MonoDevelop failed to start – Unity3D 4.1.5 FIXED

Fix to repair Mono develop in Unity3D 1.4.4 and 1.4.5 when it fails with the following error.

MonoDevelop failed to start. The following error has been reported: Unable to find an entry point named 'gtksharp_list_get_data' in DLL

For me the fix was to remove an early version of GTK# for .net (2.12.10) by Xamarin, Inc which I presume came with an earlier MonoDevelop release or perhaps something like FlashDevelop.

Sakura – The 8 Bit Ninja

Less than three months into the year and three games into it.

I released Sakura – The 8 Bit Ninja today on Android. It’s a simple rhythm game based on a ninja defending himself from ninja stars on a spring evening under the cherry blossom. I like it lots.

The game is free from the following stores Google Play, SlideME with others coming soon.

I’ll release the game on Apple as soon as I restore my developer status over there with the slight chance of other devices to come later (One Touch PC mode most likely).

As usual you can discover more about my games at my gamesite over at HomeArca.de

Amazon AppStore Wait Time – Spring 2013

Thought this might interest a few folks once Google indexes this page.

When an AppStore has any sort of moderation past checking the binary exists and runs it can take a variable time for an app to become available and it drives you barmy waiting.

Before you know it you’re refreshing pages, searching for information on how long the process takes, and checking your spam folder to see if you missed something.

I know it can’t just be me because when I do the Google searches I find loads of other people in the same boat.

For the Amazon AppStore I found lots of info about the period just before and just after the store launched because such checks were new in the Amazon developer community but nothing recent.

So here is my information for Cross Jewels.

Submitted: Friday 1st Feb 2013
Approved: Tuesday 5th Feb 2013
On Sales: Tuesday 5th Feb 2013

Like the Apple store does these days apps swiftly move into the black box where mysteries happen and don’t spend time in pre-process queues.

Today (6th Feb) I uploaded a very slightly different version to Google Play so I submitted an update to the Amazon product to keep the versions in sync expecting it to take days as well.

The update moved to approved in less than a hour.

Notes.
Cross Jewels is a simple game app with a universal age rating and no complex or network features.

A Game a Month – January+ (AKA February) – Cross Jewels

So I made Elvira in an afternoon using dialog from a game design that ended up homeless because I thought I’d miss the deadline for January’s One Game a Month.

As it happens I didn’t miss the deadline (just) but by the time the game hit stores it was February so it would have felt like I was cheating myself.

amazon_promo.fw

Now January’s real game, Cross Jewels, is out and available for Android devices from both the Google Play Store and the Amazon AppStore. It’s probably going to be slightly cheaper on Google where I set the price to 0.60 UK Pounds than the Amazon Appstore where I set the price to one US Dollar but your mileage may vary as I’m sure there are some places and situations that the couple of pence difference is shifted the other way.

It’s a game with jewels set in a grid and as a player you have to click the intersecting lines radiating from the jewels to clear them with a bunch of timed modes. The aim of the game is to score the most points.

It currently doesn’t use online score boards so only local scores are available.

Future developments should see the game released in other places (most notably the Apple AppStore) and on the PC/Mac. If/When I release PC/Mac versions they will be DRM free and available for a quid or so.

I’m a full-time dev. All money goes to keeping me out of an office and in the corner of my sons bedroom (small house) making games for you to enjoy. So perhaps consider spending the price of a newspaper on a game you just might really enjoy to pay some of my bills. ;)

Buy from Google
Buy from Amazon

More/Less at HomeArca.de

Game a Month – January Update – Elvira

As I said previously I’ve signed up for One Game a Month and plan on releasing at least one game every month this year.

While none of these games will be on the scale of my larger, slow moving and generally unannounced titles they will be fully playable games.

The first of these is actually hosted on this site. It’s a twine interactive fiction I wrote in mid January when it looked like my Android game Cross-Jewels wasn’t going to be finished in January. As it happens it was finished (just) but didn’t hit the AppStores until Feb (more in a later post).

The game is called “There’s a Girl Who Works At the Local Chipshop Swears She’s Elvira” which is of course a play on the Kirsty Macholl bitter sweat love song from the early 80′s.

The game itself is also a bitter sweat love story but this time based in the late 80′s with characters based on people I knew by sight as a youngster.

Play the game already

At some point in the future I might work on this a little and style the game more or even port it to another system and expand it.

Tech I’m using in current games.

I’m one of those people who plays with lots of tech and checks every new engine or tool to evaluate it’s suitability for me ideas.

This was great when I was a Technical Director making choices for the benefit of the team but not so great when I’m working by myself and am often driven more by the technology needs than the requirements of the the game in development.

At the moment the main focus is getting several smaller games out and released on several different formats and to do this I need to use multiplatform tools.

Believe me I’ve tried them all over the last two years and evaluated everything. Some got ditched for the simplest of reasons and while they aren’t the right tool for me that doesn’t mean they aren’t the right tool for you so don’t take it that if something isn’t on this list it’s not worth your time to evaluate it for your purposes.

Also I’m a cheap bastard so these tools need to be cheap to get started with and not have silly licencing restrictions. (I don’t mind splash screens and credit where credit is due)

Moai

Moai is ace but I’m not using it at the moment for anything in development.

Moai SDK is a minimalist, open-source game framework optimized for smooth performance in native apps on Android, iOS and Chrome (via NaCl). It provides 2D and isometric rendering and animation, physics, text handling, particle systems, and more from Lua script or C++. Scripting Moai in Lua is a fast way to build and tune games, and gives you a single code base across multiple device platforms and app stores. Full access to the source means you’ll never have to make a compromise in your game play experience or delay your schedule to wait for help.

