Archive for category: Game Development

MOAR Mechs

04 Jul
July 4, 2015

I’ve been having trouble designing an Easy mech deck.

Mainly because there are no weak mechs in the current card set. Which is something that testers have brought up before.

So I decided fuck it, let me paint some new mechs to fill out the lower tiers. 🙂

New mech card #1 – Surveillance Drone
MechSmallLogo

New mech card #2 – Spyder

Mech1SmallLogo

New mech card #3 – Tarantula

Mech2SmallLogo

On Making Space For Creativity

03 Jul
July 3, 2015

I had a great idea for a game prototype in the shower this morning. One that is reasonable in scope and achievable with my limited art budget. Which is great, and I look forward to finishing System Crash so that I can play around with it.

But it’s always like that, I’ve found. Ideas come in the shower, while I’m out on walks, or basically any time when I’m away from screens etc and my brain has space to churn.

That’s my simple theory of creativity. Spend time filling your mind with a range of influences: tv, books, music, art, life and so on. Then do some activity that forces your bran to switch modes from “processing input” to “ruminating”.

The ideas will bubble up naturally. Without any effort from you, your unconscious will get busy forming new connections, combining and rearranging your influences into new and interesting configurations. You just have to give it the space to do so, away from the million inputs and distractions of the modern world.

And have some easy, non-intrusive way to capture those fleeting ideas as they float up from your unconsciousness at hand, or they’ll slip from your mind as easily as they entered it. A computer with an active internet connection doesn’t count, by the way, unless you can stop yourself “just checking twitter quickly” when you’re recording your ideas. 😉

Before you know it, your problem will go from being “how do I be creative?” to “which of these ideas do I pursue?!? I can’t fit all of them in!”

Happy Birthday To Me

02 Jul
July 2, 2015

For my birthday, Michelle got me an amazing, thoughtful present.

She had some of System Crash’s artwork printed out on canvas, so I could hang them up on my wall next to my computer. So that whenever I want to, I can always look across at them and be inspired.

I think they look fantastic! I’m going to treasure them.

20150627_095722_SMALL

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.

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…

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.

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