The Story So Far

Hello. It may not have escaped the attention of both of the people who read this blog before that the site has been changed slightly. This is mainly because this is now going to be more of a portfolio/devblog being maintained by me, Ash, than anything else.

Basically, after finishing Nuclear Storm, the games we had planned on developing (‘we’ being Me, Dan and Miles) fell a little flat and then life got in the way, so I’ve continued to develop some of my own ideas, which is sort of what this post is about…

Where we were

The idea behind developing Nuclear Storm (which is still playable here!) was to learn how to use Unity while obviously making a finished game, and we learned a lot. Like, more than I could have imagined. The code and general art pipeline makes me wince now, but you’ve got start somewhere and I’m really happy with what we produced. I’m actually proud enough of it that I’d love to go back and “remake” it at some point, without the horrible code and clumsily implemention of Dan’s artwork, obviously.

The next project was supposed to be Stranded, a sort of puzzle/adventure game, which I still think could be a great idea. Unfortunately I think we bit off more than we could chew in terms of scope, and just how much we were actually capable of at that point in time. Again, it’s something I’d like to come back to at some point. The development did inspire what I decided to next, though, while we all got busy with our lives.

The mini-games

With the knowledge that learning by doing is clearly very effective I decided to keep making games, basically. Unfortunately, I’m no artist, but since my main aim to was to keep learning, I decided to think of mini-games (or old school flash games) that I could do my own take on and try to make one every month. I get to keep the scope of the project simple (increasing it slightly if it was a particularly simple game) and not worry about the art all that much, while having something immediate to focus on – I didn’t want to spend a lot of time designing a game when I still had lots to learn about how to bring that design to life.

The extra advantage of this plan, which I didn’t actually realise until after I’d almost finished my first game, was that I’d get a chance to interact with people playing my games by using a service like GameJolt. GameJolt is basically one of those previously mentioned Flash game sites, but includes games built on a much larger range of platforms and includes features like leaderboards and achievements. Having people actually play on my games is the reason I want to make them (which may seem obvious, but I’m not entirely convinced it’s the reason some people do it!), and the players at GameJolt are very enthusiastic.

Park It

So, my first game was based on those top-down parking sims that I remember playing years ago when I should have been working but got especially bored – You control a car and you have to park in an assigned space in a car park (or “parking lot”) with an often increasing amount of hazards.

You can play my version here.

I’m going to write a separate post about what went right, what went wrong, and what I think I learned, but long story short, I loved the process. I produced everything for the game except the music, so it’s especially nice to read some of the lovely comments that people made about it.

Unfortunately, some rather horrible personal circumstances (all fine now, thankfully) after finishing Park It meant that I ended up away from development for quite a while. Afterwards, since I’d clearly broken my ‘game every month’ plan (Park It actually took me 5 weeks, but quiet down, you) I decided to start working on a game idea I had ages ago that would also work on touch-screen devices.

Turn By Turn Racing

As the title hints at, Turn By Turn Racing is basically a turn-based racing game. Players pick a gear and move their car a set distance based on that gear, before passing to their opponent and repeating the process. Judging the distance you will move and making educated guesses to gain ground on them being the aim.

It took me quite a while to get Turn By Turn working anywhere close to how I wanted, but I posted it around to get some feedback once it was mostly working and it got some good reactions and a *lot* of suggestions, which varied wildly in the direction the game would take. I had some basic ideas for where I wanted the game to go, but nothing that I was absolutely certain of, so this feedback was both brilliant and, in hindsight, a bit of a pain.

Again, I’ll write up a separate post about what I learned, but the main point is that I rushed in too quickly. Not having a concrete plan before I started developing some of the core features meant that I’d painted myself into a corner in some senses, and some of the suggestions left me a little confused about exactly which direction I needed or wanted to take the game in.

Again, you can play the latest version on GameJolt here, or download the Android version here. It’s essentially one basic mechanic at this point, but it gives an indication of what I wanted to achieve, I think.

Sniper

So here we are now. After another short break, I started working on another of those mini-games, this time based on stickman-shooting sniper games that seemed to be everywhere at one point.

