He’s Gone Rogue (like)

Back when I started this in 2011, I committed to writing a development log that I would update every week.  It didn’t last long, against the convienient  140 chars and a screenshot that twitter provided.  However, I’ve begun to miss the value that it provided…  even if  no one read it, it helped keep me focused.  Yes, I could spend this week playing dwarf fortress or CK2… but then, what would the update look like?

I’ve decided to start it up again, and will try to stick to the Sunday schedule as best I can for as long as I can make myself do it .

So, first off, I guess I should start up with a little catch up…

The last few years I’vUntitled-8e become more involved in the local game development scene.  I’ve showed my games at some local conventions like SUPER! BitCon  and was on a game development panel at ComicCon.  I’ve also attended meetups in OKC and Tulsa, where I’ve met a ton of other local developers that are doing awesome things.  Looking forward to showing again at SUPER BitCon! this year, as well as attending the XPO event this autumn in Tulsa.

I’ve made some  updates to in a window.  It runs a lot better now, I’ve fixed a lot of bugs and added a few levels.  Untitled-5

Work continues on rium.I feel it’s really close.  I’ve just been trying to work out the game balance.  I’m hoping to use the SUPER BitCon! showing to really fine tune the balance issues.

Also planning to start greenlight campaigns for both in a window, and rium around that time, with release dates planned this autumn.  Greenlight at one, release at the other.  More on that to come soon.

Recently, my thoughts have been stuck on roguelike development.  Anyone who knows anything about me would have seen this one coming a mile away.  As a gamer that’s been gaming for upwards of 30 years, I find myself in a constant quest for depth.  I’ve dabbled in some of the classics over the years, and more recently got into Cataclysm DDA and Cogmind.  They just seem to hit me in the right spot… I’ve always believed that the greatest games are experienced not on the screen, but in the mind.  Present a representation of a scenario, and let it play out in the players mind, as opposed to telling them to sit down, shut up, and look at this shiny cinematic that’s going to explain it for you.   Then, give the player same ways to go about facing the situation they are currently in, than they had in the last situation, as opposed to “press X to win”.


This isn’t my first attempt at roguelikery.  I’ve prototyped several games in the past, to varying degrees of success.  This time I’m starting bottum up… working an engine from scratch.  It’s going well, and more importantly, it’s been a lot of fun without a lot of stress.  I’m enjoying it immensely.  That’s what the whole gig is about, right?  If you’re not enjoying it, you’re doing it wrong.   I’m working on a follow up post to kick off the development log for the KRLEngine.

And, of course, see you next week!






Rium Shot #1

Good to be back

It’s been a while. Can’t believe it’s been over a year since I was at E3 with In a Window. Since that time, I’ve been relatively quiet. Still working, but pretty quiet. Just not a whole lot to get excited about, really. No project I’ve worked on recently has really just caught my interest in such a way that the good projects usually do.


A game about monkeys fighting over bananas

Sub Game

A submarine game

space game

A procedural spaceship game


A Combat game where players can copy themselves as a defensive stategy


Countless takes on the Hex Grid


Ascii Helicopter Game.  Plus many… many more.

I keep going back to this, though.

Rium Shot #1


Voxterium was received so well, however, Revision was not.  Why?  Well, that’s really easy.  I took out too much from the first, and added too much to the second.  The criticisms I received on Revision were very hard to hear.  Not because they were mean, or because they were “insulting my baby.”  It was because I completely agreed with (most) of them, and  were related to decisions I made that I wasn’t comfortable with.

The campaign mode

Looking through my history of notes, I was always negative about the campaign mode.  I felt that the campaign mode was not a good fit for this game, it felt forced.  I didn’t listen to myself.  I put it in the game because :

  • It was an attempt to add some pacing.  Start out easy, and slowly introduce new powerups, blocks and enemy weapons.  You’re supposed to do that, right?   Not necessarily.  This ended  up doing that, but at waaaay too slow a pace and contributed to a lot of the “long, boring slog” comments.
  • Games have game modes.  Games have campaign modes.  What I didn’t realize is that a lot of people choose one game mode, and that’s it.  If they choose the campaign mode first, and it is a “long, boring slog”, the assumption is that all other game modes are exactly the same way.   If you have 10 game modes, and one of these is a campaign mode, they will choose campaign mode.


Long story short, I created a game mode significantly weaker than the others, and virtually forced all my players to choose it.


Of all the game modes, all of them are completely neu

tered save two.   Even those two are cut down from the original betas.  I balanced the game completely wrong.


Not necessarily a bad thing, but they really don’t add anything to the game and were kind of an afterthought.  Again, the game has achievements because games have achievements.  The time I spent on these, could have been invested in other areas.


The music for this game is great.  Zeph’s tracks fit well and I believe added so much to the game.  Much of even the majority negative feedback I did give praise to the music.  However the rest of the audio could have used some work.  Some of it was “grating” and a lot of it could benefit from some of the audio knowledge I’ve gained over the last 2 years.

One thing really bothers me, however, and I want to address it.  More than one set of submission feedback referred to the game as a “rhythm” game, and one kindly suggested a number of rhythm games I should play to get a better handle of the genre.  I don’t know what to say.  This is not a rhythm game.  Not even close.  All I can do with this feedback is take it as a compliment to the “marriage” of the gameplay and the soundtrack.

Moving Forward

When I played Terry Cavanagh’s Hexagon for the Pirate cart, and then  played Super Hexagon when it came out,  I immediately noticed a similar story…  I’m not comparing my game to his, as his is absolutely brilliant, but it is the same story of refining an original idea.  But where Terry Cavanagh made the right decisions, I made the wrong one’s.   He listened to the game, while I spent my time listening to other games and trying to make mine more like others.  This is not how you do it.

