I’ve Made My Decision

Well, I’ve given myself a month break off from Dungeons & Zombies!!! and I’ve decided to put the game on hold. Not cancelled (maybe). Really, when I say this I just mean game development in general is a hobby I don’t have much time or interest for anymore.

Will it be worked on from time-to-time? Maybe, if I feel like it (I’m not ruling that out). I’ve been experimenting with other ideas that I like just as good or better, so if I do finish a game, I’ll let you guys know! Really, I prefer screwing around with ideas to finishing them.

I also just prefer making games instead of marketing them, and marketing them takes time and interest away from making them! Time is something I don’t have much of anymore, like I said. I had lots of that wonderful stuff over the summer, but not anymore. In the future, I’ll at least wait till I find the fun to start the marketing (and there’s another reason – I was starting to get fed up with Dungeons & Zombies!!! not being fun for so long). It didn’t help, of course, that there was little interest in the game to begin with, so I didn’t have much motivation.

See you guys later (when I’m near-finished making a game)! Sorry about that, but I had to do what I had to do.

Game Update – October 26th, 2014

Untitled2

Well, here I am for the once-a-month-ish game update, and I have to say that I’m in a bit of a rut right now. Progress on the game is slow (I’m not going to mention the changes because they’re all very miniscule, and not exciting). I’m busy and dissatisfied with the work so far, and frankly, bored. After all these months of work, the game isn’t even close to playable or fun. On top of all this, my free-time is minimal now, with work in the way. This brings me to a tough decision. Do I keep going, or not?

I’m glad I asked my buddies at the Engine 001 forums for advice because I might have jumped the gun a bit if I hadn’t. I let out all my thoughts, frustrations and hopes to them and they suggested I take a break for a month and come back to it to see if it’s worth it. Great idea, I decided. And so that is how it will be. For the most part, you won’t hear from me for a good month or so, and after the break is said and done, I’ll analyze everything and decide the game’s fate. For now, I’m better off stepping away from it, prototyping other ideas, etc.

Thanks for your continued support and feedback.

Indie Interview – Junkcraft Armada

Punching your way through

I love space sims like Elite, but Junkcraft Armada seems to be doing something unique with it, adding complexity and roleplaying to the genre that was only just touched on in games that came before it. Obviously, I wanted to talk to the creator and hear his insights.

Q: Do you mind introducing yourself, MysticRiver?

A: I am a single developer doing everything, from business to development. I want to see how much a single person can do and how far I can get.

Q: What is Junkcraft Armada, in a nutshell?

A: It is a physics-driven rogue type game about space exploration, fighting, trading and building. You build your ship as you travel, and you build your crew. It has been in development for about a year now and I’m looking to publish it in Steam Early Access once I have a larger part of the game working. At this moment there are a lot of basic things to finish before that so I may be able to start the Early Access early next year.

Q: Does it have any clear (or not!) inspirations?

A: Lots! When I was a child I played Sundog Frozen Legacy and that really amazed me. As well, there’s Elite, Starflight, Alternate Reality and the recent Mass Effect , FTL, Dwarf Fortress, SPAZ, Captain Forever, etc. plus many other games and also movies like Star Trek and also NASA and technology news. I wanted to make a game like this in the 80’s but I didn’t have all the tools at that time. I tried to make a game at that time but I couldn’t finish it, ran out of memory and couldn’t add all the assets/things I wanted, but now technology has evolved and I don’t have much of those limits now so I can really make what I wanted at that time plus more.

Q: You have some very interesting ideas at play here, like the oxygen and temperature systems, unique crew members, etc. Do you mind explaining these quickly? Are you going for emergent play and different adventures every time with these sorts of things? Do you have any other systems to accommodate this?

A: Many games try to make things super simple but I am going a little bit in the opposite direction, I want to make it hard to survive in space, so logically temperature, oxygen and other resources are important. Players will sometimes have no place to stop and gather more resources since you may be in the middle of nowhere, so planning is very important.

About crew members, I am now adding the injury/disease system so it will be more detailed than just healing someone and everything will be fine. Crew members can loose limbs, organs, get permanent disabilities and other things, but if you are able for example to buy a bio-printer you may be able to print a missing arm or damaged organs, so that is part of the sick-bay module I am modeling now. In a few weeks I will share more on diseases but basically this will allow crew members to get infected if they are not using space-suits when going to some places, so decontamination units may come to the game pretty soon, otherwise all crew members may get infected and die. Also, bio-weapons will be available but banned in most star systems. This will force the player to make hard decisions and see each crew member differently not just like a pawn in chess where all the pawns look the same. Also I don’t think having a large number of crew members will really help. I want the ship to be limited to about 10 to 15 crew members so the player can easily get attached to them – having too many will make it difficult to the player to get attached to any since you can easily replace them by using another one from the pool.

