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Success is the same as pulling a rubber band back as far as it will stretch. Will the stress break the band? Or will the stress launch the band forward and hit its target?
I shot my rubber band forward like a veteran player getting the lay on the same night of his prowl but never developing a lasting, loving relationship. Riding the hedonistic treadmill over and over for temporary instant satisfaction without connection will eventually gnaw at the soul of the most non-committal libertine.
My rubber band went somewhere. I shot it, and it definitely went…in a direction. My last game Sentry Knight Tactics was a shot in the dark. A hot, heavy passion-fueled ejaculate shot on the chest of an uncaring stranger and wasted when it was meant to grow up and be loved and nurtured into further development.
Sentry Knight Tactics was me playing darts but I didn’t even see the dart board. I just wanted to throw some fucking darts. I was good at throwing darts in the flash game era. I was even pretty competent at throwing darts for hire for other people’s games. I had a knack for throwing darts and for some reason I was making decent money throwing them. My belief and patterns of triumph had me convinced I could continue to aimlessly throw darts and succeed. My ego swelled in the wake of my easily-obtained success.
Having a big ego is the same as being the biggest fish in a little pond. You only can conceive what little you know. When the big fish self-image one possesses gets thrown into the ocean, he realizes that there are bigger fish, different fish, and a brutal, huge world with a strangely different food chain to navigate. The magnitude of the reality of this new hierarchy comes crashing into the conscious. Web games were the little pond; the industry is the ocean.
Anyway, I made a game. The score was average; the game made back about what it cost to make. The money kept me alive for a year. But I also had no goal when I was making the game; I had no point B to travel to from my current location at point A. There was nothing concrete I wanted to achieve other than arriving at achievement in abstract fashion. Without pre-defined parameters of success, its impossible to define if one achieved anything. Failure and success are contingent on having a framework to work in.
I somehow managed to convince several other human beings along on my blind voyage across stormy waters. The ship didn’t crash but it was a rocky journey. Knowing what I know now, I should never have captained that ship nor hired a crew to put in it… but I’m glad I did. I realized after the fact what goes into succeeding and developed a better compass for navigating toward success.
Success parameters are really simple: Is the audience happy and having fun? Do you make more money than it cost to produce a game? Does your team feel compensated and appreciated? The relationship needs to be mutually beneficial; happy team and happy players and happy wallet are all connected. It seems obvious now, but it really wasn’t back when I started SKT. I broke even financially, got a mediocre score and the stress of the journey burnt out my last programmer partner. These metrics indicate now that I didn’t succeed; I simply survived like I have been. But thats not good enough anymore since I’ve come to this realization, so I consider my endeavor a failure. However, information helping me arrive at this conclusion is invaluable and has given me the mental framework I need to go forward with development. So that also makes it highly valuable.
I didn’t care about anybody but me before, but that egocentric view has fallen away. I was leading on pure arrogance and selfish preservation. It was a blind lead the blind scenario. I know better what it takes to be a leader now. The only way to lead is to jump in and lead. You can never be prepared for it; you can never be taught how to lead - only to simply become a leader.
TL;DR - Failing is the absolute best way to know where success lies. Don’t be afraid to fall down and take a blow to the ego; it absolutely MUST happen.
Speaking of going forward, here’s a peak at some concepts so far of my new game:
This is part TWO of the tutorials I have been posting on how I animate effects in my games. I posted previously about how I handled effects for Sentry Knight Tactics, and want to continue to share my processes on here.
1. Gunfire FX
2. Simplified Walk Cycle
3. Slime Animation
Simple Walk Tutorial. Animate characters in 4 easy frames:
Slimes are a pretty common enemy in fantasy games. Heres how I am animating mine in my upcoming game:
Lately I have been posting tutorials breaking down how I animate effects in my games. I've been posting these for free on my twitter and sharing my files on patreon. I posted previously about how I handled effects for Sentry Knight Tactics, and want to continue to share my processes on here.
You can view each GIF here or follow the link in each title to read the full post for each.
Tutorial 1: Explosions. Click here for full post
Tutorial 2: Rain. Click here to read the rest
Tutorial 3: Flame/Torch. Click here to read more detailed notes
I post one of these every week for preview on twitter. Follow for more or support me for file access.
(This post is intended for programmers only. If you're not into that, you probably won't find this very interesting. However if you ARE one, you probably will)
I've been designing a roguelike-like top down action game as a spiritual successor to Sentry Knight Conquest - which you can play right here on Newgrounds. My current codename for the game right now is Realm Raiders. Here is the game doc, as it currently stands.
