Tuesday
Sep102013

PAX!

This was my first time going to PAX and wow, I was not ready for how huge the actual show was. I've been to GDC several times but PAX eclipses it with so many different things going on in every direction, as far as the eye can see.

I was lucky enough to be able to show Catapult for Hire as part of the Indie MEGABOOTH. I can't believe the amount of work that Kelly Wallick and team had to put in to making it all happen and I'm grateful to have been able to be a part of it.

I attempted to prepare a new build in time for PAX and despite giving it my all I just didn't have the time to make it what it needed to be. I tried to get it right to the very last minute and ended up driving 14 hours through the night and was a sleepless zombie at the show. Unfortunately, even after all that I had to show a 6 month old build because I found that the new build just wasn't where it needed to be. At least I made it alive and it was great meeting and talking to so many great people. Watching people play the game is a true joy.

At one point Tim Schafer came by and not being able to restrain myself I yelled his name. Startled, he turned around, shook my hand and we talked for a minute. Then he asked if he could play my game and of course I had to take a picture of the moment. I mean, it's Tim Schafer! Tim Shafer is playing my game! Look at him! Look how happy he is!

He said he liked the dialogue so of course that was amazing. The whole experience of PAX was one to remember.

It was great to hang out with some of my favorite people in the world again and celebrate nerddom proper. 

Tuesday
Jul022013

The tortured life of a freelance catapultist

Life ain’t easy for this freelance catapultist. The medieval economy has collapsed. There’s no money in being a knight anymore as all of the Lords are broke too. In the case of Sir Knottingsforth all he wants to do is find a way to live doing what he loves.

Sound familiar? It surely does to me. As personal works often do they take on the qualities of their creator. I didn’t set out to create a biographical work but I’ve realized that’s what it is. The game has turned out to be a metaphor for my life.

My childhood was amazing. I would describe it as whimsical. There wasn’t a care in the world and everything was solid, it was going to be around forever. Now that I’m grown I realize that nothing is permanent and everything is in a state of constant decay. Maybe you’ve have had the same experience. That process of realization is the essence of the game’s story.

Everything that I’ve shown has reflected these “childhood years”. The game has an intentionally cartoon and over-saturated look. As time goes on you find yourself in situations where the stakes are much higher and are sometimes lose / lose. Starting in a bright and whimsical world gives me a wider palette of emotional hue to paint with so when times get rough you can feel it. Now, I realize it's a fine line between telling a story and being overbearing with theme so that’s all I’ll say about it.

The game's mechanics have all been selected to be compatible with the world I’ve created. To get an idea of some of the things you can do in the game I made a gameplay mechanics walkthrough video.

In other news I’ll be showing the game at PAX! I’d love to meet you and show you my game so if you’re there make sure you come by and get your hands on it!

 

Friday
May172013

Evolution Complete

In every phase of development I have been slowly improving the look and feel of the game and now, after many iterations, I have come to a style that I am calling "final".

At last the style is at a level that I'm happy with and is still simple enough that I can actually finish the game someday. Depending on your eye it may or may not look like it's improved much but you can definitely see the difference when you compare it to how it looked a few years ago.

Not only do things look better but there are a million-and-one things behind the scenes that need to be built to exist in the world and react as you would expect. 

The trees seem simple enough, right? Here are a few things that something as simple as trees need in order to work in the game world. Since everything is physics based, they need a collision skeleton to allow them to be hit and affected by forces. The foliage makes leaves fall when hit and it slows down objects that pass through. When knocked down they drop "wood" collectibles which are used to build other things. They needed to handle various situations like bombs, gravity fields, direct hits and landing in water. The water in particular has probably doubled the amount of work to complete the game but I estimate it has added at least 325% more fun.

I know I keep saying this, but games are an insane amount of work! Admittedly, much of that has been brought on by myself. I'm a firm believer in quality over quantity. The best example of this is Blizzard Entertainment. Yes they take forever to release their games but you are guaranteed a top notch product. Since I have yet to release my first game I don't have a lot of klout but it seems that all successful indie devs, at some level, understand that quality is key. I'll let Jonathan Blow say it because he's got that klout thing I'm missing.

"I think this is a difference that a lot of the more successful indie games have with the ones that languish and you only hear about on tigsource or whatever. With the really successful ones, usually they didn’t just ship the first thing they got together that was playable. Things have really been refined and thought about, and there’s been a lot of attention to detail — not just in terms of obvious things like graphical polish, but also relatively intangible gameplay details"

This is definitely true for my game. I haven't created the game so much as I've just made myself available to help with its natural evolution. It tells me what it wants to be and I make it happen.

Now, one thing I've learned in making this game is to never make promises. I don't know how many time's I have promised something and then was unable to deliver because something more important came up. That said I am very confident in this one. I will have a new video to put up soon. It will be part trailer, part developer walkthrough. It's time for everyone to see exactly how the game plays.