overworldtheme: (internet)
Saturday, November 8th, 2014 07:56 pm
[Cross-posted from the Vision Riders Blog.]

In case you missed it, this past Wednesday brought the out-of-the-blue surprise announcement that Bad Juju Games, an analytics middleware developer, had purchased Desura and its sister site Indie Royale. Some people, like myself, first noticed the change when the logo suddenly changed on the Desura site.

This is what I imagine happened:

The new Desura logo eating the old one.

Well, something like that, anyway.

Last year, Linden Lab of all things had bought Desura. In case you're not familiar with them, Linden Lab is the company that develops Second Life. Their purchase of an online game storefront focused primarily on indie games seemed odd at the time, and is arguably even more strange in hindsight. I'm honestly not sure what they had hoped to get out of it, and they never seemed to actually do anything with it. Desura has always been a bit of a niche online retailer, and under Linden Lab the site seemed to languish without any direction, as if frozen in time. A few months ago came the introduction of the "Desura Version 2" site design, but that was about the only outward change the sale ever brought.

I can't say I'm exactly "hopeful" about the sale, but I am trying to be optimistic. Desura has needed some serious care and attention to make it relevant again, especially with up-and-coming storefronts like itch.io that are doing a much better job meeting the needs of indie developers. And an analytics company like Bad Juju does make some sense as the owner-operator of an indie-oriented online retailer. Certainly more than a strictly virtual world oriented developer like Linden Lab.

So far, it does sound like Bad Juju is actually interested in their newly acquired website. For one, they're actually going to focus on the Desura client app, which is practically impossible to even find on the current version of the Desura site. It certainly will be great if they make good on their promise of a Mac and (official) Linux port of the app. Maybe they'll even finally introduce the vaporware Desura API that'll give devs access to Steam-style achievements and such.

And hopefully they'll do something about that crippling $500 payout limit.
overworldtheme: (art)
Thursday, April 17th, 2014 09:38 am

BANANA! by TheGrandHero on deviantART

Done completely in Photoshop CS2. Time taken: ~3-4 hours.
overworldtheme: (vision riders)
Friday, March 21st, 2014 09:03 am
(Cross-posted from the Vision Riders Blog)

After a lot of waiting to get things processed, it looks like everything has finally come together. As of today, you can buy Another Star on the official site. The price is $10, but you can add an extra tip if you so choose by clicking on the "+" symbol on the Humble Store widget before choosing a payment method. It's entirely up to you, but I certainly won't stop you.

I really do hope that you enjoy the game. Let me know if you come across any problems by posting here, or contacting support@visionriders.com for technical support. (I might even stay up late tonight, just in case anyone has trouble getting the game to launch.)
overworldtheme: (tales of veigue)
Sunday, September 15th, 2013 09:46 am
Cross-posted from the Vision Riders Blog.

Sophie Houlden is an indie developer, and was among the first batch of indies to put their game on the Ouya. However, she recently pulled her game Rose and Time from the console. She lists her reasoning in this blog post, which conveniently sums up why I have no plans to ever port Another Star to Ouya.
overworldtheme: (video games)
Tuesday, July 9th, 2013 05:51 pm
One of the most common questions I get about Another Star now that it's getting noticed is whether or not I'm going to put it up on Steam Greenlight. The easy answer is: I don't know.

On one hand, it's all the more publicity for the game even if it doesn't get through.

On the other, Steam Greenlight sucks for all the reasons I've previously pointed out, and I hate it.

Actually, hate is a weak work.

I despise it.

I don't feel like coughing up $100 for "publicity" when I could put that money to better things like hosting and tools and computer parts, especially now that the bigger dogs are buying their Steam lottery tickets and grabbing that much more attention from the smaller guys.

I hate what Steam has done with the service, I hate how they treat indies while patting themselves on the back and thinking they've done a good job, I hate how opaque the service is after they played up how "transparent" it would be, and I hate how arbitrary their ideas are of who can and cannot use the service.

