Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Indies Vs PewdiePie Game Jam

EDIT: So I didn't manage to get this done and bug free, but I liked the concept and so at some point I will return to it. I was inspired by the likes of 100(1) Spikes and Spelunky, and I need to make the controls a lot more responsive for it to play like that. So one day Indica shall return!

Indica: Lair of the Manticore

You play as Ctesias, a scholar, physician and explorer of the stars who crash lands on an uncharted planet: Indica As your ship falls into the atmosphere and deep into a crevice, you lose all your research documents! Now you must find your way to the surface and recover your work as you go!

Gameplay involves basic platforming with a wall jump ability. You have a gun, but the main aim is to avoid the dangers of the caves. I've gone for a simple pixel art style (of course), but it differs from my usual stuff!

Coming soon/at some point/when I get round to it. -oP

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

First Impressions: Courier of the Crypts

Courier of the Crypts is currently indiego-go-ing and unlike a vast majority of crowd-funding campaigns out there, it has a playable demo. Here's a few of my impressions from my short time trapped within the crypts.

It's a 2D dungeon-puzzler, which for me invoked memories of my time playing HammerWatch, however the simple mechanic of looking after a magical torch makes the experience less of a mindless run, shoot and loot. The lingering threat of death should the fuel for your torch run out, keeps you moving with haste, albeit cautiously as scary spiders hide in the shadows. You can extinguish your torch at will to conserve fuel, but the spiders will come for you. You won't be able to hack and slash your way through this dungeon, as being a courier means that you haven't exactly been slaying monsters all your life in preparation. You can throw rocks and fire-bombs as you collect them, but for the most part it's best to avoid enemies and conserve ammo.

The well presented lighting effects play an important accompanying element to the main gameplay mechanic, and the level in the demo seems carefully designed rather than procedural. Each tile placement seems precise and deliberate, a feature that some games with generated dungeons lack. Care has gone to add levels of detail that frankly the developer could have gotten away without doing. In the opening area, the crumbling ceiling and dust effects combined with the simple, atmospheric soundtrack brings the eerie crypts to life, and the animated gravedigger, shovelling away in a brief cutscene, makes you appreciate the world a little bit more.

There is a brief example of a puzzle-based boss-fight, which requires timing your movement to avoid fireballs, spike traps plus avoiding a spider. Despite the simplicity of this, I can foresee bosses becoming progressively more interesting, requiring brain-power rather than spamming the attack button.

So would I recommend CotC based on the demo? I would because I want to see what the rest of these 'hand-crafted' levels can offer. It's time to take a break from running down algorithmically generated corridors, and do some thoughtful, well paced puzzle solving. If you want to find out more check out the indiegogo campaign. -oP

Courier of the Crypts Website
Indiegogo Campaign

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Silver Revisited #10 - Evil Eye Bears

Part 10 of my LP of Silver. Today I make some burglars pay, and I meet with an old friend. Oh and we end some wildlife.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Dungeon Burglars wins an award!

I'm proud to say that my game has won the award for Game of the Month October 2014 on Game Salad's website. I'm very happy that my first ever project has had such a great response from the community and I can't wait to get my next stuff out there. I'm taking part in some game jams at the minute, and intend to polish off and release the games I submit (even the ones I don't quite finish during the allotted time). Thanks for the support from you guys, I appreciate it! Keep playing and reading my stuff! The announcement and interview with me can be viewed at the link below. -oP


Monday, 20 October 2014

Why Do We Buy Old Games?

This is a 300 word article I wrote as an application to Rock Paper Shotgun. -oP
So you’ve just just built an epic gaming rig, you prepare to crank up those settings to ‘ultra’; you imagine the difference will be similar to Anakin Skywalker’s sensation of going from 0 to 588mph in his podracer. Shaking, you attempt to grip your £200 gaming mouse without accidentally pressing one of several (hundred) buttons; then you stare into the face-enveloping abyss of your quad-monitor setup. You click on Steam and… What? Baldur’s Gate is 50% off? Um.. ADD TO CART!

As a lover of old games which don’t like working on newer machines, I am guilty of doing this. Unfortunately I haven’t really got the time for digital deja vu; you know, with life ’n stuff. The truth is: if it wasn’t for digital download services acting as facilitators of our pixelated hoarding addiction, then we probably wouldn’t be revisiting old games.

These services have been a boon to the indie ‘scene’ (if anyone is still calling it that), as it’s now easier than ever to get your game out to the masses. Although, this isn't necessarily a good thing - as a quick perusal of Steam Greenlight will tell you. We love pixels, hell we love pixels so much we’re now starting to hate pixels (and the word ‘crafting'), so perhaps this torrent of modern, yet low-res 2D stylisation is a catalyst for our nostalgia.

