Spandex For All! KarjaSoft Announces Spandex Force: Superhero U

July 16th, 2011

Indeed, the day has finally come! So, go check out the game right away at www.spandexforce.com. The official press release follows below:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Spandex For All! KarjaSoft Announces Spandex Force: Superhero U

Stockholm, Sweden — July 16, 2011 — Independent game developer KarjaSoft proudly announces the release of Spandex Force: Superhero U, a tongue-in-cheek puzzle game with RPG and adventure elements.

Spandex Force: Superhero U is a superhero-themed puzzle game for Windows and Mac that lets the player create his or her own hero and attend the prestigious university Superhero U in Vigilance Valley. The game features many different kinds of minigames, including, but not limited to match-3 battles against teachers, other students and nefarious villains threatening the school.

Other minigames let the player rescue old ladies in distress, collect the precious metal Absurdium, or focus on physical, elemental and mental training. Three different match-3 mechanics and a large variety of puzzles are available, and everything is presented in a tongue-in-cheek manner that pokes fun at superhero cliches. The player can also customize his or her hero with different accessories and weapons, choose from various superpowers and develop the hero further by collecting experience and reputation points.

Screenshots:

http://www.spandexforce.com/screenshots/ss1.jpg
http://www.spandexforce.com/screenshots/ss2.jpg
http://www.spandexforce.com/screenshots/ss3.jpg
http://www.spandexforce.com/screenshots/ss4.jpg

“Spandex Force: Superhero U is definitely the best superhero RPG-puzzle-adventure game currently on the market,” says Miro Karjalainen, owner of KarjaSoft, not in the least bit deterred by the fact that the only two such games available are Spandex Force: Superhero U and its prequel, Spandex Force.

More information, screenshots and downloads can be found on the official webpage:

http://www.spandexforce.com

About KarjaSoft:

KarjaSoft started developing casual computer games in 2006. The first release was the fluffy arcade game Sheeplings in 2007, followed by Spandex Force in 2008 and the adventure/pet raising game Wildhollow in 2009. Current plans involve world-wide market domination in superhero puzzle/RPG games by 2012.

Contact:

Miro Karjalainen
KarjaSoft
info@karjasoft.com
http://www.karjasoft.com

Now I’m going to watch the new X-Men movie to celebrate!



RPG Difficulties and Spandex Force

July 6th, 2011

Tonight I will have a few beers downtown.

Tomorrow I will go to Croatia for some sun, sea, beer and hiking in a national park.

Next week, unless something unforeseen shows up, I will release Spandex Force: Superhero U on an unsuspecting public.

But right now I intend to muse about difficulty in RPGs. The Rampant Coyote posted an entry about this and it got me thinking. He argues that a difficulty setting doesn’t necessarily have to mean just a more difficult game – it could also entail a new way of playing the game. It does make sense. Almost all games are full of (more or less) meta games – collect extra lives in SMB3, get all collectables in a casual game, and so on. A difficulty level that would result in a new way of playing the game is an intriguing thought, and might simply mean putting focus on some of the metagames instead of simply the main game.

Also, I agree with the necessity for difficulty levels in action RPGs. I just suck at action games and if I have to spend time on learning how to get my motor skills to work I’d rather press a big fat DELETE button and do something else. Give me the easiest setting, or give me hell!

Then again, I am strongly against difficulty levels in turn based RPGs and strategy games. For some reason I like the idea of playing the game like a puzzle; learn what I need to do to overcome this obstacle, and once I’ve come up with a solution it’s reproducable. An environment like that also lends itself well to meta games. What’s the lowest level I can beat Final Fantasy 5 at? What spells can I get at a ridiculously early stage of the game? Can I kill the dragon on Emerald Isle?

However, I realize that that point of view can be a bit obsessive and might not reflect the “normal” gamer. So I’ve actually opted for a different method with variable difficulty in Spandex Force: Superhero U. I imagine that the majority of players would rather just play and have everything adapt itself automatically.

Every minigame has a difficulty rating, from 1 to infinity. 1 is extremely easy, 20 getting challenging, 100 is very very hard. This difficulty determines how many tokens you have to collect to finish a minigame, or the opponent’s level (and the levels of his superpowers).

How is this difficulty determined? I’m glad you asked!

