December – January Devblog

December was a slow month with the Holidays taking up the bulk of the time so I mostly focussed on bug fixes so there isn’t a video this time.

January was all about getting ready for the Waves: Arena Tactics Kickstarter which took far more time than I expected it to (turns out the Camera hates me). Hopefully the Kickstarter should be launching in the next week and will run till the end of Feb.

I’ve also lined up a Composer for the new game who I’ll announce when the Kickstarter goes live.

I’ve also been tidying up some loose ends such as getting the Waves Soundtrack up for sale on Steam at last. It’s available to buy now for just $2 here.

Now if you’ll excuse me I need to put together a proper Press Kit for Waves: Arena Tactics and do a bunch of boring business things like talk to Accountants. Hopefully I can get back to actually making a game soon!


November Devblog

Taking a bit longer than normal to get the Devblog up for November as I was messing around with a new format for the video but it was taking so long I ditched it for the old format.

First up are 3 new Primary Weapons; the last of the Primary weapons to be implemented from my current ToDo list.

  • Sniper Rifle – High damage beam weapon. It will pass through anything it can kill instantly until it hits something it can’t like a wall or a Boomer. This weapon prompted the ability to zoom out with the camera that you can see in the video.
  • Grenade Launcher – Fires an explosive projectile on an arc that detonates on proximity with an enemy. It can bounce off walls and around corners.
  • Burst Cannon – Designed to be fired in bursts. Spews bullets in a cone but uses energy to do so. If you run out of energy the rate of fire is significantly reduced.

November saw the implementation of the majority of the new Support Items in Waves: Arena Tactics.

Support Items are equivilent to the Slomo feature in Waves and are bound to the same buttons. You can equip one such item before you start playing from the number you have unlocked.

  • Slow Field – The slomo feature redesigned for multiplayer. It now only affects an area around the player using it rather than globally.
  • Healing Aura – Converts energy into health for everybody inside the bubble.
  • Energy Shield – Instead of damage coming out of your health it comes out of your energy reserve. Affects nearby team mates with damage they take coming out of your energy.
  • Shockwave – Knocks nearby enemies away from you.
  • Cloak – Limited invisibility. Firing your weapon deactivates it early and it has a cooldown after it deactivates before it can be used again.
  • E.M.P – Huge blast that stuns enemies and empties the energy reserves of everybody inside it (including yourself).
  • Teleport – Tap to drop a beacon, hold to be teleported to the beacon. Uses all of your available energy in the process.

I also added two new Superweapons.

  • Gas Grenade – Like the Grenade Launcher but instead of an explosion it releases a cloud of gas that eats away at enemies within it as well as obscuring their vision and slowing them down.
  • Proximity Mines – Visible only to the player that dropped them these mines take a moment to arm but once armed they explode when an enemy gets close.

December will be pretty light on updates due to the Holidays and the fact that I’ll be mostly working on a Kickstarter for the game so I can actually afford to pay an artist and sound engineer in the new year.

For now if you want to support the game then feel free to buy a few copies of the original to gift to your friends and family on Steam!


October DevBlog

The start of November means only one thing… Fireworks!

It also means that it’s time for a DevBlog about everything I’ve been doing in the previous 30 days.

Here is a video.

This was the first month where I really started to add content rather than work on invisible backend stuff like server browsers.

In total I’ve added 3 new weapons, 2 super weapons, 4 new enemies, loot tables and power ups.

The Power Ups are quite basic at the moment, all enemies drop some energy that can be collected to power your big guns and defenses, some might drop a health or damage power-up which will regenerate your shields or multiply your damage output respectively. These are all very short term generally lasting only 5-10 seconds.

In terms of weapons the Machine Gun was added (fairly self-explanatory that one) as well as the Repulsor and the Arc Cannon.

The Repulsor and Arc Cannon are both short range weapons and they don’t require a good aim to use. Be warned both of these weapons can hit friends as well as foes so watch where you point them in multiplayer.

