Been a while since I last updated the Dev Blog. I've been meaning to write something about something for a couple weeks now and just haven't had the heart to do it. I don't know how long form my thoughts are gonna be in this post. Actually, yea, I'm just gonna do a couple quick paragraphs off the cuff about the stuff that's been happening.
BISC is in a bit of a time out. I really like BISC, and I like the direction it's going, but I need to take a little time away to work on something smaller and different. I still fully intend to finish and release BISC at some point in the next couple years, but I have no idea when that'll be.
I'm working on Diet Ball as pieces fall into place, but really it's not a priority at this point. I'm not entirely sure how far that one's going to get. I wouldn't really be surprised if it ends up just being an abandoned prototype.
I've recently returned home to work at a local health corporation, leaving school and it's ample free time behind. Working a rigid 9-5 schedule leaves me with less free time to work on my games, and pairing that with needing to study to update my certifications means the next month or so is going to be slow working.
The newest prototype I've been working on is called the TeleProject. I'm not sure yet which of these prototypes I want to take into a full game, but I'm really enjoying the energy I've been getting from the TeleProject. I don't really have a lot of specifics on it yet, but it's explained most easily as TeleDodge with an expanded world and different enemy force.
I'm awful at keeping regular updates. I tweet in binges, sometimes brought on by frustration, other times brought on by excitement. I update this devblog in much the same way, chances are if I'm writing here, I'm either high on life, or in the depth of meh.
Now that I've dumped that on you, I get to pull a switcheroo and tell you that today isn't one of those days. The main reason I'm writing today is more to gush about a massive change to BISC.
BISC was, until this last week, largely a runner game. I mean, I feel like it's more than that, that it was a runner with a story and character and so on, but in the end it really is essentially a runner with some story bits. This last week I came to a realization, the realization that it's boring as all hell to constantly scroll up, especially when the gameplay is simple and not particularly difficult. While it was fine for the first couple hours, it gets old quickly and provides basically zero replay value. So instead of accepting that BISC was doomed to be an especially mediocre title, even when compared to my previous library of mediocre works, I decided to entirely redo the way that players will interact and experience BISC's world. So, now BISC has a shiny new gameplay style, which'll reinforce the more reflective tone and allow for a new emphasis on exploration and allows for a slower paced playthrough, one that's more focused on making an engaging and coherent world.
For a visual reference, the older gameplay is on the top, and the new is on the bottom.
No more are the simple, infinite runner inspired gameplay loops. They've been traded in for arena exploration, which expands the time needed to finish BISC, but I feel that the time will be well spent on making a game that's more engaging and replayable.
That's kinda all I had to say, but before I go, I wanted to plug a game made by a small developer, based in Manhattan, called Malevolent Machines. It's a little runner about a steampunk lady and her robot smashing all sorts of baddies, and does some interesting stuff with incorporating some fun twists into the standard jump/slide runner gameplay and also features a goddamn Giant Robotic Skeleton. . . so that's a thing. In any case, it's available on both iOS and Android for $ 1.99(as of writing this) and I've thoroughly enjoyed it.
Thanks for reading,
Kelly Chambers in #1 Waifu
These last couple of weeks have been frustrating, but also have prompted some real introspection. I've had the issue that people like the idea of a dog sledding game, but me trying to explain it just loses the person. BISC isn't made to be an upbeat happy go lucky romp through the snow with a bunch of puppies. It's more a trudge north after a tragedy has befallen the player character and their country. The game I'm making right now isn't the happy game where you just go out dog-sledding and it's all great and no one gets hurt. I'm making a game that aims to place the player in a world of people who have hurt and been hurt, who're mostly at the end of their lives, living in seclusion, people with nothing left but to look back and think of what could have been. The player is pursued the whole while by a pack of strait up murderers. Along the way the player will encounter all sorts of characters, some innocent and decent, others less so. A lot of normal people have interest in a sanitary dog-sledding game for their kids, and that's not what BISC is right now, and it likely won't ever be that.
Death overall is a thing that seems to be glossed over. I'm aware I'm not exactly fresh in observing that most people pretend it doesn't exist, but I'd argue that it's equally bad to exalt deaths we're forced to accept. Movies where the hero dies, they go out in a blaze of glory, or defending someone they love. Few depict death the way it almost always happens. Pointlessly. People rarely die at the climax of their lives, and I think on some level that's what BISC is about. The denouement of the game's own world, it's a game taking place after all the riots are over, after all the revolutionaries are dead or in hiding, after the dark forces influencing charismatic leaders have won, but this story isn't about overthrowing anyone, or even surviving. It's about trying to run, and ultimately being surrounded by the world.
Anyway, work is always happening, so if you're interested in checking out the changelog for the last few weeks, take a look right here(Google Doc).
I've no idea what BISC will become by the end, and there's still a chance that I'll be working on secondary version for a local health corporation, but right now no one's paying me, so I'm making the game I want to make.
Someone once called me handsome, once.