About the adventure, there is a main story arc to the game but how the player reachs the end will be very different from play-to-play depending on the play-style. Your main ship is comprised of modules and you can add a limited number of modules so the player will have to carefully decide what to add to the ship. Also, each module has space for different systems and space is limited. For example, the warp generator module has space for different sub-systems enhancements. Some may decrease the warp charge time, yet others will enhance the speed you can warp but the player will have to decide what to add. There will be a lot of trade-offs to think about.

As well, I am adding several random events with consequences over the play session. One example can be a distress signal from a merchant ship – if you save that ship the crew members of that ship will remember you, and if you’re lucky you may encounter them again and they may even help you many months later in another quest or you may encounter them many times for different quests. Even the bad guys that escaped will remember you so future events will move around those memories, so each crew member from either side has some meaningful memory that will affect future outcomes of the gameplay. The player may also not encounter those people again but that’s how life works isn’t it?

Q: It started with a two-week challenge and you expanded it from there. Why the challenge? Why did you keep going with it afterwards?

Ship temperature

A: I was working on one game for quite a long time and I felt a little bit tired of it, so I was looking to sit down and refresh my mind somehow and utilize all the new knowledge I got from that project. I saw Double Fine studios had these Amnesia Fortnight event so they can get new ideas for games with prototypes during a short period, and I decided that I will have my own to keep a fresh look and use what I have learned in the past few years. So my challenge was simple: do something new in two weeks and see how it goes. The first thing that came to my mind was the game that I couldn’t finish in the 80’s, and I felt maybe this is the time and I felt that this had a good future.

This game has been in my mind for many years but never got to the point where I could make it. I wanted to see many remakes of those old games but for some it is not happening so I decided that it is time now to make them the way I wanted to play them at that time with current technology. I am not so sure if many people like me are wondering about those games but even if there aren’t many I will still make it. That’s what indie development is about – making things that you want.

Q: Have you learned anything making games during the development of this game?

A: Lots of things, like time management and trying to simplify things to be re-usable in many places. I think making a game this large requires a lot of iterations and the previous two games I wrote since I started gave me the tools and experience I was lacking. I feel pretty confident about this game now and I’m looking forward to having an alpha release and get feedback. I really would like to know what people think about it. I do not have much time to spend on marketing or other business activities as I am focusing on development now so I just hope people enjoy my game and use word of mouth to help me.

As well, I limited my resources until recently to fit my game into the Xbox 360 memory and cores, but I found that I couldn’t add more content to it with the limited memory I had on the console and still run at 60 FPS, so I had to make a hard decision – either have about half of the game in Xbox 360 or have what I wanted leaving the Xbox 360 version behind. Without thinking too much about it I decided to move forward and release on PC only. This game is becoming what I envisioned and I don’t want to make any cuts to it, so a medium PC should be able to run it if you have at least 1GB memory and a 256MB graphic card at least with at least 2 cores. With Xbox I had less than 400 MB to fit everything and it started to get tight. I may be able to optimize it later for the Xbox 360 if the time allows.

Q: Do you have any funny stories of your adventures in Junkcraft Armada?

A: Funny stories? I have lots, but one that recently made me laugh a lot was a sprite issue that happened by mistake. I was testing my crew members fighting against robots and then one of my crew members dies and the sprite I saw was a crew member cut in half, the top half of the body in one side and the bottom side on the other. The first thing I thought was “wow, that was a massacre!” I didn’t want to see my crew members cut in half , but that was funny. Later in the day I fixed the issue and now it is showing properly.

Initially I was against warp engines. Simply said I wanted the trip from one system to another to take months/years, but I ended up with a bigger issue – it required me to travel 12000 years if I wanted to go from one side of the universe to the other, so I added wormholes. Still, I had to travel for so many years that it didn’t make sense, so I either had to add cryogenic/stasis pods for those long trips or add warp engines. Technology is evolving exponentially so if I let a ship to travel for 100 years by the time I reach the other side the universe will be totally different from technology point of view, so I had to compress the time to a more believable era, so after two weeks of trying any rational approach I gave up and added warp engines to compensate. The main story arc of the game is time-bound so this was the only solution I could really consider.

