Devlog January 2019


Hello everyone, here’s news from the front.

Last month I told you about a bad news and two good ones, it’s time to explain everything.

Current State

I have been working on the goblin game for 4 years. This project I imagined quick to do is actually much longer than expected. I have regularly made assessments, reviewed my schedules. I asked myself the question of simplifying the concept or making another game, but I always chose to continue because the game is really the kind of games I wanted to do. For me, there is no point in being independent if it is not to do the project “of my dreams”, while remaining achievable. It is therefore consciously that I decided each time to continue, knowing that it would be difficult.

I might be tempted to be pessimistic in thinking that the game is “still not finished”, but I think that for a game made by one person, it is incredibly advanced and promising. The gameplay is much richer than originally imagined, and much closer to my original inspirations (Deus Ex, Thief). Most of the elements are functional, the story is really cool, the dialogues are fun, the experience is always improving. There have also been success like Steam Greenlight, and regular feedback shows that people are still interested.

In November, I planned the remaining work. I announced a long time ago that I already did 75%, but I was wrong. Some systems have shown their limitations and needed to be redone, and accumulated fatigue has reduced my work rate. I reworked the IA using Behavior Trees.

The level design of the dungeon was also much more complex than I imagined, especially with its unique metroid-vania structure. I do not want to spoil by showing the dungeon, so here is an image of one of the many dungeon areas:

I feel that I still have at least 1 year of work.

Continuing like this, the risk that the discouragement will eventually prevail before the end of the project is too important, not to mention the financial aspect. Let’s not forget that a lot of the people who go into independent video games give up before the end of their first project. I do not want it to happen, because I really want to finish this game, but also create all the other games I’ve already imagined!

Divide and conquer

There is too much work left to do, and too much to do at once.

I first tried to divide the remaining work in different ways. Either by focusing on the elements chronologically, or on gameplay elements, or on all the playable game to improve it gradually. The problem is that my game is an “immersive sim”. All the mechanics must work at a satisfactory level to really bring the desired experience to life.

I thought about releasing the game “by chapter”, especially by cutting the different days into episodes. The problem is that episode 1 represents 90% of the work, which is still too much to do at once. In addition, the organic and non-linear aspect of my game is not very compatible with this method.

I thought about what could be removed from the game to make it a “minimal” game. Again, the interest of the gameplay comes from the subtle mix of all components of the game. It is impossible to delete some elements without completely degrading the experience. I do not want to spoil the concept of the game.

Take a step back to take a big jump forward

The goblin is a role-playing game that mixes several gameplay elements: trapped dungeon exploration, stealth, cleaning dungeon, adventure (stories, quests, dialogues, etc.). When I started working on the game, I had a dozen other projects in mind, including a dungeon exploration game.

One approach to finishing the goblin might be to focus on subsets of what the goblin represents. For example, doing a trap dungeon game would complete all aspects of dungeons, traps, character controls, and so on.

I have always been reluctant to get into this project because I was afraid to turn away from my initial motivations. In 2016 I spent a week testing this concept, but I did not like it, especially since I had not quite grasped the experience that was trying to create through all my games. Since then, all the work on the goblin has paid off and I have a much better vision of what I want to do.

After this last assessment, and because of the great uncertainty of being able to finish the goblin before the end of 2019, I thought it was time to try again, this time with much more mature ideas, much richer gameplays. In December, I gave myself 2 weeks to make a prototype that focuses on the exploration of trapped dungeons, to see if it was feasible, and especially if it was interesting.

In just two weeks, I created more than 1 hour of playable game, 8 levels, and the playtests were very positive. According to some testers, the game was even better than the goblin one. So I validated the concept and since then I am working on this other game.

There are many advantages. The game is simpler, I am more efficient, I can polish the gameplay, the level design, and the amount of work is acceptable. I’m sure I’ll have a nice and finished game in a few months. This new project has also boosted my morale and creativity, and finishing it will also be a big relief, which will allow me to work on the goblin more serenely. I also improve every day my level design skills, which will be useful to improve the goblin’s dungeon. Finally, the elements of this game being a subset of the goblin, working on this game also allows me to work on the goblin! We can say that working on that project is also working on the goblin project!

