I liked them overall as they gave a great way for me to respond to anyone who had bought the game. Specifically helping people out who were having problems with the levels. One of the big questions over there was how to complete level 10. This was due to the tuning forks!
So in response I made a video recently showing how this is done. Check it out:
Are there any other levels you’d like me to cover? Let me know if so. Next up will be levels 30 and 32…
Back in 2014 we both had a moment where our time went inversely proportional for game development time. From having tons of time to work on games to very, very tiny amounts of time to work on games.
I chose to spend that time working on a different title. It took sooooo much longer than I anticipated. But it got finished and distributed. And very near the end of that we started talking about developing a new game!
It wasn’t Space Farmers 2.
What?! You said you would be-
Yes yes, we know we said we’d be working on Space Farmers 2 next. But we had a really, really good idea for another co-op game. We spent a few weeks playing around with physics engines and wheel collider code to try and make it work. And while we still love the idea for [SECRETGAMENAME] we haven’t got the time to mess around with unity physics right now.
We will return to this mystery project, probably in a few months just for fun if nothing else. It might even become *part* of Space Farmers 2. But for now you can be assured we’re back on the case!
So c’mon then. What’s going on?
If you’re an avid fan (and good grief, we love you guys) you’ll know we’ve been messing with prototypes of the game engine for some time. The problem is we’ve not gotten very far with any of them. We started in Unity, then looked at Unreal and are currently back at Unity (mainly because we’re so much more comfortable in C# as a language).
We’ve split our duties to spread the load.
Rich is working on gameplay! How will the character be controlled? What kind of control modes are there?
Andy is working on networking! How will the client/server architecture work? How do people connect to the game?
We’ve been having online dev sessions most Mondays for a while now and that’s working out quite well. We’ve both progressed well and it’s almost getting to the point where we put our work together to create a proper prototype project.
Tell us about the new prototype!
We’re still trying to work out how we want this to play out. This is the current plan:
– Single Lobby that anyone can join and see others
– Some form of example game mode for 2 people
– Some form of example game mode for > 2 people
And, well that’s it at the moment. We don’t want to plan too far ahead otherwise we can’t stay agile. But we wanted to have a starting place where anyone could just load up and start a game. The first release may be even more basic than that.
Why are you planning to start so small?!
Well we don’t really see it like that. But the idea is to start with the fundamental basics. Get some feedback on the initial version of the net code, movement, shooting, etc.. And then put out as many updates as we can each month.
What we don’t want to do is make everyone wait 2 years until we have something half baked. We may as well show you the batter first.
We also don’t have a planned date for any of the above just yet. But like I said above, progress has been good recently. We’ve got a lot of work to do but we very much hope it’ll be worth it!
First off a big thank you to everyone who has bought the game so far on BigFishGames.
I can’t publicly share sales figures but I will say they’re a bit lower than Tribloos 2. There could be any number of reasons for this such as people moving to mobile devices for their casual fix or people generally gravitating away from BigFish to other portals like Steam/GoG/GameJolt/Other. Or it could be related to the technical issues when the game launched. Or maybe because it’s been 4 years since the last game in the series. It’s hard to say but I’m not about to stop trying to get the game out there due to a slight hiccup at the start.
We’re working on the Steam release but we have a mixture of technical and administrative challenges ahead of us before that happens. However an Itch.io release will be happening asap so you’ll be able to get the game DRM free very soon.
I think the Tribloos 3 Trailer is well overdue, don’t you? So here it is!
I was originally going to create a teaser trailer, then a story trailer and then a gameplay trailer. But they eventually ended up merging into a single trailer above. Look out for the game coming to Steam in the next few weeks!
The Marketing push begineth
Do you run or are aware of a games review site or youtube channel which you believe would like to share the Tribloos 3 trailer? Let us know and we will also send over a review code!
There will be further announcements on how to get your hands on the game and even one of our real life tribloos over the next few days. We’ll be running a contest, updating our Steam page in preparation and basically just sharing the heck out of it whenever and wherever we can.
As well as looking at our next project we am also preparing the demo version of the game for Steam. That way everyone can look forward to trying the game one way or another! It’ll be very sensibly priced of course…
Anyway, tell us what you think of the trailer. Get ready for release day which is pencilled in for the 12th of April 2018.
This being the third game in the series I wanted to do something a bit different and special. It needed to be something real and tangible.
So before this…
For Space Farmers we’d created Papercraft models of the two main characters. We did small ones and 6 large ones which we took to events. We actually had a hard time hanging on to them.
