I guess it's true, an old saying that got stuck into my head:
"Make your way and the world will follow"
It's been almost 2 years since the first prototype of SD, appropriately numbered v0.1 - This was the beginning of something new. Not only a never before seen style of game , mixing all that made platformers great. But make no mistake, I did make some. Oh boy I did! I have never used an engine past the first steps, but the ease to mod Open Surge, with all the knowledge i had of sound and graphics, made a good starting point.
But the start wasn't smooth. To begin, I have never coded anything, except basic BASIC (mind the pun :p), and unless *.bat files count too. So, my passion for graphics started blooming again, and slowly i went from ripper to freebie user, to finally become fully capable of originality.
By this time i was blessed with lunarrush, SilverstepP, and Jason Buividas, and our small Open Surge family.
We were all beginners, and Silver was the scripting head of the community. This guy tore the API inside out trying to make a game and the community revered him for that. I learned the language thanks to him, and started making a deeper RPG system to go along with the platforming. lunarrush then adapted what would be an early FCS or Fracture Combat System.
Multiple prototypes later we released V0.3, probably our most widespread so far, trying to reach a bit into every pot of ideas we had. But we've just scratched the surface. We kept wanting more and a distinct graphic style.
Then this experimental phase led into lots of new discoveries, that we would later put in the drawer. 3D seemed attractive and we wanted to try, even if just for lulz.
Right now we can tell that 3D is out of our capabilities, and will be until an undisclosed time, where we have enough human and technological horsepower to do something consistent.
Along with the start of the Fractured Reality engine, in which lunar has been working for a few months, joined Luiz Pimenta, a man of good ideas, specialized in multimedia and marketing. We had so many great discussions in a small time frame that it's like we all share the same vibe.
And now we can say for sure , that if (WHEN) the engine enters a productive state, we'll be producing 2D for a while. For anything that can run the latest Java.
Having an engine of our own allows us to make a buck with games without having to answer to anyone. But it's not about us wanting your money. We need the money to make projects you agree to pay for. And that's called crowdfunding.
Right now we are registering a domain and building a new website for our team, Fracture Game Development. This site where you are currently reading this might be kept for historical purposes. But the Shinobi Densetsu project will almost surely move there, and become itself a crowdfunded initiative.
We want to interact with the public as much as possible, so we thought that if we let people vote in which projects they want to play first it would be a way to make the "Game Company" a term that reminds you of democracy and not "Shut up while i take your money".
Staying in tune with the community is also something we want to put in practise. There are some things we would personally refuse to do, but we're very open minded and love what we do. So any ideas for new games can come to discussion.
And if you have a talent, you could also apply for the team, who knows? It all depends on how successful our first games become. Until then, we keep drinking coffee, living double lives, and not sleeping as we should
Long before polygons existed, sprites ruled the video game universe, pretty much. 3D was clunky and hardware intensive, and had barely started to be used by the film industry. After about 20 years, polygons started to move in. First they creeped in silently, as the computing power nearly doubled for each year to follow, we ended up in an era where polygons are everywhere. Perhaps your favorite tv channel has a logo made in 3D, or you have 3D games in your phone. Virtual reality has come to stay and that's an unarguable fact. However, those who could be promptly called the gaming hipsters have fought for the comeback (more like a conservation) of sprite games. Indie developers take pride in multiple styles of pixel art and interesting twists in 2D genres of long ago.
Not meaning to be a hipster, but there is definitely an appeal in sprites that hyper realistic polygon models do not contain. Like Hideo Kojima said: "it's good to keep parts of your characters vague so the player can fill those gaps with their own self". Not only Kojima's words make sense, but they seem to be common practice in Konami sprite based titles. The only discernible faces you get from a Castlevania hero are in dialogs or in the menu screen. Yet we can all relate to a badass Belmont and make up our own details in the small sprites.
So here we are, presented with the latest and finest tools for 3D games, and unable to make a sprite based game because there's so much horsepower that you skip right to 2nd gear, which means, we had no sprite support in UDK, not in the same way as in a 2D engine.
