May 8th, 2013
Report card time !
First of all we would like to announce a partnership with Heriberto Valle from Imagineer Games, he will be helping us with some character ilustrations, as soon as they are available we will be sharing them with you.
Also as you might remember from our last Marketing post we where doing some research on what conventions would be a good option to take the game to get some well deserved exposure. After some research and a very enlightnening discussion on an Indie Dev Facebook Group we decided that the best events for us would be GDC Play and PAX.
The main benefit of GDC Play is that you get a lot of exposure from the press, while at PAX you get a lot of exposure with fellow gamers (I.E. The final customers for the game), so the priority will be attending PAX as part of the Indie Mega Booth, nevertheless we will try to go to both events. Checking our calendars we decided that we will wait for the 2014 editions of each event.
Also be on the lookout for an upcoming Feature/Interview that Joshua Dennison is doing about the game on Pixels or Death. The feature will be up on the site in a few weeks. We will of course let you know in our Facebook page when this happens.
That would be all for now, we´ll be sure to keep you posted on everything related to the game.
April 27th, 2013
Things have been pretty hectic recently! I’ve been doing an important cutscene for the past week, and it’s been a complete grind. Fortunately, things have worked out well. I’d like to show you something, but I can’t do it without spoiling a surprise related to a story device that’s new to the metroidvania genre, and maybe to some other genres. Once the official trailer comes out, you’ll see what it is.
Now, I said I was going to talk about the lighting system, so let’s!
(click to see the comparison)
In the old “lighting system”, which wasn’t really a system, the lights were merely bitmaps or images pasted above the night-time colour layer. Back in the day (2007), this looked pretty nice if you used an additive ink effect. If done right and if you used it at the right places, it had a nice feeling to it. But it wasn’t really lighting at all, it just made the image brighter on that spot. Actually, it was harder to see things that were behind a light.
The problem here is that, since half of the game happens during the night, some visibility problems could arise at the wrong time. Say it’s night-time and you reach a milestone in the game: a cutscene unfolds and the plot advances. But things are a bit hard to see. Maybe you’d wish you would’ve been here during the day instead. Or, worse yet, you realise you missed something important. That’s a considerable design problem.
To solve this, the lighting system was remade to support real-time lighting, which means each location can be designed so that it’s lit if there’s something important for you to see. Also, the new engine adaptively displays the number of lights on screen with as least performance loss as possible. In any case, an option can be added to display the old “lighting system” if it does cause slowdown for some users (or if you like it better!?).
It goes without saying that such a lighting system should’ve been the one to start with. Many games today have systems like this by default. However, this game does date back to 2006-2007, and so does the technology I use to make the game, so this was a small achievement for me . Having this system will let me design areas and puzzles that specifically require lighting spells, aside from bringing a lot of life to the night-time world!
April 19th, 2013
These days I have been busy doing some research on some of the major Game Expos where we can take the game.
One thing is for sure: we want to get as much exposure as possible with Heart Forth, Alicia. A great way to do that would be to attend to at least one of these events:
- PAX Prime
- PAX East
I got in touch with the organizations that run both events. I still haven’t received a response from the folks at PAX, but after exchanging some E-Mails with the people at GDC they recommended that we take the game to GDC Play.
First of all the cost of attending GDC Play is half the cost of attending GDC. One of the issues is that the next GDC Play will take place simultaneoulsy as GDC Next on November of this year, and the next edition will be held on GDC 14, so we have to decide which one is the better option for the game’s exposure. We also have to consider these dates for the release of media other than screenshots and possibly a demo.
The benefits of attending GDC Play are substantial, you can check them out here, but I´m still not sure if we would be getting the same exposure that we would be getting if we had a booth at the main floor.
We are still thinking what event would offer the most value to Heart Forth, Alcia, if you have any experience taking your game to one of these events please do share your experience with us. Also, tell us if you’ll be taking your own game to any of these events!
We´ll let you know when we decide where to take our game, rest assured wherever we are we would love to see you there.
April 13th, 2013
I’ve been wanting to post an update for a few days now, but I hadn’t had the time to get some images ready. As you’ve seen, Humberto has joined our small team and has begun making efforts to get the word out! The Facebook page has gotten a considerable boost of activity, and his Marketing Journey entries are going to get very interesting in the future. I’m excited to see what happens.
Jonathan has also been working on the music for the game. It’s always a joy to listen to anything this man composes! I will upload some segments of his music in the future when gameplay videos begin to come out. I’m very happy to be working with these very talented people!
Getting to what I’ve been working on this past couple of weeks: I’ve been making a new lighting system with an updated version of what
I use to make the night/day system.The results are very nice-looking. I will make an update in a few days showing the before/after comparisons and some technical stuff about it.
