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System Mania

This is the story of System Mania's development from prototype to release!

I thought it'd be interesting to show you the bits and pieces that add up to make one of the games.
This isn't everything that went into the game, just the bits I marked off along the way!

30th September

  • Started new games design doc (working title : Contraptions)
  • Worked on Contraptions editor/core render system
  • Editor modes system
  • Select a type
  • Select an object (within the type)
  • Type system/structure
  • Objects system/structure (not using objects module)
  • Rendering the three basic types (point, line, quad)
  • Mouse detection for all three types
  • Group selection and selection rendering
  • Tweaked the big to do list into separate headings
  • Object Structure (Quads, Lines, None, Routine, etc)
  • Some test object routines (including rendering)

1st October

  • Load/Save objects
  • Level editor scrolling/swapping levels!
  • Editor level name is updated correctly in all places
  • Editor is toggle-able
  • Copy, cut, paste (single object and groups)
  • Rotation and scale values (just individual objects is fine)
  • Point editing for lines and quads
  • Allowed for easy node editing (using the shift key)

2nd October

  • Messed with the field of view so 3d objects don't distort too much
  • Test switch (with position indicators)
  • Change in-game detection to find the closest control then overstate detection areas
  • Quick test of changing switches
  • Proper game updater which selects what to change and when =D
  • Test group display
  • Game logic (game affects controls and is generally naughty)
  • Group logic (controls assign to groups)
  • Make switches work with click and move technique (more hands on that just clicking)
  • Test knob (with position indicators and warning light and movement)
  • Test button (push to reset, glows when wrong)
  • Lots of visual polishing and reusable routines, nice =D

3rd October

  • Group indicator display/code
  • Game over event (just back to the title screen for now)
  • Crank object (have to turn it X times to reduce indicator to 0)
  • Outlines, shadows and highlights on panels =D
  • Test backdrop
  • Level texture/location selection
  • Level coloring & reset option
  • Fixed the crash bug to do with reordering while buddies were used.
  • First pipe/line test

4th October

  • Standard decal system (uses any render mode)
  • Designed 10+ controls =D
  • X/Y flip properties (test with decals and pipes)
  • Allow Ctrl+PageUp/Down to quickly set orders
  • Allow editor UI to be toggled on 'H'
  • Ctrl+Insert creates the object at the bottom
  • Insert defaults to placing the new ob on top
  • Allow copy, cut, paste for individual objects (much more commonly used)
  • Level time, editor and temporary indicator
  • Level success (everything settles down for now)
  • No control on success or failure states
  • Difficulty tweaker (over level time)
  • Found lots of values to change to alter difficulty
  • Each object can have a string which I can use as anything (handy for text too)
  • Text placing system, as a centred line : )

System Mania Prototype Screen
System Mania Prototype Screen

8th January

  • Test camera movement with z position
  • Populated the Contraptions to do list from paper notes
  • Practiced some pencil character drawing, good fun even if it was rubbish =D

9th January

  • More drawing tests
  • Started programming a gear stick

10th January

  • Contraption : Gear Stick
  • Contraption : Slider
  • Started on the numerical keypad (got keypad itself finished off)

12th January

  • Finished Contraption's keypad entry
  • Contraption : Pull Cord

13th January

  • Contraption : Guitar Strings
  • Contraption : Egg Timer (with lovely sand effect like a mini Circulate!)
  • Contraption : Wheel (spin when required, has large momentum)

17th January

  • Finished spinning wheel condition light
  • Contraption : Doors (cover buttons, must time when you can hit the button)
  • Contraption : Piano Keyboard
  • Contraption : Joystick + Button
  • Contraption : TV Mini Game

20th January

  • Started analysing & practicing a new style

23rd January

  • Learned all about paths : )

26th January

  • Messing around with new art style

27th January

  • Playing with the new art style more, found a nice simple look for the backgrounds.

