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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

Capsized Released! And video interview with me and jesse

May 3rd, 2011 Comments off

After 2 years of development, about a year of part time work and another of full time work, CAPSIZED is released! April 29th on Steam, coming to Direct2Drive and GamersGate in the next few weeks.

The response so far has been great – but I’ve definitely noticed problems with how we launch the game, and possible small design mistakes. I think we player tested enough that we delivered a really solid product that all the players can go through and enjoy, but there were a number of things that could have been changed that I think would have given a better response from the public. Maybe I’ll put it all in a postmodern some day – an article focused on Capsized development and it’s player testing (having Ian Livingston help us with playtesting was incredibly helpful, I can’t imagine what Capsized would have been without his help). One of the biggest issues that we’ve seen from reviewers and player response has been the controls – I was able to add keyboard remapping right before release (about 5-10 days before release actually), but there was a lot of people frustrated with how we mapped the gamepad controls (I think maybe we should have heavily suggested to try keyboard+mouse first, as thats how the game was designed).

The other thing I learnt about releasing a game like this is how to properly deal with the media. When a release date was set, as April 29th, we sent out the video interview to a number of news sites along with a review code for them to try. We only gave them about 4-5 days notice, so basically none of them could get their review out for the launch date. I think for our next project I am going to definitely send review codes early, then ask the media to only release their review on the release day. This way we can have a large news day with Capsized seen everywhere.

There was one issue I had with the media though. I had one reviewer email me after the video interview was done asking for a code, he was from a small indie games site so I sent it to him. I usually just sent a review code to whoever asked hoping to get publicity everywhere. But, unfortunately with this reviewer, he immediately posted pretty wherever he could that he had received a review code and was trying the game. He was expecting a metroidvania style game, and when he didn’t get that he really disliked the game. So despite me asking for reviewers to not discuss the game before it’s release, he ended up complaining about the game on twitter account, posting comments on all these news sites about his experience with the game basically wherever it was mentioned, and released his scathing review. So when Capsized was released, the guy’s review from a small site was the only one out there. I am still bitter about this – bad reviews of the game don’t bother me, but an early reviewer like this has to understand the impact they are having when they are speaking about a game publicly like that. I enjoy reading reviews whether they are good or bad, but this person posting their early review wherever they could really pissed me off – I’ll have to be more careful about sending to reviewers early in the future

That did seem to be the main complaint with some players – when they saw the screenshots and media they thought it was going to be a metroidvania inspried game. But when they played it they found more FPS inspriations. So rather than judging the game for what it was going for, they judge it based on what they originally thought it was, which I think does make sense and would give a bad initial imperssion. I think this shows something we made a mistake on in the marketing – we should have been more clear on what the game was so players like this trying it would know what to expect. Besides that the response has been really good, we’ve got a good player base, and I hope me and Jesse can keep releasing quality products like this within a good time frame.

Interview with me and Jesse we did at SXSW:

Categories: Capsized

General update

April 18th, 2011 Comments off

Just a general update on things, since I haven’t posted in a while,

Capsized is just finishing development now. The release date is set for April 27th on Steam, though after stressing out about it tonight I might decide to delay things a few days, mostly just to keep my sanity. We showed it off at SXSW and got a really good response, so I can’t wait to see more player’s reactions.

I’ve been doing a lot of web development work as 3dElement the past year – since game development can’t exactly pay any bills if there are no releases. The biggest project was a website for a local business group called SYPE

Looking at some old posts, it’s pretty hilarious I said Capsized was ‘basically done’ in May of last year – at least now a date is set

Categories: Capsized, Web Development

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

Capsized Website released

September 15th, 2009 Comments off

http://www.alientrap.org/capsized/

New site up with new video. Still very low on content at the moment, but it’s mostly just to get some early interest in the game and see some user response to the gameplay.

I also wanted to begin heavy play testing. At the moment most of the responses I’ve gotten over the project have been how incredibly hard it is, and how frustrating some of the more difficult spots can be. It’s hard to tell whats obvious to a new player or not, so hopefully with more play testing we can make the game as intuitive as possible.

Here’s the new video:

Categories: Capsized