Monday, December 24, 2007 -
We're taking a break for the
remainder of the year, in celebration of Christmas and the coming of the
new year. But I just wanted to fill you in on some happenings before we
First, our web site: we've
experienced some difficulties over the past few weeks, during which both
our site and our e-mail have been down for several hours at a time. This
has happened three times in the past two months. The fault lies with our
web host provider, and we will be switching to a new provider in January.
I've already selected a new web host provider, Liquid Web, and am
impressed with how quickly and courteously this company has responded to
my questions. Liquid Web provides web hosting to many other game
companies, and came highly recommended to us. I am confident that their
systems will be much more stable and reliable. When we get ready to
switchover, we will let you know.
Second, we're also working on
a major upgrade to our web site. When we launch our new web site in
January, it will have a brand new look and feel. The new design should
look much more professional and be much easier to browse. There will also
be some new features, including a set of public forums for visitors to ask
questions and discuss our games, a set of private forums for our internal
test team and beta testers to use, a new polling system, and more.
Third, we'll have some new
add-ons ready for Fashion Cents Deluxe in January. I want to try to
release new add-ons at least once a month, until we have converted all of
the add-ons for the original game into the new Deluxe format. Then we will
resume our quarterly add-on releases with brand new content. I'm also
considering publishing a how-to guide for fans who would like to develop
their own home-made add-ons for the game - if we do publish such a guide,
we will set up an area in our new discussion forums so they can post their
creations and share them with others.
Fourth, we will begin
designing our fourth game in January. We have at least a dozen different
ideas for new games, but I have narrowed it down to three choices. Over
the next few weeks, I'll pick the one that we will work on next, and we'll
start developing our fourth game by the end of January.
Finally, the cutoff date for
voting for Fashion Cents Deluxe for Game
Tunnel's Player's Choice Award is on the 28th. We've fallen
significantly behind in the voting, but I know we have more fans than have
voted. Every vote counts, so please vote now if you would like to see
Fashion Cents Deluxe win the Player's Choice Award! Thank you to all who
Sunday, December 9, 2007 -
We received a few questions
regarding the process of voting for Fashion Cents Deluxe in the Game
Tunnel Player's Choice Award, which I would like to answer publicly
for the benefit of others who may have these questions:
When I go to register, why are they asking for my password?
is not your Internet or e-mail password. You are essentially creating an
account on their system, and the account requires a password to protect
it. The password can be anything you want.
Why do they want my ICQ number, AIM address, and other instant messenger
of these are required, they are only for convenience (if you decide to
participate in their discussion forums). The only personal information
that is required is your e-mail address, so that they can uniquely
identify you. However, in their own words, "The e-mail address is used only for confirming your registration details and password".
I can attest to this - have had an account with them for nearly two years,
and I've never received any e-mails from them. So you don't need to worry
I want to vote, but the registration process is confusing. Can you help
are some step-by-step instructions that will hopefully make it easier:
Register at http://gametunnel.com/phpBB/profile.php?mode=register
After registering, you'll receive a confirmation e-mail. Follow the instructions in the e-mail.
Log-in to the Game Tunnel site at
Click on "Home" at the top of the page
Click on the link that says "Vote Here Now for the Player's Choice Award"
Vote for Fashion Cents Deluxe!
We also received a couple of
letters in the past few days from customers who voted for Fashion Cents
"Just wanted to let
you know I'm logging on to vote for the game right now. I ABSOLUTELY
love the new additions you made this weekend, and I can't wait for more!
I want to thank you once again for your fabulous games. I haven't tried
Dirk, but I'm in love with Fashion Cents. I believe offering the free
upgrade to customers who had purchased the original was a selfless and
wonderful thing to do. 99% of game companies would have tried to 'cash
in' and would have tried to charge full price for such an upgrade. Your
choice to offer it for free has further cemented me as a customer (not
that I needed any more convincing). Thank you very much for showing not
everyone is in it for the money - some people actually care about their
product and their customers." - Jamie
"I just received an email from you and of course I voted for the Fashion Cents Deluxe
game. It is the greatest game. Thanks for making such a fun and uncomplicated game that everyone can play from 3 years old on up."
Thanks for your votes, and
your encouraging e-mails! We were ahead in the voting for awhile, but have
since been overtaken by a couple of other games. So every vote counts!
Hopefully the answers above will help you decide to vote for us. Thanks!
Wednesday, December 5, 2007 -
Fashion Cents Deluxe Nominated for Game Tunnel's Player's Choice Award
Fashion Cents Deluxe has been
nominated for Game Tunnel's coveted Player's
Choice Award! This is award is part of their Game of the Year Awards,
which they do at the end of every year. In this award, the game that gets
the most votes from family, friends, fans, and customers wins. Voting ends
on December 28, with the award being given on the 29th as part of the
You must register in order to
vote, which I believe ensures that everyone only votes once so that the
competition is fair. For those who might be worried about privacy issues,
I can assure you that Game Tunnel safeguards your registration information
and does not misuse it. I've met the site owner, Russell Carroll, and he
is a good family man. Game Tunnel has always been good to us - they wrote
a free review of the original Fashion Cents, and did a very nice preview
of Dirk Dashing in advance of its release.
After registering, you'll
receive a confirmation e-mail from Game Tunnel. Follow the instructions in
the e-mail. You can then log-in to the Game Tunnel site here.
After you log-in, click on "Home" at the top of the Game Tunnel
Site, then click on the link that says "Vote Here Now for the
Player's Choice Award".
So, if you enjoy Fashion Cents
Deluxe, please go and vote
for it now!
Sunday, December 2, 2007 -
Piracy Awareness Week
This week is Piracy Awareness Week at My Game Company, and our goal is to bring a greater awareness to our audience of the issues and risks of software piracy. This
BBC article from 2005 indicates that people do not see anything wrong with downloading pirated material.
More recently, the BBC interviewed
two pirates who run The Pirate Bay, a popular file sharing web site,
saying "neither one sheds a tear for makers of movies, music, and
software." In fact, it quotes one of the pirates, named Peter, as
saying, "I think it's okay to copy. They get their money from so many
places that the sales is just one small part." Peter also said,
"I don't care. That's the big thing. I don't care. If I want it, I
take it, 'cause I can. It might be moral to some people, but I think it's
up to me to decide." So my blog post for this week and our weekly poll are both designed to help raise your awareness of these issues.
So what's the big deal anyway? Why should you pay $20 for a game when you might be able to find a free copy somewhere on the Internet? Here are some things to think about:
First, it costs time and money to develop a game, especially for an independent developer like us. We operate My Game Company on a part-time basis, primarily because we do not earn enough income from sales to be able to support even one full-time employee.
This limits the number of games we can produce in a year, as well as the different kinds of games we can create.
I would love to be able to write games full time, but I can't unless
people pay for them. Every time you download an illegal copy of one of our games, it really hinders our ability to develop additional games and grow our little company. It's tempting to think that you're saving $20 and that it can't really make much difference to us, but if everyone felt that way (and many do), then we end up with nothing. In the short term, you may save $20, but in the long-term you'll put us out of business, which means you won't be getting any new games from us.
Second, piracy increases our operating expenses. Case in point: a year ago, someone posted an illegal registration code for Fashion Cents as well as the download links and setup passwords for the Fashion Packs on a web site. We discovered it when our bandwidth costs increased due to the massive number of downloads we were getting. Not only did we lose sales, but our monthly operating costs increased. In effect, it was a double blow to us.
Third, when you download illegal copies of our games, you are leaving yourself and your family vulnerable to all kinds of nasty stuff. A pirated copy of one of our games could be filled with viruses, spyware, and adware, as well as pornographic material and other objectionable content. You could be running the risk of giving your children access to unsuitable material, as well as compromising your computer security and any personal information or data you have stored on your computer. Even if it turns out that your computer is not compromised, why would you want to support people who are trying to steal personal information, commit credit card
fraud, and perform other illegal activities by downloading from them?
Fourth, piracy IS illegal and immoral. Piracy is theft,
because a pirate steals something from us that he/she didn't pay for.
Piracy is no different than shoplifting or stealing, and it leads to arrests, community service, hefty fines, or prison sentences. But it is not just copying the software that is illegal; owning copied software is also a criminal offense -
basically, it's being caught in possession of stolen property, and it is called copyright infringement in most jurisdictions. Here is an excellent
entry in Wikipedia that covers all aspects of copyright infringement with regards to
Some people think that we're ripping them off by charging $20 for a game, and they have even written to tell us that. The pirates use this argument too, and they justify their piracy by saying that they're striking a blow for the little guy and keeping the "fat-cats from lining their pockets". I can assure you we are not a "fat-cat" game company, nor are we getting rich off of you.
When we look at the pricing for other games, we believe our games are priced fairly and competitively. And, as I've already pointed out, we operate on a part-time basis because we do not earn enough income to be able to do this full-time. In fact, there are some months during the year (particularly during the summer) where we do not even earn enough income to cover our monthly operating expenses (web hosting, file hosting and bandwidth, e-commerce fees, advertising costs, etc). So any act of piracy is a very significant problem for us.
So next time you think about downloading a free but illegal copy of one of our games, please don't.
It isn't right to do this to any company, regardless of its size, but it
is especially devastating to a small company like ours because our company
lives and dies by our sales. The bottom line is that My Game Company will
only survive if you buy our games.
