By Graham Smith on June 9th, 2014 at 2:00 pm.
This is the tenth DevLog Watch column since the series began. If this was a devlog for a game, maybe around this time I’d release the first playable build to a few commenters so I could start to gather feedback. Instead all I can offer is a GIF high-five for those who’ve been reading thus far. Oh, and another batch of developer insights about unfinished games.
Horrible dictatorships! Cute democracies! Political stealth thrillers! A fourth game!
Sometimes I link games because their devlog is interesting even if I have doubts about the game. The opposite is equally true: I’ll link to interesting games, even if the devlog is only five-seconds old. So it is with Blackshirt, a “minimal, real-time strategy game about nationalistic fanaticism and war crimes.”
The game utilizes a procedural system that causes each regime to function a bit differently. The nation can fall into famine, uprising or a nation can militarily attempt to reclaim its territory. A Revolutionary piece can move undercover and attempt to create resistance against the state. An Assassin piece may be enlisted if the Dictator sits comfortably in one city for too long.
Like an abstracted Tropico, the game is about managing your own totalitarian state by shifting around your pieces – your dictator, your military, your state police – on a board like the one pictured above. You won’t likely be dealing with rival nations, but if any part of your grip slips you might have a revolution on your hands.
Hopefully developer Dillon Rogers continues to update the devlog through the rest of the development, as I’m itching to learn more. How do you balance a strategy game while remaining true to your theme, and how do you develop and own that theme without tipping over into inherent ickiness of the subject matter?
Also, like all fascists, it has a cool red-on-black colour scheme.
From one political strategy game to another.
Ryan Sumo is the artist on games such as Spacechem and Prison Architect, but he’s also working on another project of his own. Party Animals is “like Democracy mashed up with Crusader Kings 2 but with an Animal Crossing look and feel to it.”
Where Blackshirt is about maintaining control of a country through nefarious means, Party Animals is about campaigning for votes on Summer Island. From the screenshots I gather you do that by setting a daily schedule and moving around the map to visit locations around the world, kissing hands and shaking babies.
The devlog is thus far more about underlying principles and research than firm descriptions of mechanics, but there’s plenty of interest. I especially enjoyed this look at the varying pros and cons to differing animation methods. Who wouldn’t vote for this guy?
David Pittman, former Irrational dev and maker of Eldritch, is now working on NEON STRUCT: Die Augen Der Welt. If that sounds familiar, that’s because I wrote about it previously before it tweaked its name to something that better expressed the brutalist cyberpunk world in which the first-person political thriller/stealth game is set.
Also people know how to pronounce it.
Over on the Neon Struct blog, Pittman has been writing regular updates as he implements features. There’s a load of screenshots of the game’s current “vertical slice”, plus a five-part series detailing that slice’s creation. Aside from revealing how absurdly fast he is at making games, it’s a good guide to how to remain disciplined and efficient in the creation of ambitious indie projects.
One of the practices I’ve borrowed from AAA games is rigorous scheduling toward regular milestones. My self-imposed deadlines on Eldritch helped me manage the scope of that game and ship it ahead of schedule, and I aim to be equally disciplined in the development of Die Augen der Welt. To that end, I have given myself a deadline of May 31 to complete a “vertical slice”, a demonstration of all (or most) of the game’s systems in a representative level.
Copod is a “roguelite” that looks a little like one of the early stages of Spore. I like some of its enemy behaviour. Here’s a trailer:
You can buy your way into its beta for $5, although I have no idea if it’s any good so that’s not a recommendation. I do know that this post about the procedural generation of its levels is excellent. (Although I’m unsure why the game, which is not a mod, is on ModDB).
The post takes the time to diagrammatically break down the process of generating the game’s caves from scratch, creating play area “bubbles”, carving paths between them, and so on.
This GIF contains each step:
But you should click through to read the explanation of what each step does and how it does it.
These are then merged together, the insides striped away. To do this, each poly is triangulated so it is easy to test whether a point on is inside a poly. Then program then marches along a polygon’s outline starting at any point that is outside of any other poly. When it detects a line intersecting with another line (a polygons outline simply being made out of line segments), it creates a new point where they intersect. It then and continues marching along the poly outline it collides with, in the direction away from the intersecting point. Each new and visited point is pushed onto a stack, building up a completely merged outline. This process is repeated until the program is back where it started.
- Another Ultima Ratio Regum update. I’ll stop linking them when they stop being interesting. This one is about settlement designs and procedural crop graphics.
- Before Blackshirt, the last game about nationalistic expansion I played was Neocolonialism. Its developers are now working on the very different No Pineapple Left Behind, a management game about a school for pineapples. Subaltern Games are blogging a little about its creation, with early video and concept art here.
- Paperbound is a single-screen multiplayer fighting game, and this post about the step-by-step creation of rotating platforms is surprisingly interesting.