I also hate the fact that Valve--the supposed champion of indies--requires you to sign an NDA once you've been greenlit. The very idea of it irks me, in part because I hate the whole concept of an NDA for something as simple as a freak'n online storefront. Yes, I know they required an NDA prior to Greenlight, but it's not the transparency and openness they promised when they pitched this thing.

Truth be told, I'm not sure I care that Another Star has a tiny chance of getting through. I'm not sure I care that I'm losing sales by not putting the game there. Out of principle, I simply cannot stand the very idea of submitting it. I may yet give in, but the whole thing ticks me off and I'd rather just say "screw it".

Life would be a heck of a lot easier if I wasn't such a stupid idealist.

I may actually be making the right choice.

On that same note, can you believe it's come to the point where it's easier to get on to a Sony console than it is on to Steam? Wow. Way to go Valve.
overworldtheme: (video games)
Thursday, July 4th, 2013 11:34 am
At what point does one say "the hell with this" and just emulate the damn game? I got a Best Buy gift card for my birthday and wanted to use it on some DS games, but whether used or new everything I want is unavailable from them.

Dragon Quest V and Radiant Historia are at the top of my list right now, and even on Amazon.com both of those go for almost $40 a pop. GameStop's prices are much more reasonable for most of the titles I'm looking for, but the only copies they have are used and I'd have to drive to at least Louisville to find them (with the exception of a select few that are available online, but especially expensive). A couple, like Dragon Quest IV, even go for $100 on Amazon.

I don't like money being the reason to fall back on emulation of newer-ish games, and all the performance and overblown ethical issues and involved with it, but it's not like I have an easy way to get around right now and my budget is especially tight. Where is the line?

And, a month later, I still haven't decided what to use my birthday gift card on. :(
overworldtheme: (bunnies)
Thursday, June 27th, 2013 07:36 pm
I'm so ticked off. Who would leak my game that I so cleverly hid at this link:


I don't know how they found it, but I'm totally going to take the file down by tomorrow afternoon, just you wait and see!
overworldtheme: (vision riders)
Saturday, June 22nd, 2013 06:09 pm

A demonstration of the gameplay and world of Another Star, an 8-bit style RPG packed into a single 128x128 pixel tile sheet. In this video I demonstrate exploration, battles, visiting towns, and some basic party management.
overworldtheme: (gender)
Saturday, June 22nd, 2013 12:53 pm
"I hope the option for a male protagonist is a stretch goal, even if its just a mustache and cowboy hat on the female sprite tongue in cheek like, I'd be all for that. I love Zeboyds style but i couldn't play as a female character and immerse like in their prior games."

"Playing Lunar as a kid, I think I really loved the game for its sense of adventure. I also felt like I could relate to Alex (protag) and the pursuit of his dreams as a teenager. Not sure I can get that same degree of empathy with a female protagonist."


Hurry! Someone get up and check what year it is! This is serious, I think we may have somehow managed to travel backwards in time!

(The only other thing I have to say is "ugh".)
overworldtheme: (computers)
Wednesday, May 1st, 2013 09:18 am
For those who aren't on Twitter, or missed it, or ignored it, this past weekend on a whim I took part in the latest Ludum Dare and worked hard to complete an entire game in 48 hours. You can read about my project and the fun I had here on the Vision Riders blog. Here are some screenshots from the project:



Now it's already playable with a working map and battle system, and with just a month or two of work I could probably craft something simple and fun that I could turn around and sell for anywhere from $1 to $5 depending on the final product. But to do so I would have to put Junction on the back burner for that time. This game is far more likely to be finished within the next three months (taking testing and debugging into account, Junction may not be out until near the end of the year), but it's also not going to be able to retail for as much. Both projects are gambles because there's no telling what the actual sales would be.

