I’ve started to post longer-form stuff on Medium: (this is a recent discussion of the game Morning Coffee)
and shorter updates on my tumblr
This wordpress won’t be updated anymore, so go to those places!
some of my goals with even the ocean are
1. make a pleasant experience.
at least for me, from a level design standpoint i want to make areas that are fun to go through but not impossibly difficult with a little bit of practice . this can be condemned as not that interesting design – but – i am not too interested at the moment in creating well thought out puzzles of my own that progress in say a the witness way (though i like those games a lot). actually it may be that i am too unskilled or lazy to attempt a thing in context of all the other work the game has…i don’t know. i really want every person with basic game literacy to be able to see the game as a whole. i think the level design will be better than anodyne, but if i want to do a super good job with it i would stick to a much smaller proejct.
play the levels, understand the atmosphere, passively understand how it comes together, make it through everything and think about it. the base mechanic/gimmick is still very simple and we keep it simple so that you are repeating this the entire game, in different contexts……and yeah. i suppose the balance mechanic of it is very important in this thematic sense, otherwise we would basically just be making a nature explor-y game. which is totally fine! just not want i want to do totally at the moment
2. give a contemplative experience. this is sort of done by having these themes or ideas in the back of your head as you make music or art or design a level and decide how it fits in to the game (which you give just as much thought to in terms of those themes and strucutre….) . you can sort of flavor an area with themes or ideas about being human and when you do this in magical ways, people get this sort of…’feeling’ about an area, or a place, or an experience.
i don’t want to give a didactic, personal story, or make a political or social statement, or cause empathy with some party of people, though i think games like that are really important in the progress of games as a whole. i want to make something to reflect on or that you passively take with you but that doesn’t shove the player down one path of thought too specifically. i think we sort of accomplished this with anodyne, players had some feeling about things being ‘different’ about an area. and that’s good, at least for me. cause people to introspect a bit.
and that’s why i think the aesthetics are so important. they’re not just to make a pretty area, they are needed to go along with the ideas we have in mind for the game world and that specific area, and i think if we put enough though into that,t hen people can subconsciously (or consciously) make these connections and interpretations for themselves, especially if they kind of relate to the mechanics they are going through with jumping around and the energy balancing. i think there will be enough info that the interpretations will lie within some rough themed space of interpretations. at least that is my intention, i don’t want it to be far too vague…basically whatever walk of life you are in, something specific or personal to you i want to have created and taken away from playing the game.
because if you don’t give a shit about your music or your art and you don’t think about it with every pixel you draw or note you make…then you run the chance of just confusing someone or having a bunch of meaningless noise. yes a game is about the interaction but there are things you can also do in conjunction with that when you are careful with the music and art design.
there is a ‘universe theme’ or themes the universe of the game is based in. often steeped in the base mechanics and interactions (jumping, energy bar)….and sort of thought about intensely at first then forgotten – makes its way in sort of passively to everything else…Then the sort of game-world themes which is how the big macro parts of the game fit together as you progress through it, and the symbols/entities we put in each and how you play through it on that high level. then the level themes which are the most granular, ideas put into levels that sort of have this connection between sets of levels. well that was vague…hmm.
obviously we will fail at accomplishing this, but i think we can do a pretty good job if we try hard enough.
well yes okay.
development has been as usual – a combination of
– figuring out what later areas should be in specific (we have an outline of each place, or at least I do – but as you implement some areas on the level design level you somehow get some better vision of what a later level should be – this is also in part to finding coincidentally useful inspiration from outside of my room-office).
– actually making levels (level design)
– programming new entities (traps, ‘enemies’ ,etc), implementing features, fixing bugs, tweaking previous entities
– writing a variety of music for the game
and it will likely be like this for quite a while since there’s still a fair number of areas to finish. and that’s only for The Ocean part of EtO, but they are basically two games so we’ll finish the ocean first, then move on to Even (then release, I guess! so far away…)
i’ll post music later …maybe, or screenshots, but http://seancom.nfshost.com/songaday.html has some stuff though most of it is like WIPs or scrapepd things
happy halloween (well, belated…), if you celebrate it. i ended up streaming anodyne while using the bitmap cache scrambling thing.
room insulation is an annoying thing. i was hoping to save a little on heating by insulating the windows with film, but I did that and I’m not sure if it helped, but then I had to put stuff on the bottom of my door because there was a draft there. maybe insulating the other apartment doors and windows will help?
Hm, so what’s been happening recently
Well, there are some new things I am working on. As always that’s up at https://soundcloud.com/seagaia/
A new-ish one is https://soundcloud.com/seagaia/northworld-even-the-ocean-ost . I’m working on one of the overworld musics for even the ocean. I think it too me so long to arrive at this because you really need to understand your game and its structure before you can even start to work on something as unifying and thematically important as a world map theme! So it’s good that I think I am making headway on it.
