Gaming Your Way

May contain nuts.

2013 in words and pictures

Let's stroke our ego, because that's all that this is.

January:

The start of the year meant forgetting about having been off in America the previous November / December and getting back down to O2. This month saw the start of level 4, the water works / sewer level, which just took forever to do ( To put it in perspective, I think we did the last 3 levels in the same amount of time as level 4 took ).

We also celebrated our 6th birthday, and were pleased that both DN8:Pulse and Outpost:Haven got nominated for in the best shooter category in the annual JIG best of comp. Obviously less pleased that with two games in there we still didn't win Jack, but we never really expect to.
I also posted a fairly large post about why Multiplayer is a pain in the nads. Don't believe me ? It's here.

February:

I wrote some stuff about the new node based pathfinding I'd added to O2. I re-wrote it slightly and posted it on Gamasutra. It's a really quick method of doing "Good enough" baddie pathfinding, although it still had some minor issues.

Olli introduced us to his racing game, and the fun of checking a user edited track for errors.

Personally I would let the player make broken tracks, but that's why Olli is better than me.

I also posted a bit of an open debate about re-spawning baddies being a type of game design cheat ( A cheat which I embraced, naturally ).

March:

We pushed out an alpha demo of O2 to the Facebook page. Unbelievable really the gap between that and the finished game.

One of the reasons was the level design, something I really went into with this post ( Which must have the most literal title of any post on the entire blog ).
There was some client work this month, but I honestly couldn't tell you what it was, as it just seems to blur. I think it could have been an additional level to a game did back in December whilst out in the US, but it could just as well have been anything. 

Olli covered off the map / track format for his racing game, and that's all we wrote.

April:

This was a good month. I took a couple of days off to add the hidden game to O2, just as level design was killing me.

It was great just to have two days coding for the sheer joy of it, a pattern for the month actually.

As well as that I added the Trip Wires to O2, which I was really pleased with. I loved the similar mechanic in Bioshock 2 ( Can't remember if they were in the first one ? ).

Also this month the flame thrower got some much needed love. It was far too ugly ( And slow CPU wise ) in Haven, so I re-coded it and it's in my mind the best effect in O2, it looks great.

At the end of the month I entered Ludum Dare for the first time.

The game had some nice aspects, but generally it was flawed. I did originally start using Starling for it as a way to learn it, but soon got pissed off with that.

I enjoyed it, but I doubt I'll do it again. I learned two key things.
a) I didn't have time to vote / play other peoples games as much as I should have, which is just crap.
b) I've done so much crunching over the years spending a weekend doing it isn't fun. That means I didn't spend enough time on it, and yet still missed the deadline.

There's a big old write up of it here with I assume a live link to play it.

May:

Another pretty good month. I think the good months are the ones where I could just get my head down and work on O2 without having to break off to do client work.

Firstly I re-coded the level plotting routines so they were split up over frames, which stopped the feeling of the game hanging the previous approach caused.

The C4 weapon was added, which I really like, it's great when a ton of Owlmen are fighting over it and pushing it along.

I had to re-code the wingman AI to use the new node based pathfinding the baddies did. That wasn't too bad, but like all things it affected a ton of other stuff, mainly the bullet classes which I had to go through, so we could have those human baddies in level 8.

Discovered a bug with Chrome / Pepperpot ( That's Chrome's built in Flash player, which obviously doesn't work exactly the same as the true Flash player ) that still hasn't been fixed.

Aside from that we made a start on level 5, which was the first one Lux laid out. It was so nice being able to put the planet in the background and add parallax, and the lens flare works better than I could have hoped.

June:

I hit the nothingy age of 41 this month. Time just creeps up on you.

Less good month as I took on more client work to help fund O2. BTW I don't often link to the client work as it's usually done under a NDA, where we can't take any credit for it ( And a lot of stuff I've done recently has been for one company, and it's behind a sign-in so I can't even do a cheeky link with implied credit ). It's not that I'm ashamed of client work, my bank account definitely isn't, but most of the time there's nothing we can really show.

Olli did a great post about Unity colliders, which you can read here.

And I added the sentry gun to O2, and made a start on the re-designed console.

July:

Olli teased more images of his racing game, MTR.

