All posts tagged with "festive hats"

What We Learned At Steam Dev Days

Like many of the other privileged few of the PC Game Development World, Daniel and I attended Steam Dev Days last week. We met a number of lovely people, and unlocked crates filled with things that are potentially unstable but nonetheless have high economic demand.

We also went to a series of valuable, inspirational talks by Valve employees in which they explained their strategies for game development and how they do business. The effect on our game development has been startling. We think you will be pleased by our new business model.

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Hundreds of Tiny Icons

Everything is better smaller and removed from any context.

You make a 32×32 image of fame, rasterize glory, and even make an icon of death.

Someone has to do it. Someone must take up this mantle; Someone has to come up with a blog post about something or other because Nicholas & Daniel are too tired from crunching out a bunch of (quite fascinating actually) systems which, however, lack visual polish and therefore aren’t much good to show off. Yes yes, we’re going to fix that giant white cube that says “POWER SAW” on the side.

So why not icons?

You may recall something of this most diminutive Art from such games as, oh, Dungeons of Dredmor which had altogether over 500 skill, spell, and status icons. There’s no reason to think that Clockwork Empires will be any different. (Except less with the magical spells, perhaps; That’s cultist stuff and we Don’t Approve.)

An apparently loyal subject of The Empire could be a secret Revolutionist.

An apparently loyal subject of The Empire could be a secret Revolutionist.

So, as mentioned in a previous blog post, we have thought icons to express what characters are thinking, feeling, and talking about. Being in effect an avatar of bureaucratic panopticon, somehow, cough, you get to see all of this. Your little people will say things which influence how others feel about them while, perhaps, feeling other things entirely. At this point the valid topics of conversation are entirely about the hatwear of social classes. A lower class labourer will speak of their fine flat cap, though this might not go over well with the middle class overseer who prefers a business-like bowler. Among the aristocrats there are even poetically-inclined types who deign to “slum it” and associate with their lessers while wearing the hat-wear of lessers. On the other hand there are ambitious folk who prefer to discuss hat-wear which is above their station such as the regal top hat, though due to their birth they’ll surely never gain acceptance from their Betters. It’s all very awkward and British.

Everything you could need in 64x64 pixels!

Everything you could need in 64×64 pixels!

There are also, as players of Dredmor will recall, very good reasons why I won’t be making any icons in a mere 16×16 pixels — we’ve got more UI space to play with for our target specs. Would you believe that our original plan for Dredmor was the ship as an 800×600 fixed resolution game? Terrible idea. And this time around our UI workflow doesn’t consist of me writing giant passive-aggressive documents and giving them to Nicholas for hard-coding. In C++.

I won’t get into the specifics of UI layout here because I really can’t — our entire plan, based in part on experience from Dredmor and in part from some common bloody sense, is to have a highly modifiable UI system which allows easy iteration. For instance just last week Nicholas fired up some Prison Architect (Hi Introversion! We think you’re pretty swell) and thought some of what they were doing with UI was clever so he had to try it out. He edited some XML and had an approximation working in CE before the end of the day. A few ideas we are sticking with for now, a few are still proposals based on old Bullfrog games and our company-wide Company of Heroes brawls the past few Fridays. Iteration is cheap, which allows us to experiment and rapidly react to feedback. And if you really don’t like the UI, why, you can just mod your own.

All that said, I bet we can beat that 500 icon count for Clockwork Empires. I mean heck, we’ve got like 30 different kinds of hats already, and that’s just hats. Yeah! Art is pain! (Please send wacom nibs.)

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Happy Maddening Doom-Laden Holidays from Gaslamp Games!

Last year, at about this time, I was on a bus somewhere on Vancouver Island, when Daniel called my cellphone. “You know,” he said, “everybody who downloaded the new expansion pack has suddenly found their game overrun with Giant Pink Scorpion Diggles and it’s totally unplayable.” I ended up fixing that bug, and putting up a hotfix, from a Starbucks in Ladysmith. At some point, somebody from the IRC channel – I never found out who – ended up tracking down which Starbucks I was working from, and arranging for somebody to buy me coffee and scones, to the bemusement of a very puzzled barista who had never seen this sort of thing happening before. That was the year that Christmas was cancelled, but it was kind of okay, really, because when neat stuff like that was still going on: when perfect strangers from the Internet were being very understanding about things screwing up and were stalking you to find where you were and buy you pastries – well, what more do you need in your life?

You remember moments like this as a game developer. And you also resolve to never schedule your holidays in the middle of release schedules ever again.

Now, it’s another Christmas – a year later. It doesn’t seem like a year ago that we were about to release Realm of the Diggle Gods; it seems like aeons ago. What a year it’s been. Things seem to have been overshadowed a bit by the announcement of Clockwork Empires, but somewhere in here we also managed to release two Dredmor expansion packs (You Have To Name the Expansion Pack and Conquest of the Wizardlands) as well. We have moved offices twice, and have grown the company from a handful of overworked lunatics and burnt-out biomechanical researchers in a sequence of increasingly desperate squalid basements to a motley gaggle of fourteen employees and contractors, working out of an office that doesn’t actually have people screaming outside the window every day. (It does, however, have an ominous sink.)

We have a modding community for Dredmor now, which continues to produce nifty things to this day. We also now sell stuffed Diggles, apparently. (Have you bought yours yet?) We have given talks at major conferences about what we are doing – Daniel at Penny Arcade Expo, myself at Casual Connect – because apparently people like what we do and want to learn about it. We have exhibited at a trade show for the first time ever, and have been on the cover of PC Gamer with a six page article about us and our work in it.

In short, it’s been an absolutely ridiculous year. We couldn’t have done it without you, our valued customers and loyal audience, who seem to gleefully put up with all our wacky shenanigans. As always, we thank you for your support, and we are glad to have you along as a part of it.

But now, we must rest. The Ur-sleep has come upon us. We are taking a break at the offices – shutting down the fleshy pods, tucking them into their nurting jackets of bubbling ooze, and letting the massive flywheel in the generator slowly come to a grinding halt. Soon, the offices will fill with the cryogenic suspension foam and… er, yes. That.

Please enjoy your doom-laden holidays, and remember to bathe in the light of the maddening solstice rays in a responsible fashion over the holiday season. 2013 is going to be amazing.

Weekly updates on Clockwork Empires will resume in January.

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