In the back of my head was a growing concern that I was yet to test CC2 on a budget computer.
Having a Core i7 920 with 6GB of 1600MHz RAM and a 9600GT (ok, the latter isn’t that impressive but it still chews through any game no problem) sounds great, but when it comes to developing games it can actually be a burden. Reason being, it has absolutely no problem running Caveman Craig 2. No FPS drop at all. This makes it much harder to work out what slows it down most should I try it out on another machine and find it does not run very fast.
So, I decided to try it out on my mothers laptop. She has a 2.3GHZ Pentium Dual-Core (this is a chipset below the Core 2 Duo’s), with 2GB of RAM and an integrated Intel graphics chipset. This seems like the ideal ‘base’ spec for CC2. If you have anything lower than these specs, you have an old machine and you’re probably used to things not running brilliantly anyway.
Unfortunately, the game didn’t run completely to my satisfaction, although it certainly wasn’t as bad as it could have been. It ran at a steady 40fps (my target frame rate) when lighting and sun effects were switched off, with approx. 10-13 cavemen (shared between the players and the enemy tribe) active. But with the sun effects on the game quickly sunk to 35fps, and even dipping into 28 from time to time. Ok, time to optimise those sun effects.
Lighting wasn’t as slow as I’d thought either. With it turned on, the frame-rate would occasionaly drop to 39, suggesting it’s sitting just above 40. That might sound just fine, but keep in mind the game is hardly completed and a lot will be added very soon. Still, lighting is a luxury that is probably expected to only work nicely on dedicated graphics.
Many are relaxing over this Christmas break, be it an absence of school, work, or just overall cheer and celebration..
I on the other hand have been using my 4 week holiday off work to make some considerable development on Caveman Craig 2!
Greg VanderBeek, the artist behind Teka Teki, is now working with Tim and I to complete some of the more static imagery for CC2, and he’s doing a great job. Tim is off touring with his puppet show but will be back in a few weeks to start some serious ‘animationing’ for the game. We’re also talking with potential distributors to work out a release schedule and marketing.
And as for the gameplay itself? Well, I’m finally entering stages where I can grow and defend my tribe without the aid of a debugging console or ironing out bugs every couple of minutes. In fact, I played for 30 minutes straight tonight, building a tribe of about 6 cavemen (while Evil Craig got to 12, smart bastard). It’s getting very exciting!
Unfortunately there are no predators as yet, other than the velociraptor (but the director doesn’t spawn them at this point), so it’s impossible to lose. Occasionally a caveman will ‘trip’ into enemy territory and will get pummelled by hunters, but other than that it seems pretty peaceful.
As I play, I write down new things I need to add, bugs to fix, and so on. There’s a long long list, but I’m confident by the end of my 4 week holiday, Caveman Craig 2 will be looking more like a video game.
Meanwhile, Teka Teki seems to be selling well, and has very positive reviews. Even my 30-something-year-old brother-in-law couldn’t put it down for an hour! If you have an iPhone or iPod touch (or even an iPad), do check it out! Even if you don’t want to spare the 99 cents, try out the lite version first! Sales are helping us fund some necessary spending to be made on Caveman Craig 2.. so it’s very much a worthy cause
It’s been a real joy ironing out bugs with Caveman Craig 2; there, I said it. It’s not often I can say I enjoy what is usually such a tedious task. But I think I owe it all to the developer console I created some years ago, called the “Parabox Console”.
Essentially, it allows me to do everything that Game Maker’s “Debug Mode” does without having to opt to play in debug mode, and in addition offers better error management and custom commands. I can also have objects send messages to it so I can tell how my engine is behaving without having to debug with silly “show message” functions that can easily render the game playable if it starts popping up every step. For example, the director will send a message to the console whenever it spawns an object into the landscape, for example, “Director: Othnielia Spawn”.
I’ve gone almost overboard with custom commands, too. I can simply type “dosleep” in the console to tell all the cavemen to go to sleep (as pictured above), and “dowake” to get them out of bed again. I can edit core variables like the speed of time (unfortunately this does not include real life), and even create “sequences” which are basically preset scenarios (combinations of cavemen, etc) with a simple command: dosequence X (where X is the number of the sequence to do).
It’s a slight shame people haven’t picked up on this console a little more. Not for my credibility, but purely because it really is a useful tool once you get into it. I can see myself downloading someone elses too like this and never thinking to use it, but because this is my own tool I’ve forced myself to try it out.. and I’m really finding it useful!
TEKA TEKI is now available for iPhone and iPod touch! This is a very exciting venture for us as we ‘test the waters’ of the app store.