A base difficulty value is determined based on the player’s level. This value can range between the player’s level and the player’s level times 3. Then, each task has a relative difficulty from 1-10. Tasks in the first missions have a relative difficulty of 1-2, but the fights in the last episode have a difficulty of 9-10. The relative difficulty determines if the lower or the higher end of the base difficulty will be chosen. Let’s take an example:

Justice Guy is level 5, and will enter a task with relative difficulty 4.
Base difficulty = 5-15
Modified difficulty = (max – min) / 10 * relative difficulty + min = (15 – 5)/10 * 4 + 5 = 9

So, that’s it? The difficulty will be 9? Well, not exactly.

During gameplay, the player has a variable keeping track of how well he does. This variable starts at 50 and depending on whether or not he loses or wins minigames it increases and decreases to range between 0-100. This variable determines how likely it is that a new token falling onto the board will create a match. In other words: if you play well, it’s less likely that you’ll receive “free” chains when matching tokens, but more likely if things aren’t going so well for you.

Also, this variable affects the modified difficulty too. It can modify the value by 50%-200%. Let’s continue our previous example:

Justice Guy is level 5, and will enter a task with relative difficulty 4. He has a success variable rating of 78.
Modified difficulty = 9
After the variable of 78 has been taken into account, the difficulty is = 9 * 1.8 = 16

The final difficulty will actually be 16, in other words? Yes, almost. For scaling reasons I divide that value by two, though. So the final difficulty is 8.

In fact, I was toying with applying a quadratic transformation afterwards to smooth out the value, and give it a ceiling. It turned out to be a bad idea, though – it was hard finding a formula that would give suitable difficulty early as well as in the end. I tried this one, for example:

Justice Guy is level 5, and will enter a task with relative difficulty 4. He has a success variable rating of 78.
Modified difficulty = 16
Transformed difficulty = -0.0025x*x + 1x + 0.0025 = -0,64 + 16 + 0.0025 = 15.3625

Not much difference, eh? It would have been more of a difference if x was 100:

Transformed difficulty = -0.0025x*x + 1x + 0.0025 = -25 + 100 + 0.0025 = 75.0025

It seemed like a good idea at the time, but in the end I let the difficulty remain pretty linear. Theoretically I think that this means that a player can level up too much to finish the game…but if anyone has that much time to spare, I’ll eat my hat!



My Next Game Will Be…

June 27th, 2011

Thanks to everyone who voted in my last blog post! I had a secret favourite that I was rooting for, and it seems that at least a handful of people agreed with me, because that’s the one that got most votes. If I could be arsed to get around the IP + cookie check in the voting plugin I just might have cheated and added even more votes to that option, but luckily I didn’t have to.

“Okay, okay! Tell us which game won already,” I hear you exclaim. Superhero Princess Maker, that’s what!

Of course, I can’t go on calling it Superhero Princess Maker, so I thought of a more fitting name: Spandex Force: Champion Rising. And here is some concept art to boot:

So, what’s this game all about? Imagine the setting:

There’s a superhero convention in town, and the Blizzard Wizard is getting into a heated argument with Infinitorax Supreme.

Infinitorax: “Superheroes today… No skill, no power, no concept of ethics or morality!”
Blizzard: “Well, I for one blame society for that. With proper guidance every superpowered being could be a paragon of justice.”
Infinitorax: “Is that what you believe? No, dear Blizzard Wizard, a hero’s mettle is predetermined and nothing we can do changes that.”
Blizzard: “Is not!”
Infinitorax: “Is too!”
Blizzard: “Is NOT!”
Infinitorax: “Really? How about…THAT…one? That pathetic, useless, witless excuse for a hero lurking in the corner? Is that a creature destined for greatness?”
Blizzard: “Well… Yes! I truly believe that even such a miserable hero could be made great with the right guidance!”
Infinitorax: “I see… Fancy a wager, my dear Blizzard Wizard? You have one year to turn that useless pile of excrement into a fine jewel.”
Blizzard: “It’s a deal!”

The game will take place over 365 days. You guide the young hero in his/her daily routine, ensure that the stats are raised, that powers are learned, and that the proper ethics are upheld. If you fail to raise the stats, he/she will become a useless, powerless hero and you will lose the bet. If you fail to keep the ethics up, the hero will become a supervillain instead.

Throughout the year there will be everyday chores, meetings with strange heroes and villains, puzzles and many weird encounters. Most of the details are undetermined so far, and everything stated so far is just a concept…but it wouldn’t surprise me if this is similar to what the end product will be like.

