DevLog Watch: Super III, Prune, Book Of Dwarf, More

By Graham Smith on July 21st, 2014 at 3:00 pm.

ffs i wish every game wasn't an fps about violent dudebros gawwwwwd

Last week I was in Switzerland on holiday, which meant I wrote a devlog watch but every update was about the mountains I hiked, the cowbells I heard, and the fresh baked bread I ate from my sunbaked patio. It was glorious. Can videogames compete?

Probably not, but devlogs featuring alien platformers, nuclear strategy, puzzling trees and simulated dwarves give it a good try below.

SUPER III

An action platformer about an alien named III, Super III‘s name is going to confuse a lot of people. But look at how physically satisfying its wall-jumping and teleportion appears, even without any art:

Then look at how it looks when it does have art, and suddenly there’s a sense of a world to explore:

Wall-jumping, double-jumps, maybe a certain kind of action platformer in general; these are things I will apparently never grow tired of. All of the devlogs featured this month are new and short except for Super III, which is new and already 16 pages long. It seems other people can’t get enough of this kind of thing either.

It’s a keen demonstration of the power of devlogs and the reason you should consider starting one for your project: this game began as a “simple jam game,” but has expanded and been encouraged by the immediate praise it received when other people saw it.

It Always Ends In Nuclear War

This is how you name a videogame.

It Always Ends In Nuclear War is a turn-based strategy game inspired by Civilization and Alpha Centauri, but with a welcome focus on reducing micromanagement and making the end game more interesting. I wonder how it’ll do that?

It’s early days as yet – the devlog began back in April – but even in that short time there’s been dozens of screenshots posted showing the development of the world generation algorithm. There’s also been discussion of the the changing scope and direction of the game.

So what the hell am I making, then? I don’t quite know how to describe it, because I don’t think there’s anything out there that’s doing what I’m trying to do. I’m aiming to make something akin to Conway’s Game Of Life, but modeling human history instead of cells. A huge difference is that Conway’s Game of Life is passive, where as this is going to be more game like. You’re going to be in control of a Civilization and making overarching decisions for it. A lot of your civilizations development will be based on rules that you have little control over, but I’m going to try to strike a balance between simulation and gameplay.

The real reason to check in might be this larger folder of 450 development screenshots. “Every screenshot I’ve ever taken of my project,” says its designer.

Prune

It’s a good time for fans of trees in games. We’re always wandering among them in one walking simulator or another, or looking forward to learning how to be them, and soon we’ll be trimming them in puzzler Prune.

The DevLog only started a week ago, but the first proper update – about scoring in the game – is interesting in its detail about how best to rate player behaviour in a game about growing trees. It walks through the process of the systems prototyped and rejected:

So that’s how I landed on “fruit scoring.” It gave me the granularity I was looking for while being more transparent to the player. The score became a whole number of apples rather than those gross fractional amounts with the volume scoring. But I knew I didn’t want to do an apple per branch (or even for every ‘leaf’ branch) because it quickly became uncountable

How do you like them apples?

The Book of Dwarf

Any occurrence of dwarves in a management game is going to invite obvious comparisons, but if short, bearded bipeds are the thematic price we pay for communicable, easily explained AI simulations, then so be it.

The Book Of Dwarf swaps Dwarf Fortress’s layered top-down view for a side-on look at the underground bases it prompts you to build. If only for that perspective change, it looks reminiscent of Sim Tower, but the focus is on deeply simulated characters.

There’s nothing playable yet, but the devlog has plenty of detail of the creation of the game. The most recent post is about the game’s lighting system, and there’s an older blog with more about Unity programming, menu design and various systems necessary to building fortresses for dwarves.

Mini Updates

And that’s it for this week. Next week: Rock Paper Switzerland. Back my Patreon for regular updates about Switzerland. Or send me an email with a game you think I should feature here if you don’t want the column to be about really nice cheese.

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19 Comments »

  1. BooleanBob says:

    I appreciate these posts. I was browsing play-ism and desura today and it struck me how hard the 99% of indie devs whose toil goes largely unseen must have it trying to realise their dreams.