So, once again, the last couple weeks have been something of a journey. First, and most impactful, we had a couple opportunities for funding come up. I don't know exactly how much is kosher to share on the still pending opportunity, but the other was the Best in the West small business competition which was put on by Bethel Community Services. I didn't hear about it till the last minute, but managed to through together an official business plan. In the days following my submission, I was told that round one eliminations were just to eliminate those that had no promise or no interested parties, and that my idea was interesting and promising enough that I would make it through just fine. Long story short, I was eliminated in the first round.
I'm trying to be salty over it, but I am disappointed. I'd have thought at least someone would have got my vision for bringing remote Alaska into a new art form, but I guess none did.
In other news, there's some new gameplay modes, namely a small hunting system, to allow players to hunt for their food while in forests. I've also rewritten the entire system used to handle cabin inhabitants, which allows for simple conversations between the player and the odd inhabitants of of the northern trails.
There was also this little holiday called Valentines Day. It's true, Valentines Day is, like every holiday, a gigantic orgy of capitolism and marketing selling you garbage that you don't really want, but it's also the one time a year that people open up and are ok with other people being total saps. It's great, I love it, no one can pull me back from this ledge, cause Valentines Day is great.
We've also had a meeting about music, and it's led me to needing to think more about the look and feel of BISC. It's led me to taking a couple days of reworking some of the prototype art to feel a little more grimy and lived in, which includes removing the happy go lucky puppy from the menu, and replacing it with a lonely cabin.
In any case, BISC is moving along, and it's gonna be great. Or at least OK.
the Mr. Pink of Indie Developers
These last two weeks have been really good. I managed to make a ton of progress on the back-end, as well as on the graphical side. The biggest addition is the ability to switch dogs on your team, each of which has it's own sprite set, speed, agility, and leadership stat.
On the visual level, I've finally worked out a quick and scale-able solution to visually representing the dogs while running. Here's a quick demonstration
First, the un-textured animation
... and then with the specialized overlays.
Using the overlays, I can give each dog it's own specific coat, and still have the freedom to modify the dog's animations if I so choose.
I've also been putting a lot of work into making the game a little more user friendly and playable. One of the most frustrating was creating multiple screens for Cabins. After a stupid amount of work, I finally got it functioning like this...
So that's a thing that I got working. I also worked on a ton more stuff that's less visual or generally more boring, if you're curious about that you can look at this link, which'll take you to the exported change-log for the last lump of days.
This next week or so I'll be focusing on bolstering the cabins even more, adding in new dog interactions, adding more dogs, expanding the cabin inhabitant's interactions, and adding in more biomes.
not very good in big groups
During the winter break, I did my absolute best to work on BISC as much as possible, and I think I did pretty well. I managed to add a bunch of garbage to the game.
I fixed a bunch of issues with spawning obstacles and pickups, added a bunch of new random encounters, expanded the cabin system to allow for multiple screens, expanded the mechanical capabilities of random encounters, added a simple biome system, added mechanical implications of dog happiness, and like a whole ton more stuff.
Today's post isn't gonna be long, I really just wanted to keep up to date on what's up with BISC's development, so I'm attaching this last week's change-log right here (it's on Google Docs)
I do want to take moment to try and toss a little support to another member of Gamedev Twitter, Aur (@snoutup), who's trying his best to get a second game, Toaster Jam, onto steam. It's a great game and he's a talented guy and deserves your vote/follow. Check it out here.
Finally crashed back down to earth
Developing games is hard. Developing them largely alone is really hard. Sometimes things don't exactly work out as planned. The plan was, once upon a time, to finish SiC and then work on something more marketable, something that'd be interesting to normal people as wells as established gamers. Though after SiC failed to gain any traction, I've needed to take things in a different direction. I don't yet know if BISC will be at all interesting to non-gamers, all I know is that it's what I want to build, and at this point as an essentially solo developer I think that's what's most important.
SO! BISC is what we're working on right now (by we're I really mean I'm)! BISC stands for Bro, It's Supes Cold and is also the name of a prototype that I'd worked on long ago, before I'd even started on Monotaur. Originally, BISC was a cold focused ripoff of Don't Starve, but I wasn't anywhere near good enough to do something that complicated back then, not to mention it was too late for a little guy to get on the survival crafting train, even back then. Now I'm working on a radically different BISC, only having cold weather in common. Now-a-days, BISC is a little different; Running from a United States that elected the populist, borderline fascist President Kline Hande. There's a fabled escape far to the north, but no one knows exactly what sort of escape it is. Braving the cold, you must set out with your trusty dog-sled team to escape the ever expanding clutches of President Hande.
Anyway, the exact details of the moment to moment gameplay is still being nailed down, but I do plan to run a small beta in the next couple of months( CodeGod willing)
So! That's what I'm working on! Fingers crossed y'all will be able to take a crack at it sooner than later.
It's a wonder I walk, with my foot perpetually in my mouth.
This should be a short post, it's really more of a general update on the states of things than anything else, but there have been some odd changes as of late, so this may be worth a read.
First of all, the next game is done! It's a small 2D slash-em-up game heavily inspired by the Evil Dead and other splatter films. Right now we're still receiving and implementing art, so it won't be available until early December at the soonest. We still haven't decided 100% on a name, but rest assured once we do we'll be spamming it everywhere.