I was still stuck in re-structuring hell. O2 isn't a complete re-write from scratch of Haven, but I'd say it's at least 80% new code, possibly more. The hard points were added to Swarm mode, because we just didn't have enough to work to do anyway ( Worth the effort I think though ).

The really big announcement this month was of me going into partnership with Lux under the Garage Collective banner. It was a really huge step for me, only looking to release games under the GC name from now on after working so hard on trying to establish GYW. As you can see, I'm still in the GYW camp with Olli, it's mainly about the game branding rather than a complete clean break ( Olli and I haven't fallen out or anything ).

August:

Olli did some client work, can I just say, I never get jobs like this:

He also posted about another Unity project, which you can read more about here.

As for me, well this is pretty much when the O2 crunch started as Lux had come over full time. Aside from client work it didn't really stop until the game was complete, I was having something like one day off every 5/6 weeks and it sucked like crunch always does.

September:

Big big month. We renamed O2 to the more familiar "Lost Outpost" cause of an existing trade mark. Cheers for that Activision.

The first trailer went out,

And we put the not yet really finished game up on FGL ( Where we got straight 8's in the review on there. Totally fucking pointless ).

Also we ventured to Greenlight, in fact if you've not given us some voting love you can now by clicking this link. Thanks.

Olli did a ton of posts about his Hellstrom project, which was an interesting insight into building a Unity game.

October:

For me this was just fucking hellish client work and trying to sneak some hours to actually try and finish Lost Outpost. Even though the game was up for bidding it was still a constant crunch, it never let up ( Hence only one post from me in October, although to be honest the only other one I could have made was "Reasons why I went on a killing spree" such was my state of mind. I was fucking broken by that stage ).

Olli broke off from Hellstrom to give MTR some love, and what love it was.

November:

Another big month.

On the 16th we finally sold Lost Outpost, to maxgames.com
On the 19th Lost Outpost was officially gold.

And on the 29th if finally went live ( We actually delayed it a week, I jokingly said to our mate PhotonStorm "I bet the new Kingdom Rush comes out on the same day" and lo and behold. Arse. To try and give ourselves a fighting chance of being noticed we bumped it back a week ).

Olli showed some more MTR action, and him unboxing his swanky new day one Xbox One, but this month belonged to Lost Outpost after the forever development time.

December:

For me this was more client work, I'm working on a prototype game for iPad. My first time, and my first time properly working with Starling ( Which is great, I've love to find the time to have a hack of that code as it could be speeded up a lot as it has to be so general for ease of use ).

I'll hopefully write more about that this month, also we've taken on a new html game, which I will actually be able to link to when it's live.

The other big news this month was that we finally retired the proper gamingyourway site, it just redirects here now. We were never updating it so it was time to kill it off.

And I think that's it. Even less output that last year, again. Lost Outpost was the main factor in that, and I really doubt we'll do a game as vast as that again ( In Flash ). The market is still at a crossroads where there isn't the same money there once was in the Flash market ( LO sold for around a third less than Haven ) and the money isn't there yet in the HTML5 one, at least for not for large games. That will change, but it's a case of waiting for the change and paying the bills in the mean time.

I'm really proud of Lost Outpost, it's the best thing I've ever done. We've done ok review wise, got a daily 2nd on NG ( Haven was beaten by a movie on there too, we've never had a daily first on there with any of the three Outpost games ), got a weekly 3rd on Kong which was surprising as our games never do well there, it was more a case of nothing really great coming out at that time rather than our game being adored.
There are still bugs in it, it's just impossible to find the time to fix them, which is such a pity, it really hurts me leaving it like that.

I'd like to thank all the guys who helped out on it, you know who you are, and you were all fucking excellent. Thank you.

Now let's see what 2014 brings... I'm guessing less Flash and more HTML5, which is a real shame. Hopefully some Unity, but I'm sure I've been saying that for the past couple of years.

We both hope you had a great Christmas and a happy New Year, and thanks as always for sticking with us, we're going to strive to be better this year like every other.

Squize.

