It's been a good three weeks, and things are finally at a point where I can start talking about them.
First things first:
Revel is at an interesting (good interesting) spot right now; we've made all of the changes and porting that we set out to accomplish Jan 1.
This doesn't mean it is 'done' by any stretch, however while still in Alpha it is looking pretty decent; and though we're not planning to popularize it at this point, the new version of Revel should be going live sometime this evening (eastern time).
the 'play now' link for revel on http://edigames.com/ will be updated (it currently points to the old version)
For those following Revel this is a great chance to have a look and send in some feedback.
Those of you who have followed our developments closely, will remember our 2009 title STATIC: Investigator Training.
You could certainly say it stands out among our other games, being an FMV horror adventure.
But there are some noteworthy aspects of StaticIT
- it was made in three months, design, casting, filming, implementation, testing
- it was our shortest game
- the tooling was already developed before the game was started
- the game was fully designed before development started
- it has sold the least amount of units of our other games (though its catching up to Malathedra)
- despite this, it has been our most profitable product
And while I'm not really all about splitting hairs in terms of revenue and profitability; there comes a point where the development time investment grows to a degree that you're never going to see anything resembling a profit.
Much like code, the less code the fewer bugs; it doesn't matter how good the code is.
So that brings us to the next six months.
We've been planning, since roughly this time last year to do two games, each with three month development schedules; like Static.
The first of these two games is 96 Mill, a first person horror adventure.
We have a development cycle spanning July 1 through Oct 1; and I am happy to say, even only two weeks in we're ahead of schedule, with all locations having been photographed.
Here is a bit more about 96 Mill, but you can expect to hear more about it on our facebook page.
"HDC (Hamilton Demolition Company) Limited, contracted by the city to deliver a demolition plan of the infamous Edmont Worsted Industrial Complex; former site of the Unified Electric Corporation (UEC), and before it the Edmont Worsted Company, constructed in 1820; with a 1920 brick addition; utterly abandoned in 1996 and decaying for twenty years.
Strictly off limits to the public for reasons of health and safety, HDC has sent in lead engineer and demolition specialist Frank Galvani; and you (the player) have been tasked to assist him in documenting the structure and rigging it for implosion.
At around 500,000 square feet, the complex is massive; spanning four floors in the main building, and a 5th floor tower.
Through its history the site has been plagued by strange, or unexplained happenings, and Disappearances, before its closure alongside the liquidation of UEC in 1986.
Alleged pollution of the abutting Peter’s River, via industrial waste (developer, pcb’s etc.); brought an EPA investigation that ultimately sent several UEC executives to prison.
Disappearances of employees beforehand and during this investigation are alleged to be foul play; but extensive search recovered no bodies; and locals seems to suspect something darker and keep clear of the building.
In 1996 a small portion of the building was partially destroyed by fire, arson was assumed, but inspection by firefighters of the building proved dangerous and caused the mayor to issue a standing order of ‘do-not-enter’ for all police and firefighters less life be at stake.
Despite such orders, and especially due to its dilapidated ‘spooky’ nature; various paranormal groups and investigators have conducted illegal trespass and collected evidence and personal accounts.
Such ‘evidence’ has been non conclusive."
If you haven't checked out our games before now is a great time. Steam is hosting its annual Summer Sale and both of our games on Steam are 85% off! At just over $1 you can't beat it. Check them out if you like adventure and good times.
The Lost City of Malathedra
STATIC: Investigator Training
Dang, I can't keep a journal to save my life!
Well hopefully some folks are subscribed to our Facebook group, it details more regular, though less in-depth happenings.
So notably, end of May through June 16th I was away, a bit of business, and a lot of fun; trying to get in a few weeks of vacation.
Though I wasn't completely idle on gamedev during that period; I produced and submitted Morning's Wrath 1.4, Release Candidate (RC) 7
Hopefully someday our publisher will get that added to steam, it has some serious improvements over the current version (1.3) which has been the only release since roughly '06
Hopefully soon this version can be purchased standalone on our site, and we'll provide the update for free, for any past purchasers (just drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with full name and purchase details).
As for Revel, we've been working to get more systems implemented and 'draw' everything together, in hopes of a near term version update.
I've laid out an internal development schedule that is very aggressive, in hopes that it will really spur some action; I guess we'll see.
Let's start with a new screenshot, showing some of the 'human/male' graphics I did over the weekend; and the new 'name ribbons' for portraits.
Images aside, I wanted to formally touch upon why I've chosen this new graphical and gameplay style for Revel Immortal.
It can really be boiled down to content being too 'expensive' to create that is, too time consuming for the benefit; as well as several of the systems pertaining to that content being significantly flawed.
In late December we basically did a half-year evaluation of how much progress we made with content creation in the old system.
We found that the majority of our time was going to developing the isometric environments; and very specific systems and technical issues pertaining to that (sorting, occlusion, lighting, portals, interior dissolves, performance, etc.)
The result was, a lot of time spent and not a lot of content created; basically not getting much closer to people playing and enjoying Revel Immortal in its current form.
...and for all that time and effort, play-quality was not really exceptional; a number of systems (npc dialogue, equipment, quests) were quite good, but other things (isometric interactions, control scheme, combat, character size) were not very good at all.
To make matters worse, our progress should have had a significant jump-start, as we re-used practically all the environments from existing Morning's Wrath; in hind-sight this did give us a boost, but once we encountered the challenge of making new locations from scratch (notably the Garranshall marketplace) productivity was horrible, with an estimation of maps/locations taking months to potentially complete graphically and functionally.
In short things were not good; for a very key part of the game, it was too hard to author, and the results weren't very good.
Technical issues, limitations of HTML5 and 2D engines; all the usual suspects, depth sorting, behind wall occlusion, lighting; really limited our ability to solve these problems as well.
Naturally they could be solved; there are plenty of excellent 2D Isometric RPGs, but could we solve them? in reasonable time?
We rightly received harsh criticism for control aspects of Morning's Wrath, (and Malathedra, AND Static) and I saw that becoming a repeat issue, which I felt was not acceptable.
All of this evidence forced me to take a really hard look at what we've been doing, and how we can change things to get things moving a lot faster; and showcase what really matters in Revel; that is, the story, quests, exploration, combat, equipment/item management, character progression.
Building 'vast' isometric maps felt like the right thing to work on at the time; but wasn't getting us there.
Faced with potentially calling it 'quits' on the project (which for those keeping track, has technically been in the works in various forms for about 6 years (8 in the absolute, but i technically did not do game development for about 2 years during this time), that's 1 more year than it took to write Morning's Wrath from concept to ship) I opted instead for drastic measures.
I had identified the major aspects that were giving us trouble; and now I was desperate enough to go ahead and act on those issues in a way that I haven't dared to before.
- Drop all of the isometric areas
- Use single image backgrounds instead
- Have a single large overland map of graph connected locations
- Have pc/npc/enemies use dynamic portraiture
- Have battle play out in a 'planner' type mode (think FTL-ish)
- Keep all the existing content, quests, npcs, etc. all the good stuff that works
- Make the changes fast and get moving.
Its a gamble, but so far; in terms of performance, it is working; the result was overwhelmingly a 'technical shed' removing tons of complexity.
Two months in, and we're essentially back where we left off; which is a great turnaround time, given that previous revamps have taken roughly a year.
It is clear that while I was able to recognize the need to revamp and cut, I simply did not cut deep enough.
It has been clear to me since I released Morning's Wrath, that it needed, and was going to get a sequel.
Hopefully I've set things on a path towards real productivity.
Look forward to more regular content in the near future.
All questions are welcome in the comments below.