There’s also very little risk in buying a game that we already know we’ll like, whereas investing in early access is probably, at it’s core, the biggest risk for us as the consumer. So for now I think I’ll close down Steam, finish browsing Kickstarter and dust off my copy of Theme Hospital; cranked up to ultra, naturally.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Dungeon Burglars: Complete!

Dungeon Burglars is my first complete game for iOS. It's FREE to download here. An update is already in review and I will continue to update it if any bugs raise their ugly heads. As I said this is my first game and I don't deem it perfect in any way! However I am proud of my achievement, as I have been trying to finish projects since I was a kid and have struggled to maintain focus. I have already made lots of progress into my second project which is another simple concept, but there is a lot less work 'under the hood' than there is in Dungeon Burglars. So this game will be in development for a considerably shorter period. I have learnt a fair amount from a design perspective, and about what game mechanics work and what don't.

Any feedback is welcome and I will take it all on board. I won't be altering the build in response to suggestions as I want to move on and upwards, but if you discover any bugs then let me know and I will do my best to fix them. Again this game is FREE so please give it a go! Also thanks goes to my brother for his bit of testing. -oP

Sunday, 24 August 2014

A Bit of Minor Self-Indulgence

I've been fairly quiet of late on the old bloggerooni, youtoobs and the tweeters due to my life going through some changes. I'm not only morphing into apparently an illiterate moron (refer to the first sentence for evidence), but I'm also moving house and attempting to switch careers whilst also closing the physical distance between myself and the missus. Along with it being festival season (which is work for me) I've unfortunately had plenty of excuses for not keeping up with my videos, pixel art, blogging and whatever other drivel I insist on forcing upon you; I have made massive leaps with my mobile game Dungeon Burglars however. I'm currently testing it on the latest and last generation of iPhones, and I'm hoping after a few minor tweaks it will be ready for the masses. It will be free to play, with no micro-transactions and (hopefully) will be worth the download for the odd 5 minutes of play on the commute to work. There will be unobtrusive banner ads during select points of the game, which will not affect gameplay whatsoever (hey, I gotta at least try to break even and make my money back after paying the necessary development fees).

There's no real reason for this post except for giving people who are vaguely interested some 'behind-the-scenes', "oh my god what a scoop" related gossip. I'm not often this self-indulgent so forgive me for it! Work wise, I have been looking for something within the games industry since my decision to switch career last october. I am not a coder, and have no qualifications for design and development in this industry; I will refrain from quoting Liam Neesom - no need to tell you all about my special set of skills. In my spare time I have attempted to keep this blog going, working on my pixel art, start a mobile game (and actually have pretty much finished the bugger) and write multiple CV and cover letters convincing potential employers that my degree in media production and my work as an event production manager and sound engineer can somehow become relevant enough to warrant an interview. It's been tough.

I have always enjoyed writing and video games, and so combining the two makes perfect sense to me. This has spurred me to try writing different styles of article, from retrospective and current gaming culture, to critical analysis of crappy Kickstarter projects. I've not done as much as a lot of people, but I'd like to focus more time into it when I've sorted out moving house, and finding a job. I've applied for QA and testing jobs, associate producer at entry level, reporter, PR and marketing internships and even a design internship in Hamburg of all places. As I said, it's been tough. I'm not giving up, but I do need actual options. I also really don't want to leave London behind!

This has gotten a bit too personal; I'm writing everything my brain is telling me to without really thinking about it at this point! This unnecessary blog post is basically my reasoning behind briefly stopping video uploads and other things. In terms of video, I have experimented with a couple things including a weekly news video and more recently a group 'let's play' of a god-awful game in a similar vein to some of my favourite YouTubers: Retsupurae. I quite like the format so I may do some more. I have to work out a method of splitting hangouts audio and the game audio next time, as the game was pretty loud in places. That video is here.

Finally thoughts are, I really want to work in this industry and I won't stop until that happens. Until then, I will do everything I can to make up for my lack of relevant education and experience! Anyway, that's probably enough. There will be a post soon announcing Dungeon Burglars' release. I'm excited for it! My first ever completed game, I hope you guys will enjoy it - even for a few minutes! Thanks for taking the time to read this. - oP

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Sh*tStarter: Poorly Presented Concepts & Begging

I was going to write about a promising Kickstarter project this morning, but instead I found my eyes glazed over, dumfounded by the sheer quantity of blatant begging and naivety. I'm not saying I'm a cynic; I'm a fan of the crowd funding model, and I feel that most projects I look at are sincere and transparent. It's just that there's a level of preparation required in order to present a captivating project with high production values, capable of drawing in potential backers. It's a business pitch, but without the stress of dressing in a suit, sweating on the way to a conference room, and looking an investor in the eyes and asking for his/her money with a lump in your throat. So as a Kickstartererer, you have an advantage over the IRL marketers and businessy peoples, in which case there's no real excuse for a half-arsed pitch.

