Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Guess who's BACK? (Blog Update 30/05/2013)

UPDATE: Bubble Virtuoso is now available on Google Play! Get it now for some bubble popping ecstasy!

Hello ladies, gentlemen and gamers and let me welcome you all back to this long-belated blog entry!

Boy, what a hectic couple of weeks it has been - but I'm proud to say that as of 2.5 weeks ago development for Bubble Virtuoso (Build 1.0) was finally completed!

So wait, since it was completed that long ago then what the heck did I do all that time? Well, I think I deserved a bit of a break didn't I? Besides, I was hard at work preparing Bubble Virtuoso to be submitted into IndieCade! Exciting times, can't wait to see how far my game can go!

So in commemoration of Bubble Virtuoso Build 1.0, today we will be looking back at the arduous journey from a simple concept to being one of the most ambitious things I've ever done in my life.

A Trip Down Memory Lane!

April-May 2012
  • Started indie venture with my ex-business partner. I was in charge of art and everything else not related to programming (of which my ex-business partner was in charge of). Started "Plan A" project (currently shelved by me).

June-July 2012
  • Ex-business partner left, leaving me with no programmer to help me with game development. Started learning on how to use PlayMaker in an attempt to recreate project "Plan A" all by myself. In the end, it was proven infeasible considering that this was my very first programming experience (although not exactly learning any programming language). All I had were my experience in designing game mechanics (both high and low level) and my knack in mathematics.

August 2012
  • This month marks the start of Project "Bubble Virtuoso" after evaluating my resources at the time (ex-business partner up and left two months before, somewhat competent with the ins-and-outs of PlayMaker at the time).

November 2012
  • Constant experimentation yielded a rudimentary prototype of Bubble Virtuoso's core mechanic. I had received tremendous help from my father who helped me with figuring out the logic behind Bubble Virtuoso's core mechanic - Without his help, the project would've had been in a standstill!
  • Note that at this point it was decided that Bubble Virtuoso's focus was to survive and clear as many waves of bubbles as possible with the waves as the sole factor in the player's score.

December 2012
  • Finally learnt that Unity's default font is crappy and that I need to import custom high-resolution fonts to get clearer and scalable text. Also learnt about PlayMaker's quirks in regards to certain actions.
  • This month also marks the official birth of Sonic Punch Studio!

January 2013
  • Breakthrough in developing the auto-scaling system for the main game's boundaries, UI and bubbles. Final result - the prototype can be played on both phones and tablets with varying resolutions.
  • Fixing a bug in the game's main FSM yielded the ability for me to affect the pacing of the game and also resulted in early-stage optimization of the state-flow of the FSM.

Late January - February 2013
  • Started revamping Bubble Virtuoso's main game UI and functions as well as the first-time integration of sound into the game. This resulted in one of Bubble Virtuoso's iconic features - with the lack of time bars/timers, sound and visuals were used to represent time.
  • Also started changing the balancing of the game's difficulty after realizing that it was too easy.

March 2013
  • It was during this time that I've decided that Bubble Virtuoso will be a game about scoring points and no longer about surviving waves of bubbles. As a result, I've implemented systems for score keeping and score multipliers.
  • The infamous oblong polygonal gauge makes its return in the form of a new gameplay feature designed to reward players for playing well - "Bubble Time" (now named "Dubble Time" due to the confusion the previous name generated). Development of this feature took a good few weeks of research and experimentation as it was the first time for me dealing with animated gauges that are affected by active changes in the game. Making this feature taught me the lesson of that nothing is as easy as first thought - the first prototype of Dubble Time literally affected every single facet of the game's structure flow; as a result of this I was forced to simplify the feature to only affect incoming scores and certain visual and audio aspects and not the flow of gameplay.
  • This month was also the month where I've presented a polished demo of Bubble Virtuoso at IGDA Sydney's  "Show And Tell" event and also published a web demo.

April 2013
  • Created a personal asset pooling solution for the spawning of bubbles which helped alleviate a lot of the performance issues that plagued Bubble Virtuoso. Also added loading screens and basic main menu screen. Implemented more tweaks to the game's difficulty level.
  • Made use of Smart Pool to create extra visual effects. Tweaked visuals and colours to make it more colour-blind-friendly.
  • Created final score result interface that appears upon game over. This resulted in me having to create additional systems that calculates post-game bonuses and also changed the way the hi-score was being updated.
  • Presented beta of Bubble Virtuoso at IDGA Sydney's "Beer and Pixels" event.
  • Finalization of Bubble Virtuoso's visuals. Also fleshed out the main menu screen and also implemented a requirement for the player to pop the bubbles in numerical ascending order to start a game.
May 2013
  • Tweaked the range of numbers appearing at certain stages of the main game.
  • Changed how Dubble Time works - Due to comments about how players would not realize that they can shake the device to activate Dubble Time to increase their point intake, I've changed it so that Dubble Time is activated automatically. This simple change drastically changed how Bubble Virtuoso is played. Previously players can choose when it is advantageous to activate Dubble Time, but with it now being automatically activated players are now forced to perform well in-game to fully capitalize on Dubble Time's benefits so that they can maximize their final scores.
  • Hired A.Coe Music to help compose original soundtracks for Bubble Virtuoso. This lead to a slight change to how music is integrated to the game's gameplay.
  • Added additional sound effects and positive feedback on buttons and the such.
  • Double-checked and finalized build just in time for this months "Beer And Pixels" gathering.
  • Submitted Bubble Virtuoso to IndieCade.
Final Statistics
  • Overall Development Time: 10 months from the actual start of project Bubble Virtuoso.
  • Amount of Test Builds built: 217 (including ones made post-completion when trying to figure out how to successfully sign the APK file)
  • Total Financial Cost up to End of Depicted Timeline (Not including labour): $870 (approximation due to some figures being in USD)
Cost Breakdown

  • Unity3D and Android/iOS publishing licenses: Free!
  • Business Cards and Stationery: $269
  • 3rd Party Unity3d Plugins: Approx. $115
  • Font Licensing: Approx. $51
  • Original Music Composition: $340
  • IndieCade Submission Fee: $85
  • 2 Pairs of Disgustingly-Useless Headphones: $10!
Final Word

Phew, that quite a bit of typing there! But that only reflects the amount of work given into developing what Bubble Virtuoso is right now. Of course I have fixes and updates planned post-release so it's a given that things are not over yet! Speaking of release, the original planned release was to be in mid-June but may be pushed forward earlier depending on circumstances.

As for lessons learnt - milestones! One of the biggest problems about my development process was that I didn't create any milestones or even sprints to punctuate my progress. As a result, I felt that the development time got drawn out longer than expected to be - but on the flip side, this is my first self-produced game and also I had to start from scratch with no programming experience, so a lot of time was spent on experimentation.

Besides, being able to come up with a game in 10 months despite having no prior programming experience is a feat in itself if I say so myself.


Anyway! That's it for this blog update! Just a heads up to my readers that my weekly blog updates have been rescheduled to occur on every Wednesdays (AEST) so look out for it! For now, thanks again for coming by and be sure to tune in again next week for another update here at the Sonic Punch Line!


  1. Gratz Damien! Just a huge amount of effort and time, but you still persevered through it all and got it out, and independently as well! You really set a great example to all us Indies out there!


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