As the end of October loomed, and I realized I hadn’t made my #1GAM yet. I’d been digging back through very old projects looking for something I might be able to finish, and I found this old ‘tunnelrun’ game I’d made in Python (with overkill ODE physics !).
I decided that the original code wasn’t worth salvaging, and that I’d remake it in Unity as a quick ‘roguelike’ (which is apparently anything with procedurally generated levels and permadeath these days).
I had been working on implementing cellular automata for cavern generation during the month, so I pulled that code into the project and tweaked it for purpose. I ‘wasted’ a lot of time optimising this to prevent major framerate drops as levels are progressively generated in realtime, and dealt with some annoying room & exit placement bugs. I pulled in a spacecraft prefab I made almost 12 months ago for another as-yet-unreleased game. Generated a sky-sphere using some space assets I bought on sale a while back. Fired up Audacity, got on the mic, made some breathing sounds. Made some item pickup sounds with Ableton Live. Made a simple ‘generic item’ model in Blender – I need to practise it more and at least modelling something simple will mean those neurones remain active.
I had already decided that a core mechanic would be searching for ‘oxygen’, which would deplete over time, ultimately resulting in death. I also knew that I wanted to play with visibility, and use that to indicate oxygen levels, along with breathing sounds. Then I went searching for Public Domain literature written about space or the ocean, looking for some text to use as inspiration (or wholesale steal). I ended up reading this - A Hundred Years Hence : The Expectations Of An Optimist by T. Baron Russell, 1906, (Chapter 6: UTILISING THE SEA). Russell’s vision of the future and the challenges we might face with resources and continued human expansion set the direction for this game, and everything fell into place. I knew what I needed to do with this. It still blows my mind that this was written in 1906 ! I tweaked the colour to be ocean-like, so as to intentionally make it ambiguous as to whether the setting is space or the ocean floor. I tweaked the level generation to embrace the idea of increasing scarcity, incorporated Russell’s text as short random snippets, and left the player to fill in the gaps. I think it mostly works as intended - a short experience that I hope will make players pause to think for a moment.
TLDR; Inspired by some literature, I ended up dropping all plans for combat and made some sort of art-game roguelike.
Yep, you read right. I’m releasing Def on the OUYA first. I really like my little OUYA box, and once I refined the gamepad controls Def actually ended up playing very nicely on it. It’s not quite as easy as a keyboard and mouse (I’ve actually made the default difficulty on OUYA ‘easy’ rather than ‘normal’ to account for this), but panning around with the right stick and positioning the crosshair to place defences with the left stick and D-pad is more than accurate enough with just a little practise. In fact, playing with a gamepad just feels cooler for some reason – and this is coming from someone who can’t play an FPS using a gamepad to save their life.
Haters gonna hate
I’m always a little puzzled by the amount of hate that has been piled on OUYA in recent months. Sure the plucky little startup has made a bunch of missteps in the early days of their console launch, and some Kickstarter backers have a few legitimate reasons to grumble … but nothing’s perfect. Let’s not forget that from a developer and player perspective they are also doing a helluva lot of things right. Bottom line: there are a bunch of fun and unique games on the platform (soon to include Def !), it shines when it comes to local multiplayer games nights, and the hardware is cheaper than some AAA+ launch titles. I like my OUYA, and amongst a sea of naysayers I admire the tenacity of the ‘little console that could’. So Def will arrive there first, as a little nod to those trying to do something different.
Unless there is some unexpected delay, Def should be available on OUYA Discover on October 10th, 2013, with a special launch price of $1.99 to unlock the full game. That’s probably stupidly cheap, so get it before I decide I’m selling myself short and raise the price :) Oh, and check out the trippy trailer !
My name is XXredactedXX, I’m one of the guys behind XXredactedXX.
I’ve recently played Arriving in Damascus on GameJolt.com and I was wandering if it would be possible to publish the game on our website.
Thank you for your time,
(Happy to privately share the name of the site, but didn’t want to drive them any traffic).
I didn’t bother replying (ignoring that they got my name wrong) – once you have a few apps and games published around the place you get these sorts of emails from bottom-feeders all the time. Although Arriving in Damascus is a short free game, I had no interest in putting it on XXredactedXX, since GameJolt (and Kongregate) split advertising revenue with developers and this other site does not. I also don’t want to have to run around to multiple places if I want push out an update.
So today when cleaning up my inbox, I found this email and thought on a whim I might search for Arriving in Damascus on the XXredactedXX site. Turns out they published a copy anyhow, without permission. It also turns out the joke is on them, since I’ve been using this little SiteLock.cs script with any of my Unity games published on web portals. The copy that XXredactedXX ripped from GameJolt simply forwards people away from their site to the version hosted right here on this site. No need to send any polite or angry requests, I’ll take the free traffic :)
See that little word up on the top left corner .. “ALPHA”.
In the mood for some playtesting ? Take a look at the first public alpha build of Def, the tower defense / RTS hybrid made by aliens, for aliens. No slick video promo, no Kickstarter sales pitch with promises made to be broken. Just a game. An actual game. It’s not quite done yet, but the first 80 % is there, and I’d really like some feedback – too hard, too easy, too buggy, too much fun ? (I wish) :)
Be sure to read the release notes on IndieDB, and send any feedback my way (comment here, there, or email perry at omgwtfgames.com). Games only get good through playtesting, so it’s difficult to over emphasise how important this feedback will be in shaping the final game.