I learned a lot from that experience. and I feel I need to spend some time giving Voxterium the remake it deserves.  There’s a good game in there, and I completely let that idea down.

So my new game I am working on, is my old game that I was working on.  Up to this point, I have concentrated on stripping stuff out of the game, and refining the survival modes, as well as a few graphical updates.  Stay tuned for more updates, as I hope to be posting some more info and updates soon.


in a window – levels

well… this is going a lot faster than i originally had thought. the game is currently what I will call “feature complete”. it’s all there. it’s just not done. basically all that’s left is bug fixes and polish, and that list is starting to shrink faster than it grows.

i thought i would take some time and talk about level design. i’m not the world’s best at level design, and this is the sort of game that screams level design. in all honesty, voxterium’s level design was not very good, i will even go as far as to say the game was never really played by most, due to the level design. i received comments on that and really couldn’t argue. i made several blog posts about how the game didn’t want levels, and i forced them in.

(the survival modes are still awesome)

this game on the other hand is all about the level design. i mentioned in the earlier post that this was a game about assumptions. that still holds true, even more so than when i started. it’s extremely challenging to design levels around this concept… if you hand hold too much, the player is not challenged and the mechanics are a gimmick. if you make it too hard, the player is lost and gives up without even trying.

the levels weren’t really too hard to design. while to solve them is sometimes difficult, the physical layout of each level is really simple. there’s a button, a door and a platform or two. it’s the ‘assumption’ that constantly changes, so the need for level’s complexity to grow to add difficulty isn’t necessary.

it’s also interesting in that the simplicity actually pushes the player along. without complexity, the player doesn’t have distractions and is more like;y to be forced out of the box. which is what makes this one of the easier levels of the game…


level order is also extremely important in this game. i tried my best to get the player into this flow…

this is just a platform game -> ha ha… ok, thats clever -> can i really do what this level wants me to do? -> ok…. i get it now… all bets are off.

i guess time will tell if i achieve that or not.


Finally on the next project.

After a nice little break from all things game development, I have finally begun working on my next project. I have a huge folder of prototype games that are dated post Voxterium, but most of them suffer from cases of the usual, either too ambitious or just plain not fun. Definitely nothing to write about.

Platformers and adventure games generally frustrate me beyond belief. So when I began working on a platformer with point and click adventure elements, naturally it took off like a rocket, and In A Window was born. The prototype idea was simple, take everything I absolutely despise about both genres and make a game about that. A sort of parody, if you will.


But as I really began digging into it, I found something more. To make it one sentence, the game is about how assumptions can hide even blatantly obvious solutions. The main goal of each level is always the same, assist a rather cynic robot in pushing a big red button. However that extremely simple task is wrapped in levels that make it seem impossible. Or does it seem impossible? I guess that will really be up to the player.


There will be more to come here in the next few weeks…


Mage Duel

This little guy was my Ludum Dare #23 entry.  It is a little 2D Scorched Earth type game with magic.  I had to put my own little twists on it however.  One, it is in real time and two, the game uses your previous play throughs as your opponents.

It was a lot of fun to develop, but to be honest I wasn’t “feeling” this Ludum Dare as much as the previous.  My scores reflected that, but considering the amount of entries, I guess I didn’t do all that bad.

Go ahead and check it out on its Ludum Dare page.

Voxterium – Work Continues

My continued work on Voxterium has been going on nicely.  I’ve been infected with plague the last few weeks, but have managed to work quite a bit on it. 

There still is some cleanup and optimization to do, but the biggest part of my focus has been on the balancing act.  I’ve completely overhauled the powerups, weapon damage and reproduction rates.  I’ve added new attacks that the enemy can throw at you.. laser beams and turrents that are placed are a few.  

The Recursive Power up is particularly nice…

I’ve done a bit of graphical work… some post processing effects, particles, texturing, etc.  Just to get the base code in.  I plan to revisit the graphic side when I’m more in the polish phase.  Still a lot of work to do there.

I’ve also implemented a system of levels.  So instead of mind-numbingly shooting at a thing that won’t die, there will be multiple things that will die.  I’m trying to decide if progression will be based on designed levels, or generated levels. Right now its a little bit of both.

I have also added in the much asked for mouse sensitivity sliders.  As well as keyboard and controller support. 

I have a couple tid-bits I want to add in the next few days.  Hopefully after then I will post a video of the new improvements.

A New Focus

I’ve never been one to really acknowledge the start of a new year.  It just so happens that this is occurring around that time of year.  Ludum Dare is behind me (still rating away though), and the Christmas holiday is over.   Things are slowly coming back to normal, and it’s time to take a look at where I’m at with this whole game development thing and see where I want to go.

It seems I have limitless amounts of game ideas.  That’s never been a problem.  Once I start filtering these out based on certain criteria…  my complete lack of resources and time, my skill level, my horrible art skills…  the list goes down to four.  Four projects I have been working on the last year that couldn’t be more different.  A person that works on four projects at the same time makes progress on none. 

To make things a little more complex, my Ludum Dare entry turned out a lot better than I expected.  Since I submitted it, I have been debating whether or not it is an idea that deserves some investment.   Sparing the unlikely reader the depths of my thought processes, in the end I decided to move Voxterium to the top of my list and see what comes of it.

I’ve spent the past few days back in the code, to clean it up.  It turns out if you do enough things completely wrong, in the end it turns out to be right.  After a lot of somewhat significant changes, I believe I am back to a spot where the game works the way I submitted it, except this time everything is working the “right” way. 

The todo list is significant.  But on the other side, I now have a single project that I can commit to.  I’m hoping that logging this here and via twitter, I can keep myself focused.