Designing Sculpt Away

Even though I don’t really recall when or how I came up with the idea for this mini-game, I remember that I really enjoyed designing it. Based on a simple idea, it turned out to be very fun to play. The Mayan theme we designed for its graphics fits the game mechanics perfectly and creates a memorable experience.

Scuplt Away mini-game from Prototype to Final version

Scuplt Away mini-game from Prototype to Final version

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Unity Port for A Clockwork Brain – DevLog #8

DevLog Header 8 SmallWeek 10/11-16/11

Well, another week has flown by, and boy, have we been busy! You might have noticed a slight delay in the releases of our dev logs. Work has piled up, to the detriment of the log’s punctuality. But here we are! :)

Last week, we worked a lot on the Leaderboards and Achievements side of the game. We included both Amazon Game Circle and Google Play Services; they both have official plugins for Unity so the integration was not very difficult. We also created abstractions in our custom Framework, so now we can just say:

 public void OpenAchievements() {
    SW.Achievements.PresentAchievementsOnScreen();
 }

We don’t specify any specific provider (Amazon/iOS/Google Play), our Framework handles the rest.

Another task that we finished this week was the setup of the Daily Rewards panel. This panel awards the Player with an increasing number of Tokens for every consecutive day she logs in the game.

We also solved our problems with Flurry – it turns out that the culprit was none other than the android manifest file and our sloppy copy/paste. Prime 31′s plugin overrides Unity’s default native activity, and for the plugin to work, it should be the only native activity authority in the android manifest file. For example:

<activity android:name="com.prime31.UnityPlayerNativeActivity" android:label="@string/app_name" android:screenOrientation="sensorPortrait">
 <intent-filter>
 <action android:name="android.intent.action.MAIN" />
 <category android:name="android.intent.category.LAUNCHER" />
 <category android:name="android.intent.category.LEANBACK_LAUNCHER" />
 </intent-filter>
 <meta-data android:name="unityplayer.UnityActivity" android:value="true" />
 <meta-data android:name="unityplayer.ForwardNativeEventsToDalvik" android:value="true" />
 </activity>

Our mistake was that we had also forgotten to erase the default Unity activity:

 <activity android:label="@string/app_name" android:name="com.unity3d.player.UnityPlayerActivity" android:screenOrientation="sensorPortrait" android:launchMode="singleTask" android:configChanges="mcc|mnc|locale|touchscreen|keyboard|keyboardHidden|navigation|orientation|screenLayout|uiMode|screenSize|smallestScreenSize|fontScale">
 <intent-filter>
 <action android:name="android.intent.action.MAIN" />
 <category android:name="android.intent.category.LAUNCHER" />
 </intent-filter>
 <meta-data android:name="unityplayer.UnityActivity" android:value="true" />
 <meta-data android:name="unityplayer.ForwardNativeEventsToDalvik" android:value="false" />
 </activity>

So remember, only ONE can handle UnityPlayerActivity. Sort of like Highlander, really.

As we’re nearing the end of the porting project, our QA process is becoming more and more rigorous. Each time we do QA, we try to follow each platform’s Core testing guidelines:

We have an Excel file where we tick off the passed tests for each build target. That helps a lot.

So that’s all for last week, thanks for reading!

Maria

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Designing Logic Tiles

This mini-game was directly inspired by one of the puzzles in another Total Eclipse game, The Clockwork Man: The Hidden World. In that game, the player entered a Steampunk submarine and had to solve a puzzle in order to activate the engines. It was a unique and challenging puzzle, based on logic operations and pattern matching.

Logic Tiles relies on the same concept, while introducing additional attributes that create a somewhat different mechanic.

Logic Tiles mini-game from Prototype to Final version

Logic Tiles mini-game from Prototype to Final version

Description

There are two sets of tiles at the top of the screen and an addition sign (+) between them. At the bottom of the screen there are 2 to 4 options for the player to choose from. The player has to mentally perform the logic addition on the top two cards and select the option that corresponds to the result of the operation.

Difficulty & Progression

The difficulty of the game is affected by several parameters, which allow for a great variety of difficulty levels. The size of the grid reduces as the levels increase, which means that the tiles are getting more in number and smaller in size. Also, the fill rate can significantly make the game more challenging; the fuller the shape, the more information to process. Another attribute is the options the user can choose from also increase, starting from 2 and going up to 4.

