Slashware’s 2020 Rewind

And so, 2020 is over.

Another year of awesome game-dev. Here is the story.

All in all, there was a lot of work in Expedition / NovaMundi, focusing mostly on improving the procedural generation but also doing a lot of further exploration in thematic and gameplay aspects. OpenArthurianX6 also saw some important progress with two more milestones completed tho it is still not finished. Emerald Woods and Roguenet were created and are likely to see future development.

I participated in 3 game jams (7DRL, AdventureJam and js13k), gave talks at Colombia 4.0 and two local universities (Unipanamericana and ITM), had a presence in 4 virtual events (Game Developers Carnival, Tokyo Game Show Online 2020, DevCom 2020, Colombia 4.0 2020). Learned a lot more of Unity and C#.

Slashware Interactive continued operations, supporting the development of NovaMundi and focusing in our main client (Zynga).

See also rewinds for 2014201520162017, 2018 and 2019.

January

I started the year by wrapping up work in Expedition from CREA Digital, mostly working in visual tweaks and some procedural generation…. maybe? my records are not very clear but I know there was some groundwork done here for future months.

February

I completed milestone 4 of OpenArthurianX6, which involved being able to use items as well as having some foundations for the inventory system, the big work was yet to come.

For Expedition, we did some further work on rivers, now rendering them in a way that was more fitting with the new appearance of forests, and also worked on the visuals for the oceans.

March

I participated in the 2020 7DRL Challenge with Emerald Woods, a relaxed survival and crafting game where you live alone in a hut in the woods where you can roam around exploring caverns and abandoned buildings. I was pretty happy with the results and was my first cooperation with Mapedorr (as well as important contributions by friend QuietGecko). This was my XXth 7DRL entry, keeping my record of submitting an entry for every single one (with varying levels of half-bakedness). I continued working on it thru the month, producing 2 improved versions.

I also worked hard in OpenArthurianX6, managing to complete milestone 5 after a LOT of work to make the inventory system work as I wanted, with drag and drop between containers and the world.

There was also some important work in Expedition’s procedural generation, in order to generate “Coastal” maps inspired by Colombian geography (replacing the “island” generator for the maps with sea).

April

It doesn’t look like I managed to invest a lot of time in Expedition in April, but I worked on making the beaches look a bit better, and probably continued improving the visuals.

May

I teamed up again with Mapedorr and QuietGecko (and two more friends) to participate in AdventureJam 2020 with our entry, No Salem D’ La House. The end result was incomplete but looked pretty nice.

I also participated in Game Developers Carnival, a virtual event conceived, I think, as a response to the physical GDC going down because of COVID. It was pretty fun (tho I don’t think I would have been able to enjoy it if not for my super powerful gaming PC)

For Expedition, I continued working in the beaches, added different “cultures” into the game and also completed the “bartering” system.

I also did some work in Emerald Woods to add fishing, but I don’t think I released it.

June

Further work in Expedition focusing on improving the UI as well as explorations to actually create a fun game with procedural generated dialogs and cultural discoveries.

July

Following advise from Rami Ismail, I created a board game version of Expedition (and then created a videogame version of the board game). It was useful to come up with a core gameplay cycle and balance it a little bit.

I then worked on integrating that design into the game, including adding random events and a full screen scrollable map.

I also decided to rename Expedition to NovaMundi, after a long process involving many considerations and feedback, and proceeded with the launch of our Steam page as well as the creation of a new trailer.

August

Following up on the initial reception of NovaMundi, I went on to consider some aspect of its theme and focus, which took a lot of energy. In parallel I continued developing some gameplay aspects such as expiration days for the food in order to make exploring more challenging.

We also participated in Devcom 2020 (virtual) with some interesting contacts, and I also “revived” the Temple of the Roguelike forums doing some work in the theme but also in the rules and finally deciding to kick out an old time troll.