My gut is telling me to stay the course and finish out Junction, but my heart is telling me to finish this little RPG. I've wanted to create one so badly since my QBasic days! Also, I don't want to cling to Junction solely out of a sense of guilt for not finishing it sooner. I'm really not sure what to do. Bah! Why does life have to have so many difficult decisions in it?
overworldtheme: (tales of cress)
Saturday, April 13th, 2013 01:32 pm

More footage from Junction. Here I talk a little bit more about character interaction and dialog choices, and show off some new areas and music from the game.

If you'd like to know more about how in-game dialog choices affect the story, you can read this article on the Vision Riders blog where I talk about it in more detail:

For more information about the game in general you can check out the game's web site:
overworldtheme: (video games)
Thursday, April 11th, 2013 11:22 am
(Crossposted from the Vision Riders Blog.)

Junction screenshot
Click on the screenshot for a larger version.

Junction is an adventure game at heart, but it takes a lot of inspiration and design cues from visual novels. When playing the game you will often come across prompts like the one pictured above, asking you how you want to respond to a situation. Of course, visual novels aren't the only medium to use these as a mechanic, and even traditional adventure games like Secret of Monkey Island had them. But I think the way I've chosen to incorporate them has more to do with my experience with Japanese visual novels than anything else.

Cut for length. Click here to
overworldtheme: (computers)
Monday, March 4th, 2013 06:09 pm
Here's a taste of Junction in action! Pardon the audio quality and my sub-par public speaking skills. I'll try to improve for next time.

overworldtheme: (art)
Saturday, October 20th, 2012 08:16 pm
For some reason, I get the feeling that this was not the best use of my time...

RPG battle go!

(For the record, this uses a Genesis/Mega Drive style 64-color palette.)
overworldtheme: (defeated)
Thursday, August 30th, 2012 08:43 pm
Ah man, someone beat me to my idea.

overworldtheme: (video games)
Thursday, July 19th, 2012 09:39 am
Am I the only one who thinks there's something more than a little odd about Phil Fish's explanation concerning the Fez patch? I'm no industry expert by any means, but something's just not adding up. I'm probably just paranoid though.

EDIT: Had a feeling there was more to it.
overworldtheme: (programming)
Thursday, July 12th, 2012 10:25 am
I've been following the progress of Indie Games: The Movies since before it even did the whole Kickstarter thing, but I only got around to watching now. Shame on me, I suppose, but whatever. I was a little bummed when I found out it was really more about just Super Meat Boy and Fez: The Movie with bits of Braid here and there, rather than indie games as a collective whole, but looked forward to it anyway.

Going in I thought it might make a decent introduction to anyone wondering what I've gotten into lately. Coming out I started hoping that anyone wondering what I've gotten into lately never watches it. (It also makes me wonder if maybe I should go back to trying to do indie animation, but then I remembered that indie animation has failed to take off and it's been around since at least the 1960s.) The movie captures the frustration of working on an indie game, but little else, and it's managed to kick up a whole bunch of drama online thanks to the whole thread about Phil Fish, Fez, and his ex-business partner(s). It also doesn't paint a very broad picture of indie games or the people who make them, so it makes for a horrible first impression to anyone outside of video games in general, and furthermore is liable to turn off anyone that's into mainstream games (a problem indie games are already struggling enough with).

I wouldn't say it's a bad movie, because it's really not. But I'm not sure I would recommend it to anyone.
overworldtheme: (defeated)
Friday, July 6th, 2012 05:40 pm
Please read this, even if you don't want to play my game, "Junction", and even if you really don't care about it at all. I am in serious need of advice and input. I hate to sound desperate and all, but I am, so I'm risking making myself look (more) like an idiot. I'll try to make this quick.

Junction is probably the absolute worst kind of game for me to be trying to sell. It wasn't my first choice of game to make, but I thought it was going to be a quick project, and so it was okay if it didn't do so well. It didn't need to make a lot to be marginally successful. Instead it's been in development on and off for almost three years.

