The importance of randomness

crowded
In the screenshot above, the new random items in all their splendor!

I’ve been recently playing Diablo3 on the PS3. I can hear a voice in my head saying:

“What? You’re playing!? Go back immediately to work on the games!”

But NO! Doing research is important for every business, so I decided to force myself to play it (also an excuse to use the PS3 for something since the recent PS+ games have been a bit disappointing for my tastes).

I played more and… I had the idea to implement random items on my next RPG, Seasons Of The Wolf :)

One of the strong points of Diablo has always been the use of the random element. I am not sure if other games before it used it so well. I fairly remember the first game, and how every match was different.

Obviously, since I make story-based games, I cannot rely too much on the randomness, since the plot follow a linear path, some locations must be fixed, the characters too, etc. I cannot also generate random maps or dungeon (at least for now!) so the only random element I could add was in the items/loot.

looting
A test for the looting screen. Of course in the real game you rarely will get so much stuff!

And I must say that it works VERY WELL. Now whenever I kill an enemy during testing I wonder what item I’ll get – is pretty exciting! Of course the drop rate is not high, rather than flooding the inventory with garbage that you’d have to resell it immediately I decided to limit the amount, but increase the average quality.

In general the rare items are, rare, but also depends on the enemy. Boss enemies now will drop obviously higher level loot ;)

I decided to go with the following tiers: Rusty, Standard, Fine, Quality, Excellent, Masterwork, Rare and Legendary. Legendary is the only item that is not randomly generated, since I still want to have control over the most powerful items, so I’ll define those manually. They’ll also be unique and have a unique name.

To help the player recognize better the top items, the Fine/Masterwork/Rare/Legendary have a different color and a small letter with the initial of the word near the item icon in the inventory.

Overall, it took me a week of hard work (last weekend I worked 10h/day straight!!) but now that is working I must say that was time well spent! :)

I’ve seen the (green)light

In other, but no less important, news, three more of my games were greenlit yesterday! They are Flower Shop: Summer In Fairbrook, Always Remember Me and of  course Planet Stronghold (was about time!).

I plan to release Always Remember Me next weekend, if all goes well. And the others coming shortly after in next weeks. Stay tuned :)

Posted in development screenshot, development tricks, game design, indie life, roleplay games, Seasons Of The Wolf, Steam | 7 Comments

How open source changed my life as indie dev

My game Planet Stronghold is present in the Humble Weekly bundle, celebrating Open Source! I thought was cool to share how I moved from closed source engine to open source.

It was Summer 2008. I had just finished coding a new space wargame in C++, using commercial libraries. They were good, but the real problem was that developing a game with them was taking so long! I’m not a good coder, and not having a big community or easy access to code examples, support, was a big deal for me.

At same time, I had an idea for a college dating sim, but I wasn’t an expert at all with it. So I contacted my friends at Hanako Games who made the game Summer Session using Ren’Py for me.

I never heard of it, but seeing the final result, I got curious and started to look into it more carefully. At those times, Ren’Py really wasn’t as good as is today, and doing anything except visual novels or simple dating sim was a real effort.

I must say that I immediately was impressed by the community at Lemmasoft (Ren’Py official forums) and Ren’Py author himself, always trying to do his best to do support for the engine. The fact that the engine was open source was a big plus, there were a lot of examples/code snippets available, and so I decided to learn it.

I was shocked to see how easy was to use, and how cross-platform it was, thanks also to the decision to use the powerful Python as language.

Six years later, I now use Ren’Py to do all my games, and adopting it was probably the best decision of my indie career ever. Without it, games like Loren would have taken at least twice the time, and ports of my games to Android or iOS wouldn’t have been so easy. And in times when having Linux support is going to be crucial in the next few years (SteamOS anyone?) is good to know that Ren’Py is already supporting it without the need of any big change! :)

Of course, there are other cool open source engines: I just wanted to share my experience with one of them. If you’re a game developer, check all the ones supported by the bundle!

So that’s my story. Thank you, Ren’Py, it was a blast so far! The minimum I could do was to offer one of my games to support your cause :)

Posted in development tricks, general, indie life, open source | 6 Comments

Winter is over! A Roommates postmortem

crocus

Today the 21st March, is the first day of Spring!

I have to say that this was a very mild Winter, so I didn’t had to shovel snow for hours, nor had problems to drive in icy raods, and so on. Overall under this aspect was a very good Winter! Lots of things happened, first game on Steam and Roommates release. Speaking of it…

Roommates postmortem!

As you know if you follow me regularly, earlier this month I released the comedy dating sim Roommates.pushing

Like Max in the image above, I can say that I wouldn’t be where I am right now without your constant support and motivation/push (some people are more or less nice regarding this, but it’s effective in all cases!).

Roommates is a special game, for several reasons:

  1. was the first game to have a full soundtrack, including theme song, done by a popular group, Leetstreet Boys
  2. was the first dating sim I made where you could play as both genders, and have a variety of romances including yuri/yaoi
  3. was the first comedy game. Is true that many other games had many funny scenes, but if you’ve played even only the demo you can see the difference!
  4. was my most expensive dating sim to date (full soundtrack, 200.000 words of script, 16 CGs, 27 background images, sprites with normal, spring, winter, summer clothes, etc)
  5. was the first one that I coded using the new Ren’Py, incorporating mobile code changes directly in the script without the need to have two separate code-bases

So as you can imagine, with such an ambitious game, there were good chances that something could go wrong! Luckily, everything went rather smoothly: I’m proud to say that even after only a month, it’s clearly going to be my most popular dating sim ever!

I’m particularly happy because I also found a good and reliable writer, Michael Van Horn, who is now working on Loren’s next games. He was supposed to write Undead Lily next, but Loren has higher priority. Maybe he can still work on it after the second chapter of Loren’s saga is out though ;)

In summary: I wish all the next games’ releases would go as smoothly as Roommates! I have doubts that this will happen though :D

Quick SOTW update

I have also good news about this game: finally finished designing/coding/testing ALL the skills of Seasons Of The Wolf!

Which means that now I can go back adding all the content for the Winter Season (the first act of the game). I am still aiming at finishing that in time for my birthday (11th April) but of course I’m talking only about the beta/preorder version.

The final / full game is more likely to be out in August/Semptember, depending how testing goes (also still have a few images and music to finish).

I have also got some new ideas on how to implement items while playing Diablo 3 on the PS3, so I need to implement that new system too. More info coming in next weeks!

Posted in dating sims, postmortem, roleplay games, roommates, Seasons Of The Wolf | Leave a comment