The bad news is that the goblin will not be released in 2019. The two good news is that I’m working on an equally interesting game that will be released in the year, and that finish it increases significantly the chances to release the goblin and to improve it!

Doors, Traps, Treasures

The game does not have an official name yet. The player explores increasingly complex trapped dungeons to retrieve treasures. The traps are hidden, you have to be careful. The main feature is the emphasis on interactions and physics, which allows the player to imagine his own solutions to overcome the traps. You will also find the universe and humor imagined for the goblin game.

Roadmap

After doing several levels of prototypes I am now improving them and creating new ones. I will do very regular playtests, and I will create a presentation page in the coming months. I will keep you informed of the progress.

Feel free to give me your opinion on all that.

See you soon,

Arnaud


Devlog December 2018


Hello everyone.

I wish you happy holidays :)

I did not post here for a long time, again, and I have many many things to tell you. The year 2018 has been very eventful, and I am writing a very long devlog to detail everything.

Here are some glimpses of what is coming:

Still alive

Yes, I am still working on the game, and “it has never been so close to release”. However, that release date has been postponed, again. The project is incredibly advanced, especially for a one man team, but I finally admitted that it’s not a 2 years project for which I am 2 years late, but a N years project with N > 4.

Goblin v0.3 v0.4

Goblin v0.3 and v0.4 are done. Most features are complete and perfectly working, some are more difficult to complete. I am still facing many difficulties, including reworking on the AI and the level design. The difficulties comes from the fact that it is one big complex metroid-like dungeon in which I mix several gameplays, and getting everything to work at the same time is a real headache.

How to actually release the game

I spent a lot of time thinking about the best way to effectively release the game one day, before I run out of money and energy. Over the year, I tried several approaches. I will detail in the upcoming devlog what I decided to do. There will be one bad news and two good ones :)

Assets update 1.7 coming

Finally, I also worked on the Ultimate Screenshot Creator and the Multi Device Preview & Gallery assets. Version 1.7 will have several new awesome features, like “screenshot composition” or “device and notches preview”. The update will be out in the first weeks of January.

See you soon,

Arnaud


Devlog January-March 2018


Hello everyone, here’s news from the front.

It has already been three months since the last news, time goes too fast. I was very focused on the game and I did not have much time to feed the various social networks, etc. I will continue like this until the end of version 0.4 and start posting more again. These three months have been very productive, here is a glimpse of what I did.

v0.2 Level Design

I finished version 0.2 of the game, in which the effort was focused on level design. I reworked all areas of the dungeons, their shapes, sizes and connectivities, I made a first playable version of all zones. Some levels still require a lot of work but most are already very satisfying. I would love to show you pictures of all this but I do not want to spoil everything, so I will not.

Thanks to that, I finally apprehend much better the game on its entirety. I have a better idea of ​​the amount of work remaining and where the effort is needed. I will also be able to choose to keep or not some areas depending on the remaining development time.

I bought an asset to make decals (projecting texture on the floor, walls, or objects) but eventually it did not suit my needs, and I had to implement my own solution. In particular, I added the possibility to display decals on physical objects, such as traps. With this new system, cleaning the traps is now much more fun. For example, a blood stain on a stunner is well animated.

v0.3 Janitor & Adventure

I almost finished version 0.3 of the game, in which I focus on the janitor experience. I reworked the associated missions, quests, dialogues, gameplay, etc. I am quite happy with the dialogues and opportunities for quests and missions proposed for now, and writing dialogues and descriptions with always a hint of sarcasm is something that I really appreciate.

