Extra secret bonus stuff And stuff…
Extra secret bonus stuff And stuff…
Making a “Soulsian” game is very enjoyable to me. I was thinking about this a lot the other night at the pub with Terry Cavanagh and another rabid DARK SOULS fan, during a five hour discussion about the game. Having spent four years fighting to get a narrative-heavy game to work well with its mechanics, and replaying the same bits of narrative again and again until they worked, it’s refreshing to do something more design-focussed. Of course, the theme is still really important to me (perhaps one of the things I value the most), but as with Lone Survivor I’ve decided not to share any details of the story until the game is released. The games I make tend to come from the theme, rather than the mechanics, even with NG+, but this time its focus is more a blend of the two aspects.
So, the nice thing is every game is different when you have this many mechanics and styles of play… It means I have to devote a lot more time to balancing and playing the game, but that’s turning out to be a lot of fun with four players anyway, and giving me a lot to take home after each event I take the game to (I’ve been starting to ‘hit the road’ with it recently, now I have four quite different characters and the stats and weapon systems fleshed out, as well as the coop and VS game modes implemented. You can switch modes at any time during the game now via the ‘+ Altars’.)
I’ve begun to build more of the world (which I’m trying not to show too much of because *spoilers*) but I can say that there are now multi-level areas working, like Dungeon Master, one of my all-time favourite RPG’s, you can fall down pits and the enemies can even follow you down there, or be found lurking when you reach the lower level because you lunged at them and sent them flying off a ledge.) I want to make a lot of use of the grid-based nature of the game, and have Dungeon Master-like traps, pressure pads, all those things that require you to be a little observant when moving forward. You can throw whatever you’re carrying, in either hand, not only to land in monsters’ faces stunning them temporarily while you make your escape, risking a valuable weapon or shield, but perhaps also to set off these fiendish traps before they find you instead?
As it stands, I’m planning to have no inventory except for the armour and helmet you wear, the two things you carry in your hands, and one support item. Designs can be subject to change of course! But I want to try and reduce and RPG to the fewest elements I can while still being able to feel like an RPG. That’s a key thing in what I’m going for mechanically, I think? And with up to four players on screen the GUI has to be as simple as possible, so my intended solution is to practically show all of it on the player, one of the reasons the animation takes so long, because the player must be able to use every item, in both hands, with four facing directions, in every suit and helmet!
So the game is still a long way from being finished in terms of content, but the gameplay is definitely getting to where I hoped it would be, and people seem to be having a lot of fun with it when I play with them. I really look forward to sharing it with you all! Just don’t expect it this year (unfortunately.)One two a few more thing(s)…
I’m off today for a couple of weeks to work on a secret project. So if I’m fairly quiet on email or twitter, that’s why! I’m basically going to be internet-less for this time while I buckle down and get it done, but suffice to say it’s something exciting that I can hopefully announce soon!
- There’s no comments available at the moment just because I couldn’t hold back the spam any more. Planning a website overhaul soon, I promise!
- I’ve also been doing some exciting music projects too, at least two new games will feature some of my guest tunes. Hope to get into this more after NG+, if such a time ever exists.
- I’m finally going to my first IGF / GDC this year! I’ll be in San Francisco for the whole week and a few days either side. Hope to catch some of you there…
- Hope you’re all having a wicked 2013!
I am going to finish this, after all. It may just take a while.
Happy new year, everyone!
Hello everyone! It’s been a while since I last wrote, mainly because I’ve had to be absolutely sure I was going to post what I’m about to post.
There are two things I’d like to share with you… Some good news and some not so good news. If you’d prefer the good news first, skip to the later section!
NEW GAME+, the dungeon crawler I’ve been working away on for the last six months (I realise I never officially announced the name), is no more.
I have decided to abandon the project. It’s been a very tough decision to make, quite heartbreaking really, but it IS the right thing to do. It was too big for a single person to make. This is the root of the problem. It wasn’t that I fell out of love with the idea, just that I can’t physically do it.
