Tuesday, November 4, 2008


So this was a true post- postmortem. But due to the fact that I have been so busy with the move and the new job I just did not finish it until now. But check it out Postmortem
Thanks to Jill Duffy and GameCareerguide.com for featuring the article.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Smashout 1.2

Hey folks!

So I know things have been quiet on the Smashout Front, but we've got a little update for ya. Smashout 1.2 fixes the following bugs:

  • Hidden buttons on some menus that resulted in the game seemingly freezing have been fixed
  • A small audio bug that occurred when over tilting on certain computers has been addressed. If the the game audio is still messed up after coming out of over-tilting, please email me at naveen.nattam@gmail.com
These bugs appeared in the Full Sail Arcade Cabinet version of the game and I figured it would be good to fix em in the normal release.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

It's coming

I am going to write a postmortem like Naveen but I am currently taking a three week vacation with shoddy internets. So after I start work it should be up. :)

Friday, June 27, 2008

Thats a Wrap!

Casey (our Art Director) had made a promise to us that if we got Smashout onto the Full Sail Arcade Machine (a desktop pc that is in a special cabinet with joysticks/buttons) that he would buy us Pizza. He made good on his promise : check it.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Smashout Post Mortem : The Naveen Nattam Chronicles

Well I figured I should get this started. I'm going to try and bug everyone on the team to post a little something about their experience so that at least this blog (if left untouched) will be a final record of Project Smashout.

So first off I figured it would be wise to discuss my position. I held the title of Technology Lead which meant I was responsible for overseeing all code that was written. What this ultimately lead to was me being head of intergration. It was my job to make sure that all the modules were able to communicated and that when problems arose that were across multiple programmer's work, I was able to sort it all out. This put me in a great position to also do all of the gameplay programming, which binds all the modules that everyone created. From here, I was able to take the tools that each team member created and work them into what would become Smashout. Now with that out of the way, lets do what I know most post mortems tend to do: What when right, What went wrong.

What Went Right
1. Risk Assement and Planning
We fell into a good habit of having these "prioritization" meetings. These tended to come up around 1-2 weeks before each milestone, when every day counted and could not afford to be wasted. At these meetings we assesed fully where the game was and what was needed to hit the milestone. From this point, we would make a list of all features that were not done or needed to get done. Then we would go back through that list and prioritze what was important. It was at these meetings that we would also cut features to improve existing ones. This was a crucial part of Smashout's development that lead to it being a success. With an ample amout of time left, we were able to organize then push so that by the last day before the turn in, we still knew what to do.

2. Low Tech
This may need a bit of explaining. When we set out to make Smashout, we knew that we did not want to pursue advanced tech, specifically graphically. While our rendering lead was interested, he was also vary wary of how much time could be sunk into visual effects that would leave the game suffering overall. With the team focused on an overall complete experience, we skimped where we could on technology that would require heavy research and development. By being able to avoid this, we had more time to fix existing tech bugs that would appear then constantly putting in new tech by the end.

3. Getting it out early
By the time we finished our Proof-of-Concept, we already had a version of the game that put up for download. Grant handled mass emailing several friends and family members who were willing to give us advice. With the game in the "public's" hands so early, we got tons of feedback that was worked into the game very quickly. An unexcepected bonus was that we were able to use old feedback to limit wasting time on flawed designs.

4. Feedback
We were incredibly lucky with Smashout to get assigned an Art Director who was actually an audio specialist. With him, we began intergrating sounds into the game before we even had placeholder art (bricks were non-textured). This meant that we got to experiment with intergrating different audio effects early on and realized that Sound was ridiculously important to the game (which should be true for ALL games). A cool side benefit that I can speak of as the gameplay programmer was that I began to make holes in my code where I could insert sound effect calls early on, knewing fully well how important it would be. The ultimate effect of all of this lead to developing the Effects System that would allow us to so easily add content in the last 2 months of development.

