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:


New Map & Menu Screenshots

December 9, 2009

I’ve been integrating a lot of artwork recently and polishing up the apperance of many of the non-combat screens.  On this blog up to this point, I’ve only shown the main combat screens and how it has been progresssing.  In this post, you can see a few of the other “secondary” screens.

This screenshot shows the title.  This is the very first thing you see after the XNA splash:

This next screenshot shows the map screen.  You use this screen to view where you currently are and where you can travel to.  It also shows a quick glance at your stats:

This third screenshot shows the equipment management screen.  This is where you view and equip gear from each of the three equipment slots:

This last shot is from the story screen.  Each part of a quest story is presented on this screen before and after various quests:

In-game Awards

November 16, 2009

XBox LIVE Indie Games are not allowed to have official XBox Achievements nor can they give out gamerscore.  Still, the idea of specific challenges to give out to players has been mimicked by many Indie games and by PC games too (even though no official reward is given out).  So, I have decided to add a few achievements to War of Words.  Due to Microsoft’s policy about the term “achievement” not being allowed on an Indie game, mine will be called “awards”.

Here’s a list of a few awards that will be available to players that purchase the game:

  • Make a 10 letter word.
  • Make a 15 letter word.
  • Make a 50 point word without using a score multiplier.
  • Make a 100 point word (score multiplier allowed)
  • Make a 200 point word (!)
  • Spell a word starting with each of the 26 letters of the alphabet in combat.
  • Beat an opponent over LIVE.
  • Obtain character level 50.
  • Beat the game (the main line quest).

I might add some more, but this is a solid list.  The 200 point challenge is probably the most difficult.  The level 50 award is probably the most time consuming.  It is too bad that we don’t have leaderboards (well, true leaderboards).  It would be cool to know who is the best player in the world.

One of the best ways to measure how good someone is at this game is “average word score”.  This is calculated by taking the total word score obtained and dividing by the total number of words formed.  My averages are somewhere around 8.1-8.2.  That’s probably pretty average.  I’d say anything over 10 is good and over 15 is really good.  That would mean that on average you are scoring 15 points per word.  I thought about having an award linked to avg. word score, but it just wouldn’t work out.  It is hard to improve your average after playing a while because of all of the words you’ve formed prior to that point.

Community Games is now Indie Games

July 24, 2009

Microsoft has begun the transition of community games into Xbox LIVE Indie Games.  It looks like a dashboard update on August 11 of this year will include the update for XNA Game Studio 3.1 content.  This means that games with video and avatars will begin on the service at that time for consumers.

A few other noteworthy items:

  • Price points are changing for Indie games:  80 ($1), 240 ($3), and 400 ($5) will become the new price points.  I’m sad to see the 800 point tier go (at least as an option), but I was probably never going to make anything at that price anyway.
  • Game creators will be able to give out codes to get free copies of the game.  This is an awesome addition to the service that will allow game reviewers to get free full copies of games.  A creator can give out up to 50 of these “tokens.”
  • There’s a reputation system on the creator’s club website now that tracks who is a good citizen and who is not.  My rep is pretty low right now because I haven’t been an active forum participator in a while.
  • Lastly, update notifications have been added!  When you release an update to your game, a player will get a notification to update automatically.  This is great news for those that release patches to their games.

As for my work on War of Words, I’m still very much in a design phase.  There’s a working copy of some of the core gameplay features, but I have to re-do a lot of it.  Hopefully I will be able to post some meaningful content here in the near future.

XNA Game Studio 3.1 Released

June 12, 2009

A new version of XNA Game Studio has been released.  I installed it last night and it took a while.  I had to uninstall 3.0 and then reboot.  The project upgrade wizard took my 3.0 project and upgraded it to 3.1 just fine.  Note that this version of Game Studio does not force upgrades and you can actually develop 3.0 and 3.1 projects independently.  I think all of this must center around the new XACT3 tool.  3.1 uses a new version of XACT (the DirectX Cross-Platform Audio Creation Tool).  The documentation says that 3.0 (XACT2) .xap files are incompatible with 3.1.  The remedy is to open your XACT2 .xap in XACT3 and then just do a save on it to convert it to the new format.

Some new features that have come out with 3.1:

  • Avatar support – load and use avatar 3D models in your games.
  • XBox LIVE Party support – gives some support to parties that allow up to 8 gamers to talk and interact with each other simultaneously.
  • Video playback – now you can play videos in games or even render video to textures to display on 3D quads.
  • Automatic content pipeline read/write – the serialization of content objects can be handled automatically by default using .NET attributes.
  • Audio – a new XACT version and SoundEffect usage.  XACT3 uses a new and improved audio compression scheme (xWMA) to encode music and sound effects.

Perhaps one of the most surprising announcements was the name of the consumer platform from XBox LIVE Community Games to XBox LIVE Indie Games.  I guess this is part of Microsoft’s strategy to improve visibility of Creator’s Club games.  Anything that attempts to market this service better is ok in my book — we really need it.