One way you can watch my beautiful face

For a few years, I’ve been working on Eggs vs Humans on-and-off again. Normally I don’t like to make New Year’s resolutions. But finishing EvH is the one I’ve made this year.

To aid that, I’m committed 2 hours at the end of 3 workdays per week (starting at 11pm EST). To help force myself to do it, I will be live-streaming the development at

https://www.twitch.tv/liquideggproduct/

Come watch, and be amazed at how poor I am in front of a camera.

Weekends will be additional development time, which may or may not be streamed.

Learning curve close to over

After sporadic learning, I’m starting to feel comfortable in HaxeFlixel. Also have picked up Spriter to do animations. It’s not perfect, but it was cheap and will be just fine once I figure out all its quirks.

Here’s a playable bare-bones EvH2. The Cannon Fodder remind me more of police carrying truncheons than anything (they are supposed to be carrying rolling pins). But the animation actually looks semi-adequate for a noob, certainly better than the first EvH.

Instead of the units auto-attacking like in EvH1, you can build up your army then choose to attack (or retreat if the battle goes badly!). You can also queue up to 5 units. The battlefield is longer than one screen…can be scrolled with keyboard or mouse.

Obviously, a ton more work to do.

Political correctness

A few people took offense to a few of the units in EvH1.

One person didn’t like the Vomiter, because the concept was kind of gross. And another player didn’t like the Token Black Guy because it was an explicit race reference. No one mentioned the Obesity upgrade, but I’m sure someone thought I was making fun of fat people.

The line between offensiveness and fun can be very thin, and everyone’s going to be different. But there is something to keeping things as non-offensive as possible if the audience could be anyone.

That having been said, I planned on replacing the Vomiter anyway. The “napkin plan” has a set of Pirate units for the Eggs; the Vomiter’s replacement is the Rum Drinker.
The Token Black Guy is not set to return (this doesn’t have to do with the complaint)
The Couch Potato’s Obesity upgrade will be renamed to “Beer Belly”.

Now with the references to rum and beer, someone’s going to say “You’re making light of alcoholism!”

You just can’t win.

Finding HaxeFlixel and thoughts on appearance

Appearance

There are thousands of games where your first battle is in a grassy field. Sure, it’s a staple and can look nice, but it doesn’t pull attention.

I’m inclined to make the first battle inside a kitchen. Sure, there will be the grassy fields or snowy mountains later. But, you know, it’s Eggs vs Humans. And the current napkin design calls for multiple types of chefs! Fighting in a kitchen just makes sense.

Tools

My first games were programmed in AS3 using Flash CS3.

For a product released in 2007, the CS3 IDE was dreadful to use. Most of my real job uses Visual Studio 2008, which is much more friendly. Add that fact that getting Flash CC would be $20/month, and you start looking for alternatives.

The free FlashDevelop actually has features like autocomplete and find definition…oh my goodness, why didn’t CS3 have this? I’m sure that’s Adobe’s improved Flash in the last six years. But why bother?

And then there’s the actual programming.

Eggony was based on the AS2 Shootorial on Kongregate. Eggs vs Humans was AS3, completely built from scratch. The fairly-close-to-completed Secret of Breakfast is also pretty much built on nothing. The poor design of these last two programs is stunning (partially due to the AS3 learning curve), but why did I need to create everything? Surely there are libraries to speed up development!

Some searching led to Flixel. After a few days, read some of the forum, a recent entry saying “yeah, Flixel’s dead, check out HaxeFlixel, which even Adam Atomic endorses”. (Adam is the guy who made Flixel.)

So now I’m trying to pick up Haxe and Flixel. Thankfully, plenty of demos and code to look at. Good times.

Why the Humans were too stronk and how the game might change

One of the problems in Eggs vs Humans was the strength of the Humans. They were usually far easier to win with for two reasons:

1. Their early game units had great synergy.
2. There weren’t a whole lot of great ways to recover control of a line.

The strategy would be to start training Couch Potatoes (if researching Obesity, it was actually better to NOT train until Obesity was about halfway done). Once the enemy started getting close, switch to Power Walkers. Done correctly, a Power Walker and Couch Potato would be at the front line at the same time. Having two units versus one was a huge advantage. The Eggs couldn’t do anything like this, since they didn’t have units of different speeds early on. (You could try putting Vomiters behind a Cannon Fodder, but they weren’t strong enough to turn the tide.)

The Humans’ level 2 units coordinated very well with their level 1’s…if the initial engagements went well, they could train Chefs to further extend the lead. If it went poorly, they could build Vikings, which had speed synergies with both their level 1 units.

The Eggs could have used a Bomber Egg as level 2 unit instead of level 4. Buccaneers had a speed synergy, but weren’t strong enough. Toasters were solid, but didn’t address the early game disadvantage. The level 3 Egg units didn’t do well enough either.

Multiple paths weren’t usually compelling

Even if the units were balanced, I’m not a fan of how the battles played out. Too often, a winning strategy was to simply control a single path, and spam a reasonable mix of quick-to-build units. If there were 2 paths, I would just send units wherever the computer was not.

Now there were some twists. The (Human unit) Eggs Benedict could do a good job of forcing play on multiple lines. The Eggish units intended to fill that role were worse at it (the too-weak Buccaneer and too-expensive Egg Carton).