This was one of the first ideas that came to me when I planned to make the min-games but I’d put it off because of concerns about producing the art and the scope of what I wanted to do. Thankfully, a slightly different plan popped into my head one day which seemed feasible and I started working on it right away.

I’ve not quite finished with Sniper yet so I’m not going to go into too much detail about what I had planned originally and how it changed (again, another post for another day) but so far it’s the happiest I’ve ever been with a project. I’ve taken my time and made design decisions early, and planned the design enough that I don’t end up backtracking. It’s been fantastic to work on so far.

I still don’t know for sure how good the game is – I’ll let other people decide that – but the early feedback I’ve received has been useful and I’m approaching a point in development where I need to start overhauling my awful placeholder art into something better. Exciting times!

Wrapping up…

This was all considerably longer than I had originally planned, but it was surprisingly cathartic. Hopefully this sets things up nicely for me to continue posting about development and gives a nice intro to anyone who hasn’t read anything here before.

I’m actually quite looking forward to writing about the development of Park It and Turn By Turn Racing, and I’d recommend other indie devs take some time to think about a project a few months after it’s completion to see exactly what you did right and wrong.

Right now, it’s back to finishing Sniper. Wish me luck!

Nuclear Storm and the future

Hello there. It seems to be a bit of a tradition of mine to open a post stating how long it’s been since I last updated, but not this time! Not unless you count that previous sentence anyway. Onwards!

Nuclear Storm

Our beloved Nuclear Storm is now finished. Well, sort of. We had some discussions and decided that we’d push to get it to beta and then let people play for a while, seeing what sort of feedback we got. That was a month or so ago, I think, and we’ve not really done anything on it since, so we decided to leave it as is.

We’ve not made any real effort to spread the word or arrange any real testing, so feedback has been fairly thin on the ground, but most of the stuff that we’ve received was very positive, littered with suggestions and changes that we’ve known of for a while – general difficulty, no checkpointing, and the objective arrows implementation being the main culprits. But we’re very happy with how it turned out and we’ve certainly learnt a lot.

You can still play and/or download the game on the Nuclear Storm page. We’ve got no plans to take it down, and we’re always happy to receive feedback or bugs reports via the link on the same page. Just don’t expect us to implement any changes unless it’s a bug and we’ve got a good idea how to fix it. Sorry!

So, what’s next?

We’ve had a busy few months outside the world of making games, so we’ve made slow progress with the plans for the next project, but it’s starting to take shape now. Obviously we’re not planning on sharing what it is just yet, but mainly because we haven’t got far enough to describe it without it mentioning something that’s likely to change dramatically or just disappear. Also, we’re still arguing about whether or not it’s going to be in 4D and use motion controls*.

What we are planning on doing right now is try and get a bit more of an online presence for anyone who is interested in what we’re doing. and we are definitely planning on updating more regularly on this blog, with a better looking website at some point. There will be tweets and Facebook posts inbetween all that, though, if that’s your sort of thing.

Luckily, if that is your sort of thing, you can find us on Twitter at the @RelevantDev account. We’re all on Twitter individually, too, if you don’t mind completely irrelevant updates or complete silence, depending on who you follow. We’ve now got Facebook and Google+ pages, too. Plus, there’s still the mailing list if you prefer your updates rare and via email.

* It definitely won’t use motion controls. We’ll likely patch in 4D support sometime in the distant future.

Until next time…

So, after a busy few months we’re eager to get back into the swing of things and start making another game, which is nice. Fresh enthusiasm and new ideas should hopefully inspire us into keeping the site updated with what we’re up to and how we’ve achieved certain elements of the game, etc., which is hopefully interesting to you, the lovely reader.

So, that’s it for now. We’ll (almost definitely) be back soon!

Media 03 – GUI & Models

Nearing the finish line

As the project draws to a close, we’ve finally decided to tackle the GUI. Were now at a stage that we’re fairly happy with and just in the process of implementing it through out the game.

I’ve also been working on the Menu scene a little more. I managed to get the lighting a little more interesting and tweaked the the GUI buttons to better reflect the tone of the game.

Finally, I’ve added a few WIP renders of the Dakota Helicopter and the 3 turrets that you’ll encounter in the game.

