Drop Dimensions
Author: HS_Dave
- Posted on: 24/04/2017
Post Type: Blog Entry
So we're all familiar with "fall down" style games these days. You are usually some object thrust into a world that is forever scrolling upwards and you have to find your way down to prevent yourself being pushed off the top of the screen.

This formula did not really change at all when I created Drop for windows phone 7 several years ago. Thanks to the work of Elin the art was slightly more polished than most fall down games and a few additional features such as powerups (speed up, slow down, world freeze, etc) and persistent online leader boards made it slightly more interesting than your average fall down clone but not by a massive margin.

These games can be fun to play for a few minutes but there is not a lot to them and long sessions are probably going to begin to drag eventually. I started to wonder what could be done to make these games more engaging without significantly changing the nature of what they actually were. It's okay that the average play session isn't massively long as long as the time spent was enjoyed.

From this the design for Drop Dimensions was slowly crafted. It was (and still is) a constant battle of feature ideas and feature cuts to try and balance interest and simplicity. It's a slightly faster game than Drop was and coupled with the increased speed we've added columns that block the player from moving in a certain direction. Some columns can be bashed apart with a new dash move but some are indestructible. To balance the increased difficulty this presents the world now supports a wrap-around feature so if you move off the left of the screen you will appear on the right and vice versa.

You can still die fairly easily but you'll always see during your last moments that way you could of taken to escape. The levels themselves have a larger variety of powerups and obstacles ranging from bear traps to concussion mines. The whole idea has been to try and create a more interesting gaming experience without over complicating the simple formula or making it require a large investment of time to play in one sitting.

Another aspect that has been focused on is game setting. I wanted to prevent everything from becoming too "old" too quick and started toying around with the idea of levels with their own graphical themes. What I did NOT want was to interrupt the players game at any point with an "end of level" or similar event so what we eventually settled on was this concept that you were trying to survive in an unstable multiverse where dimensions would repeatedly collapse on you. Survive long enough on a specific level and the dimension you are in will start to fall apart until eventually it collapses and hurls you into a new dimension (level). The transition only takes a few seconds and helps to prevent things from becoming boring without interrupting your game.

Finally, it's not just levels/areas that belong to a specific dimension.. but playable characters too. I really wanted to add more in-game persistence beyond just the leader boards so you can feel you are achieving something even if just a short play session. At the end of each session your final score gets converted into in game currency which you can spend to unlock new characters to play as. This is NOT a real money transaction but just a way for you to convert your game time into new unlockables to enjoy.

Development on this game is very advanced already and I look forward to showing you media from the alpha build soon! I intend for it to be available on all major mobile devices and POSSIBLY PC. I play test it on PC and it certainly works well.. but I keep asking myself: does it belong here? :o
The last year (and a bit)
Author: HS_Dave
- Posted on: 19/04/2017
Post Type: Site Update
Well, it's about time I wrote this blog post.

Being a solo indie developer can be hard. If something else crops up in your life that requires your full focus then the dev WILL suffer, there is no team to carry it and no one to cover for you. The last few years have been some of the hardest in my life.

13th of Nov 2015 I received a phone call whilst at my day job (I am a orthotics technician) asking me to rush home and drive my father to hospital (my mother is disabled). The next day he was diagnosed with liver cancer. The next few months of my life were spent looking after mum and visiting dad as they assessed treatment options. At first it looked like they may be able to do a life saving operation which they EVENTUALLY (march) attempted after many ridiculous delays (such as surgery computers crashing, doctors strikes, etc) but they had found the cancer had spread and there was nothing they could do. He was still fairly strong and started a course of chemo which he was responding well to.

During May that year my mother went into hospital for a "routine operation with complications". That it to say my mother was a complex example of the situation but the operation itself should not pose too many risks. Sadly, during this operation there was an accident and part of her bowel was split. They performed an emergency repair, stitching the wound closed and transferring her to more long term care. That evening whilst she was laying in the ward the stitching came undone and NEARLY resulted in her death. She was moved to intensive care after another emergency operation and somehow made it back from the brink. Just. At one point we were told it was probably time to say our goodbyes. But slowly her condition improved and her strength slowly returned although she is still, to this day, bed bound at home unless carried to a special wheel chair. Prior to the surgical accident she had limited mobility using walking supports.

But as she grew stronger my dad sadly grew weaker. On the 28th of January '17 his story ended and we said goodbye. That is still a hard thing to write and has made me put off this post for several weeks.

As you can imagine, during this period I have not got an awful lot done. I can thankfully say it has not been a complete stand still! Work has been going on whenever I've found the mental strength. But the limit of my strength has mostly been reserved for looking after my family and myself.

On to more positive things then.

I love game programming. I love working on projects that I have designed. Even before 2015 hit I was not feeling satisfied with the level of time I had to work on these things. This year my wife and I decided it was time for me to go part-time at my day job so I could focus on my passion more "officially" rather than just in the evenings where I had some energy left. This is starting with just one day a week, an arrangement that began last month. Having an extra whole day where I am fresh to work and ALLOWED to work is liberating and making a massive difference to the amount that is getting done!

The discipline required is hard - absolutely. But VERY rewarding. You can expect to see more regular blogging and more progress updates from here on out.

There IS a slight shake up in the roadmap however. As I am now earning less money from my day job I need to try and make up at least some of that ASAP. Some small trickle funds. As such, Drop is getting a much more featured, more polished sequel which is nearly ready. I may be releasing a few other simple, but fun, mobile apps after depending on how the bank balance looks. But my more structured development time is allowing me to plan and prioritise coding tasks in a much more managed way so Dodeka STILL has it's slot and is probably coming sooner than you think.

In the mean time, welcome to the new website and hopefully a fresh breath of life for HS! It feels good to be back and finally moving forward.