Meanwhile, here are some updates I did to Alicia’s avatar. They were about 4 or 5 years old, so they kind of needed fixing:
I’ve also recently added item-holding urns. Before, items not dropped by enemies used to be found just lying on the ground like in Castlevania SOTN. I figured that hiding them inside urns would add an element of expectation: the player will always want to break them to know what’s inside, instead of just seeing it and discarding it if it doesn’t look too interesting. It’s also a good bait other than HP containers or other stat upgrades.
For instance, would you like to know what’s inside that urn over there?:
April 10th, 2013
First of all I must give a shout out to Chris Priestman for the awesome note he just wrote about the game on Indie Statik. Just yesterday when I was doing my research I put him on the Press List and out of the blue he sends us an E-Mail and writes the note. Thank you Chris, you are awesome.
Also, thank you guys for all the awesome support, after the first “Marketing Journey” post our Facebook page got 100 new likes, so thank you for that guys : )
As you might remember one of our priorities was getting a press list ready, while working on it I´ve also found some preety interesting articles on the best ways of getting attention from the press.
At Indie City I found a very interesting article on a Q&A format that was super helpful, not only because of the great advice but also because it included contact information for some awesome Game Journos that I haven´t heard about, they have been added to the press list.
Lewis Denby also offers some great advice on his blog, it is great to see an actual member of the press giving advice on how to reach them.
One of the first things we did while building the list was giving a Twitter Follow from our Twitter handle to all the members of the press we are interested in contacting, this creates some “Brand Awareness” (At least that is what I think).
When they see their Inbox with an E-Mail with “Heart Forth Aicia” on the subject line maybe they will remember the name for getting the “Follow” notification on Twitter, at least now they will know we exist.
Also, I found about two awesome tools that might come in handy for the Marketing and PR:
Promoter keeps track of all the press and social media mentions of your games, review scores and much more. It has a one month free trial, so maybe we´ll be trying it out when we start to actually contact the press.
There´s also Gamepress, this is a place where you can submit assets from your games and if any Game Journo using it finds them interesting they can contact you and write a story of your game.
The list itself is taking more time than what I originally thought it would take, but I promise we will be keeping you posted.
That would be all, on the future we plan on creating posts with narrative content on some of the locations of our world, but we are still deciding on the format of those posts so for now you will be getting more Marketing Journey than narrative content.
Do you have any good idea/advice for contacting the press ? Do you know any tool that might help us ? A news outlet that might be interested in Heart Forth, Alicia ?
Please sound off in the comments !
Remember the point of “Marketing Journey” is that we all learn together
April 4th, 2013
Let me introduce myself, my name is Humberto Cervera and from this point forward I will be part of the team working on Heart Forth, Alicia.
I first met Alonso at a local Game Dev Gathering here in Mexico City and since we met he told me that he was looking for someone to help him with the PR and Marketing efforts related to his game, and this is where I come in.
I am a Game Designer by profession, I have been working in the local industry for almost one year and a half now and even though I am not a marketing expert by working as a freelance and because I am self-taught I have learned one or two marketing things on the road.
Also, I have been an Entrepreneur for almost 5 years now, I´ve had 3 failed companies (Non-Videogame related) that have taught me some really valuable lessons, lessons that I hope I can put into practice on this awesome project.
My goal by writing this blog posts is for you, our fans, to come join me in the “Marketing Journey”.
Indie Game Marketing is a whole beast in its own right, and from this point and until the launch of the game I will be learning a lot of things related to the subject, I hope that if you decide to follow the “Marketing Journey” for Heart Forth, Alicia when you decide to market your own games you can apply the lessons that we all learn here.
I will be delighted to hear your suggestions and comments, if you have a good idea for the “Marketing Journey” feel free to speak out.
Right now the first three priorities are:
- Investigate the possibility of taking the game to GDC and PAX.
- Reach out to 100 (Minimum) journalists or news outlets, just so that they know we exist.
- Do market research, especially the prices and the correlation between cost, quality and length of the game.
As I told you before, every 15 days I will be posting an update on how these things went and what are the next steps, I surely hope that if you are not interested on Indie Game Marketing you will at least find these posts entertaining.
Ever since I met Alonso and the project I fell in love not only with the project but with the incredible amount of talent exhibited by Alonso, it is an honor and a pleasure to be part of this awesome game I sure hope you can join us on this Journey.
Don’t forget to show us some love on Facebook.
Also, if you are reading this…you are awesome.
