Archive for October, 2014

Long time, no news: here’s what’s next for Halcyon Softworks

It’s been over a year since I’ve posted here but I’d like to start posting more frequently with development news, design observations, and such. To give some background on my inactivity, I was working on a Zelda-style RPG around November to January but it wasn’t going anywhere so I started learning Android and then worked on a couple of Android apps for income. Then, in March while I should have been paying attention in class I was struck with an idea to remake my first game, and began planning in the ensuing weeks. In April I started work on the complete remake of Slick I planned. It’d be released on Steam and current-gen consoles (if the opportunity arose) and would be titled Slick Remastered. This remake would/does include completely redone and higher resolution graphics (though using the same but slightly modified 4-color palette as the original), animation, gameplay, levels, and new content such as new characters with different properties, a level editor, an actual story, more variety in the gameplay, an overworld for each world, etc. It was becoming a much larger project than I originally anticipated it would be, just as the original was (I talk about this in my postmortem of the original Slick).

Progress was going pretty well, and it was pretty evident how much better I’ve gotten at programming, art, design, and attention to detail. However, personal finances started to become an issue and the heavy desire to not suffer at a “real” job prompted me to develop more Android apps for income since the game wouldn’t be ready for release for quite a while. I mulled over the idea of Steam Early Access but ultimately haven’t decided if that’s a good idea or not. Over the span of a few months (mostly over summer break) I published over 20 apps on the Play store that are now bringing in enough cash to keep afloat, pay my personal expenses, and then some. While it’s tempting to further increase this stream of income by continuing app development, I just don’t find it very enjoyable (game development has jaded as far as how fun programming and design is) and I’ve run dry of new, plausible ideas because of this.

So what does this mean for the future? A number of things, really. The way I see it I have several options and I’m just not sure which one is the “best” choice as far as my own enjoyment and possibility of going full time post-college. Let’s go over the cons and pros of these options, in some particular order.

I can continue work on Slick Remastered. If I don’t do so now, I absolutely will do so in the future. The pros of doing this are that I really enjoy working on the game and I think it has a ton of potential. The cons are that it’s a huge undertaking and wouldn’t be ready for quite a while.

I can remake my game Reflector for Steam and title it Reflector Remastered. The original went under the radar upon release, selling only a couple hundred, but I think that’s due to the timing of its release rather than the quality of the game. I got this idea while showing the game to a friend, and immediately I could imagine how it would look and feel if I were to remake it. It’d be completely different from the original as far as setting and art direction goes. The original had a satirical plot (or lack thereof) but I’d probably go with a cyberpunk setting and a world to explore if I were to remake it. I’d also include a level editor and the architecture necessary to share levels, along with new content and puzzle elements (the original only had reflectors and portals). Given that the original took only a week or so to develop, I can’t see this taking that long to make. Maybe a few months. More than likely, this is the option I will go with.

I could start a new game rather than remake my old ones, or revive one of my several scrapped projects that no details or screenshots were ever released about. The problem with this is that it could take a while to get something developed that’s high-quality enough for Steam. I wanted to make a few small games for XBLIG, but we all know there wouldn’t be a good return on investment on that platform. Not now, anyway. I also wouldn’t have anything complete to work off of like I would if I remade one of my older games.

I could port my game SUPER SPRINT COMMANDO EXTREME to mobile devices. I think it’d work well on them, seeing as it’s basically a one-button game. The problem with this is I have no experience with mobile game development, so it’d require learning. If I were to use MonoGame (the framework that I use now) for mobile then I’d also have to pay for expensive licenses and could end up wasting time and money if it flopped.

Lastly I could continue app development, but as I said earlier I just don’t find that enjoyable anymore. With apps there’s a high potential for a good return on investment, but also a high potential for no return on investment at all. I’d say it’s not worth the risk.

Regardless of whatever I decide to go with, I want to start being a lot more transparent and open with my game development rather than be a black box. In the coming weeks I’ll be posting screenshots of whatever I’m working on at the moment and post about anything I find worth posting about. Come to think of it, I should also get an actual domain name.



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