Monday, 19 January 2015

Moonman - First Impressions

In a strange, nocturnal world a moonman is summoned by an ancient mollusc. It sends him to the seven farthest corners of the land to search for fallen moon fragments -- that will power a great star-machine.
This week I checked out the Kickstarter for Moonman, a procedurally generated 2D adventure game. In Moonman you must explore various different worlds looking for moon fragments so that you can turn a machine on or something. The Kickstarter doesn't focus on the lore, which is a good thing; in my opinion this can sometimes be an anti-retention trap that many failed campaigns fall into. Instead mechanics, environments and sprites galore are on display. Fans of Terraria and Starbound may appreciate the pixel art aesthetic and resource gathering and item crafting mechanics on offer. 

While Terraria and Starbound (currently) have a sandbox route of progression, Moonman has a set (albeit flexible) goal but still requires resource gathering and crafting along the way. Arguably one of the main engaging factors of open world sandbox experiences is that they allow you to write your own story, however I also find that this can be detrimental to some players. Without a clear goal, it can be difficult to focus and this can even stifle creativity (something I've experienced before in Minecraft). I enjoy a good sandbox to mess around in, and I think Moonman, whilst being visually similar to other games of this genre, looks like it will tick a box that others don't.

The Kickstarter itself is well written and concise, and shows a decent amount of content. The ratio of text to images is fairly balanced so I felt engaged whilst reading it all. I like pictures! It seems like a lot of work has already gone into the project before they decided to crowd-fund which in my opinion is the best way to encourage investors! There isn't a business-plan break down of where your money is going, but they do give you a rough idea of what it's for.

Much like the Kickstarter, I don't want to ramble on, so I'll let the pictures do the talking. All in all I like the look of the little green dude, plus I like this genre... Also hats, and a pig-face helps. Go check it out.-oP

Moonman Kickstarter
Moonman Website

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Dungeon Burglars Gets Featured!

My first game won the game of the month award in October, and now it has also been featured on their website. This is quite a big deal for me and I'm very happy! If you haven't had a look, please go check out the game. It's totally free! Thanks if you have already tried it!

Dungeon Burglars featured on Game Salad


Saturday, 3 January 2015

Save The Game

In 2015 we need to #SaveTheGame.

2014 was a turbulent year for the gaming industry and community. It began almost as a blank canvas, with the new consoles sitting in people's living rooms ready for a year of shiny new IPs with shinier graphics. We have had some high notes, but even the biggest new IP of the year Destiny couldn't escape disappointing some. Nintendo had an awful start, with the reveal of their dismal financial report and failure to keep up in the 'console wars'. Many developers and publishers have had their fair share of scrutiny, and there were few weeks where news from the gaming industry did not feature a negative spotlight.

For most of 2014 we have had a snowballing, torrential downpour of controversy surrounding ethics in journalism, sexism, feminism and an absolutely unacceptable storm of perpetuated abuse and hatred towards various groups of people. The arguments and the hashtags have gone through quite a few evolutions but unfortunately the level of negativity has been consistent (and I don't think I need to say much more about this).

Crowdfunding, despite being an important business model for the indie community, resulted in disappointment for many backers as various projects ended abruptly or failed to meet expectations. The poorly managed finances of the Yogventures game arguably being one of the biggest stories, and Double Fine's sudden release of Spacebase DF-9 with a considerably shortened feature list was another. Not to mention a pile of AAA titles which were shipped buggy, and arguably unfinished, raised questions about the moral obligations of developers who offer $60 pre-orders, plus the ethically questionable review embargo's placed upon new releases. 

To top everything off, the new EU VAT regulations (#VATMOSS #VATMESS), have potentially crippled the finances and spirit of many small and independent developer and content creator. Not everything was awful in 2014, but the memory of last year has definitely been tarnished and upstaged by countless other negative events.

2015 needs to be about #SaveTheGame. I want to begin on a high, focusing on how we can make the future months better for all developers, content creators, and individuals who just love playing games. We need to spread a positive message, learn from the mistakes of last year and help each other. 

I propose we all support one another as creative people, nurture the new blood and reassure those who have already given many years to their industry as an indie. Sometimes all it takes is a retweet or a quick post on any social network; so let's support and co-promote each others projects. If all you can afford is a £1 donation to a Kickstarter or Patreon then go for it, you don't always need to meet a reward tier and you can always buy the game later when you can afford it. Talk to each other and if you like the look of a project then tell the developer, they will appreciate it and it could be the small pickup that they need. I don't want anyone to ignore the problems of the gaming industry, and I'm not suggesting you forget about what has happened, but I think it's important that we start spreading a positive message. 

#SaveTheGame is the hashtag I've started using, and I will associate it with all the promotion of my own, my friends and stranger's games, blogs, YouTube channels and any other content in the effort to spread good intention. Feel free to join me in using this, or spread your own message of goodwill but at the very least try to be good to each other. 

Let's have an awesome year. Thanks, and remember to #SaveTheGame. -oP

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Dark Souls #3

The continuing adventures of Jarvis in Dark Souls - this time we take on the taurus demon. I love this game! This is my first LP of it and if you have somehow never seen the game before, I hope this persuades you to try it!

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

GTAV: 12 Days of Christmas

A short christmassy video from the world of Grand Theft Auto 5. Unfortunately it was made before the christmas update! Oh well! Enjoy!