March 22nd, 2013
This last month was filled with nice things! I was recently able to nail down an issue I had with a certain character’s backstory. This makes me very happy because it works so much better than the previous solution. I also did (and redid) a lengthy cutscene around a bonfire to disclose more plot information, released a few beta builds and finished an area (at least the first go-through of it).
I’ve also been making efforts to get the music of the game moving. It’s the only thing that’s been sitting around for a while. The musician I mentioned in the last post has come on board! His name is Jonathan Geer. He will be making some of the central music tracks for the game. He is very talented, and he’s also a nice person; I’m excited to see what comes out of the collaboration.
As I was readying the music engine for this purpose, I realised it’s not as versatile as I remembered: except for some basic “room detection”, the music has to be played manually if I want to have night-time music, or during cutscenes. Also, there are no decent fade-outs when changing tracks, or automatic fades between different tracks that can be played in the same room at different moments. I decided to recode the engine to support all of this automatically and load everything from an external file. I was surprised to see how quickly it was up and running; it took about a day to code and debug. I implemented it today and apparently there are no issues. This is good. I was expecting crashes, headaches and disillusionment.
I also mentioned in the last post that I would present the game to a local gamedev gathering. I talked about the game generally, the story, showed some gameplay footage and some development stuff. It went quite well! Out of the people that attended, there’s a person interested in helping with the marketing/production side of the game. Once things settle, I presume he’ll be the one to introduce himself. Hopefully, updates will come more often.
February 24th, 2013
As always, I have been busy developing the game. I enjoy starting new areas, making all the graphic tiles, designing the rooms, adding enemies, etc. And it’s fun to see people play the game and get their feedback. However, this month especially has not been much of a joyride because of some engine issues. The game runs all right on most computers, but on some Windows 7 machines, it either runs slow (30 fps) or stutters heavily. It’s very discouraging. I’ve tried to get a hold of several “average” machines to do some testing, but they all run the game fine. I’m sure it boils down to the platform I’m using to build the game. The good news is that the game could be ported to c++ by a coding genius once it’s finished, and so those issues wouldn’t be a problem then. In any case, I’m crossing my fingers.
On another subject, it’s likely that we’ll have a new musician working on the soundtrack of the game. I’m sure it’s going to be awesome, but I want to post about it once it’s certain.
And, lastly, I will be presenting this game in a local gamedev reunion the 7th of March. I’ll tell you about how that goes, too.
If you’d like to see me post more development material like this, let me know.
January 28th, 2013
Status Refill Items, before and afterI recently had a bit of a drawback with the way I’ve been working. Except for a few side-jobs, most of my days consist of a 12 to 14 hour routine of work at the computer. Everything had worked for me until about a week ago, when I made the last update. Probably thanks to overwork, I had a rather unproductive week. I decided not to work on the game on Saturdays or Sundays, and apparently that’s made a difference! The rule is not to open the game’s source file, but I can still work on some side-graphics or otherwise unimportant stuff. Things are beginning to flow nicely again.
I decided to re-sprite the refill items (pictured above) and status powerups. These were at least 6 or 7 year-old sprites, so they were in desperate need for an update. There are a few other graphics that are in the same situation. I have to figure out if it’s worth replacing some of them, depending on how often they appear in-game.
Linna from EleniaAlso, I’ve been working to replace some placeholders with actual graphics. This little girl pictured above is Linna, a wizard Alicia meets in the forest under compromising circumstances. I’ll keep you posted as I work on more things.
January 18th, 2013
I’ve been wanting to make a progress post for a couple of weeks now, but a few of things came up.
I found a couple of bugs in the engine that gave me a few days of headache. One of them concerned Alicia’s ice spell and enemies susceptible to it. It took me a bit of time to realise it wasn’t really a bug, just an oversight from my part. At least I was glad there were no serious problems with this.
Heading into the Ilmaril Forest after a long fall.The second bug was more confusing. Enemies have higher experience points during the night (as well as defence and attack), but experience modifiers for each enemy were ignored if the experience rate was increased beyond a certain point. Not only that, but the experience points kept on variating by a small unknown factor, and sometimes they were doubled. Also, that same day, the game kept on crashing for no apparent reason! Considering the amount of rooms I’ve done, and due to the nature of the program I use to make this game, this made me very dispirited. I decided to re-code the experience routine from scratch and replace it on every room…
The upper part of the Ilmaril ForestBut it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. As for the sudden crashes, they thankfully were caused by a sound extension I
In terms of development, I have been working on this game more than I ever have. I’ve taken some time off to work full-time on it, so I can dedicate 12-14 hours a day to it. I’m hoping this will get things moving quicker. I’ll try to keep you updated.