Posts Tagged ‘ New Game Plus

Art Pass!

As things have been winding up on The Director’s Cut, I’ve been able to do a certain amount of work on New Game+ finally!  Over the last 9 months while I’ve been working on the PlayStation ports, I’ve literally only had the time and energy to work on New Game+’s soundtrack (which has a lot of tunes now) but none for the game itself.

But I’ve managed to do some work on it, including an art pass, quite recently as things have been quieter while Curve wrap up the ports.  I converted all the art to a new, simpler 32 colour palette (to match the Amiga, the game machine which I grew up on).  This means the look is more coherent, if less ‘detailed’, and another good thing is that it makes the rest of the art a lot quicker to do.  There is a lot of art to do for this game, so that’s a good thing.

Here’s a comparison between the NEW EXTERIOR:

… and an OLD EXTERIOR:

(I was trying to get closer to the original mockup:)

Here’s a NEW INTERIOR:

… and an OLD INTERIOR:

So, although it’s a subtle change, it’s hopefully going to make things look better, while being quicker to produce!  Let me know what you think of the new look!

(Also, this is a thing I bought recently…)

There is more news on the horizon about NG+…   I can’t announce it quite yet, but something pretty wonderful is about to happen!

Lone Survivor for PS3 + PSVita

Where is this, huh?
 
Hi everyone.  It’s my great pleasure to be here today to announce the details of the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita ports of Lone Survivor. I’ve been so exited to tell you guys about it for the last few weeks, but I had to hold it in until it was finalised! Anyone who knows me or follows my twitter feed will be aware that I’m a massive Sony fan and literally play 95% of the games I play on my PS3.  It’s the console that fits me the best, and it’s the controller I imagine when I’m designing my games: so this really is a dream come true!
 
Where is this, huh?
 
But for those who missed it the first time round, and what with it having been out almost a year now (my goodness!) … what is Lone Survivor?  It’s a game very personal to me that took almost seven years to get right.  I guess you could call it a blend of ‘Lynchian’ psychological horror, point’n'click adventure mechanics and a virtual pet-like ‘physical and mental survival simulation’ – the idea being that how you choose to survive is up to you. It’s the last record of a nameless, masked protagonist, holed-up in a city full of diseased monsters, starving and exhausted. When we join him on his quest, he has already begun to question whether all of what he sees is even real.
 
My hope is that you can play through the game in the style that suits you best – I wanted to try and make a role-playing game with meaningful choices. It’s an experiment in making every insignificant fact in the game having an invisible, or murkily visible effect on your outcome, however small. And also to try and get away from showing statistics so that people ‘feel’ their way around… perhaps people are more inclined to role-play when that’s the case?  There’s no longer a need to ‘min-max’ everything? And I think it sort of came together? It’s certainly an area I’m interested in exploring in my future games.
 
To my amazement, Lone Survivor has turned into something of a phenomenon over the last year. Since its release, it’s been nominated for a Golden Joystick, picked by many blogs and magazines as Horror Game Of The Year, and has received many glowing reviews. Sales have been beyond anything I could have imagined: I only wanted to be able to fund the next game, and that bas been done several times over, probably. Its story seems to provoke heated debate amongst fans and critics – I never get tired of reading people’s different interpretations, that has definitely been the highlight of sharing it with so many people. People seem to love the music, the weird mechanics, fans write to me about the ‘depth’, ‘realistic treatment of adult themes’ and ‘warm humour’ in the writing etc.
 
As a brief personal aside… my late papa, Johnny Byrne, who the game is dedicated to, was a writer. And Lone Survivor actually contains at least a brief novel’s worth of text. I found this out when I hacked it out of the game ready for translation! It’s the first large piece of writing I’ve ever released into the world, and it did take far longer than I imagined, and it didn’t click with everybody… And to get a bit deep for a second, a large theme was his own illness, and me dealing with that… But, basically, what I’m trying to say is, for people to get what I’m trying to go for, and maybe even to take something away from it… Well, I’m completely floored and humbled. I really could never have expected or hoped for this to happen. I just needed to make this game, even though I had no idea if it would connect with anyone else. More than anything, I wanted Lone Survivor to be a game that approaches issues rarely touched on in games – the effects of grief, mental health issues, the examination of drug use and abuse. And, somehow, the stars aligned and the good news is I’m able to keep making games for the foreseeable future, because I really do love it!
 