For more information about
software piracy, and what you can do to help, visit StampOutPiracy.com.
Thursday, November 29, 2007 -
More Letters from Our Inbox
We've received a few
additional e-mails in the past few days from our Fashion Cents Deluxe
customers, which have been very encouraging to us. I thought I would share
them with you:
"Fantastic game! Thanks
for the MAC version! Most of the time the best games don't have a MAC
version and that frustrates me. Your game is the best one I've played so
far, and believe me I played a lot of them." - Judith
"The download was a
piece of cake, my daughter will be thrilled. I think I'll try out the
game before my daughter realizes we have it." - Julia
"I love this game! I
work as an arts and crafts teacher in first-third grade classes. What a
great way to let my children practice their English and color
recognition skills along with improving their concentration
abilities." - Eva
Also, I've been so focused on
Fashion Cents Deluxe lately that I haven't written much about Dirk
Dashing. Here are some e-mails we received from Dirk Dashing fans over the
past couple of months:
"I purchased Dirk
Dashing some time ago. Thank you, and may God bless you for creating
such wonderful games. We have also bought Fashion Cents." - Fiona
"Keep up the good work.
My kids love Dirk Dashing." - Kent
"Just played Dirk
Dashing - what a truly fabulous game - I just loved it! Please tell me
you will be bringing out Dirk Dashing 2 soon!" - Sheila
"I recently bought Dirk
Dashing Episode 1 and I LOVE it. I am a 18 year old college student and
I would rush back to my dorm room just to play Dirk Dashing. I finished
the game today and I am wondering if/when Episode 2 will come out."
Dirk Dashing fans will be
happy to know that we have the storylines for two sequels already written
and ready for production. But it took 2-1/2 years to produce the first
Dirk Dashing game, so we're taking a little break from Dirk to write a few
smaller games first. We will get back to Dirk Dashing, though, so don't
Finally, here are some letters
we received regarding my November 12 blog post, in which I mentioned some
of the negative comments that feminists were leaving on various web sites
about Fashion Cents Deluxe:
"I was just reading
some of your blog and find it amazing that you have had some adverse
media due to Fashion Cents Deluxe. My daughter is 11 nearly 12, starting
high school next year, and absolutely loves playing this game. As for
stereotyping, did I mention that she also plays soccer, bush bashing on
her bike and loves to ride the quad bike on the farm? She also loves
playing Dirk Dashing. Stereotyping? Don't think so. Children love to
play games on computers, and it is great to have these games. Thank you,
I can't wait to see what you are going to do next year. Keep up the
great work." - Fiona
"We're both shocked to
read that some people are slagging off your lovely game. How sick can
you get, to find fault in Fashion Cents? It is just a very cute game -
and kids (and adults) love cute. How can there be a problem in making a
game out of something that I and my sister and most of our peers used to
love doing - dressing a card doll with tagged items of clothing? I hope
you won't let their meanness get to you - you've truly put so much into
My Game Company, the ideals and ideas that have brought so much innocent
pleasure to people. Fashion Cents is just utterly adorable. All I can
say is lemme at em!" - Liz
"Oh my gosh. I just
read your blog about the people that are being so mean about Fashion
Cents! It is outrageous. I have 4 daughters 5-14 years old. All of them
love to play it and have been for quite a long time! For my youngest it
is a way to match colors. For the older ones, a nice safe way to play
dress up. Have these people seen what is out there? I have come across
dress-up sights I wouldn't want my kids seeing! These clothes you have
are decent and age-appropriate. They should be ashamed of themselves for
finding evil in such a lovely game! Keep up the good work and hold your
head up high. I will always count on My Game Company for family friendly
games." - Christine
Thanks for the encouraging
e-mails! Keep them coming - we love to hear from our fans and customers!
It motivates us to keep going!
Sunday, November 25, 2007 -
A Record-breaking Week!
We're back from our
Thanksgiving break! It was not only a wonderful time of rest and
relaxation for Victoria and I personally, but it was also an exciting week
for our game company. We broke several of our records! On Friday, we broke
two records: first, we had the most sales ever in a single day, and
second, we broke our all-time record for the most sales in a single month.
Then today, we awoke to discover that our sales for the month had exceeded
$1000 for the first time ever!
Most of the sales have come
within the past two weeks, following the release of Fashion Cents Deluxe.
Interestingly, we've sold more copies of Fashion Cents Deluxe for Mac OS X
than for Windows and Linux combined. The conversion rate of downloads to
sales has also been 3 times higher for Mac than for Windows. The decision
to start offering Mac versions of our games is certainly paying off. We've
also had a number of orders for more than one product, where some
first-time customers purchased a copy of Dirk Dashing along with Fashion
We also received some
wonderful e-mails from existing customers who have upgraded to the new
version. Here is a small sampling of the letters we have received:
"Hello, I just received
my copy of the updated version of Fashion Cents Deluxe. Thank you! It is
awesome!" - Christine
"My first few games
with the new version have been GREAT! I really like the additions and
changes - this game has always been a favorite of mine. Congratulations
on the new updates!" - Ruth
"Thank you! You are
awesome! This totally makes my day! I love this game!" - Kathy
"I downloaded the new version and my answer to how the game is: GREAT!! Even my husband starting playing it and yes he played for over an HOUR. It just one of those great family games. Every age can play this game.
Thanks for such a great game!!!" - Arlene
"Thank you for the new
version of Fashion Cents. Loving it!" - Helen
"FC Deluxe is taking up far too much of our leisure time - can we place a complaint please
about too much in-game addiction factor?" - Liz
Thanks again to everyone for
the encouraging letters. You'll be happy to know that I've been working on
some new add-ons during the break, and I plan to release the Deluxe
version of "Fashion Pack 4: Dress for Success" later this week.
Friday, November 16, 2007 -
Pausing to be Thankful
We're taking a little break
during this coming week for the Thanksgiving holiday here in the United
States. We certainly have a lot to be thankful for this year. First, we
have survived another round of wildfires here in San Diego - this was the
worst firestorm I have ever seen in my life, but despite the great loss of
property, there were relatively few lives lost. Thank you, Lord! Second,
our family and extended family are all doing well, and everyone is healthy
and happy. Third, we successfully released two games this year: Dirk
Dashing for Mac OS X and Fashion Cents Deluxe for Windows, Mac OS X, and
Linux, and the business is growing, so that is definitely something we are
also thankful for. There are many other things we're thankful for, but I
won't bore you with a long list. Instead, I encourage you to make your own
When we come back from the
holiday break in one week, we should have some new add-ons to make
available to our registered Fashion Cents Deluxe customers. I am currently
updating our second most popular pack from the original Fashion Cents
game, which is Fashion Pack 4: Dress for Success! At the same time, I am
working on the floor-length dresses from Fashion Pack 7: Ellie Gant, which
I believe is probably one of the more popular add-ons with younger girls.
In fact, one of the screenshots on the Fashion Cents Deluxe product page
shows the first ball gown that I have already finished. So we will be
making these new clothes available soon too.
Beyond that, we have no
particular order in mind for updating the remaining fashion packs from the
original Fashion Cents game - we will probably start with Fashion Pack 1
and start working the rest of them in order. But if there is a favorite
that you would really like to have in the new game as soon as possible,
e-mail us and let us know. We're taking your votes!
Just so you know, I will be
checking e-mail during the coming week, and I'll try to check it a few
times each day. So if you need product support or have questions, I will
be available to answer you. Please be patient if it takes a little longer
to get back to you than normal - we're really tired, and we're ready for a
small vacation. Thanks for your understanding, and we'll see you here
again in a week with some new add-ons!
Monday, November 12, 2007 -
Fashion Cents Deluxe Responses
The response to our game
release over the past few days has been very interesting.
First, our existing customers:
a number of them have written to tell us how much they love the new
version. In fact, we haven't had any negative comments at all so far, and
that is encouraging. I was surprised at how many of our existing customers
wanted the Mac and Linux versions. The original version was only available
for Windows, so these folks must have switched away from Windows to
another operating system since they originally purchased the game. I find
that interesting, because I've been reading in various publications about
how people are getting disillusioned with Microsoft and Windows and
considering alternatives, and here is some proof that what I read is true.
Second, the feminists: you
would not believe the number of rude and outrageous comments being left on
various web sites by feminists about our press release. They're really
upset about this game. I don't remember this kind of response four years
ago when we released the original version, or even two years ago when we
released our first-ever press release about the game. I've read posts
accusing us of stereotyping, brainwashing young girls into believing that
being pretty is all that is important, exploiting children for profit, and
other mean things. In one sense, I'm rather glad it is Victoria's name
that is on the press release and not mine, but it doesn't seem to matter
whether it is a man or women promoting this game. I just feel bad for
Victoria, because they're calling her stupid, ignorant, and lots of other
awful things, and telling her she should be ashamed of herself for
designing this game.
As many of you know, our goal
is to produce clean and wholesome games for children, and we work very
hard at it. Five years ago, when we set out to produce a computer game for
little girls, we talked with a lot of girls about what kind of computer
games they liked. For the most part, there really weren't any they liked.
When we asked them what kind of game they would want to play if it were
available, the overwhelming response was a fashion/dressup game. So that's
what we made, being careful to keep the game tasteful and inoffensive to
parents. I originally spent weeks coming up with a doll drawing that was
modest and didn't look like Barbie, and we have been very careful over the
years in selecting the kinds of clothes we wanted to feature in the game.
