Monday, 30 September 2013

ScooterBoy NZ Launch at Digital Nationz

ScooterBoy and Modka Games was lucky enough to be involved with the Homegrown exhibit at the Digital Nationz expo!

The ScooterBoy booth at Digital Nationz

Hands on

Our booth consisted of a large monitor hooked up to a laptop (Display Mirror), playing the actual game.  We had a second laptop with a slideshow, and then lots of glossy printouts of the logo, icon and artwork.
We also had two iPads running the game, which we tried to get into the hands of as many players as possible, getting some awesome user feedback.

Oh, and a portable "QR" code with a direct download link for iPhone users!

Attract Mode

For the main screen, we cooked up a special build of ScooterBoy running in "Attract mode" - basically bouncing between the intro comic, level selection, and the game itself, choosing random levels, scooters, characters, pets, music, etc.

I hooked up Momma's AI to the player, so the game would merrily play itself with no human intervention required.

"Attract Mode" turned out to be a super useful feature, it meant we could talk to gamers 1 on 1, while the screen continued to play for the small crowd that gathered.

... in fact "Attract Mode" proved to be so useful, that on the second day of the expo, two other Indies had added the feature to their game!

Big Screen

ScooterBoy also got some time on this awesome 103" panel upstairs in the chill out zone.  It really shows off the amazing HD retina graphics in ScooterBoy!

Telecom Homegrown "BigScreen", running ScooterBoy


Thanks everyone for making an awesome #ScooterBoyGame weekend with @DIGITALNATIONZ

And a special shoutout of thanks to Telecom, Asus, @oldjackgrey, @BenTuhoeKenobi and @sknightly!!

Shameless Plug

And if you're in New Zealand, and own an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch, why not download ScooterBoy and give us a rating! ScooterBoy on NZ App Store

Thursday, 19 September 2013


Lately, I've been tuning the "Drop-Rate" of pickups in Scooter Boy.  It's actually a lot like handing out candy at Halloween.

Allow me to use this handy diagram to explain:

Too little Candy
Too much Candy
Not enough candy to go 'round - some people walk away empty handed.Everyone is all full of sugary goodness, and they don't want any more.

But that's not actually what I wanted to talk about today.

I wanted to talk about Pigeons.

The Pigeon Food Dance

There was a famous set of experiments back in the '30s that revolved around withholding candyfood from pigeons.  In one of these experiments, the amount of time between successive drops was random. It turns out that each of the pigeons developed a (unique) ritualistic food dance. In happy pigeon land, it was the completion of the dance which caused the food to appear.

Now the curious thing was, the time it took for the pigeon to complete the dance was slightly longer than the average time between drops.

So when the pigeon completed the dance, there was a better than 50/50 chance of getting food.  And if not, well repeating the dance a second time would surely do it!

(Have you ever timed how long it takes to reboot your computer when you've got Tech Support on the phone?) 

Random Drop Rates

For most of Scooter Boy's development,  I've been using random drop rates.  Power ups would appear, seemingly at random.  Sometimes you'd get lots, and sometimes you'd go ages without seeing any.

Worse still, changing the drop rate, by changing the percentage of a drop, was very clumsy. You'd double or quadruple the drop rate, play the game, and the results would be... well ... random... There was no way to tell if your change was making the game better.

In short, random drops, just aren't fun!

A Drop Rate Schedule

I'm in the process of changing all those drop-rate percentages into times. 30±10 seconds between drops.  Or 120±60.  It's so much more measurable. And it turns out, it's a lot more fun too.  As a player, it feels like the powerups are rewarding your effort.

So down with Mathematical Randomness! Lets make the game match the player's expectations. Lets put the fun first!