What Went Wrong
1. Lack of Testing Protocol
As the gameplay programmer, I ended up doing a ton of intergration work. During this process I found lots of bugs in other teammates modules. I wasn't innocent of this either and lots of behavioral bugs appeared in my modules. In some cases, it was very obvious stuff that just wasn't tested. All around, there several occasions where if a proper testing method had been developed and be enforced, we would of saved a lot of time tracking down bugs amongst 10 modues versus 1-2. This also lead to a lot of "coincedental working" situations where modules appeared to work only to find out later it was because that module and other required modules had flaws in them and new modules were written to accomidate that flaw. Sometimes we would fix things only to find 10 new bugs appear.

2. Stress Testing
Several instances occured where tech would seem to operate just fine. As we would slowly push the game more and more, bugs would occur that just showed our tech sometimes wasn't up to the task. According to our schedule, we worked on all the tech in the first 2 months of development. It was during this time that would should of implemented hard stress tests on everything because finding out it the tech could not take so much in the last month means we have to scale the game back rather then improving the tech.

Smashout was simply a joy to work on. We've been told that very few Fullsail Final Project games have this much audio/visual feedback and as the gameplay programmer, nothing could make me prouder then to hear that.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Did we just Smashout?

I think so.

For those of you who are looking at this site for the first time after our presentation at Full Sail, then welcome! This blog serves as our main site for the time being. Its pretty simple and allows us to keep you informed about our progress. So thanks for coming to visit us! We hope you enjoyed the presentation as much as we enjoyed doing it.

Smashout has been one of the most exciting things to ever work on in my life. It was a joy to create and even greater joy to share. I hope I can keep getting this vibe for the rest of my career. The presentation was a thrill to do and to feel the crowd dig the hard work the team put in was simply one of the most amazing things ever.

So if you are just joining us, go ahead and download Smashout 1.1. This is the newest version of the game (even newer then what was at the presentation). Some bugs have been fixed (see previous post) and some minor adjustments been made. We hope you can enjoy it.

As always, please email us at whiteboardlogic@gmail.com with any of your thoughts!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Smashout 1.1

Hello Smasherouties!

So we finally had Gold turn-in for class today at Full Sail. It went pretty well and right after a quick celebratory breakfast at the I of HOPS we started working on an Arcade Version of the game for these fancy Arcade Machine boxes that are in our lobbies at Full Sail. So while we were doing that we found a few bugs and went ahead and resolved those for a new release that we are presenting right now!

Smashout 1.1 is an installer like Smashout Gold but contains the following:

  • Levels P1, P2, and P3 have been removed. These were presentation levels and meant for School Purposes only.
  • Instant win and Level Cylcing (via keyboard) have been removed. These were always intended to be debug keys.
  • Bug with coming out of over tilting and pressing grandma mode would case game music to play at normal levels has been fixed
  • Bug that caused Grandma Mode to stay on if activated right when ball dies has been fixed. Grandma Mode will now be disabled as soon as ball dies.
  • Bug where points from last brick are not factored in high score that is actually saved has been fixed.
  • Mouse input seemingly being stopped when mouse is all the way on the side of screen has been fixed. You can now keep moving the mouse even if the cursor is against the side and paddles will rotate accordingly.
So go ahead and get the new version. If you want to be nice and fair, make sure to delete the Smashout folder wherever you installed to clear your old profiles (this file is saved from being Uninstalled with everything else).

Enjoy y'all! We will probably have a newer version in the next few days. However, I should note that as school is winding down and most of the team is splitting up to different parts of the country, this may very well be the final days of Smashout. I'll make sure we post some nice final thoughts so we don't leave anyone in the dark.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Race to the Sun

The Smashout Team is hard at work gearing up for Final version of the game. Due to this, we decided not to post a release on Friday and instead wait till Monday night.

Thanks for your patience. Grant bets $1000 of his own money that it will. If it doesn't, you can send emails to him demanding the money.

Friday, June 6, 2008

What is going on!?

Hey hey everyone.

I know its been a while (notice the space a while) since any of us have posted. I'd figured I'd take some time out this evening to give a well deserved update to you, the loyal followers of Smashout.

