Entries in Riptide GP (5)

Thursday
Aug092012

My Favorite 2-Star Review Ever

Riptide GP generally gets pretty good reviews -- about 4.5/5 stars average in the App Store and Play Store.  But there are people who don't like it.  Sometimes they don't like it because they want multiplayer or some other feature.  Sometimes it just doesn't click.

But sometimes you get a negative review that actually makes you smile.  And this is one of those:

Not that good ★★

by - Version 1.3 - Aug 8, 2012

I am a kid and I even know that this game is hardly realistic because I know if you release the gas it's like you automatically have the brakes on and also if u ride a jet ski on land it's gonna get a hole in it and it's done for however long till it gets fixed. Also a jetski that doesn't get a hole in it from driving on land will be heavy making it not go up hills or waves well. Also you hit a wall or another jetski at that speed your screwed.

Well, anonymous reviewer kid... you're right.

Monday
Jun272011

The tech behind Riptide GP

You would think that converting a current-gen console game engine to a phone would be a daunting task.  I’m happy to report that this is not the case!  This year’s crop of smartphones with their multiple CPU cores and competent GPUs are definitely up to the task.

When we started developing Riptide GP for Tegra 2, we had certain expectations of the performance we could squeeze out of these devices.  The GPU (graphics) more or less met our expectations, so we were able to hit our graphics quality and rendering performance targets by optimizing the fragment shaders and doing more work per vertex.  However, we were completely blown away by the CPU (computation).  The dual-core ARM Coretex A9 is an amazing piece of silicon.  What’s running in Riptide GP is the same underlying water simulation that powered our previous game on the Xbox 360!

Besides our internal tech there are three key components that made Riptide GP possible:  The Android NDK, Bullet Physics, and FMOD Sound System.  The NDK allows us to write native C++ code which is then optimized for the ARM architecture.  Bullet Physics, which we use for collision detection and rigid body simulation, just worked out of the box.  FMOD Sound System released an Android version of their SDK just in time, which has been working flawlessly since the first release.

 

Tuesday
May312011

An embarrassment of riches

One of the great things about being a game developer, is people send you free hardware -- game consoles, dev kits, phones, tablets -- to work with, so you get to try out all the latest cool devices.

The most recent addition to our small but growing collection of Tegra2 stuff is 4 brand new, shiny LG G2X phones, courtesy of the good people at T-Mobile.  We're not actually holding on to these:  We're pre-installing copies of Riptide GP, and loaning them out to game review sites that don't have Tegra2 devices to play the game on.

Even though these are just passing through, I couldn't resist taking a picture of these four awesome phones, all charged up and running Riptide GP in parallel.  As I said, we've had the opportunity to try a lot of Tegra2 hardware, and although they each have their relative strengths, the G2X is one of our favorites.  It's a good size, it's nice and light, and like all Tegra2 phones it's awesome for games.

If only I could keep one for myself ... :-)

Friday
May272011

Phew

Ahh, Memorial Day weekend is here, the sun is FINALLY shining, and Riptide GP is out there in the Android Market doing it's thing.

We started work on RGP right at the start of January, and finished it in about four and a half months.  That's pretty quick for a game of this type -- by comparison, Hydro Thunder Hurricane took us about a year to finish, not counting the initial prototype.  

Riptide was definitely a push.  We put in some long hours and weekends.  But it seemed to go pretty fast.  We were totally excited about the idea the whole time we were working on it, and the long hours went by in a blur, because we were working hard to make the game better, trying to squeeze in as much polish as we could in the time we had.  It's a lot easier to work hard when you're pumped on what you're doing, instead of working hard just to barely scrape by.

When we started, the goal was to basically just create a super simple water racing game that would show off the graphical power of the Tegra 2 hardware.  But as we got more into it, we decided to add additional features:  the Championship mode, the reverse tracks, all the OpenFeint stuff.  

The whole stunt/boost mechanic got added on a whim in a couple of days right around GDC.  The game was pretty fun at that point but it needed something more, and we figured as long as we have the characters on those hydro jets, we might as well do something interesting with them.  As soon as we got them in there, with the swipe gestures, we knew it had to be a part of the game.

So now it's done and people seem to be enjoying it, and that feels really, really good.  Now we have a chance to take a breath and figure out what comes next.  I took a short vacation last week to NYC, and Ralf is going to sunny Mexico next week for some well deserved margarita therapy.

As for what comes next...... well, we have some ideas.  In fact one idea in particular that we're pretty excited about.  But that's for another post.

