthony, and we are taking many of your thoughts to heart.  (WTF, ByteJacker biweekly, you suck!  I mean that in the most positive way!  I miss you.)

With that said, I have a few major contentions with his review.  First off, he sets the stage by saying “a little gaming action for my hardcore friends.”  Deadly Chambers was never intended as a “hardcore game”.  It was designed to be a casual shooter, to give you a few minutes of shoot-the-bad-guys fun, and was designed accordingly.  It is made for a phone device after all.  We did decide to support the more hardcore gamer types by adding a lot of unlockable guns, achievements and a tough “Deadly” difficulty of course, but the designed and intended average time to play a level is pretty quick once you get used to it.  Anthony reviewed Deadly Chambers as if it were intended for hardcore gamers so its no wonder he wasn’t satisfied.  Additionally, he was comparing it to iPhone games.  That isn’t a problem mind you, because its at least a more fair comparison than comparing it to Xbox360 or PS3 shooters and is appropriate, but it doesn’t really matter if you only have an Android Phone.  What he also failed to mention was the total lack of any quality 3D shooters available in the Android Market because he was comparing it to iPhone games.  If games like Deadly Chambers were easy to make, the market would be flooded with them.  Deadly Chambers is one of a kind, for better or worse.  It is not NOVA (ported to Android, and whose heard of it other than the hardcore), it is not Quake (this is an OLD PC game remember), and its not supposed to be!

Secondly, he never mentions the bosses.  The majority of the game design came in the form of boss fights.  From an angry Ogre  who can repel your attacks with a giant smiley face shield, a giant spider knight, a mechanized robot with Gatling gun arms whose pilot is its only week point, and a giant dragon that flies around shooting fire at you in a huge castle.  The game’s boss fights add much to the game as a whole and he never mentioned them.  In the game there are 5 enemy models and 6 boss models.  Sure, the room to room design isn’t the best and the AI of those monsters isn’t top notch, but he didn’t even mention the level bosses.  You shouldn’t say something like “enemy AI is simplistic and slow” and ignore the bosses, which he does.  (See how mad the Ogre is there, waving his wooden hammer!)

Other little things…

The levels are “bland and boxy” and the characters are “simple”.  This is so very true, and Anthony goes on later in his video to express the potential fragmentation problem related to this which is also exactly true.  To support the myriad of Android devices and OS versions, we were forced to aim lower than I, as the artist and partial designer, would like.  However, given that the game has 5 levels, 11 character models, 18 guns and a shit-ton of other images (that is artist talk for amazing Photoshop skillz), all jammed into a 7MB file, its f’ing impressive and I’m super studly for making that possible!   Add to that the fact that it runs on so many devices is a testament to the design.  We could have made a killer shooter if we target a few phones, Anthony is dead to rights about that, but we would have been ignoring a large portion of the Android audience.  Ultimately though, shouldn’t this sort of approach be praised instead of condoned.  Robert (Battery Powered Games owner, president, etc., etc.) was adamant about supporting older phones (older OSs, back to 1.6) and I eventually came around to his way of thinking (because he’s right).  Its too big a market to over look, especially at the date of our release.  I’m still sporting my G1 for crying out loud!  This also correlates tremendously to sales as well as recognition.

One of the major issues with the game is its controls.  I for one, have tested on a number of devices, and perhaps I’ve grown accustomed to its quirks, but it works well for me.  However, supporting so many devices causes a whole bunch of unfortunate problems too.  Problems that I wish were not there and cause us headaches and stars in the ratings (X10 and Moment for instance).   I wont really get into this because its a loosing battle and I’m half drunk, but part of the blame falls on the player, but most of the blame falls onto the Android hardware.  Don’t believe me?  Go to the Application Market and download the some of the Multitouch test apps (Multitouch Visibility Test and Multitouch Paint are a both good ones) and use them in a way you think controls should/could work and see what happens.  Here’s a video on the Nexus 1 and Droid just for reference.  The ultimate problem is that since the Nexus 1 and the Droid both support the same OS, but the touch interface behaves differently and you can’t really target a phone directly, you’re stuck deciding how to deal with the fallout (bad reviews because phone don’t work vs. trying to make it right for one device.)

What saddens me most is that I seriously doubt Anthony played much of the game and this is evident in the video.  There are hardly any achievement unlocks and no video past the third level.  Some of the complaints about simple models and levels are true, but once you get to the Castle or the Tower levels (levels 4 and 5) I think the levels are outstanding in comparison.  The models also get better.  I admit, this shooter isn’t the 3D Jesus we’re all hoping for, but its a step in the right direction.  With some actual, honest, unbiased and unrushed gameplay, I think its a solid game worth a look.  One worthy of more than the 10 minutes it takes to get to level 3.