So first off you'll notice a new build is available over on the side there. Go ahead and download it. I triple dog dare you. There are some cool new features in this version. I think we have finally found a control scheme that will make most people happy. For those who are intrested, this one is called "Quadrant Spin." We have also ramped the SHAT out of what happens when you beat a level. Seriously, give it a whirl, I think you'll like it.

We have also added several new levels. So do yourself a robot rocking favor and get out there and download it!

Now, to continue:

Development has been going smoothly for the most part. The team has been putting in several hard hours and we have become absolutely focused on "the little things." This means that we include new features but they are designed only to accent and fix primary features. This usually includes more transitions or accompanying audio/visual assets.

What is kind of funny about the little things is that I've become very obsessed with them. When I started at Full Sail I was very much focused on tech but now I find myself spending all my time planning fade ins and fade outs for every little thing.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

If Grandma Mode is broken...

It has come to my attention that the new Blur effect used in Grandma Mode may not work on everyones computers. In at least one quick effort to solve this, I've provided an option to disable while in the game.

Any time during the game (or in the main menu too), go to settings and click on "Disable Grandma Blur". If this still doesn't fix the graphical artifacts while in grandma mode, please email us at whiteboardlogic@gmail.com

So far we have found this problem is in regards to out of date drivers for the computers graphics card. If you want to see the blur effect, first try to update your drivers.

By the way, the download with the toggling ability is Smashout Alpha 9.1 on the side there.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Near Beta

Hey everyone, I won't type much now but I just posted a near beta release. Check it out on the right (Smashout Alpha 9.0).

NOTE: This release will launch straight into full screen. If you want to change that, open up win_cgf.xml located in the same directory as Game.exe and look for this "fullScreen" tag. Change the value from 1 to 0 and save.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Beta Build

The Beta Build will be coming soon. We have Beta turn in on Tuesday so expect something Monday or Tuesday. This build will blow your mind. Some of our biggest changes, so many in fact we haven't done them all. So get ready for a level of Smashout not even the creators have seen yet. :)

I'm super pumped myself.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Smashout Saturday?

So I was supposed to put a new build up last night but I fell asleep. I had to fly to Chicago this last week to find a place with my fiance for which I can live and play my xbox. So I was pretty tired by Friday when Scott picked me up and brought me back to HQ to get caught up. So sorry for the new build being late, but at least its here.

Smashout Alpha 4.0 (ignore the fact that there is no 2.0 or 3.0) has some cool new features but most of it is actually just changing of fixing how we did things in Alpha. You'll notice that all menus in game are all not those cheezy slide down images and have been replaced by menus similar to what you find outside of the game. We've also updated the particle effects to include some new suprises. Grandma Power also warps sounds now too (even music).

As far as gameplay, Tilting has been officially fixed (at least I'm pretty damned sure this time!). We've also made Grandma Power limited. You will notice a bar on the left side that will go down as you hold the spacebar. You'll have to let it go for a bit in order to gain it back. There is also a new ball counter on ther right. Every time you get 10 multiplier points in a row (no color changing or ball loses) you will get a ball back (up to 5). We have also thrown in levels 3 and 5 (designed by the Grand Master Franklin Ludgood himself).

So download and boot it up and as always, hit us up with your thoughts at whiteboardlogic@gmail.com!

Monday, May 5, 2008


Tilt is still not 100% working. I wasn't fully aware how frame based it is and need to come up with a good system to make it time based.

Calling all Alphas, its the incrediboulous Alpha Mapha Happa Snapple Time!

Hey everyone, we just put out our Alpha build of Smashout! It has some nice snappy new features for ya...well actually not a whole lot from the last release. The biggest thing is the launch button has been changed and we are pretty sure we've fixed that damn tilt problem.

Anyhoos, this time its an actual installer with a handy uninstall option. The game will launch into fullscreen but if you want to play it windowed, open up the win_cfg.xml file and change the 1 in "1" to 0.

