…just sleeping.

Posted by on Jan 13, 2016

happy new yearDespite appearances, we’re not dead – just sleeping. Well, not exactly ‘sleeping’, more like ‘being too busy with life and projects to update the website’.

But it’s a shiny new year, what better time for another ‘monthly’ update! We’ve both been working hard, but as always, when pushed for time it’s hard to keep dev diary updates at the top of the priority list. So we’re kicking off twentysixteen with the best intentions of making these posts actually monthly instead of annually.

Ben has been doing a lot of business development behind the scenes, as well as finishing up his freelance work on The Forest. Both of these things will help clear up the schedule this year for more focus on Spies & Soldiers.

Jim has been sorting out his visa for the United States, and setting up a more permanent base of operations in New York. Wrestling red tape always takes longer than expected, but he now has his freedom and a nice art studio in Brooklyn. Productivity level up ahead!

So, where’s the game at? Our focus recently has been on doing a lot of the more mundane work that goes into a game, the kind of things that we all take for granted: save & load games, run full screen at multiple resolutions, help files, etc. All that ‘fridge and washing machine’ kind of stuff, that you never want to think about, but take for granted in daily life. To help get this work done, we decided to submit to last year’s Indiecade – not because we felt the game was at all ready, just to give ourselves a solid deadline for an ‘it works like a real game’ version that strangers could pick up and play. We actually got some great feedback from the Indiecade judges, which was a bonus! Their main critique was that the game felt unfinished – which is fair enough, as it is!

More interesting developments? We’ve got the very talented musician and all round maestro Jherek Bischoff on board to create a dynamic score for the game. The idea is that the music will change to reflect your current game state and strategic decisions, to avoid ear fatigue. The first few tracks Jherek has sent through are so. damn. good. Can’t wait to share them with the world!

We’ve also been working on refining the overall UI, which can be more of a headscratcher than expected. So often you spend hours thinking up an elegant new interface solution, only to scrap it all the next day when you realize there’s one situation that it just can’t handle. The goal with this is to streamline the information presented to the player without breaking up the flow, as well as getting more art in the game. Many strategy games suffer from getting bogged down in endless menus and mouse-over info, and we’re keen to avoid that as much as possible. Art style tests continue, as we try and nail down a look that suits both the needs of the game and the atmosphere we want to evoke. Distinctive art can make all the difference when it comes to grabbing the attention of new users, so we’re keen to try and find our own unique look.

And what’s ahead? Right now we’re doing a bit of a work intensive on the game while we’re both in the same city over summer. To that end, we’ve started doing the hot-desk thing down at The Arcade, a thriving hub of the Melbourne indie game dev scene. Working from an office instead of from home makes it much easier to ignore the dirty dishes and just get stuck into smashing ahead on our game! The aim is to have a ‘minimum viable product’ version to show interested parties a couple of months from now. Fun things ahead include getting terrain modifiers working, the new UI, and Jim keeps muttering about a hostage mechanic for spies…

Twentysixteen – let’s make it shine bright.