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Code Monkey go to job

(Apologies for the outdated reference…remember, I’m kinda old. You’re lucky I’m not throwing out War Games references)

So it has now officially been over a year since we threw in the towel to pursue more meaningful and profitable ventures in the form of the day job. Does not actually feel like that long. It is AMAZING what can be accomplished when not preoccupied with writing and debugging code! I’ve remodeled and painted 2 rooms, started writing a book, revisited oil painting, built some patio furniture, brewed a crap-ton of home-brew and re-introduced myself to my family. The day job is proving to be pretty lucrative also, now that it has my full attention.
Of course, this is not to imply that spending hours of my day writing and re-writing and playing games wasn’t fulfilling. It just seems that, of all of my various ventures, the time spent vs. rewards received (both in financial rewards and in feelings of accomplishment) is by far the lowest. (That or I just suck at it!) That being said…
Things at the day job are in no way starting to calm down. In fact, my time commitment (and return on the investment of that time) is continually rising. Still, I find my focus being able to safely level off and my mind is more able to wander back…
Dammit, I know how many hours I spend doing this shit, and the meager results it yields, but I just can’t stay away! I’m drawn to the challenge! As a result, much of my free time this week was taking this platformer I’ve been toying with for a few months and adding a runner game to it. Still not going full-on balls to the wall with this, it’s just a casual hobby…
But damn, it feels kinda good to be back.


Image

The cake is a li… oh, you already knew that.

The cake is a li... oh, you already knew that.

Not my game, but I did make a level in their level editor and thought that was worth mentioning.(Not #1GAM worthy of course…) Anyway, Windows Phone users can play it in “Portals 2D.” Totally worth the buck-twenty nine. (The game as a whole, of course – not just my level. Well, that too.)


Reduce heat to simmer

Well, due to a newly found alignment of priorities, triggered by a realization that I’ve been mildly neglecting my day job responsibilities, we will be putting Lethal Martini Games and KOHO Games on the back burner for a while.
Late last year we came to realize that the indie gaming market has become quite saturated and the bar has been raised significantly, placing it well beyond our reach in our current personal and professional situations as a viable source of secondary income without the help of a full team (or getting fired from our day jobs, which would really suck). As our schedules are both quite random and have no way to dedicate ourselves to a team in a way that it would be fair to the others involved, our little project was downgraded to hobby status. That has lightened the burden a bit, and moving forward we planned to approach things a little more casually (saying things like “sure, I’ll see if I can spit out a Blackjack game in a week – why not?”).
However, even as a hobby, our available time has diminished down to next to nothing and even semi-seriously pursuing game production isn’t in the cards, at least for a while. I haven’t written a line of code in like 2 weeks (*twitch*). Not sure how this is going to affect the #1GAM challenge – we might still pop out some super simple works just to say we didn’t give up.
Speaking of which, this is in no way a declaration of surrender or defeat. We will not brand ourselves with the tag of “failed indie game developers,” because that would imply that we are done trying. We acknowledge that as a duo we are technically well beyond the prime of the average video gaming visionaries and that our games are fair to partly mediocre. (Or “shit” as one guy said, though I would have to disagree. I’ve seen shit games, and we’re not quite there. BTW – thanks, asshole – you know who you are.) Yes, we’re going to keep going, just a little slower than before (if that’s possible), and who knows? Down the line we might just get the itch to assemble a team and change the world of gaming as we know it.
But right now I have to place a parts order and take care of some other boring grown up stuff. I’ll check back when I can.

Cheers, and thanks to everyone in the indie gaming community, especially the XNA team and the XBLIG community (without whom I never would have even bothered trying in the first place) for being an amazing part of our personal cultures over the last 4 years, and hopefully again in the future.

Paul Klimek
Founder, Designer, Programmer – Lethal Martini Games and KOHO Games


Pew! Pew! Pewpewpewpewpewpewpewpewpewpew!

Just a little side note – we’ve started the framework for a Hostile Hustle sequel… Hostile HELL! Nothing huge to report yet, we’re still whipping up a prototype.
It will be a similar concept, but less retro. We’re doing away with the static armadas and the unidirectional bombs and missiles and adding 360 degree firing, insane weaponry (for both player and enemies), and a TON of powerups! We’ll keep posting news as it happens…


Hostile Hustle back in review

Got the post-boss crash fixed, and I think we’ve found the glitch that’s causing the lockup after the load screen (We never could replicate it, but found one line that under the right circumstances could throw the game into an infinite loop). Hopefully an update will be coming soon, at which point I will hopefully be heating good news from those who ran into the problems!


