And so, 2022 is over. Another year of awesome game-dev. Here is the story.
NovaMundi is still in Early Access; even with some important progress on it, we still haven’t managed to execute the plans to add content and polish the experience to make the transition to full release. OpenArthurianX6 saw no development at all, seemingly failing to make the last mile, and roguenet was taken down and not used at all. Rainy Day saw no development but instead, Emerald Woods was revived with a lot of promising development.
FormulaProc was the big bet of the first half of the year, however, it failed to make a splash. Muyscamuy got a push for further development but was halted and will likely be revived for 2023.
I participated in 3 game jams (7DRL, trijam and js13k), gave a talk at the roguelike celebration virtual event, flew to Germany for GamesCom 2022, to Colombia 4.0 in Bogota, and to the FICCI festival in Cartagena, Colombia. I switched back to JS for my personal projects besides FormulaProc.
Slashware Interactive continued operations, focusing on our main client (Zynga) as well as co-producing a game with our friends from Bombillo Amarillo; we also put some work on TWO secret projects for clients, which we should be able to talk about next year.
The year started with work in FormulaProc, with three Grand Prix events executed (Spanish, Monaco, and Azerbaijan) improving the engine to be less abstract with a top-down display, better UI, and even a lot of work in a discord bot for players to be able to interact with the simulation indirectly. We even did an intro video for the races and created a lot of background content for the drivers, teams, and articles covering the races.
There was also some work done for NovaMundi after a long break (a usual pattern now) prompted by an interview done for the official channel of the Congress of Colombia (!). Continuing with the migration to the new visual style for the units, and improving the UI.
More work in FormulaProc with the Italy, Texas, France, UK and Belgium “2021” GPs (!). As the simulation continued to improve, we continued pouring narrative content and visual improvements into it. Realistic characters were changed for Anime representations, and the abstract map was replaced by a satellite view. Some work was done to set up the simulation so it was more ‘cinematic’, highlighting the interaction between the characters.
Pixal, my old persistent-browser-based game from 2008-2010 saw a very short-lived revival; sadly it’s just too hard to open another work front. But at least I jump-started it and remembered how it works, even fixing some ages-old bugs in the process. So it remains unavailable to the public for now.
It was time for my 19th 7DRL, I made SpelunkyRL. It was good, I had been wanting to do it for years.
Also, as part of the quest I set myself to upload more of my games into itch.io for preservation (and sometimes include some minor improvements) I released a new version of my 2021 js13k entry, Distant Friends.
I couldn’t help myself from investing a bit more time into SpelunkyRL, producing an improved post-challenge version since some people really enjoyed it. It was focused on UX with a better tutorial and bug fixes.
The itch.io quest continued with ZeldaRL having an update after 15 years, making it much more enjoyable (although there was some controversy around the removal of Permadeath, but it really wasn’t working there), and the Ultima Castle Generator being posted there as well, with some UX improvements.
I came back to FormulaProc to finish the “2021 season”, with Mexico, Brazil, and Abu Dhabi Grand Prixes, some failed efforts at trying to make people more aware of it, and progress on trying to make races more exciting with “emotions”‘ for the drivers.
We started work in “Flashlight Defense”, a tie-in for a series being produced by our friends from Bombillo Amarillo.
I kicked off season 2022 of FormulaProc with the Miami Grand Prix featuring renewed visuals for the portraits of the characters and their emotions, as well as the cars on the track and some promotional models. I also ran the Spanish and Monaco Grand Prixes, with the latter featuring narration and some efforts at editing it for other platforms (such as TikTok)
I visited the Colombia 4.0 event in Bogotá, Colombia, where we showcased Slashware’s games.
The itch.io quest continued with “Ancient Shadows“, my old incomplete point-and-click adventure, being assembled back and put online. Noone has yet reported having completed it.
I also participated for the first time in the Trijam, the challenge to create a full game in 3 hours. I teamed up with QuietGecko to create No Survivors, a game similar to Vampire Survivors but the other way around with you controlling indirectly the hordes of monsters.
Work continued in Flashlight Defense.
At last, a new version of NovaMundi was pushed out, and it was quite an important package of improvements for gameplay and content, including the addition of visual hints in the minimap itself for the approximate location of things (instead of having to rely on vague cardinal directions).
I did some post-jam work for No Survivors since I believed the idea had some potential but of course, cannot be put in a decent shape in 3 hours if it’s meant to be experienced by more players (that is if it’s to be more than just a hardcore game dev exercise).
