Page 2 of 4

Kurki Collective 2nd Live meet up summary and my project update

Last weekend I took part in a live meet up with my fellow indie developers from internet community called Kurki Collective. Kurki Collective initiative evolved from a small, yet quite productive group of developers from all around the Poland. Most of them are less known in the main stream gamedev but that’s the whole beauty of it: We stick together, make games, have fun and live our busy lives without an urge of being in the center of everybody’s attention.

That was a second live meet up, last year we met in the Orla Cafe where I showed my first game Unholy Showdown in it’s early stages of development. This year I showed the early version of base building game I am currently making after hours of my day job gamedev. I have to admit that I had to crunch slightly to deliver the core features I wanted to show but I can only say it was worth it. Folks gave me some really useful pieces of advice. Live feedback was so interesting that I have decided to immediately code some of the changes.

TLDR:

This is a version from Friday:

This is a version from Today:

 

In the first movie I got some basic Dune2-like building system, where you first had to lay some floor-tiles to place certain building. Now, as you can see, you will have to place a Light Totem first as buildings can only be placed within it’s light radius (sort of like Starcraft Protos pylons).

Generally  I had been encouraged to play more with the light mechanic. This would be integral with the core story of the game.  The plot is still very blurry and lacks precision but I shall stick to a concept of bringing back the light to formerly lively domain, which is now exploited by evil creatures who feast on it’s light. Very simple, maybe not too deep at the moment but time will show.

As soon as I get the building  system going I want to include some progression system and basic quests to be able to explain Player the plot without cutscenes. Not sure how they will look like but I want them to be meaningful – if a player reaches a level that allows them to learn a skill = find a teacher. Need access to new part of the map? Please the gatekeeper. Etc. As I mentioned before – this is more of a learning experience for me.

So to sum up the planned changes:

  1. Build system:
    • Structures can be placed within light radius only.
    • If the totem is gone they will slowly decay (to be implemented).
    • Structures need light sparks to be build.
    • Some buildings (like defense towers) will require upkeeping cost.
  2. Progression system:I want player avatar to be able to gain experience points to unlock special abilities. Nothing too complex, maybe just some linear skill tree. Just to make the game slightly more interesting and focus it more around the main protagonist.
  3. Quests: Yet again. Nothing too complex. Kill 5 monsters. Bring a package… or maybe I shall come up with something more interesting. I dunno at this point.
  4. Visuals:
    • I will have to learn Blender this time to create some basic 3D models. Right now what you see are just a placeholders. I chose this art style for a reason – this whole bloom and glow is perfect to cover my low modelling skills 🙂
    • Work on camera – I havent decided if I want to make it static or give more control to the player. Time will show.
    • Since the game will strongly be based on light on / light off mechanic I will need to work on some textures and light system. Right now there are no shadows. Just a lot of glow. This will have to change at some point.

 

HQ: We are ready to lift off

This is generally a simple informative post with what’s currently going on in my private, indiedev and dayjob gamedev life. So that you know that this place is alive and I’m also still breathing despite my “noble” age 😛

I’ll try to be brief:

Private life has become stable again as some time ago we finally closed all the logistic issues with my former city of residance. Me and my Fiancee both have a stable employment and we moved to a new small, yet cosy and comfortable flat in Warsaw. Neighbourhood is safe and quiet and basically that is all we need.

My dayjob gamedev things are getting better and better. The project I am in is about to finish it’s prealpha stage and decision making people decided my role will be more System / Technical Designer-like. I will still have to code but I shall not focus on creating tools or optimization but rather brainstorming, talking about and designing game systems as well as roughly implementing them in a prototype sort of code, so that better coders can see them in action. They will probably have to refactor it afterwards but at least we have something to work with. I am the one who asks uncomfortable questions and try to brainstorm with other team members to find the best system solutions. So yeah – a lot of meetings, a lot of talking and later a lot of writing notes and documents and a bit of spread sheets … and after that even more talking to make sure we are all on the same page.