Enjoy and as always, hit us back with your thoughts!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Sweatbox Smashout

As Grant mentioned, we have Alpha coming up and Scott and I were the only ones who had work left to do. We met at my place on Saturday and worked our asses off from 12-11. Sadly, my AC was broken so we were left to sweat over our computers. I have to admit, the amount of work we got done was very satisfying. Major thanks to Scott who put in some serious time to get his stuff done and work with me on getting in to the game.

Major double-triple-quadruple whopper thanks goes to Casey Coffman. As Grant said, he is the best. The guy totally gave us his all this weekend even when no one asked him too. He is just that amazing.

As for me, its time for bed. Check out the Pre-Alpha release on the side there.

Sorry for not posting on Friday. I got pretty sick and we had a lot to do. I'll let the release speak for itself (press escape or F1 to get passed the objective screen).

WOW Blown Away

So I had to take a few days to go to my sisters graduation (Friday and Saturday) and I get back and our game is amazing. I really want to thank the team for all the extra hard work they put in these last few days to get our game ready for Alpha. Casey Coffman you are the best Art Director ever thanks for all your hard work and overtime you are blowing me away with your dedication. Thanks again guys for being the best group ever.
Alright 2 days till alpha.
Grant Shonkwiler

Monday, April 28, 2008

Smashout Someday

Hey everyone,

Some recent family related situations have made me have to leave the Smashout Team for a bit. I was able to work long distance but this caused a delay in delievering a new release on Smashout Friday. So we posted the release yesterday but didn't make any news about it. So on the right is the new release.

In this build are are launch points. These are fixed locations the ball can start from in any level. When you start a level or lose the main ball, you'll have to select a new launch point and press enter. All this is in the readme that is in the release.

You'll also see Gravity Bricks which create Gravity Wells. It'll be pretty clear what these do when you see em. Also the game has been given a new effects system so you'll see more unique particle effects for each type of brick.

As always, enjoy and send us your thoughts at whiteboardlogic@gmail.com!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Smashout Friday

Hey everyone,

As we promised, here is a new release. This version has effect bricks implemented. There are:

  • Rainbow Bricks : Teal-colored bricks that will change the color of neighboring bricks
  • Bomb Bricks : Yellow-colored bricks that will break all neighboring bricks, giving you full multiplier points regardless of the color of the ball
  • Multiball Bricks : Purple-colored bricks that will release a special purple ball that will bounce around. Any bricks broken by a Multiball will add to your multiplier as if it were the same color as the ball.
We've also added some textures to get a better idea of how the game will look down the road. Some things that will be coming up in the next release:

  • A menu with options settings for sounds and gamma
  • Launch points : be able to select where the ball will start in a level (and after every time you lose it)
  • Gravity Bricks : Spawn a gravity well that will suck the ball in towards it.
So enjoy and as always, hit us up with feedback!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Special Version of Download

Hey everyone,

As Grant pointed out in the previous post, we've been having some crashes due to (we hope its just this) a new rendering technique. We are currently taking into consideration what has to be done to solve this. I've posted a new build that removes that technique and we've had some success on machines that were crashing. You can download it on the right. Its got the "nova" at the end.

So please download this new release if you were having problems. Grant should be sending out an email to all the testers with the link as well.

Thanks again.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Possible problem

Hey everyone we are having a problem with the latest build crashing on computers with nvidia graphics cards. If you get the new build and it crashes please email us at whiteboardlogic@gmail.com. Sorry for the problem thanks for everyone who brought this to our attention so quickly.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Smashout Fridays!

Hey there everyone!

Welcome to Smashout Fridays! The official day of loving you some Smashout! So Grant has limited us to only posting new releases on Fridays. I would personally like to post as soon as I get a feature in but Grant and Scott fear that we will overload you guys. Eh. Anyhoos, I'm excited to be putting up a new release with a slew of new features!

You can read about the features in the ReadMe.txt file that is in the zip (on the side over there) but I'll skim over some of them here:

  1. Scoring has now been implemented. See how high you can get it.
  2. New sound effects
  3. Multiple Levels (use the arrow keys to move through them)
  4. A special surprise when you beat a level
Grant is putting together some questions to send to testers about the new release, so if you want to join our official testing group, send us an email at whiteboardlogic@gmail.com!