The good thing about being a self-funded, one-man team is that I can drop a project without hurting any co-workers, without feeling pressure to complete something that isn’t working, and without being somehow responsible to investors. It’s one of the reasons I prefer to remain a solo game creator, so that I feel less pressure to try and force something that doesn’t want to be forced, to remain agile so that I don’t need to flog an already dead horse.
I reached a point where it was getting very frustrating: the game demanded a lot of animation, very detailed level design, and a huge amount of gameplay code, all of which were taking so long that it felt excruciating.
I’d like to say sorry to any fans who were looking forward to it – it’s still a game I’d love to play, and should I ever have a team to work with in future, it’s definitely an idea I’d like to come back to. I had an incredibly detailed story worked out (it’s not what it appeared!), which I won’t share in case the idea ever resurfaces.
For now, let’s take a minute’s silence and look through the work in progress shots, leading up to the first build that I shared with a few friends a week ago…
First engine tests
First bits of level creation, writing the editor, figuring out the perspective etc…
Working out what sprites might look like…
Adding gameplay, weapons and AI…
So this is as far as I got with it. It still had a long way to go before it was going to be fully playable, and yet it had taken so many months to reach this point. I realised, not for the first time, that I’d been too ambitious. If you’ve followed Lone Survivor’s creation, you’ll see that there were quite a few failed versions of it in its wake.
So that is the story of NEW GAME+. When considering my decision, I received this excellent piece advice from Stephen ‘The Catamites’, something it really helped to hear…“there’s no such thing as a trashed project, it always just gets subsumed into something else where you least expect it, so i won’t mourn new game +, even though it looked really cool. i am eagerly anticipating when the idea / images behind it suddenly appear in an unrelated dating sim or something some months hence…”
… and I think he’s absolutely right.
That’s right, something wonderful has also happened in this time period. I have something I’m very excited to announce:
LONE SURVIVOR is coming to PS3 and PS Vita!
It’ll be re-coded from scratch by Curve Studios in London, creators of a number of great PS3 games like Fluidity, Hydroventure and Explodemon. It’ll be super-smooth running, and better yet (for my European cousins, at least) the plan is to include translations into French and German.
I’m greatly looking forward to this, as it’s been a dream of mine since childhood to release a game on console, and especially the Sony ones as I love what they do most of all. Anyone who follows my twitter will know that I don’t tend to play games on PC, I really am a couch gamer, most happy on my PS3! Lone Survivor was designed as a console game (in my head, anwyay.) In fact, all the games I work on I really imagine being on console, or fantasise about, anyway!
So there is is… With one door closing, another opens.
I’ll be sure to let you guys know when I figure out what my own next project will be. Who knows, it might end up being the dating sim The Catamites suggests…
… For now there’s just a glorious blank sheet of white paper in front of me.
I think I have a good idea of what it is I want to work on, finally. It’s very rough and sketchy and won’t look like this exactly… but…
Basically it’s a combination of all the ideas I’ve been shooting around since the later parts of making LONE SURVIVOR, from dungeon crawler to sci-fi head-messing to whimsical platformer… or another way of looking at it may be Zelda x Demon’s Souls? The story is a little weird, though. I have a prototype (using more basic top-down view a bit more like this):
It has two-handed combat, equipable weapons and rolling (I love rolling), but I’m now writing an engine to make this sort of Zelda-Phantom Hourglass type projection to try and make the environment more exciting, but unlike that game it will use sprites to convey the characters. I still have a good way to go before I can get this sort of look in-game, a lot of tools to write and art to draw.
It’s been through various prototypes and art styles, a bit like LS before it… Does that mean it bodes well? I guess we’ll see…
Various 2D & 3D prototypes for “New Game”
I’m looking forward to finally meeting a bunch of indies I only know from their online personas! Seems like fellow Poppenkast, Vlambeer & cactus will be there, as well as fellow Cambridgian and fine friend, Terry Cavanagh, and a bunch of others from the US and EU. Look forward to checking out the event, and I’ll be doing a ‘live director’s commentary’ on the Sunday afternoon, so I’ll catch you down there if you’re about.
