Monthly Archive: May 2016

Characters in prototype version!

Hey!

If you missed some of our screenshotsaturday on Facebook or Twitter this month you might missed our characters that will be included in our prototype version! So here you have a short presentation 🙂

Sapu

Sapu
The main character. If you’ll ever play this game, you’ll play as this young boy. In prototype version, Sapu has 4 basic skills for each element and one additional, a quick teleport that should protect him from many situations.

Larissa

Larissa
This is Larissa, a Spider Mother. She is the most dangerous creature in a prototype scene. Other than basic attacks She has three additional special skills:

Vomit – Larissa takes a big breath and hits you with poison that deals constant damage and slows you down
Spider Web – Larissa turns and fires a spider web that (if hit) blocks Sapu for a second or two.
Egg Plant – Larissa lays an egg, and a second after 3 small spiderlings come out just to kill Sapu.

Other than Larissa and her spiderlings, we’ll have medium sized spiders on the scene.

Orkabat

Orkabat
Orkabat – a ranged enemy. Orkabats other than shooting Sapu with their projectile spells, are also remarkable acrobats. They can slide to the left or right to evade any spells thrown at them. Also, if Sapu get near, they push him back with powerful wind and fly away to shoot him from distance. Sapu needs to be careful with those as well.

How to make a game: What game genre and style to choose?

When it comes to bigger projects in game development industry (mostly not mobile games), many beginner devs struggle with the choice of genre and the complexity of the game they want to make. It is certainly very important decision. Some genres take thousands hours to make, some are much easier. How a group of awesome folks that decided to create an Indie Studio should make a choice of their first game genre? How we approached Sapu? How to assess the complexity?

Big AAA companies route

It is important to stress out that choosing game genre highly correlates with the innovation factor that we have to take into account. First of all, we can choose big AAA companies route. It is a route controlled by marketing departments that do tons of research of a market. They analyze what sells today, and what will sell tomorrow. Here, take a look at these awesome charts from Entertainment Software Association on which genres sell best:

Best selling genres in US Source: http://essentialfacts.theesa.com/Essential-Facts-2016.pdf

Best selling genres in US
Source: http://essentialfacts.theesa.com/Essential-Facts-2016.pdf

There are so many variables and statistics that we could benefit from in order to make the right choice. Based on the platform where we want to sell our games, we can make very reasonable selection of the key features and content. Isn’t it great? Yes it is… partly. Yes, we could also do the researches and analyze many things, but is it really important for us, Indie developers?

In my opinion the difference between us Indies, and big AAA companies is that they certainly look at such surveys but we should not take it so serious. Don’t get me wrong, it is very reasonable approach that gets them a lot of money, but we can’t compete with them on their rules on this competitive and challenging market.

Experimental route

Fortunately I feel like players, especially a little bit older ones, are not satisfied with such business approach presented by AAA companies. Their games are pretty much non-innovative and do not bring anything new to the table. Other than amazing graphics and fascinating stories, the gameplay doesn’t change much and repetitiveness from game to another is being felt.

Same maps setup Farcry Primal vs Farcry 4 Source  http://kotaku.com/turns-out-ubisoft-used-far-cry-4s-map-to-make-far-cry-p-1762497550

Same maps setup Farcry Primal vs Farcry 4
Source http://kotaku.com/turns-out-ubisoft-used-far-cry-4s-map-to-make-far-cry-p-1762497550

And that’s why some Indie Devs have been so successful. They brought that new, unexpected content to the market. They brought something extraordinary that no one ever saw. They brought unexplored experiences that many gamers looked for. That’s Indie chance, do something different. It is our gateway to stand out on the market and potentially be successful.

But why don’t big companies create such innovative games? Because such approach brings risk. You can hit the spot and be successful, but you can also develop a game that will be too weird for customers causing them not buying it at all. Current trend is that AAA companies hire small studios to create “indie”, innovative games. That lowers their costs and therefore is not that risky as it could be, if the whole big studio would go for such game.

Easy route

Other than being innovative or not, our folks main issue is the complexity of their first game. We can find many voices from other developers that suggest starting making games that are easy to develop i.e. platformers where you run to the right, jump and at best… shoot something. If you love this kind of games (or plan to just simply learn programming/game development processes) than I’d say go for it!

Factors indicating gamers decision Source: http://essentialfacts.theesa.com/Essential-Facts-2016.pdf

Factors indicating gamers decision
Source: http://essentialfacts.theesa.com/Essential-Facts-2016.pdf

From the chart above we can tell that cheap game with exceptional graphic and drawing attention story has very high chance to be successful. Unfortunately not many Indies have a luxury of having amazing graphics and storytelling 6th sense. Also, some devs just don’t want to do such stuff.

But I would consider it twice if the only reason why you choose certain game genre is because it’s easier to develop. Such decision needs to be carefully thought-out, cause it might be non-rewarding journey.