Storage Wars

So based on where Hostile Hustle is crashing on a small percentage of Xboxes, I think I’ve got it narrowed down to a storage device issue. It SOUNDS like it is happening when I tell the game that no storage device is selected, at which point it should just pop up the selection dialog. I’m banging my head against the wall trying to figure out what is different from one console to the next, and why not a single playtester or reviewer stumbled across this issue. Looking into streamlining options. Frustrated as hell.


Awwww, crap!

Well, Hostile Hustle made it to the Xbox with a couple of bugs – one isolated, one pretty major. Please go here to see what issues have been found, or to report any issues you encounter on any version of Hostile Hustle. Thank you!


Hostile Hustle Releasing on XBOX!

Almost 2 years ago, we put “I Accidentally…In Space!” out on Xbox Live Indie Games for the world to enjoy. We got nice reviews. Made some sales. And it was good.
Shortly after, in the process of moving on to to other projects, we decided to port our little gem to Android and iOS, but decided it needed a little more polish. Soooo, we added some polish, nicked a few edges, added more polish, a couple of layers of paint, some extra limbs, improved gameplay, better graphics… basically enough stuff to make it damn near a new game! And… it was good.
But what about all those Xbox players? We can’t abandon our ROOTS, now can we? (Well, I suppose anyone with a Windows PC can just play if for free, but still…)
So, back to putting in all of the finicky little things required for Xbox, some more time in playtesting and peer review, some new bug fixes, and VIOLA! A pass in peer review!

So, Lethal Martini Games is proud to announce that the all-new “Hostile Hustle” will be reappearing in the Xbox Marketplace in the (improved, easier to find) (thanks, Microsoft!) Indie Games Section!

Running on platforms! Shooting at bad guys! Collecting gems! All for a mere 80 points! WHEEEEEEEEE!


A small step

Nothing really new to report. Started moving around some naming conventions. Boring back-end stuff. Oh, the recent blog posts are now on the New page of our home page. You might be reading this there! So, that’s it for now. Just sayin’ hi!


Eye Candy

Oh crap, I almost forgot! Gameplay video (still a little rough)..


AND a more up to date screenshot (With cool eaten veggie fragments)!!


Loopin’ it

Long time since an update, I know. Hostile Hustle released on Android and iOS with mediocre sales, probably due to lack of marketing. If you don’t have it yet, you should go get it. It rocks.
On the current front, I’m working on integrating iOS Game Center and Scoreloop for some online leaderboard and achievement action for the phones. Haven’t quite worked up a solution for Windows yet, though. XBox will probably utilize a distributed system – someone wrote one, I can’t remember who. I have it somewhere.
Anyway, just letting the world know that, between the day job and keeping my lawn from cooking, I have been working.
Scott, the level design maestro, has over 50 levels done for Stinker! We’re hoping to release a playable beta into the wild soon…


:D Great Googly Moogly

Google merchant account activated, ready to take your money! Hostile Hustle release date coming soon…


Outro…

…IS DONE. is “Outro” really a word? I don’t know, but it’s done nonetheless, at least on the XBox / Windows versions. Porting over to the mobile version now. After that, there is LITERALLY nothing left to do but test the living crap out of this game.


I Accidentally…The Whole Game

Okay, we’re getting close. REAL close. “Hostile Hustle”, the ultimate (and easier to spit out) evolution of “I Accidentally…In Space! Episode 1: Hostile Hustle,” is pretty much in final phases of testing now and is ready for submission to all platforms. Here are the facts:

  • It’s pretty much the same basic game. The achievements (“accomplishments”) are the same. Many of the levels are built off of the original levels. The bad guys and weapons are the same.
  • The graphics have been polished up nicely.
  • You can now jump up through the platforms instead of bumping your head on them in an annoying way.
  • We’ve cleaned up the difficulty levels so they aren’t so damn confusing.
  • A few other small things that launched what we thought to be a pretty good game into a great game!
  • EDIT: Forgot to mention… boring static background photos replaced by three level parallax scrolling space backgrounds! Don’t ask why we didn’t just do that in the first place. (Answer: lazy)

Here’s how it’s gonna be released:

  • On XBox Live! Indie Games, it will be released as a separate title from the original “IAIS-EP1:HH.” We will most likely keep the original available for sale for nostalgia purposes. We will be rolling it out at the stock 80 MSP (Better known as one U.S. Dollar)
  • The identical game, with touch controls, will be available on both iOS and Android devices. Selling price will also be a buck.
  • We may or may not release a Windows Phone 7 version. This hinges on (A) how successfully we can port the touch controls over to XNA and (B) the future of Windows phone 7 with Windows 8 on the horizon. Bug us enough and let us know you reeeeaaaalllly want it, and we’ll make it happen.
  • A Windows version will be released, available for direct download from Lethal Martini Games. What would you pay for a Windows port? TEN dollars? FIIIIVE dollars?! ONE DOLLAR LIKE THE REST OF THEM?!?!?!!? Well, how does FREE grab ya? That’s right – at least for its initial release, Hostile Hustle will be available on Windows PCs ABSOLUTELY FREE! Yeah, you’re welcome!

