Monday, June 10, 2019

Arms of Flock of Dogs

A long time ago, I had 4 guns you could equip in Flock of Dogs. The shotgun, the sniper, the battle rifle, the assault rifle, and the pistol. Inspired by Halo, as placeholder weapons. You can see a floating machine gun sprite below:


Eventaully, I removed them from the game and limited players to only use what had been the pistol, but with an infinite clip, and then worked on other parts of the game. And over time, I've felt that I wanted to move the focus away from ranged combat for 3 reasons:

1. Ranged wants to keep their enemies across the screen from them, which means that if there's multiple dog riders targetting different enemies, it gets awkward for them to manage their screen space.

2. Visually very cluttered with everyone's projectiles flying everywhere.

3. Upgrades for ranged weapons usually means more projectiles, faster, bigger. These aggravate the above issues.


So anywayaya. I've made 4 weapons. They are a bow, flail, lance, and shield.



Arrow damage: 8 points
Knockback: 12 units of force
Range: 60 units of distance
Auto draw time: 0.33 s
Bow rotation speed: 720 degrees / s

The bow is fairly straightforward now. Initially, I had you manually draw the bow and struggled with the decision of what happens if you do not fully draw your bow: a weak attack or no attack? If a weak attack, how is that visually communicated? Does the bow automatically fire the direction you're aiming, or is there a bit of drag between your actual input and the rotation of the weapon? (that was a decision I had to make for the lance and shield too). Considering that you'll be doing lots and lots of shooting, it would simply be annoying to fail your shots. Which is, in fact, how pretty much every bow works in video games. The idea of a weaker attack, in the context of this game, seems difficult to communicate and unnecssary.


Flail ball damage: 9 points
Flail ball knockback: 8 units of force
Flail max angular velocity: 1080 degrees / s
Flail min angular velocity: 360 degrees / s
Time to increase angular velcoity from min to max: 2 s
Range: ~5.5 units of distance 


Of course, the first thought for a melee weapon was a sword, which I had actually made a few months ago as an upgrade for the mop, but that may get tossed at this point. I wanted one weapon that wouldn't actually require use of the 2nd thumbstick (aiming). This provides a lower skill floor and a kind of accessibility. The flail fit that perfectly. I experimented with slowing down your movement speed whilst flailing, but it's already somewhat challenging to close in on enemies considering the flail has the shortest range of the current weapons anyway. Plus, what's really the harm in allowing players to be constantly flailing? There may come a time when there's a cost to that, if I decide to implement weapon durability.



Lunge thrust damage: 20 points
Lunge knockback: 15 unity of force
Lunge range: 13 units of distance
Poke damage: 2 points
Poke knockback: 3 units of force
Poke range: 8.5 units of distance
Charge up time: 0.0625 s
Lunge duration: ~ 0.3 s
Poke duration: ~ 0.1 s
Lance rotation speed: 360 degrees / s

The lance delivers a lunge attack if your momentum in the direction of your attack is above a small threshold. Otherwise, it just does a poke. Both attacks can pierce (do damage to multiple enemies). Whereas with the bow I opted not to have a half charged attack option, delivering a well executed attack is everything with the lance and the damage it does matches that. The input is such that if you pull the trigger and hold it, you won't attack until you release. If you just pull and release immediately, your character will complete fully pulling back the lance, and then attacking (thrust/poke). I experimented with just requiring you to charge up the lance fully to do a lunge, and also not having two types of attacks, but rather you just fail to attack if you don't fully charge up. But the idea of flying to the right and then being able to to a lunge thrust backwards, against your momentum, doing full damage, upset the combat realist in me. Currently, I don't check your momentum until the lance has been fully 'charged' or brought back in preparation to strike, which takes like .0625 seconds. I may instead do the check at the time you start 'charging up' your attack, but then I'll hvae to handle the case where you choose to hold the lance in its charged up state. idk.


