Category Archives: Uncategorized

IT’S TANKS! Problems & Temporary Removal from the App Store

If you’ve already downloaded and started playing IT’S TANKS! in the few hours it’s been available, we hope you’ve been enjoying it so far, but if you could hold off telling your friends to download it for the moment that would be much appreciated.

We’ve identified a problem with rematches that wasn’t showing up in the Game Center sandbox environment (the game gets stuck on the “Creating Game” message occasionally if you rematch someone) and have removed IT’S TANKS! from the app store until we can get a fix written and through Apple’s certification.  We’re trying to get this through as quick as possible and will be going full ahead with launching IT’S TANKS! properly once it’s back in the App store.

In the meantime, the versions you have still work fine bar the bug so feel free to keep shooting each others’ Tanks!  And if you feel like shooting the devs, I’m Caffeinebomb on Game Center so fire away!

Concept Sketches

Well, it’s been a while since I updated this.  This is the last week in our contract at Lionhead, after that we’ll be back full time on Bit By Bit stuff.

We have been working, slowly, on our new game for the past few months, and while we’re not ready to announce what it is yet I thought I’d share some of the concept sketches the artist we’re working with has done for the game.  Yes, a real artist!  You don’t have to put up with my work any more.

That’s all for now.  Blog posts should become more frequent when we’re working full time on the new game.

McVideogame

Yesterday I found a game called “McDonalds’s Videogame”, this is a game designed to teach the player about a side of large corporations like McDonald’s that they may not be aware of. It’s a game with a very clear viewpoint and it’s not shy about getting its points across in the tutorial.

In this game you have four play screens:
1. The outskirts of San José, where you put down fields of soy and cattle.
2. The feedlot where your cows get fattened up and then slaughtered, which is just shown as the cows getting lifted off the screen by a magical crane and burger patties coming out of the machine.
3. A McDonald’s, hire people to make burgers and serve the customers.
4. McDonald’s headquarters, here you can see what the board thinks of your progress, run advertising campaigns and corrupt various officials through your PR team.

So there’s choices to be made in each area, do you want GM soy, more cattle in each field, bulk up the feed with hormones or industrial waste, keep your employees motivated which tends to be giving them a badge or firing one of them. Most of these activities, along with the advertising and corruption operations run from head office, cost you money and the only thing bringing money is selling tasty, tasty burgers to the public.

As you expand your operation you need more land (land you graze cattle on eventually becomes unusable) you’ll cut down rainforests and the environmentalists will protest you. Workers aren’t happy, get new workers! Employee rights groups protest you. Making kids obese or people ill because a sick cow became a burger before you could send it to cow heaven. More protests, the knock-on of all this protesting is less people want your burgers, so business gets drastically reduced for a few months.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

You can try and combat this with advertising and corrupting officials. But here you have to change around what you’re doing, the same advertising campaigns get old, so that boost you got wears off and the number of customers falls.

And head office, all they want it growth. You’re never expanding and growing the business fast enough so you’re pushed to try and sell more and more burgers. This in turn leads you to spend more and more money…

All in all it’s a game you can’t win, in my first three attempts the game lasted barely 5 minutes each before I was fired because I had lost McDonalds so much money because I was trying to expand, like head office demands, but wasn’t selling enough tasty, tasty burgers because I was getting protested against and fined for serving the customers bad meat, my adverts just didn’t boost business enough.

It’s stacked against you, but this just made me determined to ‘win’. So what happened in the fourth game?

I was put in charge of McDonald’s in January 2000, I surveyed my pristine farmland in San José and visited my clean, new restaurant .

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

I started off slowly. I kept the minimal amount of cows in the fields and front loaded soy production. I hired one person to make burgers and one to serve the public. Those first few years were hard, head office wasn’t happy with the rate of growth but they couldn’t get rid of me as I was making money.

As the years went on I bulldozed the rainforest for farmland and fully staffed up my McDonald’s. Advertising was in full effect so we had a constant stream of people through that door. Protests would still have a major effect in customer numbers and we had to fight them all.

