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Month: February 2015

The Concrete Jungle Weekly Chronicle – Feb 28th

The Concrete Jungle Weekly Chronicle – Feb 28th

Hello all!

After moving places last week, I finally have my internet back, just in time for a weekend update!

GDC & EGX Rezzed

I’ll start with some awesome news- as I’m sure you all know GDC is approaching very soon in a few days. Although I myself will unfortunately not be there, a build of Concrete Jungle will make an appearance courtesy of Clickteam (developers of Fusion 2.5) who will be demoing it at their booth along with some other games. You can find them at booth #736, so be sure to check that out if you’re going! I wanted to go myself, but the prices for me to visit were pretty astronomical as I’m based in the UK- I really hope I can go next year.

An event I will be attending however, is EGX Rezzed in London on 12th March. A build of Concrete Jungle will be there also- specific details on that to follow soon.

The GDC build is still without the versus mode as it’s still not quite ready (it’s very close to being completely functional though). The same goes for the character tech tree. You will be able to explore the tweaked and tightened mechanics that I mentioned last update though along with a load of buildings that have been added since the preview version.

The build at Rezzed will hopefully feature one or both- as I’ll be able to work on getting a build ready practically right up until it’s time to set up! Which is what I’ll be working frantically on this week.

 Progress

There’s been some decent progress since the last update. All the buildings I’ve developed graphics for since the new year are now fully-functional in the game, and the AI also knows how to play all of them. How effective it is at playing some specific ones remains to be seen and will certainly require additional work, but the foundations are in-place. That means there are currently 106 buildings functioning in the game! That’s excluding the cards which are not buildings.

The first character skill tree is almost done too, and Karl is nearing completion with the character designs which are looking *awesome*. More on the characters very soon.

Once that and work on the AI’s ability to progress through the skill tree is complete, the versus mode will be functional. This, along with a proper main menu system, is what I’m waiting on before beginning a new testing phase- which will first be an internal alpha to get a feel for how things are working. I hope to have this going around mid/late-march.

Pending adjustments following that, I’ll be looking at doing an opt-in beta for any backers who have access to the preview version. I want it to be opt-in to keep the numbers manageable, but you will be very welcome to access it when the time comes (I shall let you know when through these updates). I would expect that in April. Once the mechanics have been refined I’ll move on to focusing on the mac port.

Unfortunately there are no new buildings to sign off with this week as I think there’s enough in-game now to shift the focus onto putting everything together as described above. The next 50 will be added gradually as the game comes together some more- a lot of these will be be added for balancing and special character skills. We should have the characters to show you soon as a replacement for the weekly building visuals, but this week there’s a bit of a gap in new visuals to show you.

Maybe you can have a look at some of the cool new card mechanics I’ve added for the new buildings over the last few weeks!

Zoo

Museum

Car-Dealership

The Concrete Jungle Weekly Chronicle – Feb 15th

The Concrete Jungle Weekly Chronicle – Feb 15th

Hello everybody!

A bumper-sized update this week! I figured I’d share with you the changes I’ve made to the deck building/card buy system- there were a few problems with the mechanics in the preview build which needed to be improved. I’ve been testing these changes since the new year and I’ve arrived at a system I’m really happy with.

topright
The card buy screen can now be accessed at any time via a button in the top right.

-For starters, you now have complete control over when you spend your ‘buys’. In the preview version, the card buy screen would pop up once you had 8 buys- whether you wanted it to or not! The original idea behind this was to keep the players on their toes by forcing decisions on them. However, it soon became clear this made the deck building less fun, and it could often interrupt your train of thought when you were planning out plays. Just letting the player spend their buy points at their own pace is a much better system!

Tenement-Tower
Buildings that can be played over and over in your deck now have the circling arrow icon in the top left. ‘One-shot’ buildings don’t feature this on the card.

-As stated in a previous update, a lot of the cards (especially the more powerful ones) have been changed to ‘one shot’ cards that are removed from your deck after playing them once. This is a much better system as it stops your deck size from spiraling out of control- which was causing the addition of new cards to feel insignificant and even detrimental.

Another noteworthy change is that your new cards are placed in your pickup pile, not your discard pile- so you should get to play them relatively soon after you’ve purchased them- a few of you requested that in feedback.

-The default buy screen remains largely the same- a choice between 4 cards. However, I’ve introduced a system where you work towards more powerful cards rather than them just being ‘rare’.

cardshop
I still need to ‘pretty up’ the UI on the card shop screen.

You’ll notice a new segmented bar at the top. This represents your transition from village to megacity. I haven’t decided on what to call this in-game yet, but it’s essentially technology progression. Every time you buy a new card from the 4 options in the card shop, this bar increases by 1.

techbar
This is what a full tech bar looks like.

The bar is split up into different colours which represents the different classes of building. In the preview build I used these colours to signify rarity- that’s now been changed to a tech level. It’s pretty simple- once you reach the green portion of the bar, green class cards start to appear as options in the card shop. Once you reach the blue portion of the bar, blue class buildings are unlocked. Then purple, and finally yellow (landmark) class buildings- which are the most powerful in the game.

There are also little house icons above the progress bar- once you reach these a house will be added to your deck (replacing the automatic house-add system in the preview build, which worked by checking the ratio of residential buildings in your deck).

Now for the playable characters! My original intention was for each character to have a few unique cards available to them. The problem with integrating them into the card buy system was the randomness- what if your character specific cards simply didn’t appear? I didn’t want the character-unique cards to be ruled by luck of the draw.

