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      Download the Game Design and Indie Game Marketing Freebook   07/19/17

      GameDev.net and CRC Press have teamed up to bring a free ebook of content curated from top titles published by CRC Press. The freebook, Practices of Game Design & Indie Game Marketing, includes chapters from The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses, A Practical Guide to Indie Game Marketing, and An Architectural Approach to Level Design. The GameDev.net FreeBook is relevant to game designers, developers, and those interested in learning more about the challenges in game development. We know game development can be a tough discipline and business, so we picked several chapters from CRC Press titles that we thought would be of interest to you, the GameDev.net audience, in your journey to design, develop, and market your next game. The free ebook is available through CRC Press by clicking here. The Curated Books The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses, Second Edition, by Jesse Schell Presents 100+ sets of questions, or different lenses, for viewing a game’s design, encompassing diverse fields such as psychology, architecture, music, film, software engineering, theme park design, mathematics, anthropology, and more. Written by one of the world's top game designers, this book describes the deepest and most fundamental principles of game design, demonstrating how tactics used in board, card, and athletic games also work in video games. It provides practical instruction on creating world-class games that will be played again and again. View it here. A Practical Guide to Indie Game Marketing, by Joel Dreskin Marketing is an essential but too frequently overlooked or minimized component of the release plan for indie games. A Practical Guide to Indie Game Marketing provides you with the tools needed to build visibility and sell your indie games. With special focus on those developers with small budgets and limited staff and resources, this book is packed with tangible recommendations and techniques that you can put to use immediately. As a seasoned professional of the indie game arena, author Joel Dreskin gives you insight into practical, real-world experiences of marketing numerous successful games and also provides stories of the failures. View it here. An Architectural Approach to Level Design This is one of the first books to integrate architectural and spatial design theory with the field of level design. The book presents architectural techniques and theories for level designers to use in their own work. It connects architecture and level design in different ways that address the practical elements of how designers construct space and the experiential elements of how and why humans interact with this space. Throughout the text, readers learn skills for spatial layout, evoking emotion through gamespaces, and creating better levels through architectural theory. View it here. Learn more and download the ebook by clicking here. Did you know? GameDev.net and CRC Press also recently teamed up to bring GDNet+ Members up to a 20% discount on all CRC Press books. Learn more about this and other benefits here.
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About this blog

Development of a 3D maze game

Entries in this blog

r1ckparker

New Game - Charge!

Hi everyone, even though I haven't been blogging it, I have almost completed my latest game, Charge!

You play as a sorcerer on a tower who must defeat incoming enemies by throwing spells at them. The full game will have 20+ levels, story mode, 3 difficulty levels, extra weapons and spells.

You can download the 1 level demo from Gamejolt.
r1ckparker
A departure from my usual ramblings, I'm going to share with you some of my favorite games which will never receive a sequel. Some games roll on and on, and have been with us since the dawn of gaming. And then you have the modern yearly updates which just roll on and on - Call of Duty, Need for Speed, Fifa. And of course, there are millions of obscure games which can only be considered a one-off. The following games, to my mind, could have easily become huge franchises, with more innovative features in each sequel.

Kingdoms of Amalur

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A fantastic and under appreciated RPG, Kingdoms of Amalur was developed by Big Huge games, developed with help from fantasy writer R A Salvatore and Todd McFarlane. Big Huge was closed by their parent company just after Kingdoms was released.

Ico/Shadow of the Colossus

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Team Ico produced the original Playstation 2 games and it seems they like to develop only original games. The Last Guardian has been in development for many years, and it may even see a release one day, so it looks like Ico 2 or Shadow 2 will be the last thing the company wants to concentrate on.

Second Sight

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Second Sight featured innovative gameplay, you can use psychic powers to unravel a very interesting story. Developer Free Radical was also responsible for the Time Splitters series of games, and was wound down after the dreadful Haze.
Honorary mention - Psi-Ops

Blur

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Blur was a fantastic game which managed to combine the shiny cars of Need for Speed with the multiplayer and power ups of Mario Kart. Activision closed the developer, Bizarre Creations, after they produced a poorly selling Bond game, Blood Stone.
Honorary mention - Split/Second

