Monday, January 11, 2010

My XNA Game: Progress update

60% Complete!

Yup, that's right. I'm more than halfway done. So it's time for some more info on the game, in addition to what I wrote in this post.

The game's protagonist, as seen in this draft, is a little but slightly overweight bird. The main objective of the game is to collect as many points as possible by picking up bonusses and moving objects from A to B. You have to evade dangerous objects such as spikes, because they can destroy the object you are carrying and/or harm your bird. If you run out of health, you respawn at your birdhouse. Each level has a time limit, so you have to rush a little if you want a highscore :-).

Level 1 is set in the forest, where the bird lives. It's an easy level that allows the player to familiarize him/herself with the controls and game mechanics. Level 2 is set in the city and has an increased difficulty. The actual playing time is around 10 minutes for the two levels combined. The controls are easy: just the arrow keys and the spacebar. Sounds ok for an all-age casual game, right?

Final (?) words on the installer

I decided to go with the visual studio setup project for the installer. While not being 100% convinced of its superiority, to say the least, I had to pick something and go with it. I tested the setup on a number of windows PC's with XP, Vista and 7, and had no problems so far. The installer downloads all missing dependencies.

There's just one last issue with the installer: the setup project creates two files - a .msi file that performs the actual install, and an .exe that checks the prerequisites. This leads to two problems...
  • For the download, I should create a zip file that contains both files. This seems slightly unprofessional. Players expect to download a single installer file which they can immediately execute after dowloading.
  • The players should in some way be forced to run the .exe file. If they run the msi file instead, the prerequisites are not checked. They can install the game even if the .NET framework or XNA runtime are missing. If they subsequently try to launch the game, they'll get a very nasty error message.
A solution would be to use a zip self-extractor, that runs the .exe file after extraction. Sadly, many web resources report problems with this approach as well. So I'm well underway but not yet done with this...


As the tests have proven, the game runs smoothly without framerate drops, so that's one less thing to worry about. But there's still a lot of work to in the next 1,5 months...

P.S: Still no screenshots, since there's some heavy graphics rework being done at the moment...

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