It’s only 99 cents and it’s every bit as good (and improved) as the desktop version. A great game to have in your pocket for when you’re bored.
If you’re not sure, try out the lite version first. The full version is so much better though… i’m such a bad salesman.
I’ve setup a twitter account and facebook page so that you can follow development updates on Caveman Craig and other works in the comfort of your own social network.
Would love it if you followed us to help spread the word!
Facebook: Search “Parabox Games”
Though somewhat unrelated to Caveman Craig, we’ve an exciting announcement or two to make.
Firstly, Tim and I have decided to form a design team as an umbrella for the games that we create together (this includes Caveman Craig, The Treasure House Game, and other games that I have created recently including Teka Teki). We’re calling this team Parabox Games. A website is coming soon!
Secondly, thanks to YoYo Games’ new publishing service, Teka Teki will be coming soon to iPhone / iPod, and later iPad! A free lite version will also be available. I don’t know about you guys but I think it’s something that really suits the iPhone!
Have a great week,
The major component of Caveman Craig 2 is the tribal warfare between your own tribe, and an enemy tribe on the other side of the terrain. And with no tribe complete without a leader, a lot of my time has been spent designing the artificial intelligence for the enemy tribe leader, or his working title, “Evil Craig”.
There’s a sort of trade off in complexity between Craig and other normal cavemen. While Craig is controlled by the player, he needs to be able to perform most of the tasks any other caveman can. On the other hand, hunters, gatherers, and preparers only need to perform a few tasks but need to be able to automate it. When I realised I had to combine both complexities with “Evil Craig” (automating what he needs to do, and doing a large number of tasks), I started to feel a little overwhelmed. But after a significant amount of planning, this is how Evil Craig does his thaing.
As with all cavemen, Evil Craig has a ‘status’ variable which determines what he is doing. These statuses range from ‘throwingrock’ to ‘struggleraptor’ (being ripped apart by our beloved velociraptor), but the most important is ‘normal’. The ‘normal’ status, in the case of AI, tells the cavemen to pick what they want to do based on countless conditions, and then walk towards the required location. Once they reach that location, the ‘normal’ status tells the caveman to change his status to whatever he needs to do, be it pickin’ berries or clubbin’ innocent dinosaurs. It’s a switchboard, or ‘main menu’, for the caveman’s AI, if you will. This is simple for say the Hunter, who’s job is to pick the most dangerous dinosaur and then run towards him, eventually clubbing him or standing afar and throwing rocks based on priority.
Unique to Evil Craig however is his ‘mode’. This tells Evil Craig what he should aim to do. If the mode can’t be performed (for example, if he wants to prepare some meat but there are no carcasses in the cave), the mode cycles until Evil Craig CAN fill the request. The mode is processed within the ‘normal’ status.
Once Evil Craig can fill the mode’s request, an alarm is in most cases set at random as an indicator of when he should move onto the next thing. Preparing a bush may take a very long time and we don’t want Evil Craig spending too much time on it.
What’s left then for Evil Craig is the more strategic, non-‘hands on’ decisions. Namely, choosing what bonuses or cavemen to create, when to get them to follow him, and when to attack Craig’s tribe. This is handled by the “Tribe Director” object which is also responsible for spawning dinosaurs, vegetation, and controlling the weather.
When will it be done?
Don’t worry, I can hear you all; I can tell there’s some frustration in the slow progress of CC2. Unfortunately this is what happens when game design is your hobby and not your full time job. Tim and I do have busy lives. I’m studying I.T and music, working full time, and maintaining a home business in web and graphic design. I also try to keep as social as I can.
Some of you may say “that’s fine, but can you give us an estimated release date?” – and to that I answer ‘no’. I don’t want to get your hopes up, plain and simple. At this point we can’t work with deadlines and don’t want to turn out like 3DRealms with Duke Nukem Forever, promising release date after release date and eventually ‘going under’. The game will be out when it’s finished, and that’s the best approximation I can give you =)
What I can say is that when there’s interesting development news or concept art, etc I can show you, this is the place to find it. You don’t need to visit the site from time to time to check for updates – just subscribe to the RSS feed with your favourite RSS app and you’ll be notified when there are updates.
I’m proud to announce I’ve a public BETA available for Caveman Craig for Mac.
This is the classic version, not the special edition, and therefore free to download HERE.
Please let me know how you go performance-wise and if you find any glitches. I’ve a high-end MacBook Pro so it can be difficult to get a good idea of how well it performs.
CC: SE for Mac is a larger obstacle to tackle but I am working on it in my spare time alongside my other projects.