A development blog for our mobile adventure game


MicroVentures Beta is up!

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From Birth Till Beta

It’s been a long time since my last post. No amount of words can quite describe everything we’ve accomplished thus far. So as a cop out, I’ll show you some pictures instead!

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It’s  been a journey thus far, an odyssey of epic proportions! Hope you guys try out the beta release and help us make it even better!

– Clement “I’m too good for writing” Tran

Stories & Songs (part 2)

Hey folks, I know it’s been a long time since I posted, but I’m here with another short exploration of MicroVenture’s story system.

This time, I will talk a bit about the extent of the story generator. From the get-go, James wanted to have meaningful stories to tie our adventures together; give something more meaningful to the player than the throw-away text you might get from another mobile game.

At first, our ultimate goal was the incorporation of MINSTREL into our game. Being that we have close ties to the creators (them being our professors and TA), we thought it would be a neat practical application of the technology for a game about stories. Quick rundown, MINSTREL is an author-level AI being developed with the goal of automatically generating engaging stories with complex plots and relationships.

If you’re interested, the paper they wrote on it can be found here:


Go ahead and read it; it’s good stuff. Don’t worry, I’ll wait…

…aight, welcome back. Anyway, that was the original plan. Note the quantifier “original”. Two realizations dawned on us as we developed the more “Mad Libs” style generator that was our initial system.

1) Writing tons of stories is not easy. Procedural story generation is HARD.

There’s a reason people have devoted their entire careers to this subject: you could spend that long on it and never really reach a conclusion. We don’t have that luxury of time. Moreover, technical limitations made the logistics of incorporating MINSTREL onto a phone alongside a game a daunting task. Our best solution would be to put it on a server, and have the game query it for new stories every time the player starts a new game.

2) What do we get out of it?

This one came to us much more slowly than its brother. How many players are actually going to read the stories? How many of them are going to get something out of the stories? How would complex plots add to a game that should take less than 10 minutes a day to play?

In short, the answers are “Most of them”, “Enough of them”, and “Not much”. We are first and foremost a video game – to ignore that fact in favor of trying to duplicate a system that took years to create that makes stories people might not even be reading would be an almost suicidal decision. We wouldn’t be a game anymore.

If you ask a person which they cared about more, who wrote a story or what happened in that story, most of the time people will care about the story itself, and not where it came from. They’re there for an experience, not a tech demo.

So, we abandoned high-level author decisions in favor of a simpler and more manageable template-based system. I hope this sheds a little light on the decisions we have made so far. Talk to you more soon.

-Kyle “I am so sick of reading right now” Huey

From the Executive Side-Table: 900 Revisions Later

So as you may have noticed, we haven’t been updating this blog too much. Sometimes when there’s a lot of work to get done, things go on the back-burner. Sometimes, those things on the back-burner are actually really important things that should be routinely getting done rather than shoving them on the back-burner.

But I digress.

One of the biggest news is that we will be coming into beta in several more days! We’ve definitely come a long way since our last posts. Here is a brief overview of some development accomplishments/features/whatever that has happened:

  • We will have SIX areas: Dungeon, Forest, Snow, Cave, Swamp (graveyard), and Desert
  • The Story Generator now includes SAGAS! Basically, a Saga in a story that you continuously play over several adventures. So rather than having little tid-bits of stories, Sagas have a good story build-up and ending. This is especially good when major things happen in the story world, such as a Boss’ defeat.
  • We will be implementing Shops/Special Rooms in the levels, as well as random shrines that will have some sort of cool (possibly meta) functionality.
  • The three heroes all have different fighting styles: The Knight is a melee-based fighter with combo attacks and blocking, the Wizard picks up spell runes that give him special abilities, and the Rogue is equipped with a Crossbow and has extra sight for stealthy distanced attacks.
  • A whole ton of fun, wacky items that help you build strategy as you play.
  • An amazingly solid Marmalade game engine that houses our awesome game.
  • Awesome art, music and writing that give MicroVentures it’s own whimsical style.

There’s many more, but you’ll just have to wait and see. The next steps, as we reach our feature freeze, is to hammer out all the bugs, get in every art/sound asset we can, and give the final product a pristine polish.

We will be creating a demo video soon after the beta, so stay tuned!

A Few Sneak Peek Screenshots

Here’s some screenshots of our game. We’re still in the process of replacing all the programmer art, but that should be relatively soon.

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Week 5-8: Growth

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I wanted to post the pictures up for now. I’ll come back to blog a little later. =)

Sprint II

Sam here,

Phew. We just finished up our 2nd sprint today and ended it with another late night coding session. I have to say, I am incredibly impressed with what our team accomplished this sprint. There are a ton of new things since the end of our last sprint including: phone deployment, item usage, HUD screen, item spawning, boss spawning, pathfinding, menu screens and much more. Needless to say this was quite a successful sprint.

This sprint, the gameplay team worked on a number of key features that needed to be done in order to complete our MVP. At first, Clement and I started on item mapping. This was very technical and forced us to learn new coding techniques like function pointers and we also had to learn how Marmalade implements text file parsing. After many tries we got this kind of working. We still had no way to test because HUD hadn’t been implemented. In the mean time, Gerrit and Dan worked on pathfinding. They implemented an A* pathfinding technique, that basically checks the cost of each potential path to the target and chooses the one with the smallest cost. After a little polishing, they got this working great.

After items, I moved on to bosses. Bosses proved to be a lot harder than anyone could have imagined. Basically, all the regular enemy code was implemented on the idea that every enemy is only 1 square. Unfortunately for us, bosses are 4 squares. This led to problems of adjacency checking, attacking and moving. Dan really saved the day on this and had an idea in his head of what he wanted to do. 20 work hours later, after testing and checking all possible cases we got bosses partially functioning, but they don’t currently move. Just shows how hard it was getting this to work.

Like I mentioned earlier, we had another late night coding party equipped with a Costco run and Rockstar energy drink a’plenty. (Just as a side note, Lemonade Rockstar Recovery is really not good. First it only contains 3% lemon juice, which should be a red flag already for a “Lemonade” flavored drink. Also, it contains something called Milk Thistle, which does not sound like something that you want to be in your energy drinks.)

Anyway, I managed to start my sugar crash literally minutes after consuming my first Rockstar and struggled to stay focused for most of the night. I ended up staying until about 3:30AM, drove home, got a couple hours of sleep and then came back for our final scrum of this sprint. Clement and I were the scrum masters this sprint and this was our last scrum with that title 😦 Seems like only yesterday I was just a naive little kid learning how to master a scrum. Boy, how the days fly by…

Overall, this sprint was an amazing success. I am incredibly proud of the team and really am looking forward to implemented all of these cool features we thought of for future sprints. Until next time, I am signing off.

-Sam “I hope Rockstar isn’t one of our sponsors” Jenkins