NovaMundi v0.37 – Destiny of the Muisca

NovaMundi is still available on Steam Early Access! GET IT NOW (or wishlist it) if you like what you see!

Development has resumed in full! The biggest addition for this version is the Perks system; you can now customize your runs by selecting different bonuses, penalties, or just variations of the universe.

The perks window, including some of the future planned perks

This version ships with the following 4 perks

  • Combat Blessing: +2 Bonus to attack for all units
  • Vagabond Defect: -10 HP for all units
  • Destiny traits
    • Peaceful Lands: You’ll be attacked much less often by raiding parties
    • Militia Only: Only “Guardian” units will be available (no Guecha Warriors or Archers)
    • Known Lands: The location of the main towns will be known in advance.
Even knowing the location of the Muisca towns, traversing the rugged Andes geography will be challenging!

Talking about combat, another important thing that is changing is a chance of its pace, taking some steps towards more “active” gameplay. For now, that means the battles start unpaused, in the future, we are going to add more visual feedback on the battle as we extend the combat rules to give it a little more depth (but not a lot! exploration will remain the focus of the game)

In more combat-related things, we fixed some issues with unit selection to allow combat between large parties

That’s it for today’s version! for next week we are planning to release important changes in the “cave exploration” system, providing some procedural Muisca dungeon crawling for your pleasure. It’s going to be big so don’t miss it!

NovaMundi 0.36.2 – Picking back pace

NovaMundi is still available on Steam Early Access! GET IT NOW (or wishlist it) if you like what you see!

This version contains two critical fixes:

  • Cannot load games at all (root cause issues with the MuiscaNameGenerator state)
  • Exploit: Raiding parties not saved
    • This was just missing from the implementation of save/load.
    • Quite a bit of work, however put some things in place that will be helpful when we extend the overworld population.

We renewed our commitment to take the game out of Early Access, this includes a person from Slashware working full time on playtesting the game and coming out with ideas for improvement within the constraints of its development. This version includes some cheat options to ease that work too (You can’t touch them tho).

I’m also in the middle of developing some important improvements in the setup of the runs, being able to customize them and set up the initial party, I hope this will be available next week!

In other news: New coverage! I was interviewed (in Spanish) for ColombiaVisible.com. This one was pretty in-depth containing some details of the story of NovaMundi that are not commonly shared. Also took the chance to highlight the work done by some other members of the team.

Muyscamuy – June 2022

I am happy to announce we have been selected as recipients of the Global Game Jam X Endless Computers microgrant for Educational & Learning games, to further develop Muyscamuy, our Muisca community life and farming sim!

It’s the XVI Century in the Andes. It has been some years since the strangers from beyond the sea arrived in the lands of the Muisca. Slowly but firmly, the Europeans have risen into power, and the traditions and beliefs of the Muisca fade away as their cultures blend together.

The heritage of the Muisca is at risk of being lost… you must lead a Muisca community, farming maize, making offers to the gods, and crafting sacred gold works in preparation for a great celebration that might serve to keep their traditions alive.

We have already started working on adding more “life” to the game; you will be able to see the villagers moving around performing their duties in the community, we also plan to improve the game visually and add cutscenes for the events!

The new animations will reflect some of what is known about the farming techniques used by the Muisca. The goal for July is to have the complete farming cycle implemented.

For now, you can play the current version at https://slash.itch.io/muyscamuy. Make sure to subscribe so you don’t miss the upcoming updates!

NovaMundi 0.36 – Achiote

NovaMundi is still available on Steam Early Access! GET IT NOW (or wishlist it) if you like what you see!

The last development update was from January! It’s not that there was zero development in these months, but I certainly took some time to work on other projects to take a bit of fresh air. Now we are back to your schedule!

A new version is out, 0.36 – Achiote, here are the major changes but as always there were smaller bugs fixed along the way.

Let’s start with exploration: based on player’s feedback I doubled the movement speed in the overworld since players didn’t seem to really like to take their time to look at the scenery 🙂 this of course makes moving between locations much quicker (but the time scale was adjusted accordingly so it all takes the same amount of game time.). Additionally, the time doesn’t completely freeze when you are not moving, but instead slows down to 10% of the normal speed, since it felt a bit glitchy with the full stop.