September

Thematic exploration continued for NovaMundi, while at the same time subsystems for camping, hunting, and cavern exploration were further developed.

I participated in js13k with 404 Rhythm Not Found, again teaming up with QuietGecko, Mapedorr and agar3s (thus briefly assembling back the Black Mamba team). A good entry not without its failures (but still got a good place in the scores) and pretty fun to work in.

We also participated in Tokyo Game Show 2020 (virtual), which was pretty event-less besides some streaming sessions.

October

The Roguelike Celebration (virtual) took place. It was fun, informative and inspiring for future projects.

Continued exploring different theme possibilities for NovaMundi, including a fantasy world fighting against giant bugs. (Still on the cards!)

A new project was born fueled by roguelikecel (but also something I wanted to make since a long time ago), roguenet, a social space in roguelike format. I managed to create a fully functional version of it if a bit raw, as well as a rexpaint map loader.

November

I decided to halt the development and art efforts for NovaMundi until some things regarding the theme and gameplay directions where decided. Based on consultation with many experienced friends, I planned some changes in the theme including focusing on an authentic representation of the Muisca people, focusing on historical scenarios and reviving the Children of Bachué campaign.

I was also appointed as an advisor for Marketing for the winners of the CREA Digital 2020 initiative, sharing my experiences and learning thru the journey of many talented and energized teams.

December

I gave talks at both Colombia 4.0 and Congreso Economía Creativa ITM (link).

For NovaMundi, I completed the translation to English for the first scenario of the Children of Bachué campaign, in preparation of having a demo that includes it.

I also pushed hard in procedural generation for rivers, wrapping up work from past months and shacking the foundations of my current generation process.

Some more work was done in roguenet, polishing the user experience in preparation to some initial public tests. It’s currently up and running here, tho it’s mostly empty (there are plans to include more content in 2021)

Finally, I decided to revive the 1884 Golf Over Africa project, doing a BIG push on it and releasing a new version.

1884 – Golf Over Africa – Revamped

Slashware Interactive releases free strategy mashup “1884 – Golf Over Africa” for PC, Tablets and Mobile through itch.io

Game Link: https://slash.itch.io/golf-over-africa  

Medellín, Colombia — December 31, 2020 — Colombian indie game developer Slashware Interactive wrapped up 2020 announcing the release of 1884 – Golf Over Africa, a local multiplayer game where friends challenge each other to “conquer” Africa in a golf tournament, taking the seat of an European colonial power.

The game can be described as a mix of grand strategy games like Europa Universalis, Crusader Kings, or even the board game Risk, with classic arcade golfing video games. Occupy or invade African territories by landing your golf shoots into them, the player who manages to hold 10 territories wins the game.

First conceived as part of 2018’s Ludum Dare #41 game jam, the game has been completely revamped with new art, sounds, and support for touch-screen and mouse input, to make it more accessible and visually appealing.

1884 – Golf Over Africa, is available for free on the itch.io game portal, through which the developers are accepting contributions to further develop the game to include A.I. opponents, multiplayer support, and more European powers.

NovaMundi – Week 97 Update

NovaMundi is coming to Steam Early 2021, remember to Wishlist it if you like what you see. We also have a Mailing list now, so make sure to subscribe to it as well, if you want the news to reach your email directly. Now, let’s go to the news! 

This week’s update goes straight into a single topic: Rivers.

I decided adding water bodies such as rivers and lakes is something that will be needed in order to make exploration interesting, and as such should be part of the demo and put high in the list of priorities, so I jumped back into it, resuming work from past months in order to take full advantage of all that we had done.

The biggest challenge we have had with rivers is how to make their surface remain flat in an uneven terrain. In the past, (August 2019) we have already developed infrastructure to procedurally generate strips of river surface from a polyline, make it “land” into the terrain, and render an animated water texture on them (April 2020), but placing them into the world had always been an issue.