2nd February

  • Rewrote how the panels are displayed, much improved =D
  • Writing out additional object variables which can be tweaked

3rd February

  • Background system, multiple layers, FX etc.
  • Prepared some test assets
  • Allow Page system to load up it's own dynamic assets
  • Added a clear function to remove all assets
  • Now able to use pages as a background editing system
  • Turned current page FX system into a full system which allows multiple, complex fx
  • Write a few FX (UV scroll, X/Y wobble)
  • Create a finished backdrop to test the system
  • Got rid of group indicators
  • Started on UI : )
  • Tided up background elements
  • Added black outline to groups

5th February

  • Finalised buttons, switches and egg timers

6th February

  • Got most of the controls finalised, looking good : )

7th February

  • Finished re-doing all the controls.
  • Bendy pianos and keypads too
  • TV screens

8th February

  • In-game UI & Number display (rotating-alarm-clock-digits)
  • Improved the FX_SCORE module and added some scores in

9th February

  • Combo Scores
  • Instant Bonus ($100)
  • Type Combos (clicked X buttons in a row, $10 per item)
  • String Bonus (clicked less that 1 second, $10 per item?)
  • Group Bonus (all elements of a group clicked in a row)
  • Scoring System & 'Floater' Display, star FX when bonuses are awarded (not too much!)
  • Fixed a bug in FX_PAR module
  • Added scores/penalties to every control type
  • In game cursor turns into a direction arrow giving some indication as to what to do

10th February

  • Location design
  • Location mock ups =D

16th February

  • Finished off test location images : )
  • Put them in game, wow, they actually work straight away =D
  • Started on title screen image
  • First character tests

17th February

  • Finished main character
  • Created 5 more characters (location owners) =D
  • Started on the map
  • Got groups displaying as dialog boxes

18th February

  • UI buttons/panels for ... erm, the UI.

19th February

  • Planed levels based on controls
  • Ordered the controls
  • Need a get key 'G' and easy ways of scrolling though current list '+/-'
  • Variation swapping table system
  • Delete group indicator (graphics too)
  • Creation short cuts? 'B' button 'I' Icon Display 'T' text display 'W' Wheel
  • Fix the group screws position when rotating
  • When moving/rotating/scaling groups all it's elements should move too
  • Reset object UI buttons on 'SetMode'
  • 5 levels
  • Moved group graphics to correct folder
  • Pipes per location and redo graphics/move
  • Delete left over screw graphics

20th February

  • Objects auto create to back or front
  • Page up/down works better now (not always having to hold ctrl)
  • Fixed a bunch of little things with the editor
  • 10 levels
  • Did some variations of Cake backdrops
  • Redid machine graphics
  • Initial 15 levels for zoo
  • Began how to play screen graphics

21st February

  • One zoo backdrop finished
  • Animating elephant
  • Found a fix for that alpha white-lines problem
  • Sleeping lion
  • Some zoo variations
  • Initial 15 levels for funfair levels

System Mania Crank Model
System Mania Crank Model

22nd February

  • Twitching ear on sleeping tiger
  • ZZZ's for sleeping tiger
  • Sorted objects not assigning themselves to groups correctly
  • Flag animation
  • Ferris wheel animation
  • Some location variations
  • Map screen locations/icons
  • Started map screen TVs

23rd February

  • Finished map with replay option, characters talking and level summaries.
  • How To Play system done!
  • Added half the controls to the system
  • Fixed some bugs in the page module (to do with new texture system)
  • Fixed some in-game scoring issues caused by how to play system when used in-game

24th February

  • Finished all the instruction controls & pages

27th February

  • Failure screen, playing tip and smoke FX, nice effect =D
  • Summary screen, longest combo etc.
  • Just In Time bonus

2nd March

  • Redid all the difficulty code
  • Added the first animated elements
  • Can specify what control does what to which animated element
  • Animating cogs
  • Levels auto assign their own max times
  • Zappers antennae
  • Steam jet machines
  • 60 goes to 59 correctly on time display
  • Pause button is now 2d
  • Added help routine to quad module to quickly get offsets positions
  • Can click anywhere on the UI buttons now
  • Tweaked some controls here and there
  • Sliders now has a more distinctive slider handle

3rd March

  • Simple/small steam generator gizmos
  • Trumpet gizmos
  • Easy selection cancelling in editor
  • No accidental key presses (creating buttons) while editing names
  • Control names/texts display toggling on 'N' in editor
  • Can now name controls anything (not limited to a single character)
  • Stopped pull cords from jiggling on start up
  • Belts 3 wheels and colored belts

