Jump start.

Well hello there! It’s been a while, how’s life treating you? Good, glad to hear it.

So I’m back after a long hiatus from the game making. The short explanation for the long radio silence is that I became busy with several other unrelated projects. But the time has come to crank out the next illustrious title from Head Meat Games, hoorah!

But enough about me, here’s the interesting bits. First, I’ve been working on a sequel for Luncheon of the Dead. Well to be more precise, I’ve been working on a new game engine, from which I will build the sequel, as well as another RTS title as yet to be announced. I have just begun prototyping the actual gameplay within the engine

By way of giving some background, here’s a quick summary / post-mortem of Luncheon of the Dead, and some info about what I’ll be doing in the new game.

  • Single Level play – One of the most frequent suggestions that I received is to add more levels. Simply put, that will happen.
  • Small map – The single level that was Luncheon of the Dead was fairly small. This was due to speed and presentation issues. I’ve put alot of effort into expanding the capabilities of the game engine to handle much larger maps and more efficient pathfinding within those larger maps. To give an idea of what the difference is, if the map in LoTD was about the size of a standard CD Jewel Case, the maps in the new engine are roughly the size of a kitchen table. Naturally, this larger map will be displayed within a main scrollable view, complete with a sidebar minimap and Fog of War exploration mechanics.
  • Fixed number of Defenders in player control – The request to replenish units was a close second for the most frequent suggestion, and that will happen as well. There will most probably be a combination of rescuing and recruiting new units and possibly a more traditional RTS ‘buy-more-guys-with-harvested-resources’ type mechanic as well. This is not so much a challenge to implement in the raw engine, but a matter of creating a mechanism in the finished game to manage ‘buying’ new units.
  • Controls were…clumsy – This is something that will recieve alot of attention. One of the lessons I’ve learned is that any game working in the ‘Casual’ game space has to be dead simple control wise, or ridiculously compelling enough to warrant a person spending any amount of time learning to play. The goal is to find the sweet spot between a full features RTS style of control (multiple unit selection, assigning ‘squads’ of units to stick together, multiple behavioral ‘attitudes’ linked to commands (such as ‘Move to target’ vs ‘Attack to target’)), and a simple mouse only, keyboard optional control scheme that makes sense. I’ve put some time into general usability and UI research, and am working toward that sweet spot armed with a little more knowledge than I had going in to the first LoTD.
  • No Tutorial – This one hurt the game quite a bit, as the concept was rather complex (and in some ways poorly executed) compared to a typical click and drag casual flash game. I really needed to create a tutorial to ease new players (who probably had little to no RTS experience) into the controls and the gameplay. I intend to make a tutorial a requirement (for myself to build one in that is) for all my new games.
  • Graphics were…programmer graphics – Straight overhead, poorly detailed unit models. I’ve taken the time to make some isometric 3d models that I will be using in the new game. It looks alot less like pacman and alot more like the old school starcraft, so that’s a step in the right direction. Here’s a quick preview:
    • OLDOld_Defender: NEW:ShotgunHuman - New Engine

I think that sums it up for the game and announcement for the time being. I’m very excited about how the engine is coming together, and as much as I’d love to post the prototype here, I know that it would be exclusively show off my incomplete baby. So for now I’m going to wait until I have something more substantial to show that will benefit more than just my ego 🙂

Also, on a more geek note… (If you aren’t a programmer, you can pretty much stop reading here)

I have had to dig deep into the Flash display and event models to get the kind of performance I’m looking for, and in the interest of being a good programming citizen, I will be editing together my experiences as coherent posts in the future to share some fun knowledge. These are intended to be posts that cover more than the basics, so I probably won’t bother with creating yet another ‘how to capture mouse input’ post, as there are tons of those already.

Here’s the highlights of the topics bouncing around in my head:

  • Short Circuit the display tree for great justice – Using Bitmaps and cached Sprites to draw thousands of objects on screen super fast. Why creating a ton of sprites and addChild()-ing them all is killing your framerates.
  • Controlling your ticks – How to use multiple timer objects to control the flow of your game and rendering engine. Balancing to a consistent framerate regardless of how fast or slow the hardware / browser throttling is. (also, a breakdown of why your losing frames to the browser and how to mitigate it)
  • Need for speed – How to optimize and schedule CPU intensive operations to not turn your game into a skipping mess. (very personal example: so 2000 units all need paths eh?…all at the same time?… can you have a negative FPS?)

I suspect te bulk of these posts will be a quick overview, a code sample and alist of ‘Gotchas’ that I kept running into. That’s the sort of stuff I’d like to find when I’m researching a problem, so I’ll assume that’s what everyone else is looking for as well 😉

So that sums it up for the time being, keep checking back for more updates, and thanks for reading!

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  1. 14 November 4:02 pm

    Looking for the name (or link) to the background music for Plunk Pool. Any advice/suggestions/direction is greatly appreciated.

  2. 14 November 4:41 pm

    Hi Mark,

    The music was custom made by a friend, you can check out his site and contact him there if you want to commission some work.


  3. Kaizen
    24 December 6:59 am

    Umm,Are you still working on Luncheon of the Dead 2? If you are,I’m giving support. 😀

  4. 24 December 12:40 pm

    I sure am, If things go according to plan, I may be releasing 2 RTS titles, one being the sequel to Luncheon of the Dead, and one being….well, that’s a secret 😉

  5. Julio von Strugen
    19 January 6:53 pm

    do you have an estimate release date for the new version? I’m looking forward to it.

