Balancing Drifting Lands / How to handle the difficulty of a Diablo-like game (part 2)

So here we are. You have a vision, a clear idea of where you want to go with your game. How the difficulty should evolve across the experience. You have a layout with your main values which will drive your entire work from there (see part 1)

Difficulty_Header

Before we move on, it’s important to remember that one cannot always think about everything or plan for every situations. This preliminary work is not destined to be set in stone. Should you realize later that you have gravely underestimated some factors, you may have to return to this part and change some of the base values. More often than not, there will be a lot more rules governing the statistics of the player avatar than for their enemies. Hostiles will probably be influenced by fewer global multipliers for their damages and resistance. So if you need to do quick yet radical adjustments, keep in mind that it will probably be simpler to change the curve of difficulty for the environment rather than the curve of power for the player.

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Balancing Drifting Lands / How to handle the difficulty of a Diablo-like game (part 1)

Disclaimer: believe me or not, for me Drifting Lands is a Diablo-like, long before being a shoot’em’up. In my mind, it is very clear what are the most important characteristics of a (good) Diablo-like… and i’m pretty sure i’m not the only one to have very passionate views about that. Obviously, i’m aware that everyone will not agree with my choices or my understanding of this genre. So keep that in mind and do not hesitate to think i’m completely out of my mind.

Difficulty_Header

My point here will be to discuss how I’ve worked on the game design of Drifting Lands when it comes to the RPG, stats management aspects and all the associated balancing. It won’t cover ALL game systems in Drifting Lands because it would be way too much work. But I’ll try to present and illustrate the basic concepts behind each layer of mechanism.

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Transcripted is back. Right. Now!

It’s done Transcripted is back on Steam. Don’t be fooled by our previous “august 31″ date, since it’s not a real release, we had no way to know exactly when the store page would be available… and it is now.

Transcripted_NewRelease

After 4 years of absence, 3 years of useless trials against Topware for ripping us off, we finally took the time to re-fit the game and put it back on Steam. So it’s here, it’s official : you can finally buy our game and maybe we will earn our very first sales. Even better : during the start of 2017, Transcripted should be released on all major consoles with the help of our friend at Plugin In Digital.

Ho, it’s more symbolic than anything else on PC. I know a four years old game like Transcripted, even if we think it’s still quite unique, won’t pay for its production. It will most likely not even reimburse our legal expenses against Topware during these last 3 years! We decreased the base price from 15 to 8 euros and we already have people asking if we intend to have sales to celebrate * the come back of the game ^^’

*guess the answer by reading this.

If you want to support us and the development of Drifting Lands, you can do this by buying Transcripted or even talking about it around you! Even making a bit of noise around it means a great deal to us, because we really do need more visibility. Outside of France, nearly no one knows about us or our games.

One last thing : if you have found Transcripted cheaper elsewhere, be warned that these are ALL illegal copies of the game still sold by Topware. Right now, Steam is the ONLY way to buy Transcripted legally. Please, please, unless you really don’t like us, use a torrent version of our game rather than paying money to scums like Topware or parasites like G2A. We would prefer if you bought the game but eh…

 

Alkemi FX presentation (during the Unity Meetup in Paris)

If you want to find my open office slides about our FX system it’s here
If you want to find the assets of the Unity 4.6 project used during the presentation it’s here

FX_Principe

And if you want a maybe more detailed explanation and source for our flash tool to create animation textures, you can go back to the 2 tutorials we’ve posted earlier :
http://www.alkemi-games.com/a-game-of-tricks-iii-particles-fun-part1/
http://www.alkemi-games.com/a-game-of-tricks-v-particles-fun-part2/

Why we don’t believe in sales, discounts and bundles

It’s that time of the year again : Steam summer sales! Yeah, loads of games at small prices! Like every PC players, I’ll probably buy a bunch of games (which will mostly stay untouched for the next months) but as a professional game developer, I’m more and more convinced that the whole concept of these promotions is toxic.

Why toxic? Because systematic sales and discounts contribute with other factors (mobile stores pricing, bundles) to decrease the commonly accepted prices of games to absurdly low levels. It’s now a standard gamer behavior to wait 3 or 4 months before buying any game because you know for sure there’s a major discount coming. It’s so systematic that it’s nearly stupid not to do so!

