Oh right, my website!

by Niels Brouwers 22. March 2014 06:11

Yeah, I should post a lot more here....I know, I know!

Just some quick Carter Jones news: last weeks I have been toying with some ad providers for the Android version and it looks like I have found a pretty decent one (that is, one that's working without too much trouble/hassle). I am still not really happy with having to show ads in my game, but maybe it will generate some money, which would be a nice change :-).

Also, putting ads in the game means it will be free and that lowers the barrier for the people who want to play the game. We'll see how it will go, expect a release for Android pretty soon!

I have also been chugging away on the Windows Store version, porting the C++ code over from Marmalade to Microsoft C++ was pretty easy. Now all I need to do is get it back to working again, this means replacing all the Marmalade stub functions I made with working equivalents. I would also like to include some form of joystick/controller support (my XBox 360 controllers will be useful for that!), so there is still some work to do on that front.

That's all for now, next time I'll have a new image for you, promise!

The end is pretty near...

by Niels Brouwers 30. December 2013 22:47

Well, at least the end of the year!

This year has been good, lots of great events have been happening in my life but since this blog is mainly about my game development activities I will stick to that. So far, The Carter Jones Adventures was released on BlackBerry 10, Windows Phone 8 and IOS. While the grunt of the work for the game was done in 2012 (and early 2013), it turned out to be quite challenging to find the time to actually finish the game for a specific platform. This was not due to the game, platform or tools but more because of my limited time for these activities.

Still, I did manage 3 platforms and there are a couple more coming up: Tizen, Android and I am considering Windows 8, the last one will be a challenge because it is not readily supported by the SDK that I am using. But it might be really easy and I will be investigating that soon.

Considering sales and downloads, I tried two strategies: the IOS and BlackBerry release were pay in advance downloads and did pretty bad considering sales. The Windows Phone 8 release was released for free with an in app purchase to enable level 5 and higher. So far the WP8 release got over 27.000 downloads, with just a few people who unlocked all levels.

So, financially, I won't be quitting my day job anytime soon :-). Something odd happened though, I included Flurry statistics in the IOS version and after a couple of days the number of users was growing but the sales were not! Turns out, the one sale in China (so far) got installed on 50 or so other devices, even on an ipad 1 with IOS 5.1! (I excluded that option in the App store, although the game runs ok on an ipad 1 - it just reverts to the lowres gfx, I intended a special release for this later on). So.....jailbreak anyone?

Anyway I hope everyone playing The Carter Jones Adventures enjoys it, I know I did while making it. I love to hear any comments so keep those coming please! I guess what 2013 boils down to is that I am now an official Indie Game Developer, and I think that is a pretty neat achievement!

And I plan on making more games, it is a great way to combine my art and developer skills.

Totally unrelated but still (literally) pretty cool: a swan I carved from a 50cmx50cm ice block. I actually made two swans facing each other but this picture worked out great solo. 

The Carter Jones Adventures IOS version will be available starting tomorrow!

by Niels Brouwers 5. December 2013 06:21

It has been a while but now it's finally here!

The IOS version of The Carter Jones Adventures should hit the App Store tomorrow! It will run on all devices capable of running IOS 7 and a special version will be released for the IPAD 1 (sorry, you will have to wait for it, but we wanted to make it available for the most devices at once).

If you played the game, let me know your thoughts, where can it be improved what did you like or not like - I'd love to hear your comments!

Twitter: @NielsBrouwers

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CarterJonesAdventures

To celebrate we've discounted the Black Berry 10 version to just $0.99!!! Would you like us to discount the In App Purchase for Windows Phone as well? Tell me if you do, if enough of you ask for it...who knows?

Will update soon!

The Carter Jones Adventures - pending review

by Niels Brouwers 21. January 2013 17:19

So, the good news is that The Carter Jones Adventures is being reviewed as we speak so it should be hitting BlackBerry's App World pretty soon (for BB10). The release for IOS will follow in february and hopefully the Android version will be ready at that point as well! The Playbook version will be submitted right after the BB10 launch.

I've learned one thing over the past few months (years actually): making games from start-to-finish is pretty hard! Just check out this blog, I think I have started it over 3 years ago, writing about my game involving Carter Jones that I would bring to the XBOX Indie Games channel (XBLIG). Back then, I was expecting to finish it within a year or so.....

Now, we are 3 years later, the game is finally submitted to at least one store. But look into the history on this website, check out my submissions for the two DBP entries, find the screenshots of long ago and compare them with the screenshots that I show you here. It's a totally different game!!! Still featuring Carter Jones but not the same at all!

After failing to even qualify for DBP (twice) I figured something had to be fundamentally wrong and with the state of the XBOX Live Indie Games channel at that point I decided to quit it altogether for and restart something new. I focussed on an IPad 2d Platformer first, trying to keep it short and sweet, I reused a lot of the tools (leveleditor, sprite editor, animation-tool) and ported my XNA code to C++. I also stuck to the same character: Carter Jones, an adventurer for hire, modelled after James Bond, Indiana Jones etc.

I was moving fast, things were looking good, but the same traps were lying ahead: feature creep, no clear deadline, wanting to perfect it instead of finishing, postponing chores and focussing on the fun stuff. Then along came Marmalade and BlackBerry, they said: 'Hey, develop a game for our new BB10 platform and we'll give you full developer support (tools & materials).'. I grabbed the chance with both hands and 4 months later - here we are! Game submitted! It just works for me when there is a third party expecting something from me, it gives me focus and a deadline. The best thing is: I didn't feel like I was compromising on anything!

I still need to do a lot of stuff, there are a lot more levels coming up and I have many more plans but so far I am happy that I am about to release a game into the wild. Now I can start focussing on new fun stuff like marketing my game and seeing how it will be received by its players!


While we are awaiting approval from the App Store, here are a couple of screenshots (these are work in progress, I will show a few final images in a later post this week!):


The math behind platform games

by Niels Brouwers 21. June 2012 06:22

I just ran through a couple of well-known platform-games (mostly 8 bit classics) to find out about their ratios in terms of the differents sizes involved. I measured a couple of things, most importantly: the size of the main character and the size of the screen.

I only checked platformers that were well received with the general public (ranging from Super Mario Brothers to Super MeatBoy) or that I particularly liked and remembered. The results are nothing spectacular but a couple of interesting properties did come up:

1. The main character is usually contained within a square. the size of 51x51 comes up a lot (I scaled everything to 1024x768 IPad resolution to normalize everything), it seems to be the sweet spot size for a character at that resolution.

2. In percentages, we can say that the character ranges between 3% upto 7% of the screen width (these are the minimum and maximum values), with an average of 5%.

3. The height of the screen varied the most, ranging from 56% to 75% of the width of the screen with an average of 66%. The height seemed irrelevant, and is probably mostly determined by the given screensize of the particular device.

So what does that all mean? Let's say you are developing an 8bit styled platformer for the new IPad with 2048x1536 resolution. Your character should then measure 102x102 pixels and the height of your game should minimally be 860 pixels (that leaves a LOT of room for virtual buttons, menu's, or different resolution support for other devices). Ideally the height would be 1013 pixels (average). Personally I would aim for a full-screen game but a little more than half of the screen has been shown to be sufficient as well.

So there, finally a useful way to apply your basic math skills and learn something about the ingredients of a good platform game as well!


Games | Indie Games | XBLIG