What is in Store for 2020

Apologies for the lack of updates recently - things have been super busy at work getting ready for the holidays. This time of year is crunch time in eCommerce, to say the least!

I want to take this post - the last of this year - to lay out a bit of a roadmap for what I want to do with Thought Reactor next year. 2020 will mark our 4th year as a legal business and I would love for it to be our best yet! With that being said, my approach to marketing and the direction of this website is going to change.

The Official Site

Just about every year I do a facelift on the site. Sometimes that has come with architecture changes, other times with just design changes. For the second half of this year, I have been wanting to roll the site over to a flat-file architecture, using a VueJS framework called Gridsome. This comes with insane performance upgrades as well as a better price (essentially, free hosting).

This move to the JAMStack will take us away from PHP/Laravel and into a wholly HTML/JS driven website. This will remove our reliance on the Voyager admin system - which despite having a couple of caveats, has been a very useful backend for our purposes.

With the new site, our direction is going to shift away from being a development blog to a more product-centric focus. I can't keep a steady flow of blogs on here and I think it's probably hurting us more than it helps. Thought Reactor has always strived for transparency and honesty with how we do things. These are the realities of being a small part-time game developer.

That being said, the site will still feature a blog that will serve primarily for big announcements and educational content, where the more in-depth development stuff will shift over to respective game sites. So in the next couple of weeks expect to see this site get real pretty and highlight the next announcement...

 

Development on PARABOLA has resumed...

After over 6 months of deliberation, the design overhaul of PARABOLA has borne fruit. For months I wavered back and forth over whether or not the game really needed a story and should opt for a more arcade-style. Through all of this, the game remained a 3D first-person puzzle game.

Every conclusion remained the same - the game wasn't fun enough. It was tedious and difficult. The concept that really excited me about PARABOLA in its early design phases was the movement and platforming.

So with that, the game is taking a 180° turn - and will become a 2D Metroidvania Puzzle-Platformer. With this shift, I can really hone in on the fast platforming I originally wanted to implement. Additionally, this restricts the game's core mechanic to two axes, making quick shooting way more approachable.

I think the game really lends itself well to a Metroidvania and the introduction of this format will also allow for some interesting combat mechanics to be implemented.

At this stage, the game is being prototyped to the new format. Our player is moving and aiming in 360° and the next order of business is to implement the ever-satisfying bouncing projectiles. While this prototyping is taking place, I am also structuring the updated art, storyline, setting, and characters to better fit the genre shift.

The placeholder site at https://parabolagame.com will be updated in the coming weeks with more information and an official devlog that will chronicle the game's development.

This is a huge change - but one I think will ensure PARABOLA and Thought Reactor's success. No clue on when the game will launch, but I would love to get an alpha in people's hands as soon as humanly possible - preferably early Spring 2020.

That's about all there is to it for 2020. Site changes and PARABOLA 😋. There will be game jams, I'm sure, but I'm honestly really wanting to hone in on PARABOLA. I have this awful knack for running towards too many goals each year - so 2020 will be way more concise!

The majority of these blogs will roll over to the new site for posterity but this will be the last one of the year - so with that, have a wonderful holiday and an even better new year!

Michael DeLally

By Michael DeLally Last updated November 25th, 2019

Oof! It's been quite some time, hasn't it!? First things first - let's get some news and updates out of the way.

 

How are things going?

Things have been going really well at the new job - I'm getting up to speed rather quickly and diving into some really fun projects. As the whole process starts to normalize and I get more and more comfortable my bandwidth for Thought Reactor is starting to increase.

Work on IGEO has been virtually non-existent. I'm debating whether I should continue working on it, giving its codebase is out of date and difficult to maintain. I'm thinking I may just have to let this one go and move on. It's such a novel concept, but short of reimplementing it from the ground up, it's just proving to be too difficult to cobble together.

I really want to move into the 2D adventure game I mentioned a few months back and begin finalizing some design work on Parabola. Both of these projects are something I feel stronger about and want to start to take some initiative on before the year's end.

 

Ludum Dare 45

Tonight at 6PM Eastern marks the beginning of Ludum Dare 45. I will be participating alongside some buddies of mine - Ian and Stephen. Ian, who is also one of my roommates, has done a couple of LDs with me in the past, so he knows what to expect. This is Stephen's first-ever game jam, so he's excited about the challenge. Additionally, our friends Daniel and Brandon will be providing some testing assistance throughout the weekend as their time allows.

We're not entirely sure if we will be digging into a 2D or 3D game, but we will be leveraging Unity 2019.2 and trying to get this puppy squared away for the 72-hour Jam. Like usual, this is about having fun and getting something done, so we're not looking to reinvent the wheel or do anything too crazy in scope.

It would be fun to stream the three of us, but I'm not really sure about the logistics and technical side of that, so I'll likely just share updates throughout the weekend on Twitter and Instagram.

Wish us luck! 😋

Michael DeLally

By Michael DeLally Last updated October 4th, 2019

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