I think we produced a good game that many young girls enjoy, and even some
moms and grandmas. We are not ashamed of our work, and we certainly do not
apologize for giving our customers what they want. But it is unbelievable
how some women just hate this game and are going out of their way to post
nasty comments about it and about us. I'm reminded of this Bible passage:
"Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be
persecuted" (2 Timothy 3:12). We're certainly experiencing some of
that right now.
Third, new traffic: we have to
keep ourselves focused on the positive things happening, and the best
thing is that lots of new customers are finding our game. We have had a
lot of sales so far for the Mac version, so it looks like our decision to
support a Mac version of Fashion Cents Deluxe was a good one. Our game is
also finding its way onto some popular fashion sites where it hasn't been
before, and that is bringing a significant boost to our web site traffic.
At this rate, I expect we will more than triple our traffic from last
So it has been an interesting
week, to say the least. But good things are happening, and we have chosen
to focus on these, as it says in Philippians 4:8, "Whatever is true,
whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is
lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy -
think about such things." And the truth is, there are a lot of happy
little girls playing our game right now. That's all that is important.
Sunday, November 4, 2007 -
Fashion Cents Deluxe to be released Nov 9!
As you can see from the title,
Fashion Cents Deluxe will be released this coming Friday. E-mail
notifications have been sent to our current Fashion Cents customers, who
are downloading their advanced copy of the new version now.
I would like to publicly thank
all of our beta testers for their help and their dedication to making
Fashion Cents Deluxe as good as it can be. We invited 30 people to
participate in our beta test program, and 24 of them accepted. They all
contributed feedback in the form of bug reports and suggestions for
improvements, and they were very patient and cooperative as we worked to
troubleshoot issues together. All of our beta testers have had their names
listed in the game credits in the User Manual and in the readme file, and
those who didn't already own Fashion Cents were given a free copy of
Fashion Cents Deluxe. Thanks again to these helpful volunteers!
This week will be very busy as
we work to finish the Mac and Linux builds, update our web site and
shopping cart, and prepare press releases and advertising materials for
the game's official release. This will be an exciting week - stay tuned!
Friday, October 26, 2007 -
Beta Testing is Nearly Done!
The closed beta test for
Fashion Cents Deluxe is nearing completion. Our most recent build is very
stable, and we have had no reports of any new bugs or issues from our beta
testers. All of the major issues have been resolved, as well as most of
the minor ones, except for two graphics oddities that a few beta testers
have reported with their ATI video cards. We have identified that these
two problems are caused by the ATI Catalyst drivers, and not our game.
Hopefully the latest version of the Catalyst drivers will solve these
minor glitches. So at this point, the game itself is nearly finished. I
hope to get our first release candidate into the hands of the beta testers
Before we can release the
game, however, there are two things we need to do. First, we need to
package the game. The packaging task includes building the final
installers for Windows, Mac, and Linux, as well as putting together the
registration screen for the trial version, updating the user's manual, and
addressing how game updates will be delivered across all platforms
(Windows, Mac, and Linux). Regarding game updates, one of the big issues
with the original game is how the add-on packs are installed. In the
current system, customers must download each add-on pack and install it
separately, which can be time-consuming and sometimes frustrating - this
will only get worse as we start creating more add-on packs in the coming
year. I am investigating the possibility of building an auto-update
mechanism into the game, so that customers only need to press one button
from within the game, and the game itself will connect to our web site and
download any new add-on packs that are available. This solution will also
work better for the Mac version, which doesn't use installers. I've been
working on the auto-update solution during the past week, and if it is
successful, I want to include it in our first release candidate so the
beta testers can try it and make sure it works.
Second, we need to put
together all of our sales and marketing material for the game. This
consists of creating new web pages with up-to-date screen captures and
feature lists, adding the new product information into our shopping cart,
writing press releases, creating banner ads for various web sites that we
plan to advertise on, and so on. For me, this is one of the fun parts of
the development process, because I get to be very creative and because I
enjoy writing about a game project I have actually finished. You have no
idea how many game projects I have started over the years and never
finished. Perhaps, if people are interested, I'll post blog entries
someday about some of these incomplete projects.
Anyway, it won't be long now
until Fashion Cents Deluxe is officially released. All of our existing
Fashion Cents customers will get to download the new version one week
before it is released to the rest of the world. So if you have been
waiting to buy the game until the new version comes out, don't wait any
longer. Buy it now, so that you're eligible for the advanced customer-only
release of Fashion Cents Deluxe!
Friday, October 19, 2007 -
A few of our beta testers
pointed out that Fashion Cents needs more sound effects in the game,
especially when you turn off music and/or voices. So a couple of weeks ago
we hired a professional sound designer to polish the audio for Fashion
His name is Jesse Hopkins,
from Composer Arts, and he has produced music tracks and sound effects for
a number of games, including Democracy 2, Match Gems, and others. He also
has some film and video credits to his name.
Jesse has been giving Fashion
Cents Deluxe the royal treatment, as far as sound effects go. He has
produced all-new button and rollover sounds for our menu system, to
replace the harsh click sound of the original version. He has also added a
wide variety of sounds for different clothing items as you drag and drop
them onto dolls and shelves. Last weekend, the beta testers had an
opportunity to try out a new beta with all of the new sounds, and most of
the feedback has been positive. A few issues were pointed out by the
testers, and Jesse is tweaking the audio to fine tune it.
This is the first time I have
worked with a professional sound designer. I did the sound design for our
previous games, and I can be pretty picky about what I want. I've been
very impressed with how responsive Jesse is, and his level of
professionalism. When I have asked for changes or additions, he usually
finishes it and gets it to me within a day or two. And the quality is
top-notch! It's very likely that we will be using him for sound effects in
Monday, October 15, 2007 -
I'm Late, I'm Late!
I've been so engrossed in
getting Fashion Cents Deluxe done, that I forgot to update our weekly
poll yesterday! I have been busy troubleshooting a couple of bug
reports from our beta testers, and it completely slipped my mind. Sorry
about that! The new poll is now available.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007 -
Fashion Cents Deluxe Beta Progress
The Fashion Cents Deluxe beta
continues to go well. The testers are finding bugs, which I'm fixing, and
they've made lots of observations and suggestions for improvement that
I've been working on as well. I'll be releasing a revised beta version to
them in the next couple of days with lots of bug fixes and additional
In the past week, I've fixed
all of the significant bugs that the beta testers have encountered,
including a few crashes and a lockup problem. I've also ran the game
through a memory analysis and profiling tool, which identified some memory
leaks and suspicious read/write issues. These are now fixed. Our most
recent internal build is very stable, and I think it is getting close to
being ready for release.
I've also made a number of
improvements, based on feedback from our beta testers. For example, when
you start your first game under a new player profile, the instruction
screen comes up before you play to give you a better idea of what to do -
this is a small improvement, but it will be great for new players. Also,
there is now a button on the High Scores screen for resetting the high
scores. Plus we've added some additional sound effects to the game.
I'm eager to get the latest
build into the hands of our beta testers, so I had better get back to
work. Stay tuned!
Thursday, October 4, 2007 -
Fashion Cents Deluxe Initial Beta Feedback
We've started to receive
feedback from our beta testers. Here is a sampling, which I have edited a
bit to correct grammar and
spelling and to make it more readable:
"Thanks very much
indeed for letting us take part in the testing of Fashion Cents
Deluxe, it truly is as good as I'd hoped it to be. The graphics are
lovely and smooth, and I think the extra colours and outfits have
fitted into the wardrobe very nicely indeed." - Liz, England
"WOW, the detail on
the clothes and accessories is great! What an improvement over Fashion
Cents." - Sherry, USA
"I've really enjoyed
playing the game these past few days. The smooth edges on the dolls
and the detail on the clothes is beautiful." - Barbara, USA
"Great job on the new
version!! The following are my (and my 6 year olds) thoughts: new
graphics look great (simple but nice), great job on the voiceovers
(You go Girlfriend!), play is a lot smoother, addition of new colors
makes it more challenging as the levels progress." - Cynthia and
"First impression is
that the game is pretty fun and funny. The voice work is great."
- Ilya, USA
"I have been playing
and have had no problems, and I like the new dolls and the lines. The
skirts with all the buttons and the belts and the jeans too. It's
Great so far." - Eulea, USA
"I played it on
Windows. It did work well. I like the music." - Roman, Poland
Also, the beta testers have already
reported several bugs that we
are looking into, and they have made a number of suggestions for improvements. One
of the bugs involves switching between full screen and windowed modes, and
another involves a curious 2-3 second hang when dragging clothes from the
shelves to the dolls. So I'm
looking into these problems.
On the whole, however, the
initial feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. That's great news!
Sunday, September 30, 2007 -
Fashion Cents Deluxe Beta Starts
Our closed beta test for
Fashion Cents Deluxe started this afternoon. I don't really have anything
to report yet, as our beta testers are just getting started with the game.
But I plan to post a blog entry later this week with some of their
My current plan calls for a
2-3 week beta test period. The Windows and Linux versions are ready to go,
but I still have to port the game to Mac. The duration of the beta test
period will depend on how quickly I can complete the Mac port of the game.
At that point, we should have some feedback from our Windows and Linux
beta testers, and I will be able to set an official release date for the
game. Stay tuned!