Anthony also mentions the characters sliding and twisting awkwardly around the screen, which admittedly is very noticeable.  It’s also one of those things that I notice and you know where else this is noticable?  Fallout 3 and Fable 2, both of which have characters that when running around the environment don’t seem to be quite right.  I will admit I giggled a little at his reference to Dr. Chambers’ running animation looking like something like a puppet from Team America.  This was one of those things that I wanted to fix, but ultimately was good enough for what it was.  Not too bad for 8 keyframes really.  (Still bugs me deep in my core, but not enough to do something about apparently…)

In the end, we are being compared to NOVA and even Rage by AppJudgement, a reputable and respectable organization and I appreciate their time and effort in their review.  I respect Anthony and we are taking his, and every other reviewer, blog, fan or mutant out there who took the time to give us a chance, comments to heart.  In the end, you should watch Anthony’s review because he is good at what he does and I’m all sorts of jealous.  Sometimes I wish A-Train wasn’t dead… (Insert inside joke here… wait, I already did.)

Oh, and BTW, we’ve started working on our next game and its going to be awesome!

Deadly Chambers Sales Per Month


Here’s a quick plot showing Deadly Chambers sales per month.  I wish I had more resolution to the trends of this plot, but the only data I get is the monthly run down.  It’s still enough to show the dramatic spike that we had during the month of September.  This can be attributed some to our marketing efforts and getting reviewed on various websites.  However, I think most of our success was from our Feature status.  That, unfortunately, has ended.  I hope we can do half as well next month without it.

I’m really excited to see how we do in the following months.  If you have any ideas, or friends or acquaintances in the review field for an Android game, please have them contact me.

105 Reviews! 4+ Stars Average!

Today, my Android G1 phone informs me that there are 105 reviews for Deadly Chambers, running a 4+ star rating. Our Featured Game status is over and we had a pretty good month. It’s nice to get noticed. I’ll try and post a graph or something one I get some numbers. Meanwhile, here are some of my favorite comments:

“Best game ever for phones”
- Greg
“Impressive. MOST impressive.”
- Michael
“HOPEFULLY A SEQUEL LOVE THIS GAME!!!!!!!”
- MRWESKER78
“Best! Android! Game! Yet!”
- nick
“A++ Fast Shipping! …oh yeah, best Android game ever!”
- sra (I know this is you Steve)
“Good fun this game is.”
- Yoda – kevin
“I dont understand how people can complain about such a great game. The controls work great and game play is solid on the nexus one!”
- scott
“It’s about time that Android gets a game that rivals the iPhone. I’d give it 10 stars if I could.”
- Breon
“Gorgeous game. Really fun to play. Attention to detail is great.”
- Darryl
“This game is the bomb grafix r the best I turn them right up on my sony x10″
- J-BAGGS
“Finished the game 4 times, BEST shooter on android! Mytouch Slide”
- Dalton
“By far 1 of best shooters on android market, please make more.. Wolfenstein, or a unique game of your own. We need better games 4 Verizon-android”
- jason

And here are some of the more comic 1-3 Star reviews.

“it never showed me the fire button”
- khalid
“Its ok”
- Maco

And just so this post has a graphic attached, here’s something I used to convince the developer to add an extra weapon.

Here’s a picture of the Bubble Gun.
This is the last, and most powerful, weapon in Deadly Chambers.

Deadly Chambers is App of the Week

Deadly Chambers is one of this weeks Android Games of the Week at Appolicious.com: http://appo.me/djit1

Deadly Chambers is Featured, #1

Deadly Chambers has been featured by Google in the App Market! This is great news since it helps us spread the word about the game in the best way possible.

Wiimote + Droid + HDTV = Fun

I make my own Android Wiimote video., but take it up a notch.

Wii Controller Controls Nexus 1

Although there are a lot of videos about Wii Controllers (after all, they are just Bluetooth) being used with phones, I found this one interesting. Lots of potential here for common users.

Presenting Android’s exclusive Over-The-Shoulder 3D shooter – Deadly Chambers!

It’s out in the wild!

Deadly Chambers exclusive to Android powered devices of all makes and models.

Battle your way through 5 levels of baddies and bosses in this epic 3D journey. Deadly Chambers offers stunning graphics, tight gameplay, unique controls and loads of unlockable weapons and achievements.

The following are actual screenshots from a stock Nexus One phone running Android 2.2:


Main Menu


World Map


Weapon Equip


Taunting Letters


Dungeon Fight


Adjustable Perspective


First-Person Shooting


Garden Fight


Castle

Deadly Chambers uses OpenGL ES 1.0 and is compatible with most Android phones running 1.5 or higher.

Tips for play:

Try all of the buttons on your phone – by default pressing in on the trackball or dpad center button will fire and surrounding buttons will change weapons and perspective.
Check the game settings – Key bindings, graphics and sound settings are all configurable.
You don’t need to equip all 3 weapons – sometimes it works better to just equip one or two very powerful ones.
Enemies are resistant to different weapons – Experiment and find out what works best.
Bosses have weak points – Try shooting at different areas and with different weapons to beat the tougher bosses.

How to get this game? It’s available now in the Android market.

Laser Shotgun

This is my newest creation. If all goes well, it will be added to Deadly Chambers. It is a shotgun that shoots lasers!

It was made using Blender and Photoshop. I rendered an AO layer and saved it, then a light layer, the blue glow, by rendering only the light on a dark material to the same UV map. I combined them in photoshop with some metal textures, photos, hand painting and some layer effects. I really like how it turned out.