I also reworked some levels, like the introduction, the integrated tutorial part, the entrance of the dungeon, and the Adventurers’ Maze. For example, here is a small piece of cave:

I also reworked some traps, and I created a few. For example, here are the new stakes floor and a wall of blades:

An important part of the fun of cleaning the dungeon comes from staging the sad accidents of the adventurers. It was essential to put in place ragdolls (dolls almost unarticulated) to be able to “play” with the bodies and limbs. Adventurers can have a large number of clothing variations, so I’ve set up a system to automatically create ragdoll variations based on the deceased adventurer. Here is a small example of what it can give:

What is good with this version is that the many different elements of the game are working well with each other, and that for now it’s going as expected. The concept of the game is quite complex, I’ve done a nice diagram on paper this week that describes the interactions, which will help me make it work, but I’m sure that if it is well done it will be a game very original and very interesting to play (and replay!).

Roadmap

There is still a lot to do, but everything is going well. My priority in version 0.4 will be to finalize the stealth gameplay, including reworking the first associated areas, and the artificial intelligence. When it’s done, the whole gameplay and story base will be implemented. Then, I will “only” have to rework the other levels and add dialogues, 3D models, and so on. I will start to seriously look at the music and sound effects in version 0.4 to start setting them up in the 0.5.

See you soon,

Arnaud


Devlog December 2017


Hello everyone, here’s news from the front.

First of all, happy new year to all! I wish you good health, and success for your projects. As for me, I hope that this year will be productive, with the release of The Goblin’s Week :)

It’s been a year since the publication and acceptance of my game concept on Steam Greenlight, and the first video trailer. I announced that the game would be released in 2017, and that was not the case. The game should be released in 2018. It’s time to take a look at what has been done this year, and to present what remains to be done.

Review of the year 2017

This year, I was tired of adding more and more content, accumulating bugs, temporary 3D models, unfinished features, and so on. So, I focused on the first part of the dungeon, so that the content of that part is clean and polished.

So I redesigned and modeled the 3D characters, they are now all ready. I reviewed the 3D models used for this part, I reviewed the meshes, optimized the physical colliders, and improved the scripts. I got down to the hard task of optimizing performance, including setting up a progressive dungeon loading system. I did a thorough overhaul of a lot of the code to clean, optimize and solidify its basis. I notably reviewed the dialogue system, localization system, save system, inventory system, game management system, footsteps and collisions system, and weapons equipment system.

The first level is almost complete. All game features are implemented, although I still have to improve some stuff.

For the other levels, some are already in an advanced state, others just in prototyping phase.

Having realized that the game development would take longer than expected, I tried to find an alternative funding source by selling assets for Unity. To date I have published three assets, sales are starting to take off a little but I have finally not gained more development time, compared to the time spent producing them. I would like to publish other assets, including the dialogue system, but given the required work I prefer to focus on the game.

To conclude, even if the remaining content of the game is still substantial, the state of the game itself has progressed enormously. I now have a solid basis, and everything is ready to create the rest as efficiently as possible.

Roadmap for the year 2018

This year, once the last elements of my version 0.1 are done, I will finally be able to work on the level design and game design, so that the gaming experience is the best possible and the closest to my goals.

I have already started to review all levels of the dungeon either on paper or in the editor, to rework the overall game experience. I want to have a first version of all areas to get the game as a whole. I will also have a better estimate of the remaining work, and I will be able to focus my efforts, and remove areas if necessary. I will then rework the levels gradually and iteratively, and I will create the necessary content and scripts as I go along. I will of course continue the playtests, although at the beginning I will continue to favor the observation tests, at home.

There are still some tasks for which I have trouble anticipating the difficulty, for instance the music composition, replacing all temporary sounds, and translating the game in several languages.

I talked about publishing a playable demo, it will not be for now. I’ll let you know if such a demo is finally released.

I hope you are as eager as me to see the game out. As always, do not hesitate to give me some feedback,

See you soon,

Arnaud


Devlog October-November 2017


Hello everyone, here are the news from the front.

Inventory System

That’s it, the revision of the inventory system is complete!

First, I added a quick inventory bar, to view and equip objects faster, which works much like Minecraft’s. I also improved the display and now it’s good. Here is an image of the inventory:

And here is an image of the quick bar, which appears when you pickup an object or activate a shortcut:

I also improved the controls and interactions to solve issues encountered during tests, such as picking up an object when you already have an object in hand, and so on.

