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Long post

August 26th, 2012 No comments

It’s been over a year since my last update, but I decided to keep this site going as mainly a archive of past projects.

My newest project, which takes about 80% of my time these days, is Apotheon with Jesse McGibney again.
We did a interview with GameSpot at GDC about it.
Without a doubt it’s the most ambitious project I’ve ever done – in terms of programming, production, design, it’s getting increasing more massive and complex. I love how the game is turning out – we still need to figure out a lot of very essential gameplay aspects, such as tweaking melee fighting and dealing with inventory management (something I don’t have enough experience with since I rarely played RPGs as a kid) – but it’s still far from release, I am hoping for April/May of 2013. People have responded very positively to Jesse’s art so far – and it really is a brillant art direction not only because of how beautiful and unique it is, but it perfectly fits into the game mechanics and the themes we wanted to pursue – and also is extremely good for production and reusing assets (very minimalistic, very pattern based for easy level design)
I sometimes wonder with Apotheon if I’ve spent too much time on the technical aspects and not enough on actual game design. A lot of development was spent making the physics system work with the skeletal animation system, and then making that also work with the networking – I think I was aware of not getting in the trap of pursuing something technically complex for too long and delaying development, but I still am envious of other indie developers who able to make great games with simple tech. Indie developers really shouldn’t compete with technology – unless it’s something very unique, their focus should always be on design. I can’t understand why an indie developer with limited resources would attempt to create their own engine. I really think developers need to understand where their talents are, and focus on that – the defining aspect of ‘indie’ to be is doing a lot with limited resources. We are pretty good at keeping things as simple as possible for Apotheon – but I can’t imagine myself creating another giant codebase for a single project like this again, hopefully we can either reuse a lot of this work for our next game or successfully move on to a more standard game framework.

It’s been over a year since Capsized was released, but it still seems to be selling quite well and there is still a lot of new players and interest in it. I think when we originally released we didn’t get the attention I was hoping for – just since we didn’t focus enough on marketing at the end of development. But after release, and we got 80% on Metacritic which was great, and had a few Steam sales, the interest and response to the game kept picking up. Every Steam sale we’ve had has been massive, a few times larger in revenue than our first day of release, which is something I didn’t expect. I think what would have been better for Capsized is if it was released on another platform first – like XBLA/PSN, then had a Steam release. That way we could have had the initial people try it and enjoy it – then a well publicized release for Steam. I think a few developers have understood the value of this – that even if popular games make the majority of their revenue from PC sales a console release first can still be great for initial promotion.
Capsized is still selling and being developed for other platforms – right now being ported to iOS by Indiepub (IPad release only right now), and also other PC platforms from other developers. I still have yet to see how the iOS version will really turn out – I still can’t imagine people responding well to a touch controlled Capsized – it’s already very difficult to control with a mouse + keyboard, and the game relies so much on fast movement and quick reflexes – but I’ll wait to see what they are able to do.

Illfonic’s Nexuiz was released February 29th for XBLA and May 3rd for Steam. I was extremely happy about how this turned out – Illfonic got the gameplay perfect and really enhanced what Nexuiz had been before. The only thing I miss was having basic deathmatch – their design was entirely team based, which I guess makes sense since that was the majority of online Nexuiz Classic servers anyway, but I still missed the chaos of a packed FFA deathmatch match.
It’s also good to see that the Xonotic project, a fork of Nexuiz from some developers, is still being developed and played. Definitely a different game design than Nexuiz was pursuing – and it kind of makes me realize I had opened Nexuiz development up too much to the community in the later releases (making the game design more generic than I think me and LordHavoc, the other designer, had initially planned for).

A few of my friends and my brother also compiled a book of our past short stories and released it as the Celestial Puppeteer. The main writer (and really the only good professional writer) is Dustin Geereart, and primarily he set the theme of the book while the rest of us matched it. A lot of the stories are pretty messed up – and some of my own are from when I was had just started writing right out of high school, so I am a little hesitant to promote it without first seeing some response to it.

Besides Apotheon, I have two other current projects taking my time. One is Indievania – a online marketplace for indie games. I started this site as a response to trying to sell Capsized online and having a horrible time with non-Steam PC distributors. They all took a very high percentage of revenue based on the service they provided – their sites were horribly designed, their game submission process was really inefficient, and I couldn’t stand how they paid developers (they’d send you sales reports every month and then you’d have to invoice them, and usually it would have to be over a certain amount to be paid). I decided there needed to be a site that allowed a game developer to sell games quickly, with very little headaches and problems, and retain their profits. So I started Indievania development about a month after Capsized was released, and opened up the beta last year around November. So far the site has over 300 indie games added, and continues to grow in popularity. Hopefully I’ll have time to continue development with it – I’ve tried getting help from other developers and moderators but so far no one has been very reliable.
The other project is a new 3d game project with my brother, which is a dream project we’ve had on our mind for a while. Right now we are mostly just focusing on the tech behind it with a lot of placeholder art – and then when Apotheon is released I am hoping we can move towards full production on it.