Back then, my first efforts were to try to “carve” the bed of the river into the terrain, and then having the river mesh land on it. The issue with this is it becomes very hard to ensure the height on one side of the river bed is the same as in the other side, and with very irregular terrain the mesh becomes split into pieces when landing over different heights (especially the corners, where the river changes direction).

So the first thing I tried was to force one side of the river to be the same height as the other, due to the nature and resolution of our heightmap, this only worked for straight horizontal and vertical river sections, with no turns, which greatly diminished its usefulness.

I thought I could settle with this for the demo, and just put some forest at its tips to hide their start and end, but I just wasn’t happy enough with it, plus there was another difficulty in actually placing the rivers so that they made sense within the geography; the first efforts to detect valleys by simulating rainfall failed spectacularly, as that approach doesn’t seem to work very well without additional passes to simulate erosion.

So I decided to scrap all that, along with the foundations of our terrain generator, and instead of placing the rivers on the generated terrain, I decided to place the rivers first and then create the valleys around them. This allowed me to create “flat” rivers (including 45 degree turns) and then dig the river in a more controlled height map, and grow the mountains around.

I really like how it’s turning out, although next up I’m doing some more work to allow a wider range of angles for river turns, as well as removing some visible orthogonal patterns so that the map looks more natural.

NovaMundi – Week 96 Update

NovaMundi is coming to Steam Early 2021, remember to Wishlist it if you like what you see. We also have a Mailing list now, so make sure to subscribe to it as well, if you want the news to reach your email directly. Now, let’s go to the news! 

The Pilgrimage to Hunza

Continued work on enabling the first scenario of the Children of Bachué campaign, integrating on it a lot of what we have so it can serve as a full demo with adequate onboarding. This included removing the “roads” between locations (since they were making the entire point of exploring moot), populating the map with smaller settlements and individual huts (giving indications to nearby places), as well as animals, plants, and enemies.

The entire discoveries facet was tweaked to work with the Muisca civ, along with presentation fixes for the “journal”.

I also completed the translation to English for all its dialogs and cutscenes.

Improvements on Exploration

Did some groundwork for random chatter happening while you are exploring, as well as adding support for things you suddenly remember. The reason behind these is adding some more flavor to the long exploration sessions.

Visual Improvements

We fixed the fog so it looks good in “High” detail level. I normally don’t include bug fixes in these dev reports, but this one’s worth mentioning since it had a strong visual impact; turns out disabling “Soft Particles” in Unity makes the look super bad when interacting with other models… this was evident in the latest gameplay vids we recorded for Tokyo Game Show, but I thought they were video compression artifacts.

User Experience

The onboarding was reactivated and updated, which required yet another UI relayout as the lower left area is going to be reserved for the “floating” character (which is going to be used for other things beside the onboarding, including random chatter from other expedition members, and introspective moments from the main character).

When talking with someone, keywords are now removed when used, which makes it much cleaner. I also removed non tradeable items from the list when trading, so you cannot “sell back” people you hired (or party members), only hire new ones.

Expedition to Santa Marta

Managed to return safely to my hometown in Medellín, although got a bit sick in the days after. Captured some amazing scenery for vegetation and geography reference, and information about the Tayrona culture, which will likely make it to the game some day.

Colombia 4.0 2020

December 1st to 3rd 2020, Colombia 4.0 is the biggest tech event in Colombia. This year they opted-in for an online format (of course), here’s a summary of my experience on it, which, as usual, is centered on its videogames track. They also had the (BIG) animation / SIGGRAPH track, as well as Music, Fintech, and more.

The Format

As with many long-standing physical events transitioning to online, it seems one of their key concerns was how to keep a notion of it happening in a “place” populated by visitors. Instead of using a full real-time 3D rendered client (like XSolla’s Game Developers Carnival with YourWorld), they chose a more readily accessible format using prerendered 360° views with embedded videos and actionable areas, which you could access directly using any decent browser without having to download any plugin (which is great).

