Wobble Frog Adventures is available now!

Well, my first release as "Walaber Entertainment" is now available on the App Store and Google Play: "Wobble Frog Adventures".  It's a good feeling to release a game, and always a proud, yet humbling experience.

Making a final "official trailer" for the game (that's a bit more gameplay-focused than the other silly trailers I made and posted about before) was how I spent the final days before release:

The new mobile physics game from the creator of "JellyCar", and lead designer of "Where's My Water?" *** Available in the App Store and Google Play July 12, 2018.

Currently I'm working on an update that should address some of the concerns people have expressed with the first level / tutorial of the game being confusing and off-putting.  I hope to have that update submitted to the various app stores very soon.

Depending on the response to the game I also have some ideas for updates, mostly adding some new frog "parts" inspired by other animals, and or course more obstacles and level pieces.

Overall, however, I'm also excited to get back to making good progress on an acrobatic/gymnastics themed game next.

Wobble Frog Adventures:

App Store Link

Google Play Link

The Making of a Wobble Frog... Trailer?

One of the reasons I love posting frequently about games as I make them (I mostly do this on twitter), is not just because of the encouragement I get from seeing people interested in what I'm working on.  It's also because of the great feedback I get from people, positive or otherwise.

An extreme example of this is the story of how I came up with my brilliant marketing plan for Wobble Frog, specially the game's trailers.

It all started with this exchange on Twitter:

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I had posted the first video of the updated Frog character design, and got a response from Brian implying the character would make for a cool/interesting working physical toy.  That planted a seed in my mind that slowly took roots over the next few months.

I eventually decided that I should make one.  A working Wobble Frog "toy"!  Mostly, I just thought it would be a really fun project.  Of course it would take time and money to create, so I gave myself the ever-so-flimsy justification that "I could use the toy to make an interesting and original trailer for the game!" and started the project.

My basic plan was to get a robot-building kit that would provide the basis for the electronics, and I found just what I needed in the EZ-Robot system, in particular the EZ-B IoTiny and the LiPo Robot Battery 7.4v so the toy could be completely wireless.  

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Next I had to find some servos with enough travel to handle the wide range of motion of the Frog's "jaw" and "waist", which in the game is ~250 degrees.  Most servos apparently max out at around 180 degrees.  After much searching I found some "270 degree" servos and ordered them.

Now I had the electronics side worked out, so I had to make the actual physical toy shell.  I thought about 3D printing, but I knew the toy would need to be pretty big (based on the size of the electronics), so I decided on a simpler DIY solution instead:

Print out the design on paper, spray-glue that to foam core, and build it like a very thick paper craft model.  This idea worked great!

First I used a 3D modeling program to create a simplified 3D model of the frog, to the real world scale, based on measurements of the servos, battery, and logic board, to make sure they would all fit.  

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I used a great Windows program called "Pepakura Designer" to take that 3D textured model and "unfold it" into a layout I could print and re-assemble into the 3D model.  

I first tested the model with regular white paper to make sure it was going to work, and test the size and scale of the model.  It's a good thing I did to, as it made me realize several errors in the sizing of things, particularly around the servo mounts.

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Next I printed out the textured version at a copy shop, sprayed it onto foam core, and got to constructing the shell.  

It took quite a while, but was actually really fun to see the pieces come together as a physical object.

Finally I had to mount the servos and fit all the electronics inside, and voila!  A working Wobble Frog.  The EZ-Robot system is really cool in that it has a simple interface for designing customs controls for your robot, which you can deploy to your mobile phone and use that as a controller.  So when I want to use the frog, I turn it on, join my iPhone to the robot's own Wi-Fi network, and then connect through the app.  My little control system consists of 2 sliders, just like the controls in the game, which control the physical servos on the toy.  It can't quite move as quickly and strongly as the toy in the game, but overall I'm really happy with how it turned out!

Anyways, now that I had this ridiculous creation, I needed to fulfill my internal promise to use it to the fullest possible extent in the marketing materials for the game!  I came up with 2 ideas for videos, which I've since shot, edited, and finally finished up!  I'd almost forgotten how fun it is to make and edit videos (I majored in film production in university).  So without further ado, here are 2 ground-breaking marketing videos for your viewing enjoyment:

Trailer #1 "Let's Play"

Here we see Wobble, who is apparently a "Let's Play" personality, playing a game apparently based on him/herself! This was really fun to make, and try to match the editing style of Let's Play personalities, whilst still communicating the basics of the game, and keeping the length of the trailer as short as possible.

 

Trailer #2 "Clickbait"

This one really plays up a fictional conceit that Wobble Frog was an actual popular toy from the early 90's, that's being revived with a new mobile game.  I liked the conceit for the popular 'list video' format, and the variety of ways to play up the physical toy as well.