I need a programmer to work with me to make this game a reality.
What is RR about?
After the events of Sentry Knight Tactics and the destruction of the Nether, the fabric of reality is cataclysmically ripped apart by an awoken god. Players must reuinte the torn world by defeating the god and his minions that control each area. RR is a vibrant, chibi roguelike with heroes on a quest to topple a spurned ruler and a malevolent god.
Want to work with me?
I want to continue my series, but need a new partner to make it with. Making games requires a level of dedication, passion, and risk-tolerance. My last partner was awesome but realized the stress of making games was too much for him. And he was pretty damn talented and hard working. You'll need to at least match him.
Concept of RR gameplay.
How will you be payed
You will recieve half of everything the game makes. Additionally, during development I will secure funding
for us from our publisher.
What I need from you
Private message me on here with your portfolio. If you don't have any work, don't bother. Let's
not waste each others time.
Why should you trust me?
I have a history of making succsessful games on Steam and here on Newgrounds/ the web in general (check out my old flash games here). Below are the Steam games I've worked on.
Programers, get at me.
My new game Sentry Knight Tactics came out yesterday for PC/Mac and on Steam and Humble Bundle. Check out the trailer below. I started the Sentry Knight series early here on Newgrounds, amongst other portals, and this is my first Steam launch.
But Im not gonna talk about that in this post; you can read my older posts to learn more about the gameplay. This is gonna be more personal of an entry.
I've been working on this game for over a year and its always a big deal to see your baby finally go out the door. My team and I spent months and months pouring our lifeforce into a game and hope people get enjoyment out of it. Its been that way with every game, just more so with this one considering how big it is (for us).
My goal with game design, as is every endeavor in life, is to constantly improve and grow. It's been over a year since I started this game, and even longer since I put the last one out. Between shifting platforms, building a new audience, I was initially nervous about performance. But it's been pretty well recieved so far - over 700 people picked it up right away, and it has a high score on Steam, so I am very thankful and proud of that.
Pretty well recieved so far, awww yeah
I just wanna gush for a moment and say I couldn't have done any of this stuff without my online pals and peers who encourage and help me. Without Tom and Newgrounds to inspire me, I would never have made anything. Without Armor Games to be willing to take a risk and publish me, I probably wouldn't have been able to break into this exciting new market.
While I am proud of putting the game out, I also feel somewhat empty now that the game is out the door. I know I will begin working on a new game soon, but working on Sentry Knight Tactics daily for the last year became part of my routine and way of life. Now that its gone, I have a lot more time to reflect on it's strenghtns and flaws and learn from criticism for the next game.
I would make Sentry Knight Tactics all over again, but SKT is an isolated experience. A game made by some guys in isolation to be experienced by people alone, in isolation. That is the nature of RPGs, but I've undergone a major philosophical shift with how I design games while I made this one.
The primary purpose of games (to me) has become a source of connectivity. Through cooperation and competion, groups of people bond. My modern society has less conflict, more solo entertainment and less cohesion than it ever has before. These things can easily cause a person to become isolated from others. When I play online shooters or offline fighters with friends, there is a sense of a tribe - a hiearchy forms based on skill level and a need to communicate and work together becomes a real bond. The competition and cooperation bond of games may be synthetic, but I they can substitute and faciliate the essential ingredients of a group, at least temporarily. But games are supposed to be temporary distractions anyway. Multiplayer games can do wonders to connect very different people, and I want to create a game that is the foundation for connecting people.
TL;DR - Single player games are cool but I wanna make a multiplayer game next.
Conflict is the single most dynamic aspect in human life. My upcoming game revolves around conflict between multiple characters at any given time. Different enemies and heroes have varying behaviors and functions that create for interesting encounters that require players to react in different ways.
A game NEEDS to create new ways to interact with it. If player attention isn't kept, you've failed as a designer.
In my older post I talked about how to make combat look more interesting, but in this post we'll explore different types of mechanics to keep combat fresh and fun.
Standard Mechanics - Melee and Ranged
This is the most basic role of any unit in the game. Enemies and players alike, at the base level, perform their combat roles either at a distance or up close an personal. Units have varying attack speeds that determine how frequently they wait (play their idle animations) until they attack again.
Obvious standard damage units: melee or ranged
Evasion Mechanics - Bombers, Void Zones, etc.