Not sure how I’d call this visual style, but it’s reminiscent of Second Life

There was a central hub from where you could warp to the track areas (each one with an auditorium), the business tables, or the area with the booths. The terminal areas allowed downloading PDF brochures and connecting with people via either Whatsapp or Whereby.

The online environment worked… once you had experimented a bit with it. It was definitively not suited to all audiences, since it required knowing in advance some conventions about navigating 360 views.

There was an area *inside* the world with some instructions on how to navigate, but since it was part of the world the visitor had to know at least the basic of navigation in advance, and additionally it was pretty easy to miss (especially if you were there in business to check a talk).

The conference rooms where the talks were streamed

One definitive downside to it was how hard it was to get to the talks since you had to navigate the world all the way to the auditoriums and then click on a link. A more straightforward directory with links to the streaming channels would have helped a lot with discoverability, as I think reducing the friction to get to the content should be a primary concern in this kind of event.

Some of my favorite talks included “Publishing for Indies” by Steve Escalante, “Intellectual Property” by Patrick Sweeney and “El equipo de programación ideal y otras leyendas” (The ideal programming team and other legends) by Luis Villegas. I’ll post links to them as (if?) they become available.

I also posted a commentary on my own talk about procedural generation here (Spanish only for now).

The business match-making area. Each table took you to a video conference room.

The business area was, frankly, a bit too empty. There were not many attendees with whom you could connect this year. I think however all the infrastructure that was set up worked and will hopefully be of more use for future iterations.

Some booths from the Commercial Zone

Something similar happened in the area with the booths, although it is hard to know since there was no way to know about the actual traffic happening, other than the requests you got to talk via WhatsApp or video conferencing. Which in my case and as far as I know from other attendees were not too many.

The videoconferencing back-end, powered by whereby.com / ticketcodelive

I think this may have been caused again by unneeded friction put in front of the potential visitors including:

  • A signup form which asked for a lot of information, and which had to be filled in order to visit the booths.
  • Requiring them to know how to navigate the online environment.
  • How the area was presented, with an overhead view of all the booths but no way to know what they were, and hard to keep track of the ones you had visited already (coupled with normal loading times to check each booth)
  • There was an option to see the list of exhibitors which made it much easier to find a particular booth but didn’t ease navigating thru all of them for a random visitor.

Ideas for improvement

I believe an event like col40, which is aimed at a wide range of potential visitors, should take advantage of existing, well-known conventions for Internet browsing, and strive to create an accessible “standard” online web experience, instead of forcing the visitors into a more “virtual” environment.

Direct access to the streams and past talks from the event’s agenda, as well as having a way to preview the booths sequentially, would be small changes with potentially big impact, even allowing the existing “virtual” structure to exist in parallel so that we can continue experimenting with innovation in virtual conferencing.

If you are curious, check out a video of my experience here: (it’s in Spanish)

NovaMundi – Week 95 Update

NovaMundi is coming to Steam Early 2021, remember to Wishlist it if you like what you see. We also have a Mailing list now, so make sure to subscribe to it as well, if you want the news to reach your email directly. Now, let’s go to the news! 

It has been about three weeks since the last update. I keep working towards the demo. As of now, the plan is for it to contain:

  • The first scenario of the Children of Bachué Campaign: “The Pilgrimage to Hunza”
    • This includes a lot of work we did for the FTUE which is something we need for the Demo.
    • Also, this campaign is the one that more directly serves to share the culture of the Muisca to the world, a goal we are actively seeking (and we will strive to iterate to make it better every time.)
  • The “1500 – Quyca Chihisaba” Muisca scenario of discovery.
    • Much less narrative-driven, included in the demo to showcase scenarios that are heavier on gameplay elements (exploration and progression in an open world) while keeping the setting of the Muisca culture.
  • A post-1750 European scenario of exploration from the coast to some frozen peaks.
    • To make use of our developments for Sailing, as well as the procedural generator for Coastal regions, as well as broadening the scope of cultures to be represented.
    • Still designing this one, thinking of modeling it after 1802’s Humboldt’s climb to Chimborazo, or earlier explorations of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta.
  • Spanish and English
    • Except for the audio of the Children of Bachué campaign cutscenes, which will be Spanish only for cost reasons (at least initially).

