It’s my birthday, so what better time to share a bit of good news? If I had my way, Nebula Rescue would be out yesterday, but I am still tweaking and adding the last details. But while you wait for the game, here is the freshly released soundtrack! The two tracks featured in the game are now a mini digital album, including an extended version of the menu track, “Making Choices”.
Listen to the whole thing using the embedded player, and get a copy of the entire soundtrack for $1.99 (or more) via Bandcamp.
As for the game itself, it’s really down to the final details now. I had one persistent bug that took two full days to hunt down, but the game plays the way it’s supposed to now, and the difficulty level is balanced how I want it. I still need to add a few sound effects, and Nebula Rescue will be ready to head to the App Store for approval.
Don’t forget that you can “Like” Nebula Rescue on Facebook too – there’s even an email signup, if you want notification when the game goes live (or consideration for a free promo/review copy).
Nebula Rescue is not the first video game I have designed, but it is the first game I’ve decided to release to the public. Now I am trying to get the word out and ultimately justify the work I put into it, and the investment in software — hopefully allowing me to make more (and more complex) games.
Releasing one little indie arcade game is not likely to make me the next Notch. If I can cover my fairly low expenses within six months, I’ll consider it worthwhile from a financial standpoint (anything beyond that is pure awesome). For me, the real success lies in making a game people enjoy playing. All I want, is for someone else to beat my high score and have fun doing it.
Games are a fantastic way to tell stories, and I have many more to share. For this game, I kept things simple to learn as much as possible, which of course led to more ideas and things I’d like to try. Collaboration for one, instead of doing everything from composing the music and drawing “graphics” to most of the testing and balancing the game logic, myself.
Later, I’d like to make a game that ties into Norkol – the fantasy world I have been building for my fiction (and pen and paper gaming campaign). There are also ideas floating around for follow ups (and expansions) to Nebula Rescue. But for now, I am starting to promote while still adding the final details to the game. Fully aware that I can never compete with design studios that have actual budgets and teams of professionals, but still excited as hell to release this little game I made…
Nebula Rescue is an arcade space game for iPhone, in which the objective is to score as many points as possible before time runs out, by tapping and swiping at space ships, rocks and slime. You could say the game play is a mix of Asteroids and Fruit Ninja. It also happens to be my first game ever designed for the iPhone.
Nebula Rescue is tied into Apple’s Game Center, allowing you to compete for highest score on global leader boards. My personal best, as it stands right now, is 1079 1329 points. After that particular game my heart was racing, my finger cramping and my brain screaming for more. I take that as a good sign.
Along the way, there are several things that can get in your way or help your cause. Keep the game going by picking up Time Crystals or unlock Bonus Time by shooting pesky UFOs. Do avoid hitting the Drones though, as that will cost you 2 seconds of game time, and hinder other performance based bonuses. The exception is using a Drone Zapper, which looks like a large crystal ball with some goofy lightning inside. Tap one of those, and all the Drones vanish – you’ll even get points for each one! There are also power ups that will freeze the timer countdown, shield the Drones or earn you double points for a limited time.
It has taken a couple of weeks to put the game together (not counting time spent on making the music). So far, my iOS apps have been coded the old fashioned way, but Nebula Rescue was created in Game Salad – which allowed me to do in weeks what would otherwise have taken months. Balancing game play is by far the hardest aspect of designing a game like this. The last few days have largely been spent on testing and tweaking details like spawn rates and how different bonuses and timing affect the balance of the game. The result is a fun game with plenty of challenge. The final touch is to add a few more sounds, and then I’ll finally submit Nebula Rescue to the iTunes App Store.
I hope you’re ready to collect space gunk and time crystals, shoot down UFOs and help rescue the nebula, when the game comes out.