Saturday
Apr232011

T-Mobile in the hizzay

So a couple of weeks ago our rep at Nvidia calls and tells us T-Mobile is having this big launch event in New York for their new Tegra 2 based LG "superphones," the GSlate and G2x.  They want to showcase Riptide GP, and he tells us we can go if we want to demo the game. 

Now, sounds like fun but our first reaction is to pass.  I mean, we're shipping in just a few weeks and we're crazy busy.  And a trip to NYC is expensive.  And Riptide kind of demos itself...it's pretty easy to pick up and play.

But this event sounds too good to miss, business wise.  There are going to be a ton of reporters and editors there.  And a whole slew of big wigs from T-Mobile, LG and Nvidia:  account managers, directors of marketing and PR...the kinds of people you need to get in good with to nab one of those coveted pre-install deals.

On top of all that, this event -- OK, party -- is going to be at a snazzy NY bar, with free food and booze, live music by the Cataracts and Dev (Bass Down Low, Like a G6), and Carly the girl from the T-Mobile commercials will be there, plus, we are told, "2-5 celebrities."

Celebrities!  Already the Superficial addict in me is thinking about who it might be.  Jon Stewart?   Lady Gaga?  Charlie Sheen?!  It would be so awesome to get a picture of some celeb playing our game.

So...yeah, we went.

But we went hard.  Couldn't take too much time off work so we decided to do the whole thing in two and a half days.  Here's how we roll:

Fly out late Tuesday, bringing our giant ass laptop thinking one of us will a maybe get some work done on Wednesday afternoon but instead we spend Wednesday at the Intrepid Air and Space Museum before running back to the hotel room to change, get to the party an hour early for a walk through but spend the whole time trying to figure out which devices have the demo build we sent installed and getting them hooked up to the right stations, do the press event, go to the after party, go to the after after party, sleep three hours and then hop on a morning g flight back to SFO, arrive 10am Thursday, and go back to work.  BAM.

Exhausting, right?  Yeah, but it was totally worth it.  T-Mobile really threw down.  The bar was cool, the food was great, and the place was mobbed with just the right mix of people:  the ones you want to talk to because they're important, the ones you want to talk to because they're fun, and the ones you just want to look at because they look so damn good. 

They had a bunch of different demo stations around the room for people to try out the G2X and GSlate, each one hooked up to a big ol' wall mounted TV.  One whole wall was just for playing games and Riptide GP got a ton of airtime.  And people really liked it! 

It's always great for us to watch random strangers walk up and play the game for the first time, because you get to see the game fresh all over again, see what makes people smile (pretty graphics, big air, ragdoll wipeouts) and what still needs work (reset button hard to use, resolution neds to be boosted when hooking up phone to TV).

But what about our celebrity photo op??  Well...

We didn't actually see any celebs, at least none I recognized.  Yeah, Carly was there.  And yeah, she's cute and she seemed nice...but I never managed to catch her by our Wall o' Games, and I was too embarrassed to go just grab her and drag her over for a photo.

I had just about given up on the celebrity photo and had started getting my drink on when I noticed a bunch of guys nearby taking pictures of a pretty and vaguely familiar looking woman.  I asked one of the Nvidia guys who she was. 

"That's the LG Girl, man.  Stephanie." 

The LG Girl!  Of course!  I thought, OK, so she's not Jon Stewart or Carly, but dammit!  I will have my celebrity Riptide photo.  There was no time to waste, as the party was starting to wind down, so this time I just went for it, walked over and tapped her on the shoulder and asked if I could take a picture of her playing my game.

And you know what? 

She was better than Carly or Jon Stewart. 

For one thing, she was super nice and totally cool about the picture.  And she didn't just stand there...she actually played the game.  And asked questions about it.  And filmed a little segment of it for her show!  Afterwards Ralf and i spent some time talking to her and her camera dude/collaborator, and they were both totally chill and normal.  Imagine that.

So yeah that's my endorsement: check out the LG Girl's blog.  She's cool and she actually knows what the hell she's talking about.

And I got my celebrity photo! Wait for it....

BAM!  Makes you want to buy the game right?  Right??  Right????  

Yeah, OK so I'm no Ansel Adams.  But whatevs.  More importantly, you can check out Stephanie's coverage of the party for yourself.  (She talks about Riptide GP at about the 1 minute mark.)

So yeah.   I know this post is way too long about nothing.  But I'm typing this on the plane back and can't sleep so, there you go.  I just wanted to give y'all an idea of some of the random stuff we sometimes have to (get to) do besides making supercalifragilisticexpialidocious games.

Speaking of which.... back to work!