Categories
Press Releases

New ‘Game Services’ Department

Epiphany Games has created a game services department to better serve the needs of corporate Australia and our overseas partners. The Game Services department focuses primarily on creating fun and engaging mobile games and products for partner companies. Epiphany’s primary platforms are iOS and Android, however Epiphany has produced larger projects for the PC platform.

 

Recently Epiphany has delivered three mobile games in parallel for one customer, integrating into a large existing iOS and Android application framework. Previously this year Epiphany created one game and one physics-based Android screen-saver for a large US-based Entertainment Company.

 

Epiphany hopes that this new department of the company can help facilitate the transition from traditional marketing and brand-support forms to fully designed and well crafted game-based experiences.

Categories
Developer Blog

Finding the Fun

From time to time, I would like to share with the community my general thoughts anecdotes and observations. Finding the Fun is a short article about that, it describes where in a games life cycle the creation of the game becomes more than the sum of its parts. Like any creative project, at some point a game becomes an organism with a life all its own, and around this point observing developing behaviourisms from seemingly simple code is one of the most interesting moments in a project. For me this has now happened twice on the Frozen Hearth project. The first time was when I observed one of our developers and Boon, the developer/game designer on Runic Rumble conferring on tactics with another of our developers. While they were doing that, I was updating Hydra and the game and checking out the actual changes to scripts and realised that Sam had nerfed my latest exploit (And why exactly were you in MY Hydra, messing with MY balancing…! – Sam). The fun had been found in the game, and it was found during one of our Friday night testing sessions…
… We were playing for about four hours that night and ironing out what we call ‘de-sync’ errors, however the game was at a point where we could legitimately compete against each other and the stakes had apparently become high between the combatants. This was the point when I knew the game had become more than just the fragments of code and textures running through the computer, it had become Fun. We kept working till around 2am, playing and battling, using Spells and Squads, Abilities and Buildings, and if a ‘de-sync’ occurred we looked for the offending section and fixed it. The game was a Game, and resembled the game that we had set out to make – it had come to life and it was brutal. It’s going to be interesting comparing the game we ship to that game back on that day which seemed rough around the edges and all-too deadly and relatively unbalanced. It keeps getting better as we go, but I will enjoy looking over the changes that has occurred since then.
The next time I was surprised was only last week, when we completed part one of our current AI sprint. Watching our AI fight against itself and see one lose and one win was a great moment. They groped around the map like primitive children, taunting each other and getting into fights with only the most rudimentary commands at their disposal. The two teams-of-two had no concept of casting spells, but they formed their squad groups, marched off to capture points, and got in each other’s way.
AI’s are strange beasts, and coding them is a big task. However, once you get something working, regardless of how primitive, you know that you can get there by taking one step at a time. We focused first on Multiplayer and the AI that supports the player’s units; the inherent behaviours that all units require. Next, we focused on making the path-finding good. Finally, we are focusing on the brains of the beast and like Frankenstein’s monster it’s primitive, strong and scary – and it’s going to hurt people in its quest for survival. The emerging behaviours was deeply interesting, and a few of us gathered around to simply watch the AI in its various guises stagger around the map; a tug of war existed between the two sides as they vied for control of points. At one point, one side was losing, and decided to ‘rage quit’ for a while as Sam put it.
This moment of the computer player of the game moving around on its own with limited knowledge was another moment where we knew we had found the fun in the game.

 

 

Morgan

Categories
Developer Blog

Cross Platform Mobile Development

As Epiphany Games wants to give players an experience in a variety of platforms; one world but many ways of interacting with it, I thought I would take the time to make some points about tools that can assist our vision and bring that experience to multiple platforms. I’ll also talk about how those tools help our projects which are not in the same setting; some of which are revenue sources for our company.

 

Our goal of cross-platform games requires us to have a higher level of understanding and deeper level of integration than many other companies. We have pushed out many games this year and last year on iPhone and Android; before that we were developing engine technology to enhance our ability to make the games we wanted to make. Early on, we found that to enable a certain level of cross platform development C++ was the language that gave us the most bang for our buck. We have a strong team, well versed in C++ from Frozen Hearth and GameBryo development. Frozen Hearth uses a combination of C++, C#, and LUA script. Our mobile title ‘Runic Rumble’ uses C# almost exclusively because of the engine choice; I would have liked to have the development in C++, but the project was too far along and we decided to stick with C# on Unity.

 

At Epiphany we also develop many mobile games for companies in Australia and Japan, and on these projects we tend to use C++ to get the project done in a tight deadline. This month we developed three games in two weeks to an Alpha stage using a very small mobile team. These games functioned on both iPhones and Android phones and were skinned with different themes for different levels. Using an objective-C wrapper or a Java Wrapper on the different platforms allowed us to release the games at the same time on the different platforms. When we partnered with Flat Earth Games, and we are using the same cross platform techniques in this development and I think it will help us a great deal. The project is really cool and we are making some great progress, and I think our approach is going to help Flat Earth Games and ourselves get the game out to a variety of platforms and market places. The next step for us is to take some of our free games and our paid Android games to the various market places; we use is a company called Codengo to deal with the plethora of mobile stores. For the App Store we must still submit ourselves.

 

One of the hardest and most time consuming components of mobile development is submitting your game to a store for review and then tracking the results across stores and sectors, there are many stores that game developers never even think of like the Samsung store. Codengo is a new distribution service that puts the mobile submission and tracking of games in the hands of the developer, for a small fee and no percentage of the games revenue  Codengo will submit your game to over ten stores, Google Play, Samsung and others. The service can track the results consolidate the marketing material and within a few clicks your game is submitted across the world to a variety of market places.  Codengo isn’t free; however the benefits of a one-service submission will be attractive to cross platform developers who distribute in multiple markets.

 

By using this cross-platform approach we hope to service our customers on both platforms, in a variety of market places, and enable them to experience our games in a variety of ways. I really think this cross-platform approach services our customers better because we can give them a variety of experiences on multiple platforms. It’s imperative that all Australian Game developers look at how they are dealing with multiple platforms because the need is never going to disappear.