Now that the holidays are over its back to work. My focus for the next few weeks will be an update to Train Sim that will include a new snow themed level. Above is a preview video that show my progress so far (about 50% of the level done)
As I wake up to another New Year’s Eve I find myself reflecting on the events of 2017. For me personally it has been a very busy but also rewarding year. My son started grade 1 my wife started a new job and I decided to focus full time on making games. As a result of this I was able to complete even more high quality updates to the majority of my games.
As a result millions of new players enjoyed my games, and on average my game ratings went up. I now have thousands of new followers providing me valuable feedback through 3583 Byte’s Facebook & Twitter accounts which provides a great feedback mechanism to my work.
So once I again before rushing to next year’s goals I want to take the time and review all the amazing things that we did in 2017.
Train Sim had the busiest year out of all my games with 8 updates featuring many of the most requested features. This year I really focused on addressing many of the comments sent to me via Social Media & Reviews to ensure that I responded to as many requests as I could. Here are some highlights:
- Updated Ports of Call Scene with New Train Yard
- New Rain Effect & Windshield Wipers added to all Trains
- New Break Sparks on all Trains & Cars
- Longer Trains
- New User Interface
- New Achievement System
- New Train Decoupling/Coupling & Improved Track Switching
- New Custom Environments (build your own train levels)
- 5 New Trains including:
- Santa Fe EMC E1
- Class 66 train
- LB&SCR E2 Class Tank Engine
- EMD GP9
- New Train Cars including Double Stack & Grain Cars
- New Airport Level
- New Train Drivers
There were also lots of small bug fixes & improvements I can’t remember but one thing is for sure that Train Sim had the busiest year ever with major improvements in all areas thanks to your feedback.
One of my major goals for 2017 was to improve the overall experience of Flight Sim. In 2017 I did a major overhaul of all the environments, improving their quality & realism. I also improved many of the features such as maps, missions and fixing bugs. I think I can do more in 2018 but this years updates got me a long way to a game I think can be enjoyed by many players.
Dinosaur Sim still features very high ratings and popularity with almost 1 million players who enjoyed it so far. This year I also focused on addressing some of the feedback I received through social media and reviews. The updates this year brought players a new Flying Quetzalcoatlus, New Winter & Jungle Levels as well as a much requested Hunger & Thirst Indicator.
3 Jewels had only 1 major requests from players which was more levels. This year I doubled the amount of challenge levels to 200! I think we can all agree that it could use another 100 in 2018 🙂
Kids Train Sim
Kids Train Sim received a complete overhaul to match its features with its parent Train Sim. This was a large undertaking with took over a month but I think we can agree that the result was positive. Here are some of the new features added to Kids Train Sim this year:
- New City Level
- Improved Interface
- Improved Passengers
- Train Coupling & Decoupling
- Custom Environment (Build your own Train Environments)
Kids Car Racers received a new Alternate Reality Level where you can race your cars in your living room (or wherever you are)
Aquarium Sim received an update that allows users to build their own Aquariums
This year I laughed 2 new games. A new Match 3 Game which is a sequel to 3 Jewels with 300 new challenge levels.
Jigsaw Puzzle X which allows players to complete Jigsaw Puzzles with up to 500 pieces. Great for those long flights.
As always I encourage you to try these games and give me some constructive feedback. I nice rating is also very much appreciated as it is very difficult to launch a new game in 2017 🙂
On top of all this work that is visible by players allot goes into managing a Game Development Company, such as:
- Working with 3D Artists & Practicum Students
- Replying to emails & social media posts,
- Brainstorming ideas,
- Testing updates
- Porting games to different platforms such as iOS & Windows Store
- Doing backups
- Testing new screenshots and icons
- And lots more
For every update you see lots of work goes into getting the game into a place where it could be enjoyed by millions of users.
In conclusion it has been a great 2017! Thank you for playing our games and all your reviews. I apreciate it. I look forward to an awesome 2018! Most Importantly:
Happy New Year!
Train Sim update is now live for Android, iOS & Amazon. This update features a New EMD GP9 Engine, New Grain Cars improved Car Shunting on train yards and a new Started Track for the Custom Environment feature.
I am excited to announce that the next Train coming soon to Train Sim is the EMD GP9. Here is a preview image of the train along with its new grain cars. Happy Rails!
Here is a 2nd preview of the new Airport Level coming soon to Train Sim. Layout is mostly done, going to start testing tomorrow.
For a while I have been unhappy with the quality of the environments in Flight Sim compared to other flight simulators available for the mobile platforms. Many of my competitors used real arial photos to build their terrains. Even though Flight Sim offered 20 free airplanes while my competitors offered only 1-2 free airplanes (with others costing $2-$3 each), Flight Sim was failing to capture market share. I believed that the quality of the terrains (and some other bugs) was the major reason for the poor reviews that Flight Sim was getting. So over the last few months I have been working on a major update to Flight Sim, more of a redesign that improved the quality & realism of the environments available in the game.
Prior to posting any preview videos on my progress I had to first figure out how to use real arial shots of terrains in a game, without crashing the average phone. That process took a month on its own with many failed experiments and wasted hours.
However at the end I was able to create a fairly realist environment that will work on the majority of mobile devices. Since July 18th I have been posting these preview videos on Youtube documenting my progress.
Today I am happy to announce that Flight Sim for Android is now live! The iPhone/iPad version has already been submitted to the store and should be live within a few days.
After my trip to Europe I was inspired to add a train from Poland the ST44-700 which is a version of the Soviet Built M62 diesel locomotive. These trains were to the work horse of the Eastern Block countries as well as Cuba and North Korea. Although past their prime ST44-700 can still be seen in Poland and in other countries under various names.
