Spacey Farmers! The farmers in SPACE!

Yep, it’s time for a small but significant Space Farmers update.

With Tribloos 3 literally in the end stages of development (sorry it’s taken so long, but I hope you’ll all try it!) I can say that Space Farmers 2 development has, well, kind of started again.

We spent some time the other evening reviewing the tech demos that Rich has put together. Some of them are awesome fun! We’ve also been looking at some interesting Untiy assets and libraries we could potentially use to add some absolutely crazy nonsense into the game.

I think I can safely say we’re excited and terrified at the prospect of jumping into the deep end of SF2 development again. And I think anyone who’s looked at the Steam support forum can guess why.

Single word: Networking (is annoying)

So to give ourselves a break we’ve decided to make the game to use Photon PUN as a 100% solution. Rather than having it as a 3rd fallback option. This could end up being costly for us if things don’t work out. But getting people connected took up more than 50% of both our development and support time with Space Farmers 1. We just can’t drag ourselves through that again.

If you’re so inclined you can check out Photon PUN over here. We used Photon in the last game as, like I said, a 3rd fallback option. It was for if we couldn’t get the two methods of P2P connection working. It was also used for Lobbies.

In a way I always had a (ironic) chuckle* when someone would email us saying the servers are down. Because there were no servers in SF1. Aside from Photon which, as far as we could tell, worked 99.9% of the time.

The PUN system is built for Unity and makes use of the Photon Cloud network. It’s always felt pretty speedy and based on the traffic we had for SF1 we should be able to keep the costs down enough to keep the game running long term.

So this is why we’re choosing it as the new way forward.

Great, I think, so what’s next?

Once T3 is out of the door (at least for acceptance testint) we’ll be announcing more of a roadmap for where we’re going with the game. Along with a plan for regular updates for anyone who’s interested. We’ve got a ton of plans and thoughts but we also want to make this game for you as well as ourselves.

Okay, stay tuned as always. There’s going to be a bit of focus on T3 as we move into final testing/release so bare with us and we’ll have more SF news for you soon.

* THIS IS A LIE. I ALWAYS CRIED

Well goodness me. It’s been quite the adventure. Almost 3 years in the making (again I’ll talk about why in the postmortem) and many speed bumps in the road. I feel like I’m on the final stretch at last.
The Tribloos 3 Development Diary
I’m very pleased with the final result (generally) and I can’t wait to share it with the world. But first I have a few final tasks to take care of. Firstly here’s where we’ve gotten to this last 2 weeks:

– Further testing and bug fixing
– Sound Effects
– Scene transitions
– Conversation tweaks and changes (characters actually show some emotions!)

So I’ve been quite busy!

Previously it’s been awful for me to list out my remaining tasks. But now it’s not so bad. Check this out:

– Mac version setup (partially done)
– Testing and bug fixing
– Music for 5 areas, ending cut-scene and main menu (this is literally the only tough job left)
– Remaining sound effects
– Tutorial (I think this is my least favourite part of developing casual games)
– Final cut-scene construction (although all GFX are in and ready)
– Even more Testing
– Talking with portals/setting up distribution areas for the game
– Far more testing

So like I said the biggest job is the music. This is a bit of a problem because my work laptop which I use for development 4/7 days a week doesn’t have my compositional stuff on it. It’s a group policy thing which stops me installing it on here annoyingly.

I feel as if I need to lock myself in my home office for a week to get that part done. A tune a day shouldn’t be too impossible…urp.

There are a few other tasks that I need to look at but nothing which isn’t fairly straight-forward. I’ll try to cover as much as possible in the next couple of blog entries.

I still don’t haev

The Tribloos 3 Development Diary

Oops, well I missed last week’s entry because of being super ill for a few days. I’m back now and ready to share some of the development fun I’ve been having with The Tribloos 3.

There were many new features I wanted in the new instalment of the series. One of these was a return to more detailed “inbetween” story segments. I liked the comic book style of Tribloos 2 but it felt very flat and disconnected. While aware that this wouldn’t be a short job I still wasn’t prepared for the gargantuan task I was taking on.
Continue reading “Tribloos 3 – Development Diary Part 4”

Blitzmax has been my development tool of choice for over 10 years now. But I’m about to move permanently…
andysopinion
Back in 2005 a very exciting thing was happening in my world.