First things first. I'm not stupid. Junction is a commercial venture, yes, but it's not going to be some break-out indie title. It's not going to make enough money to justify the hundreds of hours I've poured into it. It may not even make back the couple thousand dollars I spent specifically on its production. But I would like it to do well enough to have a chance to make another game, maybe even keep my Vision Riders venture afloat, or if nothing else have it be notable enough on my resume to actually get a full-time job.

The game has several major issues working against it, but two really stand out. The first is that it's an adventure game; namely, a point-and-click adventure game. There's actually been a lot of successful games in this genre recently, but it's very much a niche, and a niche that's become very crowded. Add to this that Junction looks more akin to a visual novel than a western-style adventure game and you run into a problem: it's hard to show the game off. With, say, an action game, or a first-person shooter, or an RPG you can get people interested by posting videos of the gameplay and passing screenshots around. It's harder for me to do that with Junction, especially without spoiling anything since it relies so heavily on its story. It's a basically a step up from trying to make a commercial for a novel, which I always thought was tacky. (Oh look, watch the dust jacket pan across the screen again!)

This is what I need the most help with. I've fished the latest beta around a couple indie game places and I'm getting absolutely no interest. I need a way to get people to actually look at it for a change. I thought about a weekly update blog, but the genre just doesn't lend itself to that. I mean, what am I going to post? "Oh, today I rewote the dialogue in this section over here." Yeah, that kind of thing doesn't make as good a screenshot as adding a new enemy sprite or reworking a multiplayer map for balance. Is there even anything I can do leading up to release, or do I have to wait until after it's out to trumpet it? Any ideas at all.

The second is something completely different, and it's my own fault for painting myself into a corner by being so weird. When I said recently that I enjoy role-playing, I meant it. Junction is a tale told in the second person, narrated to "you" the protagonist. ("You pick up the object and put it in your inventory." "A cold breeze blows against your skin." That sort of thing.)

Yet, you're not a classic adventure game ageless-faceless-gender-neutral-culturally-ambiguous-adventure-person. Though the story is a conspiracy-theory-inspired tale, you play as an adult woman who has a son, a husband, and a backstory. It's a bizarre perspective, but like I said, I'm weird like that and it's just how the story ended up coming together. I think I shot myself in the foot with it, though. I'm afraid it will turn too many people off--especially guys--to imagine themself as a mother and wife in a video game. But I don't want to switch to a first-or-third person narration. Am I being stupid over this? Do I need to rewrite everything so that these predefined relationships aren't so direct? Or is this something I should just run with and promote it as a unique aspect of the game?

Sorry for being so selfish and asking for help. I know how busy most of you are, and I don't expect you to just throw whatever you're doing aside and write a big long advice column in response. A sentence or two is enough if that's all you have to say, and if you don't have anything thing to say that's fine too. I'll understand. (And if you only read the first paragraph and this one, don't feel bad either.) But I'm getting really anxious about this. Nothing I'm doing is connecting with anyone, and if I can't find some way to make my own projects work (with or without freelancing on the side) and I can't find an illustration/animation/design-related job, then what future do I even have in the arts?
overworldtheme: (gender)
Sunday, July 1st, 2012 08:19 pm
I've mentioned it several times before, I think, but I really enjoy crossplaying. Note that I am talking about video games here, not cosplay. I am too tall, fat, and (sigh) hairy to pass as a girl. I do have the eyelashes for it, though, so there's always that I suppose. But what I mean by "crossplay" is that, when given the choice, in a game I will generally choose to play as a girl. This is why, as far as I'm concerned, Mass Effect's Shepard is and always has been female. (Also, her first name is "Zoe", not "Jane", but that's neither here nor there.)

This is all anchored in my love of role-playing. Not sitting around a table rolling dice and calculating stats while eating Doritos, but actually using my creativity and pretending to be a different person. I get to be a guy all the time in Real Lifeā„¢, so trying to imagine the world through someone else's eyes is something that I really enjoy. I love contemplating how other people think and feel, how they process and recall information and memories, the way they interact with others and think about themselves and their friends. I guess this makes me weird, especially for a guy, but what else is new?

