Final Stretch: Gemstone Keeper’s Release

Back in May, I made a simple demo for a University Thesis, now it’s less than two weeks away from being released onto Steam. This is such an exciting occassion for me, but also a nerve wracking one. If all goes to plan, Gemstone Keeper will be available on Steam on March 31st at 6pm GMT.

For the time being I will be working hard on polishing the game and getting the word out, I appreciate any help from that. There have been several updates from when the game was shown at LAGC, especially thanks to the feedback I got of the game from both GEEK Play Expo and GDC. Game has been balanced (repeatedly), boss battles have been redone and several bugs have been fixed.

I’d also like to give my thanks to Gemstone Keeper’s composer for the soundtrack, Vincent Rubinetti. He is probably best known for producing the music to the game INK, the colourful yet minimal platformer by Zack Bell. We’ve been in regular discussions both online and at GDC about the game’s music, and you can hear one of the tracks from the game’s brand new trailer above, I think it’s some brilliant work.

I’d like to thank everyone who has shown support for Gemstone Keeper over the last year or more, this game has been a huge milestone to conquer and I hope all those who try it will have a great experience.

It’s just amazing to think of how it all started…

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New Years Update

It has now been one full week of 2017, and a lot of people (including myself) have slowly gotten back to work. Since Gemstone Keeper has been getting close to release, I’ve started work as soon as we can to get stuff done.

Before I get into Gemstone Keeper, I worked on a little game for Ludum Dare 37 where the player is stuck in a porta-loo balancing in the air. That game was Danger: Mondays, and after two weeks of voting the results are in. The results for this Ludum Dare were definitely beyond my expectations. While the amount of submissions for the compo were smaller compared to past years (901 compared to 1117 at LD35), that doesn’t devalue the fact that Danger: Mondays achieved a rank just a few places shy of Top 25 in the Humour category of all categories.

capture

Reading all the comments, I was glad people found the concept amusing, but I’m completely grateful at the how well I did this time around. Thank you to everyone who voted during the day. Apologies for not posting about Ludum Dare any sooner, but I was working on a bigger game.

To be a bit more descriptive, Boss Rush will have the player beating all five bosses as fast as possible, they are able to set the stats and weapons of their explorer before hand and they regain some of their health after defeating each boss.

Score mode allows the player to go through the caverns, and like the daily run mode, will try and get the highest score possible by collecting as many gemstones and materials as they can on a single run. This time however, the player is free to set the seed they want, which will effect all aspects of the game from the levels, player stats, which weapon they have and which items they’ll have at the start.

One of the benefits of working on these game modes (from a developer’s perspective) is that we go through all the main game modes again to not only ensure they work through both the main game mode and these smaller game modes, but to find any bugs or issues that was missed out the first few times.

Another update we’ve done is on the gemstones themselves, namely how they are rendered. Originally, the Gemstone Geometry was generated using a Gemstone Mesh Generator that was developed at PROCJAM, and then rendered using a custom software approach using SFML (you can read a comprehensive write up of this on my websites in part 1 and part 2). However, over the last week of December, it was decided that it was time to update this for performance and to improve quality by changing the rendering process to an OpenGL Hardware render approach.

Below you can see the difference, on the left is the software approach, and the right is the new hardware approach:

This weekend I’ve been playing around with post-process effects, as it would be nice to have some visual effects that would appear through the entire game, although it would be possible for the player to disable certain effects if that want to. To pull this off, the framework now has a multipass post processing system where it’s possible to disable certain effects.

This allows us to apply multiple post process effects at once, and allows us to add the options we need to allow players to enable/disable certain ones.

CRT Shader

Bloom Shader

This is only a small sample of what is being planned, leading up to Gemstone Keeper’s release on March 31st 2017. I’ll also be attending London Gaming & Anime Con in early February and GDC in San Francisco later in the month, however the latter will just be as an attendee.

Here’s to 2017 being a successful year for many people!

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.

