Wednesday, September 2, 2015

SIX Report

Hey everyone! SIX was a blast and is now over. Thanks to everyone who came by and said hi and played Privateers. It was really fun to discuss the game with people. There were a lot of players who had as much enthusiasm about the idea as we do which is hugely encouraging.

We put together a special demo build for SIX which had a bit more linear of a story line in order to show off as many interesting features in as short a time as possible. If you want to give that build a try, we now have it online here...

Since this was my (Sam) first time showing a game at a convention, there was a ton of stuff to learn which was great. One of the things that I quickly learned was that it is hard to judge the difficulty of the game as the developer. For me, the demo seemed a bit on the easy side. I was able to win every time that I played without much challenge. However, with all the players who came through and played it only ONE of them was able to beat it. So, apparently the game is harder than I thought :-).

Privateers booth ready to show at SIX

Another issue was the quick approach-ability of the game. I noticed that the games that use Xbox controllers and had local multiplayer on demo were by far the most approachable for people wandering the expo. However, a rogue-like game with crew management has a reasonable learning curve by design, which makes it much harder for someone to just sit down and enjoy for 5-10 minutes of play. Kurt and I are thinking about how to improve this with better tutorial features and things like that, but it is just a hard problem to solve.

Privateers Banner
There was a lot of great feedback for the game that Kurt and I will be picking up over the next few months. The main areas of focus that I think became clear directions for improvement are the following...

  1. Improve the AI for crew and enemies
  2. Improve the UI to be easier to use and more pretty
  3. Add controller support
  4. More content!
  5. There were a few annoying bugs that showed up that we need to fix

Everyone enjoying the games at SIX

Overall, it was a really great experience. I really enjoyed meeting a bunch of other developers who were showing there, talking to gamers who enjoy similar games to me and getting a ton of great feedback. However, I will say that showing by myself for 12 hours long was EXHAUSTING and I think I am going to have to sleep in for a week to recover!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Going to SIX! (barely)

Hey Everyone! I am excited to announce that we are going to be demoing Privateers at the Seattle Indies Expo on August 30th. We were actually right on the cut line to get in, but managed to squeak through at the last second :-). If you are in the area then you should come swing by and check it out. We will be putting together a special demo which should be fun for people play.

In celebration of this announcement, we have a new build which we have put up for you to enjoy. The focus on this build is to add tons of new items and abilities in order to really open up the game play options and the progression. You can check it out here...

If you want to see some of the different items and abilities shown off then I have recorded a short video which does just that. Check it out below...

Let us know in the comments what items or abilities you would like to see in the game!

Full Change List for v0.15 
- Add new abilities which last over a duration of time
- New healing aura which heals over time in an area
- New fire wall and electric field which damages over time
- Mass stealth which can make your whole crew stealth
- Summon golem to fight for you
- Summon a group of twerps to fight for you
- Plague which poisons a group of enemies
- War cry which gives your crew speed
- Taunt to force enemies to attack a specific character
- Ice explosion which slows enemies
- Fireball which deal damage to a group of enemies
- Invulnerability which protects against damage for a time
- Many new items taking advantage of new abilities
- Crew classes can now only use certain types of armor/weapons
- Armor now scales with level
- Fixed several bugs in attack timing and attack collision detection
- Added Hydromancer class
- Added Elementalist class
- Rogue class is now called the Picaroon
- Picaroon's can use assassinate ability while stealth
- Barbarian class is now called Corsair
- Corsair has the ability to taunt enemies using war cry
- Fixed a bunch of bugs
- New giant minotaur enemy type

Thursday, July 2, 2015

First Impressions Matter

Hey Everyone! We have a new build out today for you to try out. The major changes are around the starting experience of the game. These include adding a new starting event, adding dialogue with NPC's and a new tutorial system. If you want to give it a play then the link is here...

This week we are trying something new and instead of blogging all of the new information we have put together a short "let's play" in which we demo some of the features in a video. You can check that out right here...

This is the build that we will be using to submit for entry to SIX, so we are holding our breath that we will get accepted. Please leave us any comments you have on the gameplay and if you like the "let's play" format more than a traditional text blog.

Below is the more detailed change list for this build...