This extends to my love of writing. When I was still a teenager almost all my stories featured the classic white, male protagonist. I think it was in my late teens that I started thinking to myself, "why am I doing this?" Here I was, able to create and direct the footsteps of absolutely anyone and anything, so why was I always making up the exact same carbon copy with a few modifications here and there? I didn't even usually like the main characters I was coming up with! So I began brancing out at that point, trying to include more diverse characters and giving females more active roles, though it would be a long time until I really started coming up with female leads. (Swordmaster Odyssey's Jessie was probably the first "major" female lead I gave a story to, though I had stories and story ideas elsewhere that had girls as the main character. Note that Swordmaster Odyssey didn't start gestation until 2006, at least half a decade after I began trying to diversify my casts.)

A lot of guys find that writing female characters is difficult. To be honest, I don't think writing a girl is any harder than writing a boy. I can't remember if this was always the case; I think it was, but it certainly is now. I don't claim to be perfect at it, but it's not like my male characters are perfect either. It's all about getting into the character's head--not getting into a girl's head, getting into the character's head. That's the secret, I think. Handling each character as a person and not a cliche based on their gender. It's also what makes it fun for me! What is this character feeling now? How will they react to this? What's going on in their head? If I had their background and experiences, what would I do in their situation? I love it! It's probably why I love writing more than reading. When I'm reading I only get to observe the characters. It's no different than real life, other than the fact I get to peek inside their thoughts whenever the author lets me (which is always appreciated). But when I'm writing, a part of me gets to be that character, and this is an exciting opportunity that real life just doesn't afford.

I don't know. Maybe it's easy for me because I don't fit the mold of a stereotypical man? I do have a tendancy to prefer "cute" things. I'm also very much introverted, despite how often I fight it. I avoid conflict when possible. I don't like defining myself by my job or my work (even though I usually do). Though I enjoy sports from time to time, and I love to play softball when afforded the chance even as horrible as I am at it, I'd almost always rather be doing something else than watching a game and I never bother keeping up with stats and players (as a child I always expected that I would grow out of this, because men are supposed to like sports, but I never did). And as a kid I was a cry baby with an embarressing low tolerance for pain! It makes me depressed sometimes when women I know are talking about "you know how men are" when listing their faults, and their husbands laugh and agree because they're guilty of all charges, but I want to argue "What about me? I'm a man, but I'm not like that at all!"

But I think that's exactly the point. Boys are different from girls. That much is true. I'd argue that far more of our differences are social constructs and learned behaviour than people want to think, but we are still different beyond and above even those. Yet here's the thing. Not only are boys different from girls, boys are different from boys and girls are different from girls. You're probably getting tired of me hearing this, but it's true: everybody is different.

(On a side note, this is why I think the recent push to segregate schools into boys classes and girls classes with no interaction between the two is complete and utter bullcrap. The idea that every boy is hard-wired to feel thrill from competition and confrontation, and the idea that every girl is hard-wired to yearn for cooperation and soft-spoken encouragement is bunk. Teaching to stereotypes doesn't solve any problems, it just hides them by pushing other ones to the forefront. Not every boy thinks the same or learns the same way, and neither do girls. I wouldn't have felt energized by a teacher yelling in my face when I was middle school age. I know from experience that I would have broken into tears!)

Which brings us to the million dollar question of the day. When men write strong, believable female characters they're applauded and held up as outstanding examples. But when women write strong, believable male characters it's not considered unusual. I know how few people read this journal now, but I have to ask the girls out there: how hard is it for you to write a male character? Is it harder than writing a female? Do you think you struggle as much as guys seem to? I'm honestly curious about this, because I don't think writing characters of the opposite sex should be as difficult a problem as people seem to be having with it.

In closing, I must say that it feels good to be writing longer entries again. Even if they are poorly constructed and nobody else is reading them. XD

I think that soon I will write some thoughts on a similar, touchier subject: writing characters of a different race.