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Glow Drop DX and Global Games Jam are Out!

Over the last week, I’ve technically had to prepare for two releases, and guess what? Both games are out, and I’ve updated the game menu to include links to them! It’s pretty cool how both games were originally made at 48 hour game jams, and both are being updated as we speak. Feel free to read on about my experiences with Global Games Jam this year, and try out these two releases as soon as possible, all feedback is awesome!

Glow Drop DX

We Are Surrounded

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Ludum Dare Results Comparison

So the results are in! So awesome to see the final scores and see what games got in overall, and see where everyone else’s results are on the rankings. Since this is my third successful Ludum Dare, I thought I’d try a little comparing to see how much I did better (or worse) at this point. Then for future Ludum Dare entries I can then add in those results and probably build a chart to see my progress.

The Results

Ludum Dare 27 (Ten Seconds) – 10 Second Paper Flight

Ludum Dare 29 (Beneath the Surface) – Under Maintenance

Ludum Dare 31 (Entire Game on One Screen) – Glow Drop

My Comments

So while the ranking don’t appear to have changed, the average score for most categories has improved. The only category to have gone down considerably over the three LDs was Humor, although in fairness since my game wasn’t intended to have humour so I could’ve omitted the category. I’m also one of the people that got 100% coolness which is an awesome surprise, it means I’m (technically) listed on the results page. At the moment I’m balancing University work and turning Glow Drop into an Android and Windows Phone release as Glow Drop DX. So hopefully you might see more from me in the future?

2014 Website in review

Hey everyone! With the New Year coming up, I figured I generate this stats thing the WordPress guys made to show you how well this site does! Thanks for all your support!

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 6,500 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Ludum Dare 31 Favourites So Far!

So after rating 100 games for Ludum Dare, I thought I’d talk a bit about a few of my favourites from the jam. They may not be the best out of the competition, but these were the ones that I find have an aspect of good entries that each of these succeed at.

Tightrope Theatre

This is the entry done by brilliant flash game developer Jussi Simpanen, aka AdventureIslands. He always does games for jams big and small and his entries usually bring a quirky design and incredible polish to them, and this one is no exception. In Tightrope Theatre you must travel from A to B, all while riding a unicycle avoiding fire, spikes and the ground below. The entire game is 24 levels long, and feels very complete for a game done in two days, although you kind of wish there was more. Knowing that Jussi tends to add new stuff to his entries every now and then, maybe there will be more to this entry.

Jumping ‘n Jumping

This is an example of how you should achieve an innovative game in 48 hours, you use one mechanic with a unique spin and give it as much potential as you can. In this case, the mechanic of the game is jumping, and the unique spin is that your jumps are limited, but will increase depending on how you play. Eduardo uses the mechanic in a room where you have to jump to survive and you get this gem.

Screen Mover

Most game jams have a theme, and as a developer you are free to interpret that theme to whatever for your game: you can use a literal route (in LD31, that would mean literally running the entire game on one screen), the metaphorical route or the technical route. With Screen Mover, Sh1rogane decided to go beyond literal and technical with the theme to produce something that may look like a simple platform prototype, until you quickly realise you have to move the game window to progress. The only issue with this idea is that keyboard input it locked while the window moves, but the post jam version does fix this.

The Hyperbeam

Sometimes you don’t have to make a game that’s fun to make it a good entry, you can tell a story, show off some great music or in this case, make some really beautiful graphics. The puzzle game elements are clever, but this game is really good at showing off bloom and neon. It just makes it look wonderful, and the music is really soothing as well. As you may tell from my entry, I love neon glow, and this game does a great job at showing it off.

Swotch

If all else fails, just make a game that is fun to play, and make it addictive for an added bonus. This game’s style reminds me a lot of Terry Cavanagh’s Super Hexagon, and since the developer is planning an Android/iOS release, I recommend him get Chipzel to do music for the game.

Don’t forget to play my entry Glow Drop if you haven’t already.