We're really excited to show off the mobile title we've been working on, and hope that those interested in Raven's Nest will be patient through this delay. We're pretty sure it'll be worth the wait.
It's been a busy winter. We've been hard at work doing pre-production and prototyping for Raven's Nest, getting ready for Arctic Comic Con, and working on a special mobile project that will be launched during Arctic Comic Con. Unfortunately, the secret mobile game has been weighing really heavily on our time and energy, so Raven's Nest has been paused for a few weeks. Raven's Nest will still be coming, though more likely in early 2021 rather than late 2020.
We're really excited to show off the mobile title we've been working on, and hope that those interested in Raven's Nest will be patient through this delay. We're pretty sure it'll be worth the wait.
It seems to me that this is the only thing I have approaching an update pattern. I was great about updating frequently when working on SiC, posted constant updates about how development was going. I posted some about WayDown, but not nearly as much. With ThreeStep, I think the only post was saying that it was already in the works and would be coming late 2019.
Well that came and went and ThreeStep is out in the wild for folks to play at their leisure, then I even put out some post-release content and started a new project.
This new project is currently called Raven's Nest. It's a mission-based vehicle combat game focused around pestering a massive energy company into withdrawing it's operations and pipelines from your home. Raven's Nest has wide influences, from my childhood playing the PS1 demo disk of Armored Core and Tomb Raider, to raucous and aggressive 70's punk, to (oddly enough) construction equipment. I'm working again to imbue Raven's Nest with a story that'll be engaging and personal like ThreeStep, but also to fold in the more gameplay-first mechanics from WayDown. That's not to say it'll play at all like WayDown, but rather that I want this title to be much more focused on playing well and having engaging mechanics, which I feel I didn't do as well with on ThreeStep.
Michael White will also be coming on to help with design, writing, level-layouts, and music. In the past Mike has done fantastic work on the soundtracks of SiC, WayDown, and particularly ThreeStep(Listen on Spotify!) but wanted to get more involved with the day to day development with Raven's Nest.
Raven's Nest is also going to be my first time changing up my release model. Rather than the traditional system of slaving away in secret for 12-18 months on a game, then tossing it out on the market and starting the next one, I'm planning to release Raven's Nest in an essentially completed state later this year, then work over the following 3-4 months to add in extra content. New vehicles, new weapons, new missions, new objectives, new enemies, all kinds of new stuff. I'm hoping that by continuing updates over months, I'll be able to play better into Steam's algorithm and reel in more players.
That being said, Raven's Nest will not be an early access game. Instead, we're planning to complete the entire title, but also planning things that can be added on-top to sweeten the deal for players.
In closing, Raven's Nest coming Q3 2020, tell your friends, tell your mom, it's gonna be cool. The next post (coming February 20) is going to be all about the new mechanics and how incredible they're gonna be, so stay tuned.
some kind of tiny glowing ball
2018 was a busy year. WayDown was released and ThreeStep started primary development the next day. I didn't realize till finishing WayDown that I'd not published, or even written, any blog posts since early in WayDown's development. Then, since I had just finished like 4 straight weeks of 50 hr days (on top of 40+hr workweeks at the dayjob) I'd have very little in the way of insight or positivity to say.
Now though, a few months have passed, and I've been neck Deep in ThreeStep for as long, and I still haven't written anything, and now that I've recovered from the totally-healthy-crunch at the end of WayDown's development, I feel I've actually got some things to say of positivity and/or insight.
WayDown was, by far, the biggest game I've ever made (If you're unfamiliar, check the Steam or Itch pages, I'm told it's fun) and thankfully, it's the most successful. While I could go on and on about frustrating development on WayDown was, I feel it's easier to sum it up in a few short lines.
ThreeStep is the next game I aim to release(hopefully coming at the end of 2019) and it's set to be a vast departure from my past games. Almost all of my past games have had their sites squarely set on action, aiming to deliver a quick pace and as fast of action as I can manage. ThreeStep, on the other hand, is aimed to be a quieter, more contemplative experience, focused more squarely on delivering an atmosphere and characters paired with slower more deliberate exploratory gameplay.
ThreeStep is also a departure in visuals. Rather than using usual pixel art, I've decided to do 3D Voxel rendings of people, animals, vehicles, and buildings. While the engine can support 3D models, they're very CPU intensive, and would require a smarter programmer than me to make the game run smoothly in large areas. Instead, I've devised a system to split each model into layered PNG's. Once I've loaded the layers, they can be drawn in in sequence and slightly offset to achieve a pseudo-3D look, while also being much lighter on the CPU. While this doesn't achieve incredibly realistic objects, it does hit a sort of visual abstraction that I find is really compelling.