This isn't a new thing, Kickstarter has had numerous crap filling it's pages for a long time, both accidental and deliberate. The potato salad pitch for example, requesting backer support in order to make: potato salad, has had copycats with even more ludicrous 'investment opportunities' cropping up. Let's keep things game related though; I'm going to reference a few projects that I have problems with, and in most cases my criticisms will be mainly constructive... well, I hope.

Kingdom of Oberon by Trini-V Games

First up we have this 'dark' MMO, offering a unique multiplayer experience, as this statement clearly proves.
Now, what, you may ask, sets us apart from the multitudes of other MMOs on the market today, such as World of Warcraft, Guild Wars and Everquest? First of all, our world will be split into multiple islands, allowing separate and drastically differing areas to explore, while still keeping them connected. 
It helps when pitching you game, to have someone well-versed in the design philosophy, development schedule, financial details oh and of course the lore. In this case, we have one of these boxes ticked... sort of. It doesn't help when your entire video is 15 minutes long and is presented by someone who isn't a part of your company. No offence to the 'guest speaker' but I would have requested from him some form of scripting, editing and possibly some production values? Investors want to feel safe and comfortable when funding a project, and a bit of fancy editing and well spoken commentary assists with giving us a little faith. I appreciate that you have learnt the backstory of the game, but I'd much rather see some gameplay than take your word for it. How about screenshots, no? Concept art?

Ok that'll have to do....

There is some minor descriptions of gameplay elements, including Borderlands-esqe weapon generation and classes, but all in all this project is presented extremely poorly and is more like the ramblings of a wannabe fantasy novelist if anything. I don't want to deny someone of their dream of creating a fantasy world, but building an MMO isn't exactly a small undertaking. Plus, recycling old and standardised MMO features and claiming that they are unique isn't going to fly. It's ok to be innovative! To top things off there are no links to the developer's site, and no social media contact details besides those belonging to the YouTuber who is pitching the game.

Cookie Crush Raga by InnovatelTek

Ignoring the obvious cheap cash-in nature of this project, and by judging it on it's presentation; Cookie Crush Raga is a multi-platform puzzle game and is presented, at first glance, quite professionally. Upon analysing the content however, it becomes apparent that the developers have gone to great lengths (as in, hundreds of words worth of... great lengths) to explain every little detail of the game as opposed to showing us succinct video gameplay.

Its obvious that this is nothing more than a bunch of mock ups, and there is no real detail about how the funding will be spent on the development process. Maybe I'm being too judgmental; who wouldn't want to see screenshots of a login page and lists of GUI components down to the player's name? The kickstarter also treats us to paragraph upon paragraph of information about astrology and how it features within the concept... What's wrong with being short and concise?

If you respect developers who are open and transparent about their project's risks, like the example below, then this'll be right up your street.
In doing a unique and great project like this, certainly there is the risk that people won't get it, they won't understand what the game is all about, and why uniqueness is important.
I'm not going to bash the potential audience that this game could have, or the concept at it's core; my problem is solely with the fact that this bored the hell out of me. Too much about nothing. Ok next.

Swine Bomb by Max Garrod

What element of a kickstarter project is most likely to tip the scales and convince you to invest? Is it the fact that the game is already finished and is free to download? Um, no! I am giving no opinion or criticism of this game whatsoever, mainly because there is no video footage, screenshots or even description, other than:
Swine Bomb is a great, faced pace game filled with bombs, timers and a little flying pig.
This developer is asking for £5000 in investment for advertising his existing game. This is not much better than the other kickstarters begging for money so that they can buy the equipment to become the next Pewdiepie. The only tier costs £7, the reward of which is being one of the first people to find out about the next game... I don't need to say much else.

So that was just a few different examples of bad kickstarters (not what I was originally going to write about). I will write about something a bit more positive next time! Hopefully! -oP

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Dungeon Burglars DevLog: 7

It's been another busy month of work for me, but I have found time to do a lot of work on the game. I have completed the 12 main levels and after some testing decided that it was a bit too easy (although I knew what was coming). I had a thought this weekend and quickly added 2 new 'support' burglars: The Cleric and the Sapper. Despite all the work I've done, this video is a short one showing off these new additions. Check it out!

Next on the agenda:

  • Music
  • Last SFX changes
  • Add boss 'The Bankrupt King'
  • Create endurance mode (99999 enemies)
  • Final graphics polish

Any feedback is welcome! What do you think of the new support classes? Thanks for reading! -oP