Archive for November, 2009

Customer “Support”

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

Here is an example of why I hate customer support at large companies. I recently visited GameHouse’s website to inquire as to whether they’d be interested in selling Insectoid on their site. After finding a Contact page, I was taken to a Business Development form, which I filled out. Upon hitting the Submit button, it stated in bold red letters “Please fill the form correctly.” No explanation of what was wrong. No matter what I tried to do differently, the form would not resubmit, and on top of that, would erase itself each time. I tried several times, on both the GameHouse site and on RealArcade’s site, with no success. Even tried a different browser.

I contacted GameHouse email support. They told me I could write to their physical mailing address or call them on the phone. I tried the phone option. The support representative on the phone gave me a support email address I could write to. Today I wrote to that email explaining everything that had happened, and the representative referred me to the “Contact” page I had started with in the first place! (Apparently ignoring everything in my email about how their Business Development form was not working, or else being so ignorant of the site that he didn’t realize the Contact page lead one to the Business Development form I had mentioned.)

This is why I hate dealing with “customer support” at large companies. And one good reason why I vow to never treat my customers in the same manner. Every support email written to ActionSoft gets a personal reply directly from me, often the same day, dealing with exactly the issue raised. Rather than getting a reply from someone who is unknowledgeable about what you are asking about, and only prepared to give scripted responses.

Midnight Mansion sequel screenshots

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

In early 2007, I began work on a sequel to Midnight Mansion, which I then put on hold to create Insectoid, and also to give mansion designers time to create their mansions for the game. Now that Insectoid is out, I can resume work on the Midnight Mansion sequel, which is already 70% or so complete. It’s a lot of fun to come back to it! Midnight Mansion is a great game that stands the test of time, and has developed quite a loyal following of fans. I look forward to making those fans happy with a major improvement to the game that adds lots of new artwork, several new monsters, new types of puzzles, new music, and much more.

Here are a few screenshots that show some of the new tile artwork in the game. One thing the game has now is several outdoor environments. It also has effects like real-time rain, snow, or falling leaves, which add a surprising amount of atmosphere to the game.

Click on an image above to see a full-size screenshot. Use your browser’s back button to return here.

ActionSoft website down

Friday, November 6th, 2009

The ActionSoft website was down earlier this morning for an hour or two. I contacted my website hosting company and they got it rebooted within 15 minutes. Murphy’s law strikes again… great timing right after a new product launch.

Drooling over Unity

Friday, November 6th, 2009

For the last hour or so, I’ve been reading up on Unity3D, a game engine that targets Mac, Windows, and the iPhone, among others. After having used Torque Game Builder for the last 2 and 1/2 years while developing Insectoid, certain phrases have really made me drool over Unity. They are phrases that shouldn’t mean much, but do:

“Like the rest of Unity’s asset pipeline, it just works.”

I’ve grown quite tired of Torque quite simply *not* working so much of the time. I’ve had to work around so many bugs, missing features, and limitations. So when I read a statement such as:

“Unity has undergone extensive compatibility testing, which means you don’t need to put an ounce of effort into making sure your customers can run your games”

… it makes me *seriously* wish I had been using Unity.

Not only that, but I spent quite a bit of time rewriting TorqueScript into native C, so my game would run fast enough — even on 2.0 GHz processors. Unity3D, on the other hand, compiles scripts into native code, so it runs 20-40x faster, automatically. Geez, they know how to get a programmer’s heart to melt.

Obviously, you can’t believe everything you hear, so I’m going to try this out before I make too many assumptions, but if the claims on their webpage are true… it’s quite unlikely I will be returning to GarageGames for future game development. I’ve reported many to bugs to them over the past 2 years that have never been fixed, and I’m quite frustrated. They have a new 2D engine coming out soon, but it will require OS X 10.6 on the Mac side, as well as only run on Intel Macs. Sorry, that’s too steep system requirements for my taste. Unity apparently has quite low requirements, and the developers work hard to make sure it performs well on older systems. Again, I don’t know if these claims are true, but if they are… Unity3D may just have a new fan.

Add to that iPhone deployment that “just works” right out of the box… and it all sounds too good to be true.

My Birthday… and Insectoid Released!

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

Big news today — it’s my birthday! Well, okay, that’s not really the big news. The big news is that Insectoid is finally released! It’s been a long time coming — about two and a half years in development. But it is finally out! And now I am plotting what projects I will take on in the future. There is a Midnight Mansion project I will be finishing up, but then I get to start something new — and that’s always the most fun! I may even dabble in the iPhone market, we’ll see.

So, celebrate my birthday with me and download Insectoid! It’s free to try, so what are you waiting for?