5th March

  • Wrote a UV trimmer function which uses the textures w/h to remove the last pixel

9th March

  • Speed up score text to make the next one stand out more
  • Added a panic button mechanic, with bar and bonus! =D
  • Did a checkbox override
  • Started percentage override, going well

11th March

  • Finished dialog control override for percentage
  • Finished all UI panels
  • Tweaked the panic button (works on right-click and blinks the UI)
  • Added bonus coins =D

12th March

  • Expert scores system
  • Finalised text displays
  • Initial 15 levels for perfume location
  • Several small control tweaks
  • 2 space levels

15th March

  • Tweaked TV games
  • Fixed a bug in the fire button
  • Tweaked button doors behaviour
  • Fixed a detection bug
  • 5 Space Levels
  • Another 8 space levels
  • All 75 are now done (first pass), just another 5 passes left!

16th March

  • One perfume backdrop finished (animated conveyors)
  • Perfume conveyors and bubble animations
  • Some perfume variations
  • Smaller screws on the groups, much better : )
  • Tweaked some background art
  • Got rid of lots of UV edge lines
  • Tweaked switch detection
  • Added centre bit to egg timer
  • Got a page routine which auto-fixes UV edges

17th March

  • One space backdrop finished
  • 2nd pass of all cake levels
  • Auto naming for auto-animations
  • Can now have multiple controls tied to a single reaction animation
  • Added reactions for all cake levels

18th March

  • Additional bonus round mechanics

19th March

  • Chose better colors (including frame which should match)
  • Don't use panic bar values
  • Tie in the success / failure screens so they make sense
  • Need to use time as a big bonus rather than panic timer
  • Success condition, make levels winnable
  • Additional arcade mode mechanics

20th March

  • Started arcade map, can now play arcade levels : )
  • Arcade level selection with unlocking levels, total score etc.

21st March

  • Finalizing zoo levels (got through eight)

22nd March

  • Finished zoo and funfair levels
  • Added wheel holders
  • Tweaked some controls
  • Tweaked cake levels

23rd March

  • Did most of the perfume levels
  • Made adding reaction animations far easier (auto depth and scale)

24th March

  • Finished all the perfume and space levels (animations and scale)
  • Started bonus levels for cake location
  • Finished all the possible controls for bonus level (6 extra ones)

25th March

  • Finished 15 bonus rounds
  • Wrote something to tweak entire levels =D
  • Did most of the arcade levels.
  • Added level script
  • Bonus round difficulties and tweakers.

26th March

  • Finished arcade mode levels
  • Added reaction animations to all arcade levels
  • Applied backdrops to arcade levels
  • All levels are now complete (just the polished pass to do now) =D

27th March

  • Reordered levels and generated new pictures
  • Fixed slider flashing bug
  • Scale the in game UI down a little
  • Trumpets and steam animations should allow multiple hits
  • Combo/Bonus text shouldn't go off the edges of the screen (compare with width?)
  • Zappers should allow multiple zaps and ignore requests for more
  • Are the coins too big? Yes, reduced
  • Collect closest coin with weighting towards bigger coins
  • Only show cursor instructions for elements that are currently wrong?
  • Closed the small gap in the button doors
  • Adjusted 'How To Play' control scales
  • Switch needs to set its value if instructions!
  • Story level difficulty controls tweakers

Some Of System Mania's In-Game Textures
Some Of System Mania's In-Game Textures

28th March

  • Sound : Keypad click
  • Sound : Guitar (5 notes)
  • Sound : Piano notes (7 notes)
  • Sound : Slider
  • Sound : Crank clicks (speed and volume)
  • Sound : Wheel spin loop (varies pitch and volume, used for egg timers)
  • Sound : Pull cord
  • Sound : Spinning loop & Belts (varies pitch and volume)
  • Sound : Steam release & variations
  • Sound : Button & variations
  • Sound : Switch & variations
  • Sound : Sand loop for egg timers

