Saturday, 29 November 2014

Still Alive and Kicking (or Shooting Zombies!)

Well, it has been a while (three month or so) but I have been trying to get my life back on track and Dork Tales is still on hiatus and the procedural terrain minecraft thingy is as well. Since Windborne basically stopped production I moved on to another game for my free time and it is another sandbox building game (who would have guessed, lol, like those too much) called Creativerse. Creativerse is a bit more like minecraft visually but not mechanically and I have about 400 hours sunk there since the end of August...

All that doesn't sound very productive and more like wasting time but it is not really because through the community of those two games I met someone who also wants to start out in game design and he has skills that I do not have and that are needed for indie development like an art and marketing background. We were playing a lot of coop and streamed that on his channel and we joked about starting our own company to make games. One day, he contacted me and introduced me to an old colleague of his who was willing to fund our first steps...

As we all played Skyrim and sandbox games, we want to make our our own mix of the two at some point but to start out with that would be a guaranteed failure! We have to start simpler and a lot smaller, so Loki, my coop buddy, came up with the idea to make a zombie fps. I am not a big fan of zombies in any kind of media but he convinced me and we started out working on a few level concepts and I started to write a simple shooter controller in Unity. With some assets bought from the store, we will be able to get a few levels set up in a short time and shoot some zombies. (Really like the asset store for Unity!)

Those are the little buggers!

They are cartoony and cute but can be quite deadly in masses as well:

The game is about shooting them and collecting coins to upgrade your weapons to shoot more of them... more or less ;P

The first part is nearly finished for testing, have to do the menu works next and do the weapon upgrades later. The plan is to have a working prototype (or vertical slice) up and running to test out between us and a few selected testers and with the feedback improve the game and then go on to Kickstarter and Steam Greenlight to get more eyes on it and a bit more funding to compensate us for the work done so far and finance the rest of development.

Development shot: Unity 4.6 with new UI system and a glimpse into one of the levels. 

How many level we want to have is not 100% clear yet but we are confident to produce quality levels in a short time frame to add a variety of different setups without going the procedural generated route .This approach gives us more control over the look and feels of every aspect of every level to include Easter eggs and different ways to finish a levels.

The types of levels we have planned at the moment are mazes, wave setups and boss arenas. There will be no open world and no crafting apart from upgrading weapons via coins. Coins can only be obtained in-game by killing zombies or collecting them in rooms, no option to buy them for real money in a store or stuff like that.

The game will be single player for Windows PC with the option to port it over to Mac and Linux. Multiplayer is not planned but could be an expansion later on with maps specifically designed for that. We aim for Steam as a platfom to get a lot of people to be able to see the game but will also publish it elsewhere like Desura or DRM free on Humble or GOG (long term goals, lol)

Friday, 1 August 2014

Dork Tales - Redesign in Progress

After a long hiatus, I started to redesign the existing levels of Dork Tales and get a better idea of the project's scope. Most levels have to be redone because the scale in the prototype was off. The reason for the scale differences were models from different sources and not enough focus on consistency.

The flow of the levels is not changed but there are a few more sketches for their layout that I brought over from my tablet and paper sources.

I did some blockouts for the start room and now I have to do some wall modelling and build up a few modular pieces that I can use in different parts of the world. The main look is sandstone that was smoothed out and has inlays and door frames carved into it. There should be no seams between wall pieces that have to be covered up by columns. All wall pieces are one sided so the the camera has no problem looking through them. For columns and other large objects that could block the player's view of his character, I might have to write a shader that makes them temporarily transparent.

The cat fish is being resized, rigged and optimized by my little brother who did some work modding Skyrim. He will also build me a base mesh for humanoid characters that can be used for character generation ingame and for most npcs though a plugin for Unity.

The UI is still based off Unity's old scripted GUI system and will be updated as soon as the new visual system is released.

Plans are that I will try to finish the redesign of the first two levels around next weekend (around the 8th) and after that move on to the next levels that are designed yet (as shown above).

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Rare Signs of Life and Forays into Live Broadcasting

I am still alive and working on two little projects of my own. One of them is Dork Tales which is on hiatus at the moment because I prioritized another project.

The mysterious other project is a mix between Minecraft and a gathering focused real time strategy game. The terrain is procedural generated and at the moment still Minecraft blocky looking but I will try to understand the marching cube algorithm and use it for better terrain in the future. The rts part is not battle oriented but more focused on gathering resources and building bases. The whole concept is a bit rough at the moment but I will write up a game design document at a later stage and will work through that.

On another note, I am playing a lot of Windborne lately. Windborne is a "social sandbox game" by Hidden Path Entertainment, a Seattle based developer, where the player can manipulate the terrain and build whatever he or she likes. Another aspect is the interaction with npcs in the game but since it is still in active development and I am playing an alpha version of the game, the only interaction so far is exchanging crafted items for more crafting recipes. I like the game because it is like a better looking Minecraft without the survival aspects like hunger and monsters but with the exploration and gathering of resources needed for building. The developer are quite active in communicating with the community and taking suggestions on upcoming features. They even have a regular live stream where they show the game and sometimes play with the community.

The exposure to media like Youtube and Twitch has pushed me buy a new microphone (because the one I had was not working right) and I started streaming some game play of Windborne of my own on It is quite an interesting feeling talking to yourself on a mic in order to get your thoughts "on the air". Kinda like writing a blog for myself (;P) but with a chance of communication with an international audience with more exposure.
Hearing my recorded voice is really strange because I sound so different from my "inner voice", the voice I hear when speaking.
I am thinking about making more videos of games I have on my Steam library but never played before. Another thought I had was making a game development tutorial for YouTube, where I go over many aspects of the development process and maybe even make a full game from concept to gold status.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

New Year, Indie Life and Unemployment

Wow, 2014 already...
The time flies by so fast.
Happy new year to everybody who might read this ;)

My work on "Dork Tales" is on kind of a hiatus at the moment because I am not good at motivating myself to work without clear goals and "pressure", meaning people depending on me or other factors that motivates me form the outside. I tried to find ways to keep me motivated but working at home with too many distractions (like YouTube and my Steam backlog) prevented me from really working much on the game at all. The indie life seems not really made for me after all. I have no problem working with other people in teams but apparently not on my own...

After getting my certificate in Game Programming in November, I'm still looking for a job in the games industry and live on unemployment money for the time being.