It’s Live: Deadly Chambers


We finally released the game!!! It’s called Deadly Chambers Beta. It’s available on Android GL ES 2.0 compatible phones, like the Droid, N1, Incredible, Devour, and a few others.

It’s “beta” because Rob is going to Google I/O this week and he wanted it in the market before he goes. Makes total marketing sense.

I have to say its really fun.

Tower In Action

I’m finishing the tower level tonight. It’s mostly the little things that take the time. I had to make a quad for every torch, some for portal detection, etc. Here is a shot of the tower level being played. This is the stairs.


Here you are in first person mode standing on the roof.


That is a Verizon Droid phone if you’re wondering.

Tower Power, Shared Texture Space

This is the lightmap layer of the tower level for the game I’m working on with Rob of Battery Powered Games. This is the final level, the Tower, where the big show down with a magical wizard takes place. The game should be out in a month (estimated release second week of May, 2010). It’s called [NAME TBD].


I’ve been using blender solidly for about half a year now and I have developed a number of tricks. My favorite trick thus far is baking textures with shared texture space. Essentially I design a symmetric scene, set up the lights and UV only part the model. I then use this part of the model to create the rest of the scene, but I push their UV’s out of the main UV space. This is a trick, since Blender won’t bake the textures for these faces (when they would normally cause problems), and they are technically in the same place if texture mode set to repeat.

Here you can see the UV texture space. The faces pushed to the top are part of the stairs design, while the parts pushed to the right are levels.


In this image you’ll see that the stairs have essentially the same texture mapping from one level to the next. What is really nice is that since they are the same, they share the same UV texture space, I reap the benefits of the resolution only doing it once. It might seem really weird but its backfaces only. This means you see through geometry from one side, but not the other. So you can see the stairs through the walls so to speak. It’s so natural to me, but I expect some won’t know what they are looking at.


Here you can see I’ve highlighted the portions of the texture in the main UV space. Pretty good use of the space I think.

Fun in 3D, Tron Style


Rock Giant

Rock Giant Tron Style

This is my latest model for NAME TBD. Obviously not going to use the Tron style version, but it gave the developer a laugh.

Low Polygon Characters



Here are a few shots of the characters I’ve been working on lately. They are a combo level boss. The knight is the first half. Once you beat him, he takes on his spider form.

He should be appearing as the level two boss in the upcoming Android game.

Android Art


I’ve been really busy lately with work, school, family and side projects. Here’s one of those side projects I’m working on.

I’ve started working with Battery Powered Games, a local android developer I met through IGDA. We’re making a FPS sort of game. The images above is a WIP of level two, a castle level.

I’m limited to around 1000 triangles and two textures. One texture, a 1024×1024 image is the diffuse and the other is a light map, only 512×512 at maximum quality.

I’m having a lot of fun working on this stuff.

PdaNet for Android Doesn’t Work For Me

I follow a number of tech blogs, game blogs, fun blogs and serious code blogs, and then some, and the best time for me to do it is at work. Granted, much of it is personal interest, but it turns out my work is often very related. This was working fine and although they block everything cool or interesting on the main network, they didn’t on the guest network so I was free to roam via my laptop. Until Monday that is. They have now installed the worlds most ridiculous, draconian, big brother web blocking scheme imaginable to guests. Game is a four letter word. Storage sites like imageShack are blocked, no questions asked. Absolutely no streaming anything, including YouTube, Viemo, and a sad consequence is the Ted presentations. This from a company that is shouting (though its up-to-the-era internal message systems, such as that paper newsletter we can pick up near the door or get in our mail box) how innovative and cutting edge we are.

Damn it pisses me off. The internets is video and they block it. The internets is streaming and they block it. If I try to search for something graphics or programming related, it often ends up blocked, flagged as game or hacking or forums. Forums and IRC and newsgroups are off limits, good thing this isn’t where the answers to common questions are easily found. The company is digging themselves a grave IMO; a shallow grave of cold old technology to cuddle up with and wither away as the world passes them by and their employees dream of greener pastures.

Anyway. For mostly personal reasons I was trying to find a way to bypass their guest internets connection all together so I looked to my G1 phone and found an app called PdaNet. It basically tethers a Smart Phone to a PC via USB and the phone acts as a modem, using the 3G (or Edge I guess) network to access the internets. The install is one of the best I’ve seen and was painless. The software is easy to use and has user controls where they should be (it only runs if you ask it to). But the problem is that although I’m able to see the internets unfiltered, much of it just doesn’t load or times out. Gmail and Reader fail to load, as did a few others I tried. Other sites opened fine, but it was of little consequence since my main hope was to bypass the filtering so I can read the blogs I like as they are intended, with images and video.

One of my objectives at work is to stay up to date on relevant technology. I can’t do that at work now. A project I’ll soon be working on will incorporate interactive technology, which is impossible to research at work because of the blocking. To me, this is basically guilty until proven innocent shit that is going to hurt them more than help.

BTW, if you want to e-mail me at work, don’t put swears in the e-mail because I won’t get it. That’s right, they filter my e-mail and if it has a naughty word in it, they swat it down.