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

Still fixing bugs, adding tweaks

I’m still working on bug fixes and other tweaks and improvements for Gratuitous Space Battles 2. There were, i have to admit, more bugs than I expected. I expected bugs in beta, and a look at the change-list will show you I fixed a LOT of them. What I didn’t expect was such a huge difference between the number of reported bugs in beta and those on release. I can only assume beta players were more forgiving, or maybe expected bugs they didn’t report to get spotted and fixed anyway. With a simple game thats possible, but with a big complex beast like GSB2 and 1 programmer…not so much. If you find a bug in 1600×900 res only when you have bloom turned off, on an asteroid map where you are using decoy projectors against camoflaged enemy dreadnoughts… There is a good chance I never encountered that combination. There is only one of me :D

So here is the change-list (so far) for the next patch…

1) Mouse wheel now scrolls the message screen inbox.
2) Inbox now formatted better. Also this screen now has a ‘challenges’ button.
3) Fixed bug where some combinations of graphics options could result in a blurred white battle screen.
4) Fixed crash bug in ship design screen when a ship encounters layers with zero physical sprites.
5) New tutorial message pops up (English only) when you try to save a fighter/gunship design with no engines or fuel tank.
6) Fixed graphical bug on some resolutions on the ship design screen when changing hull size types.
7) Ship design loading dialog now sorts by name correctly.
8) Fixed shader error message / potential problem on ship design screen for screen resolutions of 900 height.
9) Fixed bug where fighters who started returning to a carrier would not pick a new carrier if their first choice was destroyed.
10) Fixed cursor flickering on some low-spec machines.
11) Added new options to the in-battle visual options to toggle on/off asteroids/hulks/nebula clouds.

I’ll likely push this out tomorrow. I’ll probably also increase the unlock costs of a lot of items as well, and maybe sneak in a performance boost I worked out whilst looking at some code…

One of the things I’ve learned, AGAIN, releasing GSB2 is that vocal people get very angry about lists of content. GSB2 has 11 missions. The expectation is that people then enjoy challenges against each other, but people seem to keep complaining that there are only 4 races and 11 missions. GSB1 had 4 races too, but apparently because extra races got added in DLC, those are expected in the base game, so people expect 8 races and 20 missions.

The irony is, that sort of stuff is pretty cheap and easy top do (although with GSB2 it would boost the download size a lot). Adding another 11 missions is relatively easy (compared to the thousands and thousands of hours that went into the ship-editing and engine-redesign). I guess adding extra missions will be one thing that encourages people to leave better steam reviews, that and increased stability, which I’m pretty sure I have now, and even more so with this next patch.

So lesson learned, don’t ship with the amount of content you think makes sense and is reasonable. Ship with double that. I’ve already set aside time to do it.

In the meantime, if you are enjoying the game, please leave a steam review. I know 99% of you don’t leave reviews, which means I’m kinda dragged down by the 1% who had crash bugs which are now fixed but never changed their reviews. :(


On another topic, I’ve been pretty miserable lately. I’ve got increasingly sick of checking email/forums/tweets each day to get another few pages of abuse, snark, sarcasm and bile thrown at me. Pretty much every game developer I know gets the same treatment. Apparently this is acceptable behavior. It isn’t. I’m trying to dial-down my use of sites like twitter, facebook and public forums and stay away from the corrosive atmosphere of people online. Lets not even mention the steam forums, and the abuse you see there.

So you might be see me post a lot more about technical topics as opposed to business / pricing / sale / industry stuff. There is nothing you can say online on those topics that doesn’t apparently invite abuse and sarcasm. Not to mention ‘advice’ from people who have never sold anything in their lives, but apparently can see immediately why I am so penniless and unsuccessful.

Bah :D



8 thoughts on Still fixing bugs, adding tweaks

  1. As a non programmer, and a game fan, I’m sorry to hear that you’ll avoid business / pricing / sale / industry topics.
    Those posts represent a rare point of view on the game industry as a whole: the one of the creators; and made me realize better the type of work that goes into making and publishing games.

    I can totally understand the frustration of working hard to build something and have people hate on it. However, consider all the people you reach through this blog that are being somewhat “educated” on the hardships and hard work that goes into something like this. Maybe some of your readers would be forum raging trolls if it wasn’t for your posts?

    I feel that your blog is almost a public service! It would be sad to see it linger.
    I’ve been a long time lurker, just thought that this would be a good time to show some gratitude :D

  2. I’m also sorry that you’ll be avoiding the business topics. I’ve always found those very interesting to read, since there’s not a lot of that kind of information out there and being in business myself I like seeing that perspective.

    I do hope you’ll reconsider and keep blogging the way you’ve always done.

    Don’t let the trolls, and that is what they are, keep you from doing what you want to do.

  3. SUGGEST to resolve SAVING BUG …cannot erase/copy on a existing files … always need to create an other save game

  4. I rarely comment on anything on the ‘net, but de-lurking to say something on one topic on which some people criticise you:
    I think that the launch prices of your games are very reasonable.

    The first Positech game I bought was Gratuitous Tank Battles, when it was in beta. I saw comments from people back then saying it was too expensive. I disagreed, and had little hesitation in buying the game.

    That said, my perspective may be affected by living in Australia, where new PC games at retail are typically about AU$100. New “AAA” games on Steam are also often over $60 for Australians. Compared to these prices, Positech games are cheap.

  5. I also enjoy the insight into ‘business’ issues that you post from time to time.

    I will post my thoughts on GSB2 at the official forum (and try to not be too snarky!)

  6. Cliff,

    Sorry to hear the “virtual” abuse. Would you say you experiencing more of these with your current game than with the previous ones?

  7. Well version 1.28 seems to be the magic version! I’ve played several hours with this and have not had a single glitch or crash today. (crosses fingers) I hope the email I sent was helpful. I wish I could have helped more in beta and the launch had gone smoother. I will try to write another review, re: 1.28 if Steam lets me later.

    1. Thats great news, and new/updating steam reviews are much appreciated. I’m releasing patch 1.29 tonight or tomorrow that fixes one more crash I have discovered…

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