29th March

  • Sound : Gear stick move
  • Sound : Knob click
  • Sound : Button doors open, closed
  • Tweaked some current sound effects (wheel mainly)
  • Allowed two wheels to sound at once (much better now)
  • Sound : Trumpet (3 notes)
  • Sound : Electric zap
  • Sound : Incorrect 'Buurrrp'
  • Sound : Correct ting
  • Sound : Keypad electronic noise

30th March

  • Sound : Coins created
  • Sound : Coins collected
  • Sound : Main alarm flashing
  • Title, success and failure music selected and added

31st March

  • Fixed the pull cord handle
  • Sound : All UI components
  • Sound : TV games, 8-Bit style samples

1st April

  • Created 2 more level tunes (4 parts each)
  • Created some test title and map music

3rd April

  • Found out why the arcade and bonus rounds were way too fast
  • Added tips system
  • Added several tips screens for different bits and pieces
  • Added post-it notes for in-game hints
  • Added in-game hints
  • Got the hide tips option working for both types of info
  • Added tip screens for all new types of control
  • Arcade Tips Screen
  • Redid the expert star on the summary screen
  • Arcade mode post-its
  • Updated FX_Score to allow for independent alpha and scale fading
  • Made sure points are never off screen

4th April

  • Finished FX_SCORE module
  • Get the points (and bonuses) fading nicely =D
  • Y limit on bonus score displays
  • Started on the panic buttons
  • Level names finished

5th April

  • Added machine names to all levels
  • Name and label system
  • Spent sometime making sure the labels/names looked okay
  • Finished off the panic button control and FX
  • Fixed can't-move-panic-buttons bug

19th April

  • Made a start on the third pass of the comics (first computer pass)
  • Got 3 pages done and all the images to make up the rest of the middle comics!

20th April

  • Finished three more middle pages and the last two end pages (1st pass, but looking good)
  • Comic system (display before map and page turning buttons)
  • Added all comic pages to game with 1st pass text.
  • Made sure they all function as expected (especially the start and end comic)

21st April

  • Started on building drawings
  • Tweaking map with new buildings

22nd April

  • Finished building drawings
  • Finished (more or less) the map screen
  • Redid map do use new buttons, much better
  • Red lights on map screens
  • Wobbling hover screens

23rd April

  • Spent all day finished the front-end, looks much better now =D
  • New arcade layout
  • Working on logo, might call it 'System Mania' instead of 'Systemania'

24th April

  • Updated loading bar
  • Trying to find a way to get better characters
  • Spent lots of time on main character, adding detail using paths, looks good.

25th April

  • Updated three characters using paths.
  • Starting text for the map screen.

26th April

  • Updated the final two characters
  • Updated the main buildings
  • Did the ruined version of the main shop
  • Used new assets for the 1st comic page (with expressions!)
  • Animated main character on title screen.

27th April

  • Finished second comic page (spending time on expressions & poses)
  • Started on mid comic pictures

28th April

  • Finished three mid comics
  • Finished first end comic
  • Redid the loading screen (again)

Two Fionas
Before and after of Fiona the main character

29th April

  • Did the last comic (needs finishing)

30th April

  • Finished the last comic page =D
  • Created all 21 character TV pictures
  • Vamped up the success and failure screens for both game modes (including new lead character)

1st May

  • Created 10 exterior backdrop images for the levels.
  • Finished 6 backdrop 'pages' for each location
  • Story levels auto-select a backdrop
  • Updated the Moon Launcher graphic and redid all the comics, map & backdrops.

2nd May

  • Flashing the map-play button a few times
  • Renamed story buttons on map screen
  • The Next button on the instruction page now flashes
  • Speed up conveyors, then slow down to normal as controls get nearer to the lose state.
  • Created expert scores (by test playing) for all levels (arcade & story)
  • Fixed the level numbers going over the limit on the map screens
  • Nine piano tunes
  • Signs now point out that you can practice on the tips/instructions pages
  • Condensed first instructions page (less text) and added coins info.
  • Added a new coins tip page to level 3
  • Moved panic button tip page to later in the game (where it's more likely needed).

3rd May

  • Art variations for zoo.
  • Panel naming for zoo.
  • Fixed a few bugs to do with loading different textures.
  • Added a coloring system. Backgrounds, panels and controls can be colored separately.
  • Finished naming the cake shop panels.

