Be warned, this is a tasteless idea, but still kind of entertaining, which is why I wrote it up. Diablo in reverse: an action-RPG where you take on heaven, working your way through orphanages and monasteries, smashing through the pearly gates to take on the angelic host... and kill god.
Hey, we reached 250 Steam reviews! If you've been playing the game, you've probably noticed that I've been bothering everyone about leaving a Steam review for the game. There's a reason behind this, and it's not entirely just the fuzzy feels I get when I read them: I want the game to reach an "Overwhelmingly Positive" rating, for which it needs 500 reviews in total. What's so great about that rating? Well, it means more visible evidence that people like the game, which means more players, a bigger community, and more sales. More life pumping through the game and making it greater.
Near the end of January 2016, I organized a small unconference about games as a part/counterpart of Ludicious, a Swiss games conference. The following are the notes we made during our sessions, including transcripts.
Near the end of January 2016, I organized a small unconference about games as a part/counterpart of Ludicious, a Swiss games conference. Dominik, the organizer, and I had originally discussed running an unconf for the first Ludicious back in 2014. This never came to pass, but when the second Ludicious started gearing up, I got back in touch and we set things into motion.
This is the postmortem for the unconference. As is traditional with postmortems, I'll be writing both about things that went well and things that went badly, in as honest a way as I can, with a view to making the next one better.
Another Sherlock Holmes reinterpretation: Holmes goes into fugue states where he becomes Moriarty and commits crimes. He doesn't consciously know about this double identity, but passively, information flows both ways. So Holmes believes that Moriarty is extremely clever because he's "always one step ahead of me, Watson, he was in this very apartment during the night!"
#webdesign question: do you use ­?— David Stark (@zarkonnen_com) January 1, 2016
I did a Twitter poll the other day, and given the results, you might find the following post interesting.
In dev 8, game data is now loaded in from external files. As I expected, this is causing the occasional bug. In particular, some airship designs would consistently fall out of the sky. This needed to be fixed.
At The Gates is an under-development 4X game by Jon Shafer, a game designer formerly of Firaxis Games. In the game, you play as a barbarian tribe in the twilight days of the Roman empire. It got kickstarted back in early 2013 and has been making its way through the tortuous process of development ever since. I actually found out about it too late to join the Kickstarter, but I've been following its development nevertheless.
In his most recent update, Shafer sets out a roadmap for completing development of the game.
I'm not sure where I first saw Reveal the Deep. I thought it was on JGO, but I can't find any trace of it now. So I was vaguely aware of it when it popped up on the Steam new releases page, with a price of $1, launch-discounted down to 64 cents. And I was worried that the developers had so little faith in their game to release it for next to no money. Then I bought it because it looked vaguely interesting.
Turns out I wasn't the only one. A week ago, the developers posted a short postmortem on r/gamedev. The game made it into the "popular new releases" list for two days, and according to Steam Spy, has been bought about 36000 times! (The the devs confirm this is a roughly accurate number.)
Now I don't know how much you get to keep from a $0.64 Steam game. I'd guess it's somewhere between 50 and 70 percent, which means that the game netted somewhere between $11000 and $16000. Not a bad haul for what is a fairly simple, if well-executed game.
The question that arises from this for me as a game dev: Are small, cheap games viable on Steam?
To only slightly paraphrase William Gibson - cyberpunk is already here, it's just not very evenly distributed. Cyberpunk predicted a future where people subordinated themselves to Japanese-style megacorps and freedom could only be found at the margins, by intrepid demi-monde hackers with zany hairstyles. What we have is actually worse: you are disposable even if you play by the rules.
And most of the intrepid hackers have been pacified by promises of fat IPOs and mainstream acceptance. They spend their time finding new ways to shove ads down our throats and creating solutions for "problems" no one outside of the Bay Area actually cares about.
Isn't it a bit weird that Edward Snowden, our one bona fide cyberpunk hero, throwing back the curtain on a massive government panopticon, was a government contractor? The kind of working-for-the-man corporate drone that was meant to contrast negatively with cyberpunk's zany heroes?
As for all those other trappings of robots and whatnot, we're getting there. Without further ado, I present you the most cyberpunk moments of 2015.
