Vote for Mirrors

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Mirrors is currently one of the finalists on the Free Galaktus 2017 competition. If we secure either the judges vote or the public’s vote we will receive a large a mount of support to help us advertise Mirrors throughout Europe. This is on top of opportunities to have Mirrors featured are gaming events.

So we need your help!

  1. If you could take 2 minutes of your time to go to this website: http://freegalaktus.pl/mirrors/ 
  2. Click the red “Vote for this Game” button. 
  3. Then scroll down to the bottom of the following page, tick the polish “I am not a robot” check box and click Vote.

Every single vote matters!

Thanks so much in advance. If you aren’t able to vote or you’re just plain awesome please go ahead and share this post and get your friends and family to vote too!

Rhys

Mirrors is now live on Steam!

By | Mirrors, News | No Comments

What was meant to be a quick game to design and develop, somehow turned into over a year, but we have finally reached the finish line and Mirrors is now live on Steam! Mirrors will be available for purchase as of 11th October 2017 from its Store Page located here.

Help Us

Although you can’t buy it right now, you can help us by following and adding Mirrors to your Steam wishlist anytime between now and it’s release. By following and wishlisting Mirrors, it will help get Mirrors into a better place for displaying it in the ‘new games’ category (among other benefits) which in turn will help us get more sales of Mirrors. So be awesome and go and follow / wishlist it here.

Hurdles in Development

There are a load of reasons why development time jumped from a few weeks to a few months to over a year.

Steam Greenlight

Depending on how you look at it we had a failed or successful Steam Greenlight campaign just before Steam Greenlight was stopped. It was a success purely because we got almost 50% more Yes votes than No votes, which is also a good thing. Sadly it was a failure because even with the difference in Yes votes to No votes, we still didn’t make it into the top 10% to actually get Greenlit. The only reason I can think of this is purely because, although Mirrors is a cool little game, I know it’s not going to be for everyone. Mirrors isn’t the first game that has a select audience and it definitely won’t be the last. Regardless of how good or bad Steam Greenlight went, Mirrors is on Steam now and that is the most important thing.

Additional / Contract Work

On top of Mirrors and some of the other games we’re working on, we also took on a fair bit of contract work including Soju Party and Storyboard, not to mention working on Deal Director and some of our other projects. Obviously when we were working on all of these other projects Mirrors unfortunately had to take a place at the back of the queue.

Reflections

The way in which the reflections work within Mirrors turned out to be far from simple and required a lot of tinkering to get it perfect. Before using our current setup we tried a variety of options but none seemed to work. Now after one of our programmers has spent a load of time perfecting the reflections code, it’s pretty much amazing though we know of one or two areas we would like to improve on.


Development and Redevelopment of the Level System

The level system within Mirrors has been developed about 4-5 times. The first few versions were OK but they were pretty basic and restricting, they almost made no sense in regards to the progression of the game. From there we moved into the adventure mode where you have multiple fictional locations within a dessert. Each location holds a number of levels and completing each location allows access to the next area. We also have an area for players to access custom made levels. It’s straight forward of course, but its simplicity is far better than the complex and not so useful versions we used originally.

 

The Future of Mirrors

Over the next few weeks and months, regardless of how well or popular Mirrors is or becomes, there are a few things we would like to add and iron out.

Fixing Bugs and Responding to Feedback

Based on feedback, we will be focusing on fixing bugs as they are found. We are confident that Mirrors is mostly bug free, but we’re not infallible and bugs can appear from nowhere. In addition to this we will be taking on board the opinions of the players and any issues that seem to be game breaking. Improving Mirrors benefits everyone. For this reason we look forward to getting as much feedback as possible as well as hearing your ideas.

Steam Achievements and Trading Cards

We will also be adding a range of Steam Achievements to Mirrors. We’ve done a lot of research and Steam Achievements seem to be a big selling point for games. Some of the achievements we have planned will be self explanatory but others will take time to execute such as hitting a mummy with an ice trap.

Adding Shadows

We are in the process of adding a really cool shadow system which will see the lighting from the previous tombs lighting up the current tomb. It’s really great as it casts a silhouette of the current assets around the tomb and makes our high quality graphics that much more impressive. This shouldn’t take too long to implement and we look forward to sharing it with you.

Adding additional Game Mode(s)

We have a lot of intentions to add a variety of extra modes and game play to Mirrors but these things will take time. We have the idea for implementing an Arcade Mode which will see you clearing as many tombs as possible within a set time limit. There is also the plans to implement a multiplayer mode where you can compete against other players to see who can clear tombs the quickest.

 

I look forward to and appreciate your support over the coming months.

As ever feel free to follow me on twitter.

Rhys

Getting Started With Game Engines

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In this post I will be giving my thoughts on Game Engines, which ones you should should learn and how you should learn them. Even supported with years of higher education, developing games can still be tough. There is so much information available and almost all of the information can be conflicting. Some people will say one engine is better than another, others will say a certain way of learning is better than another. So which is best?

I personally believe game development is a very personal task. What works for one person may not work for another, so it is all about finding what works for you.

