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Boss 101 March Development Update and Early Access questions answered
Hello and welcome back to the latest Boss 101 update. We appreciate your time and support. Let’s get right into things shall we? We are here today to give you an update about the game’s progress and talk a little about the schedule we see going forward. Also, we are answering questions about Early Access.
For some of you this might be an AWESOME read filled with behind the scenes information and for a few it might be a lot of writing to cover a simple subject. Let’s start with the simple answer first and then elaborate.
The current expectation among the team is we are shipping Boss 101 in 2016 and ideally mid/late summer. We can’t put that in stone and if you will ALLOW US A MOMENT OF YOUR TIME we can explain what’s been happening and how soon you might get a copy in your hands.
Light at the end of the tunnel
Yes, WE DO SEE THE GAME HEADING INTO A FINISH! While we don’t have an exact date the main components of the game are in place. The game loop has been tested and is in order. Most, all the main gameplay elements have their foundations and several passes on them. All good and well.
Polish and Tuning
I know it might be hard to read and understand how something can have all the main components in place and not be ready for something like Early Access but I will attempt to give you our perspective on things. I know it might not satisfy those who are really anxious for Boss 101. I also know we have some extremely caring and patient people who would probably be OK with a rough pass on Boss 101 in Early Access since after all it’s called EARLY ACCESS! HA!
From where we stand Boss 101 is moving along smoothly and all of us are working our hardest to make sure the game has as much quality and polish as we can put in it. When it comes to something like Early Access we have seen a few roaring successes and a LOT of really bad releases. One thing the successes seem to share is a development team dedicated to constant feedback and frequent updates to the builds. One thing the failures seem to share is low feature count, bugs and devs who become somewhat absent parents in terms of feedback and engagement.
The slings and arrows of outrageous boss fights!
For Early Access to work we would want it to be a stellar experience for you. We would want to be right there for comments, feedback, fixes and updates. We would expect you want no less. Of course, we would also want it to make sense from a developmental point of view (i.e. more sales and/or a much better game). At the moment, it doesn’t make the most sense to put our time into an Early Access with chief reason being we just don’t have the bandwidth to do it the way we want to.
Endless Launch Room getting prepped
Your personal opinion might differ and we thank you for believing in us that much. The simple truth is the team has less people than fingers on one of your hands. We are daily stacked with the task of taking what is in the game and making sure it plays nice and well with all the other parts. This includes basic gameplay balance as well as core level functionality tweaks and adjustments.
An example among many examples would be the option screen. We are adjusting it to have all the functionality one might expect for a game. We have the broad features but are now drilling down to specifics such as adjustable screen sizes, configuration of controls, sound panel controls, etc. This is just a small example of an area where the basic code and art structure is in and the shine is being added. Take this example across a multitude of systems and you start to see the picture.
Some might debate that it’s probably better to go Early Access and let the community in on the dev cycle. It does allow a lot of nice things. We still have to circle back to the position we would want to do it right and at the moment it just doesn’t make the most sense given our internal schedules and manpower.
Hats, some new versions in
What about a Beta?
We might have mentioned this before but we are planning a BETA. For that we are planning to give a limited amount of people access to the game to review and help us shake down some of the early issues. If you are interested in that you can always mail us at hello @ donleytimefoundation.com (remove the spaces). Just mention you are interested in helping out with any early BETA’s and we will put you on the list to be contact if and when the time arrives.
So to sum it up
As we have said before in prior posts and replies - giving you our best effort hopefully isn’t making people impatient. We are not looking to disappoint anyone or make you personally upset. If the end result is a better game with a much higher value there really is little loss for the user. We’ve only promised the best game we can do. We’ve had delays but they were communicated here and in all our blogs. We've welcomed feedback and answered every comment directly. Also, we aren't doing a Kickstarter and we haven't taken anyone's money. The only thing happening is we are making a game, on our own dime, in the hopes of bringing you our best. We just can't rush it, it doesn't get us anything and won’t make your experience any better. We have only a few people so out time is really at a premium.
I may have mentioned this earlier but I have been making games for a while and the thing which sets the gems I have played apart from the ones I have long forgotten is the care and love the devs put into their effort. Nearly every single game I can name that I love also seems to have been equally loved by its creators. Now it’s our turn. We aim to have Boss 101 entertain and delight you.
Thank you again for all the support, e-mails and contact via our various blog posts. We do read and listen to all of you and it MAKES OUR DAY to hear from you.
Crushing the bosses!
We are going to keep you posted as we have been with weekly screenshot posts and weekly blog updates. We appreciate you and your time.
Remember always to live your dreams!
Well, not so much a screenshot as design work for the amazing Gopher Wikipedia you get in Boss 101. What you are seeing are the first pass designs for various page templates. In the game you can look up facts about the people and places you visit in the Gopher database. These icons are the ones they use to help sort and identify the types of pages you will find.
Enjoy and talk with you soon!