To solve this I created a new way to spend ‘buys’. Each playable character has a skill tree completely unique to them. They are filled with unique buildings, cards or sometimes passive or instant effects that can also be added to your deck or triggered. These skills are also spit up into the colour coded tech levels and become available for purchasing accordingly. They can be purchased for a point instead of one of the random 4 cards, but crucially, the purchase of these do not add to the tech/progress bar itself. This means you’ll have to strike a balance between the random cards in the card shop and investing in your perhaps more powerful character skills/unique buildings.

techtree
A work-in-progress skill tree. I have all the skills planned out, but not all are functional yet.

The skill tree brings some much needed consistency to deck building tactics.

This revamp goes a long way to fixing the problem of there not being much to work towards in the game. I’m really pleased with how it’s playing now. There is still a long way to go -creating the different skill trees in particular is going to be a lot of work even though I have skills planned out.

But this gives me a good segue into the characters themselves. I’ve recently commissioned the excellent Karl James Mountford to work on visually developing the characters for the game. Graphically, character art has never been one of my strengths- I can render and colour to a decent standard, but I’ve never been good at conveying a lot of personality through my line work. Karl really excels at this so it’s really really exciting to have him on board! I can’t wait to show you the game’s 8 characters- I shall introduce you to them week-by-week starting soon…

Lastly, here are this weeks new buildings!

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The Opera House.
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A movie studio!
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I realize the game doesn’t even have an airport yet, but I couldn’t resist putting a launch pad in! I want to make the shuttle launch when the column clears!
The Concrete Jungle Weekly Chronicle – Feb 8th

The Concrete Jungle Weekly Chronicle – Feb 8th

Hello all! A brief update this week. I’ve gone back to working on the versus mode AI now the core mechanics are finalized, and it’s coming along really well. I’ve mentioned before that making an AI play this game effectively has been a massive challenge, but I definitely think the most complicated work is done now.

There are so many variables for it to consider when playing: Not just the +/- area effects, but how important every stat associated with the card is, how badly the ai wants to cycle through it’s deck, how much to value the elimination of it’s opponents points vs advancing it’s own, how much space is left in the column, etc etc. That’s only scratching the surface and not including the deck building aspect of the game, which is my task this week.

All of the variables the AI considers are easily changed, which means I can create different AI personalities easily- something I’ll be utilizing for the game’s different characters.

I also have an awesome artist working on visually developing the rest of the characters for the game- I can’t wait to show you lot some of the personalities you’ll be playing with and against!

Building development is slower but steady, it shall pick up again once the AI is in place as that’s been such a huge part of the workload this week. But I’ve still found the time to make a cool military base!

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The Concrete Jungle Weekly Chronicle – Feb 1st

The Concrete Jungle Weekly Chronicle – Feb 1st

Hello everybody!

Another busy week, with a good amount of progress! I can now finally talk in a bit more detail about the gameplay tweaks and changes I’ve been making- up until recently they were still very much a work in progress, but now many have been implemented and are working nicely I think I can finally share with you some more specifics…

So part of the deck-building revamp was re-working some of the residential mechanics. Residential buildings collect points, which makes them some of the most important cards in the game. In the preview version there were a range of point-collecting buildings ranging from the basic house, the 2x variants (townhouse, duplex), the 3x (tenement) and x4 (apartment tower). Here’s some of the changes I’ve made to them:

-Houses are pretty much the same, but due to the new system of gaining character skills, the automatic addition of house cards has been changed slightly (more on that soon- it’ll be easier to explain when I outline these changes in a future dev blog update).

-Townhouses also remain the same. They collect 2x points but are also automatically added to your deck instead of houses after a certain point. They were quite essential to being able to stay in the game, and I didn’t want to leave that to the randomness of the card screen. Plus- houses became next to useless towards the mid-late game, why punish the player by giving them loads of boring houses when you can have townhouses instead?

-Duplexes used to be identical to the townhouse and collect 2x points. The original idea was to have another double point building to increase the chances of being able to acquire them through the card screen. This isn’t really needed any more, so the Duplex card has been changed to be similar to the house (x1 score), but it starts with a score of +2. It’s also a ‘one shot’ card -of which there are now many- which means the card is removed from your deck after it’s played. To compensate, it’s now also more common and has a lower cost.

-The 3x and 4x cards I felt were a bit too powerful, especially as repeating cards. To compensate I’ve removed the 3x card completely. I do have some (currently 1) 4x card- but it’s a legendary one-shot card. Quadruple points is super powerful!

But in addition to this I’ve implemented an awesome new concept- ‘tower’ buildings. Tower cards can be built on top of each other in addition to being able to be built on empty land. These can be really useful as any player of megacity or the preview version will know- space quickly becomes the most important resource in the game.

Tenement-Tower

So the residential tower card is essentially like a house, but it also gives +1 to itself, and you can build it on top of other residential tower buildings (stacking up to a maximum of 6). Of course there are some unique graphics to visualize the stacking:

apartment1apartment2

And why stop at residential towers? I’ve also implemented the same concept with the ‘office block’ building- you can build it on top of itself to save space and build an office tower. I’m currently trying to figure out an industrial version -perhaps the storage silos from a few updates ago.

These have proven to be some great additions/changes so far. Success in-game is more under your control now, and the player has some interesting new options available to them. The super powerful 4x point buildings will still be available for ridiculous scores, but they will be rare and limited- best use them wisely when you come across them!

I’ll share some of the other key changes in the coming weeks.