As appealing as a full 3D game may sound at first, it is a great undertaking for a team of 2/3 people, considering also that only one is an artist and quite n00b in 3D (yep, me )
We also had a lot of artwork in 2D and really didn't want to ditch that year and a half of work.
And last but certainly the most, we love 2D, we love 3D, we love games as a whole entity, so why not join both? We hear and read comments where people say "2D and 3D in the same game is a clash of styles" or "using a 3D engine to do 2D is a waste of power", and dare to have a different view. Look at Tomba! (known also as Tombi!) for the original Playstation, that was an excellent example of mixing both, even if it didn't age well. At the time of release it was unique, and clever too. The game wasn't about the graphics anyway, it was just quest-based platforming goodness (with some overhead sections that didn't fit too well IMO).
So yes, after the 2.5D adventures in 2D, we are definitely taking the concept into 3D. Sprite characters, Polygon backgrounds. The gameplay should be about the same, with the added perk of depth movement, opening up multiple branches within a single level. We also get to use lots of cool effects based on hardware, and ship the game into PC, Mac, iOS, Android and probably more!
What happens to the 2D version? That remains largely undecided, but it is likely that the last alpha will come to public and the version becomes discontinued.
There is so much in my mind right now, I thought that probably blogging about it would be a good way to put things "on paper".
As you may have seen in our FB/Twitter feeds, the 3d version which seemed frorever stalled, if not abandoned, is back on full steam.
Not being able to use one of the required formats of 3D models made me drop development of the 3D version some time ago, but thankfully DAZ 3D held a free giveaway of their suite worth 850 bucks(!!). With the problem of models solved, on goes the journey into 3D lands.
The 3D game will pick up the concept of his 2D brother and improve it. You may have seen us experimenting with fake depth and perspective illusion in the 2D version, well, in the 3D version you will actually be able to move in depth, while the levels still play as a side scroller. Not only will you find lots of alternative paths on one single map, the exploration of depth will add a new element into sidescrolling platformers.
This time, none of the versions is being dropped. I'm trying my best to develop both at the same time but it's impossible. I would have to stop having a life outside development !
So here again I make a call for help. I've been contacting everyone i can and it is still not enough.
Before explaining what is needed, there is a major decision that will affect the whole workflow of the project. I is as follows:
SD2D, or "classic" SD, is free and open, and will always be. This game will be the face of the SD universe. Finishing this game will prove us capable of producing a good game on zero budget.
Now what if we had more than only zero budget? We'd have a more powerful engine, a bigger team, more expertise and work power, better content and assets, and much more.
So i'm going to ask here, if we opened crowdfunding for the 3D project, promising that if the funding is successful, the game is released for FREE to anyone, would you help us fund the game?
Right now i can see the need for more artists and some programmers. Perhaps we'd use professional music, sound effects and voice acting after a prototype proves we're doing it right.
while i have quite a bit to blog about, i haven't found the time or state of mind to do it. There are several good news though.
First, if you haven't played the Anniversry edition, it is now available.
But the best news are yet to come. New year, new game. Well, sort of.
Since the engine had a new release recently, we decided it was best to restart the game. Not only to take advantage of some great new features, but because our code was getting messy.
We spent the whole last year learning game design and the Open Surge Engine API, and guess what our crash course was? Yup, SD.
So for this fresh start we decided not only to invest more in documentation, but we also replanned and are actually rebuilding every subsystem from scratch.
Confirmed wip features:
Also we need a few more soldiers in our ranks:
Sound Effects Recorders (Real)
Artists (Digital and Concept)
and if you think you have a skill you'd like to use, let us know
As stated in our FB and Twitter feeds, there is a release scheduled for December 25th.
However, there is absolutely no Christmas material in it. there are a few reasons behind that:
We could probably dwell deeper for more reasons, but these ones are by far the most important.
Like we did not turn our back to Linux users, we won't turn our back to those who don't really like Christmas that much.
