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.

Where to play Gemstone Keeper?

On March 31st, Gemstone Keeper will be available on Steam. However before then there will be a few opportunities to play Gemstone Keeper at some game events, at least in the UK. These events are beneficial for getting feedback, so the game’s quality will improve before release. Here are two gaming events which are currently confirmed places to try out the beta version of Gemstone Keeper.

https://i2.wp.com/winter.londonanimecon.com/images/logo.png

Feb 7th and 8th – The Rocket Complex London Metropolitan University

LAGC is a bi-annual anime and gaming convention run by AnimeLeague, and specifically I’ll be in the Gaming Area where the Indie Zone is. I have attended the convention several times in the past, and have enjoyed the many events and stalls available.

Feb 18th and 19th – Marine Studios

GEEK is a gaming and comic book (among other things) festival, featuring retro and modern games, as well as pinball and of course, indie games. Gemstone Keeper will be present at GEEK’s Indie Zone. This will be the first time I have attended an event in Kent, so I’m looking forward to what this event has in store.

Now while I won’t be exhibiting, I will also be reaching outside the UK as I go to GDC in San Francisco, (Feb 27th – March 3rd). While I won’t be showing off Gemstone Keeper on the show floor, I’m hoping to meet several other indie developers and attend meetups around the conference, so there may be a few opportunities for Gemstone Keeper to be played during the week in the USA.

While it hasn’t been confirmed yet, I am hoping to once again, attend Insomnia Gaming Festival in April. I last attended Insomnia’s Indie Zone at i58 and had a great time there, so it would be great to present Gemstone Keeper there once again.

Finally, I can now confirm that Gemstone Keeper now has it’s own official website. This will be a central place to describe what the game is about and to see the latest screenshots and videos, such as these ones below.

Gemstone Keeper Underground

Gemstone Keeper Ice

GemstoneKeeper_Terminal.png

Gemstone Keeper Fire

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!

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

Weapons of Gemstone Keeper

So for this week (11th – 17th January) I decided to focus on weapons, a pretty important element of twin-stick shooters. I didn’t want to stick with using one weapon for testing, so I decided to see if I could make a few more for the game. This should explain how I approached the problem and what the weapons system currently looks like for Gemstone Keeper.

Continue reading

New Year

Celebrate what you have accomplished, learn from what went wrong, and most importantly you must move forward. Hope everyone has a great 2016!

We Are SurroundedTitle

Ag8tZsx

One of my goals for 2016 is for Gemstone Keeper to be on Steam Greenlight. I’ll will be sure to have an alpha build ready for play within the next few months.

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

Continue reading

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.

Secret of Escape Shortlisted for TIGA Games Industry Awards 2014

I’m proud to announce that Secret of Escape has been shortlisted for Best Student Game and Game of the Year at this years TIGA Games Industry Awards. The ceremony will celebrate a year of game releases from the UK Games Industry from all developers of all sizes, from indies to the AAA.

This is definitely a huge honour to see a well known organisation in the Games Industry as TIGA to recognise the hard work of those, including individuals and students. I’ve worked very hard during my placement year to bring Secret of Escape to the masses, seeing people praise the game and now for it to be shortlisted for a major award definitely makes the extra effort worthwhile.

If you haven’t already, you can now download Secret of Escape, the fast-paced stealth action game, from Desura, Itch.io and IndieGameStand.

Readers and members of the public can vote for Secret of Escape for Game of the Year here, voting opens until 20th October.

Secret of Escape – Where to find it!

Secret of Escape is officially released to the public, you can download the game for either PC, Mac or Linux (both 32-Bit and 64-Bit). You can get the game from one of these fine game services:

Download Secret of Escape from Desura

Download Secret of Escape from Itch.io

Download Secret of Escape on IndieGameStand

Click the banners to go directly to the game page!