  • The Repulsor emits a blast of energy that knocks enemies away and hits everybody in it’s area of effect, it’s mostly a defensive weapon and provides some crowd control.
  • The Arc Cannon fires three electrical charges in a narrow arc which will hit the 3 closest enemies (or if there aren’t 3 it will double or triple up). This stuns the target and can also arc over a short distance to other targets stunning them as well.

Two new SuperWeapons were added; the Mega Laser and the Spin Laser.

  • The Mega Laser is exactly like the classic Beam Laser just BIGGER. It draws a lot of energy while firing and prevents your other weapons from firing at the same time. It is however the only Super Weapon that can be targeted manually making it ideal for taking out enemies with lots of health.
  • The Spin Laser is made up of 3 Mega Lasers that rotate clockwise for a fixed time. Where the Mega Laser is good at killing off big enemies the Spin Laser is ideal for clearing up small low-health targets in large numbers. The range of the Laser is longer than the Bomb but it isn’t guaranteed to hit everything.

Four new enemies is actually one old enemy ported from Waves and 3 new ones.

  • The Cluster is back! That drunken looking yellow one from Waves returns and is just as drunk as before. Shooting the Cluster is only the start of your problems as it breaks into two smaller faster enemies.
  • Turrets are the first new enemy that can shoot back at you. They have a lot of health but can’t move. They are just as likely to kill enemies as they are you so you can use them to your advantage if you’re good enough.
  • Strafers are the second shooting enemy. Equipped with a beam laser they try to orbit their target and destroy them from afar. Like Turrets they can be pretty indiscriminate about friendly fire but if you leave them alone they’ll soon have your shields down.
  • Boomers just want to hug you. Unfortunately they are so full of explosives that just getting close to you can set them off and it really hurts when they go pop. Boomers are incredibly tough to kill but when they die all those explosives detonate taking out everybody around them – including you if you’re too close.

Waves: Arena Tactics

Announcing the next game in the Waves series: Arena Tactics!

Waves: Arena Tactics is the follow-up to Waves. It’s taking the arcade action of the original and pairing it with more of everything.

Arena Tactics is about playing your way. There is a slew of new weapons and abilities that can be unlocked to customise your loadout as well as lots of new Arenas to fight in.

Waves: Arena Tactics also supports online multiplayer both competitive and co-operative for up to 4 players.

Due for release in 2014 the game is being made using the Unreal Development Kit by Epic Games (http://www.UDK.com).


DevBlog – Rezzed and The Slump

How do!

So Rezzed is in the past and I was there! I ate lots of over priced convention food from wet trays and saw lots of indie devs looking incredibly knackered.

I don’t normally go to games conventions as a punter so it was an odd experience for me. My prevailing thought at these things is normally “If I have to answer the same questions again I’m going to kill somebody!” so bear that in mind when you go to these things. That guy in the studio T-Shirt has been asked all of those questions a hundred times already – try and come up with something new or just engage them as a person not just a walking brochure.

So as a punter what did I think about Rezzed? Well let’s explore that with a bullet point list!

  • Bloody hell this is a sausage fest.
  • Very little in the way of Merch.
  • Occulus Rift is the future! Assuming you don’t have a Lazy eye like me and my girlfriend then it’s a vomit simulator.
  • Sir, You are being hunted is going to be an amazing game that will sell incredibly well.
  • Revenge of the Sunfish made my brain go “What? Wait.. WHAT?!”
  • Where are the girls?
  • Hotline Miami 2 is basically Hotline Miami again. Kinda disappointed.
  • El Rancho!
  • Sunday was better than Saturday due to less people so I got to play more games particularly in Leftfield as I don’t like waiting.

Overall a lot of fun was had. I also got to handle a PS Vita for the first time and if anybody at Sony wants to talk to me about porting Waves to Vita then I’m sure I can work something out as I believe Unreal 3 works on Vita.

One thing that stood out was how many penniless indie devs had booths. I assumed that a booth at Rezzed cost several thousands of pounds to arrange but quite a few of the devs seemed to be on the very poor end of the scale (where I live) yet managed to pull together the cash. Either it cost a lot less than I thought or they are doing much better than they appear.