Time to expand shield: 0.1 s
Shield bash range: 2.5 units of distance
Shield knockback:  20 units of force
Shield holder speed reduction: (uses a air resistance formula based on the square of the velocity of the player)
Shield rotation speed: 1080 degrees / s
Shield expanded rotation speed: 90 degrees / s

The shield slows your movement when it's expanded. It also cannot be aimed as quickly when it is expanded. It also delivers a shield bash when it is expanded. Before I had the idea of expanding it, it was very simple, you just moved and aimed. I knew I wanted a shield bash, however, and I didn't want to involve a second button in weapon usage. I didn't want the player's movement to be permanently retarded by just simply having the shield, so the idea of 'wielding it' or 'holding it up' popped into my mind. So that became the unfurling of the shield.


Their visual polish is not complete and there are some systems (upgradability, durability, solar energizability) that I'm considering. At the moment, I'm more interesting in developing these 4 weapons, rather than making a large arsenal to choose from. These could take many forms. What I'm leaning towards is a small weapon rack on board the whale where you can swap out which weapon you're actively using. This would work similarly to how I had harpoons in the game previously, which I may bring back. So at any time, you can hold 1 weapon and 3 harpoons. Maybe. Or maybe harpoons act as another weapon. And maybe you can have 2 weapons at any time. I lean away from upgrades and prefer the idea of using the solar power as temporary power boosts to weapons that perhaps allow for their special attacks. I think this may be the place where I reincorporate my previous features of the replicator shield (a shield that triples your allies shots that pass thru it) and the electric tether (a rope attached between two players that electrocutes the enemy when they cross it).

By durability, I refer to the weapons being breakable/consummable. The idea of durability just ties into the greater design goal of symbiosis of whale, dog, and rider. The whale needs the riders to fight off attacks and the rider needs the whale to hold its weapon stores. However, issues arise when you're (a) out of weapons completely, (b) how to indicate a weapon's current durability hp, (c) when you swap out a half used up weapon for a fresh one at the weapon rack, (d) determining how each weapon loses its durability. I have some soultions for this, but maybe it will just be annoying to have your weapons wear out on you? There's this general concept of the dog and rider pit stop, which I believe is a very big part of the symbiosis experience I'm trying to design. The pit stop goes something like this: dog and rider have been flying around collecting resources, enganging in combat, landing on islands, whatever. Now the dog is low on water, perhaps its lost a few hearts, and the rider's weapon is broken, and there's a ruby the player has just found. So this is a perfect time for a pit stop. The rider can fly back to whale, dock the dog, walk the ruby up to the whale's mouth, grab a new weapon. The dog gets sprayed down, and fed, and takes a brief nap. And then the rider mounts back up and heads back in the blue skies.

Anyway. I'll talk about the dogs' hydration and food systems anoyther time. I've changed them slightly.


My favorite weapon is the lance! Yayaya!



Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Getting Good at Grass

Hello.

I've been working steadily on Flock of Dogs.

According to my standard for myself, I'm pretty happy with the amount of work I've done in the last few months. The online networking code works decently well all things considered. I held my 2nd online Flock of Dogs playtesting and while we found a bunch of bugs, I've fixed a bunch of them immediately after the playtest.

I've recently decided it's time to do a big, (probably) penultimate, art pass. Starting primarily with environment art, following in the style of the Dr. Seuss-like trees I've blogged about. Basically, using a sort of ink-imitation line art, filling sections witih solid colors and using hashing and contextual black lines for shading. I am going to be trying to get good at using my tablet, instead of the mouse, because that should pay off in productivity eventually. (I've used the mouse for the treehouse, the dogs, and the players, with some very rough pencil sketches that I uploaded iPhone photos of and then traced over). My tablet is small and cheap, but functional and I'm going to switch from using GIMP to Krita after spending some time looking into it. Krita has a good, new community, handles animation way better, and the aesthetics of it are much preferable. I even prefer its name and icon, which like is a sad subsittute for the tactile satisfaction of actual brushes, canvases, paint, or polymer clay and a knife. (Maybe I should get a mechanical keyboard......)