 

Well, that's the ridiculous story of how someone on twitter inspired me to make a working robotic toy of my fictional character, and then use that in a bunch of likely misguided "marketing" materials for my silly little free mobile game.  Hope you enjoyed it! :)

Droney Eagle

Introducing "Droney Eagle", a helpful Eagle Drone (naturally) who always seems to be there to catch you when you fall!

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He can take you back to the beginning of the current level, OR he can take you right back to where you fell from.  In exchange he only asks you watch a brief presentation from one of his sponsors (video advertisement).  He's a pretty reasonable guy though.  If you fall right away after just watching a sponsored presentation, he'll drop you back where you fell without having to watch another.

Wobble Frog Adventures is coming soon to mobile devices.  Please sign up for my mailing list if you'd like to be notified when the game is released. And as always, follow me on twitter for more regular development updates.

Professor Bubbles

Introducing Professor Bubbles, expert in Wobble Frog Biology and locomotion techniques.  And also a bubble-making Octopus bath toy.

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Professor Bubbles can be found at the start of every level, and is always happy to share some wisdom about how Wobble Frogs can "walk", "run", "jump", even "climb".

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The game will be available "pretty soon", look for a bit more in the way of game trailers and info in the near future, hopefully including a release date!

Wobble Frog Adventures

Introducing the other game I've been working on (and it's almost done!), called "Wobble Frog Adventures".  What's a "Wobble Frog", you ask?  Well... they look like this:

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This is a pure-physics based "platforming" game, with a simple, and unique control scheme: two sliders that directly control the angle of the 2 joints on the "frog".  They stay where you leave them (they don't snap back to "center" like a joystick or radio controlled car stick), and also "snap" to position when you tap anywhere along the slider -- you don't have to only drag the handle.  this creates a surprisingly expressive control scheme that allows a very simple physics toy to do a variety of surprising movement methods and techniques.

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The game is very simple, with a focus on discovering how to maneuver the environment.  You can also earn coins to order new "parts" that let you customize your "frog" with different animal-inspired parts, materials, and paint schemes:

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Wobble Frog Adventures should be done soon, and will be released for free (with ads and 1 in-app-purchase to remove ads) on iOS and Android.

As usual follow me on Twitter for more frequent updates, and please subscribe to the mailing list if you'd like to know when my games are released.

Old game download links added

I occasionally get requests for download links to my old freeware games (found in the History page).  Today I dug out an old hard disk and re-uploaded all the various old games to the site.  These games are all pretty old at this point, so I can't guarantee they will run properly on modern versions of Windows / Mac, but I thought it'd be worth putting them up, even as a "download at your own risk" :)

Progress continues nicely on Wobble Frog and One More Flip, Wobble Frog is very close to ready for release at this point, and my focus is moving back to One More Flip.

Added "Games" Page

I've finally added a "Games" page to this site, with super simple pages for the 2 games I have in-development at the moment.  If you've been here before you probably know about "One More Flip", my physics-simulation-with-simple-controls acrobatics simulator game.  The new game I haven't talked about much is "Wobble Frog Adventures", a challenging mobile physics platform game where you control a 2-jointed "frog" wooden toy on an adventure through a strange world of contraptions and challenges.

Both games are due to release in 2018, with Wobble Frog coming first, and One More Flip second.

Wobble Frog is slated for mobile platforms, and One More Flip for PC/Mac.

As usual, please sign up for my mailing list if you'd like to be notified when the game(s) release. And of course follow me on twitter and/or instagram for more frequent development updates.

Progress Has Been... Uneven

Long time no blog post!  Progress continues on "One More Flip", but has been somewhat interrupted by a smaller side project that I'm finishing up and releasing soon.  I had found that my motivation on One More Flip had been waning around the holidays, and decided to pursue a "tiny" project to rejuvenate myself.  That project took a bit longer to finish than I expected, but it's nearly done, and I'm excited to return to One More Flip now in earnest.  

I'll post about the other project soon, but in the meantime here are some clips of Uneven Bars, which I've added to One More Flip recently, focusing on the variety of amazing release moves that are possible on the apparatus.  Here are a few:

Obviously the one above is not a real release move, if it was I'd have to assume it would be called the "Ankle Breaker"...

 

I really like making these comparison videos between the game and real athletes, I'll probably start making more of these as a way to show off the realism of the game.

One More Flip is still shaping up for a 2018 release.

January Progress

Continuing progress on One More Flip into the new year, this month I've been working on adding some of the sequences I need, as well as slowly adding more tricks to the game.