Thursday, September 27, 2007 -
Fashion Cents Deluxe Main Menu Screenshot
Awhile back, I promised you a
screenshot of the new main menu for Fashion Cents Deluxe. I didn't provide
one at the time, because we didn't have enough of the clothes done and all
the dolls were still in their underwear. I promised I would provide one
when the girls were properly dressed and presentable.
Well, we now have enough
clothes done, and I have dressed the dolls. Most are still in their bare
feet, because we only have one type of shoe in the game. But enough of it
is done to give you a good idea of what it will look like in the finished
Click on the picture for a
larger version. The dolls are showing off some of the clothing items that
I finished redrawing over the past week. Check out all the cool details,
like stitching and buttons!
As you can see, I decided to
stay faithful to the design of the original game by keeping the dolls and
pedestals. I had to do some adjustments, though, because we now have a new
Choose Options button. But I think the new design works well. The new menu
is fresh and exciting, yet still preserves the feel of the old menu
By the way, the software is
nearly ready for beta. I've fixed most of the bugs found by our internal
test team, and I have enough of the clothes done for the beta testers to
get started with. I need to do a fresh build on Windows and build
installers for both Linux and Windows, and then we will be ready to go.
However, I will be busy attending to other matters for the next couple of
days, so I'm expecting to start beta testing on Sunday. Stay tuned!
Tuesday, September 25, 2007 -
Fashion Cents Deluxe Beta Starts This Weekend
The beta test program for
Fashion Cents Deluxe should start sometime this coming weekend, at least
for Windows and Linux. I still have to port the game to Mac, so the Mac
beta will be delayed for another week or so.
At this point, I'm comfortable
enough with the random selection process to let some players give it a
try. I've also been feverishly working to expand the set of clothing items
in the game. At this point, about 2/3 of the core set of clothes (the set
of clothes that are available in the trial version, meaning without the
add-on packs) have been redrawn in the new, higher resolution format and
with the additional colors available in Fashion Cents Deluxe. I still have
to fix a couple of bugs found by our internal test team, and I need to
create installers for the game. Once that is done, I will be ready to
start the beta program.
As before (with Dirk Dashing),
the beta test program will be limited to around 20-30 players. Those
invited to be beta testers include extended family and friends, fellow
game developers from the Association of Shareware Professionals and other
developers with whom I have worked in the past, and select customers. The
customers we select for our beta test programs are those who demonstrate
continued commitment and loyalty to My Game Company over an extended
period of time by
buying our games
actively promoting our
games to their friends and helping generate sales
leaving positive reviews
of our games on various game web sites
frequently writing to
providing feedback and
suggestions for improving our games
helping us identify and
fix bugs that they find
offering to help us in
various ways that directly contribute to our success
We generally chose people with
whom we have developed a friendship and trust, and who we know will
actively provide feedback to us during the beta program. In return, our
beta testers get a free copy of the game (for those who don't already own
it) and their names listed in the game credits.
If you would like to be
invited to participate in beta test programs at My Game Company, pick some
things on the list above and start doing them. Perhaps we will select you
for the beta test program on our next game!
Sunday, September 23, 2007 -
"Girl Gadgets" Voted the Most Favorite Add-On!
The voting on our weekly polls
has been interesting to watch during the past few weeks, as our fans and
visitors have been voting for their favorite add-on packs for Fashion
Cents. I think we've had our highest turnout of voters ever. It sure was
intense to watch, but the indisputable winner was Fashion Pack 8: Girl
I must say, I was very
surprised by this. I thought sure that our seventh add-on pack, Ellie
Gant, which featured the much requested ball gowns and formal wear, would
be the hands-down favorite. Now I am curious to know what it is about Girl
Gadgets that everybody loves. So that is the topic for this week's poll.
Go vote for your favorite accessory from the Girl Gadgets add-on pack!
Thursday, September 20, 2007 -
Fashion Cents Deluxe Progress Report
Just a quick update to let
everyone know what's happening with Fashion Cents Deluxe. Our test team
has been hammering on the game, and finding some bugs and minor issues
that need to be addressed. For the most part, the game software itself
seems fairly stable and solid.
I've been making lots of
adjustments to the random selection of clothes, but finding the right
balance has been an agonizingly slow process. On one end of the spectrum
is total randomness, which lets the game pick absolutely anything
(including lots of repeat items, lots of stuff that doesn't match, etc).
On the other end of the spectrum is totally controlled selection, which
means the game doesn't pick anything randomly and ends up selecting an
evenly distributed array of clothing types and colors (making the early
levels boringly easy). The goal is to find a happy medium, so that it does
a nice selection of random items but not too many of one color or
type. Just when I think I've fixed the problem of too many red shoes or
not enough brown items, the game starts selecting too much variety so that
you don't get enough of anything on later levels to complete any outfits.
This has turned out to be quite a challenge. I'm almost at the point where
I may give up for now and implement the old random selection process, just
so we can get this game released.
I've also been redrawing the
artwork for the clothing items, to take advantage of the higher resolution
and greater detail that is available thanks to our DynaPaint engine. I've
been adding more detail to each piece, with little finishing touches like
buttons and stitching. It takes awhile to redraw each piece, scan it in,
clean it up, and paint it. Plus we have some new colors with which to
paint the pieces. But as you have already seen in earlier screenshots, the
results will be worth it. Take a look at this sample, showing the revised
purses, glasses, and sweats:
I will let you all know when
we are ready for beta testing. Stay tuned!
Monday, September 10, 2007 -
Fashion Cents Deluxe Coding Completed!
Today, we completed the coding
phase for Fashion Cents Deluxe. The saved game feature was the last
feature we needed to code, and I finished coding it about an hour ago. I
ran some basic tests, and it seems to be working well. This means that all
of the game code has now been written, and we are now fully involved in
the test phase.
A number of features that were
originally planned for the game have been pushed to a future update. These
Unfortunately, this couldn't
be helped. As usual, it has taken longer than expected to finish the game
coding, although the delays this time were not the result of me
underestimating the work. All of my estimates were fairly accurate. The
delays were caused by unforeseen circumstances, such as the three weeks I
was sick back in June, the unexpected repair work that had to be done on
our house in July, the invitation we were given in August to beta test an
OpenGL profiling and debugging program (something we had not previously
had access to that has helped us improve the performance of our DynaPaint
engine), and a few bug reports that came in regarding Dirk Dashing that I
needed to deal with. If we had not cut these features, I am not sure we
would have released Fashion Cents Deluxe until next year. We will
eventually implement these features, but not in the initial release of the
Before we can begin a beta
test, there are a number of bugs that our internal testers found that need
to be fixed. For example, the algorithm that randomly selects the next
item needs further tweaking, and the numbers on the shopping bag have
mysteriously shifted and are no longer being drawn in the right place. I
also want to run the game through a memory analysis tool to check for
memory leaks, bad memory writes, and so forth. And there is some
additional artwork that needs to be incorporated into the game, such as
the new Title screen and a few new clothing items. Plus, the testers need
to take their shots at the new saved game feature and look for bugs. So it
will be at least another week or two before we are ready for a formal beta
Thursday, September 6, 2007 -
I just posted our next poll,
to find out which of the second set of Fashion Packs you like best. Like
the last poll, this one will run for a week and a half - until September
16, at which time we will run the final poll to determine which of the two
top Fashion Packs is the all-time fan favorite. Visit our poll
page to vote!
In case you're wondering, the
reason these polls are running for a week and a half each is because I
took a mini-vacation over the Labor Day weekend. I flew back to Florida to
visit my family, particularly my niece Allyson who just turned one year
old last month. She is a cutie! I normally post a new poll on Sunday, but
since I was out of town, I was unable to do so.
We have featured ten polls
now, and the results have been interesting. Some polls are clearly more
popular with visitors than others. So what do you think? Are you enjoying
the polls? Write and let us
Thursday, August 30, 2007 -
What About the Add-On Packs?
Has anyone seen the new
re-mastered Star Trek series? If you've read my blog for any length of
time, you know I'm a Star Trek fan. Paramount Pictures has basically gone
back to the original film negatives and lifted a brand new high definition
print from them. They've also updated the special effects with
computer-generated ships and effects - which is phenomenal. The first
re-mastered episode that I saw was "The Doomsday Machine", and I
was blown away. The production crew has been faithful to recreate the
original ship models in the computer, so it looks very much like the
original show, except that the ship movement is much more realistic (they
no longer look like plastic models hanging on wires) and the action now
fits with the orders being given by the captain.
So what's this got to do with
our add-on packs? Well, several people have asked me about what is going
to happen with the current add-on packs for Fashion Cents, once Fashion
Cents Deluxe is released. I plan to do with our add-on packs what
Paramount has done with the re-mastered Star Trek series. The add-on
clothes will be updated for to match the new graphic style in Fashion
Cents Deluxe, with smooth anti-aliased edges, greater detail, and newer
colors. I'm also planning on including some additional material with each
add-on pack. The add-ons will be revised and released one-at-a-time, after
Fashion Cents Deluxe itself has been released.