  2. JFS says:

    Seems like Gangster Tactics got ass-raped, huh?

    (Sorry, I just had to)

  3. mickygor says:

    fml, It Always Ends in Nuclear War is far too similar to the game I’ve been working on for the last year or so, even in appearance, for my comfort :(

    • DrGonzo says:

      I hate it when that happens! Had this idea I was working on for a platformer that went on forever, simple, stylised. Then Canabalt came out. It was everything I was trying to do, but a million times better :(

      • mickygor says:

        To be honest, my idea’s really rather distinct from It Always Ends in Nuclear War, but the fact that they’re both kinda… not done before, means they’re far closer to each other than they would be to much else. I’m not concerned about someone else developing a similar game, I’m more concerned about the impact it might have on what others think of me. Definitely gonna keep up with the dev log for this one though.

    • valrus says:

      Ahh, that sucks. Maybe go for a retheming — set it in a different world or kind of world? If both are similar Civ-themed Civ-likes, then yeah, people will draw comparisons. But if it’s a Civ-like with a different theme or a bizarrely different world history, people may look at yours and say, “Hey, this isn’t just your ordinary Civ-alike like that other guy’s.”

      • mickygor says:

        Heh, maybe I conveyed it poorly. It’s the hands off approach I’m thinking. My concept is basically dwarf fortress where you play as the bilderberg group [myth/legend, qualifier]. Not actually involved in managing, but bribing and/or blackmailing those that are to achieve your aims.

        • Sub says:

          Hey mickygor, I’m the guy making It Always Ends In Nuclear War. I’m sure there’s room for both of our games and that your fears are unfounded. Plus, I feel like making a game is challenging enough that you can’t let yourself get distracted by those sorts of things.

          It sounds like a cool concept, by the way. Wish you the best of luck with it.

          • mickygor says:

            Yeah man, no hard feelings or anything. There’s definitely space for 2 marginally similar games in a world of corridor based manshoots. I’m just reeling from a webdev project that was aped by someone else recently so I’m hypersensitive right now xD

  4. Viroso says:

    Is it possible to market a game that involves little people building a civilization without having dwarves in it?

    • khalilravanna says:

      Is it possible to market a game that involves little people building an *underground* civilization without dwarves in it? Eh, gnomoria. But gnomes are just unbearded dwarves.

      As far as non-underground civilizations, you got Banished and Stonehearth (in development) in recent memory.

      I’m actually working on a game that falls under the similar Dwarf-Fortress-inspired umbrella and specifically am trying to stay away from the whole “people who live under the ground” and “people who are actually dwarves” thing.

    • Phasma Felis says:

      If “Doom clone” can be a legit genre, then “Dwarf Fortress clone” can be a legit genre.

  5. Baines says:

    Wall-jumping, double-jumps, maybe a certain kind of action platformer in general; these are things I will apparently never grow tired of.

    Unfortunately, a screen full of spikes is something that I grew tired of before it even revived as a new (now old) indie game genre.

    • Geebs says:

      Before I play another game with a screen full of spikes, I require a bullet-point explanation of whether said spikes will only kill me with the pointy end, or the non-pointy bits too. I can’t handle any more blunt-bit-of-spikes deaths.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      The only spike I ever want to see a again is Spike Spiegel.

  6. Leafy Twigs says:

    Book of Dwarf seems like a copy of Craft the World, an early access game which is rather polished and is regularly updated. It’s not to the complexity level of DF, but it’s a fun sandbox / RPG thing with the side-on 2d graphics, grumpy dwarves, and lots of things to explore and build.

    If any of the powers-that-be deign to read this, I hope you’ll give it a look.

    • BraindeadGeo says:

      Hey, I’m the dev of The Book of Dwarf. I think there are quite a few of us making ‘accessible’ Dwarf Fortress clones. I’d never seen Craft the World though, looks interesting and certainly far further along than I am. My focus is more on the AI simulation than the environment so I think there’s room for both of us.

  7. dsch says:

    Ah, SimTower. I remember leaving that running to make money while my dad uses the computer, hoping nothing burns down in the meantime.