The random dialogs that expedition members used to say while traveling were removed since they were not really adding a lot to the experience and actually were confusing players who thought they might be real hints to the game mission or things to do.

However, the main reason I decided to push this version to the public was the addition of the hints in the minimap; players will no longer need to refer to the journal and textual directions for the nearby towns; instead, they are added as blotches of paint in the map, put in an approximate location.

As the first step on a sequence of improvements for the towns; the game now zooms into them when you “enter” them. This is just the beginning of an arc of development for the towns, and I am going to incorporate recent research on the Muisca towns as well as usability improvements and tweaks to make them feel bigger and more alive.

The Mac version was finally updated from v0.32.4 (August 16, 2021), so if you are on Mac make sure to update and get a LOT of improvements 🙂

We continue working on a list of improvements for the game; it’s not clear how much longer it will be on Early Access, but I want to make sure of its quality, accessibility, and variety of content while keeping the current base scope. So make sure to keep an eye out for future releases!

FormulaProc: Spanish and Monaco Grand Prixes

Spanish Grand Prix 2022

Some work was done to make the intro sequence more data-oriented to ease the setup of future events.

There were also some improvements on the dialogs (content), but a system to make them evolve based on the development of the story is still missing.

This GP included an awesome brand new track from QuietGecko: Low Gas. Due to time constraints, it didn’t have narration.

Simernio, the project artist, also created a new awesome cover art that is being used in many places.

Monaco Grand Prix 2022

Two visual additions: a semitransparent shadows layer and a subtle overlay for the track itself. These were especially important in this city circuit since there were a lot of buildings projecting shadows, and the way we continue doing tracks makes it hard sometimes for the spectators to see the circuit clearly.

For the production of the content, I experimented a bit with a Portrait Version meant mainly for TikTok (where we seem to be having a bigger audience maybe).

This GP also included a new QuietGecko track, a sweet Drum and Bass track called “Turbo”

For the first time in the 2022 season, I added narration to the race. We also experimented with a PA effect over it which I think worked pretty well. Additionally, I added subtitles for both English a Spanish for the first time.

Monaco Special Event Mazzerano Challenge

All drivers competed under identically spec’ed vehicles; besides, we experimented with some post-processing effects, including a sepia tone, vignette, and grain; these were barely visible in the quality of the streaming.

Meta

With this project, I continue discovering how many people are actually needed to run such a thing in an orderly manner. In addition to the obvious needs in the audiovisual front requiring an additional magnitude of work, there should be roles for video edition, publishing to all different platforms, and I’m not even talking about the marketing efforts for this to reach a wider audience. All this is on top of the neverending task of improving the simulation and making the emerging narrative more interesting (which is the main thing I’m interested in).

While we continue evolving, I’m keeping the idea of this being something made for my personal enjoyment and that of my friends, and produce it at the scale and the amount that I can handle; that includes lowering the invested time so that other projects (like NovaMundi) can reach completion.

Ancient Shadows now on itch.io

I will be uploading an #indiegame every week from https://slashie.net to @itchio. This week: Ancient Shadows, a point-and-click adventure where something pushes you to explore a creepy hilltop mansion. You can play online at https://slash.itch.io/ancient-shadows

Ancient Shadows has its origins in “Bird Mansion”, an entry for @tigsource‘s “Commonplace Book” jam created by @mossmouth. The jam was about creating a game based on the ideas of H.P. Lovecraft’s Commonplace Book.

The Commonplace Book was a notebook in which Lovecraft jotted down his various ideas, many of them disjointed and cryptic; most of these musings never became real stories, so I picked a random set of three of these ideas and made a… game that was not very playable.

The null reaction to the game made me delete it in frustration some months afterward. Come late 2011 I decided to revive the project. I teamed up with @B_AMARILLO‘s great artists and remade the engine from scratch in JavaScript with @jucarave.

We never got to complete the art for the game (likely due to an unclear way to monetize it), so it was left unfinished until I decided to make it playable to the end using placeholder art, in the hopes I could gather enough interest to complete the original art set.

This second art set was made by my sister, Valentina Zapata. Then we reused the game engine to create “Canela – Una Aventura Gatuna” (initially just “CatQuest”), which I already posted to itch some weeks ago, she made all the art for it.