Even the ocean is fine otherwise. It’s just grinding out some work on something each day, and eventually the game will be done. Though I feel like I should be able to do more !
I also had the idea to install Anodyne in some art galleries around Chicago. I want to make an installation that gives the public an eye into the creative process around a game, rather than viewing it as an entertainment commodity. I’ve been discussing with a few friends the best way to do this an dI have what seems like a decent idea (and it is cheap to do). Now to find someone that will let me display it!
It’s getting colder!
oops, look, i have forgotten to write anything recently..
still working on even the ocean most of the time, and then a small SECRET side project, hm, i can’t say much about it, but it is releasing in japan first in a very uh, different way, which should be interesting. that release won’t be for a few months though.
another side project is on the backburner, but that’s okay, since i’ve hardly done anything for it (it’s a small adventure game i want to make).
so, maybe the most recent bit of news is that anodyne android finally released! well, it released through the HUMBLE BUNDLE. This is great exposure wise for anodyne and also financially for jon and I! I had to make a few fixes though and push another build (barf). thus ends the anodyne saga forever, which makes me happy because i’m fucking sick of working on it (I was sick of working on it since like i started fixing the mobile version and bugs). it’ll be out on google play when the bundle sale’s over, anyways.
more to the anodyne postmortem is coming (never) whenever i decide to (never) write it(.)…
ANODYNES DONE FOREVER!!!
even the ocean
development’s fine. it has just been programming features and then staring blankfaced at the level editor (when you stare into the empty level, the empty level…)
didn’t decide to enter the igf, there was really no point because we’d have to spend all this time doing ‘glue’ stuff making the game playable in a coherent way (right now it is just transferring the coherent world design in our heads into levels. so we are building levels now, for the most part, which is time consuming! i stare at an editor quite often, – the level editor or code editor)
we decided to spend most of our time working on THE OCEAN and once we finish that, do EVEN. so that will be a long time i guess, but i’ll keep myself entertained with development on even the ocean , side projects, and musical projects. i have this thing of needing to release stuff every now and then so the long development cycle of ETO might drive me insane otherwise (but when it’s done it’s gonna be so so good!).
with THE OCEAN, we’re in a “early/mid july” anodyne state…i.e., we are building out dungeons and levels and tilesets and sprites and music and have all of the main dungeons/levels planned, with some interstitial stuff that will be thought of as we go. so realistically…there is like 5-6 mos of work left on The Ocean. I will try to work harder though to get it done faster…
this post gets more miscellany/boring/personal after this point, so you could probably skip it.
in a secluded northern place
I wrote this for the indiestatik kickstarter and also even the ocean. it’s in an even-the-ocean melodic style (even the ocean music is tending to fall into a melodic or ambient style, both being sort of supported by use of sound effects as instruments at times).
i’ve been using the free Carbon2 NI synth for some of my sound effect instruments and leads/pads/etc. It’s nice, i guess, but I like to balance it out with snes/genesis instruments to not give the music too much of a ‘modern’ feel, because i feel that would overly clash with the art style.
luckily, my production is quite bad so i would probably have trouble giving a modern feel to the music, whatever that means
Little Neurotic Space Station Vignette #1
This is a non-game music project I’ve been working on. you can listen to the first song here (i need to fix it, it clips in this.) The title is mostly meaningless but seems to describe what it ended up sounding like. I’m trying to work on a series of sort of upbeat, melody-driven/traditional structured electronic stuff that kind of focuses on describing an abstract scene or short series of events. i’d like to add lyrics in some way but i don’t know how to do that / setting up recording is a huge pain / mixing is hard / i should practice more at writing something that is electronically interesting without the difficulty of lyrics anyways
So, yeah. I’d like to nail down a personal style for my non-game music, but it may take some time. Ideally a style I would be able to do a live show with. It may be cool to sing or whatever, but I don’t know what to sing about…I don’t really have any emotional crisis or thing worth singing about – my outlet for that is often talking with friends – what would i sing about? hm. maybe i’ll just not sing. I think I have an okay style for my game stuff – it will get better as i get better production skills, I think – i would like to experiment more with incorporating sound effects into the music)
i’ve also been listening to a lot of perfume’s LEVEL3 and capsule’s CAPS LOCK. the first is nice dance/techno/jpop fare from yasutaka nakata, the latter is also by him but more of an avant-garde/electronic self expression album, which is more interesting i think.
outside of that,
…it is starting to get colder. chicago weather can be like that, fall ends so quickly and then you get this sort of mediocre muggy wet/freezing period that goes on until half-ending in april/may and then summer. i am also trying to get contact lenses. i got some last fall as a test (they charged me like $200-$300 without telling me to ‘get them fitted’, what a load of shit), and i can’t get them in. my eye hurts after trying, but whatever, i will figure it out eventually/
Well, for one, Anodyne will be out on Android next week.
I was thinking about creative control and games.
