Saturday, October 6, 2012

Battle High 2 Beta!

Just a tiny image to start this post...
Some of you may be aware, but Battle High 2 is slightly nearing completion with each coming week with small updates, bug fixes, and new art & music!  Anyway, I decided to write a post about some of the updates as well as the trials and tribulations with said updates!

My current choice for my XNA installation needs!  Sorry Advanced Installer!

Installers

One thing I like about publishing to the Xbox 360 through XBLIG and XNA is that installation is made very easy.  The installer -- .ccgame files -- that Creators' Club Members use to test the game on their systems is very straightforward and when you submit said .ccgame file to the Creators' Club site, the packaging is taken care of once the game is approved.
Because I am releasing this game on PC, however (and hopefully), I need to make my own installer.  First, Ian Stocker, creator of the Soulcasters series and Escape Goat, suggested I try Advanced Installer
Advanced Installer was very nice and easy and had a great template for XNA games, it even had the ability to check for prerequisites like the XNA runtime and .NET 4.0, but there was one downside:  a $300 price tag.  Now, I'm not the most stingy person in the world, but that seemed a bit steep to me, so I decided to look for alternatives.
The first alternative I found -- and am using -- was WiX XNA Installer.  What I like about WiX is that it does almost all the same things that Advanced Installer does when it comes to checking the proper prerequisites.  WiX, however, requires much more work such as putting all my required files into an XML file which the compiler uses.  This was a great opportunity though to practice my XML creation skills as well as Windows Forms, both of which I utilized to make a tool that requires me to simply select topmost folder that holds the contents for my game.  Hopefully people don't have problems with installing the game with WiX, and if I do future PC projects that require an installer, I may use this program.
Not that kind of Betta...but possibly just as violent...

Beta

One thing I didn't do during the previous iteration of Battle High is have a lot of people playtest the game.  I did through the Creators' Club, but that wasn't tons of people and the PC version of Battle High 2 has some PC-specific features that need to be tested such as resizing the screen.
Finding beta testers wasn't overly hard; social media sites like Twitter and FaceBook helped me find people.  I'm hoping I can find more as I approach release and possibly even do a public beta or something.
One issue I've fallen victim to though is "excitement".  I finish a new build and get excited and want to send the game out as soon as possible, but there's a major crash bug I didn't test for before compiling and sending the installer.  It ends up making me appear to be incompetent -- at least more than I already am -- and it's very frustrating to have to resend an email almost immediately, informing testers of a new version.
Also, if you are reading this and interested, just send me an email:  mattrified@gmail.com.

Smashing my monitor would not help with networking issues in any way, but this image does make me wish for a tiny, stone hammer...

Networking & Fear of It

I really wanted to do networking for Battle High 2; I really did, but networking is something I know almost nothing about.  I did find Lidgren, which seemed like a great API and start, but just basic networking issues like connecting two players over the Internet boggle my mind.
This is all I really wanted to do:  players enter a "room" and select if they want to host a match or find someone hosting one.  Host would send their IPs to a database or something and those looking for host would pulldown all the current IPs; said IPs would probably be sorted by best ping or something.  (My use of the phrase "best ping or something" probably already hints at my lack of knowledge in this area.)  Those looking for a host would then connect and using a peer-to-peer system, the two players could compete.  I don't care about hosting a master server keeping track of wins and disconnects and whatnot.  I'm very new to networking so just enabling players across the country, heck across a street, to play would make me happy.
Networking for the 360 is also intimidating; it requires two consoles and two Creators' Club accounts and a lot of extra time for something that may not pay off that much in the long-run.
Because of the difficulties I have been encountering, I decided to forgo any and all networking features until after the first release.  I think completing the game's main features and not worrying about and being distracted by networking, especially if any netcode would require me to rewrite huge chunks of the gameplay code, is for the best.

"I don't know what I'm writing into this journal, but whatever it is, it is hilariously introspective!"

Journal Entries & Challenges

This is rather minute, but I added new journal entries.  Journal Entries are Battle High 2's version of achievements since Microsoft set strict guidelines disallowing XBLIG users from rewards specifically named "Achievements" since it interferes with "real" games.  Anyway, I made a bunch of new journal entries such as "Do a 20 hit combo with Jada in Arcade Mode".  Adding these into the game wasn't too difficult, but made me feel that keeping these sorts of things in mind earlier in production would have made their implementation faster.  For example, I wanted an achievement for keeping a character in the air for five seconds, but I wasn't recording how long a player had been in the air; though I could have added some system to do so, it didn't seem worth it.
I also completed 15 challenge combos for all the new characters.  This was a surprisingly difficult task.  It also made me contemplate on redoing the input system as a whole as there was several instances where inputs where just not happening properly.  It could have been the 360 controller though; I am a dpad user and the 360 dpad does not have the best reputation...then again neither does Battle High's input system.

I don't care about watermarks; this is a blog!  Regardless, this pumpkin pie represents the small yet tasty fraction of work needed to complete Battle High 2.

So What's Left?

There are a couple of things that need to be done for Battle High 2:
  • VO
    • I believe we still need a few male voice actors.  Email me -- mattrified@gmail.com -- if interested and I can direct you to the right people!
    • I have to integrate the currently delivered VO.  So far I only have Mai's done.
    • Balance and correct delivered VO.  I think the VO should be louder than most SFX so I need to do some volume adjustment to these sounds
  • Ending Integration
    • A very talented artist is working on new ending artwork for Battle High 2.
    • Said artwork has to then be integrated into the game once completed.
  • Music
    • Battle High 2's five new characters -- Jada, Michelle, Kazuo, Klein, and Principal -- all need new background music for their stages.
    • I have a few individuals who I believe could do said music, but regardless, it needs to be done.
  • Bugs and Balancing
    • There are bugs as with most things; there are also balancing issues that I need to take care of.
  • AI
    • I have to create AI logic for the new characters
    • I may take some time and redo the entire AI system for the existing charcters as Battle High's AI was rather dull.
Anyway, stay tune for more updates and hopefully a release of Battle High 2 before the end of 2012!

1 comment:

  1. Your photo choices and the accompanying comments always make me laugh.

    ReplyDelete