The show runs from 6 to 8, if you want to show up early and just listen.
This means Linux support is happening, along with the new zipping and retracting / extending features of the energy line. If you've been holding off because you wanted to make sure Linux support was in there, you're good to go.
Next up, at $30K: a human stretch goal: Brian Luzietti, composer and sound effects guy extraordinaire!
Brian has worked on an insane number of games, many of which I bet you've played. (And if you want to chill out to some of his previous tracks in anticipation, it looks like a lot of them are illegally available here.)
If we make this stretch goal, everyone who has backed at the Beta level and up will also get access to the soundtrack.
We've worked closely together before on Schizoid and a secret Microsoft project that was sadly cancelled, and I'll be overjoyed to work with him again.
We're pretty confident we're going to hit this stretch goal, so Brian has already started working on it.
A lot of people want to know: hey, if you get on Steam, will there still be a DRM-free version?
I've thought about it and decided the answer is Yes! I don't know if it'll be through GoG or direct from my website (probably using the Humble Store), but if you want a DRM-free binary you'll be able to get it. Use it wisely.
And the Kickstarter has been covered on a variety of sites (listed here in the order in which backers have come from the sites so far):
The $1 funding goal thing is a lot more controversial than I thought it would be. It looks like I'll need to explain that more clearly and talk about why I did what I did. I'll do that soon.
I'm generally avoiding the comments, even though they're overwhelmingly positive, because all it takes is a couple negative ones to threaten my mood, but I did read some, and this one was awesome, from "PRIMESGHOST" on Penny Arcade:
Kicked and...kicked again. Honestly, I don't care if this guy is begging for money. If he were homeless I would let him live in my garage! I STILL have Spider-man 2 in regular rotation. All I do is just whip around the city for hours, it's so relaxing. If this man invented that mechanic then I owe him a lot more than I just kicked in because he has given me YEARS of rest from a long day's work.
Thanks so much Primesghost! It's really awesome knowing you got so much out of it. (And about that garage offer ... can my wife and kids come?)
Wow! Just wow. We're at $16K right now - I thought it was perfectly possible, before I launched, that $16K might be all we'd raise for the whole thing. I'm over the moon!
Which means the gear customization feature is happening. This will both let you tailor the game somewhat to your own tastes: for example, if you prefer to use the mouse to pick the point you swing from, like Bionic Commando, you can; or choose between a continuous or charged jump. It will also ease beginners into the game, a bit like starting out surfing with a slow but stable longboard and then as you get better moving to the more maneuverable but squirrelly shortboard.
I'm confident we're on track to raise enough both to hit at least our next two stretch goals: getting the game on Linux, adding zip features (you'll be able to retract and extend your energy hook line, and also do a sort of quick zip like in the Arkham games, but this gear won't be unlocked for the player right away) and to bring on Brian Luzietti for audio. So Brian's already started digging in!
My next step is to get the game on Steam Greenlight, both so Kickstarter backers can vote it up over there and so the Greenlight Community can find out about the Kickstarter. I'll let you know when that's ready, of course.
This is so awesome, I don't know what to say.
The title says it all. But I'll say it again.
Energy Hook Kickstarter Launch Party on http://twitch.tv/happionlabs At 4 PM PST / 11 PM GMT, today.
Jakub Koziol (of Little Alchemy fame) will play the game and I'll talk about it and we'll answer questions and I will ceremoniously press the green candylike button and officially launch this thing.
I'm already pretty stressed out and anxious and replaying constructive criticism in my head over-and-over and second-guessing myself about stuff. I know, after it launches, I'm going to have trouble separating my sense of personal self-worth from how it does - kind of like after Schizoid launched and I was depressed for two months.
And I've also heard I'll need a thick skin. Again, just like with a normal product launch, though then there are also sometimes weird semi-personal attacks with Kickstarter. But no, I don't have a thick skin. That's not my default state, anyway.