Here's the islands I drew (still using mouse in GIMP, but after this blog...tablet and Krita!):




For reference, here's a really old screenshot, a kinda old screenshot, and a brand new screenshot:



These most recent iterations on islands will probably be final art. I'll draw a bunch of them, and then they'll be procedurally dropped into levels. Or for hand made levels/areas, I'll pick which ones to use and/or draw custom ones. Same process for the other environments in the game.

I've removed Twitter and Instagram from my phone (after having removed dating apps some time before) and I'm happier for it. I'm going to try harder to blog and post on Twitter/Instagram in intentional, consistent ways. But I'm not going to beat myself up over it. I only beat myself up over losing in soccer and not flossing and not working on actual game development. I've been on a good streak in 2 of those things. The flossing is a struggle.

Peace out.

Monday, December 17, 2018

As Good A Time As Any

So when I've finished a feeature for my game, I'm usually tired and happy and I want to eat, sleep, go outside, play soccer, something, and not write a blog. If I'm in the middle of adding a feature, I don't want to blog bc I'm busy. And if I'm just starting a new feature, well then what's there to blog about? Which offers you this chilling challenge: to comment below on what stage of feature development I'm in right now!

Anyway.

So this will just be a general update from what I've done in the last month.

I have a playground arena where you can spawn clouds, monster dens, monster pods, empty rock dens, a wrench, gems, dogs, whales, whale equipment. There's two islands that you can land on and take off from and walk around on.

And I have the gauntlet mini-fake-campaign that has 3 levels that are each the same rectangle size with slightly different enemy spawns and one level has a fruit tree and you can fly your flock through the 3 levels and loop through them over and over until your flock meets its bitter end. Your health and water do not replenish, except for the fruit tree on the first of the three levels start with like 12 fruits, but doesn't replenish when you repeat the levels.

And this all kinda works over the internet!!!!!!!!!!!11
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
!!!!!!!!!!11
!!!!
!

I say 'kinda', bc to test it, I just run two builds of the game simultaneous, enable 'run in background' and then tab between the running applications to play as two different users. Which is awkward and not a thorough way of testing.

I also haven't totally totally finished syncing everything over the network, like espcially if a player joins late, only some of the stuff will sync, but everything should maybe probably work fine if everyone starts together. And I'll confess that I had most of this stuff (that I have mostly working) done before Thanksgiving, which is when I said I'd share something playable. Of course, no one pestered me about failing to meet my promise, which was both a test of you and a test of me, to see how we both handled the psychological damage to our relationship due to the lame predictability of not meeting deadlines. But as I jsut said, I basically coulda met the deadline, I just didn't share it. That's partly because I didn't want to spend Thanksgiving weekend sending out a bunch of emails/Tweets/Instagram posts/Facebook posts/blog posts/Discord messages trying to get testers, or explain how to play, or fix the deluge of bugs, because I'm all about not overworking and really want to hone my ability to not overwwork and because I just wanted to eat and drink and do an escape room with old friends and then eat and drink some more and play Avalon.

But then after Thanksgiving, I got really into adding new enemy sounds and a dynamic enemy-crashing-into-island feature, which I'm very excited about and then I also got really into redoing the water system with using Unity's particle system's built-in collisions, and adding a 'wet skin' feature, and finally learning about Unity's tile map feature, which I may now swap out from my simple one.

Oh, and I also spent like a few days getting the hose's shadow to dynamicly match its position (because I couldn't just use a simple Unity sprite mask, since the hose uses a line renderer) and then beceause the hose can be held at various altitudes (at the standard whale/flying dog altitude or on the island's surface altitude) that meant the hose's shadow has to both show up on the island, which an appropriate offset and sometimes show up on the whale, with a much smaller offset. Anyway, it still doesn't seemlessly match the island's edges, but I'm still surviving without having to learn how to write shaders, which seems like an invesment worth doing..........later.