LA Noire

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Games really struggle with facial animation, the subtleties of human movement mean it is really difficult to render a realistically moving face. Team Bondi wanted to remedy this and developed what they called MotionScan, which allowed them to render actors faces realistically in game. Throw in a huge open world, an incredible story and challenging puzzles and you have a huge and involving game. Unfortunately Team Bondi was badly run, with employees complaining of poor working conditions. Rockstar closed the studio in 2011.
r1ckparker
As well as starting a new project, I am quite keen to keep supporting my existing games, to that end, I have updated Deepfall Dungeon with some new features -

Improved graphics
More monsters
New game mode - Game Plus
Various improvements and bug fixes

I have also produced a new video which shows off the game a bit better



You can download my game, for free, from my web site -

http://deepfall.moonfruit.com/
r1ckparker
So now my game is complete, I'm ready to start another project. I've had a few ideas about game structure and what I want to do, but I haven't really settled on anything yet. I usually like to prototype my games, before I start them, this gives me an idea of how long the game will take to code, what the controls will be like, and I build it up from there.

For example, I wondered if I could do an 'outdoor' game so within a short while, I had a skybox up and running, with a terrain, some trees and a keyboard controlled camera.

I also had another idea of a 'bullet hell' style game, where instead of controlling a ship and dodging bullets, you would shoot bullets out and try to kill enemies. You would start off with a small amount of bullets and this would gradually increase until you were shooting hoards of bullets out.

I'd also like to have a go at writing a traditional horizontally scrolling shooter at some point.

My final thought was to create a 'retro' platform game, an 'homage' to the old ZX Spectrum games, but done in a modern style. To this end, I created a mapper and a scrolling, tiled 2d map and did some quick sprites on top.

I find this kind of prototyping really helps the development, it gives you a sense of what graphics and artwork you will need, helps with the control scheme and even highlights flaws in your game design - if something won't work or isn't fun then you can go back to the drawing board to fix it, without wasting a lot of time.

How do you guys go about deciding your next project? Am I alone in using this method? I'd love to know, drop some comments in below!
r1ckparker
Deepfall Dungeon is a 3D first person fantasy role playing game. You have entered the dreaded Deepfall Dungeon and must find the exit! Along the way, you will fight monsters, find treasure, cast spells and build your character from a nobody to a legend! Will you make it out alive? Features - Hundreds of generated mazes - no two games are ever the same.. Ten different monster types, each requiring their own strategy to defeat. 3d graphics with a retro vibe. Download the demo from Mediafire, below.

http://www.deepfall.moonfruit.com
http://www.mediafire.com/?63glnkwjqg3156o
http://www.indiedb.com/games/deepfall-dungeon

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r1ckparker

Concept art

I'm on the verge of releasing my game, I've been playtesting, balancing and bug fixing and it's almost ready.

To celebrate I'm showing you guys some concept and unused artwork, I always enjoy this kind of thing from proper devs, so enjoy!
r1ckparker

Play Testing

It's been a while so I thought I'd post an update, still working away on the game, today I have been playtesting and balancing. I don't want it to be too difficult and I want it to get harder as you progress. So I have been playing it from the start, making sure there are enough health potions, that monsters don't hit you too hard, and that you can actually finish each level!

I did find one strange thing, it is almost impossible to die on the first level. I wanted to check my game loop and make sure it dropped you to the Game Over screen then back to the Title Screen, so I found a monster and stood there while he tried to hit me - it took a good 10 minutes and I still had 1HP left!

I guess it might have been a fluke, I will try and replicate it. The monsters get tougher though after the first level so it shouldn't be a problem after that.

Everything else is finished all the monster graphics and sound effects are in, all the spells and skills are in, I just need to do a little work on my menus and help screens and I'm done!

About time too because I'm way behind schedule.

On another note, I have been playing around with Unity, it's very easy to code for multiple platforms, I'm sure I will be using it for my next project.

But I need a holiday first!

Bye for now.....

Rick

LOD Games - Deepfall Dungeon
r1ckparker

Spreadsheets

Wow, making an RPG is hard. I mean you have to be a master of databases and spreadsheets, just to keep track of everything. I have a list of 250 items, all of which can be customised, lists of monsters, to hit tables, spells, abilities, status effects and all these things have to interact with each other behind the scenes.

How do you keep the game challenging? And fun? If you give the player a +5 sword, will it make him overpowered and the next few levels will be too easy? What about if you give him +5 armour? If you don't drop the right weapon will the player get frustrated and just give up? How do you scale the experience so that the monsters get tougher as the player gets better? Do you base it on the players skill or the players Characters skill? Whoa.