Symmetry in Logic Tiles

Levels of symmetry in Logic Tiles (horizontal, vertical, both, none)

A very important factor is the symmetry level of the shapes produced by the filled tiles. The more symmetrical the shapes, the easier for the brain to process and make operations on. The symmetry can be on one axis (vertically or horizontally), on both axes, or there can be no symmetry at all. The higher the symmetry, the easier the level, because the brain can infer parts of the shape just by processing half or a quarter of it. When the symmetry breaks completely, the brain needs to process the whole shape.

A final parameter is the type of operation. I mentioned that players have to add the two shapes together, but there is another option as well, which appears in more advanced levels; subtraction. Players have to visually subtract the second shape from the first. This is significantly harder than adding the two shapes together, so it can make the game very challenging.

Subtraction Operation in Logic Tiles

Subtraction Operation in Logic Tiles

Insane Round

During the most difficult levels of this game, the tiles become very small and the grid fills up to a large percentage. There is no symmetry in both the cards and the options and the frequency of the subtraction operation increases significantly.

Until next week!

Dimitrios Bendilas
Lead Game Designer
@dimitriosb

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Unity Port for A Clockwork Brain – DevLog #7

A Clockwork Brain DevLog 7Week 3/11-9/11

Hello!

Last week we continued our work on the peripheral side of the game. We’ve been implementing Flurry Analytics, by using Prime 31′s Flurry plugin. Even though everything was running smoothly in a test project, on the actual game the events did not seem to reach the Flurry servers. We’re still investigating the issue.

As you might know, at the end of each game, Sprocket awards you with Tokens, depending on how well you did. To the dismay of many of our future Android players, we realised we had a bug in the current version of the game on iOS and have now implemented the correct calculation algorithm for the reward, so the game no longer gives you huge amounts of currency randomly.

We’ve also progressed well with the Daily Rewards panel setup. This panel appears every new day the player launches the game, and gifts them with Tokens. We haven’t yet implemented the actual reward mechanism, but we’ve setup the panel and its accompanying animations.

On the backend side, we focused on implementing the serialization of the user and the game state, along with other important objects that will be used for persistence and communication with the server. In parallel to that,  we implemented a notion of dynamic metrics that change automatically with the player’s use of the game. Both the offline and online component and persistence have been implemented for those metrics. Also, most of the game logic rules were implemented for use in the offline mode of the game, along with many statistics that occur when the player completes a mini-game.

In the previous DevLog I promised that I would write more on AppThwack. It really is a great service! The automated testing script actually worked and we got some in-game screenshots too. I ran the test with the free atom-based devices and I found that the game crashes in 2 of them: Asus Memo 7 and Motorola Razr. Here are their respective errors:

  • Application couldn’t be installed: pkg: /sdcard/temp.apk Failure [INSTALL_FAILED_CONTAINER_ERROR]
  • Application died after launching - Unable to create files directory /data/data/com.totaleclipsegames.clkwrkbrain/files

I think the reason for the first error has to do with the SD Card/External settings on the Android Manifest. For the second one, no clues yet!

That’s all for this week. Thanks for reading!
Maria

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Designing Points of View

Points of View is one of our favorite mini-games from A Clockwork Brain, here at Total Eclipse. It is very original, challenging and tons of fun! Just think that once developed, Yannis, who programmed this and most other mini-games, and Jonatan, who illustrated the game, were competing over 1st place on the leaderboards for quite some time, once the game launched.

This mini-game is among the ones that other brain-training apps copied from us, which is, without any doubt, quite flattering.

Points of View mini-game from Prototype to Final version

Points of View mini-game from Prototype to Final version

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Unity Port for A Clockwork Brain – DevLog #6

A Clockwork Brain DevLog 6

Week 27/10-2/11

Last Thursday, A Clockwork Brain got featured by Apple in the Number Puzzlers collection. This did give us a huge boost, both in downloads, and morale! We’re really looking forward to those features on Android. :)

As the weeks go by, we work less on visible changes and more on what goes on behind the scenes. In other words, nο fancy art for you today!

Since all games have been completed, last week, we finished the Options and Settings screens. We then we devoted our time on the integration of the offline server component in the actual game. That is almost complete now and both business rules and transactions can be run in the game. We also worked on the online version of the component, which connects to our backend and handles the online operation of said rules and transactions.