Also, other than the usual November proceedings of celebrating my birthday, veterans day, and Thanksgiving, in the last month, I went to a wedding in Newport without any single girls, a wedding in Nashville without any alcohol or dancing, and camping in Joshua Tree without a tent.

Hung out with my nieces, played some good and some bad soccer. Went to free yoga on the bluff in Long Beach.

Played Eclipse a few times.

So will I now share my game so people can test it?? Idk. But I'm done blogging!

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Birthday Goal & Thanksigiving Goal

On my BIRTHDAY on November 10th, YOU can play the alpha of FoD Online TM (lol)! By which I mean, you can play maybe modes (1) and (2). On Thanksgiving Day, YOU can play (3) also.

Maybe...I hope.

These are the three planned modes:
(1) Playground 
(2) The treehouse demo (first level of game, offline only right now) 
(3) Gauntlet 


Playground: Basically an an open space where you can mess around alone or with friends. Spawn any items, spawn upgrades for the dogs and whale, spawn enemies to fight, reset the level, whatever. This is goal 1. This is basically my testing space for the interactions between all the stuff in the game. This would synced online. Players can join and quit. This is where I hope lots of bugs can be reproduced and thusly solved.

Treehouse demo: Basically the demo I've shown the past few months, which starts at the Treehouse and ends at the Air River. This mode will be offline only.

Gauntlet: And online version with up to 8 players. Start the whale off with 4 random station upgrades and 6 dogs. Then you play through 3 very basic levels of inreasing difficulty (read: just more enemies probably) over and over. The levels wouldn't spawn new health or upgrades. There would be a high score game, where after any level you can choose to "turn back", which means you have to play through the same number of levels you've already gone through, still with no new whale food or dog food. Your score would be some calculation like:

KILLS x 10 pts + UNEATEN DOG FOOD * 30 pts + GEMS * 50 pts + GOLD = SCORE

BBBbbbuuuttt.....if you successfully "turn back" and make it "home" you'd get like a 2x score bonus. So you can think of two runs that are basically identical. A team plays through 10 levels and then dies with a total of 2500 points. Another team plays thru 5, then "turns back" and makes it through 5 withi a total of score of (2500 x 2) = 5000 pts. Anyway. Just a little gamification!!!


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This will be my birthday present to us! I waffle between the self psychological management dilemma of (a) if you  tell people your goals, you're less likely to achieve them, because we get some sort of fake feedback as if we'd already achieved them, simply by telling people and (b) if I tell people my goals, I feel accountable and it can create a kind of deadline, which is motivating. I don't know what the future holds!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

BFIG and John Carmack Highlights

BFIG Highlights:

  • @turtleverse showing up at my booth before I realized the festival had begun and handing me his two votes and proceeding to play the demo.
  • Seeng two little kids who were terrible at my game and I thought were getting really frustrated and never got past the thorny vines north of the treehouse, but I never talked to them or tried to help them and they left. But like an hour later I saw one of them come back and give me her votes. 
  • Seeing a family of four who were terrible at my game and I thought they were getting really frustrated and didn't get past the thorny vines north of the treehouse, and I only talked to them once*. But like an hour later the mom came back and gave me several votes.
  • Having the 12 year old kid I used to mentor as part of Big Brother Little Brother program help me in the booth. Especially playing balloon soccer while everyone else was packing up their booths.
  • @turtleverse bringing back more of his friends to check out Flock of Dogs
  • Seeing a group of young adults play my game and thinking they had come as a friend group and then finding out they had just met each other and secretly hoping the guy would ask for the girl's number and somehow Flock of Dogs could be credited with bringing together two lovers, but I don't think it happened.
  • Chatting with the game devs next to me (makers of Hexile) and across from me (maker of Katie) and behind me (makers of Austen Translation) and down the aisle (makers of Skorcery).

*The time I helped them was because they revealed a bad design by me. They accidentally landed on the island of the thorny vines north of the treehouse. But they didn't know how they landed (holding A) and they didn't know to take off (also holding A). But once they accidentally took off again they were trapped between the thorns and the floating tetromino piece...so anyway. Bad design. I've since restructured where/when landing is taught/is possible.

