Trust Anthology Game Series

This is probably my single post for year 2015 but represent the most important announcement for this year. After Office Quest was not giving result that I want (I’m not hoping much for the game), I’m going back to design room to figure out what is my next step in game direction.

I know for a fact that I enjoy game with good story, game that respect choices I’ve made in the game and game with memorable characters that I can emphatize with. This is the kind of games that I want to play and this kind of games that I think I’ll love to develop.

The real question is do I have the story fit for the game? Looking back to my experiences working on several games I’ve made, I believe I have the story. I just need the necessary flair on how to develop it to make an engaging experience.

So the Trust Anthology game series was born to make a game that centres on the idea of trust. These are among pillars of design of the game series:

* The protagonist will have choices to trust or not trust characters along the plot lines.

* There will be risk of betrayals. Betrayal will be part of the game that can sometimes move the plot lines.

* There will be lies in the game and observant players will be able to differentiate it and make wise decision based on it. Not paying attention can sometimes mean death.

This is my plan for the upcoming years:

1) Blade Thrust Tactics are being remake into a new game that focus more on narrative and character development/interaction. The remake is called Trust Anthology: The Alliance. This game revolves around a protagonist, Phill who will work to help setup a rebel organization known as the Alliance. Along the way, he will meet several characters with hidden agenda that can either help him or impend him. Which are these characters he can trust? Phill himself has his own agenda.

The plot lines are completed and I’m working to finish the first act.

2) Trust Anthology: The Survival is the game that chronicles event that happen after Trust Anthology: The Alliance. The game world shift to post apocalyptic so chosing the best allies is very important. I’m still working on plot lines of the game. I like the idea of Fallout New Vegas to side with specific faction that affect the game ending so I’ll probably will use that kind of design.

3) Trust Anthology: FPG 2012 is the game about saving Karen. Can she be saved? There will be flashbacks. Choices made during flashback will be affect event in present time. The plot lines are completed but I’ll refine more choices made during interaction with the game as opposed with choices made during dialog.

The Blog Moves To Own Server

Finally it happens. I decided to move this blog from shared hosting to my own server. Since December 2013, I’ve been using VPS server from Digital Ocean for Inspire Games Nexus website. So far until now, the performance is OK.

So it makes sense to transfer this blog to the server to make it easy for me to manage stuff. The good thing about the server is scalable. If I’m not satisfied with the server performance, I can scale it which is not possible if I use shared hosting.

The process to move WordPress blog from shared hosting to own server isn’t not easy by the way because I have to deal with some server issue especially redirection. Here are some useful tips:

1) If using Apache server, make sure PHP mod_rewrite has been enabled. There’s tons of useful info on how to enable this on the Internet.

2) Within apache2.conf file, you must change this

<Directory /var/www/>
Options Indexes FollowSymLinks
AllowOverride None
Require all granted

to this

<Directory /var/www/>
Options Indexes FollowSymLinks
AllowOverride All
Require all granted

So WordPress redirection works. Otherwise, if you navigate to other pages from homepage, you’ll get 404 error which kind of annoying.

Secure Your WordPress Blog

1) Rename login page to prevent brute force attack on the page. Use

2) Change admin user name on login page to other name.

3) Use password that contain letter(a-z), number(0-9) and special characters such $ * ? #.

Recently this blog has received large attempt to hack into dashboard through login page that force the server heavy load. I run this blog on shared hosting server which force the webhosting company to shut access to login page.

It took me a few hours to find out what’s going on as I couldn’t get access to login page until I find out the login page access has been denied through htaccess file.  Obviously the webhosting company modify the htaccess file to prevent any access to login page. I don’t mind they are doing this as they also has the responsibility to protect the server but I don’t like for them not notifying this through e-mail.

But I managed to get access to login page by modifying some content of that htaccess file to allow certain IP address to access login page. Unfortunately my IP address is always changing so to get access to login page I have to change the content of htaccess file to point to my current IP address. This is so inconvenient as I have to find my IP address,  use FTP to download the htaccess file and reupload it just to get access to login page.

Fortunately, there is much better solution to use WordPress plugin to rename login page to any name.

I don’t know why hackers or these script kiddies are interested to hack into this blog because this is just a personal blog. Maybe because there are some monetary gain to get out of this.

These brute force attack on login page is just ordinary situation nowadays for many WordPress blog out there. That makes Internet a hostile place. It’s a wild wild west world out there. You have been warned.

