October 15th, 2015 - Game Development
This is a quick development status update regarding my upcoming role-playing game, Arcanoria Chronicles: Chapter 1 – Early Adventures of Elora Smyth.
First, I’d like to say that I’m sorry that things are taking a little longer than planned. I had originally hoped to make the first release as a “Game In A Month”, however, as I (and many others before me) have discovered, RPGs are ALWAYS more work than they seem. I’m working hard towards our initial release, and expect to make it happen “soon”. Realistically, that means by the end of October for an Alpha release. I think! I’ve got our part-time intern Thomas Frick coming in today to assist with story writing. Specifically, he’ll be working on pre- and post-combat dialogues for our first few monster encounters. Should be fun, I hope!
Besides the ongoing dialogue refinements (remember, this is a heavily story-based game), I’ve been working on making all the various user interface (UI) elements interactive. Up until now everything has been static placeholder artwork for the various in-game screens like the player Inventory panel, Character Stats sheet, etc. Over the last few days I’ve been hooking those panels up to actual dynamic statistics, so when some dialogue or other game event causes a change to the player, it’s updated automatically when they look at their Character Stats.
Speaking of UI, I want to mention that I’ve been getting a better feel for the “new” Unity UI, and am really liking it in many ways. I’m never going back to NGUI (which is what I’d previously used in pretty much every Unity project I’d ever done). Unity UI seems much more stable and reliable, and seems to actually do what I expect (without lots of trial and error) more often than NGUI ever did. In particular, I’m really enjoying the Unity UI’s new auto-layout components, like Horizontal Layout Group, Layout Element, etc.. These allow you to designate groups of UI elements and have them position themselves dynamically in your UI panel, with exactly the right amount of spacing, margins, etc. This saves so much time over doing manual placement of every single element, and also allows your panels to scale according to the device it’s displaying on. Brilliant!
Here is a quick screenshot of the Inventory UI panel, work-in-progress:
Arcanoria Chronicles Chapter 1 – Inventory UI WIP
September 14th, 2015 - Game Development
My new game Arcanoria Chronicles is coming along nicely! I’ve been doing a bunch of research, including learning about precious metals, and ancient mining practices. And I’ve been working on backstory. Lots of backstory. You can’t have a good RPG without deep characters, with realistic motivations. One of the first things that becomes obvious when writing backstory is that you need other stories behind the stories, and then the stories all require a setting, and more characters, and then THEY have to have motivations, and be realistic. And then we have the possibility of complex relationships between people, and factions of people.
This is exactly what’s currently cooking on the front burner in Arcanoria Chronicles! But there’s already more story than we can come close to covering in one “short” RPG. So, we’ve changed the name slightly! “Arcanoria Chronicles” will now be a series of (relatively!) short adventure games, with the target for each “Chapter” to be playable end-to-end in about 10-20 hours. Then we’ll release additional Chapters over time, chronicling different events and the adventures of some of the main characters in the Arcanoria mythos.
The first chapter will be called: “Arcanoria Chronicles – Chapter 1: Early Adventures of Elora Smyth”.
And here’s a sneak preview of the map of the area, which I’ve been working on, to go along with all the backstory.
August 28th, 2015 - Game Development
Over the last few weeks, I’ve begun working on a smaller implementation of our huge flagship MMORPG, Arcanoria. The new game (entitled Arcanoria Chronicles) will have a much smaller technical scope than the massive online game, obviously, but I’ll be exploring and expanding the Arcanoria backstory and mythos, as well as trying out some ideas for character customization and development. We’re planning to develop this new project in multiple stages.
Arcanoria Chronicles is a single player medieval fantasy RPG, focusing on storytelling and character development.
The game is still in early development, and is not yet available for public play testing. Expected release of a preliminary version (with more limited backstory implementation) in September 2015.
- Deep backstory and cast, with subplots and intrigue.
- Randomized/parameterized cave dungeon level generation, offering unique challenges.
- Character customization and development.
- Custom quest and interaction system.
- Original music, custom written for this game by Walt Collins.
Here’s a short video showing early versions of the quest/interaction system, and the randomized cave dungeon.
August 28th, 2015 - Game Development
Our recent game Pesticide Patrol has reached the point where it’s ready to fly. We’ve created a new dedicated page for the game, which is available to play for free on itch.io! Please let us know what you think of the game. We’d love to hear from you!
We’ve made a few changes since the previous pre-alpha, and we think it’s more or less bug free. Well… actually there are lots of bugs, but they’re for YOU to deal with, in game!
I was able to get to level 13 while playing at Normal difficulty. How far can you get?? GAME ON.
July 31st, 2015 - Game Development
My little experiment with in-game grid systems is coming along nicely. It’s now an actual game, with actual gameplay. Here’s a feature list of things already implemented:
- Audio: combat sound FX, voiceover audio clips, and original background music (edited clip of Electric Strut)
- Gameplay: increasing level of difficulty as you complete each level
- UI screens: splash, welcome, settings, play, level complete, game over
- debris rocks (allow for more tactical choices during play)
- simple RPG storyline
I’ve got a plan for further development, but I’m not sure how far I want to take it. Here is a short list of prospective game features that are not yet implemented:
- ability to pause for a turn (and let the bugs move)
- add more debris types (small trees/bushes, possibly multi-cell debris)
- add consumables, like health potions, speed potions, pesticide refills, etc., that can be found randomly in the grid, along with new UI elements to see how many you’ve got of each, and new keyboard/mouse commands to consume the items
- add gold loot to the cell after an insect is killed, and a whole new shop/inventory screen to spend your gold and upgrade your weapons and armor/clothing
- randomized rogue-like multi-room levels, including a down staircase in one room, so you can further invade the monsters’ lair, and take the fight underground!