4th May

  • Fun fair panel naming & texture variations
  • Perfume factory panel naming & texture variations

5th May

  • Space agency panel naming & texture variations
  • Added variations for clouds to all backdrops & UI
  • Added in-space background graphics/pages for the last five levels =D

6th May

  • Preparing marketing materials
  • Renamed the game from 'Contraptions' to 'System Mania'
  • First pass of System Mania web pages

7th May

  • Re-ordered the space missions

9th May

  • Tried uneven beats when not doing well, but it just sounds broken.
  • OGG'ified the sound files (saved about 10MB on the download size)
  • Updated the loading bar, again!
  • Made OGGs call the loading screen
  • Spent some time working on a nice way to display 'converting audio' but gave up in the end
  • Added OGG-loading-screen ignore code to all games
  • Made sure non-OGG'ed samples are being loaded direct from LMO file
  • Use 'Panic' instead of '!'
  • Use 'Pause' instead of '|'
  • Re-ordered post-it notes for coins and panic tip screens (where on the wrong levels)
  • Switches show stick to the correct position (similar to knobs)
  • Make the switch detection easier (see level 3)
  • Made pull cords so they actually need to be pulled
  • Map screens need a title and a description of what is expected of the player!
  • High-resolution window title for map screens
  • All screens now have proper static FX
  • Finish the arcade meter
  • Polished map speech text
  • Added a phone and waves and sound to map (different pitch phone talking sounds) : )
  • Hang up and phone ring samples added
  • Fixed the info-stays-on map bug
  • Added ability to define level order
  • Mixed up the levels so they cross over nicely
  • Proof read comics
  • Proof read half the phone conversations

10th May

  • Redid icon
  • Redid cover
  • Tweaked logo so it's bright (in all places & standardized)
  • Need to play title music on comics
  • Proof read the rest of the story text and tweaked the order/positioning
  • In space pictures for map TV screens
  • Proof read all the panel labels
  • Added a new backdrop for when Fiona goes inside the mars obiter

11th May

  • Take the mars obiter out of Larry's last story images (and re-test)
  • Need less text and more graphics on first how-to-play page
  • Stuck on the practice tip screens, make the first couple more obvious to continue
  • Wheel instructions should be more clear
  • Coins help should read 'click on them before ...'
  • Re-sized all instructions and tips text (including post-its)
  • Cancel talk sample when playing hang up (fades out past hang up sound)
  • Summary and failure screens should say 'Stage 1 Failed' or 'Stage 1 Success'
  • Finalized summary background fade : )
  • You can see a quick flash of the game controls appear when continuing from how to play
  • First level of zoo doesn't use correct colors!? Okay when you visit how to play though
  • Arcade music sequences
  • Arcade warning sounds (using the story mode ones is too much!)
  • Single panic Bonus Coins
  • Extra single panic button FX
  • Make sure panic bonus isn't permanently fixed (just on 'C' key)
  • Panic buttons auto-increase the levels difficulty
  • Panic buttons auto-increase the expert goal
  • Need a panic button tip (and in-game post it)
  • Tweaked the panic button holder
  • Tweaked the star FX texture
  • Add panic buttons to all levels
  • Tested panic buttons work for every control type
  • Added difficulty mode selection when story mode is completed
  • Made auto-difficulty real time stuff float based instead of integer
  • Added penalty consideration for some bonuses
  • Proof read all the pages

System Mania's In-Game Development Editor
System Mania's In-Game Development Editor

12th May

  • Made two desktop images for System Mania
  • Started the System Mania DVD case : )
  • Proof read and greatly improved marketing text.

13th May

  • Finished DVD case image off
  • Proof read web text
  • Uploaded case and desktops (and added them to the appropriate page)
  • Tweaked some small ramp issues
  • Uploaded everything ready to plug in to the main site =D

14th May

  • Redid all the comics so they have a little more detail on screen
  • Fixed mouse detection (was slightly off all this time!)
  • Add missing panic button sound
  • Added a cheat to get the expert mode early
  • Added a spin bonus
  • Created and uploaded build
  • Released System Mania =D

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