Year in review: New website, August release, and Stuff Occuring Moving Forward Into The Future Of Time And Space

12/08/2014 by Damon

Kealakekua Bay

 

Hey guys! I think it’s high time we wrote another blog post and let you guys know what’s been going on recently regarding the game and us as people. Arguably this blog post should also have happened sooner, but, well, life I guess lol. If you’ve been following our facebook page, you may already have heard about some of this stuff, but facebook never really gives us the opportunity to go into much detail. So we’ll be rehashing some of the events over the past year, as well as letting you know about some other interesting things to come.

WEBSITE

So the first thing to discuss is the new website. We’ve got a new website! F I N A L L Y, right guys?
We went into radio silence very soon after our october demo was released and had a temporary page on the domain for about half a year’s time. We’re sorry that it took so obscenely long to open it up again, especially considering it’s not finished yet, but we are confident that the new site is a huge improvement over the old. It looks an order of magnitude nicer, plays properly on mobile, and runs on a solid CMS.

So we already have included teams pages, download pages, other essential pages. Planned for the main site still are information on tracks and reworks of the about and music pages. There’s also a login page that you will have seen, although you won’t be able to play with it yet, as we don’t allow registrations through the site; only through the game itself. Think of it as a teaser.

As I said, we had the site down and in development for about half a year as we ran into a few issues while producing it. I don’t want to go into huge detail in this overview post, but rest assured some time in the next couple months I’m going to make a post that goes into detail about everything that happened during the site’s production and our overall plan for the FINISHED site, including “Part 2” (what you see is only one half of what is planned). So if you want more info, keep an eye out for that.

Events

BIG Festival

If you were watching our facebook you might already know about these, but over the northern summer we attended two mad conventions; Bruno took the game to BIG and I took it to AVCON.
BIG – The Brazil Independent Games festival – was pretty exciting. The goal behind this event is to showcase indie dev talent in Brazil, and offers several cash prizes, functioning like effective grants. The largest award available is about R$30,000, although we weren’t intending to go for that much (competing games include things like Crypt of the Necrodancer, which you may already have heard of).

Instead, we focused on a thing called Demonight; a showcase for unfinished games (for obvious reasons). This was still a competition of sorts, and 150 games entered. We placed seventh overall, which is already pretty exciting. So while we weren’t able to grab the R$3000 and the trophy, we <i>were</i> able to get the game out to a lot of eyeballs, as each game in the top ten went on to form a presentation about what it was and what the team wanted to acheive. This means that demonight gave us the opportunity to reach out and demo (get it) the game to an audience of people who otherwise would never have heard of us.

This also included a panel that you could see featured in the video of the presentation, so getting their opinions was really cool and useful. IIRC (I’ll update this post as soon as I can get the info), one of those guys was from Sony, and another was from 505. That was really exciting.
You can see the video of the presentation at this link. You’ll also be able to find several (portugese) articles about the event if you google us and BIG together.

AVCON

So BIG was more of a presentation event; AVCON on the other hand was a playtesting event. AVCON stands for ‘Anime and Videogame Convention’, and happens in Adelaide, Australia. The convention includes a very large space for many many indie games to show themselves off and get people playing, and so that’s exactly what we did. It was a very exciting event and we got a huge positive response from many people. I was honestly suprised by the sheer number of wipeout fans there. We even got a couple of fans there just for us! So a shoutout to all of the guys who came by and checked us out. 🙂

A number of notable people appeared while we were there. Most notable were Suprise Attack games, who were willing to publish us if we could make money. SSGX vs money is a topic probably large enough for a blog post all it’s own, but we ended up declining for a number of hopefully obvious reasons. It seems our values just didn’t line up this time, but it’s nevertheless very exciting to receive that kind of interest and we might return to them with future games. Who knows? 🙂
Supattack have gone on to publish Screencheat, which you probably have already heard of right now. So that’s a neat little circular coincidence there. Good game, good people.

Still with us? Feel to take a break and grab a coffee. Like I said, a looong update 😉

August Build

Alphard

The build we’ve just released is what you see after 10 months of work. During that time we’ve made a number of external improvements and a number of smaller, under-the-hood features.