Is it worth spending the time to implement these features?
March 17th, 2015 - Game Development
Sorry for the lack of updates. It’s been 11 months since my last confession… er, I mean blog post! It’s been an eventful 11 months, but I’ll share some quick highlights.
- CyberGhost is still in process, but on the back burner. I shelved it for…
- Started developing an MMORPG game kit called “WRKit“, shorthand for “Walt’s RPG Kit”. This was begun last summer, and was intended as a more generic solution to RPG game templates, and would have helped with CyberGhost if I’d finished it. Trouble was I’d also wanted to include networking capability so it could handle online games. This was going pretty well for a while, until I realized how much support I would have to offer to anyone adopting my kit. And since that prospect didn’t appeal to me, I scrapped it.
- After that, I waffled briefly about going back to CyberGhost development (which I do still intend to get back to, but not yet…). I decided instead to go back to my primary genre of medieval fantasy, and re-started working on Arcanoria, but not as an MMORPG. Instead I began working on a single-player RPG version of Arcanoria. Made some decent progress creating terrains and water. Was hoping to get something released by end of year 2014. Didn’t quite get it playable, and was disappointed again.
- Stopped doing game dev entirely for 2 months in January and February 2015, and focused on my music. I managed to release my first electronic music album! The album title is Cerulean Sojourn. Check it out here if you’re interested: http://waltcollins.com/music/
- In the last few weeks, I’ve been working with my old friend Dave Young (http://rev4media.com/ ) on a new project, called Grudge Match. This project has some HUGE possibilities, including a linked TV show! Here’s a promo video (which I helped to edit) about the project. More to come about that in future blog posts.
April 10th, 2014 - Game Development
March 27th, 2014 - General News
I started out with an idea to make my own Massively Multi-player Online Role-Playing Game (MMORPG) back in January 2007, because I thought World of Warcraft was lots of fun and I wanted to learn how to create something similar myself.
After 7+ years of fiddling with 5 different game engines, several different programming languages, a few database engines, a handful of 3D modeling editors, audio production suites, network layers, GUI libraries, toolkits, APIs, SDKs, IDEs, and much more… I have an embarrassing statistic to share.
I’ve never released a single game.
The further into the future this condition extends, the more embarrassing it becomes for me. After all, why am I doing all this? I work on game development from 5am until midnight on MOST days, with short breaks for food and family, and an occasional nap, and then it’s back to work because something is percolating in my mind and it just can’t wait to get done.
No joke. I am working an average of 12-16 hours a DAY on game development.
That includes weekends too, which puts me into an 80+ hour work week. I have to admit I’ve not always been this dedicated in the last 7 years, but from time to time I have, including for the last several months.
You see, I’m desperate to get something done at this point. However, the project I’ve been working on for the longest time is the huge Arcanoria MMORPG project. Anyone will tell you it’s nothing short of crazy to expect to produce something like that without a 7+ figure budget and a team of 20-50 people. But here I am, doing it myself. And it’s taking a really long time! No surprise I guess.
But from time to time I start to lose self-confidence. What if all I can do is fiddle around with development tools? How do I know if my creative ideas are any good? Maybe my artistic style is terrible, or my music is unpleasant, or my stories are boring. Maybe my game systems aren’t engaging. Maybe my marketing efforts are insufficient or misdirected.
The only way to know for sure is to let the public decide. That means releasing games, and seeing what works and what doesn’t.
To that end (and on the advice of indie dev peers like Jason Smith and Fernando Ribeiro), I joined a game jam. Something that would be done in 10 days and then I could finally say I’d published something. I created CyberGhost (pre-alpha web player preview), for the Cyberpunk Game Jam, which is essentially a game development contest where people create a new game in a short period of time and submit them all for judging by their peers. There were 266 games submitted to the jam, including CyberGhost.
Unfortunately, however, CyberGhost isn’t even close to finished yet, even though the jam ended two weeks ago. I was too ambitious in my design and decided to create an RPG, which are apparently notoriously difficult to create quickly. Live and learn.
Anyway, I’m still working on CyberGhost. It’s getting closer to done. There are still many bugs, not to mention whole aspects of the game yet to develop, like character skills, combat, mini-games, more quests/stories, better level build out, etc.. But if I don’t finish something and release it, I’ll never know if I’m any good. So that’s what I’m working on.
Bottom line is this. I will finish CyberGhost and release it before doing anything else. Then I can really call myself a game developer.
February 28th, 2014 - Game Development
Since the last update I’ve been focused mostly on creating an avatar editor. I figure it’s looking pretty good for now, and wanted to post a quick update about it. UMA (see previous blog post for more about UMA) has been everything I’d hoped for, and lets me customize the character avatar through code. The avatar editor in Arcanoria now supports male/female avatars, including 5 races with distinctive gender and racial characteristics. The races are: Human, Elf, Norse, Dwarf, and Gnome. Here are some of the differences, at a high level:
- Humans are average height and build.
- Elves are taller and thinner than Humans. Elves have no facial hair, and have pointed ears.
- Norse are between Elves and Humans in height, but with broader build.
- Dwarves are a little shorter than Humans, and broader, especially in the arms.
- Gnomes are shorter than Dwarves, with no facial hair, and pointed ears.
- Female characters are slightly shorter than male characters.
Here’s a quick screenshot for now. I hope to post a video soon that will show the avatar editor in more detail.