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

The Spring Of The Wolf

madness
Rowinda in her typical serious attire, featuring the Madness spell :D

This Spring will be the Season Of The Wolf (when I’ll release the first beta of this game). So technically I have time until the 21st June ;)

Jokes apart as I said in previous post too, I hope to have the beta done by next month. The extra delay is due to some last minute decisions: as you can notice from the screenshot above, I decided to remove the skilltree system, allowing the players to decide which skill to learn in any order.

This also means that each character will have 12 unique skills, no more variations like Blizzard I, II & III. Of course, some skills are variations of others, I don’t claim that I have made over 100 skills ALL UNIQUE! :) However, I really feel I have pushed the original Loren RPG framework to its limits in this game, some spells/skills are quite interesting.

The beta will include only the first Season (Winter), but at least will give people a good idea of what to expect if they decide to pre-order the game. A part of delay is also due to new random enemies that I need to do (wild animals, etc) and also to the tileset system:

isomap
SOTW will feature an isometric multi-screen map with hotspots to explore

Now don’t expect a scrollable map, but the map can be split into several screens, so I can make bigger maps. There’ll be various “hotspots”, marked with arrows:

  • a green arrow means that the interaction will be completely safe (like traveling to another zone)
  • an orange arrow means that there’s the risk of some encounters. In the screen above you can check the trap to see if you caught any wild animal, but there’s the risk of being attacked
  • a red arrow means that you’ll surely face an hostile encounter (wandering bandits, a monster, etc)

I’m considering if to add a golden arrow to display the current objective, but I don’t think I’ll need it since the main plot is rather simple, at least in the first part.

Anyway, I spent the last week on the new skills (still need to finish them) and also in adding hidden stuff in the map. For example a graveyard location that can be explored for a big sidequest, and subsequently also to do some good old skeleton skulls bashing :)

I am also going to implement a sort of limited grinding: there’ll be a simulated time in the game, so players will be able to explore, but when they reach the next key event “deadline”, the plot will advance. This way, I can make sure that the player don’t grind up to level 30 (the level cap) only in the first part of the story! :D

That’s all for now, I have more news for the other games, but will keep them for the next weeks, so I have something to write!

Posted in development screenshot, roleplay games, Seasons Of The Wolf, sneak peek | 7 Comments