Here’s what will happen down the line:

  • If the world shows us some love and buys a buttload of copies, we will keep adding stuff to it! Levels, weapons, you name it. And none of that freemium in-game purchase nonsense either (we’ll save that for later games). Of course, this hinges on whether or not there are enough people out there playing it, so when it comes out and you get it (and you will…), and you LIKE it (again), tell your friends!

But for now, just watch for the updated teaser… Coming Soon! (For reals, this time. It’s already done, just need to do some small edits and upload it. No, seriously. I’ve watched it. It’s pretty neat – has the new intro sequence from the game and a heavily modified voiceover by yours truly! Watch for it…!

ANOTHER EDIT: Here’s the trailer!!!


Do The Hustle

Working frantically around vacations and the day job to do some more overhauling on “Hostile Hustle” for the phone release. Some levels have been added, some features have been added, some features have been removed… All in all, still coming along well.

That’s all for now! I just wanted to make something with the the title “Do The Hustle.” I can’t believe it took me this long.


Screenshot Saturday Prototype Progress

Still early in the prototyping phase, just throwing it out there…


What stinks?

Thought I would throw out a little teaser pic of our next game – a puzzler involving a lunch basket, some veggies and an adorable little skunk! This is WAAAAAAAYYYYY in the prototype phase, hence the ugly placeholders. Only one test level so far for proof of concept. More news to be reported as it happens!


LMG Salinger

Hostime Hustle (I Accidentally…In Space! Ep1) was release close to a year ago. Some videos were posted shortly after on Lethal Martini’s YouTube page about an overhead, twin stick number called “No Rest for the Wicked.” Then… NOTHING!
Where the hell have these guys been and what the hell have they been doing?
Have the Lethal Martini Games dudes gone into seclusion?!?!?
Nah, we love doing this shit WAAAAY too much for that. The truth is, shortly after Hostile was released, I (Paul) discovered a little gem called Airplay (now known as Marmalade). It’s a nifty little gem that lets me write for Android and iOS without (A) having to use a Mac and (B) having to learn Objective C (yecchhhh!!). It did, however, force me to learn Marmalade and re-learn everything I’ve forgotten about c++. It was a long road of sloppy code and learning from my mistakes and re-writing crap, but eventually I wound up with a fully functional version of Hostile Hustle for Android and iOS (which will be released soon FOR FREE! for a buck – sorry, paradigm shifted when we wound up overhauling the game – see THIS POST. Windows version will be free!).
What it really led to was this:
When we wrote Hostile Hustle, it was built on our proprietary little game library called xDrake. It was decent enough, but was (A) a little limiting and (B) very much geared towards the xBox. For example, mobile and PC games would essentially simulate a gamepad. Eventually we learned that this just wouldn’t cut it, especially when working with touch platforms. So, xDrake was ditched and re-written from ground up as a leaner, more flexible and more multi-platform friendly game library we proudly called LMG_Core! LMG_Core has an XNA version for Window, Windows Phone and XBLIG, and a Marmalade version for iOS and Android. I’m even toying with the idea of writing a Java version for web games, just because it’s that clean and easy to port. All of our games from here on will be built on it.
Which brings us to games… We’re done writing back-end engines, and back to writing games!!!! (YEAAAAAA!) Scott and I have had multiple meetings recently, and are whipping together a prototype for our next release, a puzzler starring an adorable little skunk. More information will follow soon!
We’re back, folks, and we’re not f**ing around! We’ve streamlined our coding and our process, and we now have the foundation we need to get past a lot of the technical minutia and focus on what we desire most: making some games!

EDIT: Did I mention I bought an HTC Trophy Windows Phone 7 phone? 🙂 All platforms testable nao!!


And the winner is…

…A slight hybrid between #2 and #3, reworked slightly to better accommodate the 1:1 ratio of an iTunes icon. We’ll also be using a scaled down version of this for the game icons also.

XBox / Windows on the left, iTunes on the right.


Box Art Candidates…Survey SAYS…?

