LD #22: I'm In

Against the Wall - ForestYesterday I migrated the site's forum to the to a new system. I also gave premium memberships to everyone who backed the project on Kickstarter. Barring anything unforeseen, I should be done with web development for now. I'll have to get back to the game starting tomorrow and continuing on Monday. So, let me know if there is anything missing in terms of the new forum and membership system. I'm only one person and cannot test everything.

For the weekend, I'll be participating in the Ludum Dare #22. This is a competition to create a full game from scratch within 48 hours, solo. Against the Wall started out as a part of the Ludum Dare #20 back in May. For LD #21, I created another project called Under a Watchful Eye. I cannibalized some art assets and scripts for Against the Wall from this project. I did the same for another project from September. This weekend, I hope to create a game that includes features that can be easily ported over to my primary project. Hopefully I'll have something good to show from the LD on Sunday night.

I've produced a game called Abandon. I've learned a lot from this experience, and will be incorporating a few concepts from my project into Against the Wall. Namely, large-scale architecture based on real-world buildings.

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Modeling a New City

Warning, this may be a bit of a spoiler for people who want to be surprised by what is in the game. Just a heads-up.

Yesterday I took another pass at modeling a city that will be located at the 5th checkpoint of the game. I found my first pass at the city to be lackluster. It was rather flat, consisting of a vaulted area held up by three giant columns. The structure did not make much sense within the logic of the game world, but the real problem was this: it was ugly and not fun to wander around in. I finally decided to scrap it and produced the pictured models. I don't usually show off work that is in-production, but I am particularly proud of what I made here. Note that there are no textures on the buildings yet.

Believe me, it's bigger than it looks. This is just a superstructure, it will have other smaller buildings housed on its platforms with the village in the alpha release. The city consists of two piers that are each the size of the village. The city is held in place by chains and is bolted to the wall in certain spots. Three cages-like structures will hold the city's districts, and a monorail system runs through the middle gap. That giant corkscrew-like thing on the left is a horizontal-axis wind turbine.

My next task is to give some color to the whole thing. I'm not fond of texturing. I find unwrapping and assigning materials to a model to be a pain, and its an area where I lack real experience. Since I plan on eventually hiring an artist, the most reasonable solution would be to add placeholder textures and move on to designing the level itself.

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Forum Odyssey

Yesterday I worked for 18 hours straight on improvements to the website. My plan has been to integrate a forums into the main site, and give people who bought the game a special status on said forum. Also, I would also use the forum for beta testers to report on their game experiences and to distribute advanced copies to people who pre-order the game.

I already have a forum using the Simple Machines Forums platform. The software that works best with WordPress (the management system for this site) is called bbPress 2.1. There is unfortunately no direct way to export from SMF to bbPress. I had to take a winding route, going from SMF to phpBB3, to bbPress 1.0.2. then attempt to upgrade it to bbPress 2.1. Each step took hours, requiring old versions of the software and multiple attempts, and due to some changes in MySQL in past years, I had to redo sections of PHP and SQL. However, the final piece of software called bbConverter, failed to import any of the topics onto this site. I'm leaving that step for another day.

I'm a bit obsessive when really into a project. I'm comfortable building websites, It's what I used to do before I dropped everything to make this game.

Over the summer I was nearly tempted by a soulless corporate job working on the website for a media company. They were clueless about the internet and threw gobs of cash at developers (not me) for cosmetic changes to their site. I was there to help a filmmaker friend who was roped into being the web manager despite not knowing how to script. I was in line to take over her job when I realized how much I freaking hated it. The worst part was I lost two months of development time on Against the Wall in its early stages. I woke up in July realizing what had happened and that my dream was going to pass me by. I quit, which inspired my friend to quit in turn.

Enough of that. Today I'm redoing one of the game's city areas. I was unhappy with my first pass at this section of the game, and am giving it another go. Will be modeling and listening to music for the rest of the day. That's it for now.

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The New Store

A good number of people were asking how they could contribute now that the Kickstarter campaign has ended. In response, I've spent the day putting up a store for people to buy the game and become a premium member. This purchase would give you access to early and final versions of the game, including updates. I've looked at Minecraft's business model as my main inspiration for this.

Today has been rather exhausting, between setting up the store and other random tasks. At the suggestion of one user, I've moved the webplayer to its own page. There are a number of other small changes that I've made to the site as well. After dinner, I'll be doing a bunch of bug fixes and uploading alpha 0.35.3.

In terms of progress, I'm redoing one of the new cities, and will be programming the functionality for another elevator-contraption. That's it for now!

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Rock Paper Shotgun and the Near Future

It was a pleasant surprise to see the game featured on Rock Paper Shotgun today! It is an honor to have an article there. I've updated the game twice with some bug fixes, just to make sure the new visitors are able to play through it correctly.
It also resulted in a flood of spam comments by the way. I've suspended comments until I can find a solution!

Also, the Kickstarter campaign has ended at over $8,000! Thank you to everyone who contributed. I'll be opening a PayPal option for anyone who wants to buy the game from now until the game's launch.

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Explore the world of Against the Wall, a video game that is set on the side of an infinite brick wall. It is currently being developed for PC, Mac, and Linux operating systems.

Joystiq Interview
Rock Paper Shotgun Article
Kotaku Article

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Kickstarter Goal Reached! (also alpha 0.35)

Thank you to everyone who supported this project and contributed to the Kickstarter campaign! This has been an exciting few days for me, and I'm glad that my dream is finally in-motion.

Just a note, I've updated the game to version 0.35. It's a minor bugfix update which should addresses a physics-related issue. Also, I've posted a Mac stand-alone version of the game. Let me know if you encounter any problems with this build.

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The First Trailer

Here is the first trailer for Against the Wall! It was edited together by Jennifer Kachler, with music by Zoe Blade.

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A New Composer

Hi Everyone! In the last week, I have reviewed all of my options with regard to composers and have decided on hiring Zoe Blade. I've had several conversations with Zoe and realized that she was a perfect fit for this project. She understands the particular feel that I am going for, and has made a few example pieces that demonstrate this. We have also spoken at length about programming, geek culture, workflow, and setting the mood in games. I am happy to have her on the project!

The soundtrack should be ready by February, and be composed of a number of ambient tracks inspired by soundtracks from Riven, Ico, Journey, and the movie Inception. She has worked on the music for documentaries such as Get Lamp, Viva Amiga, Warren Ellis: Captured Ghosts and 8-bit Generation.

You can listen to her soundtracks on Bandcamp.

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November News

I've just launched a new forum for Against the Wall. I've also updated the game a few times to fix some bugs in version a0.34.
The game also has a post on Kotaku. This really made my week, and drove 16,000 people to my site! thanks to everyone for the overwhelmingly positive response!
I'm working on a trailer for the game with the help of my friend Jen. The Kickstarter video is just not polished enough for prime time. I'm going to be recording a new narration and sending in some clips on Saturday, and using some royalty-free music as a placeholder.
By the way, I'm fixing a bug where held objects such as the scarecrow fall through the elevator floor. Apparently some folks out there are treating this object as a sort of companion cube and dragging it up the wall as they go. I love this. I spent a bit of time yesterday fixing this issue, though there are still problems with the second moving platform. Transporting the scarecrow from the beginning to end of the game would be an interesting achievement...

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