Um. Yeah, who knows about the marketing value of going to events like this. But having this kind of deadline and getting to see people play my game is really cool. I could make a separate list of highlights for just being back in Boston, most of which would be playing with two of my old soccer teams and winning all my games and scoring some sweet goals and hanging out with old friends.

Anyway, I came across this quote from John Carmack. And I've bolded, italicized, and changed the text color of the part I found encouraging!:

I spent a lot of time last week at Oculus Connect giving advice to developers across the App Reviews, Start session, and hallway conversations.

Since we started, my reaction to the vast majority of mobile VR titles has been that they have fairly straightforward tactical quality and design points that have failed to be addressed.
Many of these are almost checklist things, and I have pointed a lot of them out over the various app reviews I have posted.

However, it is possible to check all the boxes and still wind up with a competently implemented game that just doesn’t have any soul.
I see a lot of games that are aimed at filling a slot — “a FPS”, “a strategy game”, “a puzzle game”, “a space game”, “a roller coaster”, and so on.
“Doing reps” with game development is an important part of growing your skill set, and generally a necessary step on the path to doing something important, but don’t be surprised when the project with all that time and effort poured into it vanishes without a trace in the market.

If you intend to do reps, plan and optimize your strategy around maximizing your experience gained while still producing something of modest value with little expectation of return. When you want to make an impact, I think the most important advice is:
Build something that at least some people LOVE.

Games are a matter of taste, which varies widely. Hitting on something that everyone thinks is fantastic is unlikely. If it turns out that you have made something that at least a few people are ecstatic about, even if lots of people think it is garbage, then you have a better kernel to grow from than something that is widely considered just ok.

For instance, I'll stand up for Daedalus and Thumper. Bait and Pet Lab aren't really to my taste, but I know people that do love them. There is definitely something there. On the other hand, there are hundreds of games on our store that have probably never gotten a single heartfelt customer recommendation.

The difference between something you use and something you love is the details, both engineering and design.

We have had some borderline-acrimonious discussions internally around “delight” — I argue that applications should be functional first, because delight doesn’t last, and often comes at the expense of efficient function. Games are different, and many can almost be viewed as essentially just a sequence of delightful interactions.

Watch your players very carefully as they play. The smile, grin, cheer, or even focused look of intensity is your signal to chase. Design inspiration may provide the initial points, but hard work iterating on it is how you hill-climb to the best version.

If you have even a few true fans, keep your project alive! VR is still very young, and most of the potential players of your game haven’t even thought about buying a headset yet. Land’s End was a great experience three years ago, and it is still a great experience today.
This is easy to screw up. I wanted to go back and add some things to the old Oculus Arcade project, but I found that it hadn’t been archived with all of the support libraries, and I wasted an afternoon trying (and failing) to get it building with current systems.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

BFIG Judge Mayor Max

Listen, I totally don't care at all about winning awards. What I truly care about is getting nominations. And I realize I've made a huge mistake. Or maybe I simply just don't belong. When you submit to BFIG, you have to pick a category for your game. These were the options:

"Compelling game Mechanics"
"Innovation in Art and Design
"Experimental Game Design"
"Multiplayer and Connected Gameplay"
"Student"

Both last year and this year I've chosen "Multiplayer and Connected Gameplay" as my category. Described thusly:

Description: 
The Multiplayer and Connected Gameplay category seeks games that promote a shared experience with multiple people at its core. This includes both online and local multiplayer games. Local games include traditional turn-based play by sharing a controller and simultaneous play by having multiple people play using the same controller or multiple controllers at once. We are looking for games that are enticing to bystanders, encouraging those not playing to be a part of the experience. This can include the audience guiding the individual(s) playing, aiding the player(s) by sharing information, cheering for a close match, and anything else that can make a spectator feel invested in the game even if they aren’t the ones directly playing it. Games designed with live streaming in mind that compliment game streaming culture are highly encouraged. 
Examples of games:Towerfall, DayZ, Rocket League, Jackbox Party Pack 
This is the Category for You If……you would like your game to be judged primarily by its multiplayer experience, both as a player and as a spectator.