So there you have it! the game should be completable if you can go around some of its rough edges. Let me know if you manage to win 🙂

Originally tweeted by Slashie (@slashie_) on May 27, 2022.

Slashware at Colombia 4.0 2022

The early 2000s were witness to the birth and first steps of the Colombian video game industry. A handful of indie game developers, packing more passion than knowledge, decided to venture into the unknown and laid the groundwork for the studios that came after them.

COVA is a group of Colombian video game companies seeking to provide an environment for collaboration in order for the industry to advance as a whole. As a member of COVA, last week we had the chance to have a booth in Colombia 4.0, the biggest tech conference in Colombia and one of the biggest in Latin America.

There, we had hundreds of people play NovaMundi and Ananias, providing us with a lot of feedback to improve them. There were many students that we hopefully inspired to follow their dreams to create their own games.

I also had a chance to finally meet Jose Manuel, the linguist with whom we have worked for many months in NovaMundi, and have a coffee with him and QuietGecko, an important part of the NovaMundi team (and who also helped out a lot in the event.

We were also interviewed by Canal13 Colombia (local TV channel) and Frecuencia Gamer, hopefully that helps more people know about our games and the things that are currently being produced in Colombia.

As always it was also a great chance to meet people from the game dev industry and build connections and friendships, even if this time I couldn’t attend any talks (and didn’t submit one this time, too busy!) or many social events, since I had to instead spend my time in the booth and the logistics associated with it. I got to at least spend some time with fellow indie dev 0xAFBF and part of the Indie Level Studio team in Bogotá.

However, I had the chance for some of the top speakers on the videogames track (including Mauricio Navajas, president of ADVA) to try out NovaMundi and give me their feedback on the pitch decks for upcoming projects. Carlos Rocha (dev of Cris Tales) also played for a bit and gave me some good ideas to improve the flow of the first minutes of the game.

And that’s it for Colombia 4.0, 2022 edition! maybe next time I’ll submit a talk and have a more relaxed time 🙂

FormulaProc – Season 2022

At long last managed to launch. We missed 4 races but we managed to run the Miami GP.

  • Dialog sequences with a lot of new dialogs based on the personalities of the drivers.
  • Add driver stats to the Dialog interaction.
  • New driver portraits including all of their expressions.
  • New car visuals.
  • Use initials instead of full names in the positions table.
  • Add friction deceleration.
  • Add “shock” when losing a position
  • Make the camera follow targets instead of teleporting
  • Add a new music track

FormulaProc: The End of Season 1

Here’s a somewhat late update on the events that happened at the end of Season 1 of FormulaProc. We ran 3 events before dropping the torch and going into hiatus as we missed the start of the Formula 1 2022 season because of running out of energy and having some external factors intervene, we have missed three races now but we want to jump in with some much-needed improvements.

This update is divided into two parts: The improvements in the simulator, and the details of the events we ran.

Simulated Events

We ran 3 events for the Mexican, Brazil, and Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. I continued trying my best to narrate the events, and we also made posters for Mexico and Brazil. When we reached Abu Dhabi we had basically run out of energy for promotion so there was no poster.

In addition to the main events, I also ran exhibitions for Mexico (winners of the Mexican Grand Prix, using the “war” mode) and Brazil (with the drivers of the Formula One 2021 season, extending the list of top drivers to 20).

Simulator Improvements

Mexico: Activated the “cinematic” events, but mixed with the top-down view instead of a full representation of the event both for budget and practical purposes of incremental improvements. This replaced the head-to-head stats of drivers and included having some “emotions” for the drivers, and some logic to make sure the viewer has some time to see each event amidst the chaos that a race can represent.

Some small but important changes were also done in the simulation, implementing a restriction for maximum speed, and scaling brake deceleration to try to obtain more down-to-earth results and more exciting conditions on the track.

The race intro/track info panel was broken down into a sequence of more readable screens as well. And new extended music tracks made by QuietGecko were included.

Brazil didn’t include a lot of changes; however, I gave a first try at the “dialogs”, displaying a speech bubble over one of the drivers, alternating to give the sense of a simple conversation as events unfolded.

And finally, for Abu Dhabi, there were not really any engine changes; the only difference in this race was using a “night mode” where the track is darkened to give the illusion of it happening at dusk.