You can find the most recent public build here)

Media 02: More screenshots

Screenshots: Part 2

We’ve added a couple of visual features over the last week or so which I think deserve another batch of screenshots.
Firstly we’ve added a targeting reticule (screenshot 1) that appears over a target when your locked on. This helps the player distinguish which enemy they’re firing at when multiple enemies are present on screen.
Secondly we’ve added spot light (screenshot 3) which has 3 functions. It helps the player orientate themselves, it provides a rough targeting area (Where the player missiles will hit the ground) and it also helps to judge terrain height.

The lovely chaps over at AlphaBetaGamer posted a few GIF’s of the game. (They’re a couple of builds out of date now, but you can find the most recent build here),

 

Media 01 – Screenshots

Screenshots:

As we near the end of this prototype project, I think I speak for us all that we’ve learnt a great deal.  We’re now in Beta and we recently invited everyone to play the game in more or less its completed form. (Save for some environment details and a ‘hints’ system.)

Over the last nine months or so, we’ve created a bunch of logos, models, textures and materials. The game looks half decent now and so in this first of a series of posts,  I’d like to share some screenshots of the environment. Later on I want to share a series of breakdowns of the assets used in creating the look and feel of Nuclear Storm.

Reaching a milestone: Part 2

Hello again. It’s been a quiet around here again, hasn’t it? Sorry about that. However, I do have two bits of news to share that I hope will make up for it…

News!

Firstly, our game has a name! A proper one, that is. We’ve been referring to it by it’s Unity project name since, well, we first created it as a Unity project, so we decided to have a session of sitting around and throwing words and names about and seeing what stuck. Thankfully, we found one we all agreed on and that is…

*drum roll*

Nuclear Storm!

There are a few reasons why that made sense, and some of those are due to the world the game takes place in, as well as the fact that it sounds more exciting than the project name. So there you go!

More news!

The other news is that we’re getting ready to send Nuclear Storm out into the world of testing. Exciting! Terrifying!

If you’ve signed up at the mailing list page (it’s still here) then you can expect an email at some point this week (I hope) with a little more info and the current state of the game, as well as some details of how you can report bugs and feedback so we can improve things.

It’s actually a little bit scary now that we’re this close, but I’m really looking forward to getting some feedback and trying to make a better game. So, if you’ve not done it yet, go to the mailing list and sign up!

Well, that’s it for now. Thanks!

Hello world!

Yes, hello!

So, we’ve been working on a prototype game for a few months now and after reading the development breakdown of the lovely Tom Francis‘ game, Gunpoint, I thought maybe it’d be worth posting some stuff here, on this website I set up ages ago and then left…

First thing’s first…

I suppose I should clarify who ‘we’ is, shouldn’t I? Well, I’m Ash (Hello!), and the other two team members are Miles and Dan. Since we all have full-time, paying jobs that aren’t making games and we’re new to this game development business, we don’t really have concrete roles, but Miles and I have been doing the coding while Dan does the vast majority of the artwork. We’ve all had a hand in the design of the prototype because, despite many, many years of playing games, we’ve never actually designed one before.

The plan

So, after a few months of Miles and I learning Objective-C (for no particular reason), we made the jump to Unity and asked Dan to join us. We poked and prodded at it for a while and made some good progress learning the ropes, before running out of steam a little when things started getting complicated. Then I suggested we make a plan to help focus us on the daunting prospect of making an actual game (prototype) and that’s what we’ve been doing for the last few months: we’ve created about 247,936 documents and spreadsheets on Google Drive (roughly), set ourselves tasks, and met up once a week (most of the time) to chat and see how things are going, and it seems to be working. It’s starting to actually look like a game.

Where we are now

Right now – as of yesterday, in fact – we’re in very early alpha (that’s what we’re calling it anyway) – the game has lots of unfinished stuff and most of the models are untextured, etc., but it has objectives and it’s technically possibly to complete it from start to finish. I was quite excited about this, to be honest.

There’s a subtle hint about some of the gameplay there…

So that’s a very brief update of the last few months. With any luck I’ll remember to post here every now and then about what’s happened, maybe even include some screenshots and/or videos of where things are and how it’s starting to take shape. And on that note…

Look at it!

Here are a couple of screenshots from a few weeks ago:

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