I'd like to thank Casey Coffman for all the incredible sounds he has provided for this release. We hope you guys enjoy it and as always, send us feedback!

Monday, March 31, 2008

Call for testers!!

Now some of you may have been directed here by an email that contained the great call for testers. If that is you then you don't need to read this. If you have not received an email about being a tester well then read away.

We need testers. So what will a tester do: every few weeks we will send out an email with a link to the newest version of our game, in the email we will say specifically what we want people to test for. Then you just play the game and email us back answering the questions. Super easy, Super fun, and super helpful to us.

If you want to go ahead and check out the newest version that we have just click on the newest release in the top right corner.

If you are interested just email me (whiteboardlogic@gmail.com) (include your name and email) and I will put you on the list.

Thanks guys,

Grant Shonkwiler

PS This is a very early version so it doesn't look or sound pretty we know ;)

New Release 4.0

Hey hey everyone!

We have a new Proof-Of-Concept (POC) up. This version has the same controls as before. We've pretty much just changed the sound effects and added some particles effects and an intro screen sequence.

This will probably be our last POC build. After tommorow, all future builds will be leading up towards what we call Feature Fragment 1 but don't fret Smashout fans! We will keep all builds at regular intervals.

I am happy to see the team coming together. The intergration process was relatively painless (despite some team members thinking they broke stuff too much). I'm very proud of what we have so far.

I'm hoping to get some basic scoring implemented soon to spice up testing. Along with that I hope to have some "effect bricks" in place. So look forward to the infamous MULTI-BALL!

And as always, keep watching the skis.

Saturday, March 22, 2008


So this could be the happiest I have ever been working on a project. My mom played my game last night and she actually got it, and she was having fun. She was getting all excited about the bricks getting smashed and laughing whenever she lost a ball. She gave me some good feedback on what confused her so we will be making those changes soon. Now back to enjoying my spring break. :)

Proof-of-Concept 3.0

You can find the link to the new release on the right.

This mode adds 3 different control schemes. You can toggle between then using F1-F3:
  • F1 - normal pick and rotate like before
  • F2 - normal pick but the anchor point stays stationary
  • F3 - picking will select the nearest paddle regardless of where you click. The anchor point stays stationary
I reccommend trying F3. The idea came from Drew Card over at Void Star Creations. The picking can be done anywhere and will always select the nearest paddle.

And as always hit us back with feedback at naveen.nattam@gmail.com!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

HAHAHA bells

So coding without sleep is a problem. The reason my sounds were not working is because I forgot to check to see if the sound was already playing and when I put the sounds into the prototype the timing made it queue up like 200 sounds which was breaking everything.
Alright back to work. Sounds in prototype by end of day. WOO

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

I hear the bells.

So we have a milestone coming up after spring break. This milestone is a Proof of Concept, we each have to have some finished tech integrated into a build to show that we can get this game done. For PoC I am going to make an FMOD wrapper and put some sounds into our build. Easy enough.

Well there have been a few problems with integrating my wrapper into the build. For some reason when I try to play sounds in the build it is taking my sounds and making them super loud and distorted. So I am working on fixing that and getting it into the build.

The work is going well and everyone is excited. Now back to work.

Of Mice and rotation...

So I've been facing some issues with mouse movement and paddle rotation. The first version had the player click and dragging left/right and the paddle rotation counter-clockwise / clockwise. This started generating some issues with a few "testers' where they would click and move and the their expected rotation was based on where they dragged relative to where they clicked.

The current iteration is now supporting it but has definite issues. Some people get it and love it but these are usually people who played the first version. New users are quicker to point out flaws. Dang nabit...testing is a complicated mistress.


This blog is for posting about Smashout : The Final Project game by White Board Logic. You can come here to see what feedback we have gotten so far and where we are going with the game. You can download an early version and any other versions on the right.