I've done plenty of gamedev-related retrospectives recently, summing up the first two years of Airships development, doing a presentation on distribution and marketing to local Zurich game devs. So for this quick retrospective, here's all the non-work stuff that happened.
I never finish role-playing games. A few hours in, I reach a point where I get overwhelmed by side-quests and options. My suspension of disbelief breaks down as it becomes clear just how much the world revolves around me: I can start a quest, wander off for three months, and when I'm back, everyone involved is still in the same place, patiently waiting for me to pick things back up. The main plot often claims to be urgent, and that is simply a lie: I can take all the time I like. The more I do, the more fake everything feels.
Northern Remember to bring a jacket. Take care when entering and exiting the sleds as the station may be icy. Do not feed the reindeer.
Hammersmith and City Operated by dwarves. Mind your head.
Central The last thing you remember is going through the ticket barrier. You're now at your intended destination. Travel times vary widely, but you only rarely arrive before you depart.
Metropolitan Our ongoing modernisation programme aims to eliminate the old entrails-based signalling systems by 2025. Until then, please report any omens to the nearest member of staff.
I've been writing blog posts on the basis of writing prompts from dailypost.wordpress.com, and today's is quite amusing: "Our blogs morph over time, as interests shift and life happens. Write a post for your blog - but three years in the future."
I am happy to report that I have now implemented the ability to publish ships and other constructions through the Steam workshop. This will become generally available in dev 8 along with the new modding system.
I've tried making the process of publishing (the "shipyard") as simple as possible: Select a ship (or building/landship) in the file dialog and click on "Publish to Steam".
I've been thinking about the Civilization series of games again. It's weird that after so many iterations, their fundamental problem is still not fixed: the end-game is painfully slow. As the number of entities (cities, units) you control rises, and the number of options you have for each rises as well, turns take longer and longer. At the start of the game, a turn is a few seconds. By the end, a turn can be twenty minutes of mind-numbing individual decisions.
I've previously written about how to tackle rising end-game complexity by reducing the per-entity complexity over time. This time, let's drill down to the core of this problem: In Civilization, more cities means more resources, and more resources means winning.
tw: physical abuse
I recently had the chance to catch up with an old friend, the sister of my best friend back in primary school. Late in the evening we started talking about our shared experiences with some of the awful teachers we'd both had. One of them was especially prominent: when I was in fourth grade, he had this tendency to lift me up bodily by my hair as a punishment. Other kids he hit in the head or dangled by their feet out of a second-story window - over hard concrete.
I also remembered that, years later, I saw a newspaper article that he'd been fired from his job. I decided to see if I could dig up the details.
A quick story derived from a writing prompt.
I opened the door carefully, watching out for the cat. Given half a chance, he'd escape into the stairwell, get confused, and try to break into the neighbours' flat thinking it was ours.
No cat, though, just a clink of silverware on crockery.
Remember Anne Frank? Tragic story. If only there had been anything someone could have done. Like, for example, giving her family a visa to come to the US, or Cuba, or anywhere else on the planet.
About a year ago I did a series of blog posts on how to mod a giant cannon into Airships by editing the source code. Now, as a preview for the modding features in dev 8, here's the same thing as a proper mod.
Ant colonies consist of a number of highly specialized creatures: Sterile females function as workers and warriors. Males only live for a short time and basically amount to a girl-seeking vector for genetic material. And each nest usually has only one fertile female, the queen, who never leaves her chamber and churns out eggs. (There's an exception to this, but I don't want to get into the whole gamergate thing right now.)
So in a classic science fiction approach, let's take a real creature and turn things up to eleven.
I once read wonderful blog post which imagines an alternate universe where instead of D&D, Gygax and Arneson made a game about people's feelings. Feelings, it said, are easy, just some variables describing emotional states. Combat is hard: all that detail, all that complexity. No one does games about combat in this alternate universe.
But let's look at D&D, and especially the dungeon-crawl computer games that evolved from it. It's fashionable within neo-old-school circles to take old RPG rules and read and interpret them almost like religious texts, attempting to recapture lost subtleties.
Short Version: If you couldn't get Airships to work before, try again using the "Launch using System Java" option.