The few area of effect units also helped a bit, but they were too specialized or not good enough to swing path control. Here, too, the humans had an advantage. The Hobo and Yoga Freak were better than the too-fragile Bomber Egg.

Brief look at other games in genre

Just a refresher to remember how others did things differently.

Age of War: Single path. Only one unit could be at the front at a time. Defensive turrets and special attacks could help prevent being overwhelmed. While the game was fun for a while, there’s only one scenario, so the gameplay was limited. Defensive turrets weren’t too useful.

Stick War: Single path. Units could be told to attack or retreat. You could control one unit for additional damage. Defensive turrets via garrison were possible. There were resource gatherers to be managed.

Warlords: Seven paths. Problem: seven paths were redundant. Controlling a single path was the best strategy. Only the “charge” mechanic made having so many paths interesting.

Civilization IV: War of Two Cities: Resources were controlled by “pushing” a flag to the other side. Walls needed to be destroyed to make progress. A manually controlled catapult could be used to add extra damage if targeted properly.

Potential adaptations

Land, Air and Tunnel: At the start of a match, only land units could be built. Air units would be available with upgrades…a powerful land army without anti-air protection could be whittled down. In addition, diggers can be hired to create a underground tunnel, for another potential attack path. Gems mined while digging would give a one-time boost to production.

Attack/Retreat options: Gives a player the chance to cut losses after a losing engagement, or not be forced to engage. If there’s only one land path, this might be needed.
I’m a little worried that this is too much a deviation from the original Eggs vs Humans. Probably what will happen is the initial builds won’t have this feature. But I will certainly at least want to test how attack/retreat feels.

Towns: The primary targets are the players’ forts, but some maps will have towns. If a player’s military unit has past a town, that player slowly gains influence over it. Once influence is 100%, it’s under the player’s control and the enemy will have to defeat the town to get past it. It will be a mini-fort, with bonuses to production. Player will probably have options on what the town should focus on.

Defensive turrets: Not keen on adding these, but they may make sense.

Eggs vs Humans 2

logo

Yes, Q! 2014 will be the year of Eggs vs Humans 2. The first game has had some marginal “success” (it somehow still gets 200 plays a month), and I still enjoy running through the campaigns every couple months or so.

For the past few months, I’ve been jotting down ideas, doing research, and planning the next steps. Yes, I will want input from you, the potential player. For now, I’m going to list the good and the bad of the first game and a “wish list” for Eggs vs Humans 2.

The good

  • I enjoyed the game, and some others did as well (hi, Q and Derek). It’s still fun to play once in a while.
  • Unit variety and roles almost all felt good. (The first Egg vs Egg campaign scenario was especially awesome, because EVERY unit had a valid use.)
  • The units, in general, were colorful and had personality.
  • The tutorial seemed solid. At least, no one complained it didn’t make sense!

The bad

  • Graphics sucked. A cartoony style is fine, but it looked like an amateur job. (That’s because it was.)
  • Speed issues. It was all vector graphics, which were time-consuming to calculate with too many of them.
  • Balance. The Eggs were weaker than the Humans. This was obvious in later campaign scenarios.
  • Single line scenarios were not very compelling. It was too easy for the winner of the first skirmish to snowball to victory.
  • Custom Games tended to only see early troops. While early game victories should be possible, higher level units need time to shine too. (Starcraft 2’s Carrier understands this all too well…)
  • A few poorly fitting units.
    • The Vomiter was awful. In early iterations, it was way too easy to spam and win. The final version was near useless. The only thing you could do is get its double upgrades, then spam for a quick win. If it failed, the player would be far behind. Having “all-ins” in a game isn’t always bad, but there was no thinking and little skill involved with this one.
    • The Cheesy White Guy was questionable. Not much reason to get it instead of Chefs. Its upgrade was nearly useless. Had a bright spot in one of the campaign scenarios.
    • The Bacon Knight was marginal. It was strong with the double upgrades, but by that time, level 6 units would be close to ready anyway.

The not-sure-yet

  • Fighting may have too much luck involved.
  • The fort upgrade requirement may have stilted the flow. Requiring 6 levels of forts to get all the units feels like too many.
  • Slowing down unit production while building and research occurred could have been too onerous. No one complained about this, and having some sort of trade-off is a good concept. But I am thinking about better ways to implement this.

Eggs vs Humans 2 Wishlist

  • Better graphics! It’s all about first impressions.
  • Meeting market expectations. Some players were surprised that they had to build and research the same things in subsequent scenarios. Not a foreign idea to PC RTS players, but Flash gamers expect something different. There should be permanent bonuses players can earn during the campaign.
  • More testers and advice. Having other people’s input will make this game better.
  • Maintaining simplicity. The original Eggs vs Humans was pretty straightforward. I have a lot of potential “improvement” ideas, but some of them seem like they’d make the game feel unaccessible.
  • Multiplayer. Highly unlikely to happen. It would add significant development time, and there won’t be enough players to justify it.
  • Additional factions to be added later. For now, only Eggs and Humans will be in the game.
  • Player can change difficulty during the campaign as needed.

Eggs vs Humans concept “art”

So I got to the airport a bit early and I was bored, so sketched out what a couple future units might look like. The lack of artistic skill is obvious. I have no clue what the ManToastEgg should look like.


(click to view)