Also in this update Custom Environment – Terrains. You asked for it and here it is, the ability to raise & lower terrains in Custom Environments. Also if you lower the Terrains far enough you can expose water. This will allow you to create truly unique environments for your trains.
Also in this update there have been many suggestions about how to improve Rail Signals in Train Sim. From now on Rail Signals will turn red once a train passes them, increasing their realism.
Train Sim update has now been updated for all platforms (iOS, Android, Mac, Windows 10 & Amazon)
If you read my Twitter & Facebook posts it may feel like I only work on Train Sim. While Train Sim is my most popular game with very active & vocal fans, I have 22 other games I made that are also quite popular. So after my last Train Sim release I decided to focus on updating all my other games. Here are some of the highlights of the awesome new features now available.
Kids Train Sim
Kids Train Sim received a much needed overhaul. I actually deleted all the scripts/code from this game and replaced them with them with code from Train Sim. This I was able to provide all the updates, fixes & features of Train Sim but in a more kid friendly package. Features like train decoupling, improved passengers, manual door control, custom environments & new user interface are now available in Kids Train Sim. While I was there, I also added a new City Scene & New Trains. All of this took a while to implement but I think the end result was worth it.
3 Jewels Sequel
Because every game company should have a Match 3 Game! As some of you may know I have a very popular Match 3 game called 3 Jewels. I have been secretly working on a sequel called 3 Jewels 2 with 300 new challenge levels, new graphics and awesome new effects and game mechanics. 3 Jewels 2 is currently available on Google Play and so far the reviews are 5 stars!
Aquarium Sim is one of my newer games that I am trying to promote. So far its launch was a bit bumpy but it is improving. On this latest update I improved the Custom Environment Feature. Just like in Train Sim you can now move items around after they are placed. I also fixed a few bugs that Improved the overall experience. I am happy to report that after this new update the average rating on Google Play has improved to 4.0.
Kids Car Racers
I was watching my son Play Mario Kart and noticed that the karts in that game can launch things (mostly shells) at each other. I decided that this would be a fun feature in Kids Car Racers. So the new version of Kids Car Racers now allows players to launch Barrels at the other cars. I also added a new Alternate Reality Scene which allows players to race cars, well in their living room and wherever they are. The scenery from their environment comes directly from the camera just like in Pokemon Go. The effect is quite cool.
I am happy to announce that another Train Sim update is now live on Google Play! This time I was able to include 3 of the most requested features:
- Custom Environments
- Train de-coupling/Coupling
- Improved Track Connections
Allowing users to build their own custom environments, is something I always wanted to add to Train Sim. It is obviously something not easy to implement and previously I never had the time to focus on it.
However recently I added a similar feature to my other game Aquarium Sim and I thought, maybe this could be adapted to Train Sim. After a few hours of effort moving the code over from one project to another I was surprised that it worked. I was able to place objects on a Terrain on a predefined track. I quickly posted a preview video on my Twitter feed and happy with my progress I went to sleep.
Next day I started the real work which would continue over the next 2 weeks. First I needed to add 50 predefined objects to the custom environment editor. This was easy but repetitive work as for each object I needed to create a small preview icon. This involves taking a screenshot of the 3D object, opening it in Photoshop, cutting out a transparent background and saving the result as a PNG image file. 50 times.
I also had to build 2 separate tracks layouts and allow the environments to switch depending on the user choice. This turned out to actually be that hardest part as none of the other scenes in Train Sim support multiple track layouts, and things were constantly breaking.
Add to that object rotation, Terrain Texture selector & the massive amount of testing around this feature, and I would estimate 100+ hours of total effort. However I think it was worth it. Here is one of the later preview videos of the Custom Environment feature (still only had 1 track to choose from)
The other major feature I focused on this release was Train De-Coupling/Coupling. This was also a much requested feature from many users. The actual de-coupling implementation was simple. The tricky part coupling the Train again when it is backing up & from behind the train. Each engine has a different size which means I had to adjust and test each of the engines plus double engines, plus tenders. If that was not enough I also had to make sure I can de-couple go around the track and push the train from the back. Again accounting for the variable engine size, testing each one. I even build a small track for testing this feature that allowed me to go around and push the train from behind faster. 48 times …
Here is one of the final video previews I shared on my YouTube channel.
In the future I hope to expand this by allowing users to drop off and pick up cars from the rail yard.
Finally one of my personal pet peeves in Train Sim were always the Track Connections. Not only were they buggy, they also looked terrible as the tracks would visually just overlap with the main track always on top of the connection.
This new version of Train Sim fixes both this issues as Track connections now work much better and look much better. The actual solution to this was very simple and I can’t believe I have not through of this in the past.
One of the things that always bothered me about Train Sim was the User Interface (Buttons). I never liked the look but more practicaly I did not like the fact that it used words. Even when I translated the button labels into 7 other languages that meant there were still millions of users that did not have a translated user interface.
Furthermore there are lots of kids that are younger then 6 years old that enjoy playing Train Sim but do not yet know how to read. My son was amongst those for many years.
So I decided that in this update I will focus on an improved user interface. I have been posting in progress screenshots on my Twitter Account but finally I settled on the above look which is now live on the Google Play Store (Android). Thanks to my Twitter followers I also learned that some people simply like the old interface. So the Old Interface will still be available in Options.
In this update I also added a new (much reqested) Open & Close Doors Button that will show up when the train is stopped. From now on that button will need to be pressed when the train is stopped at a station to let the passengers out. It will no longer be automatic.
Train Sim Update is now Live for Android, with iOS, Amazon, Windows Store, Mac coming soon!