Hope everyone is having a great week so far! This will be a blog chocked full of updates and good news! So let's dive right in.

 

New Job!

Firstly, I'm excited to announce that I have accepted a position at a new company and will be starting on August 26th. The position is a front-end development role in the eCommerce industry. This is ushering in a huge transition in my life and will eventually bring some additional funds back to Thought Reactor. I have been where I am currently for over six and a half years and the time has come to move into something more specialized.

Most importantly, I need to secure my future. However, once some things have been cleared off my plate, I will be able to start investing some more time and money into the studio. Thought Reactor has always been funded by my personal income and that will continue into 2020. This has been one of the many restraints to bringing in additional talent to our projects, but moving forward I will begin to start saving and allocating money for some help.

I will continue to keep you all posted on how things are going at the new job - I'm excited and eager to start my career in a booming industry for a business that is seeing insane growth and potential in their space!

 

The Game Maker's Toolkit Game Jam has come to a close!

We participated in the Game Maker's Toolkit Game Jam a little over a week and a half ago. After a week of playing and rating other's titles, the dust has finally settled! With everything said and done - I'm personally pleased with the results. There were over 2,600 entries to the jam and in each category except Originality, we finished in the upper 25%. Our ranking for Adherence to Theme was even better, ranking in the top 200 at #166.

I tend to generally ignore rankings in game jams. They're vastly subjective and are often left to the whims of imperfect sorting algorithms and popularity. However, they're still very good indicators of how well you did. Second to that was the feedback I received from others who left comments on the submission page. Receiving words of praise and constructive feedback from your fellow game developers is one of the most rewarding aspects of doing these little competitions. On that front, we did exceptionally. Those who played the game really enjoyed its simple but challenging mechanic. You can play Recoverdrome in the browser on Itch.

This has really made me excited for Ludum Dare coming up in October. I will be starting the process of building a jam team up for that in the coming month or so.

 

Still Chuggin' Along with IGEO

The IGEO patch is still coming along. This weekend I made further progress on the updated settings menu, fully implementing post-processing controls and have begun implementing audio levels using Unity's mixer feature. This will allow players to control Master volume, music, and sound effects separately to tune the game's audio to their preferences. Before, I simply had a master slider that would control the volume of the game in total.

Once that feature is complete, I will be rolling the existing animation system over to a new, more performant library. This, amongst some other tweaks, will address some of the game's lingering collision bugs, which can break levels in some cases. After that is implemented the Version 1.1 patch will be ready for launch.

As stated in an earlier blog, this release will mark the end of the product's life cycle on Itch.io as a freely available browser game and usher in a new development cycle in which we bring the game to Steam with more content and enhanced features.

 

Website Changes

Lastly, I want to talk in brief about some changes coming to the website. Primarily, I want to finish getting the marketing aspects of the site squared away. As things stand, it's basically just the blog on here. I will be changing the About page to better reflect our vision and direction, as well as creating a Press Kit for us to start getting prepared for upcoming releases. Additionally, I'm going to start the process of rolling our site off of a server-side Laravel system and into a more front-end developed JAM stack system. This will create a sleeker site with better performance and it will eliminate server costs by migrating from DigitalOcean's VPSs to Netlify.

With all that - I bid you farewell for now! Hope to have news regarding the IGEO Version 1.1 launch coming to you within a few weeks. Wish me luck with my new job!

Until then!

Michael DeLally

By Michael DeLally Last updated September 7th, 2019

After not really having a whole ton of time this weekend to dedicate to the jam, I still managed to pull something pretty small together in time. I'm calling it Recoverdrome and you can play it here.

It's a top-down/twin-stick space shooter where you only have one bullet. To keep shooting you must recover your bullet by running into it. You can upgrade the radius at which you can recover the bullet with a pickup dropped by enemies. And that's basically it. There is some strategy involved with how your ship and bullet wrap around the level a la Asteroids, but it's pretty down and dirty.

I don't intend to do a formal post-mortem on this one because it was really just a rehashing of some similar concepts I've implemented before. The game is pretty simple, but also fairly challenging to play. If I had a little more time I would have added a couple more things:

  • Difficulty curve: while initially difficult, the game has a rather flat difficulty curve that will actually taper off pretty quick once you've maxed out the recover radius (something I should have done a better job of signifying); modulating the spawn rate based on the score or enemies killed would help ramp up the challenge
  • More enemies: the simple kamikaze AI is rather dull and easy to outwit once you've figured them out; it would have added to the challenge to mix up some different baddies in there to keep you guessing
  • More power-ups: I wanted to add power-ups that would slow your bullet down, make it bigger, or make it bounce back when you've hit an enemy (it currently just barrels through enemies)

I may take a stab at a "post-jam" edition of this little game. It was fun to make and just felt good to get something done this weekend. I'll be sure to keep you all updated should anything come of it in the future!

In other news, I will be diving into the IGEO 1.1 Update this weekend, hopefully getting some of the lingering tasks squared away with that one. If I can get them all worked through, we will be dropping that update early next week after some testing.

Until next time - take care!

Michael DeLally

By Michael DeLally Last updated August 5th, 2019

I mentioned last week that I would be participating in Mark Brown's Game Maker's Toolkit Game Jam this weekend. It begins in earnest at 3pm Eastern Time tomorrow and runs through the weekend until 3pm on Sunday.

Contrary to my approach in the Extra Credits Game Jam, I'm going to fly solo. I've not spent a lot actual game development time since the last jam and I want to really hone in on the game design and implementation with this go around. I will pick back up with a team come time for Ludum Dare in October.

Additionally, I will be returning to my roots and leveraging Construct 3 as the game engine instead of Unity. I love Unity and am dedicated to developing on the platform for Thought Reactor's main projects, but it can bog me down in game jams due to its expansive feature set.

With C3, I will be able to quickly get gameplay implemented so that I can refine the design and polish an entry that is feature complete and fun. The lack of programming is something I see as a double-edged sword, but in a game jam "focused on design, mechanics, and clever ideas", I really can't afford to get hung up on implementation.

Knowing Mark's content, this jam will surely be inspiring, so I want to capitalize on my design skills, which Construct will certainly embellish. Other than that, however, I'm not imposing any constraints on the game - any kind of 2D game is acceptable!

Also, I think I might want to try and stream some of the jam this weekend, as well. I do have some fiduciary responsibilities to take care of this weekend, but in general, I'm open and free to give this jam my all!

Good luck to any and all participating in this jam - see you at the finish line!

Michael DeLally

By Michael DeLally Last updated August 1st, 2019