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Bugfixes – Optimizations – New Tiles – New Backgrounds – New Music

New Beta Release

I’m happy to announce millions of bugfixes! So many I’m not even going to try to list them all.
You can always find the latest beta here.
Changes:

  • GAMEPLAY: Big change – you no longer “auto grab” ladders when walking over a hole (exception: moving ladders). This essentially makes ladder covers mandatory. I like the feel of this a lot better, the auto-grabbing was awkward.
  • GAMEPLAY: Improved stair climbing, and balls now climb stairs
  • GAMEPLAY: I had to remove the Jetman leaning on accel/stop. It was causing a loss of contact with the ground, making him jitter.
  • GAMEPLAY: Enemies can now be trapped in moving blocks
  • GAMEPLAY: Improved Trackbot AI
  • EDITOR: Playtesting will not end on death now (unless you hit escape) – Jetman will respawn as in the real game. Time will be preserved from the moment of death (note: par times should be for completion with zero deaths).
  • EDITOR: improved tile targeting for grab/delete. If the tile you want is not selected, just wiggle the mouse.
  • EDITOR: now must double-grab to edit sign text
  • EDITOR: switches moved to edge layer (3). You may get some conflict notices when tiles auto-adjust.
  • EDITOR: touch switches are now rotatable
  • EDITOR: new tiles: corner fade, white bg & fg, gray bg & fg
  • CONTENT: Added a cool new dreamy song by Saga Musix, “Going On”
  • CONTENT: Added the last of the new full screen backgrounds from my artist: Huge Cavern, Cave Fortresss, and Lava Waterfalls
  • WEBSITE: Made a few optimizations to speed up non-blog pages
  • WEBSITE: You can now click-to-play levels on any user’s profile page
  • SWF: errors will now be reported to the server, so I can see them.
  • OPTIMIZATION: Since my work on compositing last month, I’ve been re-rendering the entire background every frame. Oops.
  • OPTIMIZATION: Eliminated calls to Graphic.Cycle() for unchanging graphics, reduced calls by 90%
  • OPTIMIZATION: Reduced processing some of the unneeded code for simple entities like smoke
  • OPTIMIZATION: Now compositing all background graphics into a single background bitmap, so lots of bg scenery/darken tiles won’t slow things down any more. This was always in the todo list, I finally had time to do it.

If your priorities change, feel free to change your answers to the poll in the previous post.

Graphic Composites

The BG composite basically flattens all graphics from the background image to the ladders, into a single background bitmap which (ideally) never changes (much). This includes the layers (in order): BackFar, BackBgWall, BackBgSupport, BackBigScenery1, BackBigScenery2, BackScenery, BackStains, BackExitDoor, BackLadders, BackMirageBack. Wherever a graphic in the composite moves or animates, a rectangle is marked dirty and re-composited, which is SLOW. Animated tiles included in this composite include torches, and moving ladders. If this is a problem, excluding ladders from the composite is possible. As for torches, they are on the BackBgSupport layer, so that would be trickier.

I have code to composite transparent layers too, for a FG composite, which makes bricks scale much better. The FG composite layer, which is NOT currently enabled, includes FrontBricks, FrontStuckEntities, FrontOpaque, FrontBigScenery1, FrontScenery1, FrontScenery2, FrontScenery3, FrontOverlay. Anything that moves or animates in these layers (like conveyor belts) causes significant slowdowns, which is why it’s not enabled now.

This may leave you wondering what layers lie between the BG & FG groups. They are as follows: BackBgNear, BackItems, BackBricks, DynamicBehind, DynamicStd, DynamicFront, DynamicSmoke. Just about all moving things are on DynamicStd.

My dev computer is a 4 core AMD something, and it’s really fast. So I was surprised by the performance issues revealed by the new poll, as I get 60fps where some people are reporting 10fps. Thanks to daniels7 for creating a nice little spreadsheet of issues, I was able to quickly identify the biggest slowdowns.

Preorder with PayPal!

Since the Kickstarter campaign reached its goal, I’ve added PayPal as a payment option. You can find the link to PayPal on the Jetpack 2 Kickstarter page.

Interesting Ad Stuff

I’ve spent over $1000 on ads for the Kickstarter project in the last month. That generated 8 million ad views and 10,000+ clicks. It’s very tough to judge the results, since Kickstarter doesn’t give you much in the way of tracking. I had to know if it was worth the money, so I stopped all ads for 4 days, and pledges dropped by about 40% in that time. So by very rough estimates, the ads brought in about $1200 in 28 pledges. That’s a conversion rate of 0.35% on clicks, which was surprisingly low to me – for every 300 people that click a Jetpack ad, 1 person actually places a preorder. There’s also a small side benefit – more Facebook fans and signups on JetpackHQ.

With the tweaking I’m doing, I should be able to get the same results from now on for about a $250 spend, for a net profit of 260%. The conversion rate is key – if it went up to 1%, the net would be 750%. As the demo improves and the Kickstarter nears the end, I’m hoping that conversion rate will increase.

New Forums

Announcing the official Jetpack Forums! I’m still working on getting these set up. Theming coming soon.

Level Reviews on Reddit

This may eventually be replaced by forums, but for now try posting your levels on our SubReddit to get reviews and suggestions! This should be even more useful now, since you can click to play each level.
http://www.reddit.com/r/JetpackLevels/new/?sort=new

Members Only

I’m experimenting with making the beta members-only, to improve signups. Depending on the response, this may be a permanent change.