So what am I going to do?
I'm going to do a lot of positive self-talk. I'm thinking about this quote:
"My hat's in the ring. The fight's on and I'm stripped to the buff." - Teddy Roosevelt
Yeah, I'd rather have my hat in the ring then never try and wonder what might have happened. And in that sense, no matter how 'succesful' it is financially, it'll be a success just to be there. Just to press that green candylike button.
And I'll have to keep reminding myself of that, over and over. Already a success. Already a success.
That means celebrating the launch is just as important as celebrating the outcome. So I'm going to do some kind of live party / celebration thing tomorrow, but still not sure when and not what - twitch.tv? Live tweeting? Something. I'll keep you posted.
Here's a cautionary tale on Indie Game development from Matt Gilgenbach. Some people think that - particularly with console development - you'll get out of it at least what you put into it. Not so - my experiences with Schizoid and Matt's experiences with this say otherwise. There's no sure thing in indie game dev.
And it also goes to show migrating from AAA to Indie is harder than you might think. It is almost a completely different sport, seems like.
A couple possible 'mistakes' that Matt didn't call out explicitly (or if he did, I spaced at that moment) that it's easy for us ex-AAA people to fall into:
I did this with Schizoid and with the Richard Garfield game that endlessly chased publisher funding to no avail. Oh yeah, and Sixty Second Shooter. With Schizoid and Sixty Second Shooter it was arguably the right call, because it let me have "first game with such-and-such tech" PR stories, but who can say for sure. Anyhow, my own internal logic went something like this - and maybe Matt shared it: "This is a really simple indie game. Therefore it'll be easy to write our own engine." And then later, when we decided to add awesome post-processing shaders or network play or this that and the other already solved feature, it became a burden. (And another thing that led me down the path is it's also fun to write your own engine.) But you have to ask yourself: are you a game developer or an engine developer?
Obviously there are plenty of hugely succesful indie games out there where they wrote their own engine, so it's hard to say making your own engine is clearly a mistake, but you also have to wonder - would given succesful indie game X *not* have been succesful if they used a pre-existing engine?
I have a difficult thought to articulate here. It's not cut-and-dry. I keep rewriting this paragraph as I think about it. As indie developers showing our work to people, whether it's just youtube videos or alphas or showing it off at conferences and contests - we're going to get more feedback on our work than we could respond to in our lifetime. That can be murder on a perfectionist. A lot of people-on-the-internet complained about the graphics in my first trailer for Energy Hook, and since I've became perhaps overly concerned with making it look better, even though the game isn't supposed to be about the graphics, it's about the gameplay. The graphics are supposed to be a means to an end and while I'd like them to look distinctive and consistent and not bad it's certainly a mistake for me to waste time trying to compete in that arena. And yet I have been anyway.
On the other hand, a place where feedback can be really beneficial is when there's some feature or fix that I think might be important - and none of the players I show the game to seem to notice. There can be a massive time savings there as I punt on the feature or fix that nobody cares about. Matt might have saved some serious time not working on things if he resisted the temptation to add features that nobody asked for?
So, you need feedback, not just to find out what you should fix but also to find out what you don't have to fix. But some stuff that feedback says you should fix - you shouldn't. And that's the really tough part. How to decide. Maybe asking- "Is this going to be one of my actual players or is this just a random internet troll who isn't going to play my game anyway because he just wants the next CoD?" -is a good place to start...
And speaking of feedback, I'm looking for more. I'm selecting just a few people to look at an early pre-alpha build of Energy Hook to figure out what I should fix before showing it to journalists before the Kickstarter. If you'd like to, and have a few hours to play it and write up some thoughtful, specific feedback, comment here or send me an e-mail (email@example.com) and I'll put your name in the hat. Let me know what kind of computer you have and whether you're a mouse/keyboard or gamepad sort of person.
(Guest post by New York Film Academy.)