This game started as a simple 2D space game. You build your ship with modules obtained from the enemies you defeat, so basically from junk left from other ships. After many weeks trying to find a name for the game, I decided that junk+spacecraft equals Junkcraft and I later decided that I want to have crew and added the Armada part, so basically it was just a ship made of junk but the game evolved into more after that.

Q: Do you have any parting thoughts? Thanks!

A: Thanks for your interest in this game. It is taking a lot of effort to make and I hope lots of people will play it. I am publishing as many pictures as I can about the development of the game and how it evolves. I do not have the luxury of time and resources to let people know about this game when it is finished so I like to share as much as I can as I go with it. If I get any input from people I take it and see how I can make Junkcraft Armada better.

IndieDB page: http://www.indiedb.com/games/junkcraft-armada

Dev blog: http://mysticrivergames.blogspot.ca/

Laser beams added to the game

Indie Interview – Survivalist

Survivalist PC Version Screenshots

Well, I seem to like zombie survival RPGs a lot. Heck, I’m making one. Anyway, today I talked with the creator of Survivalist, and it was an interesting talk with an interesting guy. The game’s taking an interesting approach to combining open-world gameplay and story. Check it out!

Q: Do you mind introducing yourself, bob_the_pr_bot?

A: Bob the PR Bot was originally a highly advanced AI developed by the NSA to spy on Europeans.  Sadly, Bob the PR Bot’s contract with the NSA was terminated abruptly after that bastard Edward Snowden revealed what they were up to.  Now Bob the PR Bot works for the private sector, advertising video games.

Q: Interesting…? What is Survivalist, in a nutshell?

A: Survivalist is a story-driven RPG/RTS set in the zombie apocalypse, about a wealthy asshole named Joe Wheeler who emerges from his bunker looking for food. You have to find other survivors, gain their respect, get them to join you and build a community.  Once they’ve joined you, you can play as them. Different characters have different abilities and personalities. The aim was to combine storytelling and characters with open-world gameplay and choices as much as possible.

Q: How have reviews been so far? Any feedback you’ve gotten and learned from?

A:  Reviews have been good: 5/5 at theindiemine.com, 4.5/5 at indiegamereviewer.com, top 10 in thexblig.com leaderboard.  I’ve had a lot of feedback which has been very helpful, in allowing me to fix bugs and provide more explanation for things that were confusing.

The biggest things were:
– Don’t use small fonts in a console game!
– A lot of people found the mechanic where you have to keep getting insulin for Alice quite taxing.  I responded by making the insulin cheaper, and last longer, so it’s easier – but I didn’t want to change it too much as it’s one of the main themes of the game.
– Apparently, lots of people would like a version of the game that has multiplayer, melee weapons and vehicles.

Q: Is there any features in particular that you hope will help the game stand out?

A: What I like most about my favourite games is when you have the combination of story, action, and long-term strategy all working together and I hope that’s where Survivalist stands out.

There are some more specific features that people have commented on as being quite unique:
– The zombies are fast and leap at you like animals instead of shambling towards you, so the combat has a different feel to most zombie games.
– The game has two viewports – a main window with a top-down third-person perspective and a smaller window in the top-right and shows your character’s face, or the face of whoever you are talking to, or various other things depending on context.  It makes it easier to tell the characters apart and shows their personality.
– The dialogue system is quite unusual – when you face a character you get a list of speech options that you can cycle through with the d-pad or mouse-wheel, but you can walk away from it at any time, even during conversation.  There isn’t a “conversation mode” as there is in most games that feature dialogue choices.
– Characters have memories of the things you’ve done – e.g. if you’ve done a quest for them, given them a gift, or mugged them.  These memories are added together to form two metrics: Approval and Respect.  Approval means they like you, Respect means they know you mean business.  If someone respects you but doesn’t approve of you, that means they’re afraid of of you – conversely if they approve of you but don’t respect you that means they pity you.

More Survivalist Screenies

Q: Do you have any interesting or amusing stories involving the game’s development?

A: When I started the game I was going to call it “Zombie Apocalypse” but had to change it because another game was released with that name.  I originally intended to make the agent of zombie infection a fungus, after watching the zombie ants video that went viral way back when – a bit later a little game called The Last of Us was announced and I decided not to do that. Much later during development I played Telltale’s The Walking Dead and there’s a story in there about getting insulin for someone with diabetes, and I thought fuck it, I’m not changing anything. Later still I found out about a game called State of Decay, which was an open-world game about building a community of survivors in the zombie apocalypse.  Oh, and another one called Project Zomboid, and another called Dead State…  The moral of the story is, don’t make a zombie game!

Q: I know the feeling. I’m making one. What in your mind is the most important thing you need to make a great game?