Getting ready for 2022

After Abu Dhabi, there has been a lot of work in different areas although no new events have happened.

On the visual side, we have created our own hand-crafted models for our open-wheeled Formula-type cars; the designs also include the colors and brands of our first sponsors; I will be revealing these in the upcoming days. We are also revamping the portraits of the characters and their emotions, and creating a new title screen.

On the design side of things; we are giving each driver a different personality which will be reflected in both their driving style and their dialogs and interactions with other drivers. We are also designing new types of events that could happen inside the races.

And that’s it for today’s update! make sure to subscribe to the YouTube channel so you don’t miss the races!

The Making of SpelunkyRL – the 7DRL – Part 2

This is the second part of the story of the development of my 19th 7DRL: SpelunkyRL, a roguelike inspired by Spelunky. You can play it online at https://slash.itch.io/spelunkyrl

It has been some weeks already since I wrote the first part, and I’ve even done a release with improvements, but I feel like I should complete the tale.

The last time we left at the end of Day 5 of the 7DRL Challenge; there was a playable game being tested by friends already, what happened next?

Day 6

As testing intensified and I was addressing feedback as it came, I also decided to start working on traps because what is Spelunky without the traps? I should have started with that before, but it had to be in so I jumped into it. Initially, I added some basic “arrow” traps, hoping to be able to put in some variety afterward. This also justified the passive ability/advantage of the Spelunker to find and evade traps.

The idea, of course, was to make interesting deaths possible. It’s always challenging to prevent traps from feeling frustrating in a turn-based game because good reflexes and dexterity are out of the equation to dodge them, so you gotta replace them with careful planning and being prepared for the worst, and yes there will still be luck involved.

Another important thing happened on Day 6: Simernio, the artist for many of Slashware projects including NovaMundi and FormulaProc, sent out the cover art for the game which was lovely and made my eyes teary. It was spot-on. Some days before I had discussed my idea with him: To bring together the box art from Epyx Rogue and the essence of Spelunky as a fantasy archeologist’s adventure game, and throw in a couple of non-sense things in an 80’s videogames cover fashion. And he did it perfectly.

Perfection

Day 7

In spite of a generally positive 7DRL process (i.e. having a playable ready early in the week, and keeping it playable all along) it was impossible to avoid the final push on day 7.

I decided to extend the data to 8 levels. However, I stuck to my own advice from 2021 and left it as ONLY 8 levels, to keep the focus on an interesting smaller set of content. Still, it was a lot of work to juggle with data and make each enemy feel unique.

Of course, for things to feel unique and not just orthogonal, I had to implement some changes in the engine, including the ability for enemies to “hurl” you (and vice versa!) not a simple change at all! but then I decided to take advantage of it and include another type of trap: the deadly spring floor which will shoot you forward with frequently fatal results.

I mentioned before the challenge of traps feeling frustrating in this kind of game, in the case of spring traps, for instance, they can be fatal if you walk in one of them some steps before a chasm. Permadeath. Pain. BUT, if you are an experienced player, you will walk cautiously when there are chasms around; well aware that you may be propelled forward on your next step. And if you HAVE to, you’ll know you waged against fate.

QuietGecko also did a big push for audio work on the final day since he couldn’t invest work on the project during the week; I naturally left some time to work on audio integration.

I spent the final hours playtesting and resisting the urge to add more; the biggest thing I missed including in the original submission was a tutorial level; but it was just too much to remain sane.

Post Jam

Some days after the challenge’s deadline, and having recovered some of the energy, I decided to go back to the project to fix some rough edges that had been reported.

The most important addition was adding a tutorial level with tips to learn how to play, and doing some tweaks on the help screen. All of this was to make the game more accessible to players.

Other than that, this version contained a critical crash fix and some minor bugs with sounds and game flow.

Reaction

The initial reaction to the game was positive; people really liked our little idea and it was polished, stylish, and fun. As usual, people loved the sound effects and the music.

We even got noticed by Derek Yu, who mentioned “It’s come full circle”, just the reaction I was looking for 🙂

Another version was produced afterward, with even more usability and accessibility improvements.

And that’s where we are with SpelunkyRL! if you like it and/or have any ideas for improvement, please let me know! 🙂