This early stage of the game was still heavy in the micromanagement, changing advertising campaigns regularly and combating negative PR with our PR machine. Employees would regularly need firing as they didn’t smile on the job and that’s not the face we’re showing the public!

About 2025 I hit a tipping point where things mostly started running themselves. I had no soy fields any more, I had a huge stock pile, and all my land was given over to cattle. Head office still wasn’t happy with the growth but they never will be. I was running all the advertising and PR (corruption) campaigns, it was costing a lot of money per month but it didn’t matter since I was raking it in. The general population finally got the message about my tasty, tasty burgers and they couldn’t get enough.

Various groups and officials were constantly protesting my operations, but it didn’t matter because the public wanted burgers. I could let sick and mad cows become burgers, but it didn’t matter because the public loved burgers. I could fire any employee that wasn’t smiling and just hire a new one, but it didn’t matter because the public needed burgers.

The machine was running itself, all I had to do was get rid of unhappy employees. People like a smile with their burger.

Then, one day in March 2054 there was no more land and there were no more cows.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

But that didn’t matter, we had plenty of stocks of burger patties!

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Eventually all the patties were made into burgers, waiting to be sold to the public who just couldn’t get enough of my tasty, tasty burgers. The preparation staff got let go at this point, as there simply wasn’t any work for them to do. They protested us, along with environmentalist and health groups but we couldn’t hear them over the sound of people buying burgers.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

May 2063, the burgers run out. There’s nothing to do except turn away the customers and fire the remaining staff.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

All PR and advertising campaigns are shut down. No money is going out and no money is coming in. There’s no where to move my farming operations so in August 2065 I’m force to leave McDonald’s, taking with me my share of the massive profits we made.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

http://www.mcvideogame.com/game-eng.html

A Few of my Favourite Talks From GDC ’12

One of my aims is to update this blog regularly, at least once a week. So we’ve hit Wednesday, the day I randomly decided was update day and I haven’t got anything prepared. Just about all my waking hours are currently dedicated to finishing Fable Heroes, leaving little time for anything else. So I thought I’d do a quick post sharing some of my favourite talks from GDC last month, once again I wasn’t there so I’ve been catching up with these any spare moment I get.

Inside GlassBox

This is a great talk by Andrew Willmott and others about the new simulation engine Maxis have developed for Sim City 5.  As someone who played a lot of Sim City & Sim City 2000 growing up and having worked on the simulation for Black & White 2, Fable 2 & 3 I find this stuff fascinating.

Slides for the talk can be found on Andrew’s site.

And there are videos of part of the talk, showing some of their new systems:

It Stinks and I Don’t Like It: Making a Better Engine Experience At Insomniac Games

This talk covers how they changed their tools at Insomniac to improve the user experience and speed up development.  Annotated slides for the talk can be found here.

Do (Say) The Right Thing

Josh Sawyer’s talk about narrative and choice architecture in games: http://diogenes-lamp.info/GDC12_Do_Say_The_Right_Thing.pdf

Portal 2 Post Mortem

Definitely worth an hour of your time to watch.

And finally…

All of GDC in 90 seconds

It’s a bit quiet…

The plan this year was to blog more about what we’re doing, what we’re working on and what we’re thinking about, so far that hasn’t happened.  So, what is going on?

We’re working on a few concepts at the moment for some different platforms.  Unfortunately none of them are in a state where we can show them yet, we will as soon as we can.  There was a game we started on last year but cancelled for a good reasons, I think I’ll write more about this in the future.

Currently we’re both doing contract work which will help pay the bills and keep us going for longer.  Again, this is on an unannounced project.

So there you have it, we’re working on things we can’t tell you about yet but will as soon as we can.  Also, I aim to update this blog regularly – I will try regular weekly updates at first, which will inevitably become more frequent as we can show more and talk more about what we’re doing.