Someone also asked if we will
be releasing any brand new add-on packs with Fashion Cents Deluxe. We will
indeed, after the existing add-on packs have been revised and released. I
have numerous suggestions from customers and fans that we have noted and
placed on a list. I will present some of the suggestions in an upcoming
poll to allow you to vote on what kind of clothes Fashion Pack 11 will
contain. We will also start holding contests again, like we did a couple
of years ago, to solicit suggestions for the name of Fashion Pack 11, and
the winner will receive some special prizes.
Oh, and in case you're
wondering about my last post, I did finish the Player Profile screen and
am now working on the save game feature. We should be ready to start our
beta test program very soon. Stay tuned!
Monday, August 27, 2007 -
Battling Bugs on the Font Lines
You would think the Player
Profile screen would be one of the easiest screens to code. All the player
has to do is select a profile, or if she wants to create a new one, just
hit the button, type in a name, and bingo - a brand new profile to choose.
But I've been struggling all
week with the text box control that the player will use to type in her
name. I originally wrote the control for Dirk Dashing, but I don't
remember taking so many shortcuts with it. The thing about Dirk Dashing is
that the font I used in that game only supported upper case letters, and
the letters were all the same width. Now that I'm using a variable-width
font that supports both upper and lower case letters, I'm uncovering all
kinds of problems involving hard-coded character widths, erroneous cursor
placement, Caps Lock and Shift keys that don't work properly, and lots of
other font-related issues. I guess the lesson is this: if you plan to
reuse something for another project, design and implement it properly the
Anyway, I hope to iron out the
rest of the font problems tonight. Then the only thing I have left to code
is the save game capability. I think that will be pretty easy to code, but
judging from how the Player Profile screen turned out, I think I will
refrain from estimating a completion date.
Testing continues to go well.
As soon as I can wrap up the coding effort, we'll be ready to begin beta
Tuesday, August 21, 2007 -
Initial Test Results Are In
After more than a week of
internal testing, I'm happy to report that it is going well. There have
been surprisingly few bugs for this early stage of testing. The game is
very stable and no serious issues have been found. This could be due to
the fact that Fashion Cents Deluxe is using the same core engine as Dirk
Dashing, and that engine has already been heavily tested and in use for
almost a year.
Most of the issues uncovered
so far involve the new random selection process. The game is doing very
well at mixing up clothing types (hats, tops, bottoms, and shoes), so you
don't get three or four pairs of shoes in a row. But the color selection
needs some work. The game tends to pick too many items of the same color -
you either get a lot of white, or you get a lot of items of a color that
you can't use. So we have some more work to do there.
I still haven't finished
coding the Player Profile screen or save game capability. I've been
working with gDEBugger some more during the past week, which has been very
helpful in identifying areas in the DynaPaint engine where I can improve
performance. I've been able to eliminate 20% of the OpenGL calls in Dirk
Dashing, resulting in a 10-15% boost in game performance. Many of the
calls I have eliminated are in the DynaPaint engine itself, which means
Fashion Cents Deluxe has seen a similar performance gain. We'll probably
release another Dirk Dashing update once Fashion Cents Deluxe is done.
Sunday, August 12, 2007 -
Fashion Cents Testing is Underway!
I've delivered copies of our
most recent development build of Fashion Cents Deluxe to our internal test
team. So testing has officially begun on our latest game!
The game has now been ported
to Windows, and it runs very well on my Windows XP laptop. In fact, it
runs much smoother than the original game. For example, when the completed
outfits fly off to the shopping bag, the animation is very smooth - there
are no hiccups or pauses in the movement of the clothes (as sometimes
occurred with the original game).
I've also been making
performance improvements to our DynaPaint engine, based on feedback from a
Linux beta of gDEBugger (an OpenGL debugger and profiler). My goal is to
improve Dirk Dashing performance on certain video cards, like older ATI
cards and the onboard video cards used in some laptops, where Dirk runs
very slow. However, Fashion Cents Deluxe is indirectly benefiting from
these improvements because it uses the same DynaPaint engine. So I'm
actually optimizing the performance of both games at the same time!
This next week I will be
wrapping up coding of the remaining features in Fashion Cents Deluxe,
namely the Player Profile screen and the save game capability. At that
point, the coding phase will be completed.
All that is left after that is
testing and creating additional clothing items - the game is still using
the same headband, top, capris, sneakers, and necklace you've seen in all
the screenshots I've been posting over the past few months. So it
definitely needs more variety! I'll post additional screenshots as more of
the clothing art is completed.
Tuesday, August 7, 2007 -
Fashion Cents Testing Begins This Weekend!
That's right! Our internal
test team will finally get their hands on Fashion Cents this coming
weekend. That means beta testing by the end of the month, and a release
sometime in September (provided there are no serious problems uncovered by
Most of the new menu system is
done, with the exception of the Player Profile screen. The new menu
graphics worked out great, and the game looks really nice. The Options
screen is a definite improvement to the game, with independent toggles for
music, sound, and voiceovers and convenient volume sliders as well. I also
like the new menu panel in the lower-left corner of the in-game screen -
it is much simpler and easier to use.
We still have a lot of tweaks
to make and minor issues to solve, but the game is complete enough and
stable enough for our testers to begin hammering on it. We can wrap up the
remaining issues in parallel with the testing effort.
I'm excited to finally start
unveiling the improved game. Stay tuned to my blog, because I will be
announcing the official release date for the game very soon!
Saturday, July 28, 2007 -
Independent Game Portals
I've recently discovered
several game portals (web sites where you can find games) that are owned
and operated by independent game developers like me:
The web sites allow players to
rate and review games, leave comments, etc. You can help support our games
by going to these sites and rating our games and writing a brief review or
recommendation for them. We would appreciate it a lot!
Note, there are some good
games listed on these sites, but there are also some bad ones (not
family-friendly at all). By contributing ratings and reviews for our games
(and other clean games by other developers), you can help the good games
rise to the top of the lists and keep the bad games from getting the
publicity. So go make a difference, and rate your favorite family-friendly
Wednesday, July 25, 2007 -
Game Menu Artwork Completed
It took longer than I expected
to finish the game menu artwork for Fashion Cents Deluxe. I tried several
different designs, but I just couldn't find one that clicked. So I decided
to stick with the simplicity of the current menu art, namely the dolls
standing on pedestals.
There are now five dolls on
pedestals instead of four (the new one is for the options screen).
Obviously with five dolls, I had to redesign the menu layout to make room.
The dolls have all been updated to use the new game graphics with the
smoothed edges, but they're all currently in their underwear because we
don't have all the new clothes ready for the game yet. So I will refrain
from showing a screenshot until the dolls are properly dressed and
The artwork for all of the
other menu screens has been completed too - the skill level selection
dialog, the high score screen, and the instruction/tutorial screen have
all been revised to match the new menu design. I've also created the
artwork for the new options screen and player profiles screen, which you
can see below.
At this point, I'm ready to
start hooking it all up in the program itself. Once the game menus are
programmed, we're ready to start testing!
Sunday, July 15, 2007 -
Back from Vacation
We're back from our vacation.
We spent several days at a resort on Mission Bay here in San Diego, while
our house was being worked on. It was very relaxing, and we are now back
in our home and ready to finish up Fashion Cents Deluxe.
Because we were out of our
home, I had to rely on my Windows XP laptop to check e-mail. I haven't
used this laptop in many months, and I was surprised at how slow it was.
It seemed to take forever to launch applications, open files, or load web
pages. Even though I knew Linux was faster than Windows (something I
discovered when I first switched to Linux), it still surprised me because
both computers are 3.2 GHz and have hard drives that are equivalent in
capacity and speed. It sure made me appreciate my Linux computer.
Anyway, it's back to work
tomorrow. I plan to wrap up the graphics work for the new menu system in
Fashion Cents Deluxe in the next day or so, and start hooking it all up. I
will post some screenshots of the new menu system in action as it starts
to come together. Stay tuned!
Monday, July 9, 2007 - Odds
Just wanted to let everyone
know we're taking a little vacation while we're having some work done on
our house. I'm still checking e-mail, though, and monitoring the business.
But I won't be posting any new blog entries this week, and our game
projects are on hold until the house work is done.
I've been working on the new
menu system for Fashion Cents Deluxe. Most of the art for the main menu
has been created, and when we resume work, I'll start hooking it all up in
the game. We're making good progress. I expect our internal test team to
start testing the game by the end of the month. Hopefully that will mean
beta testing by the end of August and a release sometime in late
September. Once testing starts, I can post a more accurate release date
for the game.
We're having fun with our new
weekly polls. It's neat to see the choices people make. Sometimes the
choice I think will be the most popular isn't, and a choice that I didn't
expect is the one everybody picks. On our last poll, I was not expecting
"Additional colors" to be the popular choice! But I guess lots
of players are really looking forward to the new black color!
If you haven't found our polls
yet, click here and start voting. Also, if you
have an idea for a poll that you would like us to run, feel free to e-mail
Saturday, June 30, 2007 -
Another Published Article
Another article I wrote has
been published over on Game
Jar. It is a post-mortem of Dirk Dashing. A "post-mortem" is
an odd term that refers to looking back at the conclusion of a software
project and analyzing what went right and what went wrong during the
development process. The idea is to learn from your successes and mistakes
so that the next project goes more smoothly. Game developers write
post-mortems all the time and publish them, so that we can learn from each
Post-mortems are also
interesting to read. You can gain some insight into the development
process and see what people had to go through in order to bring a game to
life. If you wondered why it took me nearly three years to finish Dirk
Dashing, read the article.
