Steam Greenlight and Crimsonland

The quiet period on 10tons Labs has hopefully ended, now that the summer vacations are done with and we’re powering into the last stretch of 2012. It looks like we’ll be busy.

We’ll touch on each topic when the time comes. The focus of this post is Crimsonland and Steam Greenlight.

As the most diehard fans have already discovered, Crimsonland is on Steam Greenlight.

Crimsonland is the very first game of 10tons, and without honking our own horn too loudly, it’s safe to say it’s a cult classic. I personally familiarized with Crimsonland just this summer, and boy did the quiet days fly by fast!

As far as twin stick (or mouse+WASD) shooters go, Crimsonland definitely features the gameplay to compete with the best of them. It’s… Hypnotic. The rhythm of gameplay is impeccable, as each session progresses from the leisurely start towards the hectic, twitch fest end.

As for Steam Greenlight, we’ve been intrigued by it ever since it was announced. Steam is surely a strong player in the Windows & Mac (and soon Linux) game sales scene, and Greenlight has the potential of granting indie developers a way in.

On the other hand, no one knew, and still doesn’t know, what the reality of Greenlight will look like. Which games eventually make it? Which factors are the key? Only time will tell.

For 10tons and Crimsonland, the goal is clear. We’d love to get the green light, as we’ve received so many fan requests urging us to release Crimsonland on Steam. We’d also love to update the game with Steam’s highscores and achievements, and throw in some new content.

And on that note, we’d definitely love to finally do Crimsonland 2, which we’ve had to postpone for far too long.

So please, upvote Crimsonland on Steam Greenlight. And as importantly, spread the word and ask your friends to upvote too. Every single vote counts.

Boom Brigade 2 updated to 1.1.0

The post-launch activity on an iOS game is pretty fast and convenient nowadays. Boom Brigade 2 was launched just eight days ago, and today the game was updated to 1.1.0.

The 1.1.0 update includes the usual bug fixes (and those were very minor bugs, mind you) and five new missions; two Survival missions and three Special missions. The difference between Survival and Special missions is that Special missions don’t include an objective to defend. It sounds like a slight difference, but in practice the distinction is clear.

My personal favourite of the new missions is the Special mission Incoming!, where the objective is to survive with a lone Trooper for as long as possible in a battlefield constantly bombarded by artillery strikes and swarming with aliens. It’s hectic, but you get to focus your attention completely to controlling the single Trooper.

We’ve also received some great reviews for Boom Brigade 2:

Touch Arcade 4/5

Apple’n’Apps 4/5

Game Developer’s Perspective: Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8

A few days ago Microsoft confirmed some things that we’ve been hoping to be true for some time. First of all: Windows Phone 8 will indeed have support for C/C++! This is great news for a small studio like us who has a backlog of several awesome games coded mainly with C/C++. Windows Phone 7.x was lacking C/C++ support and porting our games there would have required a total code rewrite starting from the game engine itself. This isn’t a small task and would’ve probably taken months. Now we only need to do create some new graphic and audio implementations in addition to basic input handling.

It seems that the Windows Phone 8 won’t have OpenGL ES or OpenAL, but that’s ok since they should have support for DirectX 11. Windows 8 also supports DirectX 11, so in theory we might only have to create a Direct3D 11 renderer and implement audio support using XAudio2. We’re hoping that with these two components we can draw graphics and play sound both on Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 devices. It’s exciting to see whether this will hold true, but we certainly hope it will and it seems quite likely.

So, Microsoft has a chance to make a developer’s life really really easy. We’re currently dreaming of a situation where we can run our games on Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 with only tiny code differences. In real world this all means that the users of these operating systems will have quick access to all the most popular apps and a lot of variety to choose from. So, you can definitely expect 10tons games on your Windows Phone 8 device in addition to your Windows 8 tablets, laptops, and desktop computers!

 

Boom Brigade 2 launchdate and Grim Joggers free

Boom Brigade 2 now has a launch date: The 21st of June.

In other words, the Thursday this week.

It’s set in stone. At least as much as things can be set in stone regarding game release dates in this day and age.

Following the news, the atmosphere at 10tons’ office immediately turned into a delightful mix of relief, happiness and yes, truly, excitement. I personally feel a bit giddy too.

Releasing a game definitely registers as one of the highest peaks in the emotional spectrum of game development, probably even eclipsing the rush of starting production on a new game.

But we must not get ahead of ourselves. Boom Brigade 2’s launch isn’t today, it’s in two days, and we’re going to be mighty busy.

We’re also delighted to announce the iOS version of Grim Joggers, our take on the endless runner, is now free until the release of Boom Brigade 2. Go grab it here!

Tactical Mode in Boom Brigade 2

Yesterday was a very physical one for us working at 10tons. We moved to a larger office, and discovered among other things that a lot of our furniture is made of solid wood instead of the Ikea style hollow wood elements. Solid wood furniture is quite heavy.

But the topic today is not furniture, but Tactical Mode.

In Boom Brigade 2, Tactical Mode allows the player to pause and resume the game at will. It’s not your basic pause feature though, as the player is able to issue orders to Troopers while the action is paused.

Issuing orders in Tactical Mode has many benefits. Obviously, the Tactical Mode button in the lower left corner of the screen is the perfect panic button; tap it and you’re safe to ponder your Trooper-saving moves. And you can issue said moves too.

Tactical Mode is also great for synchronised manouvers. Halt the action, issue orders, resume the action and watch the Troopers fight in perfect sync.

Tactical Mode also allows for perfect optimisation of actions for the economically minded player. It’s possible to keep every Trooper constantly occupied by commanding them precisely with Tactical Mode.

Finally, there’s the issue of becoming overwhelmed. In some missions the player is commanding up to five Troopers. Coupled with dozens and dozens of charging aliens, it’s a lot to keep track of. In these missions using Tactical Mode is a matter of survival.

Oh, and one more thing: In Tactical Mode, the Trooper weapon upgrades are shown. It’s great when the player has, for example, two Pyro Troopers, and has selected different upgrades for each. It’s not at all impossible to lose track of which one is using which, but with Tactical Mode, the matter can be checked instantly.

There is a video demonstrating Tactical Mode in action here.

Microsoft demos a touch screen with 1ms latency

I just came across and interesting demonstration by Microsoft. They have a touch screen setup with 1 ms latency which is could be around 100 times faster than the current commercial implementations. In many cases good is good enough, but in this case it might be that many games would really benefit from the lower latency.

For example our games Ironworm or Swingworm could probably become a bit more responsive and more intuitive to control with reduced lag. The games use something called a “mouse joint” from Box2D to attach a physics simulation object to the touch coordinates. This adds a certain “springyness” to the control mechanic. Without the touch input lag the controlling the worm might feel better as the “grip” would be a bit more firm and responsive. On the other hand the current lag could be beneficial as it puts some distance between the player’s finger and the controlled object and that improves visibility.

Low lag input is most likely something that touch device makers are trying to achieve in commercial devices all the time since in most cases input lag is a negative thing. 1ms latency is probably impossible in real world situations, but improvement from 100ms to 50ms would bring the control lag to par with consoles and PCs.