 

Which Game Engine should you learn?

The best answer to this question is to use whatever you’re comfortable using. Once you’re using an engine or software that you’re comfortable with, the natural development of becoming better at developing games will kick in and you will become better over time.

If you have done some game development already, then you possibly already know which software you’d like to use. I know a fair few people that do a lot of reading into the different engines and software available. The problem here is that I feel this helps them be knowledgeable about making games, but developing games is completely different to the theory. This is the exact same reason doctors do internships as you can’t learn everything from a book.

For this reason I prefer the more practical approach. Try everything.

I don’t usually write captions, but this isn’t creepy at all.

Most engines are free to use until you’re earning over a certain amount. For this reason anyone who wants to get into game development should really consider giving each of these a chance and decide how you feel once you’ve tried them for yourself.

There are so official and unofficial tutorials available that teach creating games with each engine. By following these you will be able to decide what you like from each and what you dislike from each. Within no time at all you will know which engines you don’t enjoy using and more importantly which one is best for you.

 

The Game Engines

There are so many ways of developing games, but these – for me – are some of the best available for various reasons.

Unity

Unity is without a doubt my favourite engine to use. It is really well maintained and allows for a variety of complex games to be created. I don’t think it gets as much praise as other engines simply because not as many high profile games come from Unity. The key part of that sentence is ‘not as many’.

Heres just a few that have been created in Unity.

Rust
Hearthstone
Lucky’s Tale
Kerbal Space Program
Pillars of Eternity
Subnautica
And many more… 

As you can see it’s possible to create a large variety of games with Unity but this isn’t the reason I like it so much. For as long as I have used unity there has always been so much information and support available. They provide a large amount of tutorials and support for beginners and the community is always providing assistance with their own tutorials as well as providing solutions to problems. In the time that I have been using Unity I have mostly been able to overcome any obstacles I have had relatively easily and this is down to the support that Unity provides as well as receives from its community.

 

Unreal Engine

Unreal Engine is just as popular if not more popular than Unity. Unreal Engine tends to be known for more high profile games than Unity as well as having more aesthetic games. My opinion on this is that with an artist you can easily make a game look great in any engine, but for quickness Unreal Engine would be the way to go.

Unreal Engine also has great support for those who are new or not so interested in programming. BluePrint is basically scripting without the code and allows anyone to create complex scripts by simply dragging and dropping between modules. This is great for anyone who either don’t want or don’t need to know how to code well as they are given an even playing field with programmers. But the biggest downside for me is that you’d still need to learn how to use BluePrint and I feel that time could be spent learning to code in the first place.

 

Game Maker

Game Maker by Yo Yo Games is another great tool to get yourself into game developer with. Game Maker is very simple to use and has a very good source of tutorials on their website which makes creating your first game a piece of cake.

The biggest downside for me is that the free version of Game Maker doesn’t allow you to export your games so you will need to fork out around £75/$100 before you can build your game – and that’s only for Windows / Linux / Mac. If you want to make an android game or an iOS game you its a further £350 / $400 and the price just keeps increasing. Fortunately I have seen Game Maker on Humble Bundle a few times so if you can keep an eye out for that it’s a great buy.

 

Other Options

There are a ton of other game engines each with their pros and cons depending on what you’re making and your personal needs.

 

I would love to know what you think about certain engines and hear your tips for helping people get into game development. In the next post I will look at picking and making your first game and what type of idea you should be aiming for.

If you have any questions feel free to comment or get in touch with me on twitter.

Rhys

Experiences of a Self-Employed Game Developer

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Over the next few weeks I will be writing a variety of blog posts covering my experiences as a self employed game developer. Each post – I hope – will act as a guide for anyone planning on diving into the game development industry.

In this post I will be covering some of the subjects that I will be writing about as well as giving you an opportunity to tell me what topics you may want to hear about.

Before you read the rest of the post I think it’s important to backup my thoughts and opinions with a bit of credibility. Over the past three years I have been developing a variety of games for a range of different clients.

It is true that I haven’t made a game that was featured on the Steam home page, but over the past three years I have managed to pay my bills and live comfortably by doing what I enjoy most – developing games.

In July of this year I was accepted onto a full scholarship researching and developing games. Currently I am developing games to help in the career decisions of teenagers. I have also taken part in teaching at the university which I attended and am now doing my PhD.

The future for Monocool Interactive is to continue taking on contract work and driving towards releasing more and more games. The future for me personally is to complete my PhD in game development and hopefully go on to teach Games Design and Development at university level.

I am very proud to be where I am and i’m excited for the position that I find myself and Monocool Interactive in. I truly believe that anyone can be where I am. I am not a prodigy nor am I technologically gifted. I am nothing more than hardworking and lucky. I have received a lot of good advice over the years and my hope is to pass that advice on through the means of these posts.

I already know a few topics that I will be covering, but if there is anything in specific you’d like me to cover then please let me know and I will see what I can do.