Lastly the most important thing to come out of Rezzed was some much needed inspiration. I’ve been in a slump for the last 3-4 months where each line of code comes grudgingly and slowly. This is largely because I’m at a point in development where I’ve done all the fun stuff (from a programmers point of view) like solving multi-player and procedural generation. All that remains is what is on my schedule and everything I have to do is pretty much known now and that tends to result in me grinding to a halt.

There are more interesting things I’d rather be doing than just working through a list of tasks and Rezzed has given me a bit of kick to work through that list and get something worth seeing out into the world. The first step of this was determining if my game was fun (it wasn’t) and then working out howto make it fun (more rewarding exploration as it turned out).

As always I am on the lookout for artists and sound designers particularly if you are in the UK so if you are interested drop me an email at rob@squidinabox.com.

Tara!


Developer Blog: The Infrequentness

I really should hire somebody to do all the non-game-making bits of this business for me as it seems I’m terrible at them. If you want the job you should be warned I can’t afford to pay you at all.

So here is a devblog post that is long overdue because I got distracted by basically everything on the way.

Studio Update:

I am still not homeless or starving! However the odds of me releasing a new game in 2013 are slim and as sales of Waves are no longer enough to support me through to 2014 I’m probably going to have to find an additional income source. I see there being two options that don’t take away from development time, Kickstarter and Steam Early Access. I’m investigating both of these at the moment.

The New Game is indeed a new instalment in the Waves universe. I say that instead of Sequel because the gameplay and focus of this new game is quite different. Where Waves was all about high scores the new game is all about exploration and co-operation. It will have an online co-op mode for 2 (maybe 3) players which is actually the focus of the game. I can say this with confidence now because online multiplayer is in and working and actually has been for about 6 months now.

My current task list has roughly 6 months of work in it just to reach beta and that’s not factoring in all the art and sound requirements for it. It’s a big complex game compared to waves and I really hope it pays off in the long run.

Currently Working On:

My current work is in creating the games “Ecosystem”.

Every level is procedurally generated and I wanted to find a way to populate them with entities in an organic way. This is an extension of an idea I had when I worked on the original Warhammer Online back before it went to Mythic. In that game the population of an area of forest would be determined by what was already there based on a dependence hierarchy. You wouldn’t get any Goblins until the Snotling population reached and you wouldn’t get Orcs until the Goblins reached etc etc. This meant that areas of the world that were constantly being farmed by players (such as those around the starting towns) would never spawn the really dangerous monsters but extremely remote areas would be more likely to build up.

It didn’t work in reality but that was because players would never leave the small monsters alone so that the nastier ones would spawn even if there was no benefit for them killing them. Players are a blood thirsty bunch.

This version takes entities that must exist in the world for the player to progress and uses them to create things that the player can fight. An example will help:

In order to move to the next level the player needs to get a complete key which is in several parts. They obtain a key part from an “input” node which is spawning entities that move “Data” from the input to the “Output” (Level exit). The entities that move the Data around sometimes drop some as they go.

Data if not picked up quickly will turn into “corruption” which can grown over time and turn into a “Bad Sector”. A Bad Sector will spawn enemies called “Errors” which are very similar to the enemies found in Waves. Some of these enemies will place traps, attack Data Carriers and generally increase the chances of more Bad Sectors forming.

There are several variations on this theme throughout the game that I hope will create interesting levels organically that I can’t fully predict. They are all designed so that in small levels where the player may encounter them very quickly the volume and size of enemy will be lower thus easier to deal with while in large levels the areas the player discovers later will have had a longer gestation period so have more bigger enemies to worry the player.

This is all fairly experimental at the moment and I’m still not sure if it will pan out how I hope but it’s something I really want to try out.

Rezzed:

I will be at Rezzed on the 22nd and 23rd of June. I won’t be exhibiting anything unless people ask if they can setup some Waves machines because they just had some space and machines going spare (which is unlikely) but if you want to meet up and have a chat just get in touch with me in Twitter, Facebook or Email.