Super Boss Battle Tuning
So we have our train boss with his various abilities. He is a conglomeration of a lot of prior boss abilities and a test of all you have learned about Boss fights up to that point. Boy, I bet you have NEVER HEARD ABOUT THAT HAPPENING IN ANY GAME EVER! HAHAHAHAHA HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!
The Boss himself
At any rate, one of his abilities is the “earthquake car” or more appropriately the ground-pounder car. What this does is cause a pillar of rock and sand to come out of the ground to block your path. The idea here is you can shoot and destroy it or fly over it if you have the room and time.
For a lot of the boss fighting we are looking at giving the player choices in any situation since that seems to be the way people enjoy and remember their most awesome battles. If the player has a bunch of options then a successful decision can seem even more amazing since they feel they made the ‘correct’ choice. If there is only one solution in a situation then the game turns into a war of attrition where the player simply cycles through failure until they arrive at what the game designers wanted them to do. I should stress that BOTH situations can be used and be successful for a designer. For us in Boss 101 we are looking to give you choices though. We want you to make the moves and decisions your way as much as possible.
So the deal was – the boss weapon for the train is a copy of the boss weapon found in the regular rounds. The thing is while you are battling the train you follow it on its path across the land. The tracks it’s on go up and down and can lead you to never see the pillars coming out of the ground since you are too high to see them. Well, we needed to fix that and so we did.
Here is a sample of the old style pillars and the kind of height discrepancy you can get between the pillar and train.
Things work OK if you are near the ground...
Check out how much space you have flying around down there! CRAZY. The train battle is above this area!
Made some notes about a new pillar set
Get the new size pillar back
Example of the new pillar in scale in the game. The way the pillars work is they rise a random amount from the ground. That way we only have to create one pillar instead of a bunch of sizes.
There it is, a behind the scenes look at the way we work to create little tunes and tweaks to improve the gameplay. It’s all about giving you the choices and ultimately making the game FUN.
Thank you again for your letters and contact! We appreciate and reply as quickly as we can.
Talk with you soon and remember to live your dreams!
Scheduling makes your job a lot easier
You might not know this or you might not like to think about it but making a schedule for your project makes things a lot easier. I know we have spoken before about some of our techniques on Boss 101 but I wanted to touch base on something VERY basic that might save you a ton of time AND make your game a lot better.
What is a schedule?
I think of them as a two part item. The first is a comprehensive list of what you know is currently planned. This is all the levels, enemies, controls, UI screens, etc. You are making a big fat to-do list of everything you can think of. This is helpful for a few reasons. The main one is the process itself will get you thinking about the game in a much broader sense and help get you out of the localized thinking you might be doing.
The next part of the schedule is the planning part. This is where you decide the best order of creation. Again, the most important part here is to run this though experiment with a sense of the game as you understand it. Think about some parts which logically flow together and perhaps make sense to be created in order. For instance, maybe you make the main game interface before you make the pause screens. Then you can use the ideas, colors and patterns you created there to give you a head start. The idea with scheduling is to put things in the best order to avoid wasting time.
You will not be perfect, you will forget things, you will also make mistakes and probably have more than a few moments where you wish you had a time machine. That’s OK. That happens, just correct and move on.
Notepad, Word, Excel, anything you can take notes in really – this is for the people who mistrust or don’t really care about all the crazy scheduling software out there. You can pretty much do anything you want as long as you have a place to write it down and check on it. That what they did for thousands of years before computers.
Scheduling software – If you have read previous columns you know I am partial to Hansoft (http://hansoft.com/). The full version is free to teams under nine people and for most people making indie games that is likely bigger than your whole team.
Some things I do in Hansoft
Setup weekly goals:
Here is a small example of how we break down the weekly progress. You can see a current To-Do list as well as a the list of prior Sprints (just another word for work we did during a particular week)
If you click on any one of the tasks you get more detailed info about it as well as any notes to help while you are working.
The Backlog – this is the area of Hansoft where your giant To-Do list exists. Every single thing you can think of should go in here. All the tasks and such are stored here permanently. They don’t go away when completed – they just get marked complete.
A typical backlog task – you can see here there is a listing for a minion where we have broken down all the needed items to make the minion work. Each of these items is a separate task for someone to do.
A close up view
Team Collaboration Software
I also recommend using Slack or Trello (https://trello.com). We use Trello for communication among the team. Whether you are in an office or the team is sperated, it’s really worth having a meeting room like Trello to drop notes and ideas for people
Some samples of our Trello boards
Again, the main thing in all of this is to HAVE FUN when you are working and enjoy the progress. It’s not something to grind through and just forget about. If you are serious about making games you had best enjoy the making of games. I might hazard a few people are making games in the hopes of collecting a big payout and retiring at 29 years old. That’s great, enjoy your time off. For many of us though we are making a career out of games and will be doing it a long time. To those I say – HAVE FUN and live your dreams!
Boss 101 Screenshot, explaining our new tech!
Welcome back to this week’s Boss 101 Update! Thank you for joining us!
