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    Guess who is back? A small life update


    2018 - 03.26

    So obligatory: it’s been a while since I’ve posted/spammed the interwebs with my random musings. Life sometimes gets a tiny bit crazy. However, I’m back now with a small update with what is new with my life.

    At the end of last year, I lost my job (boo! hisss!) – and after the initial shock it suddenly occurred to me – I was in a financial position that would allow me to focus on my real passion, game development (yay!). I sat down in a dark, candle lit room and started drafting down ideas: gameplay concepts, themes, badly drawn stick figures doing things to each with weapons of mass destruction.  That kind of thing.

    And from those scribbles an idea started to solidify. I’ve always loved simulation games, a hobby that started many, many moons ago with SimEarth. Since then, I’ve played a lot of them: RimWorld, Dwarf Fortress and Prison Architect, to name a few. I dread to think how much time I’ve spent commanding virtual people to build/slaughter things [edit: I just checked my steam stats for RimWorld and Prison Architect and can confirm I’ve spent *way* too long playing both]. There is something supremely satisfying watching your people work with blue prints you create in order to build something magnificent. Seeing how they interact with each other, watching behaviours and friendships form. Poking one place in a simulated world and watching something happen. Slowly, but surely, FringePlanet started to take shape.

    Concept Artwork

    FringePlanet is a simulator game. It’s set in a universe where both science and magic co-exist. It’s heavily voxel inspired. It has quite the grand road plan (which will be appearing on it’s homepage: http://fringeplanetgame.com). It’s aimed at the single player PC market place (via steam) but a Mac/Linux version is fairly high on the priority list as well.

    It has been under development for about three months now, and I’ve got to the point where it has actually started to look and feel like a game. That re-assuring feeling you get when you’ve taken an idea, written a bunch of code, and got it into a playable state and a little voice in your head actually says “wait, this is actually really fun”.

    So, I then took the next big step, and formed my own company. I’m a director of a company now – it’s a bit weird thinking about the reality of that. I even had to record the official minutes of the meeting where the company was formed. Attendance of which consisted of the Director of the company (me), the shareholder of the company (me), the secretary of the company (me) and the company mascots (my cats – though they were busy playing at the time so may not have been paying that much attention).

    I’ve  applied for funding from various sources, and will be blogging about that process in the future – alas, my funds are not infinite and the earliest realistic release date for FringePlanet will be early next year (though I am planning to run a private alpha before that).

    I’ve got into a regular schedule of development work: Mondays are “code clean up” days – refactoring code, documenting things, cleaning up any debug code, fixing any bugs that occur during the daily play through. Wednesdays are “idea” days – fleshing out game mechanics, working on specific implementations. Saturdays are “eye candy” days – making things look prettier, creating textures/models etc;.  Every night after I finish work I create a daily build of the game. I’m using a raspberry pi powered GitLab for version control (it’s even got a speaker attached to it and it plays a fanfare whenever I push). Working on FringePlanet has very much become my life.

    I’ll be blogging about both the game and the journey, and of course, spamming twitter randomly about it – GreenSlimeGames.com will be my personal blog about the journey, professional type blog posts/news about the game will be on FringePlanetGame.com.

    This is all a very definitely scary process – biting the bullet and making game development my full time job – but it is the most satisfied I’ve felt in my life.

    Gameplay image

    Nic Nic
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    Mine Your Step – Autopsy


    2013 - 03.28

    Wow. I have to say, I had no idea about how popular Mine Your Step would be. After an initial review on IndieGaming.com my Google analytics went crazy. That story then got picked up on RockPaperShotgun and PCGamer. I can easily say that my web server has never seen so much traffic. The more amazing thing was the number of tweets and emails I had about the game. It was a very simple idea, but people really seem to dig it. It is really satisfying as an indie gamedev to see people playing your game, even more so when they take the time to actually give you feedback. And so for everyone who tweeted me and e-mailed me about it – thank you :-).

    One of the most interesting parts of the feedback was about ‘The Sergeant’ – which ( as far as I was concerned ) was just a simple text output element. Though it was just text ( I had debated having audio of me shouting the hint, but I really don’t sound like a military person ) people associated a personality with a simple line of white writing – something I found fairly interesting 🙂 Also, I was very impressed at how quickly the levels became solved. The first levels were completed by the time the second review – so I spent a busy night writing a few more additional levels. Thankfully these are actually pure evil, and no one has managed to complete them yet 🙂

    So after having a rather random success story with one of my games, what do I do next? I’m debating a sequel to be honest – though this may be milking it 🙂 I’d really love a multiplayer environment – to actually see all your fellow cadets running around the battlefield, randomly exploding. I’d like to keep it in html5 – as I think the fact it required no plug-ins helped it somewhat. I’ve played around with a unity first person prototype, lots of fog, random explosions – and it made the game, well, pretty dark and scary to be honest. The explosions where simulated but random – the idea being that though you wouldn’t see anyone else walking around the battle field, you would hear and see explosions of other players in real-time. Creepy.