New Year – New Game

Happy new year!

To celebrate why not throw a couple of quid at the just released Waves Soundtrack available here!

The soundtrack includes 4 of the 5 songs that makes up the music for Waves. Two of the tracks I’m not allowed to sell but they are freely available to download from these links: MICROCOSMIC, Disco Just Won’t Cut It This Time.

If you can help spread the news on your social network of choice then that would be awesomes.

2012 was a good year for Squid In A Box, while I didn’t release a new game I have made a lot of progress on “The New Game” and Waves sold it’s 40,000th copy. There was an IndieRoyale bundle and Waves went up for sale over at Desura all of which has meant that I am not currently homeless or starving.

2013 will be an even better year as it is the year in which I plan to release “The New Game” however that will be much closer to the end of the year than the beginning as there is still lots of work to do. There may be a Kickstarter required to finish “The New Game” as it involves much more art than Waves did and as such I will need to pay an artist and probably a composer in order to do everything justice.

Keep an eye out for a blog post about “The New Game” in the next week as I’m going to shift to a more open development process now that I’ve got most of the really boring stuff done (like replication, save games and UI) and can switch over to the more interesting bits (like guns, baddies, puzzles and explosions).


Untitled Game

Blue Fire Dawn is on the backburner because making human shaped art is bloody expensive and I can’t afford it.

Fortunately all the work that went into BFD has not gone to waste and it has formed the basis for my new currently Untitled Game (OK it has a title but it’s awful and I don’t want to use it).

Untitled Game is another top-down shmup using a similar art style to Waves (because money) but with a totally different focus. While Waves is all about high scores this game is all about Power Ups and exploration.

It’s a blend of top-down shooting and tweaking your loadout played out in procedurally generated levels.

Currently the game is what I call Pre-Alpha as I’m still building all of the various systems needed to be able to populate the game with stuff but it is playable.

Here is a montage of the 4 types of weapon currently available:

From top left to bottom right: Beam Laser, Shotgun, Flamethrower, Rocket Launcher.

These are just test weapons that I made to test the weapon framework. It’s quite robust and flexible now allowing me to do a lot of different things and chain effects together.

As an example:

A Weapon can fire a random number of exploding projectiles in an arc between 0 and 360 degrees. An exploding projectile can create any number of new actors when it hits something including more exploding projectiles, enemies, explosions etc.

Any source of damage (bullets, explosions etc) can apply status effects to their target that can buff or debuff the target (setting it on fire with the flamethrower for example). These effects can be refreshed by applying them again and can even do things like periodically explode, spawn enemies etc.

So I could create a weapon that fires a projectile that does no direct damage but causes any enemy it hits to explode after a short countdown which damages nearby enemies and covers them in a goo that slows them down and slowly eats away at their health.

I’ve already done a weapon whose bullets create 8 new copies of themselves when they hit something. It crashed the game in just a few seconds.

One problem that I’ve got now is the system is so flexible that while I could create almost anything I am overwhelmed by the potential. I don’t know where to start!

If you have any ideas for weapon types then I’d love to hear them in the comments.


Waves – Ambient Mode

This is something silly I put together quickly which I initially called “Pretentious mode” because of all the “Art” games that think having a substandard shooter is OK if all your sound effects are musical (It’s not. Do some work and make a good shooter as well).

It’s an audio setting not a new game mode where all the existing game sounds get replaced by a musical instrument playing a random note in the pentatonic scale. Depending on the length of the original sound it either plays a Glockenspiel, a piano or an ambient Lustmord-like drone.

It really highlights the 64 voice limit in Unreal which you can hit just by firing the gun at the arena wall so you should be getting about twice as many sounds playing when you get a big explosion but sadly the engine it says no.

Once I remember how to do Steam updates (it being over 7 months since the last one) I’ll probably throw this up as a free update for Waves which you’ll be able to access in the audio settings.