Friday, June 29, 2007 -
It's been a pretty productive
day! I finished implementing the new Undo capability, and I added the
color tips to the game that show up when you right-click on a clothing
item or a doll. The color tips help you identify colors that might be hard
to see on a smaller clothing item like a necklace. Color tips are also
helpful for color-blind players.
As you can see from the
screenshot, the color tips are hooked up, and they've been updated to
include all of the new colors we added to Fashion Cents Deluxe: Black,
Gray, Magenta, and Mint Green.
It will be interesting to see
how this feature works for Mac users. On a Mac, there is no such thing as
a right-click, per se. Mac laptops have a track pad with only one mouse
button, and Apple's popular Might Mouse only has one button as well. You
can press the Control key with the mouse button simultaneously to get a
context menu, but I'm not sure how popular this interaction is among Mac
users. We'll have to wait until we can get the game into the hands of some
Mac beta testers to see if they accept it or not.
Thursday, June 28, 2007 -
I'm a Published Author!
I've written a series of
articles on Linux game development, to pass on the knowledge I've learned
in the past year while developing the Linux version of Dirk Dashing. The
first three articles in the series have already been published in the ASP
newsletter, which is only circulated among ASP members. But now, for the
first time, the articles will be available to the public at large. The
first article was published today on GameDev.net!
Most of you aren't game
developers, so you probably won't fully appreciate these articles.
However, it's exciting news for me. I just had to share it or I'll
Tuesday, June 26, 2007 -
Introducing Our First Poll!
I'm delighted to announce that
our first-ever poll is now open for voting!
I've been thinking about
adding polls to our web site for some time, and our web host provider has
now given us an easy-to-use tool for conducting polls. It isn't the
prettiest mechanism, but it will get the job done for now. You can access
the poll from the link on the left side of all of our web pages - it's
wedged between the buttons and the ASP logo.
I plan to introduce a new poll
each week, so be sure to check back!
Sunday, June 24, 2007 -
Wally and Osborne
I have been looking for places
to advertise our cartoon-based computer games, and this weekend I found a
whole new audience that might appreciate them: web comic readers!
Web comics have sprung up all
over the place. They're written by independent writers, similar to
independent game developers like me. Web comics are not published in
newspapers or magazines - you find them online. And there are a lot of
them. Many of them are crude, and the humor can be vulgar. Hm, just like a
lot of computer games on store shelves nowadays. But there are also some
web comics that are well-written and good, clean fun.
One web comic that I found is
called Wally and Osborne. I love this comic strip! It is a clean,
family-friendly web comic about a polar bear (Wally) and a penguin
(Osborne) living in Antarctica. The comic is colorful, and I love the
style of artwork. But best of all, it is funny! It reminds me of Calvin
and Hobbes, a cartoon series I loved and have missed ever since the artist
retired. The creator of Wally and Osborne, Tyler Martin, updates the site
every couple of days or so with a new comic.
If you need a good laugh
during the day, check out the Wally and Osborne web comic. Not
surprisingly, you can find it at http://wallyandosborne.com.
Saturday, June 23, 2007 - No
Glamour in Game Menus
There's no glamour in making
menu systems for games. This has to be one of the more boring aspects of
game development. It's much more fun to create dressable dolls with interchangeable
clothes, exciting missions for secret agents, and thought-provoking word
The problem is that the menu
system is the first thing players see in a game. So it has to be
well-designed, look polished and professional, and be easy to use. That
takes time - time I'd rather spend on more fun and interesting parts of
So I've been procrastinating.
I started adding some special effects to the game. The bleach bottle and
scissors now do some interesting things when you use them, and I'm working
on a neat little effect for the credit card. The effects aren't necessary,
but it's little touches like this that can really make a game look good.
Of course, I know I'll have to
get back to that menu system again very soon, especially since I want to
start wrapping this game up so we can get it tested and published. Maybe I
need to see if I can add some special effects to the menu system...
Thursday, June 21, 2007 - A
More Fashionable Control Panel
We've started working on the
new menu system for Fashion Cents Deluxe. The first thing we've tackled is
the in-game control panel in the lower left corner of the screen. Here's a
shot of the current panel, and a shot of the new panel we're building.
As you can see, we have
simplified it quite a bit. The music and sound toggles are gone - these
will be moved to our new Options screen, which will also have a separate
toggle for voiceovers, volume sliders, and other options. The New Game and
Exit Game buttons have been replaced with a single large button that will
take you to the Main Menu, where you can access both of these choices and
We've made the Hint button
larger and replaced the cryptic question mark with the word
"Hint". We've also added a button for the new Undo feature,
which will allow you to undo your previous move - this is a much-requested
feature that we are excited about adding to the game.
Thursday, June 14, 2007 -
If you enjoy financial
strategy games, check out Lunar
Domination by Valen Games. I've been helping him beta test it, and
it's a good, clean, non-violent game. It really makes you think, because
you have to plan ahead and weigh your options.
The game is produced by an
independent developer like me. He is also a member of the Association of
Shareware Professionals (ASP), and I can vouch for his dedication and
professionalism. The two of us worked together to figure out how to port
our games to Linux. He has worked hard on this game, and it shows when you
The game is currently
available for Windows and Linux, but he is working on porting the game to
Mac OS X. If you like strategy games, try it out.
Saturday, June 9, 2007 -
In case you're wondering, I
haven't posted anything lately because there hasn't been much to write
about. My parents came to visit from Florida for a week, and then I was
sick with the flu for a week.
In the interim, I've been
fixing a couple of bugs in Dirk Dashing that customers have found. One
involves saving your game while going through a door, resulting in a save
game that couldn't be reloaded without crashing the program. Another
involves audio issues experienced by a few Windows and Linux gamers. We
should be issuing an update for Dirk Dashing soon that will fix these
My mom had a chance to test
drive Fashion Cents Deluxe while she was here. I think she enjoyed it - at
least, she kept coming back to the computer to play it. She found a few
bugs that we need to fix, which was good, and provided some valuable
feedback on the improvements we've made to the game. As soon as the Dirk
Dashing update is released, we'll get back to work on Fashion Cents
Tuesday, May 15, 2007 -
Sneak Preview of New Voiceovers
The original Fashion Cents
game featured a dozen or so voiceovers for certain game events. Although
these voiceovers were cute, the lack of variety is noticeable after you
have been playing awhile.
For Fashion Cents Deluxe, we
have added around 80 new voiceovers to the game to fix this problem. The
new voiceovers were all recorded by the same talented young lady who
recorded the original voiceovers for us: Hilary Burris. Almost all of the new
voiceovers came from her ideas and suggestions, and they are absolutely
delightful. I think players will be pleased with the quality and
quantity of comments that will soon be available.
In addition, Fashion Cents
Deluxe will have a wider range of vocal queues. Previously, the game
played voices for two kinds of events: key game events, like notifying you
that you had one outfit left, and comments for completing a cute or ugly
outfit. The new version will feature voices for lots of other events in
the game. For example, if you take a long time to make a move, she might
ask, "Are you still there?" Or, if you play a particular
clothing item like the necklace in my previous post, she might say,
We've beefed up the artificial
intelligence in the game so it will be more particular about when it will
compliment you for nice-looking outfits and when it will chide you for
bad-looking outfits. The new criteria for judging outfits will result in a
more accurate assessment of its quality. As a result, the voiceovers for
bad outfits will be even funnier.
To illustrate, here is the
winning screenshot from our Fashion
Dos and Dont's Contest in 2005 (this was the obviously winner of the
Here are a couple of the new
voiceovers that Fashion Cents Deluxe might play when you make an outfit
As you may have noticed, Hilary's voice
has changed since we recorded the original audio tracks four years ago.
This means that we can't reuse many of the original voiceovers
for Fashion Cents Deluxe. We know many of you will be disappointed about
that, but it can't be helped - the two sets of audio tracks just do not
sound well together because her voice has changed too much. However, I
think you will enjoy the new comments every bit as much as you did the
original comments. And for those who enjoyed the original comments, we
did rerecord them in her new voice.
For those who don't like the
voices, we're adding a separate option for turning the voices off. And
we're adding more sound effects to the game, to make up for the lack of
audio when you turn off the voices.
So all in all, I think
everyone will be pleased with the new audio upgrades for Fashion Cents
Deluxe. Tell us what you think by
e-mailing us at email@example.com!
Friday, May 11, 2007 -
We have come up with an
alternative to the experimental peach color that we rejected for Fashion
Cents Deluxe: mint green! Here's a sample, so you can compare it with the
lime green color we already have.
Tell us what you think by
e-mailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
And be sure to check out the
other new colors that I revealed in my April 2 post, if you haven't seen
that post already!
Wednesday, May 2, 2007 - My
Game Company Gets Feisty!
I took a break from Fashion
Cents Deluxe this past weekend to upgrade my computer. Most of our work on
FCD in the past two weeks has been focused on fine-tuning the game. We
have added some new effects for the "Level Up" and "Game
Over" screens, made some tweaks to the random clothing selection
(trying to fix it so you don't get 2-3 pairs of red shoes in a row), and
done other under-the-hood improvements. So I don't have any new screen captures
to share with you today. Sorry.
Anyway, back to my upgrade. If
you've been reading my blog in recent months, you know that My Game
Company computers all run Linux, not Windows. All of our development is
done on Linux, as well as the day-to-day business operations (e-mail,
order fulfillment, web site updates, etc). The version of Linux that we
use is called Kubuntu.
