Delta Quadrant on Steam

Friday, 7 August 2015

Substance Designer 5

Credit to James Sky. It is his youtube videos that I am using to learn Substance Designer like here below.

Again.... I am a programmer and not a graphic designer. I found blogging about this stuff helps me to learn it myself. So I am trying to explain this from a non graphic design background.

I bought Substance Designer 5 Indie version on the Steam summer sale. But before I bought it I tried to find out what exactly it could do for me.

Here is the marketing version:
It is a node-based texture compositing tool that allows you to create Substance files or bitmap textures. You can use it to texture assets and also bake model information.

Ok, my attempt to elaborate:
It is node-based (build your texture block by block where each block is a filter, algorithm, etc).
You can export your creations to bitmap files(png, tiff, jpg, psd, etc) to use in games or whatever.

Main thing is your substance files. This is a file which holds all of the nodes and settings you created in one file which can be used in other applications or engines. Mainly in my case Unity3d.

I can now change values or settings that I have exposed(setup or created) from within substance designer. For example I created a Brick_Amount value that changes the Number Y value in the Tile_Generator node.

Here is a closeup of a group of nodes which is used to create the basic texture and color to start with. I use a Black and White Spots Generator and then put it through a Noise Upscale filter to add more detail to the spots. I then split it into 2 gradient map filters/nodes and blend them together again using a mask(filter/changes only certain areas, like here where there is only white) the clouds generator at the bottom. I used a levels node to drop the white intensity of the clouds so only parts of the textures will get blended.

Here is another screenshot to demonstrate some of the nodes, generators, filters, etc. which you can use.

As a programmer I am very happy to see some basic coding functionality. For example here I divide the brick amount(Tile Generator - Number Y) set either from Unity or within Substance by 2 and put that value into Tile Generator - Number X. It helps keep the bricks or tiles in a rectangle shape instead of squares.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Indie lesson: Just finish your first game

Like any good roller coaster ride, it started out with a lot of excitement and anticipation of what may lie ahead. First some slow parts with small exciting twists. Then a slow painfully climb upwards and that last slow straight part. Your stomach is first to let you know that something is happening. Your brain tries to make sense of what is going on and just when you are starting to enjoy it, it is over…. or that’s what you thought. Suddenly your stomach is screaming again and you find you are also screaming! By the time you get your senses back everything is over.

That is the best way I can describe the last 2 years of developing Delta Quadrant. And wow! Was this last part a rush!

I made a huge mistake when I removed the old tutorial and added in the new graphical version that Rudi created. The first tutorial sector was number 0 and I removed the case statement that handled the old tutorial, but forgot to increment the starting sector number to 1. In all the tests, I had a save game with a higher sector number and everything seemed to work great.

While focusing on testing the steam integration and achievements I completely forgot to delete my save game and test from the first sector.

So I uploaded the build and made it live on steam. Then everything went to hell…. people complained that this game is scam or a joke! I got really angry feedback and with reason. The first sector is just empty with nothing to do and no way to progress on to the next sector.

Realising my mistake I quickly corrected it and with little testing I uploaded the fix. Luckily that worked out ok, there were still some little problems with the first sector, but the main thing was everyone could play.

So again I learned a HUGE lesson. Before uploading a new product for release, simulate the new player’s experience and test the whole first part of your game 100% before making it public.

Wow, what an adrenalin rush! I apoligised for my mistake and explained it. Luckily the players were all really understanding and supportive.

I never really understood the whole indie lesson: Just finish your first game and put it out there.

If you are working on your first game, accept that it won’t be perfect. Because I can promise you that it will never be. I wanted to keep on working and adding to the game and never really felt happy with it. Somewhere in the last 6 months I took the JUST FINISH to hart and I am really glad I did. Sure I don’t have a close to perfect title out, but that is not the point. The point is to make mistakes and learn from it and boy did I :D

All in all I’m really happy. I made my money back which I invested in assets on the unity asset store and a little extra which I used to buy new assets.

With Catch a falling star in early development we find ourselves back in that first part of the ride with all the anticipation and excitement of what the future has in store for us.

Cheers and till later


Thursday, 2 July 2015

Understatement: Time Flies

Almost 5 weeks since my last blog entry. I really can't believe it. It feels like last week or at the most 2 weeks ago.

Sorry again for being so still  yet again. But we are finally back home and everything is starting to get back to normal.

Delta Quadrant

After another hour on skype call, I finally got my international tax numer. So tax stuff sorted.

I have finished all the bug fixes and added some improvements to the Steam version of Delta Quadrant.

Rudi corrected a bunch of spelling mistakes in DQ and also created a less text reading and more picture looking tutorial for DQ. A huge thank you to him and the great work he is doing.

The steam integration is almost complete. I have uploaded a quick test version and unlocked my first achievement called Explorer. Only steam trading cards and steam backgrounds still needs to be set up on the steamworks developers side. Coding wise I only need to link up the achievements, which I have now figured out and tested successfully.