There was one instance back in 2014 when I left two large Papercraft Space Farmers next to someone else’s Occulus Rift overnight. When we came back the next morning there were two things missing and neither were the rift. Another time we were at Insomnia 52 (I think, I lost track of the numbers back then) and I remember spending a good 30 minutes politely saying “no” to a lady who was trying to blag one off us. They were too personal to me! I took ages making the plans and crafting them by hand.
Really what I should have done is Sold Them! But at the time I didn’t think that would make any money and it would have required me to tidy up the plans to make them presentable. Maybe we’ll make them public one day…
Wasn’t this supposed to be about Tribloos 3?
So when I was thinking about what I wanted to do this time it was obvious that Papercraft just wasn’t going to cut it. I’d toyed with the idea of making Tribloos styled items or toys before but very rarely got past the “wouldn’t it be nice” phase.
But this time, with the game almost complete back in November 2017 I decided to actually try it out for fun. So I contacted Mari at PictureToPuppet, an Edinburgh based group who turn child’s pictures into real life puppets. Check them out.
They’ve turned out fantastically, because they’re hand made they’re all slightly unique!
We’ll be giving them away as part of competitions and giveaways over the next few months! So stay tuned to the blog and, probably Twitter and Facebook.
Tribloos 3 is currently being checked out in intimate detail by Big Fish at the moment. I’m working on a new project as well as adding some final touches and prepping for marketing. So I thought I would take this time to share some of my personal thoughts on why I like writing Tribloos games.
I’ve spent about 3 years on Tribloos 3. That might seem like a lot, but in actual terms it’s probably only been about 4 months full time work for me. Someone asked me, about half way through development, why hadn’t I just re-skinned and expanded the Tribloos 2 engine. Why had I started almost from scratch again? It’s a good question, I think. I’m biased of course, but I thought perhaps others might want to know why too. So here it is, why I like writing Tribloos Games.
It’s 2014 and…
Space Farmers had been out for 4 months. We’d been working on it in the meantime, adding new levels and gadgets and other fun stuff. But despite various cool things happening (such as it being played by PewDiePie) it hadn’t performed financially as well as we would have liked. That’s quite depressing really, can you imagine what it’s like to have you game featured in a video that has had over 2 million views and your distributor reports back that it’s resulted in a grand total of…30 extra copies?
Yes that’s right, YouTube marketing officially doesn’t work, you heard it here. Okay that’s a big bold statement which begs to be explored. So more on that another time I think.
However we were a little dispondent about creating another game. I decided to take a step back and start work on a new Tribloos title. It’ll only take 6 months, I convinced myself.
But this time I want animations!
I’m torn about this statement. On one hand I’m pretty pleased with the animatics that are in Tribloos 3. I think they look awesome and add some depth to the world and the story. On the other hand they took absolutely forever to make.
It’s no surprise really but I’d made up my mind to focus on making my near-perfect Tribloos game.
That meant I couldn’t simply recycle all the old code from the second game. I had to attack the weak areas of that and build on the good bits. The good bits were, for me and many fans of the series, the characters and the “gotta get gold time!” gameplay. I decided I wanted to add some more intelligence to the workers. This in turn would lead to more possibilities in the engine and what you could do in the game.
I quickly sat down and started writing out a plot for the game based on an idea I’d had at the end of developing number 2. The gist being that one of the Tribloos gets “Tribb-napped” (oh how I lolled) and you have to rescue them. This led to a whole host of new area ideas as the remaining Tribloos could split up and go after them.
They could split up!?
That meant there were going to be sections of the game where you could legitimately play various areas at the same time. So after completing the first area you’d be let loose on areas 2, 3 and 4. After completing all of those you could attempt 5, 6, 7 and 8! 9 And 10 would be in order but I was still pretty pleased with this idea. And it’s stuck until the end.
The challenge here has been to implement a “what happens now” function at the end of each area. If you’re playing the game from start to end then it should be smart enough to pick the next area for you.
That’s something I’ve only had to worry about recently now I’m in the end stages of development. I always enjoy doing the story based stuff when writing tribloos games! Not that I didn’t enjoy adding the 30+ functional buildings to the game.
Now because there are more environments there are fewer levels per environment than before. This has been an advantage because I’ve been able to keep them more interesting progression wise than the previous game. But as you can see this new game is absolutely packed to the brim of new buildings and obstacles.
So, why do you keep writing Tribloos Games?
