Not really a world tour but I'll be in London England and possibly a few other countries in Europe starting May 8th. The trip is primarily to focus on finishing the game and getting some marketing started. I'd love to meet people from the community as I know there's quite a few across the pond.
As for the schedule, some personal stuff came up thats shifted things but we're back to making progress again with planet battles on the way. Here's what you can expect:
This week: - Military attack first pass - Upgrades
Next week: - Player experience with locked features - Upgrades - ship retreat/battle options
Last week before England: - system to restrict army/tile losses - Add more fleet formations
I just wanted to apologise for the lack of updates from both Paul and myself. Both of us have had some personal stuff pop up at the same time that needed our attention. However that should now be almost over and we should be getting back on track shortly.
Paul will post an updated schedule soon but expect the next update to be a big one!
Sorry to everyone for my lack of presence lately but I've been busy with life stuff and any free time I have had I wanted to use for development. However... good news! The next 2 months are more or less booked solid for NeoRift. Other than fixes for client work, I'm not taking on any new external projects to pay the bills. That means its easier for me to make a schedule that covers the coming weeks.
Here's the plan:
This week: - Rename ships - Move items to/from ships - Redo formation screen - Military (train, upkeeep and form army)
March 15 to March 19: - Military attack (from both planets and ships) - Market segregation
March 22 to March 26: - Research - Player experience with locked features
March 29 to April 2: - Ship upgrades - Ship retreat - Military balancing (restrict max loss) - Add new ship formations
In this time I've also given myself at least one day a week for bug fixing. There's a few more things I've omitted for now but hopefully shortly after these tasks are done we can start some serious large(r) scale testing. Really looking forward to it!
Outside of that, you may notice on the main shadowroot page there is a live stream box. I'm hoping to have weekly Q/A sessions using this where people can talk live with me and Adam giving us feedback and asking questions. Look forward to more about that later (as well as a new video clip).
They seem to be everywhere these days. There are many space based ones, loads of medieval ones and various other ones in-between. I have tried a lot of them for ‘research’ purposes and there seems to be a few consistent themes between most that I thought I would post about here. I am curious to hear if they are themes because this is what people enjoy or because the companies that make these games all seem to “think” this is what people enjoy.
Hi there new guy, here have a planet
Most of these games give you a castle/planet/island from the start and you build up from there. I understand that obviously everyone has to have a point to start at and this may as good a point as any but it does make me wonder, how many spare castles/islands/planets are there that when a new king appears they can afford to just give one away… For me this kind of takes away from the whole ‘game’ aspect. I would rather the world be populated before I started and I have to find somewhere to set up myself.
I’m sorry you can’t wear this hat yet because you are only level 2
Seriously, I don’t understand how to use a hat?! And why can’t I command this unit, do I have to learn how to operate a supermega death ray before I can tell someone to go and shoot a guy with it? I know this is sort of a common theme with games in general, especially MMOs but it is one thing that has always bothered me. Why do we just accept that it is the way things work?
No explanation of game mechanics
Again I understand that there has to be a certain amount of mystery to how the game operates otherwise the reality of the fact you are interacting with a load of code and formulas may become a little bit too apparent, but some games take it way too far. “You lose the battle, you lost 10,000 units” Why? How? Any more information please?!
Never ending worlds
Right so I have joined this world after it has been open a year and now see that everyone is a year ahead of me and I have no hope of ever catching them up. OK well that would not be so bad if it were not for the fact that every existing player is just going to bone me every time I get close to progressing and I have no way of preventing that. Shouldn’t there be at least something to make them think twice before attacking someone so much lower than themselves?
Now if you are part of the Neorift beta and are reading this post thinking to yourself “Well Adam you are just describing all the things that are not in Neorift!” then you wouldn’t be far off. Both Paul and I really wanted Neorift to play like a game in a browser, rather than a browser-game. We would like to think we give the players a bit more respect and encourage them to actually play a game rather than interact with a database and give them opportunities to give us money.
That being said you may disagree with everything I said above and either love those things about browser games or hate that Neorift doesn’t have them. That is great and I would love to hear why you think so because after all, if we end up making a game that only Paul and I like then we are clearly doing something wrong!
I'm pleased to let everyone know that we're starting the closed beta of our first title. Neorift: Nova is a remake of an older web game I had made a number of years ago. In recent months several people contacted me about it and we decided to bring it back but in a more modern rendition. While we prepare to get people in and testing, I encourage you to join our forums and spread the word!
“Neorift: Nova is an exciting space based trading, combat and tactical strategy game. Fly around the universe in a fleet of your choosing, trading for your fortune on a dynamic market dictated by the other inhabitants of the universe. Use this fortune to start your very own colony on any one of hundreds of different planets. Build this colony into a thriving hub of commerce or create a mighty military and make your name famous by force! You choose the play-style in Neorift: Nova!” - Adam
One of the problems most indie game developers face is finding a project that's in an acceptable scope while still being marketable. Again I find myself looking at this game and seeing a lot of potential downfalls due to the scale of the project and the limited resources.
