Winter 2017 Playtest Posted on December 14, 2017 at 11:14
I am opening up registration for the next playtest of my long term game project. The registration is open until the 20th of this month. The tl;dr is, this is still a very early playtest, but there is a lot more to the game, and I'm looking to get feedback on gameplay before I wrap up and move towards the next major section of work which is game content.
You can sign up here. I'd like to give everyone who signs up a copy, but depending on the number of signups, I don't know if I'll get to it. That said, I just opened this up recently, so plenty of open slots.
Thanks! Below is the "offical post" from the game's website.
Starting now, and until December 20th, 2017, I am asking for people to sign up to playtest Evenfall Arcane with the Winter 2017 pre-alpha build!
This playtest comes at a time where development is beginning to pick up in terms of content. While the game is still very young in development, most of the core gameplay is in place, and this test primarily focuses on a small section of the game, which represents an early look at the opening segment.
At this time, the music and art is still provisional. The game is built out enough to teach the player to play, and provide a few quests to sample how the game will work. The main story is not in this build, yet some characters who will be included in the main story can be found.
All four schools of magic have enough spells to be effective, giving a reason to play through multiple times. Additionally, there is a wide spread of available items and upgrades to customize your character's playstyle.
I am excited and nervous to be sharing this build with people. If you are interested in testing, please consider signing up.
Thank you, and I will be posting soon with more development information as the year comes to a close!
Side projects are still fun Posted on October 23, 2017 at 08:23
I took a little bit of a break this weekend to work on a side project with the hopes of brushing up on some networking and cryptography. I am by no means an expert in either, but I find both fascinating.
I had an idea which I have begun to implement. I wanted to solve the problem of "how can I safely transfer data between two computers, where neither is acting as a server?" If you have a home internet provider with an anti-server clause, this can be an issue. So, instead of just googling for surely hundreds of answers, I home rolled something, because fuck it, this is 64Digits and thats what we do.
The concept implements what I refer to as a client-authority-server relationship. Basically, its encrypted middlemanning by design. An "authority" is spun up, and servers connect to it via TCP, and perform a handshake to initiate an encrypted connection. The server identifies itself and how it would like to be referred to. A client then connects to the same authority, and asks to be piped through to the server it wants. Requests are then piped thought the authority, with the client's public key sent along such that the server can encrypt the response, hiding the content from the authority.
In this way, running a "server" looks no different than being connected to a service over TCP.
I've got the handshake and data passing working between the authority and client. Next up is to build a basic server, which can receive requests and pass them to an arbitrary program to satisfy requests.
I don't really have an end goal here, it has just been fun to build so far, as I'm learning about RSA and hybrid encryption, and I'm writing it in TypeScript, which I've been pretty hype on recently, giving me the ease-of-use of JS with the structure and compile-time checking of a typed/compiled language.
Anyone else have rando side projects? It has been a while since I just threw something together as a learning project. I forgot how much I love it.
His name is Flynn, and he is a complete goober. As shown in the album, he very much enjoys flopping over onto his back and being silly.
He is currently a plop on my couch after having made it abundantly clear that my fiancee has left for work.
Besides the doggo, things have been pretty fun over yonder. I've been working with my now-business-partner on our game design venture, meeting with some people to get insight into business strategy and generally playtesting our games. We have two projects right now, one which is the board game I've previously written about, called "Hail, and Well Met!", and another vocabulary-based card game which we've recently begun playtesting.
It's a lot of work that we know nothing about, but we're having a good time doing it. I plan to add much more information to our website soon, at which time I'll make an update here if anyone is interested in following that work.
Additionally, I'm still very much working on Evenfall. Lately, I've been doing a lot of work on the scripting and data management side, prepping for the rapid expansion of content that is likely to be the main chunk of the work. I've been writing as much as I can to be dynamic and doable through an external API, so that in the future, stuff like mods can be a thing. I don't particularly see mods as the #1 reason to do it this way, but mod support is a nice benefit. The main thing is that it allows for a lot of runtime editing, since a lot of scripting is done through lua which can just be reloaded into the runtime.