Making a Super Boss in the Boss Maker
We have a few very special bosses you encounter during the game and for that we needed a way to call them out individually. One of the first ones of this is Jolly Rog3r, the pirate boss ship. Normally you come into the Make A Boss room and roll your boss. He gets locked in and voilà! You have a boss created for that level. For the rare case where the boss creation is a little more controlled we needed something to focus the player’s attention on the new threat and also give him the needed info to plan the correct attack.
So we have the normal Make A Boss, you roll and you get a boss. From there you can see what the bosses strengths and weaknesses are as well as equip your guns and hats to best battle him. Like this…
For the special ones we looked at the space we had available…
And mocked up an art piece with the needed boss image. This served as a first pass for the special boss panel. Note the simple font used for the name as a placeholder.
We took that image and did some work to polish it up and make it more “Boss 101”-ish. The font was changed and the image itself was made to look like a TV screen projection.
We noticed something was missing though and that was space for the Bosses main ability icons. For the bosses we wanted something that stood out so we looked at adding a small panel just for them. You can see it on the bottom left.
The deal was the panel should not be block the equip panel when the player is selecting a hat and gun to fight. We want the player to see both his and the boss abilities at the same time. Like so…
Se we noted up a sheet to add the panel and are working on that now…
In the meanwhile we went back to the main panel and added in animations and various ambients to make it look super swift. Check out the final with animation (minus the in-progress ability panel)
CRAZY! Looks pretty neat and the final effect with the blinking lights helps sell the uniqueness of the whole thing.
Well, that is it for this week and we hope you enjoyed a look at more of the behind the scenes process we are employing on Boss 101. Please keep those letters coming. We appreciate the feedback and the comments at the main site and via e-mail. We respond as quickly as we can!
Remember to live your dreams, no one else will!
Screenshot time! Boss taunts at the round start? Have they no chill?
YES!!! Welcome again to the Boss 101 weekly update!
We’re back with knowledge to share in the hopes YOU will make a game and drop your magic on us! Let’s do it!
Indie Game Riot T-Shirt for IRX 2016
Last year Boss 101 was nominated and won the IRX 2015 “Most Revolutionary Game” award. That was a tremendous moment for myself and the team. I feel during development it is easy to get buried under the work and forget what the game is REALLY about. The game is really about YOUR (the player’s) experience. How you see and play, what you like and take away from it. With that award it we had made a move along the path of making a game people wanted to play for all the right reasons.
We were asked by Josh (running the IndieGameRiot.com site) to design a Boss 101 variation shirt for IRX 2016. The only request was to use the styling of the Boss 101 main logo. OK – here’s how it went down.
First we looked at our main logo. There were obvious tweaks to make right off. We removed the player icons from the bottom though I did ask Josh if he wanted a variation of them. The basic gist was to use the main logo and not worry about the portraits.
I looked at what we had and noted up a version for Manon to greyscale out. The idea here was the IRX jetpack was a slight variant of our logo. Since ours is a super jetpack we envisioned this one to be a decked out make. Sorta like a hot rod. Taking the greyscale art I noted up some ideas. It’s important to see here we are working in greyscale at first (it will be colored later). I also removed all the unneeded art since we are only concerned with the jetpack.
Original Greyscale design
From there Manon art’d up a new version and it looked SUPER spiffy. The great thing about doing art like this is grey is all about shape and form. You get a MUCH better sense of your designs without color. Not saying you should always work in grey but if you find yourself struggling to come up with something it can be a huge help. All of our main bosses are and many of the big set pieces started out in greyscale just to make it easier. Adding color is basically like painting a model. With programs like Photoshop you can just test colors till you get a great combo.
New Jetpack Logo in Grey
OK, now it was my turn. I did a color pass to create the final look. Working off the art she did was a breeze and in Photoshop I was pretty well adding in “multiply” and “color dodge” layer effects for things like highlights and general coloring. I referenced the first logo to keep the color themes close to each other.
Colored new Pack
So all that was left was to take the jetpack and add the new typography. Pretty straightforward move and here it is in all its glory. CHECK THIS OUT!!!
In fact you can already purchase one of these bad boys in the Indie Game Riot Store for a MERE $14.99 – a bargain at twice the price!
What Games Do To Us
I re-watched the 2008 film Speed Racer and for all its over the top action and cheese, one thing stood out. You could tell the people making that movie LOVED it. They put every dime up on that screen. Good or bad I have to respect someone who lives their dreams and really goes for it. Maybe you have a book, film, friend or family member who has dropped some amazing knowledge on you when you needed it. Well, Racer X dropped SERIOUS knowledge last night. I’ll paraphrase the man himself:
I believe that’s really what it’s about. What the game does for you is what matters. How it rewards or inspires you; maybe it motivates you in some fashion. Point is, games might seem to stay the same but what we let them do to US is what matters.
Remember to LIVE YOUR DREAMS FOLKS – no one else will!