Ninja Chimp Studios

properly social games

january 2017 report

January has been all Freezo Run. Oh, and school holidays. And my day job. And changing day jobs. And building a kids’ C#/Unity course for Coder Kidz. And mainlining 7 seasons of Parks & Rec. And Unity certification study. And sweating in the Brisbane humidity. A lot of that last one.

Before that comes off like setting up an excuse for how little I’ve done on gamedev, I’ve actually had my most productive month since I started keeping records. Admittedly, that was also this month – however I feel it’s a decent effort overall.


My aim was to spend an hour per day on software development, as tracked by RescueTime on my laptop, phone and home desktop. I’m pretty pleased to report I achieved that on 19 days this month.

The significance here is that gamedev is very much a third job for me – after my family and my day job (we’ll come to that in a minute). The only way I feel I can really build a business and develop and maintain skills is by doing a little bit of it every day – the same way I taught myself piano from the internet.

In total over the month, that’s 59 hours on software development related activities, almost all of which was Freezo Run related. Good news huh.  A few days hunkered with my laptop in the aircon for hours in the hottest part of the day while we were on holidays at the coast helped a lot with the overall hours, but I still managed to hit that magic hour most days which I’m happiest about.

I feel like Freezo Run is really coming together… at last.  The month went like this:

  • “Just build placeholder art and get the menus and core gameplay”
  • “OK menus and core gameplay done. This art sucks”
  • “I hate placeholder art, I’m at least going to animate the main character”
  • “This looks great, now I’m doing some backgrounds and UI”
  • “This looks horrible what am I doing”
  • “I need to figure out the visual style so I can rough out the UI properly and stop giving myself cancer”

That brings us to the present. For reference, the initial gameplay mockup and rough art style prototype was this:

Retch-inducing huh? Back to the drawing board. The latest iteration looks like this:

I like this a lot more (the letters are placeholders for spell runes).  The only thing I’m really unsure about is having the controls so close to the corners, but playtesting will reveal how well that works. It’s important to keep buttons at least 9mm in any dimension, which I’ve done above.

The basic gameplay is you start with 1 Sorcery and if it reaches 0 you’re dead and it’s game over. You have to accumulate 64,000 Sorcery – by killing things – to win. At various milestones (shown by triangles on the Sorcery bar) you unlock new spells (Sorcery is a bit like HP mixed with XP). However… if you get injured by foes you lose Sorcery.

There are nine spells to unlock, one of which (currently called Shocking Balls) is your starting ranged attack. In the UI above, the G and I spells are on cooldown, G is currently selected, and H is ready to cast. I envisage a frantic tapping gameplay managing your attacks, defensive cooldowns and jumping/flying to avoid damage.

Horribleness is increased by killing nice things and using the more awful spells. It’s reduced by killing evil things. So you can accumulate Sorcery quicker by killing puppies and bunny rabbits, but it also increases your Horribleness. Compete against your friend to complete the game with the lowest (or highest I guess…) Horribleness!

The current plan is to have a boss fight at each Sorcery milestone… obviously harder and harder in difficulty. For the final stretch you’ll have all 9 spells and, presumably, sore thumbs.

January 2017 Stats

First up, the top 3 categories. Note I’ve actually barely played Overwatch this month, all that time is from my son’s friends playing on my PC.  I did smash through Diablo III though.

The time is aggregated on all devices except my iPad. I’m still debating whether to include the iPad… I tend to multitask a lot on it, so it may distort the data, but I might try it for a month.

There’s quite a bit of time (13.9h) on the forum and discord. I’ve recently been made a mod there, so if you’re looking for a friendly, PG-13 place to discuss gamedev in Unity, Unreal, Blender and so on, stop on by.  Solving problems for other people is honing my own Unity skills so I’m happy to call it productive time.

This one is the kicker. If I can keep this level of regular dev, I’ll be a happy chappy.

  • 88 website visitors, 76% new
  • Days with 1+ hours of gamedev: 19
  • Total software development hours: 58.9 (plus 6.5 hours in Powerpoint for Coder Kidz)
  • Gamedev Earnings: $0
  • Mailing list subscribers: 5
  • Twitter followers: 7, likes: 4
  • Facebook likes: 0

The digital consultant in me is embarrassed by the social stats, but I’ve put zero effort into it so… you reap what you sow.

Other Stuff

My son just started high school, that’s a great way to feel old. Do not recommend.  He’s going to be a youth mentor at CoderDojo this term, and is doing Laser Defender in Unity at the moment.  My daughter is great too.

I mentioned changing day jobs. I’m working out my leave right now (lots of personal Unity time!) and I start my new role in mid Feb (after the Super Bowl).  On that topic, I’m not even mad that the kids declared for the Packers this year. The Niners are my cross to bear and I wouldn’t wish them on anyone.

Man, Rider is such a sweet IDE. It’s my tech of the month.  I loved JetBrains’ RubyMine when I did more web dev, and Rider just feels.. right especially with the new Unity integration.

I played 18.4 hours of Diablo III. I want to say it was research for the Unity RPG, and thus for Pancakes, but… I’ve just always wanted to play it.  I got bored pretty quickly, then came back to it to satisfy my completionist mania.  I also had a rude introduction to how much work that sort of “RPG” is, thinking of the art effort to screen time ratio.

Obviously, having consumed 7 seasons of Parks & Rec in pretty short order, it was my favourite show for January. If you haven’t seen it…

I was going to say something about Trump but TBH I’m sick of him being on every feed.

Talk to Me, fellow dev nerds

I’d love to hear your feedback on Freezo Run, on these blogs or on anything else gamedev-related. Comment here or on social media (Twitter @ninchistudios), or hit me up on Discord – I’m @ninjachimp on the Official, Home of Nerds and Game Dev League channels.

Oh and I’ve just realised that maybe people think the featured image on this entry has to do with killing puppies in Freezo Run. It was just meant to be about being overworked and exhausted – however if you did think that, maybe Freezo Run is the right game for you!


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