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game development

v1.0 Progress Update

John and Jimmy.png

Guts and Glory v1.0 Progress Update

Work on the huge v1.0 update for Guts and Glory is coming along nicely, and I'm pleased to say that the main content development is now complete.  Things are moving on into the QA Testing, Bug Fixing, and Optimization stages.  This can take a while, but as soon as I have a firm date, I'll be sure to post it everywhere.

The awesome team at tinyBuild has now begun the console porting work too.  I've been getting a ton of the same questions about this lately, so I hope you'll help me spread the word.  The goal is to get Guts and Glory out on PS4, Xbox One, and maybe even the Nintendo Switch sometime this Summer!  PC release might be sooner or at same time, not sure yet.

It's always been a dream of mine to have a game on a Nintendo system, so this would be one big item to check off my Bucket List :D

Community Growth

Thanks to a recent post by UNILAD on Facebook, and the hilarious Let's Play commentary of YouTuber TheRealGMat, the Guts and Glory Community has seen a huge spike in growth lately!  Hell, G&G even made it to the top of page #2 on Steam's Best Seller list this week!  

Thank you guys for all the support :D

Thank you guys for all the support :D

This is great news for everyone because it's also caused a nice bump in the creation of Steam Workshop tracks.  There are now over 1,200 levels made by the amazing G&G Community!

The quality of these levels continues to improve as well, as players learn more about the Level Editor.  I can't wait to see what you all make with this once all the new Workshop content releases for v1.0!

Competition is tough at the top!

Competition is tough at the top!

Guts and Glory has also seen a surge in live streams on Twitch lately too!  This has been really fun to watch, as everyone is starting to get pretty aggressive at competing for World Records on the Steam Leaderboards. 

I was even able to drop in on a couple of the live-streams and do a couple giveaways and chat with everyone, which was a lot of fun.  Maybe I'll see you on a Twitch stream in the future!

Guts and Glory OST.jpg

Original Soundtrack Glory

Guts and Glory has over 1 hour of original music.  I've received several requests for an OST download, and I'm happy to say that I've gotten all the licensing stuff ironed out and should be able to put this up on Steam around the same time as the v1.0 launch too!

That's it for now!  Just wanted to give you all a quick update on how things are going, and I look forward to seeing all the custom tracks you make and hilarious videos/streams of Guts and Glory!

Hat Collector

-- Next Steam update: mid-May --

Over 30 hats to unlock!  COMING SOON

Over 30 hats to unlock!  COMING SOON

I was hoping to release a small update today, but at this point it makes more sense to roll it into the next one.  So you can expect a big content update in the middle of May!

In-Game Rewards

Did you finally beat that last, super hard track?  Or upload your first Workshop level?  Or kill little Jimmy for the 100th time?  Then you, my friend, deserve a reward.

What better way to show off your accomplishments than with some sweet new headgear!  Classy black top hats, shiny red beer caps, and even a big pile o' poop are only some of the amazing hat rewards you can unlock.  Now you're rollin' in style!

beer hat

I've gotten 36 hat rewards built into the game so far.  These will be linked to various Steam Achievements as development continues, and a counter on the far right will show you how many you have collected versus how many are currently available, which will increase with each update.  Gotta collect 'em all!

poop emoji hat

Stats & Achievements

Steam Achievements are finally coming to Guts and Glory!  I'm working on some basic in-game stat tracking and linking all of this to Steam's Achievements system.  If all goes well, Steam Achievements will be available in the next update.

Any special requests for Achievements?  Let me know on Twitter!

-- Next Steam update: mid-May --

Efficiency Overhaul

Hey y'all!  Just want to give you guys a quick update, let you know what I've been up to lately and what's coming up next....

Spring Cleaning

It's that time of year... time to catch up on all those annoying chores I've been procrastinated on for months, clean things up and get more organized and efficient.

This past week I've been navigating my way through accounting and tax hell (damn you Uncle Sam!), moving all of my equipment to a dedicated office space in the house, and doing a lot of much needed "spring cleaning."  I also cleaned up all of my project files and setup a secondary backup system to save things to the cloud in case anything catastrophic were to ever happen.