First Aid Edition Art Card Update
I’ve had a bit of back pain in the last couple of days which was when I planned to finish off the art card pile (signing and numbering) and get at least the first half sent off, but unfortunately I am going to have to delay a little longer until I get back from Texas. The selling of a game and setting up of a business never fails to take longer than expected, I’m hoping to get back into full-time work on a new game towards the end of the year. Which leads me onto…
Hello, my friends. It’s been a fair old while since I wrote, and I’m sorry for that!
Things have moved very fast this year, it’s hard to believe so much has happened. In the last few months I’ve been doing various things, in amongst the continued support for LONE SURVIVOR. I guess I should start with that…
So first of all I’m really proud to announce that LONE SURVIVOR has been nominated fora Golden Joystick in the ‘Best Downloadable Game’ category! This really is the greatest honour, something I never believed I might ever achieve. Actually, this award is voted for by the public, so if you like you can head over to:
… and even though I probably don’t have any hope against some of the amazing games selected, your vote would definitely be appreciated!
… As well as this, the game has been selected to be exhibited in Fantastic Arcade, and I’ll be in Austin, Texas this month from the 19th-26th to meet some of my US / Canadian brethren, eat BBQ, and generally enjoy the Southern hospitality!
If you’re going, let me know and we can meet up! The show itself runs from the 20th-23rd.
I’ve also been getting the art cards finalised. It’s taken quite a few print runs to get them right (including throwing away a whole batch which got cropped wrong.) Anyway, they arrived with me the day before I came on holiday (where I now am, in Spain.) I plan to get these out as soon as I return, and I’ll be sending a final email to all the supporters when I do, in case of any final address changes.
Besides that I’ve had to do a lot of business stuff, setting up Superflat Games as a Ltd. company etc, stuff I don’t really understand, which scares me a lot, but of course I have to do.
I’ve also been doing a fair bit of music. I’ve put some love back into my studio space and made it a much more pleasant place to work. I made a couple of tunes for my good friend and idol, Jonatan ‘cactus’ Söderström, for his new game, Hotline Miami (also selected for Fantastic Arcade, so hopefully we finally get to meet), which seems to be blowing up right now, and I can tell you guys, from watching it develop, that it lives up to the hype in every way!
Been doing some 140bpm tunes under the North Base moniker too (which mainly consists of four other friends from Manchester, one of whom, Silver, was my drum’n’bass partner for about ten years) … some of which have been signed, others still in the works. Really enjoying making music for the sake of making music again.
One I did a few months back with them, called Acid Flashback, has recently come out on Wheel & Deal records: http://www.beatport.com/release/ruffneck-acid-flashback/904623
And then there’s the games which aren’t LONE SURVIVOR. Well, I’ve started about four different games now (none of which have names yet besides XO3D), and all are currently on hold while I work out what it is I really want to spend the next few years doing. I just don’t see myself making shorter games, they always end up large in scope somehow. So I want to be absolutely sure I’m making something I’m still going to enjoy in a couple of years!
I may choose to enter LS into IGF again this year, I guess I figure that it was only half finished last year, or at least the beginning was not in a good shape, so now it is final, I figured I’d give it one more shot?
Anyway, that about brings it up to date. Thanks once again for your support, and all the kind messages you’ve sent. I really never expected it to reach so many people, and as I’m sure I’ve said before, I’m awed and humbled.
I’ll be mailing out the art cards soon… but there is one final decision to be made.
I’ve looked at various treatments for producing the thing. Fine art papers (wrong texture, needed to be smoother), highest quality photo papers (very nice print, but still like a photo and quite thin), and lastly actual postcard printing (haven’t seen the sample, but I imagine the print quality is less fine, but it’s a nice card that you can put up somewhere.)
It’s a toss-up between the photo print or the postcard print, so I’m really calling for all you First Aid owners to suggest what you’d like! Either way, I’m going to submit it for printing next week, so if you have a strong opinion, chime in now!
I personally feel, even though I haven’t seen the postcard sample, that the lower dpi won’t matter that much, I’m assured the colour balance should be identical, though.
So, would you rather a super sharp but photo-like print, or a physical postcard, sturdy but less detailed? Answers on a … er … comment down below!
