It's been a while since the last update. The Ping trailer is now fully animated! With some help from my housemate Carolyn's sound library, I finished the sound design in a couple of days, and Ryan is conjuring up a heart-thumping score.
I probably won't release the trailer until I'm finished with the game, so in the meantime here's a short clip so you can see what it's going to be like.
I submitted Ping to IndieCade a few months back. Unfortunately, Ping was not selected as a finalist at IndieCade this year, but I still look forward to attending and maybe showing Ping during the Game Tasting event. Despite the rejection letter, the jury seemed to like Ping. Some of the jurors' comments:
"I found the mechanic intriguing, and the visuals are a great fit for it. The game doesn't pretend to be more than it is, but embraces its simplicity and excels for it."
"Ping was a fun update on the original Pong gameplay. It takes the simplicity and builds on it without making it too complicated. It's still easy to pick up and play, but now has extra chaotic depth and some additional skill aspects."
They also provided constructive criticism:
"There were some situations where one player felt like they were unable to move or do much because they were under constant fire from the other, sort of like getting stuck in a combo chain in a fighting game. I don't know how casual or hardcore you intend for the game to be, but it didn't always feel very responsive because of the constant stalling by both sides. It made for plenty of laughs, though."
I'll think about this some more. While there are ways for an advanced player to nullify enemy fire (the Goalie Dive, for one), it's true that by simply firing a lot you have a good chance of dominating the table. It's unclear whether the jurors were aware of the Lunge mechanic or other advanced techniques, or had time to learn them.
My takeaway is that Ping is definitely fun, and it's just some slight refinements and polish away from being a solid party game. None of the issues the jurors brought up were major. And with 4-player mode (which I do intend to introduce), Ping will be taken to the next level.
The Home Stretch
With the trailer nearly complete, it's back to developing the game. My goal is to finish the game in 4 weeks or less and release about a month after that. In order to facilitate finishing, I've decided to scrap Training Mode, replacing it with Practice Mode plus an online video tutorial series to introduce & demonstrate advanced moves. This way I don't have to program a scripted series of interactive tutorials. Instead, the player can practice the techniques they learn on the web against a dummy paddle.
So that means my basic objectives are:
- Finish the campaign & iterate the difficulty curve to satisfaction
- Implement the saving/unlocking system (trophies, medals, etc)
- Refine rough edges on tables that aren't balanced yet (like Dance Club) or have confusing background visuals (like Final Frontier)
- Add an options menu & other refinements
- Bugfixes, bugfixes, bugfixes
I don't know whether it's possible to finish all this in a month, but I'll crack down and see what happens.
Even though once these features are done I'll be releasing Ping for PC (and hopefully Mac), my job will be far from finished. Hopefully sales from the game will be enough to facilitate porting Ping to iOS and Android as well as expanding the game's features, including the feature I'm most excited about: 4-player mode.
PING PRO TIP: Check out the new How To Play page to see the in-progress instruction manual for Ping. This page will eventually feature video tutorials so you can master your Ping techniques.