Here's a shot of platform diving, which now has judges and scoring:

 

And here are two new release moves on the horizontal bar, a "Jaeger" and a "Tkatchev":

Up next I want to revisit the core physics systems and tuning a bit to make sure they are as solid as possible before I continue to add tricks and polish up the launch content of the game.  The reason for this is because sometimes things like this can still happen:

Details, Details

Work continues on "One More Flip" at a pretty good pace.  Lately I've been fixing a lot of invisible issues and bugs, and working on a variety of detail work.  For example, making better wires and rigging for the various equipment in the game.  Here's a look at a cable supporting the horizontal bar:

Here's another example, this time of work on the trapeze net- finally not just a 1-sided flat cloth, it's now made up of twine and rubber bands, and bends and flexes pretty realistically:

 

Another example is the feedback when you land a trick.  The game takes 3 "snapshots" of your position after touching the ground, and if (in this case) 1 of them are "OK", you landed the trick!  You must land the trick twice in a row to consider it "mastered". Hopefully the green clay ball communicates this pretty well, and is an example of the thought that goes into communicating game logic to players in a way that's easy to understand, and also evokes the theme of the game (clay / stop-motion animation).

As usual, follow me on Twitter or Instagram for more frequent development updates, and sign up for my mailing list to be notified when the game is released!

Environment work

I've been plugging away at the game, although it's been a period where there isn't too much visual to show for the progress.  I've been alternating between creating environments for the different sports, while fixing bugs and adding missing features to the game.

Here's a look at recent environment work, first the platform diving environment:

 wireframe view of the diving set

wireframe view of the diving set

 with lighting

with lighting

...and here's the aerial skiing jump set:

 wireframe view of the aerial skiing environment

wireframe view of the aerial skiing environment

 with lighting

with lighting

other recent work includes working on snow slide/impact effects (this is hard one to decide how it should look, given the "claymation" visual theme of the game):

And here's an updated look at the title screen of the game, which now looks a bit more professional.  Eventually the athlete (and the trick they are doing) in the background will be randomized as well.

 

I'm starting too see the light at the end of the tunnel for my initial launch vision of the game, so I'm pretty sure this game is coming out sometime in 2018 at this point :)

As usual follow me on twitter (and now also on Instagram) for day-to-day development updates, and sign up for my mailing list if you want to be notified when the game is announced / released.

Being Social

I'm hoping that people will find that what happens in the game makes them laugh, makes them proud, makes them think "WTF"... and so I want people to be able to easily share things that happen.  So I've been working on the instant replay system which records your attempt at a trick, and then lets you play it back with lots of controls.  

I've now also added built-in animated GIF export to the game.  Here's a video of it in action.  you hit the "export" button, then select the export range (essentially trimming the clip), and then hit save.  It renders out the frames, and saves a GIF to a folder on the desktop.  easy!  I'll eventually add support for posting your GIFs straight to social media as well.

In other recent news, I captured a video of a real-life "layout" on trapeze (that's me, the real "Walaber" BTW), and compared it to the same trick in-game.  Pretty dang close, right?!?

Tie the room together

I've been taking some steps to finally make the user interface of the game fit the overall theme a bit better.  I had some temp fonts and ui frame / button images in there for a long time, and now I have a first pass at button and other UI theming, plus I think I've chosen the font for the game as well.  Here are some pretty images of the Character Editor screen, one of the most UI-heavy screens, and also a chance to show off how the character customization is coming together.

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Scenic Route

Lately I've been busy working on the first proper artwork for the in-game "sets", where all the flipping takes place.  I've started with the circus set.

My original idea was to have it take place in sort of a practice gym:

But after watching some trapeze performance videos I decided I should go for the proper, dramatic circus performance setting.  So I set about modeling a simple environment:

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And then adding lighting in Unity:

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first pass looked like this:

And after adjusting colors and adding enthusiastic spectator "Walabers" in the scene, it's currently looking like this:

 

I'm getting closer and closer to a 2nd testable build of the game.  I got a lot of great feedback from the first version so I can't wait to do another round to play testing and improvements.

Instant Replay

I've noticed that a lot of my games seem to end up with some kind of feature to record gameplay and then play it back again.  "Gymnast" had a very robust version of this, and even something like JellyCar 3 recorded your runs in order to have "ghosts" you could race/compete against.  "One More Flip" is going the route of "Gymnast", allowing players to record their gameplay, save it, watch it later from different camera angles, etc.

So far I've got the basic code working to record what happens when attempting a trick, play that back, save it to disk, and load it again.  I'm also working on the UI for the viewing experience in-game.... although this process was not without some entertaining bugs:

Here it is looking a bit better :)

Eventually I hope to have an in-game "export to GIF" feature, perhaps with Twitter integration to tweet replays directly from the game, a-la Fantastic Contraption VR, a feature I loved and wish more games had!

In other news, amazing character artist Calin has delivered a female base model which I'll be integrating into the game soon, here is a sneak peek:

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As always, for more development updates follow me on Twitter, and sign up for the mailing list if you'd like to be notified when the game releases.

