Archive for month: June, 2015

29 Jun
June 29, 2015

So Much Cover

27 Jun
June 27, 2015

“Jynx, I need you to kill that Innocent Bystander. Should be easy, she’s only got 1 HP.”

“Um, boss, about that…she’s wearing 2 layers of body armor and has somehow warped time and space in order to Take Cover 3 times.”

“…”

So Much Armor

Defining Success

26 Jun
June 26, 2015

When I think about releasing System Crash, it brings up a flood of emotions. Hope, excitement, anxiety, fear, all jumbled up together.

But fear, unfortunately, is a powerful, primal emotion- focus on it too much and it can grow, overshadowing all the others. When fear takes hold, excitement fades, motivation leaches away, and the brain switches to distraction-seeking activities in order to protect itself from being overwhelmed by anxiety.

And the more you’re invested, the greater the hope, the stronger the fear.

I’ve talked about this before, but the way I fight this is by reframing. I consciously choose to look at the situation differently. That might seem like ‘faking’, but it’s more self-persuasion. We’ve all experienced talking ourselves into or out of things, right?

For myself, this involves redefining what I consider to be a ‘success’. Choosing to look at success as not just the outcome of the making, but also what I’ve gained in the process of making something.

I can’t control how many units System Crash will sell, pinning my definition of success/failure solely on that metric leads to fear and anxiety. So instead I look at what I’ve achieved. I’ve built my first commercial video game, something I’ve been dreaming about my entire life. I’ve levelled up my skills in so many areas, in design, art, UX, networking and more.

And most importantly, I’m no longer a spectator cheering on the fighters in the arena, idly arguing over “how I would have done it”. I’ve left the stands, donned my armor, grasped my sword in sweaty hands and stepped out onto the blood-stained sands of the arena. I’ve put myself into the fight. And whether I win or lose my first battle, I’m out there putting myself to the test. I’m learning, in blood and sweat and pain, what works and what doesn’t. Where I need to improve, what my strengths and weaknesses are, and how to take a hit and keep on going.

That is real success. Progress. Challenge. Growth. Loving the process.

When you look at it like that, the last 3+ years are already a success. I know that sounds like some cornball hippy crap, but it’s the truth. And when I hold that firmly in the front of my mind, fear loses its hold. Eagerness, excitement and joy bubble back up, and I’m rearing to get back into the fight again.

Crafty

25 Jun
June 25, 2015

I’m slightly embarrassed to admit this, but I hadn’t really played Minecraft until yesterday. I loved Lego as a kid, but these days I tend to get bored of open-ended sandboxes.

So, while I enjoyed seeing the cool things people build, I didn’t feel it was for me.

Last night, though, I was feeling like trying something different, but also looking for something relaxing. So I loaded it up….puttered around, punched some trees, built a little cave fort in a hill. Got killed by a zombie that managed to get into my fort…

Was still feeling kinda ambivalent, like once the demo was done that would be that.

Then I found the cave.

It was a pretty sweet cave, and I immediately started imagining this multistorey dungeon with a fortress built on the hill above it.

I had just started laying in some rooms, adding a staircase down, killing the skeletons at the bottom, when the demo ended. :/

That’s when I realized it was past midnight.

This…this is going to be a problem. 😐

2015-06-24_23.19.27

Challenges

24 Jun
June 24, 2015

Sigh, my next game is going to be something simple.

I keep telling myself this, repeating it like a mantra, as I pull my hair out in frustration at trying to balance a strategy game with a huge number of variables and potential interactions.

This weekend’s challenge: the elite Rush deck beats other elite decks around 50% of the time. It’s pretty fun, go fast enough and they don’t have time to build up their cool combos before you’re already at the finish line. But the starter deck, it turned out, beat the elite Rush deck 4 times out of 5. Even though that same starter deck lost consistently to the other elite decks.

Fuck.

So the hair-pulling came as I tried to rebalance some of the rush cards so that it could beat the starter deck consistently while not unbalancing it versus the other elite decks.

Not a simple task, let me tell you.

The problem turned out to be that while the starter deck doesn’t have a lot of good cards in it, it does have a lot of cheap ones. And some of the cards it does have had a bit too much card draw boosting. So it managed to churn out enough cheap, disposable Agents, without emptying its hand completely, to keep the Rush deck from, well, rushing effectively. Long enough, at least, to move out of the early game, closing the window in which the rush deck can win.

I eventually managed to make certain cards stronger and others a little weaker (particularly some of the starter deck’s card draw boosting cards), leaving the final balance about the same, but making it harder to simply block a Rush deck with a pile of cheap bodies.