And I should have learned. Because after you submit, you get some judges to play your game and provide personalized feedback, whether or not you're accepted into the festival (which is awesome). Last year, I noticed that the question prompts that the judges use for their feedback didn't apply very well to my game. What I didn't realize is that they were specific to my category. So this year, when I submitted my game and choose the same category and got back the same form with the same questions, I realized that my game just doesn't fit the "Multiplayer and Connected Gameplay" as it is judged. These were the questions the judges used to evaluate Flock of Dogs [my own responses if I were in a judge are in brackets below]:


1. Controls: Are the controls easy to pick up and understand?

[Flock of Dogs has very many different control schemes, bc there seems to be a limitless number of ridiculous and wondrous things you can do in this game! Admittedly, the recent changes to whale piloting has been frustrating for some, but I hear the dev plans to change that ASAP. Also, many fine folk are not familiar with twin-stick shooters and that has a learning curve, but pays out in the end because of the sweet feeling of twin-stick action! So neither here nor there for 'easyness'.]


2. Competition: How well does this game bring out the competitive side of you when playing with others? 

[Flock of Dogs provides a much needed respite from the deluge of competitiveness in multiplayer games and especially local multiplayre games. There is no PvP, so no arena or rounds. There is the flock and the whale and they either fly or fall together. And where the few games that claim to provide a system for cooperation, you're often left still imbrued in underhanded competition for high score, or being the first to collect loot. Flock of Dogs outstandingly creates a sense of being part of something bigger than yourself, more important than your self. Like mopping a dirty whale. Or protecting the pups of the flock, while your brother and sister dog riders fend off flying monsters. Or something. So basically like anti-competitiveness.]


3. End Game: When someone wins the game, does it feel fairly awarded? Does the winner feel a sense of accomplishment beating others?

[Can someone have the dev notify me know when someone gets to the end of Flock of Dogs, pls? I've literally played this game for hundreds of hours and I seldom get to the third level. From treehouses, to whalesmiths, to beast caves, to floating sky inns, there's so much to discover. And also I always feel like a winner, so I don't what it feels like to not feel like how I feel so...N/A.]


4. Audience Engagement: Does a bystander watching the game feel invested in the experience? Are they likely to provide advice during the game to a friend or root for a player or certain outcome?

[Most bystanders don't know what the heck is going on tbh, oftentimes approaching the screen feeling compelled to utter their thoughts, "What is going on?" I've heard the dev mutter that they hate explaining to people 'what is going on' or answering 'what am I supposed to do' because they've created a new display of the fantastic in the form of a video game, which is supposed to be played and discovered. If the Flock of Dogs dev wanted to write a book, (well, I heard they want to write a book, too) then they'd have written a book. I might offer an extremely minimal critique, which some might even say is a plus, but while the bright colors are alluring, providing hope in a dismal, irony-saturdated, post 2016 world, the imagery is a little busy, difficult to determine what's important. The environmental art is unfinished and there is difficulty in distinguishing between ineratctable objects and cosmetic details. The relentless hue saturation is also fatiguing to the eye, but I heard the developer is struggling with restricting his palette while maintaining readability while having up to 8 players on screen together. I do not envy him or her. Also, the music, both the intro tune created by the dev's cousin and the song that ushers in the beginning of the adventure that was created by the dev's step brother, are lovely. Audiences cannot be pulled away.]


5. One More Turn: How likely are you to continue playing after the game has ended and a winner is declared?

[Very, very likely.]


