Sunday, January 31, 2010

Claustrum Game Images

Here are a few images of the game in its current state. I just added the Title to the Main Menu, man I wish I put that in before todays update, maybe time for a v0.4.1 release, because I really don't like not having the title.

Claustrum v0.4.0 Released

Another update to Claustrum Lite is on the Market. A big part of the change revolved around the ability to auto-save games and an option to resume or start a new game from the main menu. In my opinion, being able to save and restore games, is a requirement for a decent game on a smartphone platform.

Being able to restore games required one specific fix to the border polygon that I have been planning on making anyway. The player no longer stops at points on the border that used to be corners but aren't any longer. The reason that this had to be fixed with the ability to restore games is that the intermediate lines in the captured area aren't shown after a restore. So you can't even predict when the player is going to stop on a straight line after a restore. Now he never will, except when closing the boundary.

I also added dialogs when the game is paused and between levels. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out all the different ways I could use dialogs and alertDialogs, and making custom buttons. I am happy with the result, but need to resize the dialogs a little for smaller resolution screens. I developed them for the Droid(480x854) and they work on smaller resolutions, but I think it will look better if I scale the dialogs and buttons down a little so that they look about the same as they do on high resolution screens.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Claustrum's First Week

I under-developed this week due to illness and haven't updated since last weekend, so version 0.2.0 has ben sitting on the market all week. In total it has gotten over 800 downloads with 59% active according to the Android Developer Console.

3.5 Stars with 17 ratings. I am happy with a 3.5 star rating, that looks good in the rating bar, and I still have lots of fun to add to the game.

Where things aren't as good is in the comments. I only have 3, which seems a little low for 17 ratings, and their average rating is 2.6.
  • The first is a 5 star rating from someone who seemes to love the original Qix and enjoyed my game.
  • Second is 2 star rating saying that swiping doesn't seem to work properly yet.
  • Third is 1 star that states it doesn't work on the droid.

I wish I had a little more info about the bad reviews. I know it "works" on the Droid, that is where I do 90% of my development. I wish I knew what didn't work for this user; controls, display, presentation of the game. And swiping for the other comment. For a long time, swiping was the only input method, D-pad and trackball were last minute add ons. I don't know what type of phone that user had and if it was a sensitivity issue or some real issue with my swiping algorithm on that phone.

Just knowing the average rating isn't quite enough for me. I don't know how many 3 star ratings there are. Are the ratings a bell-curve or an inverse bell-curve. Maybe they are mostly 1 and 5 star reviews, without many who rate it "ok."

If the ratings are a bell-curve, the game simply needs to be improved to shift the curve to the right to create a better game. If it is an inverse bell-curve, I need to figure out how to make it work for the 1 star reviews. Reduce the low-rating spike and the rating will jump to the right where the real bell should be. And this is a legitimate assumption based on the few comments for Claustrum Lite.

I have already normalized touch sensitivity across different screen sizes, and my next update will have adjustable sensitivity. I improved the graphics a bit so the player will be easier to see and identify at the start of a game.

So my plan now is to improve the presentation of the game using propper game menus which may help users understand the gameplay better. Fix one "glitch" where you can grab ahold of the ball and throw it around the game area, which is a tool I used for testing and debugging collisions but forgot to remove before releasing. Then look for a few beta-testers that can help me identify what the "it doesn't work" errors may really be.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Claustrum Version Updates

I've made a few updates so it is time to start tracking the changes. I will add to this post for changes within future releases.

v0.1 - initial release with basic gameplay.

v0.1.1 - quick update to support Android 1.5


  • Added a few graphics to replace basic circles.
  • Scaled sizes and speeds based on screen resolution - I develop mostly on a Droid and the objects were much bigger and faster on smaller resolutions, I fixed that.
  • Increased touchscreen sensitivity on smaller screens.


  • More graphics enhancements
    • Player no longer cut in half when on edge of game arena.
    • Better drawing of the Header.
  • Adjustable touchscreen sensitivity.
  • Propper game menu system(still no game save or resume).
  • Removed an old "cheat" where you could grab the red ball and "throw" it around the screen. I used this for testing collisions. I hope this is the cause of some of the errors.


  • Better UI between levels and at end game.
  • Save and restore game.
  • Polygon behavior update(player no longer stops on straight portions of the polygon, that used to be corners)


  • New Title Image and cleaner menus.
  • No restoring a game(to last menu button press) after dying.
  • Pause on restore game, resume from phone call, resume from sleep.
  • Better dialog handling.


  • Added a little depth to drawing the arena
  • Border enemies. When, how fast, and how many per level isn't decided yet, but they work. Currently 0 on level 1, 1 on level 2, and 2 on all other levels.
  • Fixed to run on 1.6 QVGA devices(Tattoo).


  • New scoring function that rewards larger captures.
  • Option for "Casual" or "Intense" game. Currently only difference is that border enemies appear in the intense game. The Casual game gives total safety while the player is on the border.


  • Double-tap to use speed bonus(boost). Optional, turn it on in the settings. Only activates while out in the area, still can click on the header to ready for next entry though.
  • Player instantly looses invincibility after a death once they leave the border.
  • Prevent unrecoverable suicides. If the rachman is 1 unit away from his tail, you cannot turn him towards it. This prevents the dreaded U-Turn suicide where you were likely to over-turn back into the rachman's tail.

Ready For Next Version

  • Better respawning of border enemies to make more than 2 possible.
  • Eliminated the need for new collision management system.

Needed improvements

  • Continued graphics enhancements.
    • Fix header on QVGA devices.
  • Fix some in-game jitters from java garbage collection.
  • More advanced interior enemies.
  • Level setup. Enemy type, count, and speed/skill for each level.
  • Fix a few polygon bugs with the outer border
  • Save high scores / Finalize scoring system

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Claustrum Lite Hits the Market

It is still in beta, and only v0.1 at that. But it is fully functioning and quite fun already. It is a Qix-like game where your objective is to capture areas of the game arena shutting in the enemy. I have a rough plan of the features and improvements for the next few releases, but expect those to change as feedback comes in. Bug fixes and playability will be a priority. The graphics are dummed down a little for faster compatability across different devices, but those fixing those are near the top of the list.
Planned enhancements before I would consider it v1.0(I am going to mark these out as I complete them)
  • Better touch sensitivity for different devices
  • More intelligent area enemies.
  • Improved graphics
  • Better collision manager so more enemies can be added
  • Border Enemies that can kill your player on the 'safety' of the edge
  • Finalize scoring system.
  • Menu system, the current one is a total hack job to get the app to market
All feedback is welcome. Please comment and let me know what you think. I plan to be very responsive to user requests and bug reports.