Firstly, some of the things you’ll notice instantly in the new version. Most obvious is the new circuit. Alphard has been completed in record time by Damian and is easily the most difficult circuit in the game right now. The current track roster is pretty interesting to note, as a combination of amateur game dev skills, poor planning and the nature of the first community-led stages of the project has resulted in tracks that are very tight, very difficult, and leave very little room for ships to be close to one another. <strong>Note that I don’t at all mean to imply these circuits are bad</strong>; rather, I’m talking about how at the beginning of the project, we had much less game-designing ability then we do now. I like to think that we’ve come a looooooong way since then, especially in terms of our game-design skills, and I hope that you guys will understand and tolerate a discrepency in the design of these circuits.

What I’m trying to say is this: Cassy, Alphard and to some extent DC are tight, narrow circuits designed for extreme precision, some would say to the detriment of the game. Pretty much all of our future circuits are going to scale back from this extreme difficulty, becoming wider and more tolerable. We’re not dumbing it down; we’re just making it a little less impossible.

Honestly, the discussions of both the influence of the community on our project and how the design process of the game works are topics for full-length blog posts themselves, and we’re going to revisit them at a later date.

Other Circuits

While we’re discussing circuits, K-Bay is well on it’s way to being finished after working on it periodically over the season, and with any luck it may be the next circuit released. We’ve also been showing sneaky peeks of Indigo Speedway, which looks like this. Indigo Speedway is designed as our tutorial track and will feature in special events of that nature. We’re currently still debating wether to make it officially playable, but now you know what it is and why it is.

Nazca Remains is being reworked for the third time; it’s been giving us a lot of trouble, caused by (among other things) modellers who offered to take it on and then stopped turning up to work. Most recently, we did get the design to a playable stage, but realised the track was way too tight and narrow to be fun and generally wasn’t up to standard. So we’ve scrapped it and will be starting again with a design study still including the original elements.

We’ve also begun planning stage on the two Basin Park circuits after an eternity in limbo from early versions of the project. More information about that will come later.

Under the hood improvements

After circuits, there are several additions that aren’t going to be as obvious. We continually tweaked the physics model over the course of the season and have it very very close to perfect now. I’m sure you’ll feel a definite difference in the physics between this build and the October one. The most notable improvement is that heavy ships like helios are no longer worse; just different. The airbrake handling allows them to still move in a really responsive and nimble way; it just takes more skill 🙂

Enemy ship AI has been improved and adjusted and is now a lot more balanced, although I feel we still have a bit of work to do. Hard is actually hard now, but there seems to be a correlation between difficulty and speed class that needs to be removed. So we’ll get back to you on this.

We’ve continually chipped away at Unity Free’s restrictions; The ships now have a reflection mapping on them, and coupled with free dynamic shadows in new versions of unity they look really REALLY nice. It’s not obvious in game; you’ll see this as a sort of highlight or horizon reflected in the paintwork. It’s there, though, and it makes a big difference in realism.

We’ve also fixed broken music uptake and added a few new options such as a camera adjustment menu, Charlie’s voice work in a number of places, and the backbone for an achievements system. We’re really getting there now. 🙂

Blogging

The final thing I want to talk about (you can leave soon, don’t worry) is blogging. With our website down, there wasn’t much to talk about over here, and our home base became our facebook page. Now this isn’t about to change in the future, as facebook will still be the place to get up-to-the-minute videos and pictures and funny stuff. This website acts more as a presentation for the game’s releases and is fairly static.
The blog section is an exception. We’re going to do our best to start releasing more videos and more blogs more often, going into detail about the design process behind the game and interesting things like that. I feel like we’ve been too quiet in the past, so I want to start doing something about that and actually having a discussion with you guys. So look forward for more activity in the future.

So that’s 10 whole months of work in review. I still haven’t covered all of it, but I think that this is enough for now to satisfy you guys and let you know what’s been happening and what we’re up to. Thanks very much for reading this far, and see you next time!
Love, Airtime 🙂



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