Last week's DevLog Watch was an hour-long GIF of me, sat on my couch, stuffing my face with a bank holiday-worth of olives and chocolate. Development stalled when I became too full to eat anymore, but the column is back this week with new games from old developers, new developers, old journalists, and, uh, new sources of old archives...
Stealth Breakout! Stealth spaceships! Unconcealed Escher!
Die Augen Der Welt
Eldritch was an efficient first-person roguelike from former 2K Marin dev David Pittman. He built that game quickly with the resources available to him and that meant skipping certain tasks. "I felt I couldn’t afford to divide my time between development and PR, but I was also simply scared that something would go terribly wrong and I wouldn’t be able to finish the game after all. This time around, I aim to be open and transparent about what I’m making."
His new game Die Augen Der Welt already has a devlog, with a climbing number of posts. The first explains what the game is - a single-player, first-person, story-oriented stealth game - but the most recent deals with design issues around a game with a lot of breaking and entering in it. Mainly, how do you represent lockpicking and hacking - with a minigame? What kind? This kind:
I liked the simple, abstract affordance of breaking through literal barriers with a piece of software, which led me to my second idea: a version of Breakout where the goal is not to clear every brick but simply to get the ball to the far end of the board. In a way, this is a more intuitive model of breaking into a system, poking holes in each consecutive barrier. It fits my needs for the scope of the minigame, as boards can be both rapidly developed and reused. And it offers the possibility for some player growth or expressive play, if I choose to add Arkanoid-style power-ups.
I'm not sure how much I want to play Breakout while pretending to be a stealth hacker, but I'm intrigued to find out more.
I'm too good friends with Tom Francis to offer a value judgement of his funny and excellent game Gunpoint, but that doesn't mean I can't share the devlog for his next game Heat Signature. It's about sneaking aboard randomly generated spaceships, and it's Tom's first open world game. He has some experience writing and thinking about those, so it's interesting to see him work through the issues of making one. He talks in his most recent video about mission-giving systems and why his first four attempts at making one sucked:
One of the cool things about devlogs is that you're not only getting insight into a game in progress, but into the person that's making that game. I like seeing how people approach design in different ways, whether they're a former programmer at a big company, a former game journalist, or in the case of Relativity developer Willy Chyr, a former installation artist.
I initially approached game development from a contemporary art perspective. However, I had studied physics in school, and in addition to working in research labs, had also worked in an ad agency as well as an interaction design studio. So I had some programming experience, some design experience, some art experience, and wanted to bring everything together.
Relativity is a first-person puzzler inspired by MC Escher art in which you can activate gravity fields in order to walk on any flat surface. The devlog only began in November of last year, but look at the first and last page for a motivational glimpse at development progress. From the first page:
Which looks interesting but sort of prototype-y. From the last page:
Which even 1-2 years from completion looks like a real game with a deliberate art style. Those levels floating in the distance? Those are duplicates of the level you're standing on, and they're a novel solution to what happens when a player falls into the void. I'm almost finished this weeks' DevLog and I haven't used a single GIF yet, so:
If you're a developer yourself, there's also useful posts like this PAX East post-mortem. It includes a breakdown of the costs involved in hiring an Indie Minibooth in which to show your game, and the possible advantages to doing so.
From the archive
I sometimes think Counter-Strike is the model for all modern game development. It was built by what today we'd call an indie developer, with a team of people contributing from around the world. It was released early and released often and designed in partnership with its community, who sculpted it into something beyond what its developers originally imagined. It grew up in public, with its progress blogged in detail on the official Counter-Strike website. That site has changed a lot since CS:GO launched, and the old archives are now only accessible via the lovely Web Archive.
You've somehow stumbled upon the Counter-Strike mod for Half-Life web site. I suppose now I'm supposed to brag and tell you about all the keen features that will be in it, but I'll let the about page do that. Simply, this is a Counter-Terrorism mod, read more at the about page and stop by the weapons page to check out the ample supply of modeled guns as well as player models. Gooseman [who you may know from Action Quake2] is the Project Leader/ Head Modeler / Coder for Counter-Strike. My name is CLIFFE [you may know me from the AQMD maps site], and I'm the mod Spokesman and site maintainer. Check out all the pages here at the site if you want to get to know the mod. Special thanks to kind fellows at Planethl for the hosting.
Have a look for yourself. There are patch notes. There are community feuds. There is the beginnings of a phenomena that could be credited with the rise of Call of Duty, Valve, esports, and public development. It's all there.
I've added the submit map page to the site navigation box to your right. The response from all you mappers out there has been dismal! Surely there must be more mappers willing to make maps for Counter-Strike. I'll go over all the relevant information so you can get started and start sending maps in. It won't be all that long before the first beta is released, so we need you to start sending them. If you are a mapper, or know a talented one, we need you!
Firstly, the map should be of a realistic setting. It should be geared totally towards teamplay, make it promote teamplay to the fullest extent. As far as items, don't worry about placing *any* items right now. If things go as planned there will be a menu selection of weapons, which will eliminate the need to have them laying around.
If you are thinking "why should I waste my time mapping for CS?" ponder this: Your map will be played much more than regular user made maps. If picked, your map will be exclusive to the mod and included with the download. This means it will be played a lot and it will be great exposure for you as a mapper.
You've got to start somewhere.