Today Anita Sarkeesian put out a tweet noting that the XboxOne demo at E3 failed to feature any games with a female protagonist. A bunch of people on twitter sent horrible @replies which Anita documented because they ”exemplify the male privilege and male entitlement endemic in the gaming community today.” As someone who writes for games (including an upcoming title featuring a female protagonist) I feel slightly compelled to give my take on the situation (which to be honest is nothing new.)
Particulars has undergone a lot of change lately. If you’ve already bought the alpha, you should receive an email informing you of the new version. If not, you can grab it here. Some of the changes are obvious, others less so. Today, I’m going to go through everything that we’ve done since the last alpha release and explain why we did it!
(tl;dr – Prettier, better, sounds exist, comics exist, MUCH prettier! Get the new version/join the alpha here)
Hey I’m David, designer for Team 1, and I’m here to take you through the initial thought process of our game. Way back in a time long ago (about two weeks before Iron Dev started), Tom (our programmer) and I were sitting around thinking about the upcoming Ludum Dare competition. I had been playing a lot of ‘Dungeons of Dredmor’, ‘The Binding of Isaac’ and ‘Spelunky’. Tom had been playing a lot of ‘Legends of Grimrock’, and we got into a conversation about how awesome ‘Roguelike’ games were, but how they were often hampered by some clunky design, mainly inventories and awkward control systems.
The genre ‘Roguelike’ has been undergoing rapid changes over the past few years, and with some recent additions like ‘The Binding of Isaac’ and ‘Spelunky’, the genre has been quite loosely defined. I defined a ‘Roguelike’ as a game with procedurally generated content, learning through death, and progress defined by how far you get before dying. This encompasses Isaac, Spelunky, Dredmor, Dwarf Fortress, and the traditional roguelikes. At this point Tom jokingly made the observation that if that is how you define a Roguelike , ‘Infinite Runners’ are Roguelikes. This observation went full circle back to what we wanted to achieve, an accessible pick-up and play (PUP) Roguelike.
If we could take the simplicity of an infinite runner and the incredible depth of a Roguelike, we could be onto something very special. Based on this observation we tried to see if we could take the really cool parts of Roguelikes and repackage them in a more accessible form. By doing this we would be exposing casual gamers to something that normally only hardcore gamers would experience. In other words we decided to make a Roguelike for casual gamers.
So then Ludum Dare came along, Tom and I both decided to make two games inspired by our conversation. Tom made a cool minimalistic Roguelike dungeon crawler called ‘Vol’. I went in the other direction and actually made an infinite runner with some RPG style elements called ‘Unnatural Selection’. Both games then went on to inspire Team 1′s next game…
Here is a little teaser to keep everyone occupied (PS this is on mobile):
Starting tomorrow at 11am, SeeThrough Studios is going to be partaking in that crazy thing known as Ludum Dare.
As far as I know so far, we’ll be having three teams:
We’ll be checking in throughout the weekend with updates and so on, so watch this space!
For now, a question to everyone: what do you think is important for a game that’s also a musical?
So it’s day 2 of this run, and so far it’s been good.
And that, in a nutshell, is the problem.
There’s a phenomenon called “second project slump” (or the Second-system effect), whereby a project team, all chuffed from a successful first project, become complacent or simply overestimate how much they can do in the time given. It’s an effect I was wary of going into this sprint (in fact I made sure to mention it fairly early on day one so that it was on people’s minds), and now I’m even more worried that it could be an issue for us.
Which is a good thing, because we’re catching it early and can correct for it.
Today began with index cards. Here at SeeThrough, we love index cards – whenever we hit a point where the world around us appears to be descending into chaos, Paul throws a stack of various coloured cards on the table, and we start breaking down our tasks, and writing them with big fat card.
This time, it went a bit like this:
Paul: We’re nearly half-way through our time, we need to plan stuff carefully and come up with milestones and stuff.
Monday was a productive day on the level-building front. Above is what the player will see when he or she loads Level 1 of the game, and you can find some more early screens below the cut.
But I also want to talk about another kind of levels. You may have noticed the array of progress bars over in the right-hand sidebar of the site. We built them as a fun way of tracking progress on the various goals we’ve set ourselves for the project.
They’re extremely low-tech at the moment – we’re actually updating them manually. But they’re actually pretty important to us – all the things they track are central to what we’re trying to achieve with this project, and for the company. So I just want to give you a quick run-down of what each of them represents (and how you can help us level up!).
If you’re a new visitor to our site, chances are you’ve arrived due to the first installment of our development diary, which went up yesterday on Kotaku Australia. If so, welcome! If not, then it begins like this:
We’re making a game in three weeks. And you know something? I’m scared.
My concern isn’t that we won’t have Flatland done. That’s a minor worry, and one that’s mostly out of my hands, in any case. I’ve seen our creative director Paul Sztajer (and co.) crank out great games in half the time we’ve got. We already have a prototype that conveys an extraordinary amount of mood. I have faith that the others have got that side of it covered.
It continues over here. And there are more installments to come!
We have the lovely Tracey Lien to thank for allowing us to board the Kotaku express, and that’s not all we need to thank her for. She’s also allowed us to steal the magnificent logo that she made for the article, which has now replaced our fugly little fish-tank here on the blog. I’m sure you’ll agree that it has immediately made our site look approximately eighty times more professional!
We’re not back at work until Thursday, but I’ll be putting up bits and pieces of media over the intervening days (we have levels!), so keep watching our RSS and Twitter.