This past weekend, I upgraded
my desktop computer to the recently-released Kubuntu 7.04 (code-named "Feisty Fawn").
Some of you have been interested to see how Linux works out for us, so I
wanted to keep you up-to-date. This new release is much improved over the
last version we were using, which says a lot considering the previous
version worked just fine. But the new
version is much more responsive - applications start-up extremely fast,
files load and save faster, and my internet connection seems faster too.
My Linux box is now blazingly fast compared to my Windows XP laptop! Plus
a few bugs I had encountered in the previous release of Kubuntu are now
fixed. All in all, it is a very solid release.
Earlier this week, Dell announced
they will start selling computers that come with Linux
pre-installed, in response to "overwhelming community response."
Linux is definitely on the rise. People are getting tired of dealing with
viruses, adware, and spyware, most of which target Windows because it
isn't secure. The good news is that folks don't have to deal with these
problems when they use other operating systems. This announcement from
Dell reaffirms our decision to support other operating systems besides
Windows. As more and more people start exploring alternatives and
switching to Linux and Mac, they're going to need games to play. I guess I
had better get back to work!
Wednesday, April 18, 2007 - Fashion Cents Deluxe
It has been a couple of weeks
since my last post, so I thought I would post another screen capture to
show you our progress on Fashion Cents Deluxe.
At this point, the game is fully
playable. You can see we're displaying the current level and score now. The
shopping bag has been updated with smoother edges, and it now displays the
number of outfits remaining to complete the level. All of the power-ups are
hooked up and working - they're all sitting on the shelves at the top of the
screen, so you can take a look at the new power-up graphics. (For those Mac
or Linux users who haven't played the game, bleach turns an item white, the
gift box gives you a free outfit, the credit card gives you a free matching
item, and the scissors cuts an item from a doll or shelf.)
The music and most of the
existing sound effects have been added. We've also started adding some of
the new voiceovers, and they're hilarious. The additional variety adds so
much to the game experience. We've only added about 1/4 of the new
voiceovers, but I'm already impressed.
I received lots of feedback from
my last blog post. Everyone who wrote unanimously approved the new black,
gray, and magenta colors. So we will definitely be leaving them in the game.
We still haven't come up with a suitable replacement for the experimental
peach color we rejected, but we're working on it.
I just want to remind all of our
readers that we value your feedback. So please e-mail us at email@example.com
to tell us what you think of the updates we're making to Fashion Cents.
We're still in development, so if there is plenty of time left to make
improvements. If there is a particular feature you want, and good idea you
had, or something you would like to see changed, let us know!
Monday, April 2, 2007 - New
Colors for Fashion Cents Deluxe
By popular demand, we're
adding some new colors for Fashion Cents Deluxe! Here is a screenshot that
reveals some of the new colors that we have been experimenting with.
There are four new colors
shown here. The most commonly requested color from our customers has been
black, and we're delighted to add it to our color palette. Black is our
new wild color, so black will go with anything, just like the existing
white and denim colors. Black will be available in the more advanced
levels, to help you out when the game is difficult.
Gray is the second most
requested color and we have decided to add it too, though I think we might
make it a shade darker before we are done. I really like the way it works
with many of the existing colors. I'm considering making the gray color
wild too, since it is also a neutral color. But I don't want the game to
have too many wild colors, so I haven't decided yet.
Doll 2 on the bottom row is
modeling the new magenta color. We had some concern that magenta might
look too much like the existing purple color, so we made the purple more
bluish and renamed it "violet" - you can see the new violet
color on Doll 3 on the bottom row. The two colors are right next to each
other, so you can compare them.
Doll 5 on the top row is
modeling an experimental peach color that you will not see in the final
game. I wanted to have a color halfway between yellow and orange, but we
had to make the color dark enough so that it didn't look like the skin
tone on some of the dolls. Unfortunately, that made it too similar to
orange and you can't easily tell the two colors apart, even when we made
the orange darker. So peach is out. But we'll find another new color to
The new colors will open up
lots of new combinations and possibilities in the game, so there will be
plenty of new clothes to play with. If there are any other colors you
would like to see, let us know!
Wednesday, March 21, 2007 -
Fashion Cents Deluxe Screenshot
Our little break is over, and
we've spent the past two weeks porting Fashion Cents to our new
cross-platform DynaPaint engine (the same engine used for Dirk Dashing).
We still have a long way to go, but I thought you would enjoy seeing an
early screenshot of the most recent development build. Click on it to see
it in full size.
As you can see, overall the
game looks pretty much the same, but the dolls have all been replaced by
our new anti-aliased models. No more jagged edges - the outlines are super
smooth! You can also see a small sampling of the new clothes and how they
will look in the next version of the game (check out the detail on the
curled socks and the new outline on the headbands).
One other thing I would like
to point out - notice the window frame. It is different than your standard
Microsoft Windows window frame because the game is running on Linux. We
haven't built or run the new version of the game code on Windows or Mac
yet, but I'm confident it will run fine on those platforms too, because
Dirk Dashing does.
There is still much work to
do. You can see from the screenshot that the scoring isn't hooked up yet,
and the shopping bag still has the rough jagged edges. We also plan to
redo the control panel at the bottom left of the screen. Some of these
controls will be removed, because Fashion Cents will have a separate main
menu, like Dirk Dashing and Word Play both have. And we still have to
implement all of the new features we want to add to the game. But we are making good
progress. I will continue to post updated screenshots in the weeks to
come, so stay tuned!
Monday, March 5, 2007 -
Dirk Dashing is Done!
It took nearly three years,
but Dirk Dashing is finally completed!
This past week has been very
busy. We released the Mac OS X version of Dirk Dashing last Monday - much
earlier, in fact, than I thought when I wrote my last blog entry. I've
spent the past week issuing press releases, answering requests for more
information, and uploading the game to various web sites. We've already
started to see some sales from the Mac version, and that's been very
This morning, we released a
minor update to the Linux version of Dirk Dashing. This release fixes some
under-the-hood issues with the game, including some things we changed for
the Mac OS X version.
At this point, we're going to
take a couple days off to rest. But when we come back, we will be totally
focused on developing Fashion Cents Deluxe!
Friday, February 23, 2007 -
Mac Port of Dirk Dashing is Nearly Completed
After two weeks of
concentrated effort, I finally have Dirk Dashing running on Mac OS X, on
both Intel-based and PowerPC-based machines. The performance on the
PowerPC hardware isn't the greatest, but the game is playable despite the
wavy background and occasional hiccups. The lessons I've learned about
cross-platform development have been invaluable, and I plan to incorporate
some improvements into the engine as we develop Fashion Cents Deluxe.
Before we can ship Dirk
Dashing for Mac OS X, I need to figure out how to package it up for
delivery. Some of my early Mac beta testers pointed out that Mac users
typically don't like installers, and they suggested that I package my game
as an application bundle, which is the preferred way of delivering
software for Mac OS X. So I will be working on that next.
I hope to have the Mac OS X
version of Dirk Dashing ready to ship in a couple of weeks. Stay tuned!
Friday, February 9, 2007 - Fashion Cents
Gets a Facelift
I meant to post this
yesterday, but I didn't have an opportunity.
Several people have asked me
about the new artwork for the upcoming Fashion Cents Deluxe. They've been
concerned that we would replace the dolls and clothes with something
completely different, and they really like the existing cartoon
graphics. I thought I would post a little sneak preview of what we're
doing with the art, to help you understand where we're going with it.
In this before-and-after
picture, a doll from the current game is on the left and the
equivalent doll from the new artwork is on the right. As you can see, it's
essentially the same doll. In fact, both dolls came from the same pencil
drawing that I originally made. The main difference is that the older doll on the left has
a very rough
jagged outline, whereas the new doll has a smooth outline and looks much more
like the original pencil drawing I made. The new doll looks much better,
don't you think?
The clothes will be improved
the same way, so all of the artwork will look very smooth and polished.
We've also got some new clothing items planned, so Fashion Cents Deluxe
will have a whole new set of nice-looking clothes for you to play with!
Wednesday, February 7, 2007 -
The PowerBook is Here!
No, I'm not talking about the
Bible, though that certainly is a powerful book. I'm talking about my new
refurbished Mac PowerBook G4 which arrived today from Apple. It's an older
machine, and it's only a 12" (much smaller than my 15"
Intel-based MacBook). But it will be sufficient for testing our games.
I've spent the better part of
the day setting it up. It came with Mac OS 10.3.9 on it, and the XCode
developer tools won't install on anything less than 10.4. Fortunately, the
PowerBook came with a separate install CD for Mac OS 10.4, so I upgraded
the laptop first. Then I put all my developer tools on it. I tried
building Dirk Dashing on it tonight, but there were some problems. I'll
have to work on those tomorrow. But at least now I can work on Dirk
Dashing running on the older Power-PC hardware, and try to finish up the
Mac version so we can devote 100% of our resources on Fashion Cents
By the way, I've made more
progress on Fashion Cents Deluxe this week. I'll post a sneak peek
Sunday, February 4, 2007 -
Dressing Up Linux
Production for Fashion Cents
Deluxe is now in full swing, and as you can see from the screen capture,
we've started to get portions of Fashion Cents working on Linux.