6. Streamer Appeal: Is this a game a Twitch audience may find enjoyable to watch and interact with?

[Belies a misunderstanding of Twitch. In my experience, one watches (a) games one is into and/or (b) streamers that one finds charming. Actual Twitch integration seems gimmicky and doesn't really drive regular viewership, except for maybe that marbles game. Anyway, pretty sure I saw Lirik and LethalFrag wearing Flock of Dogs t-shirts on stream the other day. So yeah. Huge appeal.]


7. Final Comments/Suggestions for Developers (Open Ended): Please say a few final words to the developer about their game including suggestions moving forward with the game and if there were any technical difficulties starting or playing the game. 

[This game is a miracle. From one dev to another, my highest respects. I simply cannot wait until you finish this game. Believe in yourself and your beautiful, sensitive, heart.]



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Welp, I won't pretend to understand how, but Flock of Dogs didn't receive a nomination for best "Multiplayer and Connected Gameplay" game.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Movie Stars With Flashy Cars and Life With The Top Down

Oh boy I'm living the LA dream now. I went to the Strawberry Game Jam at Glitch City LA.

Glitch City LA is a coworking space created by successful indie devs in LA. It's not quite the Hollywood of game making, which...idk where that would be. Maybe sf. But it's cool.

See, the meetups I go to usually have mostly hobbyists and dreamers, full of passion and naivete. Oftentimes, people are trying to transition from other related fields and most are working on their first game. I fit right in. Hanging out at Glitch City feels like the indie big leagues. The members have actually released games and have expertise. I've been there twice and and I've chatted with a guy who is a game designer on the Last of Us 2, which is the first triple A dev I've ever met. And I met the guy who made Threes (you may have played its clone 2048) and he's also worked at Thatgamecompany. I was first invited to Glitch City by the guy who made Quadrilateral Cowboy (and Thirty Flights of Loving, which was influential to me a long time ago). Also part of their community is the guy who made Hyper Light Drifter, people who worked on Frog Fractions 2, Where the Water Tastes Like Wine, and more!!!!!!!!!!!

Anyway. It's a cool place and the people are friendly and it feels LA hip. It's in a converted warehouse with a loft, electronic equipment everywhere, open space desks, half empty bags of the trendy flavors of chips, messy fridge, moderately clean bathroom. This is in contrast to the Boston IGC, that shares a coworking space with Kayak in their slick, highly funded, tech startup Cambridge nook, fitting for an episode of Silicon Valley. Not unlike the OC Indies in their highly funded business complex with their delivery pizza, pallets of bottled water, and regularly cleaned floors, which could also do for an episode of Silicon Valley. Whereas the Nashville Indies group that meets in an extremely bland office building after hours and everyone is a little dorky, which would be fitting for an episode of The Office.

To be honest, The Office is better than Silicon Valley. But I do love both. And I can't think of a sitcom that would use Glitch City as a set piece.

I've been to Glitch City for a board game night and I went for their 'game jam', which is really more of a work jam. Glitch City opens to the public from noon to 7 pm on every other Sunday. You pay $10, you work on whatever you want, you can ask for help, about half way thru there's a time when the group gathers and everyone can ask a question, and at the end anyone can showcase what they've been working on. And there's snacks. I ate my fair share of snacks. It's recommended that you eat lunch before you go, since they only have snacks, but whenever I see such recommendations, I figure that my snack intake is generally a fixed rate. So I'm better off not skipping the meal before, from a purely caloric point of view. Nutrition is so complicated!

Right, so what I did with my time was to fix up the reworked solar panel and do some environment art. I'm excited about replacing the old monster spawn structures, which were just brown squares and lines. Going to replace it with a thorny monster den, which can catch fire, and can prick the dogs when they fly over. And with a rocky monster den, which can only be destroyed by cannonballs and ramming. And then in later biomes, or whatever I call the different sets of proc gen rules I come up with for the different levels, I'll make variations of the  monster dens.

Here's a gif from some of the new environment art: https://twitter.com/flockofdogs/status/1039044973084078081

After the jam was over, three of the Glitch City members played my game for about 20 minutes, then talked to me about its design and my goals for another half hour or so.