 

Getting started as a game developer

In this post I will cover the basics of getting started as a game developer. Even if you’ve got a degree in game development, getting started is still somewhat tough. There is so much information available that it’s often difficult to filter out the irrelevant stuff. I will talk about the various available game engines and what you can best spend your time learning and doing.

 

Picking your first project

Similar to the getting started post, this will be more orientated to getting things done instead of making decisions about how you’re going to do it. I will cover what makes a good or a bad project, how you should decide on your first project and the importance of settings and achieving your goals.

 

Game Prototyping

This post will be a continuation from the project deciding post. I hope to give you guidance to prototyping your project. I will also explain why prototyping is important, how to prototype and a few hints and tips to make prototyping go quicker and easier.

 

Making Money

In this post I will do my best to give advice on making money throughout your game development cycle. I will cover the pros and cons of contract work, how to get it and how to protect yourself. I will also give my thoughts on dealing with your clients and what work to accept and more importantly what work to avoid!

What do you want to know?

As I have already mentioned, in addition to the above I would also be happy to write posts if there is anything in specific you want to know about. If you have questions that don’t really require a blog post or you’d just like a quick answer you can get in touch via DM on twitter. Otherwise if it makes a great topic then we can discuss it here.

Rhys
Follow me on twitter – @rhyswilly

Could Mirrors be one of the last games through Steam Greenlight?

By | Development Updates, News | No Comments

Around a week ago we put Mirrors live on Steam Greenlight with the hope of getting greenlit before Valve press ALT+F4 on Steam Greenlight. If you haven’t read about Mirrors yet you can do so on its new updated page that can be found here.

Why are we bothering with Steam Greenlight?

We always intended to make Mirrors available on Steam, but with Valve announcing the scrapping of Steam Greenlight the clock began ticking and we needed to rush into it a little. As much as we would like to get Mirrors onto Steam, if we don’t get greenlit, it’s not the end of the world. We will look at other avenues of distributing Mirrors until such time that that Valve get Steam Direct up and running and we will see if that works for us.

Although we do have backup plans, in the meantime we would still love to get through the Steam Greenlight process if we can. So if you can go and vote for us and share this post to other gamers and that would be awesome!

Lower your expectations

 

Greenlight process so far.

Upon starting we got a pretty big influx of ‘No’ votes but we somewhat expected this as puzzle games aren’t exactly that popular compared to a lot of other genres that are available on Steam Greenlight. During this time we also got a nice number of ‘Yes’ votes, potentially more than we really anticipated. That was nice.

Currently we are getting a nice steady flow of ‘Yes’ votes and next to no ‘No’ votes each day. I think not being on the front page of Steam Greenlight anymore means we’re less inclined to attract people who aren’t interested.

We find this very interesting as Castaways was greenlit in under a month but received so much criticism. Mirrors is already over a week into the Greenlight process and although we’re receiving much less criticism, we’re also getting a steady amount of organic ‘Yes’ votes. Perhaps it’s something to do with the internal workings of Steam Greenlight. I suppose we will never know.

 

What we’re working on.

We’re already in the process of adding a few more awesome things to Mirrors. We have just completed a procedurally generated tomb flooring system which means each unique level with have its own unique flooring pattern. We’re also in the process of improving on how the user interacts with each of the various objects around the tombs.

Over the coming weeks we will be working on implementing the multiplayer version of Mirrors. This will allow two people to race through tombs to see who the better treasure hunter is. We are also in the process of tweaking how the existing modes work.

We are looking at adding a few additional mirrors such as a sliding mirror which has a fixed rotation but runs along a track. The objective would be to position this along the track where you would need the reflection.

There is also the addition of different shaped tombs instead of just the standard rectangle that we have shown you so far. We believe that by adding a variety of different shaped tombs will add the complexity and the creativity of the level design, whether it is us or you making the levels.

Mirrors has plenty of scope to constantly improve on where it is currently and we will continue to do so, but we would also love to hear your ideas. So if you have any suggestions how we can improve it or what we could add, please don’t hesitate to get in touch or leave a comment!

 

Additional Projects

Monocool Interactive always has a lot going on. To quote one of the artists we have 10 fingers in 20 twenty pies. How? We’re not quite sure. But it works. Plus we love pie.

Lower your expectations

We are in the process of developing a range of tutorials to help people get into game development. These will be free to use and will come in a mixture of difficulties. We will also be looking at providing feedback to answer any questions you might have along the way.
We’re also in the process of wrapping up some work for Cardiff University on their game Storyboard. Once done we will be looking to get additional work with either another client or focus on one of our own projects.

Finally we’ve been looking at a side project to do once Mirrors is finally live – regardless of what platform that may be. Obviously we wouldn’t be abandoning Mirrors and hoping for the best. We would continually develop it, but as mentioned, we love pie and we want more! We have a few ideas for what this next project will be and we’ll be looking more into these shortly. So stay tuned!

As always, if you got this far, thank you so much for your time. It really does mean a lot. If you have any comments or questions we would love to hear them.

Please remember to go and check Mirrors out on Steam Greenlight! Tell your friends. Tell your enemies. Tell anyone! It’s much appreciated.

Rhys Willis
@rhyswilly