Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

Gratuitous Patch Number 32!

At last I’ve released patch 32 (version 1.32) for GSB today. If all goes well, then I’ll roll that out to partners like steam over the next two days. There are many changes big and small. Here are the big ones:

1) Performance: UI performance improvement for scrolling on the challenge browser screen.
2) Performance: Differential challenge data downloading means that refreshing the challenge list is much faster now.
3) New Feature: Fleet overlay UI for the battle screen showing every ship on your fleet and it’s current status.
4) Usability: Mouse cursor now changes to the hand icon when over something clickable.
5) New Feature: Added module stat comparison window when you click any item of module data.
6) Bug Fix: Weapons will now fire at anything within range correctly, even if ordered not to attack a certain class, providing that no other suitable targets are in range.

Depending how you play the game, some of these may be irrelevant, or awesome. I really like the module stat comparison stuff. I should have done it ages ago, and the fleet overlay is handy too. People who micromanage their weapons orders to the nth degree will appreciate number 6. I always thought it was working that way, but it turns out my code is buggier than a bug breeding colony on bug island. It works in a much more sensible way now, and its more viable to build ships that mix and match anti-fighter and anti-cruiser weapons :D

The patch will auto-download over the next 24 hours for existing buyers. New buyers get a  ready-patched copy anyway.

Anyway, onwards and upwards. I forgot to mention in the readme that I beefed up some of the explosions and particle effects too. The very next thing I do will be the next expansion pack, which I’m pretty excited about. After that, it’s likely the mini-campaign.

The Milky Bars are on me!

I suspect that there are two types of ads:

1) Ads that draw your attention to stuff, and maybe sell it

2) Ads that act as background noise to constantly remind you of a companies or products existence, so you recall it at a much later purchase time.

My ads (and likely ANY indie game ads) fall into 1). We hope you see the ad, read the ad copy, click it, and try the demo, then buy the game. Ha! we hope…

But look at TV ads. Pay attention to the next group of TV ads you see, and count what percentage of them are ads for products you haven’t heard of, or companies you don’t know about. I bet its zero percent. These ads are either shown 10 times a day or not at all, because they are all type 2) ads. They don’t work on their own.

The best examples (and the most annoying) here in the UK are car insurance comparison websites. How many can you name? Try it (if you are a brit )





I bet you named gocompare and And when was the last time you needed to get a  competitive car insurance quote? On average 6 months ago, if at all. These ads work like  the ads for directory enquiries numbers here in the UK. You will notice that there is little or no actual information in them at all. I’ve seen 100+ adverts for, and have no idea what they said. They only really need to say a single thing:

And that will eventually stick in your head.  The majority of  TV ads are semi-ignored, absorbed in our peripheral vision, or maybe just overheard from another room. Ad designers know this. That is why TV ads are so annoying and seem to be targeted at idiots. The content is, sadly, irrelevant. All that matters is the name. That name can stay in your head for decades. If the name sucks, you need a tagline. If you are 30+ in the UK, do you remember these?

“I’m a secret lemonade drinker”

“Made to make your mouth water”

“Helps you work rest and play”

If you EVER saw these ads, I bet you know the products, now, even fifteen-twenty years later. Scary isn’t it?

One of the small number of companies I own shares in is Marks And Spencers.  One of the reasons I own them is they have a flipping superb ad agency working for them. One that we will remember years later,

Remember, this wasn’t just a blog post. This was a Marks and Spencers Blog post :D

I wish my ads were that good…

$630,000 a year

If this is right:

Microsoft have $58 billion revenue a year and 92,000 employees.

The average revenue per employee is thus $630,175 a year.

Holy shit.

I must remember this the next time I read some microsoft bashing from linux or google fanboys. Microsoft isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon.

Democracy 2 (still)

I restarted some of my old ads for my politics sim Democracy 2. I’m just trying to see if they still generate more sales. This is a game that has surprisingly good sales, even over 2 years after it was made. It’s never going to be #1 anywhere, some portals still won’t even sell it, but it was well worth making and definitely a profitable game.

TBH I have no idea why sales of it have recently been so good. It might be the’free Democracy 1 for Maine and Michigan students’ thing. (I must look up here the sales are from. I wish BMT had better reporting…). Or maybe its the fact that the US has upcoming midterms and the UK an upcoming election?

Either way it’s welcome…

Two new features for GSB

I was honestly trying to work on new DLC, but hey, I ended up adding and improving some stuff. One thing I ended up doing was mouse cursor changes, so it actually changes to the windows pointy finger thing now to show you that you can click something, which is quite nifty. I also added two features.

The first feature is the ‘fleet overlay’ at the left of the screen. It’s a scrollable column of icons for every ship in the fleet. The tooltips show your current damage percentage, and they fill red as the ships take damage. you can also click them to zoom to that ship. It’s a handy way to see at a glance in big battles which ships are taking hits. I also added a tiny arrow icon to toggle that new feature on or off, in case some people don’t like it. I have a tiny UV bleeding issue on that button I must fix…

gratuitous space battles fleet overlay UI

The second feature is rather cool for statistics-freaks. If you have played much GSB, and spent much time on the ship design screen, you will know the frustration of seeing “weight=122” and not really knowing how that compares to anything else. Obviously you can go through each module of the same ship class and compare, but wouldn’t it be better if the game makes that trivial to do?
Tada! It does. You can click any of those data entries at the bottom left now, and get a comparison window, ready sorted and scrolled to show where the current module fits in. I hope people find this useful.

gratuitous space battles ship design screen

Now I can get back to work designing fleets for the religious aliens in the next DLC…

Both these spangly new things will be in version 1.32, which will get released shortly before the new DLC. Yay!