---- v0.14 ----
- New start event for escaping a slavers ship
- New tutorial system to teach the mechanics
- Crew can now be bound as prisoners
- New event infrastructure for more variety
- New dialogue system allowing you to talk to NPC's
- New sprites for cave entrance and exit
- New firepit sprite with flickering light
- New pirate camp event

- Bunch of bug fixes

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Back in Action!

Hey Everyone! I know it has been a ridiculously long time since my last post. Kurt and I both got super busy including both moving. However, now we are back in action and kicking butt again. This latest build is again heavily focused on the event and questing systems in the game. We are pushing to get to the place where we can start forming the actual story line in the game in a playable fashion. So, if you want to skip all the talk and just see for yourself, the here is the link to the build...

So before we dig into the changes to the event system I first want to highlight one other change that I made. Last post I showed the dynamic lighting that I had added. However, I swapped that out for a 2D lighting system that I got from the unity asset store which I think looks WAY better. This new system allows me to have the 2D items block vision and cast shadows which looks really cool. I am really excited to start plugging in more lights to make the scenes more interesting to look at. Below you can see the new system in which the mast and barrels are partially blocking light.

Sexy new lighting with shadows

The rest of the changes in this release really focus on increasing the variety of events that we can script as well as the kinds of quest chains that are there. Many of these changes aren't things that you will readily notice in the build, but they are important infrastructure to allow adding events and scenes quickly. One example is that I changed the island generation to no longer happen at run time. Instead, I am randomly generating the islands in unity and then saving a collection of my favorite ones. Then, each of these I can manually tweak to make sure that they will look good (eventually) and that they have markers in them which can be used for adding event content to them. This also allows me to slice up the islands into some different ways. For instance, there are now events that happen on the shore of islands, so you cannot navigate the whole island but instead are limited to the section of the shore that is interesting for the event. As I said, most of the work here is behind the scenes, but it is setting the stage for what is to come.

Editing an island prop in Unity

Beyond changing how props are pieced together for each event in the scene I have also added a new concept of branches to the events. This allows each event to have an arbitrary number of locations in it. An example of this is that you can now visit an island and then find and enter a cave on that island. This really expands the variety of things we can do to spice up the events and make them more dynamic. Using this system I can also place random objectives into events. For instance, finding a chest at the back of a cave that you decided to explore (watch out for ghosts!).

Looting a chest in a cave

Kurt is also back into high gear pumping out new assets for us. There are a bunch of new icons and islands which have been added into the sailing scene that look WAY nicer than the place holders. Also, the ship and locations icons have been sized down to look much better. Beyond that, there are a bunch of new bits a pieces on the ships to spice up their look.

New map icons for sailing

Another massive undertaking that was made in this build is to really finalize the saving functionality. You can now save and resume in the middle of an event without losing any progress. This is of course a critical functionality of the game, but I had been putting off implementing it because of how much work it was. It feels good to have it working now though! One interesting thing that happened was that the save game sizes were too large for the web player (it only allows 1 MB). However, I was able to plug in compression and bring them down to about 100 KB. This took a bunch of extra work, but now the saves are nice and small in size.

I am also really excited to announce that we are going to try and get into the Seattle Indies Expo (SIX). Seattle has a super awesome indie game dev scene and we are going to try and break our way in. Submissions are due at the start of July, so we are rushing to prep one more build of changes before we put in our application. As a result, you can expect a bunch more work from us to spice up the events and to add more visual variety in the next month.

Thanks everyone for reading! Please play the build and leave your ideas and feedback in the comments. We really love to hear peoples opinions on the direction of the game so far. Below is the slimmed down change list for this build...

---- v0.13 ----
- Refactor dynamic lighting. Now includes shadows and other effects.
- Refactor how props in events are managed for scalability
- Add new shore props used in events
- Add infrastructure for event chains to complete based on item collection
- Add new elven islands event chain
- Add elf character type
- Make docks come off of an island
- Refactor scene manager to allowing travelling to a larger variety of locations
- Add inside of the ship location
- Add caves which can be found during events
- Add chests which dump out loot as event objectives
- Add event branches which are used for greater event variety
- Events can now be saved in progress (this was a huge effort!)
- Add conditional event options (such as costing gold)
- New sprites for the map
- Compress the save files to save on space