It was a pain in the ass, but it had to be done.

Taxes and Accounting? Check.
Clean and Organize? Check.

Even though I've been able to put out new updates 1-4 times per month, sometimes I feel like it takes me forever to add new features that have been on my list for weeks, or even months.  I don't like that.  I wanna crank things out FAST!  I wanna give you guys new feature requests more rapidly, and I want to make each content update more beefy.

As a result, I've put a ton of effort into overhauling my development pipeline this week.  I've got new software, new tools, and a new method of doing things that should speed things up significantly!  I also organized all of my to-dos, feature requests, and bug reports into a Trello board to keep things tightly focused and organized.  There's still a learning curve to some of the new stuff, but it should speed up development a lot as I get more familiar.

Overhaul gamedev pipeline so I can build the game faster?  Check.

Another thing I've really needed to make time for is improving my programming skills.  This area is my weakest skill and easily eats up most of my time.  Also, since this is my first project, I've spent a lot of time refactoring old code to make it more efficient and manageable.  I've spent a lot of time this week studying up in this area and cleaning up my code, and just learning how to be a better programmer in general.  Being better in this area should also speed up development.

Improve coding skillz?  Check.

Although I don't have a new game update for you guys yet, I finally took care of a lot of must-do tasks and I'm in a better position to develop the rest of the FASTER, and--hopefully--with bigger updates each time.

What's Next?

Going forward, I'm going to focus on rolling out 2 major updates per month: 1 for the main game content and 1 for the level editor.  Bug fixes and minor features will be worked into these updates, instead of doing the small, frequent updates I've been doing since Early Access launch.

There might be one small update at the end of this month, and then 2 major updates per month starting in May.  Probably mid-month and end of month.  The goal is to make these beefy, content-heavy updates.

I also have something big planned for June or July, but too early to announce anything yet.  Stay tuned for more!

 

Kickstarter Post-Mortem: Guts and Glory

As most of you reading this probably already know, the Kickstarter for Guts and Glory successfully ended on October 16th!  1,125 amazing people pledged a grand total of $34,053 to make this game more epic, bringing the total funding to 112% of the target goal.  After pledges that didn't clear, and the Kickstarter and processor fees, that should put it right around the the target goal of $30k.  Now I can afford to work on the project full-time until Early Access release (crazy?  maybe... but sometimes you gotta take big risks if you want big rewards right?), and will soon have some more resources to make the game bigger, better and faster!  

A screenshot from the demo track shown at TwitchCon, prior to the Kickstarter

So, for those of you interested, here is a brief Guts and Glory Kickstarter Post-Mortem:

  1. Momentum and hype are critical.  In retrospect, I wish I would have done this Kickstarter smack dab in the middle of the Steam Greenlight campaign, when new internet traffic was at it's peak and people were trying the open pre-alpha builds for the first time.  Running the Kickstarter when the hype was at its peak would have been much more efficient and effective, as the 2 campaigns would feed off each other.
  2. Kickstarter is less appealing for indie games than it used to be.  Thanks to so many projects that have burnt their backers, or made pie-in-the-sky promises, people are less trusting of backing projects than a few years ago.  There are also many more active projects competing for those dollars at any given time.  Despite the fact that G&G had incredible Greenlight stats, #1 rank on IndieDB for several weeks, a well-known indie publisher, and very strong YouTube support, it didn't just "take off" as quickly or easily as I was hoping it would.  Many people wrote me simply stating that they loved the project and were stoked to buy it, but simply didn't want to hassle with the Kickstarter process.
  3. Digital-only Rewards are a great option, as long as you give them enough value.  Most campaigns seem to have a lot of physical goods involved.  This quickly eats up a ton of the funds raised for production, shipping, VAT, etc.  I wanted to ensure that as much of the funds raised as possible went directly towards making a better game, rather than making T-shirts, so I opted for digital-only rewards.  (Thanks, TinyBuild, for steering me in the right direction on this one!)  Much to my surprise, the top tier ($1k level) rewards actually sold out!  So in the end, it paid off, and now I can focus purely on the game immediately, rather than producing and shipping a bunch of physical stuff.
  4. Different communities, different cultures.  The Kickstarter community and culture seems much different that what you generally find on Steam.  I believe more mainstream/family-friendly titles, in general, would do better on Kickstarter than "edgier" games like G&G.  The vast majority of pledges came from first-time backers.
  5. Make the $25 reward a "no-brainer" in value.  Pack as much as you can in there to make it very appealing.  This is the average Kickstarter pledge amount, so this should be your primary target reward.
  6. Cross-promotions can help a ton!  Over halfway through the campaign, I was able to offer a sweet cross-promo deal with the folks at Dynamic Pixels, thanks to my publisher, TinyBuild.  Those that backed at the $25 level or higher would receive early access to the alpha build for Hello Neighbor, another highly anticipated indie game.  It worked wonders and gave that extra push needed to cross the finish line and help ensure success.
  7. Success breeds succcess.  As soon as the Kickstarter funding goal was hit, there was a huge spike in traffic and pledges after that.  People want to be part of something that is a guaranteed success, so the lower you can set your goal and the faster you can hit, the more funds you're likely to generate.