Outside of the fact that I'm the only programmer and temporary artist, the most recent concern stems from the fact that we plan to translate the game into Polish and Japanese fairly soon after the game is 'playable'. Translation does not end with just in game text though. One of the major issues when you translate a game that people don't always consider is the fact that you also need to be able to provide support in that language. While I'm fluent speaking Polish, I'm a little slow with reading and writing is extremely slow. Japanese I can read to a very limited extent but we'll likely have to depend on Adam's wife (at least for the start) to keep up the Japanese side of things. If we want to develop a community around it we'll need to keep the news and maybe even the blog translated as well... should prove to be interesting at the very least.
So is it better to start out with a smaller more limited project? There's only so many people that can make pong or breakout clones and make them multiplayer before it gets old. I don't regret taking on a project of this scope, but its definitely not for everyone. It may end up being our downfall but me and my friends often apply the "go big or go home" rule to everything we attempt and its yielded some nice results so far.
Well first up let me apologise for the lack of updates recently by both Paul and myself. Lots of stuff going on here at SHADOWROOT that has drawn our attention and unfortunately the site has been slightly neglected of late.
That should however be changing though, as not only are we are very close to having our first something to show the world but also just because I am going to make a concerted effort to post on a semi-regular basis at least.
Something I have thought long and hard about is bringing game worlds out into the real world of the players. There are other games that have tried, and succeeded, to bring parts of their games out into the real or should I say physical world.
There are some passive real world links as well such as the card games from the Final Fantasy series that were made real and the EVE online board game that replicate parts of the game in board game form.
Most of these are simple replications of in game mechanics or copying of scenarios or themes into other styles of games.
There are also games that rely on the players’ connection to reality; these are called ARG or Alternative Reality Games. They often feature players having to do something away from the game or computer in order to find out information that is used in game.
Personally these types of games excite me no end. I can’t think of anything better than being able to get more involved in a game I love whether it be through taking that game away from the computer and seeing more of it through board/card versions or by expanding the game with real world components.
So I ask you gaming public, have you any interest in expanding your games into other parts of your lives or are you quite happy with them sitting where they are on your computer or console?
The video is a little out of focus at times but rather than wasting time re-making stuff I just wanted to get this video up before we release game details. Sorry about the poor cutting, still getting used to working with HighDef AVCHD footage.
I also didn't have any good footage of when Adam was around, but you get the idea...
I'm also hoping by early next week we can announce a small project we're trying to squeeze out in the near future!
As it turns out we're human and we're new to a lot of things we're doing (such as trying to film introductions on video). We were in a rush in the last day or two of Adam's visit to get some sort of introduction (without a script) and in the dozen or so attempts we had quite a few botches. I figured we'd share them with everyone in hopes of providing a laugh (or at least a chuckle).
So after some insanity with the server company I've been using for the last 10 years, we finally have a fresh box setup for SHADOWROOT and our games. The reason for this move is that we're taking a short break from our main title to get another project pushed out quick to grow our community. Keep an eye out for more details about it soon!
We didn't mention it on the site, but Adam flew down from London to get some work done here in the Toronto area. Just before he left we filmed a brief intro and I've finally gotten around to encoding it and putting it up on Vimeo.
Hopefully we'll end up getting a bunch more stuff sooner than later so keep an eye out.
We did a few takes of this as I was showing Adam of the random scenic locations in Ontario but we're both new to being in front of a camera and this was the best take we could both agree on. We had started out sitting on the fence but it was very uncomfortable (hence the feet being cut off once we stood up). Footage should get better with time.
Paul's earlier post about project management got me thinking about another important part of the way we work and that is our actual working environment, more over our desks and PC set-ups.
The following is a picture of my desk where I work from:
As you can see I like a nice clean desk where everything is clear and organised. I know a lot of people that prefer a more "lived in" feel to their work area and keep it covered with post-it notes and scraps of paper but I find all that very distracting.
I also prefer to work on two monitors at once, again some people like only one large one, or a main one and a smaller secondary but personally I love my 2x 24" setup!
Obviously being in a very creative industry that is the games industry everyone has their own ideas and projects that they would like to see come to fruition, we at SHADOWROOT are no different. There are no less than 3-4 ideas being thrown around at any one time, despite the fact we are still working hard to get our first project up and running!
I feel it is a great motivation to have ideas on the backburner as it gives you something to work towards in the future. I can't imagine a situation where I have no idea what I will be working on after my current project. However there is of course a danger of being sidetracked by ideas, you have to be able to think about possible projects but also be able to keep them as separate ideas. There is always a possibility that you get so keen on an idea for something else that it starts to influence your current work and some of the ideas infiltrate into other projects.
