Posts Tagged ‘Santa’s Rampage’

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Our (Evil!) Plans for Early 2014, VCD, RooksKeep, Finger Puppets

Our initial plan for 2014 was to have time end on the 31st of December 2013. As it turns out, there was betrayal, things were said, contracts with certain deities were severed and now we have to roll with the hastily concocted “Plan B”.

Cleaning up the Christmas fallout

First up, we’re working on fixes for the most troublesome problems in Viscera Cleanup Detail and its bonus editions. We’re hoping to be able to release updates weekly even if they only include fixes and the mostly uninteresting changes of the week. An update for the most pressing problems in VCD: Santa’s Rampage is scheduled for the end of this week. VCD: Shadow Warrior and full VCD will also be getting updates of course.

The next major step is getting VCD on Steam Early Access. It will involve a general polishing and sanding off the worst rough edges of what we already have – maybe there’ll be some new content too, we can’t seem to resist feature creep! That’s aimed at mid February.
Alongside VCD, we’re also going to be bringing RooksKeep to Steam now that it has been greenlit. The biggest change will be using Steamworks for the multi-player matchmaking and other online jazz. There’ll also be the usual raft of fixes and improvements.

All that has to happen at the same time as setting up some super serious business funk to vacuum up time and generate disruptions. Oh, and also experimental prototypes.

 

As for the finger puppets, we’re keeping those plans secret until the time is right to unleash the devastating fury on an unsuspecting world…


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Crunching the crunches: Rooks Keep, Viscera Cleanup Detail and the time demons

The way we have been working is not sustainable, especially the crunches just before release. Several days on my work log peaked over 15 hours and that is not really sane. …And that log doesn’t count lunch or any other breaks as work time (unless lunch is eaten with the other hand on the keyboard)

There has been a lot of this crunching because there have been many releases.
Going back to June, we finally pushed through to get Rooks Keep released which was met with a pretty depressing reception. That was not really surprising. We realised as development dragged on that it was a mistake to make such a big game with no clearly communicable hook, but we wanted it done.

Rooks Keep members enjoying a sunny morning

Very shortly afterwards, born from a thread of otherwise rather cynical contemplation, inspiration struck and we dove into Viscera Cleanup Detail.
After that we had the deal to do VCD:Shadow Warrior and that took longer than expected. Following that a major update for VCD and the insane idea of VCD: Santa’s Rampage came up. We could either cram it in before Christmas with a very tight deadline or wait a year (yeah, that’d work…)

Merry Christmas! Now you're all gonna die!

We crunched to get VCD v0.2 on the date we’d set for the end of November and went straight into VCD:SR for 2 more weeks. Arn started working on Santa after regular VCD work and I gradually started as VCD v0.2 neared its target. It wasn’t all *gruelling, but it was not healthy and the team needs a break.

All in all, it has been a pretty punishing schedule and it was all compounded by my eye surgery and subsequently complicated recovery which devoured lots of time before and around VCD:SW.

Nooooo! Not the face!

However, time management has been steadily improving – we somehow got 5 significant releases out on schedule in the last 6 months – but it’s not nearly good enough.
Getting this right is a major focus of mine for the coming year. Properly spacing out milestones and being disciplined about feature creep is going to be challenging, especially since ‘feature creep’ introduced some of the most interesting elements of VCD. Allowing space for unexpected changes and time to experiment will need to be done. This is challenging because it is planning around the unknown, combined with the perpetual certainty that there is not enough time to do everything already on the list.

This tank is rated ONLY for green monstrosity growing fluid, never use other types of monstrosity growing fluid!

It is also vital to make sure there is time to continue experimenting with new prototypes. Game jams and experimental projects are not just a way for studios to possibly scoop a new hit, for indies, I feel they are essential to long term survival, because the ability to produce crazy, unique and unconventional games is one of our best edges compared to big studios with massive production capacity. Making one new crazy game that stands out is great, but once that becomes old and done, we need to have something new up our sleeve and it better be damn good and it better not be the same as everything else. In order to reach that, many prototypes must be produced and discarded in the process. Somehow, those have to be produced while still developing the main, proven games.

That will be an interesting challenge and it won’t happen at once. It will be a continuation of the process that has (I think) been evolving and improving. I will just put more concious effort into it and try to push myself to better understand where the limits of the game development process are for us.

Yeah, considering the evil inside that machine, this is about as close as you wanna get

TL:DR – Less burnt-out devs, more crazy stuff, time will kill us all – don’t say I didn’t warn you!

 

 

*some of it really was; fucking physics, yeah you!


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