This week with Dodeka
Author: HS_Dave
- Posted on: 12/10/2014
Post Type: Blog Entry
When I started writing Duodecad I had a very vague idea of what I was doing. I had used c# for winform applications and had a basic grasp of the language but that was about it. All my previous experience was with C/C++ and old style to boot (IE, I never really used a class before, just a lot of functions).

Starting Duodecad I had a half idea that I was going to make a "simple game" that was "a bit like triple triad" and it would be a good experience to get used to using XNA and C# for game dev. 3 years later I actually finished and released my game.

In that time my knowledge and experience grew and changed a lot. That's great but it had some very negative effects on my code base. For example half of it is written using hungarian notation brought over from my C experience and later I ended up switching to simple Camel Case which was more common in C#. Good code design practices were something I had heard of and that is as far as it went - multiple classes in the same source file, random hacks in the middle of functions.. all sorts of little nasties.

So coming to port the game to the PC proved to be a complete nightmare when it should of been simple. Years later I have a good understanding of C#, proper code design and features like interfaces which were never touched in Duodecad and it gives me a bit of headache working out how (and when) to implement this knowledge in the engine.

Most of this week I have been looking at parts of the code base I will need to change for the new features I wish to add to Dodeka and deciding what to modify and what to rewrite. The card classes will need modification to allow for some new features (like foil cards with unlockable abilities). The network code has already been done (that I just deleted and wrote again from scratch - it is now based on Lidgren and a plug and play style interface system) but there are so many more areas that need a good think about to make sure I proceed in the most effective way. It is time consuming and a little frustrating in that it does not produce a visible "thing" to screen shot and show everyone but it is VERY necessary.

Art. One new thing that Dodeka will receive is a brand new GUI and theme. I've been head to head with Elin (who has joined me again to provide the art - woo!) and viewing new designs, hopefully this will be something physical to show you all soon. Just today I handed over a bunch of flow charts showing menu flow and the content of different screens, I really look forward to seeing what she brings back to me from it all!

Now I'm heading back to visual studio to decide what can be reworked and what just needs ctrl+a, delete...
A personal welcome to Heavenly Software
Author: HS_Dave
- Posted on: 05/10/2014
Post Type: Blog Entry
Welcome to the new Heavenly Software website and blog!

These blog entries will usually be very developer orientated and intended to showcase progress on the various projects I'll be working on over the years. This first post however will be a bit of an exception as I want to talk a little more personally about what's been happening since the release of Duodecad and also do a little bit of apologising.

If this sort of thing is of no interest to you then check back later for the more technical posts!

So, my name is Dave. I'm the lead programmer at Heavenly Software. During the day however I am an orthotics technician working in the UK. My true passion has always been software development with a special focus on games. I've always said I want my own studio one day and it was about a month ago I was talking with a work colleague when I was hit by a voice in my head saying "well, you have a company name, a (broken) website and have released a couple of games. You have a studio, you just don't look after it properly."

It was then that I realised that I was in danger of missing the dream by being so focused on it's end and missing the start. As soon as I got home I started making plans to remake the website, schedule in fixed working hours specifically for development that were realistic and took in to account my responsibilities as a husband with a day job and set out some realistic goals and mile stones. Up until now everything has been very freestyle and if I come home too tired I could too often decide "cba, I'm gonna sit on MMO's tonight" whereas with a proper time table I can make myself work properly but know I have time set aside for my own leisure as well.

The past few years have been very hard. A lot of struggles in my personal life have had to be faced which have been very distracting from my development work. That coupled with the fact that when I released Duodecad it was very well received, won an award or two and remains highly rated today - but as far as sales go it was a -complete- flop was very disheartening for a time but also led to some great learning opportunities that I may talk more about another time.

So what's next? Well it was largely decided that one of the reasons for Duodecad's failure was the 360 was not the best place for it at all and it was much more suited to the PC where there was a larger market for the genre and more options/openness about what I could do with it. So for the past year or so I have been slowly porting the game to the PC.

This has not been easy because quite frankly the original code I wrote is awful and full of hacks left right and centre as I grappled with the nuances of console programming. The largest task was the port of the networking code which relied 100% on the Xbox LIVE framework in its original form. That has now been replaced with a tidy interface system and I've written a new network handling system using Lidgren.

Whilst I was working on this people would point out little bits and bobs that could be improved. New ideas to add. Feature requests, game modes and slowly I realised I no longer had a port on my hands but a sequel. A much needed one too for there are some pretty big failures in the original game. Things such as improved GUI, a proper single player campaign, a tutorial mode etc - all were begging to be added to the original.

There's a whole bunch of other stuff that we'll be adding. Perhaps the most important thing is the name change. The original name people had trouble pronouncing and it really did the game no favours! Some time ago after getting feedback on social media and amongst my peers the new name for the PC project was decided: Dodeka.

So that is what you will be seeing next. I will bring regular blog updates about the progress of the game (none hopefully this long!) and the new features as they are implemented. After that I have some exciting projects sat in design documents ready to be made flesh and you may even see some glimpses of them before Dodeka is finished as I'm allowing myself Sundays as "prototype day" for playing with new ideas to keep myself interested and prevent burn out.

FINALLY, my apology:
This is for anyone who tried to use the Duodecad website and found it broken or even managed to get to the forum but never got replied to. I know some users came to the site and I can only apologise for the fact you would of been completely ignored. The old site was built on top of PHPBB 3 and it became INFESTED with spam bots. I enabled capcha and it did not seem to help anything. I then required administrator approval for posts and accounts. At it's height I was having about 800 spam accounts created every day and if any genuine users were amongst it all I would never of known. Coupled with the financial failure of Duo I quickly became very despondent and just stopped looking. 2 weeks later I received an email from my hosting provider saying my DB was exceeding the maximum allowed size (I'm on an unlimited account btw) and it was ALL from spam accounts and posts and I ended up locking down the whole thing.

What a mess. I am so sorry - part time indie or otherwise thats a terrible way to run things! This is why the new site has no forums but instead we're using facebook. I'm sure there will still be spam but hopefully a lot more manageable!

Okay, sorry for the long intro post but I felt I should get that all out there. See you soon for development updates!
New website!
Author: HS_Dave
- Posted on: 04/10/2014
Post Type: Site Update
It is way overdue but here it finally is - heavenlysoftware.co.uk 2.0!

The new website should offer a much better user experience for everyone and is now touch screen friendly.

We have dropped all the forums as although they were created to allow you to connect with us and the rest of the community they actually ended up preventing that when the spam became so great it was just not possible to administrate it. I have no idea how many people tried to connect via the HS forums or the duo-game.com forums but I am so sorry for the terrible user support you would of experienced!

To keep things more manageable we have opted to now use a facebook page as a means for you to chat with us and others. Feel free to connect with us straight away!

The final new addition to our site is this blog. I (Dave) hope to be able to bring development updates about projects I am working on rather than a couple of years of silence between each release. Let's see how that goes ;)