Monthly Archives: March 2012

Operation Overhaul – Progress Update #1

Great news so far, Alpha Swarm free downloads jumped significantly yesterday from the day before, and it is even in the top 100 free games! A special thanks to the freebie sites that posted about it (App Chronicles and iPhoneHeadlines). Hopefully the downloads will continue to rise, it’s awesome to see so many people downloading it.

Anyway, here’s a small preview of the pre game weapon select and post game layout coming to Alpha Swarm.

No, it won't really be monochramatic.

Some additions that you guys requested have been added in, including a quick restart that throws you back into the action.

Additionally, you may notice a shop icon. This is part of a much larger addition that I plan to add, which includes upgradable weapons and characters as the game progresses. I’m not quite ready to release much more info on the shop than that for now, though. 😉

Cheers and thanks for reading, comments welcome!

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Operation Overhaul I

Alright, first blog post! It’s about time that I got this thing started, so here it goes:

Alpha Swarm was and is a commercial failure. Now, there are a lot of shortcomings that I could blame it on, but ultimately they’re just excuses. I didn’t spend enough time marketing, and I allowed glaring pitfalls in gameplay to continue, even ones that had been present early on in development. However, I’m still a newbie in this field, so it has been a great learning experience. Such is life, live and learn, yada yada.

Alpha Swarmin' in an updraft.

So, what am I doing about it? First off, I am making Alpha Swarm free for a week to get feedback from you guys on how to improve it.

As a solo indie dev, one of the hardest challenges for me comes from gauging the difficulty curve on my games and making them accessible to a fairly wide range of customers. I’m so close to the product from inception to completion, that of course I can beat every level without much effort, but the same can’t be said for the players.

Why not start a new game from scratch? Alpha Swarm is a rather unique blend of elements from strategy, platforming, and various other genres of games. Frankly I’m in love with the idea, and just feel I fell a bit short on execution.

Here are a few aspects of the game I think most need improvement, and as I said I’d love to hear what the players have to think, as well.

The levels are needlessly large. If you’ve played Alpha Swarm, you’d see that at the beginning of a level, you can zoom out and see the layout and position of the enemies. What I noticed when doing this, though, is that the characters are still easily recognizable and no real detail of the game is lost. Often times when you are trying to shoot at enemies in game, they aren’t visible until after you’ve already pressed and dragged your finger to aim your weapon. I am pretty confident that this control set up made it difficult for newcomers.

A level zoomed out... yet all is recognizable!

The scoring system is convoluted. There really isn’t much to say about this. You get points for combos, finishing a level quickly, and having abilities left over when finishing a level. Great right? I could try explaining the intricacies of it, but I don’t even remember them exactly. Time to scrap it.

The character lacks character. I feel the game as a whole has a quite a bit of character to it, minus the main freaking character. It seems that most successful games of this nature are overflowing with character and style, and I don’t want mine to be an exception. The main character needs to show emotion when landing hard, crouch down before jumping, etc. If it would require motion to execute in real life, it should in-game too.

The HUD is bulky. Just look at how much of the screen is occupied by icons at the top! Or even in the pre-game menu. The HUD obstructs the game view far too much. This should be a fairly easy improvement to make.

More bulky than a pocket full of tennis balls.

I was planning on going over a few elements I’d like to add in, and these will actually step Alpha Swarm up to the quality of the big leagues. However, this post is already longer than I intended, so I’ll have to save something for the next post!

Thanks for reading, and remember to comment if you have something to say!

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