For this, I decided to separate all interactions into two groups: interact with the object in hand (left click), and interact with the world (right click), taking inspiration from Deus Ex. I was reluctant because it involves drag & drop with the right click to open the doors and drawers, but finally it works really well.

We will see what the players think in the next playtests, but I think that the majority of issues are solved on this side.

Characters

I FINALLY finished modeling all the characters. I also took the time to take back the old ones and to improve them, in order to have a uniform style. The skinning is clean and even if I have to improve the colors a little, I am satisfied with the result.

Here are some pictures to illustrate all this:

The Master

An Apprentice

The Cook

The Executioner

An Adventurer, with an ugly anti-spoiler blur :p. There are several variations of the Adventurer that I will post from time to time.

Group photo.

There are two other characters that I consider spoil, so I prefer not to show them :p

If I have the time, I will add a little facial animation, and physical animation, to give them a little more life, especially in the dialogue phases. I still need to rework the AI, and that’s it.

I’ll probably do a little post with before and after comparison to show the improvements between the versions of the characters.

New Asset: Smart Shadows

I’m happy to announce that my new asset SmartShadows is available on the Smart Shadows asset store: Smart Shadows

“It’s a dynamic shadow manager with a priority algorithm, to improve the performance of your game and get the best dynamic shadows!”

I said I stopped making assets because it took too much time, but I wanted to try again, to see. And it also allows me to vary my activities a bit.

Assets Logos & Pictures Updated

In order to make my previous assets a little more attractive, I decided to review their logos, as well as the images used as examples on the asset store.

I am very interested in your feedback and criticism. Do not hesitate to give me your opinion on the presentation videos, if I ever decide to spend some time to remake them.

For example, here is the new logo for Ultimate Screenshot Creator:

And here Multi Device Preview & Gallery:

All other pictures can be found on the asset store:
Ultimate Screenshot Creator
Multi Device Preview Gallery

Assets on Sale: 30% OFF

By the way, I take the opportunity to inform you that all my assets are discounted at -30% until December 8th. To take advantage, go to the asset store:
Ultimate Screenshot Creator
Multi Device Preview Gallery
Smart Shadows

Roadmap

I still have to make some code changes, which I have a lot of trouble finishing. I finally started to iterate on the first part of the game to improve the gaming experience (and everything else), and I will soon start doing more level design to exploit the possibilities of gameplay.

That’s all for this devlog,

See you soon,

Arnaud


Devlog August – September 2017


Hello everyone, here are the news from the front.

It’s september, yeah! After two months with a reduced rhythm because of holidays, heat wave, and other things, I am finally fresh and motivated to attack the rest of the dev. I’ve revisited my schedule a bit, there’s still a lot of things to do, I’ll really need this energy. I hope you have also enjoyed the summer :)

Programming

I have made good progress in programming the latest features, but I have not finished yet.

I have implemented a very robust localization system which I like a lot. It is so clean that it would make a very nice asset for the Asset Store, if I took the time to do it. We’ll see.

I had a lot of things to do with the game manager, especially to have a clean management of the game states, the loading screen, and so on. I can now launch the game and have beautiful transitions from the logo to the game, with fade of music and screens, etc. It looks a lot better.

I started making the necessary changes to the inventory system to solve the major issues encountered during playtests. I have to be careful not to refactor too deeply some of the things I did at the beginning that I do not like at all, but still do something clean. In theory it should not be too long. In theory.

Procedural Things

I always play a little with procedural modeling, especially with what I did during my Ph.D. thesis. Here is an image of an quick ecosystem generation test:

Graphic Novel

I really like my dialogue system, because with just a few additions I was able to do a graphic-novel-like introduction sequence. Here is what it looks like:

So I took the opportunity to write the game intro as a multiple choice story. Not only did I have a lot of fun writing it (I should restart to write novels, like I did when I started the game), but the result is really cool. So cool, I was told I should make a game just like that. It’s not a bad idea, I thought about it for some stories I wrote and that I know are too hard to do as an adventure game, but that would be great with this format.