We also were selected as winners of an Endless+GGJ microgrant to further develop Muyscamuy’s visual aspects so we start working on that.
Work continued in Flashlight Defense.
Some work was done in Muyscamuy’s visual improvements, however, I didn’t manage to get it to a point where it could be shown due to missing art, as the artist that worked on the project was transitioning to other projects, so had to put that on hold.
We finished work in Flashlight Defense! at least covering the initial plan. The game is still not playable because the animated series hasn’t been released to the public, but will be soon! It’s something completely different to what I normally do but it was a nice change of focus and we learned a lot about Unity2D.
Thinking of some future similar project that could be tackled by other members of Slashware, I began conversations with the owners of a popular Colombian IP to create a top-down narrative-heavy, cute jRPG. This may see some developments in 2023.
Another interview powered another release of NovaMundi; it was light in features but bundled some important bugfixes fixes. Then an even bigger version was shipped with the foundation of the perks system that we had been developing to introduce some variety to the gameplay. I then went on to improve the procedural caverns but ran out of NovaMundi energy before I could release that.
js13k started so I jumped into making yet another entry, this time a simple arcade game inspired by tamagotchi.
The improvements for the Trijam version that I worked on June were finally released to little fanfare. Just something that improved the idea but still would require investing dev heavily to make it worthy.
HBO’s House of the Dragon series was premiering so I created a couple of cinematic intros similar to the ones I had made for Game of Thrones some years ago. Interestingly what I thought would be the start of Season 1 ended up being the end of it, as they took the entire season to build up the setting for the Dance of the Dragons (good idea!).
I ran the FormulaProc Monza Grand Prix which was basically a FormulaProx Grand Prix.
Finally, I flew to Germany for gamescom; there I had good prospects for NovaMundi and our upcoming project “Serenade of Chaos” (still hoping to see both things progress for 2023), and also met the dev team of Blasphemous and got to drive around Germany with Thomas Biskup. So it was all around great even accounting for having lost some cash and my passport at Frankfurt. (Michael Schumacher’s museum visit with Eivar Rojas was another highlight)
Frankfurt was also a milestone for the machinations leading to the planning of yet another exciting secret project that I hope to be able to announce in 2023.
Besides that, I decided to address something that had been haunting me for a bit now; due to crumbling architecture, the mobile versions of Ananias for Android and iOS hadn’t been working for a long time now; I was able to patch the Android version and did a maintenance release for the platform after 5 years (long overdue!)
I ran the Japanese FormulaProc GP, the last one of the year. I decided to experiment with different visuals for the track, going back to abstract instead of satellite, and zooming in to the cars for more action. It was surprisingly super demanding for my dev box, handling that huge image file for the map (not very optimized)
It was not simple (even more difficult because I lack a new MacBook where I can freely test the iOS build process, but I managed to send the update for Ananias on iOS fixing the crash on startup.
We drafted some of our plans for the full release of NovaMundi.
And finally, I did a talk for the virtual roguelike celebration 2022 about Moria and its impact on the world of game development.
We also put a lot of work into a COOL SECRET PROJECT to be disclosed in 2023!
Tendergotchi was added to itch.io
And then I fell into the black hole of Emerald Woods. First with an innocent usual necro-release (it had been 3 years already!), but then felt tempted to add a little bit to it (in the shape of a feature no one had asked for: painting the world). A popular feature that was requested for it was that a downloadable version was available so I decided to revive a long-dormant development submitted for JSRL by Erik Yuzwa to add Electron support; as that was polished and merged into JSRL, I integrated the changes into Emerald Woods, producing the first downloadable version.
This shook the infrastructure of the project and required to push an unpublished npm update to circular-functions.
And then, another long-requested feature: Adding graphics to the game. I decided to follow a similar pattern of first adding support for that to JSRL so that more people can make use of it. I used Pixi.
End of November I also went to the Colombian Game Dev Summit, which happened to be made in my hometown. I met some friends I hadn’t seen in a while and saw some good talks.
Once support for graphics was added to JSRL, I ported it into Emerald Woods an, after a sizeable amount of work, the first graphical version was released. I decided to initially use a 1-bit tileset serving as a transition between the character-based display and a graphical version. I went from Kenney’s tileset (which I decided to include as the sample for JSRL) to use a good old Denzi tileset.
However, we were already experimenting with more detailed pixelart; I spent the month adding support to it to the game but also doing the required pixel art to cover all the things we are representing on it, along with improving the farming aspects. I didn’t manage to release it but it should come out early January 2023.