Gemstone Keeper at LAGC 2017

So I had a great time at the London Anime and Gaming Convention, even despite some unfortunate setbacks. Indie Zone Administrator and developer at Grandpa Pixel (Folks behind the RPG Legenda series) was unable to make it at the last minute. What made it all the more unfortunate was that there were only three indies at the Indie Zone this year: myself, Crystalline Green (developer of Flight of Light and Atlantis Dare) and Hei Stories (Indie Animation Studio working on Seeking Scarlet At The End Of The World). Needless to say we brought attention to the many attendees who were walking around the gaming area, looking for something to play outside of the retro games in store.

  

I also did a short talk on game development in general, talking about my game development process and answering questions on topics such as piracy, game engines, looking for feedback and much more. Despite the small numbers, demoing the game did help find a few bugs and it was great hearing people say they love the visuals and the challenging gameplay. There was one kid who went back to the game multiple times, which was unexpected.

In a weeks time on Saturday the 18th to the following Sunday I’ll be at GEEK Expo in Margate. Unfortunately unless some other plans come up this will be the last event I’ll be exhibiting Gemstone Keeper before release, as I was unsuccessful with my application at the Leftfield Collection at Rezzed. I will be sure to attend Rezzed as well as GDC in San Francisco so there might be a chance to see me around. Till then I’ll be making my usual posts on social media.

Advertisements

GBJAM, Talks and Progress

Over the last month I’ve been working day and night, and having some fun in a few places as well.

From October 1st to October 10th was the GBJAM5, the games jam where the theme is the original gameboy. While the aim is to make a game that could play on an original gameboy, the only rules that matter is the resoluton being 160 x 144 pixels and only using 4 colour graphics. I’ve been taking part since the first one back in 2013, and I’ve only missed GBJAM2. It’s a jam I love because it’s small, I love the restriction of the game’s size and graphics, plus growing up with a Gameboy Color means I have a bit of nostalgia for the system.

Despite the games jam lasting 10 days, I was going to spend the weekend in Dublin so I could spend some time with my sister, who’s been travelling around Africa for a few months. I decided to work on a really simple game idea, a block moving from start to finish, avoiding some obstacles on the way. The idea ended up being so simple it took me the first day to get basic graphics moving on the screen, some obstacles and a palette swapping system. I was able to use the rest of the time updating the graphics, adding a few more objects like locks, keys and bouncepads, as well as a transitional effect and some other screens to make the game feel complete and authentic.

The end result was MonoCube, an action puzzle game where all you have to do is get to the end.   During the development process I got a surprising amount of attention, and even after submitting the game early I got several comments, the game ended up getting 7th place in gameplay! You can check out the game here.

On November 8th, I will be speaking at the Digital Technology Conference at Stoke Campus, Staffordshire University. My talk will be about Indie Game Development and the Steam Greenlight process, on what I did to get Gemstone Keeper greenlit and offering my advice. This will be the first time I’ve gone to the Stoke campus as a Graduate, and I look forward to seeing what the campus is like since the games and computing departments all moved from Stafford earlier in the year.

Now I’m going to return to Gemstone Keeper, I’ve got one planned boss remaining to work on, and I’m also focusing some time on the audio (both music and sound effects). In the meantime, I’ve updated the game’s titlescreen, as I felt the original could have had a more authentic layout, as well as some improved scrolling for the background.

Graphics Overhaul and a Lesson in Font Licensing

So just as I was about to start on the next boss in Gemstone Keeper, an issue arose that I needed to resolve over the weekend. Due to licensing issues regarding the font I had been using to produce the graphics for Gemstone Keeper for over a year, I had to switch to another font. This would not be a problem for a vast majority of games, however when you are developing a game that uses ASCII art, with designs built specifically for that font in mind, this was a time consuming issue.

Continue reading

Jamchester 2016

Last weekend I took part in Jamchester, a games jam that took place in Manchester (obviously) at The Studio in the city centre. What makes this games jam different from the other game jams that take place on-site is that this is considered a “professional game jam”.