Fixes for Muisca Culture depiction

Following up on our previous post, we decided to aim for an accurate depiction of the Muisca culture and the highlands environment. We removed animals and items that were out of place and added support for “historical” cultures (vs procedurally generated).

We have also contacted some people both with Muisca heritage (or contacts with cultural organizations) and academic knowledge, and are organizing a first round of testing with them to get their feedback about the way we are depicting them.

The Pilgrimage to Hunza

At the end of the CREA Digital project, last year, we had a working version of this scenario (and three others), for which we decided to activate a “narrative mode” in which the player had to take less care about his expedition and could focus more on the story that was unfolding. I decided to disable it now for these campaigns to have more interesting elements. You now have to engage with the random events system and have to buy supplies and take care of your expedition members

Also, after almost a year of focusing the development on the other scenarios, reactivating this campaign required some big internal changes to get up to date with the new structure for the scenarios data, unifying loading routines, adapting to the new title screen flow, and providing active support for both types of character portraits.

I’m doing some good progress on it, it requires translating a lot of dialogs, and will also do further tweaks for gameplay reasons, removing the roads, and adding more random combat and perils.

Quyca Chihisaba

Progress on this scenario has required blending aspects of both the historical content-heavy campaign and the completely procedurally generated scenarios we had. This included adding a hybrid mode for town population, with premade characters but also procedural ones that can give directions to nearby map features.

Another related thing that was added was the possibility of having animal population and discoveries as part of the data for the different scenarios instead of having it integrated into the terrain generation.

I’m also working on the player flow, giving him a way to get started with the exploration instead of walking around randomly. Ultimately this will involve having a smarter placement of the towns, but for now, at least they will have a safe starting town and a known nearby town from where they can start exploring further.

Finally, I also added back the possibility to trade for goods in towns (as opposed to bartering), which could only be down at the hometown previously.

User Experience

There were also some minor but important fixes for the UI, especially with the status panel which now integrates the command buttons (so the HUD is less busy), and is more readable with bigger text and a change in the direction for the “hunger bar” (now it empties as you require food, instead of filling up)

The trade modal was also improved now displaying the person you are trading with, instead of a generic town icon.

Expedition to Santa Marta

In order to collect information for the historical campaigns, I decided to embark on an expedition to the beaches of Santa Marta; I’m departing Medellín next Thursday with a party of just two other explorers. I will report back my findings on the next update.

That’s it for this week-ish update! I hope to resume with a more fixed weekly rhythm now that there’s a more clear roadmap. Remember to wishlist the game if you haven’t, and let me know any ideas on Twitter or the game forums on Steam!

NovaMundi – Week 94 not-your-usual Update

NovaMundi is coming to Steam Early 2021, remember to Wishlist it if you like what you see. We also have a Mailing list now, so make sure to subscribe to it as well, if you want the news to reach your email directly. Now, let’s go to the news! 

All work on the coding and art side has been halted as I come up with a clear idea of the direction we are taking the project from here regarding the theme. This has been a consistent topic through all the history of the project (nothing new!), but as we get closer to the first public versions it’s about time to have certainty about some things.

This is a delicate topic, and I debated whether or not I should discuss details about it publicly, but in the end, I decided it made sense to do it as the history of this project has always been transparent, and I’m interested in your feedback as an early supporter. I may regret this later.

In its current incarnation, the game still suffers from some issues in spite of (maybe even caused by) our efforts to avoid it being perceived as a glorification of the Spanish Conquest of the Americas, a complex period of history.