There’s an initial perception you have when creating areas in a game. My goal is to get the realized area as close to your mental image as possible.
Of course, it’s impossible to replicate this unless you are skilled in all mediums that the area requires – in my case, I can’t quite cut it for art .
So every sort of compromise you make is going to distance you in some way from the initial idea. Something is “lost” when you are communicating what you want to the composer, or artist, etc. But it’s sort of necessary…but should be minimized.
Is it possible to realize the idea in a pure-form with no compromise? I’m not sure. And there are likely things that benefit from compromises (discussing design decisions, letting someone else do something else…)
The reason I like a small team is because we have the most control. And I think this is why it’s important to know the person you’re working with if it’s sort of a game where you are coming up with environments and a story and stuff. Because when you have an idea for an area, and how it fits into the game world, you want to get the best real approximation of that idea, and the best way is if the person you are working with you can trust – since they kind of get used to what you’re going for with the limited expression that words afford us.
I think this is why larger-than-necessary teams often suffer (though of course large teams can still work out well if there is great management and a strong creative lead). There’s a lot of cross-communication and stuff gets forgotten, and there’s sure as hell no way the creative lead is going to remember every detail they had in their head or whatever.
And it’s also why I think knowing the artist and musician is important, and letting them know about your world design or whatever, otherwise the music comes off as out of place or not very “personal”.
Communication is key, I guess.
This entry was rambling.
Today is October! The IGF deadline is in a few weeks. I don’t know if we will submit Even the Ocean. I have thought about it a bit, I do not know if we will submit . It seems premature. And I don’t really know how we would phrase such a demo…an advantage with Anodyne was the immediately strange nature of the areas. We don’t have that with Even the Ocean, the world is more “realistic” (though still fantastical). The interesting nature of the world, I think, doesn’t come together until you’ve seen it all, though on an aesthetic and gameplay level each area should be pleasing. However, there’s the “Even” part of the game which could be an interesting contrast if we got that into the demo, but that needs a lot of work. Er, basically I don’t think we’ll bother.
Jon and I think it’s best if we finish The Ocean first, then move onto Even. This might be a while, but, it’s important that both games come out at the same time as the same binary.
Anyways, I’ve decided to do the Anodyne postmortem in a series of parts. Because one post would be horrible and too big and I would never finish it (just like a game! hahaha! rpgs! )
I want to ctrl-T out of this post so bad but..
Part -1,-2,…: Discussion of the main development phases (March 2012 – January 2013). Thoughts on process of design, music, gameplay, art direction, communication, evolution of the game.
Part 0: Release (this post) – bug testing, the days before, of, and after release.
Part 1,2,…: Post-release (iOS, Pirate bay, getting greenlit, Steam, Japanese version, Android)
Part F: Financial . This won’t happen for a few months (sorry) because we uh, have something that will be changing the financial data quite a bit, soon.
ANODYNE POSTMORTEM: PART 0.1:
Bug Testing, the days surrounding release, initial reception.
I guess a lot of this is journal-y in nature and perhaps not the most interesting game-development wise.
In January I decided to do bug-testing on a larger scale. I got some friends to help out. My friend Etan had been testing throughout development and caught a lot of stuff, so that was very useful! There were a lot of friends from Twitter willing to help. Luckily, reception to the game was positive. The first person to completely finish the game, AFAIK, was poe of Six Sided Sanctuary. so that was interesting! Bug fixing was, as you might guess, unpleasant – there were some nasty bugs with the dust and moving between screens (ugh!) but,….they got fixed. There’s still a bunch of tiny issues in the game, but I’M NEVER GOING TO FIX THEM! Because…I’m afraid I might just break something.
Apparently around the end of January I decided we would release on Feb 4th, a Monday. …I was sending out Fastspring codes the day before. I remember botching something up with release (make sure your damn release codes work! just get a humble widget, they’re easy to get now – and use that. don’t fuss with bmtmicro or fastspring)
We were to launch on GamersGate, Desura, and FastSpring..
THE DAY OF RELEASE
This was 2013-2-4. I wonder what Jon’s side of things were. Anyways, it had snowed recently and it was warm enough where everything was totally melty. The day before I remember my close friend telling me she was in the hospital. I think she may be my closest friend from college, so this was uh, a bit of shocking news for me the day before release. Anyways, I woke up early on the 4th, released the game, tweeted, blah….walked in the shitty weather in my crappy boots through puddles and visited my friend. I sat in the hospital Au Bon Pain afterward and ate a cookie while refreshing my Twitter feed. I don’t remember anything else about the day except that, oh, I think there was something Anodyne related on the front page of /r/gaming for a while…and I think we sold like 200 copies the first day.
Which uh, isn’t enough to live on obviously, but was an okay start. An e-mail I sent that day, I seemed pretty excited.
I guess things went better than expected at that point, but, of course, in the coming weeks, even better things would be happening! (We were still struggling on Greenlight…)