Here were some of their thoughts:

- Switch the docks on the whale to nests. This is cuter and disambiguates from the 'whale dock' affixed to the islands that the whale docks at. (Simple, perfectly fitting suggestion; implemented it when I got home)

- Can the A button and the X button be consolidated? The A button is used for accessing stations or 'getting on' things, while the X button is for picking up and putting down items. (Sounds like a very desirable goal, but I'm not sure how well it would work with how crowded it gets on the whale and if players' intention would be hard to guess when they're touching, for instance, a dog they might want to mount, the sack of dog food they might want to pick up, and also touching the laser turret underneath the whale flipper they may want to man...idk. I probably ought to try it, test it with folks, and make a decision then. Could be a huge help with the learning curve.)

- Maybe use a mini cam for entering the belly of the whale and make it 'bigger on the inside'. (Imaginative idea. Would allow me to replace the barrel inventory system, which I don't like the aesthetic of. There's something I do like about the consistency of the physical space in the game as it is, however. The treehouse and the buildings take up exactly the space they appear to. Same with the whale. The only time, currently, that I 'cheat' is when the whale enters a beast lair and then gets warped to a big brown cavern for the beast fight. Anyway, low priority at the moment, but maybe.)

- More discovery! They liked the opening area with the fast pace discovery after discovery, such as finding the solar panel, finding flying dogs, finding a whale, packing up the whale...and then that kinda slows down as you get in to combat. (This is a hard one to implement. It's like yeah...I'd love to be full of quirky, novel world building interactivity ideas endlessly, but it's taken me a long time to come up with the ones I got. Tough to replciate the million dollar idea of pegasus dogs....And while I get that the feel of the game once you enter the crew combat is very different from the whimsical discovery beginnings, I love both, and I'm hoping that they can interplay with pacing, help create a full world, and provide replayability)

- Submit to Indiecade? (Turns out I would be too late. And one guy said he'd wait until I'm finished.)

- Try to incorporate more 'physical' UI, such as the inventory circle. Suggested maybe show the area
from which dogs can nest - previously known as docking - on the whale. (I think it's a good idea. Something to keep in mind. I have a few ideas.)

- Why can't the dogs fly over the whale? This would feel more consistent with expectations, one guy said. (Not sure about this one, but I could easily test this out, which I've had it this way before, probably over a year ago tho. Currently, I like the physicality of the game and the things in the air bumping into each other, the dogs with the monsters, the dogs with other dogs, and dogs and monsters with the whale. It also makes it more difficult to access the open nests - previously known as docks - on the whale when your dog is dying. Also, it allows for the dogs to push the whale, which has been helpful in rare instances when the whale has gotten stuck. Idk.)

- The red ring of death looks like it's filling up, instead of being a count down. (To be honest, this was a placeholder animation. I implemented a quick fix when I got home making the ring gradually totally disappear, instead of only the top layer disappearing, which was giving the impression of the ring filling up, because the lower layer, that didn't disappear, was a brighter red. Would like to redo this UI/animation, but low priority atm.)

- One of them, like a minute into it, asked if I'm going to do online multiplayer. Then afterwards when discussing, one said he's not so sure he'd even be interested in playing it online. (Eh. I mean, they're both privileged to be part of a great gaming community with super easy access to local multiplayer on almost any platform. Glitch City has like 20+ coworking members. like 18/20 of my best friends don't live in my state.)

They disliked the idea of simply putting it up on itch.io and see what happens and see what people ask for, such as online mp. Maybe putting it on itch would be ok if done in conjunction with other things. (Yeah, I have no idea what to do in terms of marketing and release and community building.....except for Parsec!)

Overall, they said they enjoyed it. Wanted to play more of it and encouraged me to come back to Glitch City, which is in my plans.

Ayaya. Every time I go to blog I say to myself, "This time, only spend half an hour." but then I take a few hours. For no good reason. I reread this post and I just don't understand what took me so long. Whatever, doesn't really Matterhorn. Hafta walk my dog now. Bye bye.