What we have right now

  • A mixed setting with the (mostly historical) Spanish exploring a jungle inhabited by a fictional group of people known as the Tqnda.
  • The exploration of this land is portrayed as a mostly peaceful journey without any kind of hostile interaction with the indigenous people.
    • Combat only happens versus wild animals or the group you are sent to capture in some of the scenarios.
    • You cannot establish settlements in the land.
    • You can only do small scale trade for survival (not for profit)
  • The way we are portraying the Tqnda physically is based on the Muisca culture, and for their settlements, we are using a mix of different styles inspired by historical Muisca, Aztec, Mongolian, and Indonesian architecture. (This is probably the biggest pain point currently)
  • You can play as both the Spanish and the Tqnda, in scenarios with similar objectives but different themes.
  • We have a campaign centered on the Muisca, but it needs to be completed (we currently have 4 out of 6 missions), fleshed out with better gameplay, and translated to English (including voice-overs).

Many ideas

After lots of discussion with friends and contacts specialized in the topic, I have considered many options including:

  • Retreating to the safe ground of (Medieval?) Fantasy
    • This would probably be an instant ticket out but would feel like betraying the original vision of the game and missing an opportunity of educating about history (as well as a distinctive marketing point).
    • We already have a distinctive visual style (I think) which may not be 100% compatible with medieval fantasy. We’d have to redo the towns and discard lots of work we’ve done for the indigenous population.
    • Besides, aren’t there too many games already using this setting? It would be harder to stand out.
  • Basing the game on alternate reality (Historical Fiction)
    • Kind of what we have now, but it comes with the dangers of “white-washing” history if we portray these Spanish expeditions as simply curious people interested in knowing more about the land.
    • Also comes with potential issues depending on how the native populators are portrayed; if they are fictional tribes we run into the problem of erasing the identity of the real historical indigenous people, and if they are “historical” then they may be misrepresented as they are affected by the creative liberties of this alternate reality.
  • Adopting an “archeological explorer” fantasy theme
    • Very similar to above, but replacing the nationality of the explorer with some fantasy nation.
    • Can add giant bugs, which are a very effective enemy.
    • Would be a bit more unique than standard medieval fantasy, but would still carry a lot of the issues of Historical Fiction.
    • To counter this, I considered setting it as some kind of “Atlantis” continent, populated with Greek-descendant people. But it looked weird and would require a lot of work to create them and give them narrative strength.
  • Setting the game on a different type period (away from Spanish Conquest), say 200 years after.
    • The problem with this is again how to portray the populators of the land (since the indigenous populators would mostly be gone by now, and their cities replaced with colonies), as well as keep the sense of “unexplored territory”. Both are core gameplay elements.
    • In the end, it would only be partially successful to address the question of colonial exploration and their motivation.
  • Center the game on the Indigenous people instead of the Spanish
    • Is a pretty good choice, and I’m giving this a lot of weight in my current solution.
    • May make it harder for the non-indigenous players to feel connected with the exploring party (but that’d have to be proven).

What I’m thinking

My current stand on this is a mix of a lot of the ingredients above:

  • Stay as a historical game with geography inspired by current-day Colombia, populated based on the inhabitants recorded by history for the period being represented. (Spanning from 1100CE to 1800CE)
  • Continue allowing the player to represent both Indigenous and European expeditions based on the protagonists of the different scenarios (see below).
  • Include some fiction scenarios, separated clearly from the non-fictional ones.
  • Revive and finish the development of the Muisca campaign, “Children of Bachué”, which is inspired by both the myths of the Muisca and the known history of their conquest by the Spanish.
  • Strengthen both our historical research and our collaboration with indigenous people groups to polish our historical scenarios, and provide a summary of the history that inspired each scenario and the creative liberties that were taken.

The Planned Scenarios

The following scenarios would complement the 6 ones from the Children of Bachué campaign, there will be a mixture of mostly historical but also openly fictional.