Comments (5) -

  • penzodude

    1/2/2014 10:28:56 AM |

    nice writeup...I was wondering what ur take on the future of flash/html5/unity was as far as workload and all that....it is kinda of a sad state of affairs as far as Flash, as I really like the platform as well.

    starting a project here, just for fun, that could be long and rather complex....and going w/ flash, but I have thought of unity as well....not sure whether I'd want to sell/make money on it, I guess we'll see how it goes....

  • Squize

    1/2/2014 1:08:05 PM |

    Cheers mate, took an age to write all that :)

    For the future, I see html5 being the new Flash in terms of client work, and Unity will be the indie power house for Steam like downloadable games. As to what replaces the current Flash market, it's going to be html5, but it's going to be different than what we're used to.
    I think the market will be lots of little games, like Flash was years ago, and therefore won't carry a premium. There won't be "mid-sized" games going for $6-$8k for a while, as there's no viral spread of html games, they're basically site locks.

    If you're doing a game just for yourself with no real view to making money, Flash is really great. It gets so much crap, but it just works and it's as powerful as you like now. Stage3D is excellent and painfully underused due to a lack of portals supporting it.

  • penzodude

    1/4/2014 9:25:05 AM |

    Hey squize,

    yea, it's a real sad state of affairs as far as flash I think...for all the crap it gets, the irony is that it's more mature then ever to develop top quality games, at least on the 2D side like ur Outpost series....vs something like HTML5 which still lacks behind.

    and u'r right...I can see a gap there if flash does dwindle down, as far as larger more complex games not being quite feasable, (or not there being sponsors willing to pay for them yet) in HTML5......wonder how it would've been like to make the Outpost series in HTML...my guess a lot more pain, and probably time then flash.

    The one possible saving grace I can see w/ Flash and other similar tools is that there is a general tendency on the side of tool makers to make their tools export to as many platforms as possible.....various mobile/html/whatever....so it would seem to me that the tool that one uses to make a game (unity/flash/whatever) might matter less and less, since they all seem to be striving to export to a lots of formats.......wonder if that would be a reason to stick w/ flash, while exporting to various other formats.

    anyway just some thoughts, and again nice work w/ the Outpost series....very inspiring as to what flash can do..

  • Squize

    1/6/2014 7:48:56 PM |

    For me the problem is that there's nothing I can do in HTML5 that I couldn't do better in Flash, so as a game developer it's a step backward.

    I remember in the really old days of Flash, when FlashKit was the centre of game development, that lots and lots of games would be posted and it would be a case of "That's really great for Flash! ( But shit compared to anything else )", and I feel it's the same with HTML now. It's come along hugely in just a couple of years, and in a couple more years it will be a Flash beater, but right this minute it's not, but all the client money is in HTML ( And soon all the sponsor money will be there too, Spil are throwing a ton of cash at it right now, it won't be long before Miniclip and Kong do the same, if they aren't already in a slightly quieter way ).

    Likewise Unity, it's stunning, but it's only really for indie games. I think the only client Unity work you'd get would be for mobile, but then you're talking really big budgets so that's the domain of design agencies, not freelancers pitching for gigs.

    And I totally agree, cross platform is really great ( To me, I grew up on the C64, being able to target something like Flash to browser and mobile with the same file is like magic ) and Adobe AIR is the one thing really keeping Flash going.

    I was of the attitude that I wouldn't move over to HTML5 until I could make Outpost in it, there would be no point otherwise, but real world realities have forced me to change my view.
    To put it into perspective, I know you can't really compare client work to indie work in terms of money, but I'm doing a nice simple html quiz game for a client atm, and I think in total I'm going to spend around 10 days on it, and for that I'm getting paid the same that Lux and I jointly earned for O2.

    Thanks for the kind words about Outpost, it's the game I'm most proud of.

  • penzodude

    1/13/2014 11:54:24 AM |

    hey squize,
    yea, it's a weird period we live in.....html5 is not quite mature yet, flash is, but has too much flak/bad rep, and unity is pretty much relegated to the indie scene.

    so what do u think you'll use to make O3 in?....html5, flash, or unity?

    have u taken a look at the native 2d features unity just added in version 4.3?.....took a look at their blog vid, and a couple of others....some of it looks ripped off directly from flash...lol.....either way, it seems like a nice addition, w/ Box2D behaviours added in.....

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