Evasion enemies attack very differently than time based Standard enemies. Evasion enemies throw bombs, create acid pools, radiate lightning, etc. that deal massive damage - unless the player evades them. While the evasion enemies are powerful, their attacks are slow. Evasion enemies require players to react and move their units out of harms way if they are to survive.
Bombs and Acid Zones cause massive damage - be sure to evade them!
Support - Healers, Summoners
Support enemies, like the Necromancer, Troll Shaman and various others are capable of healing enemy units. These guys need taken out fast or else the will heal their allies faster than you can damage them. Some enemies, like Necromancer and many bosses, are capable of summoning allies to the battlefield. A single add may at first seem underwhelming, but if left unchecked, these summoned monsters can swarm and kill players quickly.
Necromancer summoning one more enemy to deal with
Control - Spider Web, Ice, Turn to Stone
Control enemies are enemies that are capable of pacifying another unit for a period of time. Spiders can ensnare players in webs, Beholders can turn players to stone temporarily and the Yeti can freeze players in a block of ice. These enemies should be dealt with quickly too - having a DPS unit stunned isn't a big deal, but if your healer becomes incapacitated, it can be the difference between life and death for the rest of your team.
Spider webs Priestess, rendering her unable to heal.
In the next post, I'll talk more about how the bosses fight mechanics work and explain hero mechanics following that. Here's a little preview of a boss encounter
Bosses are a hybrid of all the above mechanics, but most have even more unique abilities.
If you want to learn more about the mechanics my upcoming game Sentry Knight Tactics has, look for my post next week. Or if you're impatient and want free knowledge faster, you should look at my twitter.
Everyone else was making a post and I didn't want to be the odd man out.
See you at Pico Day, dirt bags.
A common approach to game design is designing around a core mechanic. With this, every action a player can perform and every response they make to the game should relate to the core mechanic.
I highly recommend this approach to mechanic design. Designing around the core mechanic helps simplify the design process and keeps all of your design decisions focused.
Below, I will explain how I use this diagram in my upcoming Sentry Knight Tactics.
Core Mechanic of Sentry Knight Tactics: Drag and Target
The core mechanic of Sentry Knight Tactics is Drag and Target with the mouse button. Drag and Target allows you to chose which unit you want to use, what action you want them to perform and what you want your unit to target.
All of your main available options in gameplay center around this technique:
Player drags a line to dodge enemy attack.
- Targeting an active unit is done by clicking that hero.
- Moving the party is done by dragging a line from your active unit to a target destination.
- Healing friendlies is done by dragging a line from your healer to a selected ally unit.
- Attacking enemies is done by dragging a line from your unit to a selected enemy unit.
And so on. You get the idea.
Secondary Mechanics refer to additional mechanics in the game that work in tandem with the core mechanic.
- Spells- Each character has 4 unique spells to unlock and multiple extra abilities they have to influence the tide of battle. These are generally are powerful attacks, healing or buffing abilities.
Example of one of Knight's tactical abilities. It stuns enemy units temporarily.
- Buffs/Debuffs - Temporary beneficial (or the contrary for a debuff) effect placed on units that alter their stats. For instance, some buffs might increase a player's defense to incoming attacks.
A sampling of the different types of buffs/debuff icons in game
Aggro - How enemies prioritize their target. The heavier armored characters like Knight produce more “aggro” and draw attention of enemies away from players more fragile units.
- Unit Type - Each character is either a tank unit (can take heavy damage), DPS unit (deals high damage up close or from afar), healing unit or buffing unit. Bosses have more unique mechanics, but I will cover designing those in greater detail in a future post.
Progression refers to how the player advances through the game. Progression could include anything from a steeper difficulty curve, mastery of mechanics, upgrades, the introduction of new enemies with new abilities and so on.
Players want new challenges and new ways to utilize the skills they’ve mastered and abilities they have unlocked.
Progression serves to incentivizie players. By giving players goals and showing them how much more powerful they will become or how much more fun the game will be when they unlock certain items or progress to a particular point, they are incentivized to invest more time in a game to reach that point.
Progression in Sentry Knight Tactics is measured by completing levels that increase in difficulty, leveling up characters, gaining new abilities and upgrading gear.
- Difficulty Curve - The game gets harder as players advance through levels. Enemies are deadlier, take more damage and have more advanced combat techniques in each subsequent level. Striking a balance that is progressively more challenging but not too challenging is key.