Having completed almost all the code for the hack&slash game so quickly, I decided to start work on a few more prototypes for a bunch of different games. In the end, I've effectively axed all of them for now, save for a weird west themed hardcore roguelike centering around a wild west world populated with skeletons. I've been working on the prototype for just under a week now and have already implemented a number of the most basic systems that're needed for an RPG. I don't know when this one will be done, or what it will be by the end, but I'm very excited to take a chance on constructing a living and weird world for players to explore.
In other news, SiC was a huge flop. As of writing this, tomorrow will be exactly a month since SiC was released. Of the people who played it, most seemed to enjoy it, and a tweet from ItchIo was helpful in getting a small second wind of views and downloads, but in the end SiC's store page has been viewed only 413 times and downloaded exactly 80 times. I've done a lot of reflecting in the last month about the scale of SiC and have come to the conclusion that it can't matter. I'm not a businessman, I'm not making games to turn a profit, I'm here to express myself and create experiences for others to enjoy. It's a disappointment when you spend so long working on something, just to have very few people play it, but in the end I didn't necessarily make it for everyone else, I made it for me. So that's what I'm gonna keep doing. I'm gonna make games that appeal to me and that I think are fun or interesting, and if there's a market for them, then great, if not, then fuck-it.
Anyway, if you want to help support us making these games, I've got a patreon you're welcome to contribute to, or, ya know, just check out our games.
Welcoming everyone, once again, to the Inevitable after
It's been over a month since the last blog update, and what a busy damn month it's been. We've managed to finish and release SiC, produce a patch, and start on our next game. Today I just wanted to take a quick second to get out some thoughts and comments on where things are and where they're going.
Fist off, SiC's release. If I had to describe the release in one word, I'd probably use 'Quiet'. Thankfully I have as many words as I like.
Any indies that aren't established in the industry already know that the biggest issue with growing as an indie nowdays is exposure. All the tools that make game development easier and more accessible also bring in more and more people. Now, I really don't think this is bad, I think more people making more games helps spread ideas and grow the community, which are good things. Though it does mean that it's very hard to get anyone to pay attention to your game, especially if you don't have incredible graphics or some inherently sell-able gimmick. SiC Had neither of these. After a few artists fell through, I did the graphics myself, and the game-play is a pretty standard old school shooter.
I thought if I could just get people to try it, if they'd just play it or see it played, people would see that it was worth their time and at least download it, if not play it. After emailing over 50 YouTuber's of most every size, I only got one response and did not get a single shred of extra publicity from it. I don't know why not a single youtuber cared, and at this point that's out of my control.
The people who did play the game seem to have liked it. I've gotten a few messages through email and twitter expressing that players really liked the game, which was really encouraging. If it werent for the people who hit me back about liking the game, I'd have considered it an abject failure.
In closing, I really messed up SiC. I stand by the quality of the game, I think it's a damn solid shooter, but I messed up in getting it in front of people. I spent 14 months working insane hours on SiC, I really cared about this game, all to have it come out to a chorus of crickets. I spent a week or so moping around, I ate copious amounts of pizza, drank Mountain Dew till my eyes bled. It was a little rough, not gonna lie. BUT, I've picked myself back up, and am in the process of finishing my B game, which we'll be talking about in a sec here. Before we do that though I just wanna say a big thanks to the people that played SiC, and an even bigger thanks to the people who bought it. You guys keep me going.
NOW! Time for the more interesting part. THE NEXT GAME! I've been in love with the idea of doing A and B games. A large project, followed by a small project, followed by a large project, and so on. SiC was the A game, and while it certainly under-performed, I was already working on a B game before SiC was released. RLL is that B game.
RLL is a short, small-arena slasher about a lone pirate beating up a shit-ton of undead pirate ghouls before summoning and destroying their Ghostly King. It's not meant to be anything profound, just a small comically bloody way to spend a few minutes of your time.
Note: Most of this is still my prototype art. We've got a dude sprucing it up as we speak.
While we don't have a date set in stone, RLL is aiming to be dropped onto the internet sometime in early December and will be available for free.
I know this was a metric ton of text, but thanks to those that read through and to those that actually care about what we're trying to do here.
Human Lump extraordinaire
I have no idea how many times I've misspelled that track in the last week.
It's been a couple weeks since I updated the dev blog, but for good reason. I've been furiously chipping away at the final issues plaguing SiC. In the last two weeks, I've managed to record some voice barbs for the main character, fill out more lore, crush countless bugs, fill out sound design, completly rewrite a lump of rendering code for the HUD/stars, and create an entirely new saving system. It's been a busy week for both myself and the other contributing to the project
With release right around the corner, there probably won't be many more blog updates before SiC is out and available, so I want to take this time to plug the soundtrack by the ever talented Michael White which is available right now on BandCamp, or, you know, from this hand little embed right here;
Anyway, while that's available right now, the actual game still won't be out until 15 October, so mark the date and bookmark the page. Write it down in your diary or stick a sticky note on your favorite milk jug. Whatever you do, make sure you don't miss 15 October, 2016.
Pretty good eyes, but only in person.
This is the other place I ramble about what I'm working on.
Game Quick Links