Steamworks.NET was a saving grace for the Steam integration. After I upgraded DQ from Unity 4 to Unity 5 everything just started to fall into place. :D

Steamworks.NET is a C# Wrapper for Valve’s Steamworks API and is completely free and open source under the permissive MIT license! Thank you open source :D

We are looking at a windows steam release date of 7 July 2015. Hopefully everything will be approved by steam quickly after I publish the final build.

Falling Star - Rudi created an AMAZING website for Catch a Falling Star! Go check it out.

Talented pair Rudi and his wife Natalie has been hard at work with Catch a Falling Star. New baskets and an underwater theme! Unfortunately I have neglected Catch a Falling Star a bit, but it will receive my full attention when I have finished with DQ on steam.

Sales and Deals and new Tools

Between the steam winter sale and daily unity asset store deals I ended up buying a whole lot of new tools for game development.

Substance Designer 5 - I have been eyeing this for quite some time. Cannot wait to dive deep into this complicated and powerful node based texture and material designer. With some cool unity integration features, like modifying values of the substance from within Unity in the inspector.

Grids Pro - You can define your own 2D and 3D grids or customise size and shape. Having created my own tile map with DQ I can really appreciate the value of this asset. Planning to use it for future games and or mini game within other games. 

Tile Tool - Quickly create game levels with this tile tool and it includes mesh optimizations like removing sides which isn't visible and includes the Simple Mesh Combine asset.

Energy Bar Toolkit - I almost didn't buy this asset, due to the banner not looking all that interesting or great to me. But luckily I decided to look at the demos and wow, I was amazed at what this asset can do with any kind of progress bar, gauge meter or even custom textures for interesting looks.

Shader Forge - I drooled over this one since I saw it on the Unite 2014 video. 50% off why not. Shader programming is not for the light of heart and I decided that this will not only save time to create new shaders, but also help me understand and learn more about shaders.

Rewired - Advanced input asset which is fully featured, cross-platform, hot-plugging, save/load layouts and full input editor GUI. This asset does everything and more for all your Unity input needs.

Till next time rather than next week :P



Friday, 29 May 2015

Quick update

I have sent the Desura keys to Groupees for Delta Quadrant and you all should be receiving it :D

As far as the steam version goes, I need get in contact with the IRS in order to receive an ITIN number. The Individual Assistance number still says that they are closed.

I tried the International Call Center, but this time they told me that my call would be handled in 30 - 60 min time. Now that is a lot of money and time that I decided to try next week and see if my luck isn't better.

Rudi and I have also been busy with Falling Star and the prototype is coming together quite well indeed!

Rudi is also now a full partner in Alister Software, so I am not a full one man indie team anymore. It is wonderful to have someone to brain storm with, criticize my work and that we need to show each other progress. 

Have a great weekend! I just bought Distant Worlds on special at steam, so I have some epic space strategy and just one more turn addiction this weekend :P



Saturday, 16 May 2015

DQ has been Greenlit!

Quick explanation for my absence: 

Sorry for being so quite for 3 weeks, but that thing life is taking all my attention.

My wife has had a serious back operation. Seeing as we live in a very small town we had to drive to the big city. We are staying with my in-laws and and my wife is in the early stages of recovery. Between caring for her and my 3 year old daughter and being away from home is really effecting my indie development.

The dust is settling and we are slowly but surely getting back in a routine. My PC is set up and I have sorted out my internet connection problems.

Delta Quadrant

DQ has been greenlit way faster than I had anticipated. 51 days! Thank you again to

It was only 74% on it's way to the Top 100 when it got greenlit. So again, the whole process of getting greenlit is a complete mystery.

My final greenlight stats

I will hopefully start the steam integration and some requested features this week for the steam version.

DQ has also been accepted on desura! I want to provide everyone who bought the greenlight bundle on groupees with desura keys. If and how I am not sure yet. This is my first ever full release of a game and I am still learning how everything works. But know this, I will try my best to send you the keys.

Catch a Falling Star

Ludum Dare was a blast! Rudi and I had so much fun, that we started to play around with a new prototype game Rudi wanted to create. His wickedly talented wife is helping us with the graphics and art for the game.

All this led to Rudi joining the team! He will basically be helping with everything, as he is a man of many skills and disciplines. Programming, game design, marketing, even some graphics and motivating me :D

It will be a mobile only game. Currently we are aiming for a casual and relaxing game with highscore tables. Some upgrade mechanics to spice things up and unlockable eye candy. It will be free to play with no hidden in app purchases.

We also have to make a living and so decided to try some ads for this game. It will not be present in the main game screen and will only display between game sessions.

Here is some concept art created for the game:

Catch a Falling Star

We still have to stay here in the big city for at least 5 weeks.

But I will definitely get some development done.



Friday, 24 April 2015

Greenlight votes skyrocketed and Ludum Dare

1000 Steam Greenlight Votes!!!!!!! 

Huge THANK YOU to everyone at for the support.

You are welcome to go and buy the bundle and support us indie developers. The community is friendly and chatty. Might sometimes go off point and talk about completely non related stuff, but still crazy and funny though. 

