Search Results for: shade

Trying out itch.io

itch.io is a quick-and-easy platform for distributing indie games. I figured I'd take a look at it; it's a possible way to distribute Hadean Lands in the non-iOS world.

After a few hours of CSS massaging, I now have three of my old IF games posted:

Shade and S&W have donation buttons on them. I've never tried that before; we'll see how it does.

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Zarfplan: January of a new year

First news: Shade is up for iOS! I started this port back in the fall, as a demo for the Boston Festival of Indie Games, but it dropped off my radar. This month I shoveled the snow off of it... not that we've had much snow up here... and got it out the door.

Then I got swamped by the Mystery Hunt. This was supposed to be a weekend event. It wound up running into Monday morning. The usual rules of long weekends apply: every extra day feels like the event has doubled in length... exhausting. And I wasn't even one of the people staying overnight. (Any of the nights.)

Anyhow, my team didn't win Hunt. We did respectably, though, and had a good time -- despite the gruelingness of it all. (Not everybody did, but that's another whole long argument. Tune in next year to see how it went.)

After that: Hadean Lands! And other projects. But not ones I can talk about yet. So I'll talk about HL.

Last month I alluded to design problems with duplicated objects in the game. (That is, what happens if you try to create two doses of some compound, when the game is only set up for one.) Conclusion: I punt on this. The game will flat-out refuse to let you do it. If you try, it mysteriously fails.

You might think this is the cheap way out -- but it will work, and I can fit it into the overall mystery of the game. Trust me, every game design involves taking the cheap way out of some problems. You pick your battles, and this one is not mine.

(My motto at this point is: "This game already had enough scope creep in 2011, never mind 2012. The screws are officially on.")

Yes, there was a spot where the plot required two doses of a particular compound. Not any more. Now there's compound X and compound X-prime, with different names, and you can substitute one for the other. Implemented, ritual variation tested, problem solved.

Otherwise, I have slowly been stitching the map together. It now has many doors, and some of them are locked (or otherwise impassable). Some of these doors have keys (or other door-passing items). The puzzle-blockage pattern is no by means complete, but it's filling in.

As it happens, I didn't spend today on doors; I spent it on little bits of paper. I already had a mechanism for learning rituals, and recalling what you've learned, but it wasn't hooked into actual game objects -- the pieces of paper which you pick up and read. (You may recall one such from the teaser.) Now that's all put together.

(Except for the part where you get vindictive and set the paper on fire. You never need to do this, but hey, I'm not going to stop you... Should just be a few minutes of work.)

(In fact... there. I just did it. Behold the power of this fully operational environmental rulebook system.)

Okay, enough showing off. Plans for February: continue stringing together doors, door-goals, and paths through the goal-planning system.

I will also do another iOS release of one of my old games. Where Dreamhold had a dynamic map, and Shade had a rendering of the game's "to do" list, Heliopause will have a nifty display of your starship and its magnetic sails. Here, have a parting screenshot:

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BostonFIG followup

I was at the Boston Festival of Independent Games and it was pretty darn awesome.

(Photo credit to BostonIndies.)

I had Shade and Meanwhile sitting out on iPads, and people played both of them! It wasn't literally eight straight hours of IF demoing -- there were gaps -- but it's not like people ignored the IF in favor of the interactive comic, either. Several people played a significant fraction of Shade. One dedicated player ran through the whole thing. (With some nudges from me. The ending requires a certain degree of relaxed experimentation and persistence, which isn't easy to maintain in a crowded demo room.)

(Yes, I wrote down a bunch of synonyms and action phrasings that I forgot to implement back in 2000. I will add them to the game when the iOS version comes out. User testing!)

Naturally I had a stack of IF cards to hand out to Shade players. I also got to show off the XYZZY Award I won for it, way back. And the puzzle-key I designed for the MakerBot promo game. (In the photo, the puzzle-key is sitting on top of the XYZZY. Sorry, I would have arranged that better if I'd known. Also I'd have been looking at the camera.)

Meanwhile was also popular, of course. It demos very well -- hand it to someone, and they'll get the idea instantly.

(I also had Pocket Storm running on an iPod. You can see the headphones in the photo, but nobody picked them up. Oh well. The good news is, I now know that an iPod can run PS for eight hours without recharging, even with the screen set to stay lit.)

I did not get much chance to look around the rest of the show, because I was standing and demoing for eight hours. That laptop in front of me? Didn't open it once. I thought I would be able to work on some HL code during slack time in the show. Ha ha.

But I could see some very nifty first-person 3D exploration games running across the room, and hear the shrieks of Conway's Inferno. (All my puzzle friends noted Conway's Inferno as a clear puzzle hit; I agree. When the iOS version ships, buy it.) And I got a few minutes to chat with Jason Scott before he showed his movie. I hear Peter Molyneux dropped by, but if I saw him, I didn't know it.

I did not win one of the show awards, which were voted by the crowds. (Didn't expect to.) You can see Shade got a string of yellow dots -- votes for "best narrative" -- although, to be fair, I think a couple of people were voting for Meanwhile. I don't see the winner list posted, but I know that the Best Narrative trophy went to Resonance, so congrats to Wadjet Eye.

Conclusion: this festival was a big success. It was an excellent way for crazy small-time developers like me to show off games, talk to people, and generally demonstrate our existence. Many people tried my games; more people watched the documentaries. I pushed the PR-IF link on anybody who expressed an interest in IF, so I expect we'll have a packed meeting in October. (Not yet scheduled, sorry.)

The show will happen again; it will be bigger next year. If you're a game maker in the New England area, and you're not big enough to set up a gigantic booth at PAX or GDC, you want to be at BostonFIG in 2013. I will be.

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Zarf at BostonFIG

I am happy to announce that I will be showing off Shade for iOS at the Boston Festival of Independent Games, at MIT next weekend. I will also have Meanwhile, Pocket Storm, Fealty, and the rest of my iOS portfolio ready to demo.

(BostonFIG: Saturday, September 22, 10 am to 10 pm, MIT buildings 34 and 26. Free and open to the public.)

More IF stuff at FIG: Jason Scott will be a keynote speaker, and he will be showing Get Lamp at some point. Plus there's this whole showcase of other indie games. It'll be cool.

What, you ask? Shade for iOS? It's still in development -- don't go running off to the App Store to find it. As with Dreamhold, I'm planning to leave the game file unchanged from its circa-2000 release, but I will add in-game feelies of some sort. Only not a map. A map of Shade wouldn't be very interesting.

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