AVAILABLE NOW ON STEAM!

Description:

HOLY COW!
Abduct as many cows as possible!  Zoom around alien planets, luring and stealing cows from opponent UFOs while stopping them from taking your own.  Set records and unlock achievements in a variety of single-player and multiplayer game modes as you grow your very own Alien Cow Farm!

ALIEN POWERS:

  • ABDUCT cows and return them to your barn to score!

  • SHOOT opponents to steal their cows!

  • Deploy DRONES to defend your barn!

  • Drop LURES to attract nearby cows!


SEVEN GAME MODES:

  • CLASSIC - Abduct as many cows as possible before time runs out!

  • TIME TRIAL - Abduct the target number of cows as quickly as possible!

  • CAPTURE THE COW - One cow starts in each barn and teleports back there after being abducted.  Steal the target number!

  • SURVIVAL - Time is added to your individual clock with each abduction.  Don't let it run out!

  • HUNT - Only one cow on the entire map!  It teleports away after being captured, so find and abduct it as many times as possible before time runs out!

  • FRENZY - Play with an extreme number of cows on the map!  With no stealing allowed, the game ends when they've all been abducted!

  • ELIMINATION - Cows start in each barn, but there are none wandering on the map!  Steal quickly because any player with zero cows at the end of each round gets knocked out!


Set Records and unlock Achievements in single-player mode, or challenge your friends in multiplayer!

Dev Notes:

This game was developed specifically to put on Steam. As such, every included asset is either original or has been cleared for use in a commercial game. For more actual dev notes (many more than you could ever want), check out the official ACF dev log, linked below. Otherwise, keep reading for my postmortem.

I'll start with a reminder of the ultimate goal: release the game on Steam. Well, check. I was told by many of the places I've applied for jobs that all of my experience at Drexel and through co-ops would pale in comparison to having a single "shipped game" available on Steam or one of the other less well-known online stores. I think that mentality mostly has to do with showing that you can see a project through to the very end, although really the only thing ACF has going for it that the other finished games available on this very website don't is a bunch of legal paperwork. I started my own company, ZWOLYA GAMES, to release this game...ultimately, that's really cool, but I wanted to be a designer, not a businessman.

Which cleverly segues into what I want to talk about next. As a solo project, I alone was completely responsible for everything; full creative control, yes, but also unilateral decision-making. A backing team would have been as much help as a sounding board as they would have creating the art assets, materials, and audio for me. Yes, I learned the blender program from scratch, and I can mostly understand shader code now, but I'm sure the game could have had a more polished final look, and certainly would have been finished sooner, if I had help from real artists.

Most of the biggest problems I faced had to do with the external assets I used. This is ironic because I gambled that purchasing from the Unity store would save me the time and effort of writing my own, inferior version of something that already existed. For the audio plugins, that worked pretty well, and Rewired was a godsend as always...my big issues were with A* and Nested Prefabs. The latter does what it claims to, but the problem is how much it slowed the project down the larger it got; since it has to check through and apply all the prefabs any time one changes, I was waiting upwards of ten minutes for a single change to take by the end here. I'm hoping that the native Unity implementation of this service (which absolutely should have been included from first launch, but only became available in a later version than I used for this project) will work out better for my next endeavor. A*, as I've said before, does lots of really cool things, but seems to start to fall apart when you try to use them in tandem. A big, complex package like that is best treated as a black box, so if you need to go inside to try and solve a problem...good luck. The dev's support is so-so, and a lot of the time I had the feeling that I just had a setting wrong somewhere, because I was only trying to accomplish the same things that worked so beautifully in the example videos. This was a source of major frustration for most of the project, but I still believe that I would have been far worse off trying to do my own pathfinding.

Just a few more very specific notes: Glimmer Ridge was the last map I made, as the most complicated one. That was a mistake, because the multi-level design broke many, many things throughout the rest of the game. It was very late in production at that time, and hard to recover from something like that. It's only natural to want to get simple functionality working first before adding more complex stuff, but usually I'm smart enough to at least know where I'll be going eventually, and plan ahead for edge cases and the like. I didn't in this case, so I had to change some very fundamental things like how players moved and interacted with the environment through gravity, rigidbodies, and collisions. Another quirk that I discovered when I started the testing process in earnest was that the drone ability is basically useless. I used it much less than any of the others, and even its intended sentry functionality doesn't do much thanks to its single hit point. Making the thing invincible probably would have helped, or better yet, ditching it for an infinitely-more-useful speed boost power, but again, by the time I found this, changing everything from the tutorial to the UI everywhere, then rebalancing to boot, would have been a nightmare.

And finally, the thing that almost sunk me here at the very end (and delayed release) was my build getting denied by Steam because it wouldn't run on Mac. I tried (really hard) to get it tested on that platform, but no one I contacted was willing or able to help. The fix ended up being trivial, but I've circled back around to the first issue I mentioned: making games on your own is hard, and in addition to everything I mentioned above, having a dependable team would have certainly mitigated finding problems too late. And I'm sure it wouldn't hurt with promotion and outreach, either.

Game Hints and Tips:

As a special thank-you for taking the time to check out my website, here's some inside information that you may find useful as you play:

  • You can't lose a single-player game. The COMs are there to make for a more interesting experience, but your real opponent is the clock. The game will always continue until you've met its goal, at which point your score will be displayed as the best one, regardless of COM performance.

  • The key to setting records is learning to make the best use of your lure. Try to minimize the time you're waiting for it to attract a cow or to recharge by going after other cows in the meantime.

  • Still having trouble with the Game Mode-based achievements? Try a different Map. Each planet/size combination has a slightly different distribution of cows, and some may be more favorable than others.

  • The lure can be used on freely-roaming cows as well as those in pens. Try it next time a stubborn cow refuses to come out from under a tree!

  • When a player is eliminated in Survival Mode, their barn and any cows in it remain untouched. Use the opportunity to steal from them with no opposition!

  • Getting lost in the Glimmer Ridge caverns? Try deploying a drone near the tunnel exit to mark the way back to your barn.

  • It's a smart strategy to shoot at any opponent you come across in Hunt Mode. There's no way to tell if a COM is currently carrying a cow, so if they beat you to it and were on the way back to their barn, you might be in for a golden surprise!

  • Achievements are only recorded for the "P1" player. So even in a multiplayer match, only P1's shots, lures, drones, and abductions will count towards those totals, for example.

  • Most achievements only unlock at the end of a game, so if you quit early, you won't get credit!

  • If an opponent steals a cow from you in Survival Mode, your remaining time will not decrease. This means you don't have to worry so much about defending your own barn, and can concentrate on stealing from the other players'!

  • Besides the general game time, the different Length settings have an effect on the overall game dynamic. In a Long Game, there's a high chance that all of the cows on the map will be abducted, leading to players being forced to steal from each others' barns!

  • Don't forget that you can adjust the opponent COMs' difficulty on the Options Menu, to make them more or less aggressive. On the Rare difficulty, COMs won't even try to steal cows from your barn, but on Well-Done, they'll shoot you on sight!

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