Browsed by
Month: March 2015

The Concrete Jungle Weekly Chronicle – March 29th

The Concrete Jungle Weekly Chronicle – March 29th

Another week, another update. I started work on the new game menu at the end of last week, just before the update, and this week I’ve just been continuing that. Progress on it has been a little slower than I’d hoped, but at the time of writing the character selection screen is working, and also the card-browser/card selection screen.

cardlist

 

This screen is what you’ll use to choose your starting cards, but you’ll also be able to use it to browse through all the other cards in the game too. You’ll be able to open a variation of this menu at any point in the game to browse through cards and help plan your deck. The groundwork is done now, so I hope to have that functionality in-game by next update.

The week ahead is going to be busy; here’s what I want to get done:

-Finish the essentials for the new menu system (quick game setup screens, options menu).

-Start implementing a new tutorial system.

-First round of card balancing (based on my notes from rezzed).

When the above are done, I can start thinking about shifting the game into a testing phase. As I mentioned in previous updates, I plan to start with an alpha which will be tested internally with just a few testers. Once things start to take shape more, I’ll do a beta which any backers who have access to the preview version can also play.

I think it’s about time to unveil the next playable character- mayor Rick Selfridge.

rickjpg

 

Rick is a middle aged man-child from a privileged background. He’s dim and thoughtless but is also a bit of a lovable buffoon. He was really only elected mayor because of this and his rich family’s connections.

He’s also completely inept at dealing with any kind of financial matter, preferring instead to spend the city’s money on entertainment venues such as theme parks, ferris wheels and stautes of himself.

His skill tree is based around this and his class privilege. Aside from the aforementioned entertainment-related cards, Rick also gets access to special abilities that can steal cards from opponents and give him more building placements per turn.

The last thing I want to talk about this update is the possibility of working with a publisher to release the game.

My original intention was to self publish on steam at least, then perhaps look for a publisher to work with when it came to releasing on other platforms (I know I would need a publisher to get the game onto consoles). I do wonder though, whether allowing a publisher to go ‘all-in’ with support from the initial release could be a better option for the game in the long term.

I saw what Team 17 did for ‘The Escapists’ at rezzed for example, and was blown away by their support of the game. There’s no question that working with a publisher like them would be able to put the game infront of more people.

If I were to go this route, I would absolutely make sure that no sacrifices could be made to the original plan (no micro-transactions etc).

On the other hand, through the kickstarter campaign and the incredible support of you guys, I have all the funds I need to finish and release the game, so why make things more complicated or change things now? I don’t have the marketing clout that a publisher could deliver, but the kickstarter went pretty well right? Maybe the game is interesting enough to get media coverage on it’s own…

At the end of the day, the game really belongs to you guys- you’re the reason I was able to make it! So I’m completely open to any suggestions and opinions from backers on this matter. I’m more than happy to go either route from here and I’m just grateful to everybody who allowed me to make it as good as it’s shaping up to be.

So if you’re a backer and have opinions on this, please let me know. You can comment here, send me an email, and I’ve even set up a poll here.

The Concrete Jungle Weekly Chronicle – March 21st

The Concrete Jungle Weekly Chronicle – March 21st

This week I’ve been working on the list of changes I put together after Rezzed. I’m really pleased with the changes so far.

alphascreen1

alphascreen2

Perhaps the most obvious thing this week is the addition of the ‘underground’. It’s really just a cosmetic addition but I think it really brings depth to the grid and makes it feel like you are viewing a cross section of a city (which was the idea from the beginning).

I’ve revamped a lot of the UI. Most noticeably the background colour (which will be changeable by the player), and the counter bars. There’s been a font switch-around too- I’m using the squarer font (‘Aldo The Apache’) for some of the UI text, which is the same as I used for the re-rendering of the game’s logo from last week.

There’s a load of other tweaks which are too numerous to list,and I’m only half way through my list!

I tried to screenshot the game with some of the taller buildings, but the game still needs a bit of balancing as it’s still very hard to get to that phase! It didn’t help that I got caught up with playing and actually forgot to take as many screenshots as I intended. Once I have a few more features in then balancing can begin.

One last thing- I started work on the new main menu today. It’s really early, but here’s a quick look at it so far:

alpha_menu

The Concrete Jungle Weekly Chronicle – March 16th

The Concrete Jungle Weekly Chronicle – March 16th

weblogo

Hello all! I have returned from demoing Concrete Jungle at EGX Rezzed this week, it was such a fantastic experience!

There’s been a lot of love for Concrete Jungle, and I met a few backers and general fans too- everybody I talked to was really friendly and enthusiastic.

Concrete Jungle is not the easiest game to demo during a show, due to it taking a little while to learn how to play. It’s definitely more of a ‘sit down and sink your teeth in’ kind of game rather than something immediate you can just pick up and play. That said, those that played really got quite sucked-in, which must be a good sign!

Watching others play your game for the first time is a valuable experience- I’ve learned a great deal about my own game and more importantly I now have some solid ideas on how to make it easier to play and easier to learn. I’ll summarize just a few key things briefly:

Click and drag building placement is a must! A lot of people’s first instincts were to click and drag the card over to the grid to build it (a feature that was on the to-do list as it has been suggested by backers too). With the benefit of hindsight I really wish I’d put this in the demo build for rezzed! It’s one of the first features I’ve added to the game since getting back- so it’s already now supported in the game.