Outfit customization

I want players to be able to customize their character as much as possible, but generating lots of variations of hairstyles, face shapes, etc can be quite costly.  I'm attempting to give a solid number of options without going crazy, hopefully there will be enough that most people are happy with their avatar.

An area where I think I found a nice solution is on the actual look of the outfits.  I've decided to have a pre-determined outfit for each "sport", which the player can't change-- so the "gymnastics" outfit only has 1 shape, and overall color pattern. However, it has a space on it to display a country flag, and all of the colors of the pattern can be changed dynamically. 

 (converting country flag images to the proper layout and size for the game's needs)

(converting country flag images to the proper layout and size for the game's needs)

 (flag textures imported into Unity for use in-game)

(flag textures imported into Unity for use in-game)

I then found a database of all the country flags in the world, and imported them all, running a script to generate the correct texture format I need, and also extracting the top 3 most used colors in each flag, and set those as the outfit colors to accompany that country flag.  I also give you the option to "shuffle" which colors will go where on the outfit, from a total of 6 possible combinations (since there are 3 colors total per outfit).

 (example of extracted flag colors, using a Unity Editor window UI)

(example of extracted flag colors, using a Unity Editor window UI)

Here is how that looks in the current build: a huge list of country flags you can select, as well as a toggle for the "color scheme" to adjust which colors end up where.

 (in-game UI for choosing Country and color scheme)

(in-game UI for choosing Country and color scheme)

(BTW the proportions of the character are messed up in that image, that will be fixed soon! )

As usual follow me on Twitter for more regular "making of" updates, GIFs, and videos, and subscribe to my mailing list to be notified when the game is released.

Giving "Raggie" a skeleton

Lately I have been working on a variety of tasks to get an initial playtest-worthy build together of "One More Flip".  The biggest task for this is making my first attempt at a tutorial for the game.  Although I plan a sequence of levels that slowly teach you the game, I think the controls require a bit more explicit instruction, and so a tutorial is necessary!

My first idea involved explaining to the player that Raggie is a physically simulated character (not just some animations), and also that the player provides the timing for Raggie to move through the various poses required to do a given trick.  In order to communicate this, I realized that Raggie needed a skeleton.

So I spent way too much time modeling up a skeleton :)

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... and testing it in-game.

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All of this is in service of the following moment in the tutorial, where I communicate that Raggie has a skeleton (and muscles), but is lacking in the BRAIN department-- hence the need for the player!

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I'm getting very close to a playable build, and I'm looking forward to doing some testing with friends and family to iterate further on the game, and the tutorial. 

As usual, if you want to follow along with more frequent development updates, give me a follow on Twitter.

Getting a proper build together

Continuing progress on "One More Flip".  My focus right now is mostly getting the entire game connected together and playable as a stand-alone experience.  For example right now I have to change a setting each time I want to test out a different trick and then run the game.

It's about time to start getting feedback from players, so I need a build I can just hand to people and watch them play and take notes about what's confusing, etc.

I am close, I already have code for creating a character, and a basic screen for sequencing out tricks and unlocking them as you progress (including annoying player data save/load routines).  

Mostly what's missing now is some kind of basic tutorial, and a full set of tricks laid out in a sequence, and fixing any bugs with the logic to flow between all the screens in the game.  Lately I've been working on a few simple scenes that I intend to use as tutorials, to teach players the controls to the game:

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Here is another video, this time of working on the pose sequence for a "back handspring", which turned out better than I thought, although the timing makes the trick harder than I had anticipated.

As usual, follow me on twitter to see more videos and behind-the-scenes development stuff, I post pretty frequently.  Also sign up for my mailing list if you want to be notified when the game is available.

Character Customization & Landing Mats

Lots of good progress on "One More Flip" in various areas lately.  I've continued integrating the player model into the game, including stubbing out the player customization screen, which is looking pretty nice:

I've also spent some (perhaps too much) time making the landing mats in the game behave just like I want them to.  They are a pretty detailed physics model to simulate a mat that can compress, return its shape, and also deform in a realistic way. 

The mat is basically several rigid boxes connected together in 2 layers (like an ice-cream sandwich), with springs in-between to push it out to it's target thickness.  The pieces don't collide with each other so they can overlap and give good collision response to the player who lands on it.  Also since the visual design is now "clay", I need to generate a dynamic mesh for the mat that is beveled (rounded corners) to look more like it's a piece of clay.  This was one of the more tricky/tedious custom mesh routines I've ever written, but I'm very happy with the results.  It still needs UV coordinates and some clay texture/normal maps, but that will be relatively easy to add.

Trapezery_124.gif

 

I've also done a lot of invisible work on screen flows, preparing the game for localization, adding support for difficulty modes, etc.  

Hopefully the next post will be about getting a proper environment model into the game, and it will start looking like a complete game :)