Which one?!?!? Opinions welcome from all!! (Except Zoidberg)


On XBLIG Playtesting

So, there has always been a gentle method for playtesting and reviewing XBox Live! Indie Games. For those of you not familiar with the process, it goes like this: You submit your game, either for playtest or review. Playtest is exactly as it sounds: other developers test playing your game and offer opinions or report problems on the game. Review is the same thing, but more strict as it is the process that decides whether your game is ready to go to market. Until you get big enough to graduate to XBLA and submit your wares directly to Microsoft, this is what you will go through to get your game out there. It’s not a bad process, it lets you get the honest opinions of other developers similar to yourselves, and allows you to try new games and be a part of getting others’ games out to market.
Where this can become difficult is when you are a developer who needs to have a game tested or reviewed, and you in turn are testing and reviewing other developers’ games. You don’t want to piss anybody off, you see, as they might return the favor and fail you (or nitpick every little flaw in your game) out of spite. On the other hand, you don’t want to let a problematic (or just plain bad) game slip by. So, you pussyfoot around the subject, trying your best to not say anything that will turn another developer against you while still attempting to be as thorough as possible. We see this all the time, and unfortunately many feel this is the necessary way to handle things if you want to be assured that your own game will ever hit the dashboard. Not everyone, mind you – nearly all of the XBLIG veterans and MVPs do a great job of being tough on devs, but some of us… (well, we know who we are…)
Anyway, I am taking a different philosophy now…
First of all, I want to make it clear that I’m not going to go out of my way to find every way possible to hate the games that I playtest or review. There are a few critics out there that can handle that task once it hits market. That is not my goal. My goal is to help developers of flawed games to be aware of it, as cordially as possible, in hopes that they will make the effort to raise the bar and enjoy better sales figures as a result. I think everyone should adopt this philosophy.
What I will do is this: If I don’t like your game, I’m going to let you know. If the controls feel clunky, I’m telling you. If the graphics feel amateur and unfinished (genuinely, not in a deliberate retro way), my opinion will be voiced. I will tell you everything I feel should be changed (in my PERSONAL opinion, which is not always that of the masses, so don’t listen to EVERYTHING I say, just file it as input). Now just to be clear, I might be blunt from time to time, but I’M NOT GOING TO BE A DICK ABOUT IT. After all, we are still a community and should treat each other respectfully. But if your game in playtest is flawed to a point where it is almost guaranteed to be made an example of when people are rating the quality of XBLIG as a whole (or indie games in general), I am going to call you out on it.

Above all, I expect playtests and reviews of my games to be handled in the same manner. Thank you!


Bitchin’ Boss Background

Yeah, that’s right. I said “Bitchin’.” So what?!?

Can’t take credit for it though:
By Patrick Hoesly
Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Here’s the original image at Flickr:
246 - Metal Flow Texture


Oh it looks gooood!

So, after yet another month of procrastination, it’s time to start blabbing about our stuff again. As some of you know, “I Accidentally…In Space!” has been getting a bit of an overhaul, partially in preparation for the Android / iOS / Windows release, partially because it just plain needed it. Though there are still quite a few back end issues to clear up, on the front it’s looking pretty fine. Check it out…!


If you want to compare, here are a few older posts highlighting the graphics then:

Multiple screenshots from Feb. 2011

Original Title Screen


State of the Union

Again, a long time has passed since our last post. Sorry about that. We’ll get better, I promise!!! 🙂
So this has been an amazingly productive weekend. Thanks to an unexpected rainy Saturday, I was able to take the big dumping ground of a single header file per c++ project and get them properly segregated. As I was basically re-learning what little I had previously known about the ins and outs of c++, I did a half-assed sloppy job of it. It’s still a little sloppy, but much better! I’m testing the ARM build of “No Rest for the Wicked” as we speak. I did this to clean things up a bit and to make things a little more manageable. There are a couple of weird crashes happening on iOS and Android versions (in different places – weird), and hopefully I will be able to track them down now and move forward with some real progress. I will also be overhauling my drawing routines to be a little cleaner. Once this is all taken care of, I’m hoping we’ll to be able to just start knocking out some games for reals!
Kolphyre has taken the helm nicely with NRFTW, and has 9 (out of 100 planned) playable levels! Now it’s kind of a race to see who can get something to press first. I’m working on what is basically a completed game, so I won’t gloat too much when I win.
And, on a final note, I finally got around to some XBLIG playtesting. I really need to stop neglecting that so much – poking around on the forums after too long is like taking a year off of school, coming back, and not knowing who the hell anybody is.