Archive for the ‘Gaming’ Category

Friday, January 16th, 2009

Tomorrow, I’m excited to be going to the Wings Over Wairarapa Airshow. There was even going to be a Spitfire flying, but unfortunately it had a wee hiccup on the landing gear front and crash landed.

Anyway, I’m still really looking forward to it. I figured why not get a little local publicity for my game and made a Leaflet for my two awesome kids to proudly hand out at the event.


The more observant of you might notice it says “Coming soon” despite the fact “Air Legends” is actually already released on Xbox 360. That is because at present this new Community Games marketplace is still only available on Xbox 360’s in USA, UK, Canada, France, Italy & Spain. More countries will come online as Microsoft enables them.

So, now a message to anyone visiting after seeing one of the leaflets.

  • Thanks for coming!
  • The PC demo of “Air Legends” will be available for download here within the next couple of weeks. (the game itself is complete – I just need to build an installer)
  • The Full PC game will be available also, for nothing more than a donation.
  • The Xbox 360 version will be available in New Zealand, just as soon as Microsoft enables the new Community Games marketplace here. Hopefully soon – but this is out of my hands unfortunately.
  • The Xbox 360 version of Air Legends topped the sales charts for the week of 5 Jan 2009!
  • In the meantime, see more of the game here.

Average Rating: 4.4 out of 5 based on 250 user reviews.

Saturday, January 3rd, 2009

I’m thrilled to announce that Air Legends is published at last – on the Xbox 360 that is. (A windows version shouldn’t be far off)

It is available on Xbox 360 Community Games marketplace in US, UK, Canada, France, Spain & Italy. Other countries should follow as Microsoft enables them. (I’m guessing they’ll be schmoozing with a government near you to make it so.)

It’s a supremely satisfying moment, though it hasn’t really sunk in yet.

Even if you’re not in the supported countries, you can still check it out on the web marketplace here:

“Air Legends on the Marketplace”

Now to reflect on a little trivia…

  • 2 years & 5 months in development. Just me tinkering away in my limited spare time.
  • began as a tiny exercise to brush up on my .NET v2.0 skills at home – since my day job had me rotting in v1.1.
  • the game is based on an unfinished game I attempted in BASIC back in the 80’s.
  • the distinctive rotation of the planes was something I came up with back then. I wanted you to enjoy all angles of the plane rather than the traditional 2D side view.
  • I started it as a 2D game. Became 3D when I quickly learned what a mammoth task it would be coming up with sprites for all angles. In the 80’s it was easy with only 16×16, 2 colour sprites.
  • I started the game using Managed DirectX with .NET 2.0. I didn’t even know XNA was coming, so it was a very pleasant surprise when Beta 1 emerged late 2006
  • the game had no name. The exe name was Legends.exe. David Weller that suggested “Sharky’s Air Legends” when Microsoft needed a title for the first XNA showcase video. The name stuck. Thanks Dave.
  • the project was scuttled much of 2007 thanks to certain personal events that hit hard. With a whole new life ahead energy levels returned and I resumed with vigour and a serious goal to make the life dream a reality.
  • I dropped the “Sharky’s” prefix one day in 2008, when it dawned on me I could actually publish this thing one day!

That’ll do for now. Bound to be more trivia – but I can blog that later.



Average Rating: 4.9 out of 5 based on 286 user reviews.

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

Title says it all really.

Kotaku reports that from December 15th 2008 the region restriction that prevent New Zealand, Australia & Singapore consumers from enjoying the new Community Games Marketplace will be gone!

Even better, XNA game creators, such as myself, will at last be able to have their games published on the Xbox 360.

- more here -

Fantastic news – I’m so stoked. To celebrate, here’s a sneak peak at a tasty addition I’ve been cooking up…

behold the Focke-Wulf FW-190 D9!

Focker-Wulf FW-190 D9


Average Rating: 4.9 out of 5 based on 165 user reviews.

Sunday, November 2nd, 2008

Recently I discovered that the “foundation” edition is no longer available. The next edition is simply not even close to being affordable – we’re talking thousands of dollars. (approx. $5k NZD)

Frustrating. Y’see when Softimage partnered with Microsoft for XNA and gave us the superb XSI Mod Tool for FREE it came with a non-commercial-use license. Not a problem, I thought – the “Foundation” edition was nicely priced and I figured a worthy investment when I was ready.