3D Characters

This week, I took my courage with both hands to start the 3D modeling of the remaining characters. Modeling characters is the hardest for me, especially because I do not know how to draw. I make quick sketches to think about the concept, and I’m looking for a lot of sources, but I do almost everything directly in 3D. Here is an image of the Adventurer (work in progress):

I still have to improve it, I do not like its proportions. I would like it to be threatening while being a bit ridiculous, and in armor while having an “adventurer” aspect. I will continue to iterate on. Do not hesitate to tell me what you think of it :)

Roadmap

After the adventurer and a review of the other 3D characters, I will make the last character, which I will keep secret not to spoil. Then, as I said last time, I’ll iterate to improve the game experience (and everything else) on this first part of the adventure, until I am satisfied.

See you soon,

Arnaud


Devlog April-July 2017


Hello everyone, here is the news from the front.

First of all, sorry to have again taken so much time since the last newsletter. When I’m focused on a task, I still have a little difficulty in forcing myself to do some “community management”. Overall, everything is going well, the development of the game is progressing well, besides I begin to see the end of the development, even if it is still far away and that there are still many dangers to come.

First pennies

That’s it, I finally won my first pennies, thanks to the sale of Unity assets, and that’s good :)

I probably have misjudged the market because it will not be enough to finance the rest of the development of the game. So I went back on my previous decision to make assets, and I now focus on the game. I will have to find an alternative solution to finance it, maybe with a Kickstarter near October.

Ultimate Screenshot 1.2

Even though I focus on the game, I spend a little bit of my time finalizing the latest version of Ultimate Screenshot Creator 1.2, that I started a few months ago. With this version it will be possible to take in-game screenshots on any platform. This version will even allow the automatic addition of images in the Android and iOS galleries. This version should be completed soon, in the meantime you will find more info about my assets on www.wildmagegames.com/unity.

First part almost completed

In order to set a shorter-term goal, I decided to split my game into four parts and to focus on finalizing them one by one. So I’m working on the first one, and it’s almost completed.

It means that I have revised the level design, reworked all the 3D models and created all the missing ones, reworked the atmosphere and the light, the programming, the gameplay, and all that is necessary for this part to be as polished as possible. Here is an example of one of the caves of the game:

Even if there are four parts, finishing this one means having finished a lot more than a quarter of the game, but rather 75%, since it implies finishing a lot of elements that are also found in the other parts. It will also allow me to have a “final” version on which I will be able to iterate and add content little by little, and thus better control the durations and budget.

Almost feature complete

I will soon have finished to code all the game elements.

To improve performance, I have implemented a continuous level loader, so that only objects close to the player are activated. It greatly improves performance.

I have implemented two procedural systems: creating rivers from curves, and creating random distributions from polygons, to place objects in the scene. I will detail these elements in future logs, but here is an example of mushrooms generated with my method, which takes into account the obstacles during the generation:

I worked again on the dialogue system, and it is now much more robust and powerful. In particular, I needed to create dialogue lines that could only be said once, and hubs. Here are two test dialogues that illustrate these new possibilities:

 

I am currently completing the localization system to allow the translation of the different game elements.

I will finally have to work on the inventory to correct game-design issues that have appeared during playtests, especially on the shortcuts management.

Website style and content update

I made an update of the website style and content. I wanted to give it a more professional look. I invite you to tell me what you think of it!

Roadmap

Once I have finished programming the last elements, I will finish the few 3D models missing for this part, the 3D model of an adventurer, and finally the game logic (dialogues, interactions, sequences).

I will then iterate on this part until the game experience is representative of my original idea, and until the game is good. I will also need playtesters in a few weeks, I will send an e-mail about it when it’s time, but do not hesitate to let me know right now if you are interested.

That’s all for this big devlog. You may also have noticed the new layout, do not hesitate to tell me what you think.

See you soon,

Arnaud


Devlog February-March 2017


Hello everyone, here is the news from the front.

Greenlit

For those who do not know yet, the game has been Greenlit! That means that when my game is ready I will be able to sell it on Steam, the biggest PC platform. This is very good news because it was an indispensable step.

