Thursday, 29 August 2013

868-HACK (iOS)

868-HACK (originally the 7-day roguelike 86856527) is now on the iOS app store.

(Sorry I don't have a PC version yet - I was originally intending to release them at the same time but then I got distracted working on other things and it's not ready yet and I figured it was better not to rush it. There is only one of me!*)
*disputed



Okay what's changed from the 7 day version?
basically: A LOT.
- new programs.
- almost all the old programs ones modified (some in very subtle ways).
- a tutorial (skip this if you enjoy figuring out everything for yourself).
- better balanced.
- online high scores.
- streak scores too (sum across consecutive plays without dying).
- more graphics and sounds.
- so many little details I can't remember off the top of my head.
- secret stuff.

I should repeat about the tutorial: some people really enjoyed the blind confusion of working out all the mechanics themselves, and if that might be you then it's totally reasonable to skip it - you can always go back to it later. I've gone back and forth over whether it was right to include one at all, but ultimately most players were completely lost without some guidance and there's very much a game worth playing still there even once you understand what all the rules are. I still find it interesting to play myself and I know every detail of how it works.
Oh also - don't expect to understand everything after just the tutorial. It gives you the basics, but you still have to figure out how to put them together.

Also, several programs start out locked. Feel free to hit "unlock all" if you want to skip that, but I'd recommend going for the gradual introduction, you'll get a better understanding of the interactions between them.

Thanks so much to everyone who's helped out with this, with testing and suggestions. In particular, massive thanks to Leon Arnott, who in addition to helping out by writing most of the victory text and some of the intro text, made numerous excellent suggestions. And then repeated the suggestions when I didn't pay attention. And tirelessly kept on repeating them until I actually got around to trying them out and realised he'd been right all along. He also made a fan page (somewhat deceptive). Bless Leon.

get itttttt
(or, if you don't have one of those devices have patience I'll get a version you can play when I can! sorry!)
(also could someone please beat my high scores? ta.)

24 comments:

  1. Help! People keep trying to convince me to play this, but I'm not an Apple. I'm afraid I'll run out of "I'd love to, but" and end up buying an iThing. Please, make them stop until this game exists in the real world!

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    1. don't worry i will get the pc version done! it's just simultaneous multiplatform releases are too much for little me

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    2. Will there be a real world version though? I'm thinking people dressed as viruses, little foam credits and energy that you pick up off the ground, rising platforms so the walls can change each sector, etc.

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    3. Should... should I be thinking in terms of days, weeks, or months? I feel bad for pestering you, especially since your original release post already included an apology! I don't want to complain, just... asking, even though I realize the answer to "when will this be done" is often unknowable. I'm aware that programming things always take more time than you expect, and how days add up in the blink of an eye.

      The thing is, if I keep checking your twitter as often as I am, I'm going to understand the game deeply before even seeing the main menu! So I'll be doing my best to forget about 868 for a while and come back when it's available.

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    4. ...Reading back over that post, I sound pretty selfish and petty. I should really just practice patience, and not dump that guilt-trip bullshit on your blog. I'll be stepping back, now, sorry.

      Friends, don't post in comments sections when you have more caffeine in your system than sleep.

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    5. Excited to try the PC edition when it's complete. Much respect for your decision to develop for PC when the revenue is probably less that you're getting on iOS, and for your decision to release editions as they're available. If you've got a mailing list, put me on it.

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  2. This game is brilliant. It tickles my being in all the right places, somewhat like Corrypt did, but this one keeps me coming back. Again and again. Love it. Would have paid 2 or 3 times as much for it. Thank you for the wonderfully unique and refreshing gameplay experiences!

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  3. Hi, I just bought the game (app store Mexico) and installed it on my Iphone 4S (IOS 6.1.3). The game keeps crashing at launch. Tried reinstalling it but nothing helps... can anyone help me solve this? Thank you.

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    1. Hi, I've fixed the problem (or at least one that sounds very similar) but it takes a few days for the appstore to approve the update - it should be out this week! Sorry about that.
      Let me know if it's still happening after the update and I'll look into it further.

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  4. Hi! First, super awesome game. I played the PC version for about an hour before buying it for my iPod. Love it!
    Curious: I noticed that list of high scores all list as ANON_USER. Not that it matters, but is there a way to change that? Can I put my own name, initials or cyber in there? The other question I have is that the scoring is "x in y runs". I get the x part (points) but I don't get the runs. Is there a way to bail on the game and come back? Or, as I suspect, is it a case where if you get through all 8 sectors, you go again? Sorry if it's obvious. Great job! This is exactly the kind of game I was looking for. :D

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    1. if you log into gamecenter it'll use your name.

      streak scores add up across each game you play until you die.

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  7. Hi Michael, 868-HACK is a really amazing game, it's the first iPhone game I've gotten genuinely passionate about since Illiger's Tiny Wings.

    It's gonna take me a while (if ever) to get close to your insane 141 single-run score (my high score in the game is only 64 points, which at least was enough to gain your "guru" title!).

    Anyway, I was wondering if you have ever scored over 100 in one run WITHOUT acquiring the "score" prog within the first three levels? If so, maybe I'm too dependent on using that prog for scoring points. However, if you think the "score" prog is in fact necessary to score in the 100s, I was wondering if you had considered giving players the option of having that be the default prog you start out with? I tend to restart the game whenever it doesn't appear within the first two boards, which may slow down the pacing of gameplay a bit.