When the Playstation 4 was
unveiled last month, it’d be fair to say it was a disappointment to all but the
most ardent of fanboys. In fact, the term ‘unveiling’ is a bit of a misnomer as
far as Sony’s event was concerned – the PS4 itself never made an appearance,
which was instantly jumped on by scores of journalists.
But while Sony’s puzzling decision to keep their cards pointing chest-wards has frustrated many gamers, the event and the subsequent detail leaks have been of great interest to developers… the only difficulty is deciding which are verified and which are plain conjecture.
Today however we rake over the coals of stuff we know for definite, and what the implications are for developers.
Hardware Limitations Are Virtually Non-Existent
Although the games revealed at launch were a bit lackluster, that doesn’t bear any relation to the games which we should be see being developed for the platform in the coming years.
And as far as the future is concerned, the sky is the limit.
Michael Denny, Sony’s vice president of Worldwide Studios Europe, was very keen to point out that the Playstation 4 was very much designed with developers in mind when he spoke to CVG. Whether this is in response to the numerous criticisms over the difficulty in coding for the PS3 (coming from high-profilers such as Gabe Newell) is open to speculation, but what is clear is that the PS4 is set to buck that trend.
Devs should no longer have to downscale code to adhere to the Playstation’s limited hardware – the PS4 is set to run on X86-64 architecture with a super-enhanced GPU, bolstered by 8GB of on board memory and a solid state hard drive. The demo of upcoming game Knack at the unveiling conference really showed off the capabilities of the PS4’s DDR5 memory, too; apparently the system can handle over a million moveable objects at any one time and the Knack trailer is testament to this.
In a nutshell, it’s a PC which runs 16x the speed of the Playstation 3, and that can only be a good thing for budding developers.
You’ll Still Have One Limitation: 1080p
Although the Playstation 4 is set to support a gorgeous-looking 4K resolution output, it’ll only apply to a user’s photos and videos. No matter how you go about rendering your games, they’ll still only come out at a maximum of 1080p. This is a bit odd given the unlikelihood of an average PS4 owner shooting home videos in 4K resolutions, but there we have it.
The Share Button – More Important than it Sounds
The PS4 is going to feature some kind of insta-share feature which allows players to upload images and videos to social media right from the controller. Whether this is a big enough hook to get people to buy a PS4 – or whether it’s a good idea at all – can be argued either way, but one thing for certain is that it’ll have a big impact on indie developers.
If you have no idea why that would be the case, consider how some of the biggest indie success stories owe a lot of their growth to Let’s Plays videos on Youtube (Minecraft being the obvious example). As such, the PS4’s share button might end up being a powerful marketing tool for indie games… and the best thing about it is it won’t cost you a dime.
The new Playstation is going to bring some interesting mechanics to the table, but with them they’ll bring extra complications for devs who wish to utilize them.
Not only will the new DualShock 4 controller feature some kind of rudimentary second screen, but the console itself will have a redesigned PlayStation Eye (essentially a Kinect analogue), Playstation Move controllers (a la the original Wii) and support for tablets and the PS Vita as additional screens.
It won’t be obligatory to build in support for any or all of these supplementary devices of course, and doing so may even cause a headache when it comes to porting, but it might work out that players come to expect such functionality as standard.
The Bigger Picture
But perhaps those kind of considerations are simply the way of the world now. The entire industry seems to be moving more in this direction and Sony are just following suit.
Although Moore’s Law is driving things ever forward, there is a downside to the increasingly massive, industry-wide changes which come with every new console release. Just as the next generation of game designers is becoming acquainted with the basics of coding and design, everything flips on its head. This forces responsible institution such as the NYFA game design school to constantly update its program in order to make sure students aren’t specializing in outdated knowledge.
Perhaps the upcoming Xbox 720 unveiling (strongly rumored to be late next month) will be the deciding factor on where game development – and consumer interest – is heading.
And at that point, we may need to put out a follow-up post.