I’ve decided now that I’m not going to think up a better name for my fledgling game making production house than ‘Robotic Shed’. I mean what could be better than a regular garden shed with robotic arms, legs and a fervent desire to see you all dead, for making you think ‘Games! Yes! I need some of those, and from that guy!’.
Nothing could be better, thats what.
Work on the game itself continues apace. I’m in that sort of sticky middle patch where I spend a long time taking care of boring sometimes awkward stuff that makes the game no more fun but a lot less ‘where the hell is the…’. For example, I’ve fixed up my pause and options menus a lot so that you can now turn off some of the graphical wizardry to better suit a lower end machine. I also spent an unreasonable amount of time puzzling out line of sight on a hexagon grid by hand before realising that the enitre internet had got there first. I had several pages of A3 covered in scribbled diagrams before I went back to google and adjusted my search terms a little.
I’m also now pretty certain that I’m going to be calling the game ‘Free Company’ after the mercenaries of medieval italy. This is a massive improvement on my previous title of ‘Dan’s hexagon fighty game’ which in market testing lacked a certain resonance with my intended target demographic.
I’m still intending to churn out something playable at the end of January and to that end I’ve been trying to pare down the design to the barest of essentials to hit that date with a decent chance of it all working and being a little bit fun. I’m not cutting stuff forever, just removing things from the ‘tech test’ demo schedule that don’t absolutely need to be there.
My current plan is to get the barest bones of a tactical battle engine up and running with a simple test battle between the player and a few AI controlled minions. Once thats in place the months after that will be entirely focused on adding to and iterating that basic battle engine until its super fun on its own merits. The goal with this phase of the project is to eventually produce an alpha version that features a neverending sequence of randomly generated battle levels that are all balanced and mega fun while the player takes a persistent group of mercenaries through them until all of his mercenaries are dead. Ultimate battling without context if you will; the sort of entertainment offered by something like Gratuitous Space Battles or Zangband.
The third and final phase of ‘Free Company’ will be then to add the Total War/Civilization/X-Com style campaign map to give the battles the political context of a gradually developing mercenary group in a randomly generated dark fantasy setting. This all depends, of course on me still having any money or sanity left after hammering down phase two. I’m debating opening the project up where interested pioneers can get the latest pre-release versions for a heavy discount once phase two is complete. This would be both so I get a little income going, and so I get some valuable feedback on the design. That sort of thing seemed to work out alright for the developers of Mount & Blade so maybe I’ll have a chance with it as well.
Anyway, carry on.