Continuing our work on game peripherals, we have been debugging and merging some platform-related components that will allow us to store information persistently on the device in order to create and use multi-platform leaderboards and achievements.We also purchased the Unibill plugin that we will use as our unified plugin of choice for in-app purchase handling across all platforms. Because we do not want to be dependent on any plugins, we are also implementing our own, plugin-agnostic, IAP interface on top.

Another area that sees lots of activity recently is QA on devices. Since Android has about 5235 devices, according to the latest number I found on the Google Play Store, it would be prudent to try and test our game with as many of the major devices as possible. I have been giving AppThwack‘s service a test, but unfortunately, since our game runs on Unity, it cannot run the automated tests. For this reason, we have created a small script that will automatically launch and play mini-games, in order to stress-test the app. We expect to have the first automated version on Appthwack soon!

Finally, on the marketing side, we have been really busy gathering and curating our media contacts’ information. By the way, this devlog – like most of of our other blog posts – will be uploaded on Reddit; if you’re a Redditor, go and upvote us!

That’s all for this week, thanks for reading!
Maria

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Designing Anagrams

There are a lot of games using anagrams as their core mechanic and they are essentially all the same. You get several letters and you either have to a) use all of them to form one word or b) use any of them in different combinations to create as many valid words as you can. It’s an interesting mechanic, no doubt, but it’s the same everywhere.

We wanted to create something new, something that takes advantage of how cool anagrams are, but with a whole different perspective. This is how Anagrams was born.

Anagrams mini-game from Prototype to Final version

Anagrams mini-game from Prototype to Final version

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6 Steps to a Sharper Brain, no Matter your Age!

Ever wondered if you remembered to lock the front door to your house? Is that your second or third cup of tea today? You unlock your cell phone every day, but you sometimes can’t remember those darn 4 digits? Well, you’re not alone.

We’ve all felt it, some of us earlier than others. Problem is, many believe these small brain malfunctions only happen due to aging. Thankfully, cognitive decline does not only depend on aging. The brain, like most of our other organs, is working on a “use it or lose it” basis. Which is actually great news!

Although there are many things you can do to protect your brain from cognitive decline, Harvard Health Publications claims you can implement a set of 6 very simple steps in your everyday life and start sharpening your brain immediately.

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Unity Port for A Clockwork Brain – Devlog #5

A Clockwork Brain DevLog 5Week 20/10-26/10

Last week we began by integrating the OBB downloader plugin for Android into our build. As this feature is only usable for Google Play distribution, we further extended it so that it is not included by mistake in i.e. Amazon builds. To do this we used Unity’s Platform Dependent Compilation capabilities, and specifically custom platform defines. So each time we choose to use split binary, we will also include a custom platform define to enable the OBB check inside the particular build. Uploading to Alpha was a bit messy, what with key signing and all that kerfuffle, this post helped a lot.

Quite some time was also spent in fixing a nasty shader bug that plagued the developers as well as our eyes: all the scenes that used a rolling texture, suddenly showed these textures as solid black.  This bug to the clipping multiply shader only appeared on the device, but never in the Editor. It turned out that NGUI required the shader assets to be inside the Resources/ rather than just the Assets/ folder.

On the peripheral side we completed some of the offline specific components that had been started the previous week and started to work on the online component that will be talking to the server. In parallel, we created the infrastructure for storing player metrics. We also continued our cross-platform abstraction efforts by working on a way to store data persistently on the device through a unified interface. And a last, but difficult task, was to polish and standardise the procedure through which we merge our libraries and plugins into the Unity project.

That’s all for last week!
Maria

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Designing Speed Match

In the past years we have been traveling often; every one or two months, my brother Argiris and I, would go on a business trip to Athens or someplace abroad. In these trips, I always carry my bright orange notebook, as I’ve seen that time on a plane can be very productive. I guess it’s because there are very few distractions and you can focus more easily.

In one of those trips, I was trying to think of new ideas for mini-games, and I started looking around, in case I could get inspired by my surroundings. Then I saw the windows, and I thought “let’s make a game with airplane windows!” The idea was that the window shade would open, revealing an item, and the player would have limited time to tap on it before the shade would shut down again.

Speed Match mini-game from Prototype to Final version

Speed Match mini-game from Prototype to Final version

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