But wait, if you buy in the next ∞ minutes you’ll get Pyroclasm completely free! No ads, no in-app purchases.
So, why’d we release Pyro for free? Well, to be honest, Pyroclasm ended up being a bunch of features thrown together. We’re all new to this and it was very fun think up and implement a bunch of crazy events and mechanics. We’ve learned the hard way that that doesn’t really make a game. There are lots of subtle things involved in games of the quality we’d be willing to charge for, and after evaluating what we have with Pyro we decided not to spend any more time with it.
The primary case in point here is that Pyro isn’t a story-driven game. It wasn’t born from any deeply thought out lore or universe and that aspect is very important to us as a studio.
But, rather than this fun little project languishing on some dude’s hard drive we thought it’d be best just to put it out there for free. A big special thanks to all our beta testers who provided valuable feedback.
We’re taking out lessons learned and moving on to our next super secret project! So stay tuned.
There are some really interesting individuals in the game development industry, and it benefits anyone interested to take a closer look at them and what they’re doing. These are the people who, in my opinion, are setting the pace and direction for the industry’s future and I figured it’d be beneficial to write up quick summaries of where and how to follow them.
Steve Gaynor – I was first introduced to Steve’s work via this Giant Bomb video (have I ever mentioned I love Giant Bomb?) and found what he’s doing to be very interesting. I highly recommend watching the video in full for some deep insights into trends in game development.
Steve was the writer and one of the level designers on the much hailed BioShock 2 DLC: Minerva’s Den. I personally haven’t played this DLC, but people who’s opinion I respect have nothing but good things to say about it. More recently he and a small group of other Minerva’s Den devs have started their own indie game studio: The Fullbright Company. They’ve announced their first game and it looks intriguing: A “non-fantastical” first person game with no combat and a focus on exploration and puzzle solving. Gone Home it’s called. Count me in!
I’ll definitely be keeping my eye on where The Fullbright Company and Gone Home goes. Here are some links I’ve compiled:
- The Fullbright Company
- Steve Gaynor’s Blog
- A video interview with Steve on Giant Bomb
- A public list on Twitter of The Fullbright Company members
I’ve been messing with several free utilities to generate sprite sheets, but oddly enough, none of them allowed me to specify the number of columns I wanted. This might seem trivial, but we’re utilizing a free sprite animation script in Unity that doesn’t use exact coordinates for pulling sprites off a sheet and instead simply scrolls through the sheet, jumping a preset amount of pixels horizontally for each frame.
Depending on how much we end up using sprites in future games, we might buckle down & end up purchasing a full-fledged sprite utility for Unity later on, but it’s great that we’ve been able to get solid results right now without cracking open our wallets.
After all, we’re ballers on a budget.
I remember looking forward to figuring out the intricacies of a game on my own. In Ultima Online I ran into the savage wilderness and chatted on ICQ with guild mates trying to decipher where dungeon entrances were located or the best methods for crafting, and it fun discovering these things. Most current games explain everything to you, even popping up windows with paragraphs describing obvious mechanics.
Patrick Klepek of Giant Bomb interviewed game designer Tyler Glaiel about his game “Closure,” which has absolutely no text.
“Lots of people applauding closure for not assuming the player is stupid,” wrote designer Tyler Glaiel on Twitter a few days after the launch of Closure, the game he’d been working on for the past three years. “That’s a comment that shouldn’t even need to be a comment,” he said. “It’s just sad that so many other games don’t do that, but it’s become a plus for games when it should just be expected out of them.”
Respecting the player’s intelligence and retaining the feeling of awe and wonder of discovery is definitely something we want to focus on here at Foolish Aggro.
And while there are a few businesses that have withstood the test of time, most startups exit as quickly as they enter. Many firms are outpaced by the explosive worldwide growth and economic realities of the [games] industry. In this groundbreaking anthology, successful founders of entertainment software companies reflect on the challenges and how they survived.
The list of interviews looks pretty varied and encompassing, including these I’m particularly interested in:
- Trip Hawkins, founder of Electronic Arts (Madden NFL)
- Nolan Bushnell, cofounder of Atari (Pong)
- Wild Bill Stealey, cofounder of MicroProse Software (Sid Meier’s Civilization)
- Tony Goodman, cofounder of Ensemble Studios (Age of Empires)
- Feargus Urquhart, cofounder of Obsidian Entertainment (Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II)
- Warren Spector, founder of Junction Point Studios (Disney Epic Mickey)
- John Smedley, cofounder of Verant Interactive (EverQuest)
- Ken Williams, cofounder of Sierra On-Line (King’s Quest and Leisure Suit Larry)
- Christopher Weaver, founder of Bethesda Softworks (The Terminator and The Elder Scrolls)
- Jason Rubin, cofounder of Naughty Dog (Crash Bandicoot and Uncharted)
- Ted Price, founder of Insomniac Games (Spyro and Jak & Daxter)
I just picked it up, and I hope to follow up in the near future with any interesting tidbits I find. I’m sure there’ll be many!