Office Quest – Office Simulation Game

Office Race

One of my target for 2014 is to publish at least 1 mobile games. I have publish 1 mobile games before in 2012 for iOS platform but because of lack of experience and I don’t allocate budget for marketing, the game does not get enough download to make it worthwhile to support it.  That games was on apps store for 2 years before Apple remove it as I don’t renew the iOS developer license.

Now I want to try publishing mobile games for Android platform. The market is huge and there are lots of marketplace such as Google Play, Amazon Apps Store and others. For this mobile games, in addition to development, I’ll also allocate some money for marketing or I will try find sponsor/publisher to mitigate the cost.

This mobile games will be the first to use 100% of my game design skill and programming skill. There will be other contributors as well but their role will be minimal.

I don’t want to create a complex game – just a simple game that have the potential to be extended in the future. After looking at my list of personal game project, I’ve decided to take portion of Dream City IP, create a much smaller game world and make some simulation game out of it.

With that, Office Quest game is born. It is an office simulation game where your objective is to be the first among co-workers to replace the CEO.  I’ve never seen any game like this so this is probably the unique selling factor of the game.

With this kind of game, I will target certain demographics – female beyond 20s.  Most of game features are designed based on this demographics or will adapt to this. I’ll probably will define this game as kind of slow-paced that requires some amount of thinking to tackle the challenge/problem.

Game Target

For this game, I will target both Android and web platform. My aim is to get 100,000 install on Android and 200,000 gameplay session on the web. To achieve this target, I’ll probably will have to find a sponsor/publisher that can fund the marketing. If I can’t find any sponsor/publisher , I’ll probably self-publish it with my own money.

Development Time/Platform

The game development begin in March 2014 and it took almost 1 month to create a working prototype and 1 month for game polishing.  The game is developed using Flash which allow for me to make a rapid prototype of the game in short amount of time. The game swf will then be packaged as Adobe AIR and exported as a normal apk file for Android platform.

This is an easy development and I’m probably will use it for several current game projects in the pipeline.

Implementing Solution for Character Movement/Object Interaction in Isometric Game for Mobile Games

Office Quest is a simulation game which use isometric view. I’ve always been a fan of isometric games so it’s quite natural to make this game as isometric game. For desktop games, interacting in isometric game is quite intuitive using mouse to move character or interact with object but with mobile games, interacting in isometric games provide challenge because touch isn’t as precise as mouse cursor.  The area of hit for touch is usually much bigger than mouse cursor.

So how to solve the problem?I have studied some mobile games with isometric/top down view and have figured out some way to make user interaction possible. The idea is almost like mouse cursor but you don’t show mouse cursor hovering because that’s not possible in touch based environment. You have to do 2 touch register system. First register is to show the mouse cursor and second register is to execute interaction.

Does this mean player need to tap twice? Not necessarily. Sometimes 1 tap is enough to do the interaction. I’ve been playing with the system and so far has been satisfied with the implementation and will implement in many games in the future.

Game Features

Player need to complete daily task to earn experience points and job performance points. Experience points will be used to upgrade characters so they can make the character work faster or any other upgrades. Job performance points will be used in promotion. Get enough performance points to get promoted.

Player will start as a clerk and will aim to get promoted to associate executive, executive, manager, vice president and finally CEO. There are 9 other co-workers who will complete to get promoted to CEO also so basically this is a race to the top position game. Player win the game if they are the first to get promoted to CEO position.  Player will have to keep track of other co-worker performance also and do something to halt their progress if they are way ahead of player progress.

To make it more challenging, co-workers and current CEO will vote for player during job promotion session. Player need to get enough vote to get promoted or the promotion fail.  Co-workers and current CEO will vote based on their friend level with player and their position within the company.

So most of the time in the game will be spend to improve friend level or relationship with co-workers. This can be done in normal good ways through obvious chat/talk. You have to do some talking, observation and investigation to find any secret and use this secret to blackmail them. Successfully blackmail them to force them to ask for demotion.

Co-worker will react to this blackmail – they can either be submissive or becomes angry at you to initiate physical confront. This mean combat session will initiate. Co-worker will punch you to show they are angry and you have option to fight back or call off the fight. The combat session will end if either of you get significant damage.

A lot of game features in the game are randomized to improve replayability. Each co-workers has their own personality which affect how they work and how they will react to you. These personality are randomized between game. For instance, Naomi can be lazy in one game and workaholic in another game.  Interaction such as chat, observation, investigation and flirt have the chance to fail. This chance will be based on several factors according to character statistic you choose and co-worker personality.

I will probably write a comprehensive strategy guide about this game in the future if there is sufficient people requesting for this. I’ll probably will give more updates about the game in the future so stay tuned!