I've attached a GIF that shows some of the moment to moment exploration.
Set in Western Alaska (specifically the area around Bethel, where I grew up) ThreeStep follows a journey to Three Step Mountain, to mark the loss of someone close. Unfortunately, you set off poorly prepared, and must lean on the environment and some kindly strangers you meet along the way to survive, all the while deciding how you'll deal with your loss.
Maybe that sounds kinda heavy? In reality, this is a game I've been mulling over in my head, in one form or another, since 2015. It's sort of a crystallization of my experience with change and loss, especially of family.
In any case, I'm working hard, and hoping to be able to tell a story that's interesting and thoughtful along side a game that's engaging and open.
$18 shy of $17
I've been hard at work, nose to the grindstone for just over three months. I've gotten 2 new certifications for the day job, I've implemented dozens of features, as well as played more than a few hours of Destiny 2. All this to say, I haven't ghosted for nothing, I've been hard at work finding something to say, and I've finally got it.
Well, I guess saying it like that makes it seem like I've got something profound to say, I really just want to update the universe on the progress I've been making on Bunker Buster
What I would consider to be one of the core pillars of Bunker Buster, as well as on of it's most obvious distinct elements is it's buddy system. Now, before, this was simply a roundabout in-universe explanation for the player gaining weird and new powers while in the Dungeon. Since it's inception, it's grown into something more. Buddys have little talks, they have names and they can be upgraded to have stronger and more dynamic abilities!
We also had some design issues, specifically when it comes to health. I find that when playing other Roguelite's, one of the elements that frustrates me most is getting knocked down to one hit, then surviving an entire level, just to fumble one more time and have all my work erased. So I took a measure to fix that. . .
I figured, why not give players a metered reward for avoiding stretches of damage? Why not ensure that a player is never one-hit-killed through mechanics and not number fudging? Why not give the player a shield?
The last bit I want to talk about is the pressure. With recharging life, some players would be tempted to play it slow, to peek in, blast a couple baddies, and pull back out. We really don't want people playing this way, it's not fun, it's not exciting, it's not interesting. So I sat. I waited. I watched Lost. I thought some more. Then it came to me. The Eye of Darkness is, well, not entirely of this world. Whether it's the effects of a life spent tearing one's fellow man limb from limb, or it's an ancient spell being loosed upon the player, isn't important, what is important, is getting to the level exit before it reaches you and consumes you. We want players to move carefully through the game, but we don't want them to be slow.
These are just a few of the tweaks and additions I've been slaving away at for the last three months. Look forward to more ramblings and the like in the coming weeks, as I strive to better balance working on Bunker Buster and telling people about Bunker Buster
a pretty fungi
I've been hard at work, (not really)sequestered off from the world, tinkering and playing with my gamedev bobbles. I've also been mostly quiet on Twitter (save for a couple media rants) and haven't updated my devblog here in about 17 years. I'm now rectifying that.
About two months ago I moved into a new place and started looking to work on a collaborative project. After a couple false starts, I stumbled across an artist and animator looking to start a new project. We met and fell in love(actually no we just started a project).
As of today, the project has no name. I've been refering to it as GunBoat, despite it having nothing to do with boats, and I've been slaving away on it for the last month and a half. Now, most of the art is still my standins, and what art my dev-partner has done is still very early, but I've assembled a couple prototype gifs I've made just to show something for my silence.
As is pretty obvious, GunBoat is a top-down shooter, and is randomly assembled, that is to say, each level is a hand-made dungeon, with randomized bits added on, which I feel is a way to incorporate the best elements of traditional manufactured levels, and of randomized levels. This system aims to ensure every level is coherent, enjoyable, and loaded with cool stuff.
Now, there's very little set in stone about GunBoat just yet, but one thing we are very proud of is our buddy system. As you play through each dungeon, you'll come across captured teammates, which you can then recruit to your squad. Each teammate has a special ability, (medic heals you, a grenadier lobs frag grenades, a soldier provides a second gun hand, ect). As you progress through the dungeon, you'll aquire and swap squad mates to create the best team you can make, in hopes of taking on the looming leader at the deepest depth.
All this fluff to say, I'm working with a new collaborator on a shooter project, and it's gonna be incredible, even if a little late to the rogue-lite party. I hope you'll stick around to watch development, and I know you'll like GunBoat when it's released.
IT SuperGrunt Extraordinaire!
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
This is the other place I ramble about what I'm working on.