- Upgrading/Looting - Players upgrade their gear, equip better armor and weapons to increase their characters stats. These things directly affect gameplay. If a character is under geared, they have a poor chance of surviving a higher level battle. If a player has better gear, they will perform better in combat.
Invetory showcasing the player's items and gear they can equip.
- Leveling Up - Players level up as they gain XP by kill enemies and complete quests. The more they play, the more abilities and spells they unlock.
Narrative is the story you tell with your game. Narrative can make games feel like they have purpose and can provide an opportunity for engaging storytelling. It’s up for debate if this really even necessary in game design, but I find having a story in a game is favorable and appealing to players.
I’m not going to touch on narrative design though in this post. Sentry Knight never had a cohesive story until the launch of the spin off game, Sentry Knight Conquest. Initially, Sentry Knight was a generic world for me to play around with mechanics and not worry about canonical accuracy. I started designing Sentry Knight Tactics before Sentry Knight Conquest and it is there when I realized I needed to start fleshing out the world.
I have to admit, designing story is fun. Plus, anything that increases a players desire in investing time in your game is positive in my eyes.
Hopefully you find this post helpful.
I will try to keep a regular posting schedule but I am entering the final few months of development for Sentry Knight Tactics. Stay tuned to our twitter for more updates,
~Til next time.
The other week I posted about Simple Effects that Make Game Visuals Feel More Impactful. Building on that topic, this week I write about techniques and ideas I employ to make games feel more appealing to view.
Every week, I play a lot of games that are fun, innovate and mechanically sound yet bland to look at. In the web world, production quality can set you apart from the competition. If these bland-looking games took the effort to look better, they would score better. As the visuals of my games improved, their score and the money I earned from them increased.
Here are some of the ideas I use to make games more appealing to look at.
Next to character animation, backgrounds are arguably the most important aesthetic in a game. 2-D backgrounds need to look good since (for the most part) they remain stationary, unchanging and tend to take up most of the screen.
Humans are attracted to beautiful imagery. They’d rather play something beautiful over something ugly.
I once made a bland-looking game called Siege Knight. I then created Sentry Knight 2, a spiritual successor with better art. Sentry Knight 2 was hardly that different of a game, but was recieved better. Siege Knight recieved a score of 8/10 and Sentry Knight 2 scored 9.4/10. Sentry Knight 2 also was played millions of times more than Siege Knight.
(Screenshots from Siege Knight's art compared to that of Sentry Knight 2)
I am not a background artist nor particularly good at painting. Since backgrounds are my weakness and design and game animation are my strengths, I have Jason help with backgrounds.
There is nothing wrong with hiring someone to help you in areas you are weak in. Collaborating produces better results, in my opinion.
Here is a video of Jason taking my concept for the swamp level in Sentry Knight Tactics and rendering it beautifully.
On the subject of backgrounds, parallax can enhance the appeal of backgrounds further. Notice how having parts of the background on different layers makes otherwise stationary art dynamic and even more interesting to look at.
(Different layers move at different speeds in relation to the camera)
Beautiful backgrounds are great, but after a few seconds they become boring to look at. Adding ambiance makes these backgrounds feel more alive and they become more stimulating to the eye.
Ambience can be anything that adds character and a mood to the scene. In Sentry Knight Tactics, I add ambiance in several ways:
(Disclaimer: I temporarily borrowed the NG preloader snow forthis example
as a placeholder until individual snow is programmed in)
Simple animations such as snow falling, animals moving, characters breathing out hot air and snow kicked up by the wind make this scene feel more alive than if it were just stationary art. The effects help capture the mood of being in a blizzard.
My general rule of thumb is as long as things are moving, there is something for the eye to be stimulated by.
As seen in the examples above, I like to make my characters and interactable objects stand out from the backgrounds as much as possible. The painterly, outline-less backgrounds by Jason contrast with my bouncy, simplistic bold character aesthetics.
Myy characters always move, even when standing still. I mentioned this before in my older post Simple Effects that Make Game Visuals Feel More Impactful. The eye always is entertained by constant motion.
My hope is that posts like these encourage other up and coming devs to get better, increase the bar and in turn force the rest of us to work harder to stand out.
To any veteran devs out there, let me know what else you like to add to make things more fun to look at.
Next week, I'll talk about mechanics and systems that are rewarding and fun.
You can make games for fun and you can make games for money.
You can also do both at the same time.
As an budding developer, how can you make money off of your games? Or even find an audience to actually generate income from in the first place?
Learning to make money from your work can be confusing at first. You can’t make any money if you don’t have access to an audience. Getting an audience and making money is what I’ll be going over in today’s post.