Unlike student game jams (like Staffordshire’s Global Game Jam or University of Hull’s Three Thing Game) or amateur game jams (like Ludum Dare), Jamchester is a games jam aimed at professional game developers, particularly the indie game studios that take place around the Greater Manchester area. While there were some student teams (and a student category), the majority of entrants are all professional game developers with a variety of experience in the games industry.

I was encouraged to go by the team at Desk Dragons, and managed to get one of the last tickets to get in. I managed to leave work early in order to get to Manchester before the jam began, and I was amazed at how well organized the jam was. Every table had a branded notebook and “survival kit” containing shampoo, wipes, toothpaste with a toothbrush. There was a schedule with food provided all day with buffets and even a BBQ in the late afternoon. Almost all of this was possible with the amount of sponsors, as the money from the tickets went to the charity Special Effect.

Continue reading

Gemstone Keeper is on Steam Greenlight!

Yes, it is finally time! The page has been published meaning Gemstone Keeper is officially on Steam Greenlight!

You can go vote directly on the Steam App by going HERE on the Steam Website HERE.

This is both an exciting and nervewracking day for me, as this is the proving grounds to see if Gemstone Keeper has what it takes for Steam. So for this week I’ll be checking every now and then, try to get the word out alongside with making updates to the game.

Updates such as more work with the level effects, I’ve gotten the wave effect sorted, however I recently found a bug when trying to capture the game so I may have to rework my method of applying effects. The challenge involves having the effect being applied to things within the game world (i.e. the player, creatures, level layout, objects and even the UI) while not being applied to stuff that isn’t involved with the game world (specifically the pause menu).

Another bit of progress that has been shamefully late (sadly I couldn’t have them ready for the video) are the items. These are secondary pieces that unlike weapons, are optional, but you may find them useful once you can have access to them. Certain items planned include medikits (regain health), grenades (explodes the walls and nearby enemies), gem scanner (find where the gemstones are) and more. These items are however limited per level so it’s important to use them wisely. At the moment I’ve got the triggering system for them ready, with one of the challenges being visualising them:

Unfortunately one thing I have missed out on is providing a playable demo. I want to have a demo ready but it’ll have to be in the next week or so while I check through bugs and ensure a demo build is stable enough to distribute. So watch this space for a demo of Gemstone Keeper!

Ludum Dare and Steam Greenlight

This last week of April is going to be a busy week, and May will be even busier, so I’d figure it’s best to write this out now. Last week I took part in Ludum Dare 35, with 48 hours on a surprisingly rare free-weekend (my weekends are usually filled by going out and hanging out with people or going to events, such is life). The theme was shapeshift, so obviously a lot of games involve changing shapes with a few that either use shapeshifting in either the levels, the monsters or even in the mechanics.

While the theme voting was going on, one of the suggested themes was “Two Colours”, and so all my ideas were pretty much blurred out by one of my favourite games of all time: Ikaruga. So I decided to combine shapeshifting ships with colour shifting bullet absorbing, this is where Spinstar comes from.

 

This was quite fun to make, particularly with the animation and the bullet patterns, you can go vote on the game here or play the game directly on itch.io here. I’ll be voting on games still, hopefully I’ll get a good score like my past entries.

On other pressing matters, I plan to take Gemstone Keeper to Steam Greenlight. I have already been working on the Steam page itself, but I’m giving myself three weeks to fine-tune the page, get the trailer finished and let as many people know about it as possible.

Steam Greenlight Anouncement

I’ve been working on the trailer, I’ve had difficulties getting game footage until recently, I might write about it once the Steam Greenlight page goes online but it all comes down to trying to find a method that outputs videos with the least washed out colours and as little blurring as possible.

I’ll also keep progress of the game where I can, I’ve been working on bosses and I want to get started on items.

 

Secret of Escape Now Free

To celebrate my birthday, I’ve decided that from this day forth, my stealth game Secret of Escape will now be available to download FREE of charge. You can now get the game from either IndieGameStand or Itch.io if you want to download it and enjoy it as much as you want. I haven’t been able to change the price on Desura because it won’t let me set a price below $1.99, but since Desura’s bankruptcy I doubt anyone will use it.

SoE_Small Continue reading