Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Various Updates Update

Alright, sit up straight, stop eating that pie. Here comes the minimum necessary effort required to be able to call this a 'biannually updated blog'. Although I do actually have some stuff to report: most notably that I am as of very recently being represented by the Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agency, I've got a new book in the works, we're going to be pushing forward on that in the new year and it's all jolly exciting.

Secondly, we're coming up on a whole year of weekly Let's Drown Out videos, which seems as good a time as any to announce that the series is going on hiatus for a bit. I think there's a feeling between Gabriel and I that we were repeating ourselves, so we'll be back probably in a couple of weeks either with a retooled format or maybe one of those prerecorded adventure game playthroughs we used to do. Either way, no need to panic or start crying because your free entertainment went away just yet.

Also, Consuming Shadow. Still working on it. I had to do a bit of overhauling after some testing, so it's a good thing I'm not the kind of person who commits to release dates. Actually development's on hold for a bit while I work on a smaller game design opportunity that came up and which I should be able to be less enigmatic about sooner rather than later. See, when it comes to game development, I'm a grower, not a shower. I'm like a cougar in the long grass in that when I'm quiet and out of sight then that's when you need to be wary that I might suddenly POUNCE at any time and sink my big fangs into your soft, tasty neck.

Yes, it's been a time of bountiful opportunities lately. Also also, Zero Punctuation continues to run weekly on the Escapist, as does my follow-up column, Extra Punctuation. But I always think it's a bit silly to plug those on this blog since this blog gets considerably less views than the Escapist does. Still, if you need a reminder, I do tend to plug the videos on my Twitter most weeks; it's @YahtzeeCroshaw in case you didn't know.

Right, I think that's everything, go back to your pie.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Some Things To Consume

Believe it or not Gabriel and I have actually managed to keep Let's Drown Out going on a weekly basis ever since it started. Probably because it basically just entails us hanging out and playing a game, which we would probably do if we weren't recording it. I haven't been posting them here every week because then updates would lose their precious rarity, so here's a link to the playlist with them all on.

In other news, The Consuming Shadow. I'm still hard at work at the eventual full version (in between being hard at work at all my other jobs). All the feedback from the free release has been very helpful and I'm still tweaking away. I thought I'd take the opportunity to remind you it still exists and fill you in on some new features I've got in there now.

Firstly, music. The big news is that Mark J. Hadley, of Parsec Productions and Slender: The 8 Pages fame, has very kindly created some ambient audio and music for the game, and I'm personally very happy with how much it's added to the atmosphere. At this point you can't do much more than take my word for that, but I'm going to put a trailer and gameplay video together at some point, and you'll get a listen of the sort of mood his work has added then.

Secondly: Revamped levelling/upgrade system! (click images for big)

Instead of levelling-up providing dry 'upgrade tokens', each level grants you a new birth star. At the start of each run-through, you place this iteration of the character's birth stars in the night sky, granting upgrades based on their proximity to certain constellations. I just thought it was a more fun way of bringing it across.

Thirdly: day-night cycle!

Instead of all-pervading darkness throughout the clock, there's a cold light of day that gradually fades down and up as night comes and goes.

You can see here that whether you do a dungeon in the day or night makes a difference to the visibility.

Fourthly: Unlockable documents!

I thought about what kind of things motivate me, personally, to shoot for 100 percent, and one of them was ancilliary world-building fiction. So I wrote a story expanding on the game's background and you find pages from it in dungeons. Also, each monster now has a bestiary profile, which is gradually decrypted a little more each time you encounter one. Collect 'em all!

The other thing I find works for me is new unlockable gameplay modes. Taking another cue from FTL, I'm thinking in terms of alternative player characters with different gameplay styles (and slightly different constellations in their star maps) that are unlocked as you complete specific tasks. One additional character is in already, I'm shooting for getting at least 2 more in there. Also it might be fun to have some kind of 'tower mode' where you just go through dungeons back-to-back that get increasingly hard. Shouldn't be difficult to implement.

Besides that, the gameplay's been tweaked, as well as animations and controls to make movement less clunky across the board, and there're new monsters, bosses, random events while driving, dungeon goals, dungeon appearances, and the all-important final boss fight. I'm not being feature-creepy here, most of this is done already. New playable characters are the only really big job left, besides testing.

I'm just wondering what to do after it's all done, in terms of distribution. I am resolved to try to sell it for money somewhere, because I've come to realise that if you work on something creative and give it away for free, you're not just devaluing yourself, but the work of everyone else trying to make a living as a creative (thanks @forexposure_txt).

I thought about doing a Steam Greenlight page, but I don't know. I feel like I'd need another wide-range beta test of the full version, first. But I don't want to put the whole thing out for free again. I thought about going with Desura, using their tools to see if I can get a closed beta going, but I don't know how well that works. Ah well - these bridges to be crossed merely glimmer on the horizon still.