I know a lot of talented developers who have no idea how to make money off of their work or how get their game in front of players- yet they've been making games for years! This post is intended to be helpful to them and beginners alike. This is a guide that I wish I could have read six years ago when I started making games.
10 out 10 people with money agree: "Money is pretty cool"
I’ve been making games for 6 years now. I made my first few games just for kicks. I wasn't thinking about money and was quite surprised when they generated some money. Four years after making games for fun, I went from amateur hobbyist to developing games for a living.
If you want to move beyond being a ameuteur designer, you'll need to be able to fund your bigger projects. You'll need to hire musicians, artists, sound designers and more, all of which cost money.
As a developer, having an audience is vital
When starting to make games, I highly recommend making "free" games. I put free in quotes because they are free to the player. There are lots of ways for the developer to make money though! I discuss that more below.
Free games are a very popular way to attract eyes because there is no price barrier for people to play your game. The sites your games get featured on (like Newgrounds!) will already have a well-established player base. From here, you can start building your own audience.
As for selling games, proving you have something worth players money when you have zero credibility is much more challenging. An existing audience makes this much easier. Having the support of an audience who like my games made getting on Steam much easier.
There are a lot of different ways to make money with your free games
There are many ways for you to make money off of a free game. You can post free games on the web and mobile platforms alike. Here are the different types of ways to make money off of free games:
1. Sponsorship - For free game developers, this is a great method. You complete your game and seek out a sponsor. You can email game sponsors directly to see if they’re interested in your game, or use a bidding site like FGL.com. Sponsors tend to pay you based on how well they think your game will attract players. Higher quality games tends to equal higher payment. Sponsors will put their logo on your game in an attempt to attract more players to their site and play their other games, thus making them more money.
- Almost all of my games available online use this method. I find it's the best way to make the most money in the web game world.
2. Microtransactions/Premium Content - In this method, you sell a game for free but offer more content to players should they decide to pay money.
- I haven't done too much of this but plan on doing it more in the future. I sold premium content in the form of extra levels and spells in Sentry Knight 2, and it sold just over 1,000 premium units.
- Some players view microtransactions as "evil". I disagree, as they help fund the developer to make more free content. I've personally become accustomed to buying microtransactions in games. I think MTX are totally fine if handled reasonably.
3. Ad-revenue - Ad companies will pay you money based on the amount of views/plays your content gets. The more plays, the more money you'll make.
- This is great if you have a game that manages to go viral like the one myself and @wolvegames made: Video Game: The Game. It was played by Pewdiepie and Markiplier and recieved an insanely high views because of them. Those views translate to even more Ad Revenue money.
You can (and should) combine all three of these methods to maximize your revenue.
Free games also have chances to spread virally to other websites, further increasing the eyes on your game. There are tons of platforms to release free games on: Flash, HTML5, Unity, mobile, etc.
The rules for success change when selling traditionally
When you move from free games to sell games "traditionally", the rules change. Getting in front of an audience is still vital, but a bit harder. Player's expectations for quality raises dramatically when selling a game.
The world of "traditional" digital sales is a new horizon for me. While I have worked on a few games that have sold on Steam, I am still quite new to this world. However, here are a few suggestions that worked for me and my partners that can help you gett your game out there to a paying audience:
1. Publisher - A publisher will financially support you to develop your game and then help you distribute and market your game. They are in touch with press and have connections to help get your games in the public eye. These people also tend to exhibit your games for you at game conventions. You will have to give them a percentage of your sales, but it's likely they'll help you get more sales than you would have without their help.
I'm currently doing this for Sentry Knight Tactics with Armor Games as publisher. I'll be sure to post about the process more in the future.
2. Bundles - These are digital bundles that include your game and multiple other games. They tend to be heavily discounted. Because of the savings, these bundles tend to sell a lot of units. Less popular games get a lot more sales if paired with more popular games.
Coin Crypt was featured in a bundle with some really popular indie games like Mercanary Kings, Freedom Planet and The Stanley Parable. Being sold alongside those games got it in the hands of people who never heard of it.
My hope is that this is helpful to newcomers or people struggling to find an audience.
I know there are quite a few veterans on this site who have had great success with sales on steam. Going forward, I think it would be cool to pick their brains to share with readers. If any veterans are reading this, please share your experiences!
I will be posting more thoughts like these and development posts of my game, Sentry Knight Tactics, every week in 2016.