So, what’s up?

It’s been a while, right?

So much has happened in the last almost-year that I feel it’s time to make a little update post for posterity, as well as to kickstart the whole blogging thingamajig again.

 

Previously on Virtu

It’s best to start with a little background information. I started Virtu as a formal statement that I wanted to make my own independent game. At the time, I had a nice severance package as part of the EA Playfish shutdown… which enabled me to work from home on my own project for a limited period of time.

Uffizi was a Renaissance town builder with 5 Noble characters that you had to befriend and pander to whilst trying to build the great works of Florentine art.

 

We shall meet again...
We shall meet again…

 

As my first ever ‘proper’ project, it was an exciting and informative time where I learnt a lot about Gamemaker (my development tool of choice) and independent development in general. The best form of learning is by failing, and I did a whole lot of that.

Uffizi just wasn’t fun. I fell into the trap of “It will be fun when I add this!”.

It’s a vicious cycle which kept repeating itself until I’d spent about 3-4 months on the game and it still wasn’t fun. I definitely think there’s something there in the concept that’s worth exploring but Uffizi is definitely on hiatus for the foreseeable future.

 

Happylatte

When it came to the 4 month mark in Uffizi‘s development, I decided that it was time to get a real job. My funds were running out and I eventually realized that Uffizi was the wrong project for what I was trying to do. I needed something smaller, leaner, and more fun at a prototype stage. But more than that, I needed a stable income.

I joined Happylatte, a medium-sized studio responsible for the successful mobile FPS game High Noon. The company hadn’t had a big followup success and were actively looking to work on new game IP. This sounded perfect to me, and I joined at the end of 2013.

High Noon, Happylatte's hit game
High Noon, Happylatte’s hit game

 

During my time at Happylatte I worked on major features for Days of Crime, a 3D reskin of the High Noon formula, while helping with pre-production design on an exciting F2P RPG game. More importantly for me, I was also pitching a few game concepts of my own and one of them, a Truck Driving Runner mixed with a Trading Sim, got greenlit all the way to pre-production.

Things were pretty much perfect. I had my own game at last. It was exciting, fun to work on, and I’d done the best design work of my life (although it was all on paper).

Then management informed us that they had to ‘restructure’ the company and all but 7 people were made redundant… including myself.

Sad times.

 

 

What now?

My time at Happylatte takes me to about 1 week ago… where I just joined Substantial Games.

We’re working on a very exciting project; The Ember Conflict, that I’m thrilled to be a part of (Twitter is here).

 

The Ember Conflict, an RTS game on Tablets. Coming soon!
The Ember Conflict, an RTS game on Tablets. Coming soon!

 

What about Virtu?

Since my last blog post, I’ve taken part in 2 more Game Jams; Ludum Dare 29 and 30;

Shanghai was my Ludum Dare 29 Jam entry with Chris McMath (who also happens to work at Substantial Games). The theme was Beneath the Surface and we had 72 hours.

 

Work 'Beneath the Surface' to pass Domestic Intelligence to Foreign Powers in 1930s Shanghai
Work ‘Beneath the Surface’ of 1930s Shanghai to pass Domestic Intelligence to Foreign Powers by connecting spies

 

Outdoor was my Ludum Dare 30 Compo entry, working solo over 48 hours. The theme was Connected Worlds.

Choose how to spend your 30 days inside the bunker, before heading outside to deal with the Apocalypse
Choose how to spend your 30 days inside the bunker, before heading outside to deal with the Apocalypse

 

Outdoor is definitely not as much fun as Shanghai. In fact, it’s kind of imbalanced and boring! However, one thing Ludum Dare is great at is demonstrating how feasible a project is and showing where the fun is. Outdoor as a concept is fun. Seeing what happens when you leave the bunker is fun. Managing your relationship with your brother, while trying to maximise your attributes, is fun.

The best thing about Outdoor is that I know I can build it… because I did build it.

 

Project: Eternal Struggle

I’ve decided that I need to get my own game out onto the market. Mainly for the experience, but also because I’m tired of external factors getting in the way of my work.

Outdoor is feasible, I know where the fun is, and I can build a prototype very quickly to start the iteration process… something essential to independent design and good game design in general.

But the game is not Outdoor.

  • The bunker was limiting.
  • Your relationship with your brother was shallow.
  • The apocalypse generated for each game was really really cool, but taking 30 turns before seeing any feedback was dull.

Eternal Struggle is a new game, using concepts from Outdoor.

  • Preparation for an unknown mission, with hints to your eventual fate
  • Managing conflicting relationships while trying to build power
  • A procedurally generated end-game with endless possibilities, providing a humorous and unique outcome to your actions that are different every game

Below is a screenshot of what I’ve got from my first day. It’s not much to look at yet, but I’m super excited about this project and I’m hoping it will be my first real product out on the market.

Eternal Struggle - Day 1
Eternal Struggle – Day 1

 

I also plan to blog a lot more about development because I’m absolutely awful at sharing things before they’re ready. Time to change!

 

 

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