I couldn’t add points fast enough. I rushed to download and install RedLynx’s latest installment in the Trials series, “Trials Evolution,” on April 18. I was tempted by the promise of thumb rash and achy trigger fingers and the glory of topping any of the tracks' leaderboards. Evidently I wasn’t the only one:
I am the living definition of compulsive gamer. I have to explore every dialogue option in RPGs, uncover 100% of the map in game like Castlevania (200% for SOTN) and get gold/platinum on every track in Trials. I kid you not, I played the same track (Groundhog Returns on Trials HD) 5-600 times over the course of two days to get the platinum medal. Needless to say, I was pumped to hear that Trials Evolution was coming out this summer, and so far, I couldn’t be happier. The multiplayer aspect is great fun, and the wealth of new tracks are awesome. I’ve literally played entire tracks with a smile plastered across my face as I launched over new jumps and waited to see what kind of wacky obstacles RedLynx prepared for me.
It says a ton about a game to me if someone can play the same track thousands of times and still have fun. Sure, there might be some frustration, but it’s the promise of that perfect track time that keeps you hitting the back button. I really hope we can tap some of that same potential with Pyroclasm. I really hope players find the kind of enjoyment I get from Trials with our game — trying over and over again to get just a little farther or earn just a slightly larger streak. My fingers are crossed.
Wow, this is perhaps the most impactful, inspirational paragraph I’ve read in a very very long time:
If most of the value is now in the initial creative act, there’s little benefit to traditional hierarchical organization that’s designed to deliver the same thing over and over, making only incremental changes over time. What matters is being first and bootstrapping your product into a positive feedback spiral with a constant stream of creative innovation. Hierarchical management doesn’t help with that, because it bottlenecks innovation through the people at the top of the hierarchy, and there’s no reason to expect that those people would be particularly creative about coming up with new products that are dramatically different from existing ones – quite the opposite, in fact. So Valve was designed as a company that would attract the sort of people capable of taking the initial creative step, leave them free to do creative work, and make them want to stay. Consequently, Valve has no formal management or hierarchy at all.
The entire post is required reading in my humble opinion:
Welp, we just submitted Pyroclasm to IndieCade just before showcase-eligible deadline. Wish us luck! We’re planning on heading to L.A. in October to attend the event regardless of whether Pyroclasm gets in a showcase or not, so if you’re also going and want to hang out let us know.
Coinciding with the submission, we’ve just launched a new mini-site for Pyroclasm as well as opened up the beta. Check it out and join the beta if you’d like to help us make our games better.
Everyone should read this great interview with Peter Molyneux. He explains more details on his Lionhead Studios departure and what his new studio philosophy is at 22Cans. He recently said he considers Fable 3 a “personal failure” and explained the difficulties of trying to push publishers for more development time.
I was in a creative padded cell. Microsoft was so safe. Microsoft was so nice. You’re so supported. Everything I did couldn’t hurt me, both creatively and physically. The danger was long gone. I had this huge desire to make something truly special, and I felt like I was being suffocated creatively a little bit. That was the moment I realised I had to go.
Molyneux still feels that he has yet to make his best game, even with classics like Populous and Fable II under his belt and awards littering his mantlepiece.
I don’t think I’ve made my best game. And I haven’t made one of the greatest games ever, have I? To achieve that is my absolute, absolute passion. All the steps that I’ve taken in my life have led me to this point. I want nothing more than to create something truly worthy of all these trophies I’ve got.
Molyneux’s desire to design a game that isn’t just an experience but a hobby (that isn’t Call of Duty) is possibly the most ambitious the interesting thing to me.
Even games like Portal 2. I loved it. I got to the end of it, I was done. But what if a game wasn’t like this – what if a game was like a hobby? I’m a bad example, because my hobby happens to be playing games. My point is that there’s no game that encapsulates a hobby. The closest we’ve got is World of Warcraft. The thing about hobbies, when you think about them, be it gardening or fishing or whatever, is that people do these things for years. Why can’t we have a game that feels more like that, in which you can dip into and dip out of over the course of a very long time?
I’m not sure he’ll ever be completely satisfied with his games or his legacy but that’s why I find him so motivating.
I regularly visit Muddy Colors, a great art blog compiled by a group of incredible painters and illustrators, and recently came across a post that struck a chord with me as a member of a game development studio.
The post compares two ancient Volkswagen ads as a means to explain the enormous power subtlety, minimalism and a bit of imagination can create for a visual concept. I noticed while reading the article that this obviously doesn’t just apply to visual communication, but parallels basically every method of storytelling and interaction we encounter in our lives. In the world of gaming specifically, this isn’t just huge, but is where the industry is trending right now.
Think back just a few short years ago before the popularization and saturation of mobile gaming became what it is today. Triple A titles dominated the gaming industry, shoving what massive development studios thought we wanted down down our throats. Everything had to be glammed up, shiny and high-res. Sure gameplay innovations trickled down the pipeline every now and then, but everything felt misguided.
The industry was just filled with too much noise — visual, auditory and otherwise. The essence of what makes games enjoyable was lost like a grain of sand in a pile of glitter, its microscopic and beautiful simplicity lost in a sea of meaningless shiny flecks.
Consider where we’re at now. One-button iOS and Android games are becoming the norm. Sweeping, grandiose storylines have been replaced with dialogue-less cartoons honking at each other. And ya know what? I love it. This isn’t so say that where we’re headed doesn’t provide for rich experiences. It’s the exact opposite. What makes games fun has been so distilled by both hardware and interface limitations that we’re just now re-learning how to make games that are interesting and compelling for the people who matter most — the people playing them. It’s changing the landscape of gaming and bleeding into other platforms. Gamers are opening their wallets and throwing money at concepts they find intruiging rather than paying people for an end product that’s been pre-determined for them. I can’t wait to see where this will take us.