‘Most people don’t know how much it costs to make a game’

It’s now common place to hear or read complaints about prices of games daring to set a price above 10 or 20 dollars or euros. But most people have no idea, no concept of how much a game costs do develop. Damn, even a lot of young or inexperienced indie developers have absolutely no clue when they start! This is most obvious when you take a look at crowdunding targets of game projects. Usually teams are inexperienced and ask for ridiculously low amounts of money for projects that will most likely fail spectacularly… or teams are experienced and ask for ridiculously low amount of money because they know they will look bad and fail if they don’t. But experienced developers will do everything they can to get A LOT more than what they asked using stretch goals and such, secretly hoping that they will have maybe nearly what they actually need. You can even have those experienced developers collecting millions of dollars to create a point & click and still failing to produce a full game with that much. Ok no, that’s a bad example. This has to be bad project management or Jack Black’s voice acting costs way too much money… Continue reading

A Game of Tricks V – Particles fun (part2)

So, where were we… After all, it’s been nearly a year for this long due second part ^^

Ha, Yes! In the first part, we have seen how we could generate some kind of mask in two parts for the appearance and disappearance of our particles. We also covered how we would use a level operation rather than a binary cutout mask. So we’ve got something a bit like that :

boom_mask

Right now, we haven’t talked much about the diffuse aspect of our particles and their color. That’s what we will focus on right now. The most basic thing you can do is just apply a diffuse texture to the particle, something preferably vaguely related to the animated mask. But if you have a fade in mask different from the fade out mask, you won’t be able to have something very coherent along its whole life. Let’s forget that, it just sucks…

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Drifting Lands roadmap update

link to french version

Since last september and the first public demo of Drifting Lands, we’ve kept adding content to the alpha version. Not as much as we would have liked, but behind the scene a lot have been done too and we’ve got a pretty solide base. Until now, we’ve kept a pretty low profile with the game. The main reason is we didn’t want to create too much interest around a demo version which was definitely not representative of the full game we had in mind. Right now the alpha looks like ‘just’ a shmup. Ok, it’s fine looking (at least I hope), it’s got original features like the skill system, but the hack & slash / RPG evolution part is completely absent.

hangar

In the coming months, we’re gonna need a lot more awareness around our project than what we’ve already got. At least just to confirm we’re not going in the wrong direction, and decide how far we’re gonna go, how big this game can reasonably be! We need at least a bit of this RPG system, a hint of this evolution you’ll go through when you’ll play the real thing. And that’s what we’re doing right now for the next update. Continue reading

Nearly Ripped off to death by a publisher ? Get better by yourself and wait for justice (Maybe)

Let me tell you the story of a publisher ignoring a signed deal, how a German court of Justice decided it was apparently ok to do so, and nearly caused our undoing.

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I’ve reached a point where I don’t understand how it’s possible to commit to a publishing deal for small studios. How could it be reasonable when what’s happening to us, well… CAN just happen. Honestly there’s not even something really specific to the gaming industry in this, so I’m wondering how international trade can even work.

If you’re not familiar with our situation, I’ll start with a brief summary: Alkemi is small indie studio founded in 2009. In 2012, on the 11th of september (definitely not a good omen), our first game Transcripted was released on Steam. Never heard of it ? Well, I guess I’ll have to thank the PR department of our publisher. But I have so much more to ‘thank’ them for… We weren’t too happy about the absence of visible work on the game release but it was nothing compared to the fact of losing our game entirely. Continue reading

Dev version of Drifting Lands coming soon to Steam

Good news: we have the opportunity to deploy our game on Steam pretty much whenever we want! That’s awesome because it will handle automatically all the pain of keeping you folks updated with the latest version of the game. We won’t hesitate to update the game much more regularly with minor improvements or bug corrections. On the downside, Steam integration is simple but it takes some time. We may have to delay our first major update by a week or so to do things properly. That would lead to a new build for the end of the month approximately.

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Does it mean the game is going to be pay-to-play or going into early access paying mode ? No. Definitely not right now. We will continue with our current plan : improve the current demo into a full fledged competitive and free shooter. Start to ask a bit of your money when we feel like it deserves it with at least a bit of the RPG / evolution part.

Thanks for your support!

[french]
Bonne nouvelle : nous avons l’opportunité de déployer notre jeu sur Steam à peu près quand on veut ! C’est vraiment une bonne chose, parce que cela nous permettra d’éviter la douleur de tous vous maintenir à une version à jour du jeu. Nous n’hésiterons également plus à mettre à jour le projet très régulièrement pour la moindre amélioration ou correction de bug. Le mauvais côté, c’est que même si l’intégration Steam ça n’est pas la mort, cela prend un peu temps. Nous allons probablement retarder la prochaine version de la démo d’une semaine environ ce qui nous mènera quelque part à la fin du mois.

Est ce que cela signifie que le jeu va devenir payant ou early access payant ? Non, pas du tout. Nous allons suivre notre plan et faire évoluer la démo en un jeu à part entière de shooter compétitif et gratuit. Nous vous demanderons un peu de vos deniers quand nous estimerons que le jeu en vaut la peine avec au moins une partie de l’aspect RPG / évolution.

Merci pour votre soutien !