    One idea that came up pretty consistently was checkpoints – I agree they would help especially with the more complicated levels. Also checkpoints would give me a chance to be evil with level design 🙂 ( ‘oh you set your checkpoint to that place? shame it is a dead end 🙂 hehehe’ ).

    One other thing that people said they enjoyed about Mine Your Step was the way that everyone was working toward a common goal. I’ve had a few ideas now which play on this idea. I think random strangers working together to achieve a goal is pretty damn cool idea. So if I don’t produce Mine Your Step 2 for my April #1GAM it will probably be working with this idea of players trying to defeat me.

    The game itself was pretty easy to write. I think about two days worth of work went into it – the most complicated bit was the level design ( as I found a decent tileset, but my art skills are poor ) and of course the client/server interaction – which I hadn’t done with html5 before, but it was pretty simple. The last minute addition of the music I think really helped the atmosphere of the game – though after checking out my bandwidth use, I had to quickly compress it from a 7 meg mp3 into a 2 meg mp3 🙂 The player sprite was built with the most excellent charas-project.net. I modified the sprite that came out of that by making his helmet much bigger to give him a more toony look. For people who have asked how the client/server bit was done, it is fairly easy – on death a message is sent to a php script which stores the x, y, level and player name in a MySQL db. On level load another PHP script is called which contains JSON encoded data containing all the death x, y locations on a level for the past 24 hours. And that is pretty much it. If anyone is truly interested in how this is done, more than happy to do a tutorial about it 🙂

    Well, I guess that is it for now 🙂 thanks for reading!

    lamentconfig
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    EmpireAvenue Thoughts


    2012 - 08.11

    While doing some research into social media gaming in view of writing a another one ( because let’s face it – SoulHunter was about as popular as a free bacon hand out at a pigs against animal cruelty convention ) and stumbled upon EmpireAvenue. After making some share trading type games before, I thought I would give it a go. The concept behind EmpireAvenue is simple – buying and selling shares in people based upon their online presence aimed at building brand awareness – like Klout, but instead of +K’s you trade with imaginary money. Initially, I got bored pretty quickly – the interface itself is pretty dull, though functional and I found myself wondering what was the point. I logged out and forgot about it.

    A week later I stumbled upon it again, and logged in to see what had happened to my stock price. Not surprisingly, my stock worth had fallen and I imagined in some virtual boardroom my investors were angrily sitting around a big oak table calling me nasty names. So, I decided to have another go at it and started interacting with the site, doing missions, buying and selling people etc; Part of writting this post is conductive to see how it actually relates to getting real eyeballs on pages – the code in the first sentance of this post is a validiation code to get this blog [ EDIT : Code removed as I got verified, and it looked real ugly 🙂 ] verified – very interested to see if traffic increases or not once it gets verified. I noticed my stock price increasing steadily and I will say it is a strangely addictive experience.

    As for using EmpireAvenue for brand awarness, I’m not sure I’m seeing a lot of return for the time spent ‘playing’ – I’m enjoying the ‘game’ ( note the quote marks 🙂 ) but don’t think I’m seeing any major pull from it – met a few interesting people, and read some interesting things but still it is earlier days, I guess 🙂 For those who have read this far, I guess it is probably a good idea to mention my profile – there is no affiliate code or anything like this lurking in the url, so feel free to have a look : BeebugNic on EmpireAvenue.

    There is quite a large amount of data availible from an API – which is always a huge turn on for any web-based service. Well, atleast for me, prehaps I’m going odd in my old age. Might very well have a play around with that later and seeing if I can grab any interesting info from it 🙂 Anyway, I’m sure I will report back in a while with additional thoughts about EmpireAvenue.

    And to reward anyone who got this far, here is my awesomely amazing peice of advice for playing EmpireAvenue :

    Spam refresh on the homepage ( the one with the new users section ) – the moment you see any new user with a female avatar, buy 200 shares in them. Users who have a female picture in them will almost always start to shoot up very quickly – much quicker than male/no picture/slime monster pictures.