A: Money!  Actually no… a computer!  No, wait, it’s probably talent.  A team of talented and hard-working individuals.  Who need to be paid with money… yeah, it is money after all isn’t it?

Q: On a quick side-note, any good games you’re playing right now?

A: I’m between games at the moment, waiting for Dragon Age: Inquisition.  The most recent game I played was The Last of Us: Remastered, which was brilliant of course, one of the best games ever made in my opinion.  Having the option to use stealth in most of the combat, for me really improved it over Uncharted, which tends to degenerate into a linear shoot-fest.  And if you turn the difficulty up as high as it’ll go it makes it very tense hiding behind a wall listening to bandits or infected wander past and trying to figure out your next move.

Q: Do you have any parting thoughts? Thanks so much for your time!

A: My cat’s name is Mittens.

IndieDB Link: http://www.indiedb.com/games/survivalist

Another batch of screenshots!

Game Update – October 5th, 2014

paused

Well, after last month sucking, and the surgery before that I had for a hernia and wisdom teeth removal, I am finally back in the game, quite literally.

It turns out the engine (Engine 001) I’m using and the new Dell computer I have aren’t exactly buddies. This is as far as me and Mike, the creator of the engine, could figure out. Unfortunately there isn’t much I can do there though, and this is a workaround. To fix that issue I mentioned last time, I simply had to disable the new lighting system and use the engine’s old one. No big loss there that I’ve seen. In fact, I can’t tell the difference, so that can be considered fixed.

I don’t know if I’m an idiot and didn’t notice before or if this computer handles the game even worse, because the performance was awful when I testing the game a couple weeks ago… like 5 FPS awful in some cases. It isn’t exactly a graphically-intense game, and I of course want it to work on as many (Windows – Engine 001 doesn’t yet support Linux or Mac) computers as possible. This led me to spending some time splitting the world map up into five parts. From a gameplay standpoint, the original single, huge map was pretty cool, but terribly running. From my standpoint, it performs better this new way and is easier to work on. I can also put more things in the maps without worrying so much about frame rate.

I’ve also started work on the magic system (of which there will be more than spells for combat), but I don’t have much to show since it’s basically a prototype for a single spell – Fire Missile, which is very much what it sounds like. You learn spells from reading scrolls, and of course you have to watch your MP. I can’t decide whether I want the MP to regenerate over time, how fast if it does, or if you need to carry some potions around. I’ll let you know when I decide.

I did tinker with the general combat system a bit, and the results are hilariously flawed, and will need more tinkering. Basically, combat didn’t have any weight to it before. You smacked your enemy and they stood as stiff as a board with their health tickering down. That isn’t any fun. Now you smack your enemy and they go flying literally miles away like they’re sliding on ice. Like I said, it needs more tinker.

On top of all this, I’ve done a few fixes to old scripts that didn’t work and worked on some other systems (of which they’re so insignificant I might as well not waste your time rambling about them). A lot of it was simply getting back the work I did that didn’t get backed up. It’s been decently productive, but I don’t have much time anymore for the game so don’t expect it any time soon. Thanks for your continued support and interest, and feedback is of course encouraged!

Game Update – September 14th, 2014

Oh boy, what a month-ish.

-So like you might have heard me say, IndieGraph (the indie games blog I wrote and worked for) recently fell apart. There goes my last ties to the site. It was dying anyway, but I’m sad to see it go. I guess it was hacked.

-Not long after that, my cat got shaved. Doom and gloom. Poor thing’s so skinny now, but she was so knotted up, it really had to be done. Why does that matter? It doesn’t really, but what happened after did.

-When I got back from the vet, I went on to enjoy some League of Legends, and halfway through my computer crashed. Like, just froze up, died and restarted. When it came on, it gave a message telling me my hard drive crapped out. After some investigation, it didn’t seem like a particularly easy fix, especially after seeing that none of the files on it were readable, so I ditched it and ordered a new one off of Dell Canada.

NOTE: I had my game backed-up on USBs. I’m not that nooby!

-The new computer was a good deal, with the price, graphics card (well, it’s integrated, but it’s a lot better than my old Windows 7 one!) and everything being great. Only downside was it came with Windows 8.1. Anyways, it took a couple weeks to arrive, and I then got all my old Steam stuff and whatever loaded on again. Back to game development again? Not quite!

-High school was once again back in and things were super busy, and I didn’t have the time to play around with my new computer much after that, and…

-When I finally did get to mess around with my new computer more, I soon found out that A: my Twitter account was hacked and I had to fix that, and B: Windows 8.1 and my game I’m developing don’t mix well together I guess…:

(Compare the screenshot below to the other screenshots I have posted – this doesn’t look right!)