Have you moved house recently, First Aid Edition owner?
As per the title, and if you’re a proud owner of 1 of 200 ‘LONE SURVIVOR – First Aid Editions’ ever made, have you moved house recently? I’ll be needing your new address, then, to mail this lovely card! Please write to:support (at) lonesurvivor.co.uk
… making sure to use the subject line “First Aid Move” or something pretty obvious so I can tell it’s not an update request etc, including your new address.
Thankyou all for supporting the game when it first launched, it’s been an unbelievable few months since then! Thanks also to those who’ve recently got it through the Steam and HIB sales, and welcome to the world of LONE SURVIVOR.
In other news…
I’ve been working on this for a while, but just recently decided to abandon it, for no other reason other than it didn’t get me super excited. I may return to it and add what I planned to, and it may become something exciting because of that, just not right now.
So I started working on this – although it’s nothing more than a few bits of art and some vague ideas at present. For some reason, and maybe it’s just the the UK summer finally decided to show its face, a couple of months late, that I really want to explore some nostalgic Blue Sky™ right now!
Who knows where it will take me…
Get LONE SURVIVOR, Cave Story+, EDGE, Anomaly: Warzone Earth and The Baconing for $10! For the next two hours! (Sorry, my site & email were down…)
LONE SURVIVOR itself is 35% off for the next 9 days, the cheapest it’s been on its own! (Under a fiver!* You can’t go wrong! Etc!) *UK
About other stuff…
I’ve been working on my new thing, a shooter which spilled over from 7dfps. I’ve just got the engine done and I’m pretty excited about it!
About Lone Survivor Updates (email@example.com)
Please bear in mind that they are coming in much slower now, but I’m still doing them in batches of ten or twenty to keep things methodical. This means your update can slip for a few days sometimes, depending on how many come in around that time – but it will come through eventually! As I’ve done thousands of these by hand, some have slipped through the net and I apologise for that, please just send your Fastspring order code starting with SUP-xxxx through and I’ll reply with your update key in the next batch.
About First Aid Edition Art Cards (UPDATE)
I forgot to mention that I’ve found a printing company that’s going to do the kind of quality I’m after. It’s all going to be by hand and I’m even going to be going down there to help trim and crop the cards when they’re done! They’ll probably be about 8 inches across, and printed on art-grade materials, either the finest photo paper or 308gsm art-print paper, depending on how they turn out. I’m still waiting to get samples done, and tweaking the print itself (not much to do, just get the framing right and colour balance for print.)
The only downside is I will end up spending more on this than I imagined, and eating into the actual money set aside for freeware work, although it’s all very grey, and I’ll sort of do it as and when it fits anyway, without a specific budget. I want to enter more jams this year, to keep myself agile, and I will roll out the rest of LS3D and release it for free at some point (I don’t plan to add much, perhaps a second monster, maybe some more foods, but the main thing is really just having some text between levels.)
The title says it all, and you’ve probably heard it from the a million internet streams before this one - Lone Survivor is now a part of Humble Indie Bundle V! I’m incredibly proud to be a part of this incredible collection of games, and once again in awe of the guys over at Humble, Inc.
I did have a good think about whether to accept the offer, for a couple of reasons… not least of which is that I’m feeling a bit burnt out – I really do need a proper break (after 7dfps, anyway…) But I realised in the end that I may never get another chance to reach people in a way like this, and I couldn’t pass that up.
So the game will be given to everyone who bought HIB V before today as thanks for early adoption, regardless of what they paid – which means close to 400,000 people will already be guaranteed a copy! It will also be given to anyone who pays above the average from now until the end of the promotion, so if you’ve held off so far, why not head over to Humble and pick up your tasty bundle?