Balance is the key

As almost everything in our lives, balance is the key. You don’t want to be too conservative with the game and go with the easy route. Why? Because you won’t sell it. Simply, it won’t distinguish itself on market and won’t be that attractive for potential customers. But also you don’t want to overdo it and with too optimistic and too ambitious plans that will take forever to finish the game you dreamed of. I have to say that our initial plans were too optimistic and that’s why we decided to cut out some of the features. Of course, we won’t create a game that even us wouldn’t buy, but we need to be aware of our limitations.

Even such balanced decision causes many hours of work. Therefore I would strongly recommend to go with the prototype/ MVP route as it not only will ease the whole process of development (cause you focus on much smaller project) but also accelerates it.

Do what you love

Ultimately, the main factor that should help you choose whether to create RTS, RPG, Shooter or any other game and determine the complexity of the game should be the question: Do you love what you’re doing? We do.

Monthly Report #4 – April 2016

Hi everyone it’s been a long time since our latest post. April’s been such insane month for me privately, that I couldn’t even find any time to post our progress. Fortunately different real-life things that kept me offline straightened out and I can finally focus more on Sapu and this blog.

As you may know we expected to create a prototype level at the end of April but unfortunately we couldn’t manage to get it as smoothly as we wanted to. Our inexperience in some of the game-related development processes showed off, and of course in such situations Murphy ’s Law makes its presence felt. As we are still focused on this level, in this report I will share more information about how are things going right now and how far we are until first tester will get to play Sapu.

Why so long?

AI/Pathfinding system

Ok guys, pathfinding works just fine.

As I mentioned earlier our inexperience showed off. First of all, the whole pathfinding system is pretty complex monster. For example, just look of what various enemies need to be aware of in order to smartly chase player during game time e.g.:

● Their size, speed and position
● Other enemies’ size, speed and position
● Other objects’ size and position
● And of course… Player’s position

Enemies aware of their size.

Add to it all this algorithmic shit for 20+ enemies… Besides, other than my (and eventually players) requirements as for how the AI behavior should look like, Sarseth wants the system to be as much optimized as possible for now, so it won’t catch us later as very complex problem. I predicted that we will need a full month (part time of course) to implement a solid pathfinding system, but I guess I underestimated this monster. The task still goes on and fortunately it is starting to shape up.

Player movement changes (WASD -> Mouse)

Yep, movement again… We decided that it is going to be controlled only with mouse (LoL alike). Earlier we thought that it will be so cool to cast different spells in one direction and run in other at the same time… and then it failed our “fun test” and caused “legs problem” (changing Sapu’s animation based on cursor’s location was too much for us :D) as well. Therefore from now on, Sapu will have to stop for a second (or less) and turn into desired direction in order to cast a spell. Such setup not only eliminates “legs problem” because it will be the same animation, but also provides risk-management opportunity where player needs to decide whether in this particular situation it’s better to run or to fight… or to use specific spell that allows for both 😀.

Transition from 2D sprite enemies to 3D models

I think I mentioned about this transition in previous report, we considered 3D modeling learning curve as to be time consuming in order to create solid, nice looking models, animations and textures. But I’m sure that as Qra’s skills increase, it should be more and more efficient work and finally will accelerate production over animating 2D sprites.

Scheduling while working part time

Sometimes you work 20, sometimes 30… and sometimes 4 hours a week. I’ll put it this way – it sucks.

What’s done?

● Sapu model (and all his animations + texture)
● In-game GUI
● Spider model (+ all animations and spells for “Boss”)
● Sapu movement on mouse
● Majority of sound effect and Sound management system which allows me to customize different options (but it will be improved after finishing prototype version)
● Combat music (epic style – we’ll share it on soundcloud soon!)

What’s next?

Other than finishing pathfinding system:

● Implementation of Sapu model (and all his animations)
● In-game GUI implementation
● Level’s design (finishing it, testing and adjusting its difficulty correctly)
● Simplistic main menu + game instructions.
● (optional) If Qra will have time – creating better model for ranged enemy (earthworm alike)
● Sound effects for unimplemented stuff

I’d like to finish those tasks within this month so we can hand it to playtesters next month. Also We plan to show this prototype on some indie game conventions in July/September so it is important to have it as polished as possible.

Followers

In April we were pretty much non-active at all on Social Media. As I mentioned, April was too much for me. As for guys… well they had their hands full with their tasks as we really wanted to finish prototype at expected time. But lets be honest, do You think Sapu will be a great success and will generate satisfying amount of players around with such marketing? Me neither… Thus We won’t fail so much in this department anymore.

Website

Google Analytics stats:
Website - April stats

Social Media

April stats
Some materials from March gave us little boost in SM followers. For many, these are non-existing numbers. For us – its 50% more on Twitter! 😀

PS: Sarseth works with such music as in above videos on a daily basis… 😀