Instruction Guide Posted

March 17, 2010

I’ve posted a detailed instruction guide.  If you’re into reading instruction manuals, this page is for you!

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Don’t forget to rate…

March 17, 2010

If you’ve downloaded War of Words, don’t forget to give it a rating on the XBox dashboard or on xbox.com.  Ratings help determine the visibility of games on the marketplace.  Right now, it has a good rating near 4 stars.  It can be hard to get over 3 stars on an indie game in this market.

Update on sales:  going pretty well, although it has only been about 5 days since its release, so it is still too early to say much.  It’s pretty much on target for what I expected, though, and I’m happy with it.


War of Words Now Available!

March 12, 2010

I’m pleased to announce that War of Words is now available on the XBox LIVE Marketplace!  You can queue it up to download to XBox 360 right now!  Or you can go to the XBox LIVE Game Marketplace directly, choose Indie Games, and then New Arrivals to find it.  The game is available in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Sweden, Japan, and Singapore.

The game has a limited trial that allows you to play up to character level 7. It is available for just 400 MSP ($5 USD).

About the game:

War of Words is a unique role-playing game where combat is decided over who can make the best words the fastest.  It features addictive real-time combat, unique spells, equipment, items, and features two mini word games.  Build up your character to face more powerful enemies as a classic RPG storyline unfolds.  Collect gear and items to aid you in your quest.  Face off against a friend on your XBox 360 with multiplayer combat.

To get a feel for how the game plays, check out the video trailer:


Taking Video

March 6, 2010

One of the best things to do to showcase your game is to make a video trailer.  I really didn’t know the best way to go about doing it, nor did I really want to make a big investment.  I basically deduced that there are 3 ways to take video, each with its own pros and cons:

  1. Get an HD video capture card. The benefits of this are that the capture card is the best device for getting a high definition stream into the PC and recording it to disk.  It is the most efficient of any of the techniques.  On the downside, this is also the most expensive.  Most of these cards are $300+ in price.  I didn’t take this option when making my trailer for War of Words, mostly because of the cost.
  2. Use a Hava or SlingBox. There’s some articles out there on the web describing how to take video of your XBox 360 exploits using a hava or slingbox approach.  In a nutshell, these devices work much like a capture card but they are a little cheaper and can be used for other things too.  They take a video signal and transmit it over a network to which your PC is connected.  Then, you capture the frames of video and write to disk much like a capture card.  There’s a little lag, but it works I’m told.  The disadvantages of this technique is that you still have to make a financial investment over $100 and the resolution of the recorded video is hardly pure HD (if that is important to you).  I also didn’t take this option for my game trailer.
  3. The third option is to use Fraps (or similar software). Fraps can capture video of any DirectX window on Windows.  It does this purely in software without a device to purchase.  It costs only $37 for a full registered copy and can be used to record any PC game.  This is the route I took to get my video.  A few downsides should be noted though:  you need a fast PC to get 60fps at 720p, you must have a Windows build of your game that looks identical to the XBox version, and it still costs some money (but not a lot and is a good deal if you ask me).  Also, Fraps can’t compress video (there’s just not enough time or horsepower on the PC to capture frames and compress simultaneously).  This means that a capture of 720p video at 60fps can easily go over 1 GB for just 1 minute of video.  You can use other software to compress the videos down to size but you’d better have a lot of disk space available for the initial capture(s).  I also found that Fraps introduces some overhead so it can drop your framerate a little.  Again, you need a fast PC to do this well.  You can also choose any framerate you want, so if you want to record at 30fps, you have that option to reduce the size of the capture.

After the capturing, I just used Windows Movie Maker to splice together my various captures.  I found that adequate for my needs but it certainly isn’t as powerful as Adobe Premiere (but its free!).  In the end, I was happy with my trailer and I’m glad I bought Fraps.  It really is useful for getting videos and that helps show off your game in a way that screenshots can’t.


Posted Spell Guide

March 3, 2010

I’ve made a new page that lists and discusses all of the spells in War of Words.  Even though the game isn’t out quite yet, I thought I’d start preparing some of the content for release.  This guide will show you what is available and how to use them.  I’m also in the process of writing a long-form instruction and strategy guide for the game.  I’d like to get that up soon too.


War of Words in Peer Review

February 27, 2010

War of Words in now onto peer review!  If you are an XNA creator’s club member, please consider reviewing the game.


Optimizing

February 26, 2010

Optimization is one of those programming tasks that usually isn’t necessary but everybody thinks you have to do it.  A general rule of thumb is to try to keep software less complex by not introducing loads of difficult to understand optimization routines.  War of Words has a central algorithm for finding a word from a given set of random letters.  This algorithm represents the bulk of the AI “brain”.

A while back, I ran War of Words through the XBox CLR Profiler tool to get a look at the memory use and garbage collection.  I found that the garbage collector runs a lot – it seems like it runs every 30 frames sometimes.  But, I never noticed any performance issues.  The game runs smoother at or around 60 fps without a hitch.  Occasionally there’s a “hiccup” but that is understandable given the profiler’s output.

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