There's a lot of work involved in running a Kickstarter campaign.  It takes up more time than I expected, but it was a huge learning experience and ending up paying off.  Hopefully these key takeaways will help others looking to start their own Kickstarter in the future.

Since the Kickstarter has ended, I've already fulfilled the first couple rewards.  The first was the package of "Glorious Goodies": exclusive wallpapers, a printable poster, and a fun papercraft.  HumbleBundle has an awesome rewards fulfilment system, so that made the entire process a breeze.

The second one was much more fun: the Yang Family Demo!  This is basically a big physics sandbox map for players to try out the Yang Family and their car for the first time, explore the map, and wreck in creative ways.  This car has been one of the most anticipated characters, so using them as a backer incentive has worked out well, and has also been a good source of feedback.  It also taught me that I will need to make optimization a priority going forward if I want to add the gobs of physics-based content I'm planning for the full game.

Prototype AI cars in the Yang Family Demo

Now that I have the immediate rewards fulfilled, I can wrap up some misc. work this week and then go into next week focusing fully on developing the game further and preparing for the Beta Access release.  That's where things should start getting really interesting....

Bringing a whole new meaning to the term "blended families" in the Yang Family Demo

Welcome to Happy Valley

The perfect little homes of the residents of Happy Valley

Nestled between grassy hills and tall evergreens lies the small town of Happy Valley, with their perfect houses, perfect people, and perfect little lives.  This is the hometown of John Doh and his young son Jimmy, where they enjoy their days riding bicycles and enjoying the fresh mountain air.  Little do they know, they have also been selected to participate in the Guts and Glory Games, which can start without a moments notice!

Happy Valley will be just one of the "official" Maps in G&G, and will most likely be part of the first alpha test builds.  The other Maps will focus around the themes of other characters or just interesting settings in general.  Of course, once I get a Level Editor built, everyone can create all of the Maps and Tracks they want, or just build Tracks on these pre-built Maps.

I've also built several Tracks for the bicycle.  These range from very easy to kinda hard... at least I think so.  It's difficult to judge how difficult things really are when I build them myself, and I would like to add some more levels that really take things to the extreme, for those that love a really good challenge.  Oh, and I also added a short and fun tutorial track to teach the basics.

Down the road, I plan on adding the ability to add parked cars, destructible props and, of course, some NPCs.  These won't be part of the Map though... just things that can be added to any level.

Little do they know, this perfect little town will soon become an obstacle course of death

As I've been building these Tracks, I've come to the realization that this is less of a "racing game" and more of a "obstacle course of death" game, with vehicles.  Having that mindset has really helped in how I design the courses... err tracks... or levels, or whatever you want to call them.  Building the tracks has been one of the funnest parts of development ("funnest" is a word now, right?) I have lots of ideas I want to test out, but I really need to stop messing around with levels and finish the rest of the things on my to-do list so I can get this out to playtesters.

I also finished the waypoints system, complete with HUD, which makes building any type of track possible and easy.  It also allows me to design levels that require players to directly through the most dangerous parts, if I'm feeling devious.  Also added the ability to respawn quickly at designated checkpoints, so you don't have to start over from the very beginning of long or challenging courses.

