It’s been a short but busy month; with a release, marketing events, and a return to work on Jack B. Nimble!
Star Citizen Alpha 2.6.1 is out now! For a detailed look at the changes to the maps and patch notes check the 2.6.1 release post.
PC Gamer Weekender
A couple of weeks ago I attended the PC Gamer Weekender, representing Cloud Imperium Games to talk about level design within Star Marine.
I feel it went pretty well, despite still suffering after effects from the chest infection that plagued me throughout January (yep, I’m still coughing). I was able to offer an insight into the level design process (read: lots of testing, lots of iteration) and answer questions from the audience pertaining to Star Marine and first person level design.
Unfortunately, as of writing, neither the panel nor Q&A session are available online. However, audience member, Oliver East of Just Push Start recorded some audio and posted it to YouTube in two parts.
If a full video emerges, I’ll be sure to share it here.
Update: The PC Gamer Weekender Star Citizen panel is now available!
This month I was also interviewed in Jump Point, Star Citizen’s subscriber magazine. I go into depth surrounding level production of “OP Station Demien” and “Echo 11”, the struggles of balancing gameplay between space and ground combat, and touch on my overall level design process and workflow.
It was great to have the chance to offer a glimpse into the world of level design; it’s unprecedented for me to be able to offer this level of transparency for my professional work. And even if you’re not into reading about the ins and outs of development, the in-progress shots showing my work in white box before moving into the art pass are well worth your time (see some of these below).
Jack B. Nimble
Back in January of 2016 I believed that Jack B. Nimble was going to be finished in the first half of the year, allowing me to focus on another project I had just started. Unfortunately, neither of these things happened.
As I’ve mentioned in the past, Jack B. Nimble is a passion project. I don’t expect much in the way of financial gain, but rather the experience of shipping a game (mostly) alone. I want to use Jack B. Nimble as a barometer for future independent games that I create.
Back in January I didn’t realise how much further I had to go, and it’s hard to even blame feature creep. It was more that there were so many base features required to distinguish the game from a simple post game jam release. If it wasn’t obvious from the reviews, it was from the feedback I received from fellow developers – the first release and two subsequent updates were bare-bones. Players had greater expectations than a polished game jam build. They wanted progression, variety, leaderboards, achievements – all standard within the mobile games, but mostly absent from Jack B. Nimble. Though I didn’t realise this at the time, this feature checklist slowly became the focus for the year.
I started slow. I began updating the front end by adding missing features and improving the flow in and out of the game. By the end of February, along with the improvements to the map and menus, I had visually raised the quality bar across the project. Just by filing down some of the rougher areas as I fleshed out the aforementioned feature checklist.
By April I felt that the core experience and game were complete, and I was ready to start building promotional material. However, I really didn’t account for the number of bugs and workload required to get achievements, stat tracking and the remaining leaderboards in game. It took months.
But here’s where things get exciting. Now that the bugs are squashed, the game is done… Jack B. Nimble is done!
Before I commit to a fixed release date, I need to work on a bunch of release material, hence why I’m not exactly screaming from the rooftops about it. I mean, finally, right? It really is a shame that I am building upon a released product; you only get one release, and one chance at reviews (if at all). So I feel like this huge update will pass a lot of people by – I’m not letting this get in my way though, because I still believe that the game could get a new lease of life on Steam. Though recent news of Steam Greenlight’s demise may have made that a little more difficult…
A couple of weeks ago I expressed some interest in building a small single player experience for Quake. My intention was to continue to keep those single player muscles exercised while my professional career took a very a multi player focused path (on Star Marine). However, after messing about in Trenchbroom for a little while, I got the itch to work on something a little bigger…
Over the holidays I ran a poll on my personal twitter asking which engine I should investigate this year, having outgrown Construct 2. Don’t get me wrong, Construct 2 is a fantastic engine, but I need something a little more transferable, and ideally, 3D. My intention is for my next independent project to kill two birds with one stone. I want to satisfy my desire to explore single player level design and learn some new technology. And with Unreal and Unity coming out very much on top in the poll, I feel it’s what other people want me to explore too.
I feel that I am going to overrule Unreal’s narrow victory in favour of learning a little C# alongside Unity. Expect a little more on this in the weeks following Jack B. Nimble’s release…