I just came across the Kickstarter for Potions: A Curious Tale, a fantasy game with an emphasis on creative problem solving and experimenting with potion crafting. So pretty much this concept I wrote about nearly three years ago.
My point here is not that I think they "stole my idea". It is twofold: Potions: A Curious Tale looks like a cool game you might want to back and this is a great example of just how little a raw idea means in game development.
A while ago I listened to a podcast interview with one of the developers of Don't Starve. They were discussing the design of the Science Machine, the building that lets you discover new crafting recipes.
Want to get the occasional update on Airships' development? Want to hear about future projects?
If you've been following me for a long time, you know that before Airships, I was working on another project called Space Exploration: Serpens Sector. It was a space RPG that started out as a clone of the original Strange Adventures in Infinite Space, and ended up being something like Sunless Sea in space with less florid writing and a bigger focus on crew management.
After a series of bug fix releases for dev 8, I am now making headway on dev 9 and its menagerie of monsters. In a previous post, I showed you the tentacle movement I implemented for the game. Now I want to show you how these tentacles are actually used by the Sky Kraken.
Rae and I came across Flag Stories, a pretty entertaining website doing various tallies and comparisons of national flags. One set of images was "averaged" flags for each of the continents - taking the layouts, colour schemes and symbols most common to the countries there. There was also a "World Flag" that took the most popular elements of them all, which ends up with a pretty but nondescript red-white-blue horizontal tricolor with a blue star.
Of course, that wouldn't really fly (ouch) as an actual flag of the world. It ends up looking very European, and not really representative of the planet as a whole. There recently was a very pretty proposal by Oskar Pernefeldt using seven interlocking circles on a blue background. Seven circles for seven seas and continents. It looks nice, but it does have two downsides: it's a pretty complex design geometrically, and the blue-and-white colour scheme might be too Western. Yes, you probably think blue and white is lovely, but they are Western and Christian colours. Other regions of the world might prefer green, or red.
So we decided to try our own hands at designing a world flag that would be very simple and more universal - and while we were at it, we also tried making one for the solar system as a whole.
There are two purposes to this blog post: one is to explain in detail how the lighting system works in Airships, and the other is to show you how to create graphics for the game that are in the same style as the rest.
The letters had been chiselled into the doorway. A relatively recent addition to the 18th-century academic architecture we found ourselves in. Grenville patted his pockets for the keys. The corridor was dimly lit by a forty-watt bulb shoddily installed in a wall sconce meant for a candle. At least it wasn't a flickering torch. That would have been too much.
Version 8.1 hath dropped, bringing fixes, improvements, and giant sawblades to chop apart your enemies.
So tell me a little bit about what your company does.
We're a seventh-level re-insurance company. Our main business is providing financial stability for sixth-level insurers, ones based in local galactic clusters.
So you're the guys who get called when a whole galaxy explodes, like what happened to M411?
With Airships dev 8 complete, it's time to start creating monsters.
Monsters and pirates is what dev 9 is going to be all about. What sets monsters apart from normal airships is that they can have abilities that are a little more out there, that would be hard to give to players for reasons of balance or user interface.
One of these things is tentacles. Giant aerial kraken will descend from the skies and begin snacking on your crew as you attempt to fend them off. Now, Airships' graphics may not be the fanciest, but they do pay attention to detail. A fixed tentacle graphic swinging by would be boring: how about properly animated ones? I wanted to try, at least.
After several months of development and two weeks of beta testing, Airships dev 8 is out. Its major new features are data-driven modding and Steam workshop integration, as well as new modules and conveniences like selection groups and auto-landscaping.
When I decided to release v8 as a beta version first, I wasn't entirely sure if that was the right call. Subsequent events showed that it was:
As you can see, the situations in which crashes happen are getting subtler, at least. And Beta 4 worked well enough for people to start reporting a lot of other issues, which means that Beta 5 is rather more massive an update:
After many months of development, Airships dev 8 is finally complete. Because it's been so long, I'm going to release it in two phases, as an opt-in beta now and then as a full release in a few days' time.
Be warned, this is a tasteless idea, but still kind of entertaining, which is why I wrote it up. Diablo in reverse: an action-RPG where you take on heaven, working your way through orphanages and monasteries, smashing through the pearly gates to take on the angelic host... and kill god.