But before I start working on this game I intend to release Spandex Force: Superhero U, of course!



What’s My Next Game Project?

June 10th, 2011

My superhero puzzle RPG Spandex Force: Superhero U is starting to get semi-finished, so I’ve started thinking about my next game. I purchased a copy of Monkey that will enable me to develop games for Windows/Mac/Android/Flash/iPhone and/or XNA. In other words: if I play my cards right with regards to different resolutions, my next game can target a lot of different platforms and I’m thrilled about starting a new project. The problem is what to develop.

I’ve previously talked about my ideas file for different games, but I’ve revised that list and added some new and interesting prospects. I’ll go into the details soon, but first of all, here’s a nifty poll where you can decide (sorta) what game KarjaSoft should start working on:

Note: Err… It seems that my custom theme for WordPress didn’t support the polls plugin. It should be fixed now, so feel free to vote! :)

 

What game project should I start next?

View Results

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Some brief notes about the different options:

  • Daily Sudoku – a sudoku game that gives you one puzzle per day, and you match your time against all other players. You collect points depending on your time, there’s a leaderboard and all that jazz. This one is obviosuly aimed at smartphones primarily, but an online version would work well too. A very quick and easy project to try out Monkey with.
  • Exploration Game with Quests – I like The Wager. The combination of exploration, upgrades and a very interesting NPC to play against makes it fun. But I want to make an exploration game with randomly generated quests that are generated from randomly generated relationships between quirky NPCs. Explore a world, talk to silly people, do quests, run into encounters and upgrade your ships.
  • Superhero Princess Maker – Princess Maker 2 is completely awesome. And since I’ve already made two superhero games and have some existing characters to use, this might be very interesting. The basic concept is: you have one year to make a common loser into a superhero.
  • Fantasy Parody City Builder – When I was young…er I had an idea for an RTS called Gully Dwarves that would feature reluctant subjects. They’d constantly bicker and sulk when you gave them orders. I’m thinking of expanding that idea into a city builder game instead, in a fantasy mileau, featuring tongue-in-cheek pokes at the genre.
  • TV Show Producer – Not much of an idea yet, but I like the setting. Management game with minigames to create TV shows.
  • Shampires – Adventure game with ridiculous vampires. I have some cool ideas for this, and most center around geeky goth wannabe vampires and a parody of Twilight.
  • The Amazing Adventures of Jules Verne – Jules Verne wrote a lot of amazing books. But what no one knows is that those aren’t fiction: Verne himself went through all those adventures! I’m thinking of something like a multi-episode puzzle adventure game.
  • Tigris – A city-state builder game. Start at the dawn of civilization and expand your culture, your city and your territory. Yes, I’m a Civilization geek, why do you ask?
  • Futhark – Odin was a god of wisdom, and he gave humans the runes. (Futhar is the runic alphabet.) So, I’m thinking of a viking puzzle game where you’re a human trying to unravel the mystery of the runes. Solve puzzles, talk to the gods, do quests for them, and so on.

Anything that sounds like fun? Let me know by voting in the poll!



Spandex Force: Superhero U v0.3 BETA Update

June 9th, 2011

Spandex Force: Superhero U is progressing well. Very well. In fact, the first demo build has been sent off to a potential distributor and I’m waiting for a response that will determine how much I will have to focus on guerilla marketing and self-publishing.

The current version of the game is 0.3 BETA, and it’s pretty much feature-complete. You can create your own hero, there’s an Adventure Mode divided into 5 chapters, 15 different school classes to choose from, randomly composed artifacts to purchase, 27 superpowers to buy and level up, your hero collects experience points and reputation, fellow students offer a few optional side quests, and there are lots and lots of different villains, students and teachers to battle. Additionally, there are 20 achievements/trophies to unlock, a Relaxed Mode for some non-timed relaxed play, and a Battle Arena where you can battle other players’ characters. All in all, the game is starting to look rather nifty.

So, why don’t I release it already?

There are a few reasons:

  • I’m waiting for feedback from the distributor
  • I need to add some minor things – shield artifacts, areas on the screens to examine in order to get a few silly messages and some other small details
  • And most importantly, I need to examine the difficulty and the balancing

Anyone feel like doing some beta testing to help out with the third point? Send me an e-mail at info@karjasoft.com!