I have the utmost confidence in London studio, Curve, who are handling the conversion duties, to produce the ultimate version of the game. They are moving into publishing with such excellent titles as Thomas Was Alone, and I’m proud to be joining their stable! It is still important for very small development teams, such as myself, to have help in publishing on console platforms. And, while Sony are doing great work to reduce the amount of bureaucracy needed to make it possible, and I applaud them for this, it is still impractical for a one-man team to self-publish (go through certification, age ratings, translations etc.) As I said, this has been a life-long dream for me, to release a game on a great console with a bespoke controller, and this shows just how far things have come that a one-man team can do that with minimal help from a publisher. Whether that still makes this an indie release or not is up to you to decide (see Spelunky’s Derek Yu’s great article that deals with this subject.) To me it’s just a word that’s occasionally useful to give context, not something I give much weight – I consider myself a maker of games first and foremost! The main thing is that all the content is being made by me, with my own funding, without any external input.  Besides which, Curve are an entirely independent entity, so this is a very grey area and again shows me how easy it can be to get hung up on the word. Anyway, the important thing is that their excellent track record speaks for itself, and that their own games have a really good sense of feel (something that’s very important to me personally.) I’m positive that they’ll only improve the game with their years of console development experience, and are just the right people for the job. And of course I’m overseeing it closely at every stage to make sure it looks, sounds and plays exactly right!
 

Extra secret bonus stuff And stuff… 

One exciting aspect of this announcement for me is that I’ve secretly been devoting a lot time and resources into adding additional content into the game, initially exclusive to the PS3 / Vita. I even disappeared to another country for two weeks to work on it in complete isolation, to get back into the right vibe (making sure to eat and sleep poorly!) Of course, there will be Trophies, Cross-Buy and Cross-Play support, but I’ve also been working on (amongst one or two other surprises) more than twenty new items, new dialogue with all NPC’s, two extensive new side quests, two new locations, and a brand new ‘Yellow’ ending, featuring a new piece of music for the ending.  I’m looking into touch control for movement and inventory use.  The idea is that this version really will be enhanced in every way, smoother, nicer to control, with a lot of little extras that don’t change the game itself, just add to it (in fact, almost all of the content is only accessible in … wait for it … NEW GAME+!).
 
I hope you enjoy the game. And for those who’ve already supported it, thankyou so much. I can’t wait to share the new content with all of you in the summer!
 
I don’t have anything to announce at this point regarding bringing the additional content to PC / Mac / Linux, at least until I can focus my resources on it after the release.  But it’s something I hope to do, so I’ll keep you posted about that!
 
I’ll leave you with a link to the new trailer, which you can also find on the Sony EU blog… Just click on the image at the top!
 
Cheers,
 
Jasper
 
PS More NEW GAME+ news to follow soon, it’s had a short break while I’ve been doing this, but I’m constantly testing and tweaking it!  I took it to the Local Multiplayer Picnic in Utrecht while I was in Holland last month, and it was a fantastic day.  Thanks to JW, Rami & friends for that! Be sure to pick up their Super Crate Box on your Vita if you have one!

The Soulsian Quest

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.

NG+ Meet The Ranger

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!

2013

It’s back.

I am going to finish this, after all. It may just take a while.

Happy new year, everyone!

Good news and…

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!

The Bad News

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…

Initial mockup

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.

The Good News

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.

New Game

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…

Original mockup

Various 2D & 3D prototypes for “New Game”

Fantastic Arcade

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…