Saturday, April 26th, 2008
Get up early bumper almost comes off car in reversing error seems ok Mother fixes it can’t believe it on the M25 going 90 in the fast lane power goes off almost die two dodgy spanish guys in a red sportscar push my car off the M25 I sit reading new Reynolds book on the hard shoulder RAC man arrives awesome dude says alternator is broken but he can find a new one on a saturday he does we go to Staines he replaces it in a Tesco car park get on my way miss boat but get next one in french supermarket buying beer by 7. Three hours later get to hotel there’s no parking but I finally find somewhere hotel is ok but WHAT NO INTERNET but what’s this unsecured wireless network oh wait it has login thing but guy at desk gives me his I’m sitting down drinking beer listening to the Draft and talking on IRC everything’s ok.
Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008
After a month’s worth of silence both my esteemed colleague and I have decided (quite independently) to post on the same day. His post is considerably more interesting than mine – go read it below this one.
The original Frozen Synapse prototype was written on Torque Game Builder. After a lot of talking we’ve decided that we’re going to make it more PC-centric than previously thought and to use the shaderific Torque Game Engine Advanced (previously TSE and the hilarious TAT) to do some interesting new stuff with dynamics-led art.
I was putting off the port for some more gameplay dev, but finally last week I found a crash in the TGB FS prototype. It was one of TGB’s internal systems barfing at the unusual strain FS was putting on it. In other words, time to separate egg from incubator.
Luckily I had always wanted the core “simulation” aspect of FS to be separate from rendering of any kind (making it more portable), so this wasn’t as hard as it could have been. However, writing my own 2D collision engine in three hours and porting FS to it still makes me quite happy. I also got it debug-rendering just using GL calls but consdering it’s all rotated bitmaps that’s not really the hardest thing in the world.
Frozen Synapse is now ready to move to TGEA. I’m very excited about the process of getting it to look good.
Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008
I’ve just started working on the Frozen Synapse soundtrack and I’ve decided to kick off a little experiment – I’m asking the entire internet to send me sounds to incorporate into it. Take a look at my music site for more info!
Thursday, April 17th, 2008
Our blog and forums have been down for amost two weeks while we sorted out our server’s fan melting and the move to virtual hosting. Apologies. The Determinance servers at no point went down though!
I’m busy on Synapse. Will report more soon.
Thursday, April 17th, 2008
I think there’s a gulf in the games industry which has always existed, but is currently becoming more and more salient, if that’s not indeed the opposite of what a gulf is capable of doing. Yuk.
In the blue corner, you’ve got commercial games. High School Musical, Imagine: Fashion Designer, Carnival Games: that sort of thing.
In the red, you’ve got the fan favourites: Oblivion, Mass Effect, Bioshock. Blockbuster hardcore games.
Somewhere in the middle, fiddling with their shorts, you’ve got your Sims, your Guitar Hero and your Grand Theft Auto - anomalous hardcore/mainstream hybrids that everybody seems to enjoy.
Take a moment and peruse Next-gen.biz’s excellent roundup of the top 100 selling games of the last 12 months: you’ll see how all these pugilists square up to each other. You may also want to view the conclusions which have been drawn: some interesting ones include the prevalence of the platform-exclusive title and the current state of the PS2.
I want to show some appreciation for both sides of the equation: look at the great, pioneering original IP titles in there and take heart. There is a place for big budget, exciting games to be created.
Secondly, look at the great business that is going on in our industry. Low-cost products are making mind-quakingly huge amounts of money.
I don’t want to hear a load of gibberish about publisher exploitation with these titles: publishers just do that because they are better at business than developers. Most publishers don’t go bankrupt if one title bombs: they run a portfolio system so that their risk is managed intelligently. They’re not beholden to anyone, and they follow money around like all good business people should. Good developers do the same – look at Rebellion shooting up the Develop ranks, for example. Portfolio system.
I, for one, would like to praise Ubisoft (who come in for a lot of flak) for this system on the publishing side in particular: check the financials. What are the two franchises they’re touting? Imagine and Assassin’s Creed. One is cynical “shovelware”, the other is a fan fave (though it happens not to be a personal fave of mine).
I would like the specialist press to take notice of this a little bit more. I have no problem with anyone giving Imagine: Babies or Deal or No Deal a 2% review – in fact, I enjoy reading and writing such reviews – but I don’t want to read nonsense like this any more:
47. Carnival Games
Global Star/Cat Daddy Games
Ben Reeves (Game Informer): “Just like a real carnival, you’ll feel cheated more than once playing these virtual simulations, but the real carny scam might be trying to sell this “discount” title for $40.”
This review quote contains an implicit criticism of the pricing strategy behind the title, admittedly wrapped in a dig at the game’s quality, but there nonetheless. I don’t like “trying to sell” either: “Oh, those silly publishers, trying to get people to pay $40 for this game: they are scamming people.” One point one MILLION sales: that’s a good scam; they should make a heist movie about it.
There is nothing morally incorrect about products like these, unless there is something morally incorrect about how they are produced. That is a different issue entirely: end of story. There are some happy studios out there with people making utterly crap games for a living: that’s a fact. They treat it as a job, they go home at the end of the day – c’est la vie.
Why can’t our industry own up to what it really is? I want to see a more enlightened understanding of it from those involved: not this adolescent divide between “good and bad” games.
At Mode 7, our CORE reason for being is to make interesting games that push forward gaming as a medium. You may think that’s a little strange after this rant. But the truth is, that is what we live for – we love certain things about games and we want to create those feelings for other people.
I am currently replaying Vampire: Bloodlines because there’s something unquantifiable about the atmosphere in that game which is unmatched by any other art I’ve come across in any medium. I would love to make a game like that one day, it would be phenomenal. But as I’m playing, all the time, I’m thinking, “Creating this game killed Troika.” I do not want to be Troika: I want to live to tell the tale.
So that’s why we are going to be creating a portfolio system with our upcoming titles: you’ll see it, you might think it’s a bit crazy (let me tell you right now, it’s a bit crazy). But it will work, and it’ll empower us to make some truly great games in the next five years.
I feel like we have grown hugely as a company by gaining the understanding we’ve worked towards in the last six months. We have had to take some extremely hard decisions and some things are not resolved yet. Know this: our resolve is set, and you will hear a lot more from us soon.
Wednesday, April 16th, 2008
We have had an absurd amount of downtime due to a problem with our server hardware – sorry to everyone for the loss of forums and the lack of blog posts. We are now on something which I believe is called “virtual hosting”, and this should prevent that from happening again.
Tuesday, April 1st, 2008
Just like RPS, I really hope this isn’t an April Fool.
EDIT: It is, and now RPS are really pissed. Some indie devs really know how to shoot themselves in the head. My original post follows…
I used to enjoy a bit of Space Hulk of an evening when I was a mere snapper of whipper, so it’s great to see projects like Teardown‘s indie version around the place.
However, if Games Workshop have really cleared this as an acceptable use of their trademarks, it does beg two questions:
2. Why aren’t they trying to use it to make money?
I would love to live in a world where an indie dev team can make a game based on a property (or rather, perhaps more sensibly, approach the owner of the property and offer to make a game based upon it) and then sell it online with royalties split between the IP holder and the dev team – just a micro-licensing deal, basically. Unfortunately, I don’t think digital distribution is good enough for that to be in any way sensible yet (although, I can’t know, because Valve won’t release any BLOODY NUMBERS for the magical unicorn that is Steam). Anyway, here’s hoping that indie projects and cool, forgotten IP’s will have a long and prosperous future.
Next stop, a remake of Sid Meier’s Covert Action (PLEASE?)