Building these levels has been a great learning experience and also gave me a chance to make further improvements to the bicycle's control and handling.  Since everything is physics-based, there are a lot nuances to the vehicles.  Landing angles, speed, and the physics of the terrain can all affect how smoothly you land from a long jump, or if you just crash and burn.  Overall I'm feeling very satisfied with how it's turning out and can't wait to see what people think.

Next up, I'll be working on the less interesting parts like menus, more controller support and local leaderboard.  Once those are done, early alpha builds can be sent out!

New Hazards and Special Items

LOTS OF NEW STUFF ADDED!  CHECK OUT THE VIDEO!!
I recently finished adding a few more Hazards to the game, including Wrecking Balls and a few more that I will leave for you to discover when you play the game (I don't want to be a spoiler for my own game)!  

The Turbo Boosters are now fully functional and come in three speeds: from a gentle push to a mega boost.  They can also be stacked for greater speeds (I got up to over 250mph on the bike before crashed horrifically).  Captured a few good crashes for you to enjoy here.

But most of all, I'm excited about the new MEGA FANS!  These should create some interesting gameplay opportunities.  One side can push you up to high places (or off ledges), while the other side is hazardous to your health!  These could be used to save a player from high falls, or just to create really tricky "platformer" style levels.  They can also be attached to moving stuff to make things even more difficult, and basically push anything moveable in their range.  I'm thinking of putting a couple onto a windmill, like I do with the saws, or just making some turn in place.  These are my favorite new item, if you can't tell :D

I'm really excited because the last video has about 17,000 views in just a week!  I'm blown away by the interest people have had in this project so far.  It makes me super excited to keep working hard at it so I can get it out there.  Lots of early mornings and late nights have gone into this, but hearing good things people have to say makes it worth it.

Next thing on my to-do list is to build the first Map and Tracks, and finish making a few more audio improvements.

Please let me know what you think in the comments below, and feel free to share these videos to help spread the word about my first game and help it to be a success.

If you want more frequent updates, please follow on Twitter, since it's the easiest way for me to post the latest developments.

Thanks for stopping by!  

Crash Testing the Family Car

Things are progressing nicely on Guts and Glory.  After putting in some late nights, I've finally finished the third playable vehicle/character for the game: The Yang Family and their Mezooki 600 Series Convertible!  This car is super fun to drive, and even more fun to wreck!  The body is damage-able and loses parts on impact.  You can even jam tires or knock them off completely, or pop them on spikes and other sharp objects. I spent quite a bit of time watching dozens of crash videos while making this to get everything to feel just right--and then I tested he hell out of it in-game!

Below is a montage of crash tests and some general driving and handling.  I'm pretty happy with how it's looking so far, and will continue to make improvements as the project continues.  Let me know what you think in the comments below!

Given the feedback I've received so far, there will also be an option to turn the kids on/off, for those who prefer it. 

Additionally, I've made some fixes to the bike control and significantly improved the suspension and handling of the ATV.  It now handles off road and hilly stuff a lot better.  All of the characters now have voices and I added more sound effects in general too.

Please help me spread the word about this project. I'm a solo game developer, so I can use all the help I can get!

For more info check out HakJak.com

Earl the Redneck vs Cannon Turrets

Earl done lost his head again

Watching Guts and Glory get a ton of views and feedback on Steam Concepts gave me a ton of motivation to work really hard this week.  I just finished Earl the redneck and his ATV, and also added Cannon Turrets to the game which are really awesome (and a little bit scary).  I threw them together in a short mock desert track and posted a new video to YouTube to showcase more of the potential for this game.

I've been so busy developing that I haven't been able to spend anymore time marketing, so Steam traffic (new, unique visitors) has slowed down to just a steady trickle.  Going forward, it looks like I'll need to dedicate at least 15-25% of my time towards marketing in order to continue building a large enough fanbase.  Learning as I go....

I still haven't posted anything to other major hubs yet, like Indie DB or Reddit, so I'll probably pitch a tent in those camps soon and start making friends :)