Also, these are just drafts based on initial research. More research will be done to give a proper background to each, as well as proper descriptions and themes.

  • 1100 – The Salt People: Seeking a place to settle, a group of explorers arrives at a fertile cold plateau, bringing with them the knowledge of Bochica. Your mission is to share this knowledge and look for resources that will allow the Muisca civilization to flourish. (This is the scenario that will require the most research.)
  • 1469 – Rise of the Guecha: The Zipa of Bacatá, Saguanmachica, is determined to bring an end to the Panche assaults on his southern border towns, and expand his domains there. He sends a group to survey the dangerous area in preparation for a massive assault.
  • 1500 – Quyca Chihisaba (fictional): The Iraca, Sugamuxi, has sent you to journey all around the land looking for 10 sacred animals. Find them and return to Suamox, keeping an eye out for the Muzo and Panche raiders.
  • 1536 – To the last man: A heavily armed Spanish expedition has left the outpost of Santa Marta, marching inland through the jungle in hopes of finding a route to the riches of the Inca. You set yourself and your men to stop their progress at all costs and prevent more villages from being sacked.
  • 1537 – Fate of the highlands: Upon knowing of the progress of the Spanish invasion forces in his territory, the Zipa of Bacatá, Tisquesusa, sends you with a small group to the town of Suesuca, where the advancing army is currently stationed, to gather information on the army strength and prepare for their inevitable strike.
  • 1537 – The Spear of Chaquén (Fictional): Travel the Andes highlands to unite the people of the Muisca Confederation against the Spanish invaders, and push them back into the sea, before it’s too late.
  • 1680 – Quyca Cuhumin Sospqua (Fictional): A plague of deadly giant insects is spreading through the land, you must find a way to stop them.
  • 1783 – The envoy of Mutis: Your expedition departs Santa Fe de Bogotá into the deep Andes, with the mission of extending the botanical catalog of the kingdom.
  • 1800 – The little apothecary: The Bourbon Monarchy has authorized your self-funded scientific expedition into the Spanish America territories, enabling you to spend your fortune to explore the settlements and nature of the Viceroyalty of New Granada and beyond.

All scenarios will provide a set of objectives as well as parameters for the procedural generation and population of the land. Of course, we won’t be able to build all of these from the start, but they provide a roadmap for us to work on.

Next Steps

I am going to use this as a base to do an initial set of changes and produce the playable demo we are eager to put into the hands of our closest contributors and potential publishers.

Stay tuned for updates!

NovaMundi – Week 93 Update

NovaMundi is coming to Steam Early 2021, remember to Wishlist it if you like what you see. We also have a Mailing list now, so make sure to subscribe to it as well, if you want the news to reach your email directly. Now, let’s go to the news! 

The biggest change this week is the tests with new themes. There was an idea floating around the dev team for a bit, about leaning a bit more into the fantasy side as a way to address certain culturalization issues. We are doing some tests including giant insects as enemies, and so far I believe it feels pretty good gameplay-wise. We are still deciding what to do about this and the topic is far from decided, as we have reached out (yet again!) to our friends and contacts with experience in the subject to get their ideas. Expect more info about this in future updates.

There was a lot of work in preparation for the semi-public demo, the most interesting part of it was the addition of more complete dialogs for the intro characters, including a big deal of information on how to play the game, and tips for each one of the scenarios. I also disabled the scenarios which are not yet playable and streamlined the introduction tooltips.

On the character portraits side, a new “starter pack” was added for the female European characters, and we also included more variations for the Tqnda (male and female). I’m also figuring out a better way to handle the skin color variations, and for now, decided to disable the “dark” skin variants we had for the European male characters.

NovaMundi – Week 92 Update

NovaMundi is coming to Steam Early 2021, remember to Wishlist it if you like what you see. We also have a Mailing list now, so make sure to subscribe to it as well, if you want news to reach your email directly. Now, let’s go to the news! 