For those curious about how it’s broken down: Superflat Games will only receive income from the developer’s share of any sales that fall above the average price from today onwards (the developer’s share is determined by the public as you can see on the Humble site.) The rest of the income the bundle generates goes towards helping a couple of great charities and building awareness of the indie scene in general, supporting indie developers such as myself, via the Humble Store and so on. And most importantly of all, with this bundle comes the unique opportunity to reach hundreds of thousands of people with my work, and reaching people has always been what drives me. For that reason alone, it really is a dream come true … and my mind is blown to be in the company of such heavyweight games, and … well … TIM SCHAFER!!!!*
The other great news is that the game is now available for your favourite Linux distribution (and included in the bundle, of course) – as a rock-solid Flash Projector, which has been re-coded from scratch – so that you get all the bugfixes and improvements of CODENAME: RED but with the Flash saved game system of the original Mac Projector release (which was a patch for the then non-working AIR build, which now works on all Macs with the Snow Leopard or above.)
So to Linux users, although the Projector version should work identically, you won’t be able to transfer saved games between versions, and you should watch for clearing your Flash cookies as it can delete your saved game in some instances.
I wanted to use AIR for the Linux release, but AIR for Linux was abandoned by Adobe a while back. I do hope they’ll consider getting it back up and running, as there are a lot of successful indie games that are starting to use AIR, and it would be a shame to have to restrict those to Mac and PC only as new AIR features mean Linux becomes harder to back-port. Perhaps Adobe will take notice of the growing interest in AIR on Linux for game developers? I’d love to see a Linux Captive Runtime with AIR 3.3!
Adobe’s support team have been great all through this, once I got their ear – testing builds of LS I’ve had trouble with, and inviting me onto the AIR beta program and so on… they’re really listening to what developers are saying, so if enough developers make noise about an AIR update for Linux, maybe it’ll reach them?
So, the TL:DR version: a lot of technical stuff has had to happen to make this dream come true, but like magic, it should Just Work TM**
It’ll go up as part of the Humble storefront on my own site, which initially will be the only place to purchase the Linux build, so if you are a new customer, you’ll now get three platforms for the price of one!
It’ll also be available for purchase on Linux from this day forth over on Ubuntu Software Centre, who are handling the redemptions for the Humble Indie Bundle V.
Once again a massive thankyou to everyone who’s played the game, and shared their analysis, thoughts, personal feelings, images, music, videos, and general humanity via the update request emails. I’ve really loved reading them all!
Things will hopefully start getting a bit calmer soon and I might even announce the new secret project I’ve been working on at some stage after 7dfps, which I’ve been (also) secretly getting ready for, making a special ‘virtual console’ and a basic 3D engine – screenshots to follow on Saturday.
And to my 400,000 new friends: thank you for playing Lone Survivor, and don’t forget if you liked it and want to support Superflat Games in some way, why not head on over to Space Recordings on Bandcamp and give the OST a listen? Either way, I hope you enjoy your adventures with You. Be sure to write and tell me about them!
*(I’m deeply influenced by the Lucasarts adventures, as you’ll see if you track down Keith’s Quest for the Amiga (please don’t.))
**(not my TM.)
Just a quick note to say, the wonderful people at Humble Inc are now providing the shop-front over at:
This means you’ll get a free CODENAME: RED Steam Key on purchase from now on, or the DRM-version, it’s up to you! Everyone’s a winner! All existing customers are getting free keys for the Humble store, and from there they can make their choice.
As I mentioned before, the Humble guys have gone out of their way to make a very smooth transition, and to take on the responsibility of my previous customers just to help me out, making sure everyone has the choice of update format. I can’t thank them enough for their help with this!
Existing customers are most welcome to send their request at any time (see the previous blog entry for instructions.) I think most of the Mac users have got their updates now. We’ve still only done about 15%-20% of the purchases, so I’m trying to find a more automated way of doing it. But apart from the odd day off, we’ll be getting back to anyone who send a request in within a day, and it’s no trouble at all for the most part… In fact, it’s great fun reading all your kind, insightful, funny and sometimes even slightly strange messages.
It also means goodbye to the First Aid Edition, which has sold 200 copies, and for which the art cards will be done soon. I can’t say how long it’s going to take, but I don’t want to rush it. We already have the stamps, but we need to find the right place to print them…
Thanks to everyone who’s bought the game on my site or Steam, and especially to the First Aid customers, who’ve given me a few months freeware-experimentation-room!
I really am humbled.