I'm currently playtesting and asking myself these questions, but I definitely know one thing - my next game won't be an RPG!

I think I've figured out a few things -

Monsters strength will be based on the players level when he enters the dungeon. A level 5 character entering the dungeon will encounter level 5 and level 6 monsters.
The player should (on average) gain 1 level per dungeon.
Items will be randomly awarded during the level.
At the end of the level there will be a shop where you can sell unwanted items, buy new items and upgrade existing items.
There will be an element of skill when defending during combat, a correct keypress at the correct time will half the damage.
Attacks during combat will be based on a dice roll + the characters skill with the currently wielded weapon.
r1ckparker

More bug fixing

Found a horrible bug which only affected people who downloaded the demo (everybody then!). Apparently Windows does not let you save files to the installed program folder, and unfortunately that's where I was saving a text file which holds the controls and the screen resolution information. The game didn't error when it tried to save the information, it just didn't save. So when you changed screen resolution, quit the game and restarted, it defaulted back to 1024x768.

This wasn't a problem when I was testing locally because I was the owner/administrator. Eventually figured out you can save it into the %appdata% folder, so I moved my ini files into this location. Hopefully this won't cause any problems for people with older OS's (eg XP, Vista etc.).

I also re-drew the inventory screen, looks much nicer now and fits in with the rest of the GUI.

Otherwise, feedback from the demo has been positive, thanks to everybody who has downloaded it and tried it!
r1ckparker
You lucky people! Get early access to the demo, available now on Indie City, the release date is still 2 weeks away but I want to get some feedback and find out what features people would like to see in the final version.

Download from here

http://underground.indiecity.com/game/deepfalldungeondemo

Please give feedback and bug reports!

http://www.facebook.com/DeepfallDungeon
r1ckparker

Promotions

I wanted to have a bit of a break from programming, so I decided to start promoting my game. I've set a release date and made a Facebook page, updated the web site and added a link on the 'Announcements' forum.

Any other suggestions as to where I can post a link to my game?

I've been doing a lot of bug fixing, it seems that every time I play the game I add another thing to my list of things to fix. I'm quite organised and I have a 'to do' list which I cross off every item I've finished but the list still seems to be getting longer!

I've added a 'look' function, if you hold down the right mouse button, you can look around using the mouse, in a 1st person view. Usually the view is locked to 90 degrees. The player will never use it in-game, it's just there as an added feature.

web page -
http://www.deepfall.moonfruit.com

Facebook -
http://www.facebook.com/DeepfallDungeon

Announcement page -
https://www.gamedev.net/topic/627832-deepfall-dungeon/
r1ckparker
Originally I planned for all the walls to be flat 2d polygons, with a plain texture placed on top. This means I don't have to worry about making 3d objects, texturing them, placing them in the world etc.

However my artist is amazing and he has made 3d models before. He has made some units which lock together and look really cool. Basically instead of a 'cube' to represent a wall, he has created a model. These models are duplicated and it was really easy to replace my primatives with his models.

It makes such a difference to have proper 3d, I might even implement a 'look' control which lets you look around (currently the view is locked to 90 degree angles).

I've just about got the magic spells implemented, all I need now is a levelling-up screen (where the player can increase his skills) and a shop screen, which will allow you to sell items you don't need, buy upgrades, new weapons etc.
r1ckparker
I've spent this weekend updating the lighting and effects, I've added Normal Mapping to all the walls and it's looking good now. It took me a while to make it look right, either it was too dark or too bright but I think it's just about there now. These effects can be turned on and off by the player, in case they are playing on a slow laptop or something.

I've also noticed the dungeon is a bit 'static', there's not much movement. So I'm going to add some animated objects, things like torches, swinging chains, tapestries blowing in the wind etc. In the video you can see the 'torch' effect.

It's a flat polygon, which is rotated to the player, textured with a flame texture.

r1ckparker

Dungeon Update

I've finished adding magic into the game, it's based on the character's current level, any character will be able to cast basic spells, but as you advance you can only cast higher spells if you invest in your 'magic' skill.

Magic spells are limited by points, so you can't go round the dungeon blasting monsters with fireballs! MP can be regained by drinking potions, eating certain foods or resting.