A Demo to be distributed between a close circle of playtesters is going to be released pretty soon. Hit me up if you are interested (so I can kick the algorithm to check if you belong to that close circle). As part of that, the “New Expedition” flow has been improved.

We also did some work in the “Tqnda” people portraits, using our previous portraits as reference, but adapting them to the new portrait style. Still a long way to go to generate enough variety but it’s a good start.

For gameplay changes, I worked on the “Sickness” aspect so your expedition members can get sick for traveling under bad weather or not camping properly. It will slowly remove their HP while they are with fever, and you can increase their odds of recovering by using medicine, either brought from Spain, foraged from the jungle, or acquired from the local population.

Added a first version of the Expedition Status screen where you can see the hit points and sickness level of all your expedition members. This needs to be integrated with the inventory screen so that using healing items is easier.

Finally, we added the “Focused Shoot” skill to the Hunter and Archer unit. It’s the first skill we add so we had to do a bit of work around the combat system; it allows the unit to launch a very strong attack at the expense of having to charge for some seconds.

Roguelike Celebration 2020

Crossposted to Temple of The Roguelike

On October 3 and 4 2020, the fifth iteration of the Roguelike Celebration happened online. Last year I missed it (flying Medellín to San Francisco is expensive!) but I had no excuse this year.

The biggest novelty of the event was the MUD-like platform created by Em Lazerwalker, who has been part of the organizer team for some years now. She describes it as a playful text-based online social chat space, a hybrid between communication apps like Slack and Discord and traditional text-based online game spaces such as MUDs and MOOs.

The main interaction window

The app was accessible via any decent web browser, and it integrated the different components of the online conference, including a virtual environment inspired by the physical spaces of previous years where you could move between rooms, pick up stuff, do fun stuff like dancing, and of course talk with the other people.

A map of the premises

The main sections of the event were the Theater, where the talks took place, the unconferencing lobby and rooms (6 of them) where people suggested and voted for topics and then were directed to Zoom conferences for live video chatting, and the showcase hall where different roguelike projects where on display. There were also lots of other rooms for socializing, and even a dance floor with cool music from the previous years and a bar where you could get the classic roguelikecel cocktails.

Having some polymorphic fun at the bar

The platform was also integrated with the almost non-stop video streaming, MCed by Alexei Pepers and Noah Swartz, and run in the background by Kawa. It included real-time high quality captioning made by Maggie of White Coat Captioning, and people could interact with the stream by posting questions or topics for discussion.

The main chunk of the event where the talks, of course, and this time there were a lot of them both full size and “lightning” (10 mins). following the same format as previous years (single track, two days), being online opened the possibility of having speakers from all around the world discussing a wide range of topics, from technical to more mundane.

The videos have yet to be posted in the Roguelike Celebration youtube channel, for now, you can find the raw streams there. The topics included game design, accessibility, a lot of procedural generation, community management, programming languages, roguelike history, and more.

Roguelike Wizard Darren Gray discussed What a Rogue is like, as his baby human quaffed a Potion of Tranquility.

Additionally, as in previous years, there was an interactive game (Help me Steal the Mona Lisa), where players could interact with the streamer, helping him hack devices to infiltrate museums and generate enough income for his character’s luxurious life.

Bundling some procedural generation elements, and a lot of “asymmetrical” cooperative multiplayer design, designed to increase engagement between streamers and viewers.

Finally, Noah (the creator of the event) announced this was his last year as part of the organizers’ team, as he has different requirements for his time these days. He shared how he had a hard time finding space and sponsors for the first event, and how now it has grown to have over 700 assistants. He’s leaving the organization of future versions of the events in the capable hands of the other organizers who have done a great job so far.

/me claps, many thanks to Noah for creating this fun event!

See you next year at Roguelike Celebration 2021!