Still I feel that it is much better to have too many ideas than none at all, I don't think lack of ideas is something we will ever have to face here at SHADOWROOT!
I guess creating a game world from scratch for a new title is much like writing a fantasy book or making a fantasy movie. You often get that terrible cliche fantasy style that either rips every other established world off left right and centre or they make everything up from scratch inventing as many words as possible in the process.
I guess the balance lies somewhere in between the two extremes. You need to have a world that is different enough to be interesting and new but also when creating it you must realise that other popular worlds/settings are popular for a reason. Obviously we're hoping to have struck that balance with our first game but only the fans will be able to tell us if we have succeeded or not.
I wonder though, what most people would prefer if they had to choose. A world very similar to something they had already encountered or one that was so different that it bears no roots in anything thus far?
While each company I know manages projects differently, there's one thing that seems consistent in them all (especially with programmers). Feel free to comment if you disagree but it seems like most people have excessive quantities of notes jotted down on scraps of paper all over their desks. Some have pads, others post-its but no matter what tools the company provides they have their own system.
Here, we currently have no fewer than 5 web applications for managing this project as well as a level editor, two server applications and a client. While it would be ideal to cut this number down, the work required often does not justify it and the unifying factor ends up being on my desk.
I recently stumbled across a bunch of tasks, design issues, and random attempts at visualizing how things might work. This is just a fraction of the notes made for our current project that have survived my occasional desk purge. Welcome to the high tech industry of indie game development!
While working on the project today I came across a not completely uncommon issue with programming that I figured was worth a rant.
When mistakes are made in code, they're not always obvious. The nature of the project and in particular the changes I've been making lately (working on splitting the server into a separate lobby and instance server application) lead to some very frustrating issues. When you have two servers communicating and a client communicating with both servers, it gets hard to make sure everything is in sync, and harder still to track everything . You're more likely to find what I call trickle-down bugs. A small mistake, such as typing = instead of == inside of some 'error handling' code and all of the sudden you're making errors instead of fixing them... and they can become very obscure. The issue may not appear until much further into the code and the fault may lie in any of the three communicating parties. So how do you resolve these issues? I know prior to working in the game industry, I would probably abandon a project I was working on if I hit some of the bugs I've encountered recently. Its definitely overwhelming when you have large quantities of code and no leads as to what might be causing the problem. The key is being very persistent and very thorough. Go back through code line by line, and never underestimate how far back you might need to go. The source of a problem is often in very unlikely places. Learning how to use your debugger is probably the single most important thing I could suggest to anyone looking to break into game programming. There's often more work fixing code than there is writing it in the first place!
As a designer I am trying to reach for the skies, to push the limits in order to create something new and interesting. A game world rich and fertile enough to encourage players to really enjoy not only playing but participating in something much larger than the individual.
However of course it is the job of others (read: Paul) to reel me in, to bring my sky high ideas down to earth so to speak. Of course it is not an attempt to stifle creativity, but rather trying to find a balance between what is actually possible within the reasonable restrains of the code and what is possible within a reasonable amount of time.
However in the end you must always aim high, because that is what marks a good game out against the crowd, a game built on ideas and hope rather than on greed or business.
First official post here now that the system seems to be more or less working. More information will become available about SHADOWROOT as well as projects when time permits. For now we've finally got a web presence. Rather than wasting a ton of time on visual style for the site, we wasted a bunch of time on visual function. The forum should (in our opinions) have a better flow than most others out there. Let me know if you see any of the inevitable glitches in layout throughout this site!
We're a new independent game studio working on our flagship title. The company was started by two very enthusiastic, seasoned game industry veterans looking to show that there are still people striving to make interesting and innovative titles.
We are determined to bring our visions to life and our first project, which has yet to be announced is already a significant way into development.
- Paul -
"Hi! My name is Paul. I'm the lead programmer for SHADOWROOT currently working full time on our flagship title. After gaining experience working in the game industry as a back-end programmer (with experience on the PC, PS2, PSP, Wii, DS and Xbox) I decided to pursue my own ventures.
While my primary focus here is working as lead programmer I have my hand in all aspects of the game. I'll be making various posts about our process and experiences so keep an eye out!"
- Adam -
"Hi my name is Adam, and I have worked in the games industry for over 5 years at some of the largest game development studios and publishers in the sector. I have worked on everything from AAA titles to movie licenses to online games, in a variety of positions and locations around the world.
Currently, I am working full time at one of the most prestigious video game publishers in the UK managing multiple projects and teams both internal to the company and external. My previous working roles have been as varied as the companies I have worked for, localisation, quality assurance, project management, I have had the opportunity to experience it all and I am now using that experience to help me here at SHADOWROOT.
I am in the process of transitioning to full time work as lead game designer on our first and flagship title here at SHADOWROOT so keep a look out for some inspired design posts from me in the future."
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