It’s 3 years well spent. I’ve been full time contracting, moved house, met many new friends, lost old friends and brought a new baby girl into the world. It’s been a roller coaster ride and the Tribbs have been right there with me.
When I first started submitting games to BigFishGames back in the late 2000’s I had some really great feedback from the guys there. I submitted a couple of games. One was a tetris like block building game. The other was a sokoban clone – although I maintain to this day I’d never seen Sokoban before writing it!
The Tribloos are a special bunch for me. It was my first game series to sell several thousand copies, sure, but the big thing was this: People really seemed to like it. I got even better feedback on the second game. The bigger question is why did I stop?
Uhm, so why did you stop?
I attempted to push The Tribloos 2 onto mobile users a few years ago (2013) and it flopped. F2P had just started to strangle the mobile market and I, like many other game devs of that time, fell foul of it. We had no interest in fleecing people for in game items that could be used only once or for cheats to make levels easier. And so our games fell by the wayside…
However I always knew I wanted to make another Tribloos game. I think this one will do pretty well, it’s definitely by far the best game in the series so far. I don’t plan to stop here either. As long as people enjoy them I’ll continue to write Tribloos Games til the end of my development days!
So what’s been happening in Space Farmers 2 development? Both nothing at all, and an awful lot at the same time.
Confused? I certainly have been. Allow me to explain.
After initial development with Unity, which we used to develop SF1, we decided that we were going to try out Unreal Engine instead – and we’re sticking with it.
Firstly this is nothing against Unity – which has had a hard time of it lately with people blaming the engine for the amount of dross on Steam. We love Unity and without it we wouldn’t have created some of the games we have.
However, as we’ve written before, the hardest part of SF1 development was the networking code and as Unreal is built for multiplayer the benefits soon became clear. Just testing networking in Unity meant you had to create a build, run the game (twice), join the games together and find your code doesn’t work. In unreal you pick a number of players – hit play – and the games start.
So for the past few months I’ve been working though tutorials and working out how we’re going to do what we want to do in Space Farmers 2 using Unreal. It’s been an experience – but not entirely unpleasant.
Paid loot boxes in paid games are bad for game design, bad for the industry and bad for players.
When the topic comes up the argument frequently made is that the items are cosmetic, the thinking being that as long as the item doesn’t effect the game then there is no problem. Unfortunately that’s bullshit and here’s why.
Firstly – cosmetic items ARE important. People seem to think its ludicrous that someone will spend £1 on an in game hat but do you have the same response when someones buys a real hat? I have an R2-D2 hat which keeps my head warm but ALSO says things about me.
However – with loot boxes I argue that we’re not buying cosmetic items at all.
Getting to know us
To understand my reasoning you first have to understand why we play games. It’s not always the same and we play different games for different reasons. But the games I am looking at, and the ones that work with paid loot boxes, cover the ‘work -> reward’ pattern. We play them because we feel an achievement which we’re rewarded for. That reward might be a new area, a twist in the story or a random item.
People refer to random items as ‘Skinner Boxes‘ referring to the experiments by B. F. Skinner who showed that a rat could be induced to perform the same action over and over again by rewarding that action randomly rather than consistently. I don’t necessarily see this as bad. As a game designer I want my game enjoyed over and over again. If it is a short burst or repetitive game randomising rewards can give your game some longevity and a reason to replay.
But if you combine this with association you get a potent psychological cocktail.
What the deal with association then?
Association is the marketing technique of linking two unrelated items together. Just as Pavlov’s dogs associated being fed with a bell – so could be made to salivate on command, advertisers associate brands with sunny days, luxury lifestyles and happy beautiful faces. You feel that buying the brand is, on some level, buying the feeling.
This means that if you change your game-play loop from ‘work -> reward’ to ‘work -> box -> reward’ the player associates the box with the reward. And this is where the problem is. You can now effectively sell the reward – the reason for playing the game.
This will have three outcomes.
1. You buy the paid loot boxes to get the feeling of winning. The game stops being important as you can get the reward without it.
2. You find the game has lost it’s appeal. The joy of getting a reward has been diluted because you could have just brought the same thing.
3. You aren’t affected at all and you laugh at the poor suckers in 1 and 2 (you are also deluded and advertisers love you.)
Whatever the outcome the reward, and therefore playing the game, is now meaningless. The reason for playing the game is being held for ransom by the publisher.
And that’s why ‘It’s only cosmetic’ is a poor excuse for paid loot boxes.