BUT, there’s hope in sight…

Hidden away in a Dream-build-play winners announcement was this…

…Softimage is now building on their relationship with XNA by offering a special version of the free Mod Tool for commercial use by Creators Club Members. GarageGames is releasing a brand new 3D editor for their Torque X3D game engine. Both the engine and the new 3D editor will be completely free to all Creators Club members….

I had already been remodeling my stuff in Blender, but perhaps I don’t need to now? Until I see an “official” announcement I guess I’ll continue remodeling just to be safe.

Speaking of which, here’s where I’m at…

Hawker Tempest

Hawker Tempest Mk.V

… and in-game!

Hawker Tempest Mk.V in-game
Hawker Tempest Mk.V in-game

The Tempest is a faster than both the Spitfire & BF109. And it’s rate of turn will be close to the Spitfire’s.

The next planes I plan to add will be the german FW-190, and American P-51 “Mustang”.

Average Rating: 5 out of 5 based on 161 user reviews.

Monday, October 6th, 2008

Here is the change list and screenshots of my final Dream Build Play entry. Note: as per my last post, this version is not available for download yet, but you may have been lucky enough to get the 360 version during Creators Club Peer review.

Dream Build Play entry screenshots

splash screen
main menu
game modes
multiplayer lobby
loading screen with hints
pause menu
single player lobby: xbox 360
game result and player stats
exit prompt
360 Controls

Windows keyboard only screenshots

single player lobby: PC keyboard only
PC Keyboard Controls


Video: Air Legends trailer

or download a higher quality version  here (right-click > save as…)

New features:

  • New game mode & Game mode selection screen. Air War (5 vs 5), Patrol (2 vs 2), Duel (1 vs 1) & Air show.
  • Implemented a gradual Zoom out the further away an enemy is.
  • Added choice of Time limit mode rather than Score Limit.
  • completely new lobby that functions in a more familiar way. Far less confusing.
  • Replaced Change View feature (3D view) to instead zoom out 100%.
  • Made Look around feature also zoom out fully.
  • made any of the attached controllers able to play the game instead of just 1 & 2.
  • For the PC version only 1 & 2 are supported to simplify equivalent keyboard support.
  • Made loading screen show hints.
  • To join during a game Controller A button can be used rather than Start.
  • Added “A to join-in” message while in-game.
  • Credits screen
  • tweaked in-game rocket messages, including a Rockets Full message.
  • updated Help screen to be more consistent / less old school.
  • added Help screen to the Main menu also.
  • added menu sounds, and countdown “bong”.
  • tweaked Game over screen to indicate which player did better on particular stats.
  • corrected the sound for when aircraft collide. A more appropriate crunching sound now.
  • new splash screen with correct widescreen aspect
  • added stats for Rockets fired, team damage
  • bit more polish on the Windows version with Keyboard images for controls when no 360 controller connected.

Bugs fixed:

  • Fixed bug where you could respawn with less rockets than the default minimum.
  • fixed rockets double scoring glitch.
  • fixed rare rocket smoke trail rendering glitch.
  • AI planes no longer shoot at Exploded aircraft.
  • Fixed wrong “You failed” in game over screen.

Average Rating: 4.9 out of 5 based on 151 user reviews.

Monday, October 6th, 2008

I mentioned in my last post about “Air Legends” no longer being a work-in-progress. That doesn’t mean I’m no longer enhancing it. It just means it’s no longer the proof of concept quality I’ve gladly shared over the last 2 years since I began.

The version still available freely here on my blog, is comparitively speaking a dogs breakfast, next to what I entered in the Dream Build Play competition.

That of course leaves me a bit torn up. I’d dearly love to show off the result of my efforts over the last 2 months – and boy it was quite an effort! On the other hand it’s time to put my poorly fitting business hat on and at least consider the publishing side.

So for now, I’ll keep the latest builds to myself. If you’d like to get in touch with me directly, please email me on In the meantime donations are certainly an option!

Shortly, I will post with some screenshots and change log of what went into the Dream Build Play entry, plus some Windows only enhancements. Stay tuned…

Average Rating: 4.9 out of 5 based on 188 user reviews.

Monday, October 6th, 2008

With Air Legends work-in-progress phase now over, and the might-as-well-go-commercial-phase beginning, I plan to get blogging again.

The first thing that comes to mind is this…

I don’t know why I’m so lucky, but I’m reminded once again at just how freak’n clever some of my closest friends are!