Categories: Apotheon, Capsized, Nexuiz, Stories

Nexuiz, Pax, OnLive

September 13th, 2010 Comments off

Went to this year’s PAX to promote Illfonic’s Nexuiz, check out the end of this post for all the media sites covering it, and some screens of the booth (it was right beside the Portal2 booth, a lot of traffic)

PAX was pretty incredible – watching people try Nexuiz, talking to a number of other indie devs, trying up and coming projects, and mostly just enjoying the excitement there. Unlike GDC, where many of the developers view the convention as more of a job, PAX is entirely fans really passionate about games.

I made little brochures for Capsized to hand out to key people, mostly publishers and media. One possible route that seems interesting is putting Capsized on the OnLive service. OnLive is a streaming video game service that basically runs on the server and sends the frames to the client. When I first heard of the idea it definitely seemed too soon, even though it’s clear thats the future of gaming. It solves so many problems; you can charge by the time alike to classic arcade games, it completely stops privacy since only the OnLive servers have the actual executables, and you only have to develop for one platform and instantly it works on everything that OnLive supports. I love the idea, but it will take at least 5-10 years for the average customer to have the bandwidth needed for that, you need at least a 5 Mbps connection to have a playable game. What was surprising when trying the service though was how smooth a first person shooter was, you barely noticed the 10milisecond delay. While something like World of Goo, which uses a mouse, had very noticeable input lag.

I am also interested in the service because it means I can have a prerelease version of the game on the service without hitting anything else. So I can release the game publicly to a small market, while not being worried about a public leak. And since it’s a prerelease, I can update it whenever and all the OnLive players will be playing the updated version. The only issue is since it’s on one server, it wouldn’t be good for beta testing a wide variety of systems, which is usually what a public beta test is for.

Nexuiz in the media:

http://www.themoderndaypirates.com/pirates/2010/09/pax-report-nexuiz/

http://thegamefanatics.com/pax-preview-nexuiz-bringing-old-school-shooters-to-the-21st-century/

http://www.curse.com/articles/other-en-news/815911.aspx

http://www.gamersnexus.net/features/gg/417-the-best-of-pax-10

http://www.hotbloodedgaming.com/2010/09/08/pax-2010-nexuiz-an-arena-fps-youve-probably-never-heard-of/

http://www.gamegavel.com/forum/entry.php?b=154

http://thegamefanatics.com/pax-preview-nexuiz-bringing-old-school-shooters-to-the-21st-century/

http://xboxlive.ign.com/articles/111/1118696p1.html

http://www.platformnation.com/2010/09/06/pax-prime-2010-nexuiz-preview/

Categories: Capsized, Nexuiz

Browser Nexuiz

May 14th, 2010 Comments off

Google used Nexuiz to show off their Native Client project:

http://www.downloadsquad.com/2010/05/13/introducing-the-next-step-in-web-app-development-google-nativ/

Nexuiz is shown at the end of the video. I couldn’t find any information on them releasing the ported source, but it wouldn’t matter with the project being so early and unused.

In other news, Capsized is now in a semi-public play testing phrase. The game is basically done except for the last level (waiting on the artist to get back from Italy next month to finish it), and I might redo the first training level to be more cinematic and better for a first impression. At this point I am interested to hear some first impressions on the game. I am hoping to get play testers who are experienced in the indie games scene and know the marketplace for games like this, unlike the sort of retro gamers and such I was searching for before.

I’ll also be doing a local play testing session at the University of Saskatchewan. Again I’d like to use this mainly to see first impressions, and how people feel at first about the controls. I doubt a person gives more than 2-3 minutes on a trial game before giving up, so it’s important that the game doesn’t demand too much from the user too early.

Categories: Nexuiz, XNA

Darkplaces video

January 22nd, 2010 Comments off

I just wanted to show off this:

It’s a video I made a few years ago showing off features of the Darkplaces engine (Quake1 based engine used for Nexuiz, developed almost entirely by LordHavoc).

I made it over the span of a few months, recording clips of original Quake1 levels with real time lighting / shadowing, along with some replacement texture packs made by the community.

Categories: Nexuiz

Old Nexuiz video

March 11th, 2009 Comments off

I just wanted to show this off:

An old video made by a Texas marketing company for GameStop when Nexuiz was used in their stores for a competition. I think for around 4-5 months it was placed in 8 cities across the US. I was contracted to write the interface for the kiosk, which included a registration process and high score lists (Nexuiz was played by each person for about 2 minutes, with scores based on how much damage they had done).

Categories: Nexuiz