  6. boonies4u
    23 January 2:43 pm

    How’s the Luncheon of the Dead sequel going…
    I am not asking for a release day, but any hints you can give will be appreciated.

    I know you have been working on it for awhile, so I can’t wait to see how well it will turn out.

  7. i love ur game(luncheon of the dead)
    23 January 2:46 pm

    hey joe if ur still working on that new sequel for luncheon of the dead please write about what u have done so for since september please the game rulez though.and u should make it where u could go outside during the day,make a clock that tells u when day and night are,and make the guys have names and look different, but make it where they train intead of u having to giva away ur stuff(make a gym store and they go work out or something for about 1to 2 mins and not be playable until done). im just giving suggestions though i bet ur game is coming along god lol.

  8. i love ur game(luncheon of the dead)
    23 January 4:14 pm

    i agree with the dude two comments ago please give us info on how the games coming along lol im only ten by the way srry if im annoying but i am smart(with adhd lol)

  9. i love ur game(luncheon of the dead)
    23 January 4:18 pm

    if u can estimate a release date than please post it lol game rules

  10. i love ur game(luncheon of the dead)
    23 January 6:42 pm

    lololololololololol i just plain suck at my approaches lol i only got 588 i do suck lol

  11. Kaizen
    23 January 11:31 pm

    He’s not responding!Meh,At least we have updates…right?

  12. 24 January 12:36 am

    Holy crap guys, do you all know each other? heh.

    Well, the LoTD2 project has been on the back burner, day job and other side projects (which more directly pay the mortgage) have taken precedence in the short term here.

    I’ve been mostly fiddling with design aspects of the game, hashing out unit types, tech trees, structures and game mechanics as short bursts of time allow.

    I seem to have picked up another promising game project as well, (in theory, using the same engine I’ve constructed thus far) and I’ll be working with a long time artist friend on that one.

    I’ll be posting more details as I hit milestones worth announcing.

    Thanks for reading and playing, I appreciate your enthusiasm

  13. i love ur game (luncheon of the dead)
    24 January 9:53 am

    wtf does LoTD2 mean lol srry

  14. 24 January 1:21 pm

    LoTD2 = Luncheon of The Dead 2 😉

  15. i love ur game(luncheon of the dead)
    25 January 8:48 am

    oh ok thx good luck with the new game hope it comes out soon and good

  16. i love ur game(luncheon of the dead)
    25 January 11:00 am

    when do u think it will come out?

  17. boonies4u
    25 January 11:01 pm

    “tech trees”

    That is the only thing I needed to hear!!!

    Now I know it will be great XD

  18. i love ur game (luncheon of the dead)
    26 January 12:24 pm

    what are tech trees lol just curious

  19. boonies4u
    26 January 12:30 pm

    Typically it is the general order of upgrades (ussually buildings) required to unlock another upgrade.

    Here is a zoomed in example, real tech trees encompase all of the buildinds or other upgrades.

    House lvl X Barracks lvl X
    __________ _____________
    Armory lvl 1

  20. i love ur game (luncheon of the dead)
    26 January 1:06 pm

    oh i see thx so much lolol

  21. Kaizen
    29 January 11:29 pm

    Hey it’s boonies4u!I remeber you from Dead Frontier!Holy crap,I didn’t know you were hiding here!So the game is 50% done?

  22. boonies4u
    30 January 5:30 am

    I typically use a universal name throughout the internet. boonies4u or a similar name 😀

    I don’t think the HMG guys might enjoy us talking about DF though. After all, it is a great Zombie MMO ;D

  23. Kaizen
    6 February 4:03 am

    Meh.Guess we DON’T have updates everyday.Maybe each month?

  24. i love ur game(luncheon of the dead)
    9 February 1:54 pm

    how is the game coming along? i hope its doing well lol!!!! i cant wait for it to come out.

  25. Kaizen
    13 February 4:57 pm

    Lets imagine the game for now.

  26. Kaizen
    20 February 11:00 pm

    Its been long since the last blog post…

  27. boonies4u
    22 February 4:06 pm

    Yes, while a new Blog Post would be nice…

    The fact that TheJoe gave us a little update in the comments here, shows me that they are still working on it, even as a side-project.

  28. i love ur game(luncheon of the dead)
    22 February 8:20 pm

    boonies wtf man!!! were the **** lol did u learn all this?! just bored in sebing its like 10:19 P.M. lol and i had a few beers lol i dont feel the best lollol

  29. i love ur game(luncheon of the dead)
    24 February 8:00 pm

    pleaase help there is a burgler i nmy house please someone help oh shit i have y=to go bye forever

  30. Kaizen
    26 February 4:07 am

    “I love ur game” is gone forever?Not like he would get killed by that burger.(No I did not mispell that.)

  31. boonies4u
    26 February 3:01 pm

    What in the world happened to him?

    Either way, after his comment on the 22nd, perhaps it is the best for him to go away…

  32. Zombiebuster
    26 February 11:33 pm

    There.I finally had the courage to change my name.I hope you remember me.

  33. Julio von Strugen
    7 July 7:05 pm

    are you “I love your game?”

  34. Zombiebuster
    31 July 1:36 am

    No, of course not.

  35. Gareth
    16 March 12:33 am

    Dude, I love your luncheon of the dead game! its one of the greatest games I have ever played. I cant wait for the second one to come out. I hope i get to play it before I get into basic and ait! AAAH HHHH seriously I fell in love with this game i cant get enough of it! Make more!!! lol

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