Great friends, who are far more talented than myself to be brutally honest.

Take, Martin Kay who composed and performed the original music in Air Legends. I just love it to bits. Despite hearing it thousands of times while developing & testing the game, it still isn’t old for me. I catch both myself, and my kids (expert play testers I might add) humming/whistling the main theme after any time playing the game. That has to be a good sign, right?

By the way, Martin’s profession is far from musical. Music is a hobby/passion, much like creating the game has been for me. The main theme is called “March of the Victorious”. He also did the gameplay theme which is deliberately more subtle & sombre. I think it brilliantly captures tone you’d expect when in battle.

I’m elated at how the music turned out. It is exactly what I wanted. Reminisent of the good ol’ war movie themes my dad would play in the car when I was a kid.

Then there’s Jeff Harris. Jeff was one of a few friends that helped me test the balance of the “Air Legends” gameplay. But check out what he’s been up to in his spare time! Lately he’s been tinkering in a little XNA. He’s started building and blogging about his XNA game that uses the 1994 DOS game “Need For Speed” data files (tracks, models, textures etc…).
I’ve seen some early gameplay and was totally in awe of how much he’s achieved so quickly, not to mention how good such an old game could look with newer tech behind it!
He hasn’t put any screenshots up of his version yet – but rest assured I will keep hassling him till he does. Definately a project/blog to keep an eye on.

Check out Jeff’s NFS XNA remake at Phobos Labs

And It’d be plain wrong to not mention the talent in the XNA community as well. Some truly stunning games emerged from the shadows for the Dream Build Play contest.

Videos of them can be found here (click, then search for “dream build play”)

Average Rating: 4.4 out of 5 based on 164 user reviews.

Thursday, September 11th, 2008

Shameless self promotion but…

I’ve been interviewed for

Check out the interview here


p.s. I’ve been going BIG GUNS lately to prep Air Legends for the Dream-Build-Play contest entry. Expect a considerably more polished version real soon, with some spanking new game play features, and loads of improvements.

Average Rating: 4.4 out of 5 based on 297 user reviews.

Sunday, August 24th, 2008

I’ve finally made a video trailer of Air Legends. I hope you like it.

And if you’ve been following my progress but not had the hardware/inclination to actually play it – here’s the next best thing…

Video: Air Legends trailer

or download a higher quality version  here (right-click > save as…)


p.s. in my previous post I mentioned 1 September was the deadline for DBP contest entry.  That’s a little misleading sorry.  1 September is the date when the finished game entries can begin to be submitted. I’d just rather be early than late.

Average Rating: 4.6 out of 5 based on 224 user reviews.

Thursday, August 21st, 2008

Howdy all.

Well the 1 September deadline for Dream-Build-Play contest entries is fast approaching and I’ve been working really hard to get Air Legends worthy. Yes, I’m going to enter this time.

I never entered the previous DBP contests but this time I feel the essential ingredients are there to call it a “game”.  Not a prototype, concept or half-baked effort, but a game.  

This brand new Rocket & level-up feature really doubles the fun, adding a variety & thrill that was missing before.  They are of the Insta-kill variety which adds emotion to the gameplay I had not really appreciated until now.

  • the buzz of an instant kill
  • the relief of a near miss.
  • funny moments that just seem to happen when chaos & carnage mix.

But enough talk, here’s what’s new…

  • ROCKETS!!!
    • While you spawn with a couple of Rockets, you’ll want to earn additional rockets with hit streaks. Every hit you inflict earns progress to towards the next Rocket Award.  (try not to die or that progress is reset)   You also Level-up increasing the number of rockets awarded next time.
  • Improved survivability / reduced frustration…
    • Flying through an explosion no longer causes death.
    • Collisions with other planes are no longer instant death. Instead your health get’s sapped rapidly.  So you’ll still want to avoid collisions, but you may just live to fight another day.
    • both player names now show where before it was only the “other” players’.
  • Bullet visibility improved.  darker, slightly bigger and longer.

Go grab this version from my Latest Build page over here.

I’m expecting this release to be the last prior to the final contest entry.  Between now and then I do not expect to add any major gameplay features. It’s really time to refine and polish. Rinse and repeat.

Your feedback is most appreciated, and as you can see – I take it all in and fulfil what I can!

So please don’t be shy.

Average Rating: 5 out of 5 based on 289 user reviews.