Overall the feedback was positive, and I was lucky to have three articles written about my game:
https://www.gamingonlinux.com/articles/clean-up-after-a-dungeon-master-and-discover-secrets-in-almost-epic-adventures-the-goblins-week.8881
http://www.siliconera.com/2017/01/10/adventure-game-explores-life-dungeons-goblin-janitor/
https://www.gamestar.hu/hir/almost-epic-adventures-the-goblin-s-week-222902.html

The game was Greenlit in 19 days with over 870 votes yes on 1400 votes (60% yes).
It’s good but not crazy. Indeed, my game was Greenlit in January at the same time as a hundred other games, of more or less good qualities, and my stats are far from those displayed in the current top 100. Plus, I have gained almost no subscribers on the site and social networks. In these conditions, it is difficult to judge the real interest in my game.

I’ll make a more detailed post on all that later.

Anyway, thanks to everyone who shared the info and who helped me to be Greenlit :)

Unity Assets

That’s it! After several weeks of work and more than 20 days waiting for validation,
my first two assets are available on the Unity Asset Store:

  • Ultimate Screenshot Creator is the most complete and customizable screenshot creator available on the Asset Store. It’s the perfect tool to create promotional content, wallpapers, screenshots for mobile gaming stores, and more. https://www.assetstore.unity3d.com/#!/content/82008
  • With MultiResolution Preview Gallery, you can easily preview your game in several resolutions, aspects and physical sizes (ppi) at a glance. No more bad surprises, no more tedious checks. This asset will save you a lot of time, that you can use on your game!
    https://www.assetstore.unity3d.com/#!/content/82015

More information can be found at www.wildmagegames.com/unity

Roadmap

In the next few weeks, I intend to continue to create assets to have enough income to finance the further development of the game.

See you soon,

Arnaud


Devlog – January 2017


Hello everyone, here is  the news from the front.

Happy New Year!

First of all, I wish you a happy new year! I wish this year will be full of dungeons to explore and mysteries to solve.

New Video Trailer

For those who missed it, on December 25th I released a new video trailer!
You can see it on facebook or youtube.  I invite you to tell me what you think of it, and do not hesitate to like and share it.

Advent Images

All images were published on time. Phew. You can find them all on the blog.

Looking for Subscribers

My top priority is now to increase the number of subscribers. Indeed, it is very important for me to expand the name of people who have knowledge of my game, and above all to receive maximum feedbacks on the game concept, in order to understand what pleases and what doesn’t.
Once again, I invite you to give me your opinion on the game page that I have updated, and to share and like everything you want.

Roadmap

I will spend the next month doing some marketing while continuing to work on the game. I will also start working on Unity assets, to test a new funding method.

See you soon,

Arnaud


Devlog November-December 2016


Hello everyone, here is the news from the front.

Review

In the last two months, I finally finished the last demo to test the game experience.
Thanks to Cédric, Gaëtan and Pierre-Luc for coming to test the game. After deep analysis, I think the game is full of potential, but still requires a lot of work to make it really successful. The level design needs to be reworked, the artistic style improved, the reactions of the NPCs corrected, and there are still problems with the inventory. But the current content is a good base on which to iterate.

Art style v0.2

After long performance tests, I realized that my 3D models needed to be reworked to improve rendering and physics performance. I take this opportunity to redo an artistic pass, improving the current objects, and creating new ones. I am also working on the atmosphere, especially in terms of lighting.

Advent Screenshots

Since my current job is to revisit the artistic style to make beautiful images, I will publish on the site one image per day until 25th december. You will find every day a new image on the devblog.

Since this is still a work in progress, I strongly invite you to let me know your impressions. To avoid spamming you I will send only a second mail on the 25th when you will be able to see all the published images.

Roadmap

I am therefore reworking the art style, in order to redo the presentation page of the game. Also, I am preparing a video trailer which I will use as a promotion base. The idea is to be able to launch a Kickstarter early next year to finance further development.

See you soon,

Arnaud


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