Hey, we reached 250 Steam reviews! If you've been playing the game, you've probably noticed that I've been bothering everyone about leaving a Steam review for the game. There's a reason behind this, and it's not entirely just the fuzzy feels I get when I read them: I want the game to reach an "Overwhelmingly Positive" rating, for which it needs 500 reviews in total. What's so great about that rating? Well, it means more visible evidence that people like the game, which means more players, a bigger community, and more sales. More life pumping through the game and making it greater.
Near the end of January 2016, I organized a small unconference about games as a part/counterpart of Ludicious, a Swiss games conference. The following are the notes we made during our sessions, including transcripts.
Near the end of January 2016, I organized a small unconference about games as a part/counterpart of Ludicious, a Swiss games conference. Dominik, the organizer, and I had originally discussed running an unconf for the first Ludicious back in 2014. This never came to pass, but when the second Ludicious started gearing up, I got back in touch and we set things into motion.
This is the postmortem for the unconference. As is traditional with postmortems, I'll be writing both about things that went well and things that went badly, in as honest a way as I can, with a view to making the next one better.
Another Sherlock Holmes reinterpretation: Holmes goes into fugue states where he becomes Moriarty and commits crimes. He doesn't consciously know about this double identity, but passively, information flows both ways. So Holmes believes that Moriarty is extremely clever because he's "always one step ahead of me, Watson, he was in this very apartment during the night!"
#webdesign question: do you use ­?— David Stark (@zarkonnen_com) January 1, 2016
I did a Twitter poll the other day, and given the results, you might find the following post interesting.
In dev 8, game data is now loaded in from external files. As I expected, this is causing the occasional bug. In particular, some airship designs would consistently fall out of the sky. This needed to be fixed.
At The Gates is an under-development 4X game by Jon Shafer, a game designer formerly of Firaxis Games. In the game, you play as a barbarian tribe in the twilight days of the Roman empire. It got kickstarted back in early 2013 and has been making its way through the tortuous process of development ever since. I actually found out about it too late to join the Kickstarter, but I've been following its development nevertheless.
In his most recent update, Shafer sets out a roadmap for completing development of the game.
I'm not sure where I first saw Reveal the Deep. I thought it was on JGO, but I can't find any trace of it now. So I was vaguely aware of it when it popped up on the Steam new releases page, with a price of $1, launch-discounted down to 64 cents. And I was worried that the developers had so little faith in their game to release it for next to no money. Then I bought it because it looked vaguely interesting.
Turns out I wasn't the only one. A week ago, the developers posted a short postmortem on r/gamedev. The game made it into the "popular new releases" list for two days, and according to Steam Spy, has been bought about 36000 times! (The the devs confirm this is a roughly accurate number.)
Now I don't know how much you get to keep from a $0.64 Steam game. I'd guess it's somewhere between 50 and 70 percent, which means that the game netted somewhere between $11000 and $16000. Not a bad haul for what is a fairly simple, if well-executed game.
The question that arises from this for me as a game dev: Are small, cheap games viable on Steam?
To only slightly paraphrase William Gibson - cyberpunk is already here, it's just not very evenly distributed. Cyberpunk predicted a future where people subordinated themselves to Japanese-style megacorps and freedom could only be found at the margins, by intrepid demi-monde hackers with zany hairstyles. What we have is actually worse: you are disposable even if you play by the rules.
And most of the intrepid hackers have been pacified by promises of fat IPOs and mainstream acceptance. They spend their time finding new ways to shove ads down our throats and creating solutions for "problems" no one outside of the Bay Area actually cares about.
Isn't it a bit weird that Edward Snowden, our one bona fide cyberpunk hero, throwing back the curtain on a massive government panopticon, was a government contractor? The kind of working-for-the-man corporate drone that was meant to contrast negatively with cyberpunk's zany heroes?
As for all those other trappings of robots and whatnot, we're getting there. Without further ado, I present you the most cyberpunk moments of 2015.
I've done plenty of gamedev-related retrospectives recently, summing up the first two years of Airships development, doing a presentation on distribution and marketing to local Zurich game devs. So for this quick retrospective, here's all the non-work stuff that happened.