Our first step is to rewrite
the existing game code and get it running on Linux, using the current set
of graphics and sound effects. Then we'll start adding all of the new
features, graphics, and voiceovers to it. We've already made huge strides
by reusing the core code from Dirk Dashing's DynaPaint engine, and I
expect we will probably have the current Fashion Cents game running on
Linux within the next week or two. Stay tuned!
Monday, January 22, 2007 -
Dirk Takes a Brief Hiatus
We're halfway there with the
Mac version of Dirk Dashing. We solved most of the issues with the
application bundle, and the universal binary works great on Intel-based
Macs. But the game doesn't run at all on PowerPC-based Macs. As a result,
the Mac version of Dirk Dashing is on hold until we can obtain a
PowerPC-based Mac that we can use to debug the game and test it on.
In the meantime, I've started
setting up a new code repository that will allow us to easily share source
code between projects. We plan to reuse the core game libraries from Dirk
Dashing in all of our future games, including the upcoming Fashion Cents
Deluxe, so it is important that the repository be set up correctly. We
need to be able to access the repository from all of our development
computers, regardless of whether the computer runs Windows, Mac, or Linux.
This will take a week or so for me to set up, but in the long run it will
be a major time-saver for us. Between the repository and the reusable code
base, we will be able to turn out new games at a much quicker pace.
We're also finishing up our
computer upgrades, and we're switching the last of our business processes
over to Linux. For me personally, this means that I will be using one
computer again for development, sales, web site management, and other
office tasks. I can get some desk space back, and I won't have to switch
back and forth between computers every day. Whoopee!
Tuesday, January 16, 2007 -
Packing It Up
The Mac version of Dirk
Dashing is pretty much completed. We have a universal binary for the game,
and it runs very well on my Intel-based MacBook. The install directory is
clean and organized, and all of the issues that I previously wrote about are fixed.
The problem now is packaging,
or in other words, building an installable version of the game that
contains all the necessary game components.
Just like with Linux, I'm having some trouble creating an installable version of the game. For some reason, XCode (the Mac
development toolkit) isn't including everything in the application bundle
that the game requires in order to run. A few folks have tried to install and
run the initial beta I put together, but haven't been successful. I've been trying to
solve the problem for three days, so far without any success. As a result,
officially posted a link to the beta version yet.
I've posed some questions on
several development forums, but nobody has answered my questions. So I'll
have to dig into the Mac documentation to try and find solutions on my
own. With Linux, it took nearly two weeks to figure everything out (and I
had some help), so I anticipate a similar delay with the Mac version. I'll
keep you posted.
Thursday, January 11, 2007 -
Mac Beta Coming Soon!
We're getting close to
releasing a beta version of Dirk Dashing on Mac OS X. The game is now
running very well on my MacBook, and the crash I experienced two days ago
has long since been fixed. I even have an installer built for the game!
There are a few issues I need
to work out before we can release the beta, which I am hoping to finish up
this weekend. My main task is to organize the install directory so it is
easier to find the application. This is a problem that was first pointed
out by Linux players who like running programs from the command line, but
is even more obvious on the Mac because of the way the game gets installed
into the Applications folder. Right now, the folder is filled with
hundreds of data files (images, sounds, levels, etc), making it difficult
to find the application itself. I'm hoping to fix this tomorrow.
Also, there are a few minor
visual issues to resolve. For example, you can see from Tuesday's
screenshot that the icon in the Dock is hideous. This icon was originally
designed as a 32x32 icon for Windows, and it just doesn't work. I plan to
replace it with the high-resolution icon of Dirk's profile that we used as
our desktop shortcut in the Linux version.
These minor issues should be
fixed in the next couple of days, so expect the beta version to be
available very soon (perhaps by the end of the weekend, if all goes well)!
Tuesday, January 9, 2007 -
Hey Mac, It's Dirk!
Check this out! I just got
Dirk Dashing compiled on Mac OS X, and I ran it for the very first time. I
took a screenshot for you so you could see it for yourself!
So far, the menu system works great!
Also, I was able to start a game, and it took me to Page 1. But when I
clicked on a game level, the program crashed. But that's ok, we'll fix it.
This is phenomenal success for the very first run of Dirk on the Mac OS X.
I was amazed how much of the game is already working on the first try -
the loading of the game assets, the OpenGL rendering, the OpenAL audio
engine, and mouse input via SDL. This is cool!
At my rate of progress over
the past week, I expected it would take much longer before I would be able
to even run the program. Now I need to fix that crash and tackle any other
bugs that come up during normal play. But that's for tomorrow. Good night,
Monday, January 8, 2007 -
Progress Re: port
Ok, you're probably wondering
about the funny-looking title. I wanted to provide status on the Mac OS X
port of Dirk Dashing, and that's the best title I could come up with at
this late hour. Sorry.
Progress is slower than I
would like. It has taken awhile to figure out how to use XCode, the
development environment for Mac OS. I've also had to obtain development
versions of some of the game libraries that Dirk Dashing requires, such as
SDL, OpenAL, FreeALUT, and Ogg/Vorbis. Some of them have been pretty easy
to acquire, build, and install so I can use them, but others have been a
real chore. At least I am making progress...
At this point, the audio
engine compiles and most of the graphics engine compiles. I'm having some
difficulty with the JPEG decompression code, but I believe I can fix the
problem tomorrow. Once the graphics engine compiles, I think the bulk of
the remaining code base will compile without any problems. Then the only
two things left are to get a development version of the boost file system
library and link the application. Hopefully, I will be ready to run it on
Mac OS X for the first time by the end of this week. When I do get it
running, I'll post a screenshot for you. Stay tuned!
Wednesday, January 3, 2007 -
I recently wrote about how My
Game Company is switching to Linux as the primary operating system on all
our computers (not just our development machines). In case anyone is curious, I
just thought I would share a screen capture of my new Kubuntu Linux
Now my secret is out... I'm a
Star Trek fan!
You can click on the picture for
a full size version. But be forewarned - my desktop runs on a 21"
monitor at 1600x1200 resolution, so it is a fairly large picture.
The Defiant seemed like the
appropriate ship to display as my background wallpaper, since we switched to
Linux instead of using the dominant Microsoft Windows. I like the feeling of
freedom that using Linux brings - freedom to use my computer any way I want,
without fear of contracting spyware, adware, and viruses. To me, using Linux
is like a breath of fresh air - it's refreshing to have something that not
only looks good but also works right.
Before I take you on a little
tour of my desktop, let me tell you that unlike Microsoft Windows which
offers only one desktop environment (the one that Microsoft built into the
operating system), Linux offers you a choice of several different desktop
environments. Kubuntu uses the K Desktop Environment (KDE), which I like.
KDE is easy to use, looks great, and is very customizable.
You can see from the picture
that my KDE desktop is organized somewhat similar to Windows. I have a task
bar at the bottom, and all my desktop icons are organized on the left side
of the screen. The Home Folder icon is equivalent to My Documents in
Windows. The blue K button in the lower left corner is equivalent to the
Start button in Windows. All of the applications I use most are right next
to the K button on the task bar, where the Quick Launch panel is in Windows.
Because my KDE desktop is similar to Windows, I feel right at
home. Only this home is protected by a state-of-the-art security system -
the way it should be.
Monday, January 1, 2007 -
Happy New Year!
Wow! I'm still in shock. Where
did the past year go? It seems like it just started, and boom! It's over
Anyway, it's that time of year
again where I pause to take a quick look back at our milestones and
accomplishments for 2006, and then to share with you our vision for what
lies ahead in 2007 for My Game Company.
In 2006, we finally finished
our largest project ever - Dirk Dashing: Secret Agent! This was one of the
games that I have been wanting to create for over ten years. We started
working on Dirk Dashing in May 2004, and it took over two years to bring
the game to life. It was a rewarding experience for me personally, but I
think everyone had a lot of fun working on this game - our staff, our beta
testers, and our family and friends who helped.
2006 was also the first year
we expanded our business onto platforms other than Microsoft Windows.
Linux was the first platform we targeted. We released the Linux version of
Dirk Dashing three weeks after the Windows version, and in two months the
game has generated a lot of interest among Linux users. In fact, a whole
new audience has begun to discover our company and our games, and this
looks very promising for our future. We have had numerous requests for
Linux versions of our other games, most notably Fashion Cents. We also
began working on the Mac version of Dirk Dashing, which should be
available in early 2007.
Looking ahead into 2007, I've
decided to return to developing smaller puzzle games. Dirk Dashing was a
fun project, but looking back, I can see it was far too ambitious for us
at this time. We're still operating My Game Company on a part-time basis,
and until that changes, we need to stick with smaller games. Therefore,
our focus for the next two years will be to expand our product line with
as many fun and innovative games as possible.
For 2007, I have three
projects planned. The first project will be to rewrite Fashion Cents so
that we can port it to Mac and Linux. We will also be adding many new
features to the game, which I will be writing about in coming months.
Fashion Cents Deluxe, as we are tentatively calling it, will be available
this summer. The second project will be a big surprise, so I'm not going
to tell you anything about it - you'll just have to wait and see. The
third project will be a brand new puzzle game. I actually have six ideas
for new puzzle games, but I haven't decided which one we're going to
create first. So I cannot give you any details yet. But when I do, you'll
find them exclusively in this blog, so stay tuned!
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