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Transference Devlog #3

There's no new art this week, instead I have been researching lots into the setting and what the planet would be like in the future, and here are a few thoughts.

The game is set far into the unknown future, long after the technology and footprint of mankind ended around the year 4000. So I need to think about the art design, and how the future technology will allow for some interesting puzzle design. The change in technology over the last 50 years proves that sometimes all you need for an crazy idea to sell, is a good marketing campaign. I want to use this to my advantage when designing some assets in the story, in order to produce a memorable and quirky vision of the future.

Some of my inspiration comes from work such as Luc Besson's Fifth Element. The clothes, technology and the way society is portrayed is like a comic book and the attention to detail is awesome. The cigarettes for example look like they are 80% filter, 20% tobacco, and I'm intrigued to discover the backstory on why that is. Not that there has to be; sometimes it's good to get an understanding of the science behind something (or potential changes in the future), and then twist the facts into something else for the purpose of style. This is how I will be approaching my design, for example: if housing was in high demand over a small area of land, how would this be accomplished? Could an apartment block be built with multiple basement levels, the lower you get, the cheaper it is? Or could a city be multi layered, with cheaper slums on the bottom and the rich on the surface? Could the housing district be a big cube grid of 'pods' with slides (yes slides) to get down to the surface. I'm thinking playground slides rather than Futurama tubes (but I will definitely be re-watching a lot of that for inspiration too).

As well as how the tech will look, I will also need to imagine how nature and the elements would have changed in the year 4000 and how humanity had to alter their way of life and adapt. Plus in the distant future how would nature have retaken the planet after humanity has disappeared. I've found a few interesting theories and I may make use of all of them. For example, a new ice age could have resulted in the freezing of the oceans. What would be the consequences on humanity have been if they were still alive when this happened, and what other dramatic changes in the weather could be present. The population growth of the planet increased dramatically in the last century but it has begun to slow down; what would the population have been like in the year 4000 based on the planet possibly becoming a more volatile place. Would society be more diverse and tolerant, or would we have reached the peak of utopia and begun to spiral downhill into an archaic class system as resources became scarce. Would religion as we know it have a place in the future or would those ideals have been extinguished?

Class, religion and gender will all be themes in Transference, as well as nature, technology and artificial intelligence. I'm not attempting to predict the future accurately, but I do want to visualise the potential outcome of the human race, in a quirky and engaging way. I have already made a lot of decisions about this future planet but I would love to hear some ideas from you guys. Hopefully my story will intrigue you. This will most likely be the last devlog of the year as I am quite busy this christmas, but I should have a christmas post next week about the future of my website and youtube and possible patreon plans. Thanks for reading, and check out the link below! -oP

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Transference Devlog #2

I've added a few more elements to this mock-up and have already decided that it definitely won't feature in the final game. I've been analysing the world the story is set in and made some design decisions to add depth. The filing cabinet of paper for example has no place in this future! Trees were in short supply (at least before nature re-took the planet). Random elements of the story may be released during these devlogs but not enough to ruin it and hopefully enough to keep your interest.

Anyway, here is the same scene with more content, plus an example of the mouse cursor highlighting an object. Yes mouse cursor! I think I will plan ahead and aim to release this on desktop as well as iOS.

As Christmas is approaching, updates for this will slow down but I'm aiming to have something to show you next week and maybe the week after. Thanks for reading! -oP

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Transference Devlog #1

Reintroducing: Transference

So I briefly mentioned this game months and months ago, but I decided to put it on hold because I hadn't finalised the story plus I needed to focus on getting my first game Dungeon Burglars out the door (download HERE for FREE). My original idea involved platform game mechanics and a gimmicky 'energy transference' system which enabled you to control other objects. This was all supposed to result in a metroid-vania style game with puzzles and slightly weighty in story (but not too overkill on narrative).

Things change! I decided to go back to my original story and pick it apart, add other elements and flesh out the themes and narrative. I now have a draft outline of the new story, plenty of ideas for scenarios, content and dialogue. The most drastic, yet important change is that now the game is a point and click adventure! I realised that the imagery in my head had always appeared as an adventure game, and as the narrative definitely has some weight to it this time, I felt that this would be a more appropriate way to present the story. 

The art design is based on isometric pixel art: simple and retro, but with careful attention to detail in order to give weight to the atmosphere and maintain an engaging experience. Instead of my usual process of making a working prototype with placeholder graphics, I am making an entire prototype scene (not necessarily as it will appear in the final game) which will demonstrate exactly how I want it to play and look. Here's a screenshot which is in no way finished, but should give you an idea of the style I'm going for. I'm not revealing anything about the story yet except that you play as an robot/android (and no it's not Machinarium fan fiction, but I do want to create a similar sense of whimsy in my own style!). There are some overgrown roots of a plant coming through the window, a strange computer featuring a holographic screen with a sound wave displayed on it and the robot/android player.

I should also mention that I am making this for iOS, however if it was popular I would consider releasing it on android as I would only need to pay for the appropriate license. I was considering starting a Patreon based on the development of this game, for my writing and youtube but what are your thoughts? Those of you who already pledge to other Patreons, what makes you decide to do it? What kind of goals convince you to pledge, or does that even matter as long as content is being produced? 

All the art is subject to change, and comments and criticism is welcome. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy following the progress of Transference! Please spread the word! -oP

Tuesday, 25 November 2014