Frankly, I love it 🙂

My indiedev side projects: I guess I start to see a pattern in my behaviour. I pick a topic in a first half of the year which I think will be that BIG ONE. Then I fail or get tired by some weird obstacle and I come up with a new idea and prototype which actually has a chance to work. That was the case with year 2016 when I firstly came up with an idea of “the best rythm game evaaa” which I failed to deliver and ended up with finishing Unholy Showdown. This year is almost the same: I came up with an idea of “the best mobile platformer evaaa! ” then I found out that I am actually a very poor animator and that unfortunately this time my Fiancee cannot help me with drawing. I became frustrated and then I drifted to another idea and prototype … which is actually getting a better traction.

It’s called (for now) “Light Sheppard” and the core game loop is really dead simple:

You pick up lights > you spend them to build structures > structures like turrets can destroy monsters> you pick more lights > you build better structures and create a base > you can destroy bigger monsters and so on and so forth.

Current stage of development is as you can see below. I am aiming at a first playable pre-alpha for the 23rd off June when I am meeting live with my fellow indie developers from Kurki Collective. I’ll get their feedback and iterate as quick as possible to deliver a descent MVP maybe by the end of this year.  I am aiming to publish it using Steam Direct and publish it on Early Access to get feedback from community. I dont necessarily need to earn that much from it.  I dont have any financial expectations from this project. If I manage to deliver this game then this will be yet another personal achievement and a great learning experience. That is all I want… and never wanted anything different. Money can come and go but what I manage to learn and experience, stays with me forever.

Wish me luck!

 

In search of new balance

Changes are always difficult but embracing the fact that changes are inevitable gives you a liberating opportunity to react toward them  in the way you are most comfortable with.

After staying way too long in the corporate world (8 years in support IT)  the first job and city change seemed to be very difficult… but it proved to be the best thing I could make for my life at that point.

The second “professional jump” to new job and new city turned out to be way easier than the first move. I got seasoned by first changes.

The most important thing is to go forward as soon as you make the decision. Dont wait for the counter offer, dont waste time on expressing how much you suffer because organization goals do not align with your personal goals. Just go. They will not miss you and the sooner you forget about the past and focus on building your future the better for you.

As soon as I made the decision that it’s time for me to go (it was in December 2016) I immediatly focused just on things that would get me closer to acheiving the goal. I entered “Terminator mode” as would Michał Marcinkowski form Transhuman Design call it.

Now that I managed to secure the job contract after probation period (at least for now:  embrace the fact that nothing in life is certain and permanent),  I can focus on getting the stability back.

This new situation got me off balance. I must adjust my habbits to gain back my full productivity.

Before February my life was based on certain bricks:

  1. Job which was less and less demanding, but needed to generate certain financial stabilization
  2. personal project and game james (work after work) which helped me improve skills
  3. capoeira to give me a proper dose of physical activity
  4. Family and Relationship time
  5. Sleep and Rest

Due to the fact that huge chunk of time was occupied by point 1 and 2 it was hard for me to put a descent focus on 3,4 and 5.

Now my life looks slightly different:

  1. Job where I grow and learn new things with each and every day
  2. 2 times more of capoeira (now since I live in the city where my Group has a head quarter it would be a sin not to use this opportunity)
  3. Personal projects
  4. Family and relationship time
  5. Sleep and rest

Now since I moved the need to fulfill my curosity and urge to learn new things to working hours, I can spend less time on point 3 and more time on point 4 and 5…

I still have the problem with the last one – getting a proper sleep since I got acustomed to do gamedev long after normal day working hours. I made the decision not to participate in any on site Game Jams so I can focus more on delivering long term projects. I might consider attending online Ludum Dare but we shall see. Short term plans must make way for more long term projects and obligations.

Time to find another center of weight 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

Changes

TL;DR version: I got a job as a Junior C# (Unity) developer in Warsaw. I’m moving out of current city and hopefully my Fiancee joins me soon. It’s going to be tough but I am more than ready.

Fingers crossed!

Pinball Zombie Slasher

After gathering first feedback I’ve decided to make certain design changes:

  1. Game will no longer be about Samurai on Ice.
    Now Samurai will need to run away from Zombies, slashing through anything in his way.
  2. Kill Zombies while performing combos for extra points
  3. Game will have endless procedural generated levels

 

To do:

  • Add a wall blocker certain level distance. The wall will need to be destroyed by bashing through.
  • Add bonuses and pick ups
  • Change rapid break into “launch a super charger” which can be activated after killing certain amount of zombies.