-Throughout most of the show I was running the versus game mode, in which the player plays the AI. Due to the nature of development, it makes sense to develop a really kick-ass AI that is as good as it can be before then making easier versions of it (making an AI dumber is easy!) So at rezzed I had new players playing against what is quite a formidable AI. Kudos to the 3 people who did manage to beat it though!

Tech levels need to be balanced. In aforementioned versus mode I’ve realised the player levels up their technology (access to better cards) much more slowly than the solo mode due to the nature of the turn-based system. So what I’ll do is make this progression faster in versus mode so we can have games against the AI featuring all the really cool high-level buildings like skyscrapers! Due to this they were sadly lacking from the games played at rezzed.

-Where possible, I want it to be visually obvious what your current placement is going to effect. I’m already doing this with the +/- area effects, but there’s room for improvements, especially with the economy and target values.

-And speaking of the economy and target values, even something like mousing over the orange bar to reveal a link to the height of the columns which it represents should make it easier to immediately understand.

Versus mode uses similar mechanics to the solo mode, but instead of just clearing the left column, it’s about ‘winning’ a column by having more points in it than your opponent. There are a couple of rules here since the target value is still a factor (you need to reach your target to claim victory over a column and win all the points in it). I’ve got ideas on how to better illustrate this using the UI.

-In addition to all of the above, I want to spend time making a really solid, enjoyable tutorial that eases the player into the game. The current one is just an updated version of what was in the preview version, and there’s a lot of room for improvement.

There are a load more things on my list, but those are some of the main ones. I’m already working on them in preparation for the internal alpha build which I hope to have ready at the end of the month.

All these changes though unfortunately, are having a bit of an impact on when I hope to have the game completed. My original target was May, so I’m going to officially move than forward a little to Summer. What I’m going to do instead though to make up for that, is have a beta version set up and available for any backers who want to play it in May.

Anyways, I’d better get back to work now! See you next week!

 

The Concrete Jungle Weekly Chronicle – March 9th

The Concrete Jungle Weekly Chronicle – March 9th

I’ve been working non-stop to put together a build ready for EGX Rezzed this week. It’s great seeing this game start to come together! In terms of the whole project, I’ve still got a lot of content to add, but the core elements are now in-place after going back and refining a load of them thanks to your feedback.

As well as the gameplay changes I’ve made in previous weeks, I’ve updated the UI this week also with ideas from you guys:

march15

There are now (animated) arrows that hover over point collecting buildings when they will be affected by what you’re about to place. This is a *great* addition, and you have backer Joel Finch to thank for the idea. It not only makes things clearer but I think it actually helps make the game easier to grasp for new players.

march15_2

Next up, I’ve also made the tile brightness change in accordance to it’s score. This mainly effects empty tiles- again, it’s a visual hint that helps increase awareness.

One final change this week, which is one of those things which I should of implemented right from the start- I should of even put it in MegaCity. It’s essentially a finish line. In addition to the endless mode found in the Preview version and MegaCity, there is now also a non-endless mode which is actually winnable. Now finally solo mode is not just an endless survival type mode!

Just placeholder UI art for now, but you get the idea.
Just placeholder UI art for now, but you get the idea.

It’s really simple, if you clear columns up until the designated line then you win the level, if not then you loose. The game has needed more objective game modes for a while now I think. Endless mode will still feature of course, but the addition of this will allow me to have proper levels and make some proper challenges in the story mode also.

I’ve also started implementing some requested keyboard control with cursor key and wasd scrolling. I want there to be a lot of different control options in the final game, including controllers.

This week I also finished the first iteration of the verses mode AI. There’s going to be a huge amount of refining and tweaking it, but it’s great to actually get a semi-competent AI in the game to play against for now. I don’t think it’s ever going to be able to compete with human players once they’ve started learning the game’s more intricate mechanics- there’s just too many crafty combos a human player could put together to outfox the AI. It has managed to beat me once as of last night though, and it’s come close several times, even though I’ve not had long to test it! For some reason the AI currently really loves farmhouses.

But wait there’s more! There’s finally some finished character details to share with you. I figured I’d introduce each playable character as their skill tree is completed. As of this update, the first playable character -Laney, is ready and in-game.

Karl, my character artist has completed all the pieces for the 8 characters and I couldn’t be happier with them!

Laney

Laney Thompson is the city’s Architect. As a result her skill tree focuses around this, and features lots of perks to buff buildings.

laneytech

The other focus of her skill tree is culture. Laney gets access to buildings such as an Arthouse Cinema, a Ballet School and ulitmately the Opera House. The cultural buildings & skills are based around deck control. They have effects such as increasing your playslots from 2 to 3 and removing unwanted cards from your deck.

Being one of the starting characters, I wanted her skill tree to be simple, straight forward and easy-to-play. She should be able to hold her own in versus mode too.

That’s all for this week- I hope to see you at Rezzed, where Concrete Jungle will be part of the Bafta Inside Games Arcade!