Untitled

So, what does all this mean for the game? Well, I have to sort this issue out first, and then find some time to work on it. So, in other words, progress has slowed down quite a bit, and all this homework isn’t helping. Thanks again for your interest and support.

Indie Interviews – Roguelands

ITEMS !

My goodness, what a few weeks. Ah well, IndieGraph (an indie games blog I wrote and once edited for) finally ended its run after getting hacked and basically temporarily shut down, and if you want to hear from the headman himself, here’s a great post from him that sums up our story. In any case, when it was closed, one interview never got finished and posted. It didn’t feel right to leave him hanging, and I thus had no choice but to post it here to fulfill said obligation and show this great game to the world. This inspired me. This blog needs more content, besides boring ol’ me rambling, so I decided to do this once or twice a month (depending on how I’m feeling), kind of like a recurring segment.

So without further ado, here I talk to SmashGames about his survival multiplayer platformer, Roguelands. It may be a bit out-of-date by now. Feedback, as always, is encouraged.

Q: Do you mind introducing yourself, SmashGames? Are you a team or one person?

A: My name is Sean Young, and I’m a senior at the University of Central Florida studying Computer Science. I founded SmashGames in January of this year, and so far it has been just me making games. I started out in the mobile scene with about 10 games but then decided to move to PC.

My very first PC game Magicite ended up being pretty successful after getting on Steam, so I definitely want to stick with PC for awhile and see what I can do better as a game designer and developer. 

Q: What is Roguelands, in a nutshell? Is it well known what the disaster is, or is that up to interpretation?

A: Roguelands has only been in development for about three weeks now (POSTER’S NOTE: This is out of date now since this interview was done weeks ago anyway), so nothing is really set in stone. What I do know is that it will be a multiplayer RPG that is highly influenced by DayZ and Fallout.

Players will be able to create a game or join another one from a lobby, making things much easier to play with friends instead of the need for port-forwarding. The world will be procedurally generated with cities, farmlands, underground sewers, and much more! Players can then explore this world and try to survive by finding gear and loot, all while watching out for monsters and other players.

Roguelands should be on Steam Early Access hopefully in 3 to 4 months. It will most likely be $9.99 for PC, MAC, and LINUX!

Q: There’s some obvious DayZ-esque inspirations here, but is there any others? What are you planning on standing out with?

A: I’ve kind of become obsessed with DayZ recently, because it is so much more than just a zombie survival game. It isn’t flashy, is has an insane amount of bugs, and it is a hassle to find your friends and play with them. So why is it amazing? Because no other game has made me feel more stressed out or nervous when I see another player, and no other game has provided me with the same amount of satisfaction upon getting a kill. Any wrong move could be the end of you. I really wanted to capture that post apocalyptic setting with players not knowing if they could trust each other. I’m also a big fan of Fallout 3, and would like to implement some of the RPG elements into Roguelands!

Vehicle

Q: How is Unity to work with? Any strengths and weaknesses that stick out at
you about the engine?

A: Unity is the only game engine I’ve worked with (aside from RPG Maker a long time ago) and it has been just amazing. There are so many tutorials online for everything and the community is very active. Since I haven’t tried any of the other big game engines I guess I can’t really provide comparisons. I don’t see myself changing engines anytime soon.

Q: How is coding the multiplayer aspect? Any problems? How do you plan to deal with hacking, cheating, etc.?

A: For Magicite, multiplayer made things really difficult. But now I have a lot more knowledge of how network coding works so things should be a lot smoother. Also, I’m using Photon for Roguelands so players will have an easy time finding a game in a lobby. As for cheating and stuff, I’ve got a few ideas for handling all of that but there definitely will be many testing phases before the official launch to prevent cheating as much as possible. 

Q: Just quickly switching gears, what other games have you made, or are down the pipeline (that you’d like to point out)?

A: My very first game was a mobile infinite runner called Backyard Zombies. It kinda sucks but I think it is okay for a first game. Then I continued to make a few crappy mobile games, and eventually created a cool lane defense game called Pixel Kingdom. That actually had a Kickstarter campaign and raised over $5000! After that is when I moved to PC and made
Magicite, which has been way more successful than all of my other games. I hope everyone loves Roguelands even more!

Q: Do you have any parting thoughts? Thanks!  

A: Thanks for having an interest in Roguelands. I will definitely keep the community updated on how the game is coming along with new pictures, gifs, and info!