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

Getting Back to Business

It has been quite some time since I've posted on here, so I feel the need to provide some updates and some perspective on what has been going on and what is to come.

2019 was supposed to be a big year for Thought Reactor. I had plans to remaster some older jam games, re-design PARABOLA, patch IGEO, and release Temples of IGEO. Ambitious, for sure. Had the health scare I went through in May not happened, it still would have been quite the challenge to see through.

So, at this juncture, where do we stand? To put it simply, a lot has changed. My personal life has taken some very lovely turns these past few months despite the financial hardships I've endured. I'm in a growing and loving relationship that has lit a fire in me to propel myself into a better mental and economical situation.

Through all this, my passion for game development has not wavered. One of the things I think about daily is game design and development. Constantly, my head is filled to the brim with that pursuit and there is nothing I can see that will ever change that.

However, game development, especially as a solo developer, is really fucking hard. Running a business is also really fucking hard. Doing both alone (statistically speaking) is almost impossible. The amount of us who have succeeded in that endeavor are a minuscule fraction of the whole of independent developers.

Thought Reactor, by industry standards, is an absolute failure. By my standards, though, I've never been more proud of what I've done and where I'm going. Things will always be rough. This is not my full-time job - it is my hobby and passion. I'm thankful to be in a relationship with a loving woman who shares a passion for art and has inspired me to take a different look at what Thought Reactor is and can become.

This studio has always been an experiment for me. It has always been something that kept me going in the darkest moments of my life. It has always been something to pursue, giving me a focus to fulfill the part of myself that I've clung to desperately since I was 10 years old and scrawled my first game design ideas out in a composition notebook.

I just want to make games. I don't care who likes them. I don't care who plays them. I don't care if I never see a single penny from my endeavors. Money doesn't fuel this passion - pure and simple artistic desire does.

This is the final time I will 'reboot' this studio. From here on out, I have no more expectations other than to keep on pushing to make the games I want to make.

Given all this, I want to break down what's changed and what's on the horizon. Everything is subject to change. Each of these things may disappear and never see the light of day - and that is okay. Progress is all that matters at Thought Reactor. Not industry success. Not review scores. And sure as hell not revenue numbers.

First, here is what happened in the downtime:

  • Participated in my first ever Extra Credits Game Jam - with a team: in late May/early June I participated in the Extra Credits Game Jam with a team that I assembled via Discord, Reddit, and Crowdforge. While things didn't quite turn out the way we'd hoped, we did manage to get a build submitted for the jam - which you can play here.
  • Began updating IGEO with QOL improvements and bug fixes: earlier in the year, some bugs in IGEO were brought to my attention on Itch. Since then, I've been slowly updating the game with a Version 1.1 super-patch. This patch will include an updated Settings menu with better options and resolution control, updated post-processing effects, an updated title screen, and a new underlying animation system which addresses the bugs I mentioned. A portion of that is already implemented and I'm smoothing out some kinks - but I intend to get the patch up ASAP, alongside taking another look at IGEO's shelf life (detailed below).
  • Temples of IGEO will be shelved: in the wake of updating IGEO, I've really come to realize that a reboot of the game is a waste of my time and resources. I will be better served by patching the existing game and upgrading it with new features for a Steam release sometime next year. It's a solid game, with loads of potential - and I don't need to reinvent the wheel. So with that, Temples of IGEO is canceled.
  • Started designing a new 2D game concept: in my free time over the last couple of months, I have been working on designing a 2D adventure game. At this point in time, the gameplay is solidified and I am starting in on the narrative direction. In the coming months, I hope to have more to share regarding it.

Given all this, what are my plans for the remainder of 2019 into 2020? In this time, my financial situation is going to be drastically improving and while most of that money will be directed towards securing my future - some of it will find its way to Thought Reactor for some contract work. Here's what I have planned on the horizon:

  • Game Jams: next week I will be diving into the Game Maker's Toolkit Jam as a solo developer - more news on that to come. In October, it's once again time for Ludum Dare, which I will attempt with a team (perhaps the same crew from Extra Credits, plus or minus a few).
  • Continued work on PARABOLA redesign: it seems I can never be truly satisfied with my pride and joy puzzle game. As things stand currently, the game's scope has been drastically reduced and the concept is being turned on its head in some really interesting ways. I will be gearing up to re-announce PARABOLA by year's end, with development resuming in early 2020.
  • IGEO Version 1.1 and beyond: as mentioned before, IGEO will be receiving a great QOL patch and a future release on Steam. I will start with regular updates on that in the coming weeks. Version 1.1 will be considered the long-term release and will remain free on forever. The Steam version will come with added functionality, new levels, and a level builder and will go for $5.
  • 2D adventure game: the concepts behind this game are short and sweet and development will begin in earnest after the release of IGEO 1.1. More info to come.

As you can see, not everything had come to a screeching halt. I just knew given the shift in my life at that moment that this blog and the general direction of Thought Reactor needed to be set aside. The winds of change are picking up and updates are going to start streaming in more and more as the year goes on.

Thanks to all who have stuck with us over the years. Thought Reactor is my pride and joy and I really want that to be reflected in how I make games and communicate with you. 

Now, let's make some video games!

Michael DeLally

By Michael DeLally Last updated July 26th, 2019