I love Moai and it’s been developed by game developers for their own use. It’s also being used by Double Fine for Double Fine Adventure of Kick Starter fame.

The main reason I’m not using it right now is I want to hit as many platforms as possible without messing around in a dozen different dev environments and IDE’s and really I’d need to put a few days for each platform fine tuning the host which would be ideal in a company environment or if I’d got one really strong product I’d be able to take the stress of a couple of weeks in a dozen different environments.

A downside to Moai is the documentation. The problem is it’s by a small studio for internal use and then opened up to the wider community specifying it’s for Pro devs. It’s actually seriously small and the code is easy to read so you’ll soon be up to speed but don’t expect your hand to be held. You want to use Adverts in your game then add the code to the host and link it to Moai yourself. You’re a pro. Works for me but might not work for people who don’t have 20+ years coding experience.

Haxe, HaxeNME, HaxeFlixel

Haxe is a EMCA styled language that will be very familier to Flash developers who are used to AS3. Since my last experience of flash development was back when scripting was a second class citizen so I came to this pretty blind but Haxe is the language and NME is a set of libs that are very similar to the Flash ones with Flixel being, obviously, the port of flixel to haxe.

Why use this instead of flash? Well it’s more portable because it compiles to native code which also means it’s faster so if you’re a coder/designer locked into Adobe products it should be a no brainer to give it a go. For the rest of us it’s a bit more difficult of a choice but it still took me a couple of goes to decide that this is the right system for my smaller 2D games.

Haxe can be compiled to all popular programming platforms with its fast compiler – JavaScript, Flash, NekoVM, PHP, C++, C# and Java (soon) – which means your apps will support all popular mobile devices, such as iOS, Android, Windows Mobile, webOS and more.

NME is a free, open-source framework that enables development for iOS, Android, webOS, BlackBerry, Windows, Mac, Linux and Flash Player from a single codebase. Unlike most cross-platform frameworks, NME applications are not written in a low-level language (like C or C++) and does not require a virtual machine or runtime (like Java and Adobe AIR) in order to run on a target platform.

HaxeFlixel is proudly made with Haxe, NME and originally based on as3 code from Flixel. Haxe is a programming language similar to as3 but far superior and open-source.

HaxeFlixel currently lets you compile games to IOS, Android, Blackberry, WebOS, Mac, Windows, Linux and Flash.

Three projects interlinked make up this one section which is why it gets three blockquotes :)

You can code your own libs in Haxe of course and other libs are available but Flixel for flash is pretty mature and some quick 2D games have been made with it making it a good choice for me.

As with Moai documentation can be sketchy in this part of the development world. There’s tonnes of it but you’re never quite sure which bits are correct for your use case. Once you find your way around (and for flash devs that’s 10 mins) it’s pretty easy and Googling for how to do something in AS3 will normally give you an answer between 0-100% correct heavily weighted towards the ‘whooopie’ end of the spectrum.

Unity

The world uses Unity it seems. Some really nice games have been produced with it but the Pro licence is pretty expensive for the starving indie. Fortunately the terms of the free licence (formally called indie if my memory is correct) are really liberal and the splash screen Unity adds upfront will satisfy them.

The downside of the free version isn’t the the splash screen but the features that are cut out such as shaders which I really like and want to use given the styles of games I’d like to write in this engine. That said this engine allows RAPID!!!! development of simple 3D games that don’t require shaders or gazillions of particles so that’s where I’m using it.

For independent developers and studios, Unity’s democratizing ecosystem smashes the time and cost barriers to creating uniquely beautiful games. They are using Unity to build a livelihood doing what they love: creating games that hook and delight players on any platform.

I’m sticking with 3.5 because as well as the standard licence I snagged the free iOS and Android licences a while back and I’m pretty sure they don’t carry forward into new major version numbers. If I have a killer project for Unity then I might upgrade.

Final negative note; you need the pro version to add features to Unity and you can’t even form nice WWW get and post requests without it.

UDK

Last but not least is the version of the Unreal Engine open to people without enough dosh to satisfy Epic.

What is it?
This is the free edition of Unreal Engine 3 that provides access to the award-winning 3D game engine and professional toolset used in blockbuster video game development, architectural visualization, mobile game development, 3D rendering, digital films and more.

Who’s it for?
Anyone. Everyone. You. Unreal Engine 3 has been used by game developers, researchers, television studios, machinima directors, artists and students. If you have an idea that needs to be brought to life in a game engine, UDK is for you.

While this is obviously a great engine for FPS developers it’s also been used in some really cool titles such as Waves by Squid In A Box and that is exactly the style of game I plan on using UDK for.

I have a plan for a much larger game that might use UDK in the future but we’ll see.

So that’s the current toolset in terms of development environments and libs. The rest of it’s just text editors and old versions of Adobe products I’ve got legit licences for for graphics with SFXR for sfx generation.

Cheap Game Alert!

I wasn’t going to clutter the blog too much with this sort of stuff but every so often offers come up that I feel guilty for not sharing so I guess this is the start of the Cheap Game Alert tag. (talking of tags and categories I’d forgotten about those)

YouTube Video

These Robotic Hearts of Mine (iTunes/AppStore Link) by Alan Hazelden (homepage) is available for 99p as part of the indie New Year take back in response to a few big companies locking down the AppStore in recently years during the Christmas shutdown with their own offers.

For 99p you get a great puzzle game and I’m not just saying that because I once sat in the pub with the developer trying to get the best possible solution to one of the puzzles. It genuinely is a wonderful little game and I love the use of narrative in a parred down environment it makes me want to finish a few of my projects more every time I pick it up.

It’s in a select band of games that is always on my iPod.