That's all I've got for now. Besides that, mostly just playing Switch games. If you have a Switch FC and want to be friendos, let me know. That said, being friendos on Switch doesn't mean much, unless you want to disappoint me in Splatoon or something.
This person has been working on this game for a while, and I've been following the dev on twitter. I got the demo this morning and its really cool so far. Very well polished for a demo.
It's made in GameMaker Studio (dunno if 2 or 1.4). Very pretty, plays well, and has some interesting takes on UI interactions, which I find pretty inspiring.
All in all, worth checking out, and is pay-what-you-want. I gave a little bit of money because I think the dev deserves it, but obviously if you are just like "wuzzis?" you shouldn't feel obligated to pay.
I made a game studio Posted on August 24, 2017 at 09:02
A friend/coworker approached me a few months ago after he returned from an extended trip abroad. He told me he wanted to make games with me, referencing the tabletop game that I had been playtesting in our office. He's definitely more knowledgeable of the tabletop game world than I am, so I immediately said yes.
Fast forward to now, and I've got some exciting news. We are now formally a game studio, Nevershine LLC.
Our first project together is the tabletop game, but we have plans to also do video games. Right now, we're mainly focused on figuring out our path forward, finding publishers and fleshing out the game. We built and ordered our first dev kits, which are really just a bunch of printed postcards and some poker chips, but hey, better than the handwritten index cards they used to be.
I also plan to be publishing Evenfall Arcane under Nevershine. That has not fallen away. However, it may slow down development slightly, since I'm working full time at my day job, and working on building this studio / tabletop game with my partner.
I'm thrilled to finally have a registered, real company I can call my own game studio. It's a dream of mine, and I hope to see it work out. Time will tell.
Catchin' up on life Posted on July 04, 2017 at 16:35
I've been posting pretty much exclusively about Evenfall recently, so its high time to catch up on what's going on in my life more generally. So, let's see...
I'm finally getting back into a more regular sleeping pattern after the fight with some crazy insomnia earlier this year. I still have some hard nights, but largely, I've found a routine that works for me. I actually found inspiration from this to begin working on a resource website to help people who are like I was - desperately searching on the internet for help. The site is still a work in progress, using my company's website builder to both dogfood the work, but also because we get free hosting/domains with it. I want to add a lot more info to it, but here it is if you want to take a look: Insomnia Base.
The goal of the site is to have non-bullshit, well written information. Also, as stated on the homepage, to encourage people to go see their damn doctor.
Anyway, besides that, I've been doing a lot of writing for a D&D campaign I am running with my friends. The plotline for the campaign is actually the plot for Evenfall, so it's been nice to test out the plot on them to see if its good. So far, I think it's going well, but we don't play often enough for them to really remember what happened from session to session. Even when we resolved to fix that, it's just hard to find time that works for everyone.
Shifting gears from hyper nerd stuff to less nerdy, I've got a date set for my wedding now. September 22, 2018. A little over a year from now. We decided on a longer engagement, because we knew we wanted to do it in early/mid fall so that we could go camping and hiking for our anniversary, but we also didn't want to deal with planning a wedding that quickly. We have a location set, which is a restaurant that will handle most of the work, and we're keeping it super small, so sorry everyone, but I can't invite you.
That said, if anyone feels like driving/flying/swimming to Maryland, you could come to the afterparty the next day.
Jumping right back into nerdy, I'm beginning work with a colleague of mine to build out a board game I devised a while back. He is very into board games, and went on a sabbatical recently. I think while he was out, he realized he wanted to be doing something in the tabletop game space, so he approached me to see my then-paper-and-pencil game into legitimacy. We plan to create a legal entity soon, and are finalizing some designs for a test kit which we will get printed out (probably just like business cards and stuff) to take to Gen Con in august (a big tabletop game convention). Here's hoping that goes well. If there is any interest, I could send some copies of the demo version to people who want to playtest!
Anyway, that's all I got for now. You're all wonderful.
Rethinking "fast" Posted on June 15, 2017 at 09:14
A huge focus of mine at work over the past few months has been performance. Performance, in the sense of making sure our product is running not just well enough but truly well.
Unfortunately, that isn't where our product is, but we can get there.