Also, for those who aren't so fond of 2D sandbox platformers, we made something special. Something that will appeal to the casual gamer as much as to the genre fans. It's something you can play through in a couple of hours, but is still challenging enough to get you hooked through that time.
Sorry, no spoilers!
Always on the lookout for partner projects, Team SD has become like a branch of something bigger: Team Fracture.
This bigger team is composed of people working on 3 different games, Fractured Reality, Mechanical Marathon, and of course, Shinobi Densetsu.
This is something truly amazing, because we can do a human resource exchange kind of thing, which means that we get to work on other games, as well as makers of the other games may get to work on ours.
So, what does this change in SD?
To start, as token of appreciation, we will start displaying the Team Fracture logo (when we have one).
We will have more potential working power
We now share te same forums in a new board. This was a good thing that came in a time we really needed. Our previous forums have been plagued by spammers, and since there was nothing too important, they have been removed. If you were registered, you will have to do it again.
and last but not least, we will, in due time, see a new engine powering our games. The Fracture Engine.
Confirmed features in plans include:
support for 8-10 buttons (opposed to 4, in the current engine)
Hardware rendering (very few people have less than a 32Mb gfx card, so it should render faster in a lower cpu as long as you have a supported card).
I don't know much more details, but only these two would allow us to scratch a few things off our wishlist, that probably wouldn't see daylight in the current engine. Think about real-time lighting effects, shaders, displaying and manipulating 3D objects...
I can't tell for sure if and when these features will be in, but this is very exciting!
After the last post a lot of people over the internet asked if we were abandoning the 2D version.
in 2 words:
Really, we never had the intention to abandon it. What happened was a period of time where nobody was available for development. While it is true that a 3D version came to an early prototype, there are some things that led us away from 3D.
One is the lack of Linux support in Unreal Engine, which would drive away all our Linux-using fans.
Second, 3D requires a lot of manpower which is not available in a short time. Sure, 2D also requires a lot of work, but mostly anyone who can use their painting apps is a possible help. No modelers, no lighting dudes, and most of all, no expensive apps or tricky setups of free ones to export "right".
There are times in which only one person is developing, at times like the one in the previous post, none. And very few can work in more than one area, and trust me, being McGyver ain't easy in 2D, imagine in 3D...
So, guys and gals, this Christmas (or whatever you call it, personally, it doesn't matter more than a regular holiday to me.), v0.4 will NOT be out. Excuse me for being so blunt, but it is still a bit far. What you get, though, is a heavily reviewed 0.3, setting the base for 0.4, in which we expect to have stuff like equipment ready, and yes, VISIBLE equipment. Badass swords or bulky tank armors will be yours to showoff.
not at all
I don't know how many people are awaiting v0.4, but i want to make something clear:
Even though development seems (and it is) halted, the project is not dead.
lunarrush is working with team Fracture in the meantime. They are prototyping a game with Open Surge Engine, which will see an early alpha released soon. Sorry, i can't detail more, even though i'm somewhat involved in the project, i won't leak. I'm not the person to do the announcements.
I am, on the other hand, learning UDK, head-on and full speed, which consumes all my free time at the moment. But it is for the good. In less than a month I was able to create an early prototype of what SD would be in 3D. I have not yet decided if the movement should be a totally free, or restricted to side-scrolling, or maybe blending both and do separate gameplay types or different levels.
Regarding the Open Surge version, I'd like to remind everyone: It is Open Source. You are free to modify the game however and how much you like. You can even use the scripted sub-engines (the RPG system and its modules) to create a new game. Nobody is going to knock your door with a C&D letter, as long as you don't use and distribute copyrighted content.
Regarding the 3D version, if you haven't seen it:
this is how it looked yesterday
for more, stay tuned to our Twitter and Facebook news. The blog remains, but only important news will be in it. All other development news should be found at our feeds.
We are about to compile all the level editor knowledge we have and release it to you. We can give you lots of good reasons to edit levels:
If you press F1 in the editor you'll get a help screen to learn how to control the editor. Have fun