    Also, have you considered lowering the alert level for siphoning "score" in the last several boards when it becomes much less valuable for using it? There's no point in triggering 6 enemies on board 7 to gain "score" if it will only get you 2 points for using it, but it might be worth siphoning it if it only will alert 2 enemies...

    Lastly, is there any way to remove the guy from the leaderboards whose score indicates he got 1,500 points in a single run? Granted that faking one's score might be considered "hacking" I don't think that's what you had in mind when you designed the game...

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    1. - if you touch the scores in the list it'll show you what progs they had. my best two scores were achieved without .SCORE. people are generally over-obsessed with it.

      - but in general the single-game scores are quite dependent getting a lucky opening (whether it involves .SCORE or not), the "real game" is in streak scores.

      - yeah i'll try to filter out some hacked scores in the next update.

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    2. Interesting, looking over the top 9 scores (excluding the cheater at #1) you are the only one who didn't use .SCORE, but the fact that you were able to get 141 without .SCORE proves that it is unnecessary, so I retract my recommendation.

      I find it interesting that you consider the "real game" to be in the streak scores, based on the fact it removes the "luck" element. That certainly makes sense, but my concern about that is that the streaks allow for players to grind to get high on the leaderboards- excluding the cheater, the current #1 player, "NobodyWeKnow," has 812 points in 28 runs. However, his high streak score is more a testament to his patience in keeping his average score under 30 so he doesn't have to take any risks, rather than showing a true mastery of your game which includes taking risks when it is rational to do so.

      868-HACK's true master at this point is your friend Leon Arnott, who I think deserves to be ranked #1 rather than #2 on a leaderboard: his 647 in 13 runs reflects incredible high-scoring consistency. His ability to maintaining a 65 average over 13 runs blows every other person on the scoreboards out of the water, including you!

      Therefore, perhaps you might consider introducing a third scoreboard to rank players: "5-streak average." (I chose "5" arbitrarily... you could use 10 also, but then the leaderboard wouldn't have many people on it.) This takes your highest average for any streak of 5 runs in which you didn't die. That is, if you have a streak of 8 complete runs and die on the 9th run, it will take the average between runs 1-5, 2-6, 3-7, and 4-8 and whichever of these is highest it will use that for the leaderboard, assuming you haven't achieved a higher average within an earlier streak of 5 complete runs. (In this example, I do NOT think the average of runs 5-9 should be used, because you died on the 9th run and might have sacrificed yourself to spam .SCORE on the first board to inflate your average... so, averages should only be calculated for 5 straight complete runs to prevent that).

      Obviously anyone who has never completed 5 games in a row would be included on this leaderboard, so even appearing on this exclusive leaderboard would be a reflection of one's mastery over the game. Using an average like this will remove the role of luck as well as the usefulness of grinding, thus being the truest indicator of skill in the game. What do you think?

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  8. My mistake, Leon's average over his 13 runs was 49.7, not 65. Max Liana's average is even better at 58.1 over 7 runs. So I guess Max is the game's top master. But my point still remains, that using the average is a better indicator of skill than just streaks. Max is already the game's top single-run scorer at 153 (the only person who beat your top single-run score in fact) and he probably deserves to be #1 in the "true skill" scoreboard too, i.e. what I labeled "5-streak average" above.

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    1. Keep in mind that the runs get harder during a streak. Playing it safe is important, but it takes a lot of skill just to win once the special powerups start stacking. If you just looked at the "5-streak average", then the best five runs would almost always be the first five runs and the length of the streak wouldn't matter.

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    2. Shoot, you are definitely right. I didn't realize the special powerups stacked as the runs progressed in a way to make winning itself a challenge later on. As this effectively penalizes low-risk early grinding runs, it does make my "5-streak average" leaderboard idea entirely unnecessary to discourage grinding. Given non-plateauing increases in run difficulty throughout streaks, computing such an average is inferior to the method the game already uses to measure game mastery (i.e. unaltered streak score).

      Wow, well I'm starting to think that there is nothing about how Michael designed this game that would benefit from being altered in any way. I'm curious if Michael himself is ambivalent about any of his design choices, since they all appear spot-on to me. I have to say that among all the games I've played with relatively intricate rule sets over the years, I think 868-HACK is probably hands down the most perfectly designed. I for one am grateful Michael produced this gem, and recommend it to practically everyone I meet, alongside the comparatively less ambitious but still amazing Zaga-33. I usually tell people who are on the fence to buy the 99-cent Zaga first, if they need some convincing before "investing" in the more expensive 868-HACK. Of course, six dollars is unquestionably a steal for this game, given its value as both a device for entertainment and as a genuinely elegant piece of artistic design.

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  9. Awesome game. I'm addicted. I'd like to report a bug: after playing the game for a bit on the iphone 5, the game went completely silent. I had to reinstall it to the iphone to get it to make noise again, and then after a while it went silent again.

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    1. hmm, did you try just force-quitting the app? (double-tap home button, hold down on the icon, hit the red minus). reinstalling is probably unnecessary.

      anyway i'll keep an eye out for this but i probably can't reproduce it sorry.

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  10. Hey! Thanks a ton for my now favorite app on my iphone! :) Best roguelike I played on iOS; it's simple, brilliant and spot on. However: I am experiencing HUGE lags the first minute or so after I start the app... iPhone 4... after a minute the game doesn't lag anymore. Another bug I've encountered: I got a call incoming during playing the game. After I finished the call, the sound was gone... Maybe you can do something about the lags.... would be awesome. Thanks a lot for this gem!

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  11. I LOVE THIS GAME! It is possibly my favorite on iPhone - but PLEASE make an android version - PLEASE!!!!!

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