Performance is something that basically has to be a given these days, especially regarding the web. On average, the majority of people will navigate away from your website if it doesn't have a meaningful paint by 3 seconds. Given a halfway decent internet connection, that should not be a problem.
Unfortunately, as projects grow, deadlines arise and corners are cut, performance and forward thinking falls to the wayside in favor of getting stuff out quickly. That, or misconceptions about the "right way" to do things appear.
We've seen this first hand with our product, which is a huge React application. Now, React is fast - but what isn't fast is when you have thousands of components on your page, each doing heavy lifting every time anything updates. We adopted React very early on, before there was a lot of reading about the right way to do things. Because of that, our application does heavy lifting all the way down, so if you need to render something with 10 layers of children, suddenly it chuuuugs.
Anyway, this kind of thinking has driven a lot of my development recently. For one, I found a way of developing and hosting the Evenfall website to keep it quick, super lightweight, and highly available. Granted, it is a small, static website, but I chose that on purpose to allow for this to happen.
The website is built with Metalsmith, a build tool for static websites that is entirely plugin-based. I have just as many plugins as I need, and nothing more. The site builds in about 1.5 seconds, and most of that time is spent transforming the favicon into all formats. Without the favicon transform, it goes down to under 1 second.
The output is then just served from an S3 bucket on AWS, with a CloudFront CDN distributing it. All of it was easy to set up, and serves this website over https, quickly and efficiently for a few dollars a month, at most.
I also apply this mindset when working on the game itself, but I will go into that in another post. Jonathan Blow did a great talk about speed recently, and in it, he used Photoshop as an example: It takes photoshop several seconds to open the "open file" dialog on his beefy laptop. Now, if computers have gotten so much faster, why does Photoshop still take several seconds to open this dialog, when a computer that was orders of magnitude slower took the same amount of time to open the same dialog years ago?
The answer is bloat, for sure, but it makes you think. Virtually nothing in a standard workflow on a powerful machine these days should take more than a second unless it is doing serious computational effort. Like compiling, for example.
Except, woops, this talk is also about his programming language, Jai, of which he shows the compiler compiling and linking a 50k+ line program in 0.4 seconds.
Anyway, its a good talk: (audio starts at about 1:15)
I would cross post it here, but its kinda long and full of videos / images and such all formatted nicely.
After taking off all of last week to solely work on Evenfall, its been a bit of a shift to get back into a normal rhythm, but things seem to be going well.
I've been hard at work on a handful of things, both with Evenfall and otherwise. We've had some interns start at work, and I'm on the team working with them, so that has occupied a lot of my time and thought this week.
When at home, I've been working on balancing some of the content already in Evenfall, while working on new stuff. It does take me a bit to get into a flow where I can churn out truly new content, which is hard when I only have a few hours to work on it a day. That said, there's a lot of refinement I've been able to do, so to those who have played the first playtest, expect a lot of changes!
I'll be posting here when the call for signups for the second playtest goes out, probably in about a month. Those who received the first playtest are auto opted in, so let me know via email or DM if you want to be removed from that list.
I'm also beginning work on a couple of things that I hope can generate a little bit of passive income. I'd like to start making some informative, static websites that use amazon affiliate links or something to generate a little bit of cash flow. It's mostly an experiment, but if I can find a content model that works, it could be good to get a bit of financial freedom that way. Or, at least a dinner out of it.
Part of my time off was adding new stuff, and part was fixing up old stuff. While the art is still very early on, I want to get the gameplay just right, and get the content that does exist to a place where it is compelling. The recent feedback I've gotten is very positive, and I hope to keep on tuning the game to be as good as it can be.
I've been releasing some short form videos (3-7s long) on twitter, but got some feedback that its hard to get an idea of how the game plays in such short clips. So, I've recorded a slightly longer clip. Here is a boss battle from the end of one of the side quests currently in the game:
This is also to say that I've just this morning made a YouTube channel for the game, which you can find here. If you're interested, please subscribe! It would help immensely.
That's all for now. I hope to give more updates about playtesting and such soon.
Thank you all for your support. I look forward to working with members of 64Digits to refine the game through playtesting and discussion. You have all played such a huge part in my life, as I attribute my career and love for programming to 64Digits.