I’d been using Blitz3D to mess with 3D game development for the last 2/3 years. It had even helped me get my first programming job. I’d finished a couple of basic games in it and was pretty well versed in it’s eccentricities.

However the creator of this famous development tool had announced something very special: A new version of the Blitz tools: BlitzMax!
Continue reading “Moving away from BlitzMax”

Ignore the prototype number. We don’t really have one.

We were on version 0.001 of Tribloos 3 for about 6 months so. Also Rich hates numbers so let’s just say it’s *A* prototype.

We spoke about this a couple of weeks ago on our Live Stream “The Kitchen” show which we run every weekend (this weekend it’s on Saturday). We had a discussion about how we want to run the development. We kind of covered this in yesterday’s “The Fear of the Unknown” post but you can hear us vocalise this in the video below.

Some progress has been made since this version was shown but we thought we’d extract it from the live stream feed and put it on YouTube. This way we can specifically show what we’re currently working towards for anyone who doesn’t want to wade through our (pretty awesome) 2 hour show!

The good stuff happens about 8 minutes in (obviously our developer chat is awesome but if you just want to see the game then start from there.)

Creating games is fun but it’s hard work. It’s fun, otherwise we would be doing it, but it can also feel pretty daunting.

One of the core principles we want in Space Farmers 2 is the ability to evolve the game. We want to take feedback from players and add it to the game. The idea is that if someone comes up with a cool new gadget we want to take it and add it to the game. Now I’ve written that down it sounds too easy – we’re not even coming up with the ideas!

Setting up the foundations for that to happen though is where we are at the moment. But trying to build foundations for a house, when you don’t know what the house will look like, is not simple. In fact it’s something that I find quite paralysing.

Space Farmers 2
We’re working on it!
Every thing we add to the game requires some kind of compromise. For example; the characters currently look like even more basic than Space Farmers 1. But the foundation has been lay for a far more complex avatar system. If someone now comes up with a great idea which required the players to have 3 feet (I would say legs but they don’t have legs). That would involve changing a fundamental part of the game so may not be possible.

Thankfully I am reassured by the knowledge that between us Andy and I have about two hundred years of experience of people asking us to perform impossible programming feats. I hope that by being open and honest about what we’re doing people will understand what we can and can’t do and why we make the decisions and priorities we do.

As 48% of us here in the UK think – we’re better together.

We need your help!

So with all of that said, we need YOU to help us add as many crazy features and cool ideas to our public Trello board as possible!

Space Farmers 2 Trello Board
Look at our shiny new Trello Board!

Get commenting below, tweet at Rich and Andy or, even better, come visit us on our weekend Live Streams. Let us know what your priorities are in the game. Talk about the features that we, and others, have requested. Together we can make this game even more awesome than the first!

So part 3 and this week I’m focused on buildings and their buttons.

I’ve decided to change things up very slightly this time around. In Tribloos 2 if a building button was unavailable (eg. the building could not be built due to lack of workers/resources) it was faded out. If it was available it was presented with a green glow. I wanted to make the distinction a bit stronger this time. Now if a building cannot be built yet you’ll end up with a “dotted-line-button” that should be instinctively un-clickable.

And of course the opposite is also true; eg. if the button is visible at all it’s clickable! Exciting stuff eh?

Tribloos Building Things
“Temporary” Tribloos building things..

Uh, okay that’s not exactly “mixing it up”, so lets talk about some real change.

Let’s make some wood

This is probably one of the highest requested features for Tribloos 2 but something that wasn’t easy to add that late in development.

And it’s centered around resource production in buildings like sawmills and toolsheds. Previously when you had sent a worker to a sawmill to make wood you’d have to count down or guess when they’d be finished. This was to be as efficient as possible so you could click on the toolshed to get them to make some tools the very second they’d produced that wood. Well guess no more!

When a worker now reaches a sawmill or other production buildings (again such as toolsheds, refineries, locksmiths, etc…) and starts to make resources, a small progress bar will pop up on the side of the building. This will show you how far through that particular worker is done with making wood or tools or whatever.

Worker Progress Bars
Tribloos making wood – new progress bars!

I’m especially pleased about the way this has worked out.

Like I said this was one of the most requested features from the previous games and I’m really pleased to have finally managed to get this in!

That’s it again for this week, I hope you’re all excited about the game so far. Next time I’ll be talking about the new cut-scene manager and how it effects the story.