    Thoughs/views and comments are always welcome 🙂 I’ll definately blogging again with any further thoughts 🙂

    lamentconfig
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    Sigil : Patch Notes – 0.1.8


    2012 - 06.30
    •   Version number changed from version 1.0 #7dfps to version 0.1.8 alpha
    •   Added freeze turret
    •   Added unholy mother enemy
    •   Added damage effect
    •   Added online scoreboards
    •   Reduced mouse sensativity
    •   Tweaked AI
    •   Cleaned up some geometry
    •   Reduced damage of minigun turret
    •   Increased damage of basic turret, sniper turret
    •   Slight reduction in range of weakness turret
    •   Increased starting energy to 40
    •   Slightly increased energy pick-up range
    •   Moved from scene based level to dynamic level loading for the future
    •   Added freeze turret to tutorial window

     

    Webplayer page :
    http://www.greenslimegames.com/games/sigil/

    Native Windows download :
    http://www.greenslimegames.com/games/sigil/sigil-windows.zip

    Native Mac download :
    http://www.greenslimegames.com/games/sigil/sigil-mac.app.zip

    Let me know what you think! Comment here, Tweet me or simply just share it with your friends!

    lamentconfig
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    Sigil : The Future


    2012 - 06.23

    After the crazy amount of feedback I’ve had on Sigil, I’ve decided to carry on with it. Totally loved the first person shooter tower mechanic, so now I need to do several things to turn it from a 7dfps entry into a fully-fledged game. Below is a list of random ideas I’ve had. Dependent on feedback, I may drop some – need to actually write a proper GDD quite soon.

    •     Code Refactor – as a 7 day game, I have to admit, the backend is in a bit of a mess. All the AI is currently derived from a base class, along with the turrets. However, the GUI and spawning systems are a bit of a mess. This needs cleaning up.
    •     MOAR Turrets – I have so many ideas for turrets – I’m going to create a load, see how they play for people, then probably trim them down to the most useful ones. Current turret ideas :
      •     Freeze Turret – does exactly what it sounds like, freezes enemies in place so your other turrets can decimate them.
      •     Electric Turret – Arcs between different enemies, gradually getting weaker.
      •     Energy Gathering Turret – Does no damage, but collects energy automatically within a set range.
      •     Bounce Turret – causes the enemies to bounce backwards in a random direction.
      •     Elemental Turret – four different turrets doing different amounts of damage to the enemy dependent on resists.
      •     Mortar Turret – Launches an AOE projectile.
      •     ‘Lazer’ Turret – Does damage to one enemy, keeping it the sole target while it damages it, damage increasing over time.
      •     Poison Turret – Applies a DOT to an enemy.
      •     Decloaker Turret – Makes invisible enemies visible while in range.
    •     MOAR Enemies
      •     Elemental variants – similar to currently spawned ones, but with resists to the elemental turrets mentioned above.
      •     Cloaked Enemies – Originally the transparent cube was meant to be a cloaked enemy, however, with time constraints I had to drop this idea.
      •     Reverse Vampire Enemies – They start with 1 health, then as they move towards your Life Sigil they gain more and more health.
      •     Flying Enemies – exactly what it sounds like, will really confuse the current turret AI 🙂
      •     Buff Enemies – Enemies that speed up or heal surrounding enemies.
      •     Teleporting Enemies – They appear in front of you and stay there for 5 seconds, before teleporting closer to your Life Sigil.
      •     Ninja Enemies – not quite ninjas, but will try and work out a route to your Life Sigil by avoiding as many of your turrets as possible.
    •     Configuration screen – music/sound/mouse sensitivity/misc game options.
    •     Levels – More than one level, a set way to complete a level, proper wave system etc;
    •     Game Modes – The current game will become survival, I want a story line one as well. Also would like a craft mode, where instead of you using energy to make turrets, you build them from fallen foes.
    •     Graphic/Level/Model Improvement – the current art style sucks, very much need to move to a cooler look.
    •     Turret Upgrades – Very much needed, as currently the only way to survive is just to spawn more and more turrets.
    •     Online scoreboards – Would be epic, hopefully will start the implementation of this today.
    •     General polish – improve the GUI, overview map, etc; etc;
    •     Add different difficulty modes – including an unlockable one on completion.
    •     More effects – unity can produce some amazing looking graphical effects, I need to harness this for overall sexiness.
    •     MOAR EASTEREGGS – Seems no one has discovered any easter eggs in the current game – but I want to add more, as I love them 🙂
    •     Better tutorial screen and menu screen, along with a decent game over screen.

    As you can see, that is a fairly long wishlist – no doubt there will be some things removed and other things added. I’ve got the freeze turret already in my test build, along with a new enemy type that spawns other enemies. Once they are balanced and working properly I will add a global high-score list, which should be fun 🙂 I’ll branch the game at this point, keeping the #7dfps entry separate and focus on creating and updating the new instance.

    If you haven’t played the game – why haven’t you? 🙂 http://www.greenslimegames.com/games/sigil <-- see it is big and red, you know you wanna click it! Mac and PC downloads are both available on that page as well. Let me know what you think, either comment here, tweet me ( @beebug_nic ) or feel free to email me ( lamentconfig AT greenslimegames DOT com ). Looking forward to reading your thoughts!

    lamentconfig
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