I'm not sure about how the player will select the spells yet, currently it's a menu where you can select from a list, but if the player knows 20 spells that might get a bit unwieldy! I will have to figure how the player can select their spells more efficiently. Note that everything is in real-time now, so more time spent navigating through menus is more time the monster has to hit you!

I've also been working on the title screen, there's a retro scrolly message down at the bottom for greetz! I'm happy with the way it looks and it fits the 'dungeon' aesthetic nicely.

I read about 5 essential tips from a guy called Reisuke Ishida who made a presentation at Game Developers Conference -

It's important to come up with a catchphrase that is 'easily recognisable', which in turn influences the game's direction.
Try to make elements like the menus reflect the core concept
Strive for controls that are as simple and as intuitive as possible.
Add a little quirkiness to the design.
Ask that developers consider basic questions like the player's environment thoughout development.

So I am hitting point 2 but failing on point 3! Back to the drawing board!

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r1ckparker

3D test

Thought I'd try and convert my game to 3D, as it would lend itself quite well to that perspective. Turns out it was quite easy and it looks great! Maybe I'll write a Nintendo 3DS conversion?!



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r1ckparker

More updates...

I decided to make a 'to do' list of what is still left, and I was kind of depressed to discover that I could list 18 items just off the top of my head.

So I'm making a start on some of these, which includes a title screen, logo and proper name. Up until now it has just been '3d dungeon' or 'my game' but now it's

DEEPFALL DUNGEON

Hope you like the logo. A nice, generic, inoffensive name I hope you agree. A quick Google search reveals no other games with that name, that's about as much in depth as I can go without a legal department.
r1ckparker

Dungeon Update

I've been working on the combat, I've streamlined it to make it 1 character and 1 monster. It was getting too complicated, I had 4 characters and up to 4 monsters, trying to manage inventory and decide which character was attacking which monster was a headache.

I've put all the items into the game, all weapons, armour, misc items etc. Just need to finish off the combat and then I can start polishing and bug-fixing.

I've played Legend of Grimrock and it's exactly the same kind of game, it's very professional and mine won't be to that standard (unfortunately) but if I had the resources, that is the game I'd make. I highly recommend it, it's available on Steam now.




Rick
r1ckparker

Progress

I've not updated for a while, but I've been hard at work. I've added character stats and a character sheet, I've added keys and locked doors, icons for items, I've made a start on the combat and put some monsters in, it's coming along great now and starting to look like a proper game.

Screenshots and videos incoming!


r1ckparker

Monster graphics

Now I know how many and what type of graphics I need, and I can start replacing my scratch graphics with finals. I downloaded a royalty free model and wrote a quick display program which shows the model and exports it to a bitmap. I then loaded these into Photoshop, tweaked them slightly, added shadows etc. I am going to have 16 frames of animation for each monster -
1 standing still
3 walking towards the player
3 walking left (flipped for walking right)
3 walking away
3 attacking
3 dying

I could, of course, have loaded the model straight into the game but there's a couple of reasons why I'm sticking to the flat 2d graphics. One is aesthetic, the game is a throwback to the old dungeon crawlers so I want it to have a semi-retro feel (even though it's in full 3d). The second reason is the target devices, the main goal is to be able to play this on a netbook which aren't the most powerful machines. If it gets ported to mobile devices there may be even less processing power.
r1ckparker

Bugfixing

Had a horrible bug which destroyed my maze, took me a while to hunt it down and fix it. Turns out it was just 1 character in my code which was in the wrong place. I also took this opportunity to tidy things up a bit, do some more optimisation etc.

I stumbled across this interesting article about tutorials, my first level is a tutorial which explains how the game works and I am definitely going to pick up some pointers from this article. I had actually made some of the mistakes mentioned in the article without realising it so it was definitely worth a read.

http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/6406/the_designers_notebook_eight_.php
r1ckparker

Title music

As development continues, I've been forced to think about all the stuff as a gamer you don't usually think too much about, like UI graphics, icons, title screens, music, sound effects etc.

I've done some music for the title screen, which you can listen to below. I wanted to to be synth-y and slightly industrial. It's quite long and repetitive 'cos I figured that you would only hear the first few bars then you'd be pressing 'Start'. It gives a good indication as to the direction and feel of the game. Hope you like!

My title music