If you with to join open alpha tests then click on THIS LINK

 

New Project: Zombie Slasher on Ice

I’ve decided to redo some of the old game jam games with better gameplay.

For the first round my choice is the Game which I made together with my Fiancee during HUUUGE Game Jam in December 2016.

More about the original game jam project in the postmortem HERE

My choice was to make it an mobile arcade game based on wacky physics, lot of screen shake nad explosions.

You swipe on screen to “throw” the Samurai and give him momentum and tap to make him stop. The challenge here is that since the stop is kind of radical it overheats your player sandals. You cannot stop again if the sandals are not cold enough. If samurai is moving he is automatically attacking the zombies. Zombies can only hurt the player if he is not moving. Zombies also leave a poison toxic pond after their death which deals a small damage if player touches it.

So far it looks like this:

GameDev Resolutions?

Since I’m a bit of self-improvement geek I do make new years resolutions as well as the others. On the contrary to most of the people, I tend to treat this seriously (fortunately not dead seriously) and I at least try to approach this process in more structural way. Somehow I managed to complete major milestones last year with new method (i.e. drop weight, publish a game, become debt free) so I guess I’ll continue the process this year as well.

I won’t bother you with my private life resolusions but let’s focus on the ones related with Game Development:

  1. Make a full game with better gameplay.
  2. Improve OOP C# coding in Unity +, learn more about shaders, 3D games in general, networking, maths and algorithms
  3. Improve game theory skills
  4. Learn more about game economy
  5. Redo old Game Jam games to see if I could make the old concepts in a better way

As you can see all those goals are related with one another. This raises the chance of clearing out the list.

Fingers crossed 🙂

 

 

“Post” Postmortem of Unholy Showdown

Preface

Colleague of mine who works with me in my current workplace as a Lead Designer noticed one thing missing in my Postmortem of Unholy Showdown – I need more analytical approach to design issues.

I’ll try to cover this topic in following post.

Issues Identified:

Here is the list of major issues that I managed to identify with testers at various stages of development:

Unclear gameplay

Most of the testers played the game as a single player even though my primary design decision was to base the game on local multiplayer. This caused confusion and unclear feedback the game gave to players on many stages. The solution was either to redesign the game to single player only or implement an online turn based multiplayer. The problem here again was with getting the feedback too late. I consider this as the worst design “sin” of mine.

No time pressure

Paper / Rock / Scissors is based on time pressure and simultaneous players decisions. This game is turned based but each player can take as long as they want to make the choice and then pass the phone to another player. This made the gameplay simply boring. Again, it was too late to make a change with the resources and time I had to finish the project.

Solution?

  • add a timer to each player rounds
  • redesign the game so players must make up their mind in the same time

No random or “Cheat” factor

The beauty of Paper / Rock / Scissors game is the art of bluff. The game was not giving that psychological super power of allowing players to “fake” their moves. This could give interesting results combined with the time pressure factor.

Solution?

  • hide buttons during time pressured rounds while players make choices in the same time.

Conclusion

This was a great learning experience. I leveled up my technical skill but I must focus more on the design aspects during my next game making process and get feedback sooner. At some point I ventured into sort of a dead end, call it “the point of no return”. I strongly encourage anyone with gamedev aspiration to do such a task as well. The next project will be definitely better and more solid design-wise.

[EDIT Comment by Michał Rudziński]

“I would point out some other problems, from a pure design standpoint. I didn’t mentioned it before, because you said that Gameplay isn’t subject to change, and to be honest rock paper scissors in it’s simplest form (contrary to systems used in some RTS games where units follow rps philosophy) is deeply flawed even in it’s real time version, even so called psychological meta game is only a illusion built on randomness without any real choice or strategy”

Unholy Showdown Postmortem is ready

Always the most important part for me in all projects are the post mortems – lessons I took, mistakes I must avoid, etc.

Please read the Unholy Showdown Postmortem available HERE

 

Here’s the current state of game.

 

Available on Google Play HERE

Houston. We’re live and good to go.

 

So yeah… I’ve done it. Not perfect but at least it’s finished 🙂

You can get it here: http://bit.ly/unholy_showdown

« Older posts Newer posts »