Which was a whole lot of tweaking and testing just to get me back to where I was in the beginning, thinking I had my cards pretty well balanced and moving on to setting up the story campaign battles.

Sigh.

My next game is going to be something simple.
My next game is going to be something simple.
My next game is going to be…

Once More Around The Sun, With Feeling

23 Jun
June 23, 2015

Thirty three years ago today, a boy was born.

That boy would grow into a young man, and that young man would one day blog about his birthday in the third person.

A beautiful story, I think we can all agree. So let’s join that young man in celebrating his, my, birthday.

It’s going to be an exciting year. System Crash will be released soon; by Christmas I will be working on my second commercial game project. But release of SC is just the start, I’m looking forward to trying out different things, marketing wise, and extending SC with new content and gameplay modes.

I’m treating running a business like learning to play an RTS. Does this work? What about this? How can I gather resources more efficiently? What’s a good build order? Maybe I should build a farm now? ;P

Beyond that, I’m looking forward to participating in some game jams, once I have this load off my shoulders. I want to spend some time just playing around with my game dev, like I used to. Just bashing stuff out and seeing what’s cool.

I’ve also got an exciting gamedev opportunity lined up for later in the year, which I’ll talk about once details are finalized.

And, for myself, I’m looking forward to taking a bit of a break. Taking stock and time out to refill the tanks. Gathering supplies for the next stage of this incredible journey.

Have yourselves a great day, friends.

Survival of the Fastest

19 Jun
June 19, 2015

In System Crash, it isn’t always about getting the strongest Agents on the board. Sometimes it’s about speed.

The Rush archetype deck is built with speed in mind. It’s filled with cards to help you get Agents out quickly and dominate the early game. Hit ’em fast, hit ’em hard, don’t let them recover, that’s the Rush philosophy.

And I was a proud ‘dad’ when the AI managed to pull off the Rush strategy flawlessly against my Yakuza deck. 😀

Some early Blackjack’s and the 9th Circle nightclub support card had seen the AI to 48 points, a mere 2 from victory. But I’d finally blocked its advance, bringing out tougher mid-tier Agents that I knew it wouldn’t be able to beat, in a fair fight. Generally, once the Rush deck loses momentum, it loses it permanently.

RushAI

But the Rush deck has one more trick up its sleeve for just such an occasion. Deception cards. Deception can clear you some room to attack when brute force alone won’t do it.

RushAI1b

Reroute cleared the path, but it still wouldn’t be enough without speed. That’s where Nem0 shines. With 6 Attack Power and Haste, he can quickly claim OP from an opening.

RushAI2

And that, as they say, was that.

RushAI3

Well played, that code. Well played.

Mad Max: Implied Violence

19 Jun
June 19, 2015

One of the things that lingered with me after walking out of Mad Max was amazement that it was a PG-13 movie. The world the movie depicted was so obviously brutal, characters repeatedly dying violently.

And yet…

And yet, when I thought about it, that violence was almost always implied. I struggled to remember a moment in the movie where you were ever shown the full, gristly reality of one of those violent deaths. In the style of classic action flicks, clever cuts manage to give the impression that someone has died horribly without ever really dragging your viewpoint down into their gaping intestines and saying “Look, look at all the blood and guts”.

Even the most gorey moment in the movie is just a brief red flash.

It was skillfully done. At no point in the movie did it feel like it had been “sanitised for the kids”. It never felt like anything other than a brutal, dog-eat-dog reality. And yet it didn’t stray into gore-porn for the sake of being “gritty”.

Mwahahaha

12 Jun
June 12, 2015

That feeling of satisfaction when you’re about to play Treachery on the Special Response Team that the enemy played. 😀

SRT_Treachery

Testing, testing

12 Jun
June 12, 2015

I’m all about the balance testing, right now, as I work to get the game ready for another beta testing release. Not long now, not long.

So I test and I test and I test. And sometimes, fun moments happen. The funnest of those are skin-of-your-teeth victories. 😀

This one was pretty darn close. One more turn and my hackers would bring home victory, but that lane on the right is open. Any Agent with Haste (that enemy deck has a couple), or any card that would have opened up one of the other lanes, would have cost me the game. But, fortunately for me, the AI didn’t have anything like that in its hand that turn and I won, just in time.
HackersVsMetroSec

Another hacker deck test. This time, I was pretty boned. Smoke Grenade kept me alive by debuffing the enemy Agents’ attack power, but even with that barrier, he’d managed to wipe out all my Agents with direct damage and climb toward victory. One more turn and Smoke Grenade would drop, and between tough agents and powerful turrets, I wasn’t going to get another Agent on the board.

Luckily, I drew a Software Vulnerability just when I needed it, allowing me to directly gain 5 OP and snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

LastMinuteHack