5 / 10 games from that bundle was already greenlit by the bundle and as you can see, DQ is going strong.

Here is a quick summary of all the games in the bundle from my Indie DB news page.

Ludum Dare 32. Theme: An Unconventional Weapon

Wow, what a unconventional theme :D

Some of the ideas we thought of:
Bovine launcher
Spatula of DOOM
Squid gun
Bar code scanner
Anti hipster weapon (shoots mainstream items at hipsters)

From that Bar code scanner sounded like fun, which in turn we thought of:

Tower Defense - Scanner towers - Kills bar code or their lines as they approach

Typing game - Click to scan code and then type code to destroy

Then we decided to try and look at a game from the perspective of the bar code. We ended up with AgentQR. A bar code agent which needs to reach the other side of an unconventional convenience store, in order to scan the disarming code into a bar code scanner / bomb.

Feel free to play it and let us know what you think :D

We also have a general mini pencil gun shopping trolley out to get you. 

This was my second Ludum Dare and my first one were I decided joined up with someone. My best friend Rudi was the obvious choice, as we have already dabbled in unity together and he is a good at Photoshop and coding. His expertise is mainly in webdesign, but I am slowly but surely luring him to the Indie Dark Side. So Rudi my young apprentice, I can't wait for the next Ludum Dare!

What an epic great week for indie development!

Can't wait to see what will happen in the next 7 days.

Till next week.


Friday, 17 April 2015

My bad indie no dev week in South Africa

Welcome to dark africa... a mysterious place with slow bandwidth speeds, data caps, failing power grid and load shedding.

My week consisted mostly of chaos and darkness, so I am going to vent a bit here on my blog. You can skip my moaning and groaning and scroll down to see my updated steam greenlight stats and some other positive news :D

Quick personal info update: Seeing as I live in a very small town (100 people +-) I am the only one with any advanced IT knowledge.

On my way home, just after I dropped my daughter off at school. I received a call to help with a dead computer, which died due to our power issues. So I needed to get a quote for a new computer and also for some UPSs due to all the load shedding. Then I needed to do some website maintenance work for some extra income.

Bye-bye quite morning of indie dev. I did get some work done in the afternoon.

Monday evenings, me and my best friend Rudi usually play some co-op games to relax and have some fun. Like 7 days to die, pay day 2, planet explorers, swtor or terraria. But oh-no not this evening, we both got load shedding!

6 am my ups alarm wakes me up. First I thought... o this is nice, load shedding early in the morning to get it out of the way. Sweet back to bed.... 9 o'clock and still no power. Asked around and found out they are busy fixing a problem on the power grid and the power will be off for the rest of the day. So bye-bye indie dev for Tuesday.

My humble bundle account for Delta Quadrant was activated. So I started to go through the motions of finalizing all the last info they needed. I needed to sign a Tax form(W-8BEN) they sent me, but I must fill in a ITIN number on there which I have no knowledge of. So of to the wonderful world of google. After reading on so local forums about other peoples experiences, I ended up on the IRS website.

Now I need to submit another form W-7 in order for me to receive the ITIN. Still not sure how this works, I continued reading and found this page where they list Acceptance Agent Program or Certified Acceptance Agents. The first one on the list - Deloitte and Touche has a local branch. Tried their website and found nothing to help me with this situation. I send them a support message, but haven't heard anything back yet.

With my wife off to work for the evening, the rest of the day consisted of watching after my daughter and more load shedding. Also starting to feel some flu symptoms.

The flu hit me hard throughout the night, so I decided to take a sick day and stay in bed. But, oh no.... murphy had some other plans for me. I received a call from that same person I helped on Monday. Nothing on their computer works, they can't open any files and some weird message about encryption is on their computer. Seeing as they have a business to run and everything has come to a standstill and no one close is even remotely able to help them. I had to take a warm shower and prepared to go out in the cold. After a quick look at their computer, I had no clue what caused the problem. But it had to be some kind of virus. Packed it up and took it home.

Ransomware, can you believe it!!!! They encrypt all your documents and even pictures and you have to pay them $500 in bit coins in order to receive the decryption. Read more - Wall Street Journal

Our local currency the ZAR is R12 for each $1. The $500 in our local currency is about R6000. That is a huge amount of money to pay, so of course they didn't. I had to format pc and with no backups It is a dire situation.

Today I helped setup the computer and tried to get them up and running. Also helped them with backup procedures. At least the flu symptoms are almost gone and I am feeling better. Looks like it was a quick and aggressive one.

Steam Stats Update
Still moving forward slowly, but I will get there :)

Part of a bundle
It looks like my game will be featured in a bundle next week! Can't wait and I will definitely blog about that next week. 

Ludum Dare 32
This weekend me and Rudi are doing the Ludum Dare!!!! My second one and I am so excited. Guaranteed to be blogged about also :D

Enjoy the weekend, I know I am! Even with all the stupid load shedding. 

Stay warm if you have an early winter like here. Till next week...