Silence fell…

As you probably know, Freya’s Aett is a personal project rather than a commercial studio right now, so it takes a back seat to actual paid work and writing work.  That goes double for paid writing work.  Right now, writing is more lucrative than indie games, but NDAs make it hard to talk about it.  What good is it posting “1/1/12 – working on something secret” and “11/4/12 – working on something else secret” when it means nothing to a reader?

Now, that’s not to say that there are no games getting made.  Some experiments are ongoing and there are some new mini-projects.  One such thing is the asynchronous MUSH which is only known right now as ‘CLI’ (i.e. Command-Line Interface) because it’s at too early a stage to have a real name; CLI started out as an experimental text-parser and got a little bigger when certain ideas started getting incorporated.

If you want to take a look, it’s at http://www.freyas8.co.uk/CLI/ for now, pending an actual name (and content) which would justify giving it a real URL…

Current verbs include: basic movement verbs (and directions), ‘look‘, ‘examine‘, ‘smell‘, ‘eat‘, ‘drink‘, ‘taste‘ and ‘fight‘.  Common abbreviations and synonyms have been included for a few of the verbs, so you can ‘l‘ or ‘exa‘ or ‘nibble‘ .  Not all of those verbs do anything right now.  There’s a ‘wait‘ verb to update the screen, a ‘help‘ verb for very basic help and an ‘exits‘ verb that would be more useful if there were actually any exits.  Of course, there are other verbs and more will be added in time, so feel free to experiment.

What is a game worth?

How much is any given game worth?  It’s an interesting question as a developer.

Someone in marketing obviously worked out the RRP.  They based it on other games of the same genre, the hype surrounding it, how much of it is new and how much was borrowed from another game.  They must have chosen between £45 and £50 for the Xbox 360 version, setting a higher price for the special-edition version with exclusive DLC and a life-sized replica of a dead frog.

So how much is the game worth?  The answer may seem controversial, but I think it is simple…

Any game is worth only what the buyer / player is willing to pay for it, even if they happen to be a pirate.

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Friday grumble…

Normally Friday would be patch day, but this is not patch day and so there are no patch notes.  In the belief that getting to know the minds of developers can shed light on their work, herein lies a short discussion of games-patching and how we feel as players when considering patcher programs.

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While the patch itself went live last night, here are the Friday patch-notes.  The patch is live, bringing the new changes discussed last week and one new change.  Further changes will arrive in time, but have not been included in the recent patch.
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It must be Friday again, which means time for another weekly update.

Friday is typically patch day, so I would be discussing the patch-notes, but there are a few updated being rolled into one big one for later.  The main issue is a number of databases will need to be reset after each one, requiring all the characters to be reset, so we’ll delay the patch until they are all ready to minimise disruption for the alpha testers.

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Play-testing the Legacy of Heroes Facebook game has been an interesting experience.  It has also, for a little while now, been fun.  I enjoy playing the game.

One of the first things I decided for the Facebook version was that it needed to change the original (PC) design if it were ever to work in the slowed-down asynchronous world of Facebook apps.  I needed to focus on letting the player actively create their little city like some cut-down version of Settlers, I needed to simplify the dungeon-delving.

You know what?  I was wrong.  Seriously, it just works as it is for some reason.

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I just got back yesterday from the Develop conference in Brighton, where I attended (but didn’t speak at) the Indie track.  I had intended to do a video blog, but you really don’t need to see my tired, ugly mug after five days without a decent night’s sleep.

As expected, we seem to be doing both better and worse than the hypothetical ‘average studio’ – I got talking to a lot of people who had some ideas about the directions the industry is moving in and saw a lot of the mistakes we were making as a developer – but the perspective was useful for working out how to keep doing what we are doing right and stop doing what might not be working so well.

Interestingly, there were one or two points raised by players about Facebook games; these might need to be addressed at some point.  There was also a lot of talk about iPhone and iPad, but I think we’ll be letting another company handle the porting of any games which might end up on iOS formats.

Now, if you will excuse me, I think I will track down a cup of coffee and begin the difficult road back to full productivity…


Unless you are a hermit in a cave somewhere, you have probably come across in-game achievements.  These are an integral part of many games-platforms, from Steam to Kongregate, with even Minecraft including them too.  The basic theory is that certain actions or behaviours will earn a virtual ‘badge’ that other users can see.

Used well, they tend to give a sense of…  well…  achievement.  Early on in the game, you might get one for completing the tutorial, then another for your first successful battle.  By the end of the game, they are rare and special, awarded for completing the main story or collecting every coin or action figure in the game.

Once a novelty, these have become de rigueur for modern games, something you would be mad to leave out.  Console users rely on them to build up their credibility as a gamer, comparing scores to work out who is the most ‘hardcore’ in a certain group.

When I realised that I had actually spent half an hour of my life trying to ride a pig off a cliff, not to mention trawling a game website for hidden puzzles just to gain a ‘seal’ later the same day, I knew an achievement system was probably inevitable.  The achievements themselves actually work as an extension of the upcoming tutorial system, so it is not a great technical challenge, but I did wonder if they were necessary.

Given the low ‘cost’ here, I can’t see any reason not to.  I am not sure anyone would be offended by their presence…

Here’s a personal one from AnthonyHJ…

While I may be the lead designer of Freya’s Aett, I was not always an indie; much of what I learned, I learned as a salaried employee in a bigger studio.  I want to talk about one of my pre-Freya’s Aett games in this post; it’s called Dragons’ Den and came out for the iPhone and iPad today. [App-Store Link]

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Yes, no news was not bad news this time; it was just proof of a busy period.  Legacy of Heroes is finally reaching that point where it feels like a ‘real’ game.  Many little things have come together to really lift it out into a living, breathing game.

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