Sorry everyone! It wouldn’t be a game launch without a delay, now would it?
The basic issue is just that I want more play testing before I’m sure the game is ready for launch. The good news is that in my playthoughs I’m not finding major bugs any more, but I am making adjustments to the difficulty.
Things I’m testing for: proper balance between mission rewards & item costs, proper balance between health and enemy damage, proper balance between weapon strengths, costs and enemy health. Proper early hame
More good news is that it is almost here. I sent a review copy to the German TV show Reload (edit: link provided by Frank). A slightly more balanced version is about to make its way to the blog TwoDashStash who also expressed interest in a review / video playthough. This sort of attention has made me nervous and more meticulous about balance.
I would also be lying if I said I didn’t want my launch party to be overshadowed by everyone’s Halloween parties 🙂
Anyway stay tuned, the full launch is just around the corner. Also note I’ve put up a donations button!
Here is an example of an early contract from the Erisian Liberation Front (E.L.F.), the revolutionary, anarchic hacker gang. In the game, all missions are made available to you as email contracts from the three different factions, branching out to more difficult missions after you’ve built up your reputation. This mission is pretty benign in that it doesn’t involve any killing or theft; it’s also pretty easy and is one of the first missions in the game:
E.L.F. COMMUNIQUE #TK-421
CULT OF THE CRYPTOKIDZ
for immediate solicitation
“Challenger muttered that he was taking the earth with him, that he was leaving for the mysterious world, his poison garden. He whispered something else: it is by headlong flight that things progress and signs proliferate. Panic is creation.”
-Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus
I was talking to my friend Bones the other day: “Bones,” I says to him, “how buzzy is it that we don’t control the means of mass communication? Why, it’s criminal the way those pig megacorps deny the public our voice of reason!” And so the idea was born.
We have a video file that we would really like the public to see. Unfortunately we don’t currently have access to the airwaves and the gatekeepers of public taste would keep it that way. We need you to give us that access. You can do this by breaking into a local broadcast building and hacking their server and video database. Be aware, the building is known to have a metal detector in its lobby. You’ll need to think of a way around that.
We also want you to plant a backdoor in their firewall so that we don’t have to make you go through all this trouble again in the future.
Today the airwaves, tomorrow the solar system! Hail Eris!
I just got back from vacation and work is ongoing… At this point I’m writing flavor text, fixing any last bugs I find, working with Apel to finalize the soundtrack, working with Desura, etc.
The entire game is in a playable state. You can start, play though the branching mission tree, manage items / weapons / upgrades, and beat the final mission. The main issue right now though is one of balance, and finding the right combination of costs, rewards, enemy strength and player strength will require a few playthoughs.
I don’t have a whole lot to announce with this post, since I’m just continuing with what I wrote last time, but I wanted the fans to know that I’m really really close to being done with this project, and I’m still aiming for a release in October. The release party will be huge. 4+ years of work huge.
Click that icon to check out the DataJack IndieDB entry. This is the first step to getting set up on Desura where DJ will be made available. The IndieDB entry has a bunch of screenshots, some not seen before, and both of the good youtube videos I put up. The videos are old, from before the AI and LOS overhaul, so they’re not perfect, but it’s better than nothing.
In other news, balance is tough. I’m rejiggering the damage calculation algorithms to make the enemies a bit more challenging. All actors have health and armor ratings, and all weapons have damage and armor-piercing ratings, a system I modeled on the original Fallout. Making it work in a reasonable fashion is another thing entirely.
In the end, I’d much rather have people complain that it’s too hard rather than too easy. The full-on playthough testing will begin shortly… I’m running out of bugs to fix.
After roughing out the plot with my friend and fellow game designer Sofy, I realized that I have all of the missions I need, so the content of the game is basically done. I also now have the three main story arcs and all the concepts for the flavor text.
So right now my work is focused on writing the mission prompts and other flavor text, bug testing, mission finalizing, and then playtest and balancing. I did not expect to be this close to finished with this game after such a long development cycle.
Stay tuned for exciting updates!
After taking stock of the number of complete missions, I discovered that I had already surpassed my target number somehow without realizing it. This is good news! The game is almost ready for balancing and then release.
Page from my notebook outlining the AI plan. It actually worked as intended on first try!
A bit of a detour this week, to create a new robot enemy. I decided I needed something that would stop at nothing to kill you with rockets. This could be a new way to make use of the destructible terrain.
This also reminds me that I had no idea how complex an isometric game was going to be before I started. I don’t think my next game will be isometric like this. I love the aesthetic and certainly I’m not done with it, but it it introduces complications at every step of the process, from deciding draw order on the screen, to (most importantly) coding A.I.
I also realized that for most of this project I’d been laboring under a misconception about the “fundamental angles” in an isometric projection. Properly, the four directions lie at 26.6, 153.4, 206.6 and 333.4 degrees on the unit circle. Somehow I had gotten this wrong early in my dev process, but it hasn’t screwed up anything major.
Example of part of the MMF code that’s going into this new robot. Things have gotten messy.
Things are wrapping up on this level, and then it’s on to the three final missions. Things are really on the home stretch. I anticipate that DataJack will be out this year. Thanks for sticking with it. I can’t wait to start on a new project!
It’s getting to that point where I need to wrap up the missions, which means I need three different final mission sets which will wrap up the story arcs for the three factions… Which means I need story arcs for the main factions. Haha.
All in all, I’m happy with how the project is turning out. It certainly underwent some dramatic overhauls, which just means there were things I should have implemented / done differently from the start. Unfortunately it’s really hard to see such things in advance and instead you learn them from experience, as I have done here.
There are still missions to be made, so I’m going to put down the blog and get back to this latest level…