Year of More Patience

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Before I write these New Years Posts, I like to peek back at the previous year to see I where my head was at. Man, oh man.

This time last year, I thought Hex Gambit: Respawned was coming Summer 2022, and I thought THAT was going to be an awful long wait. I was half right, because it HGR is now coming in 2023 and it has been. A. Long. Wait.

I don’t mean that porting HGR and adding the multiplayer is taking too long. That’s a complicated process, and it’s taking as long as you’d reasonably expect. But launching games and knowing that people are playing them is important for a game developer’s self esteem, and I haven’t had that since Space Food Truck launched in 2016. That’s six years of drought.

That aside, I’d say I had a productive year.

  • I designed and implemented a bunch of multiplayer stat tracking and UI stuff for HGR.
  • I finished a Pirate Tactics prototype with tons of complicated RPG elements.
  • I have a about a six month head start on a solid Food Truck follow-up game.

So it looks like next year will be “the year I become a real game developer again” – one with a big game made recently for sale on a store. No matter how that launch goes, it’s gonna feel really good to have something out and finished.

I think that going forward, it would be nice to launch something every 2-3 years, so you and I don’t have to endure another long dry spell like this.

Thanks for checking in, and best of luck chasing your dreams in 2023!

Categories: New Years Posts
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Making Games, Yo

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Call it the holiday funk, but time got away from me this month! Apologies for the late post, and for the late post’s very lazy title.

First, a quick Hex Gambit: Respawned update. I’ve gotten word from my publisher that the project will be pushed into early 2023, which is not totally unexpected. Progress is steadily marching toward submission, so it looks like OML will finally launch a new game Q1 of next year. It’s probably our biggest game with lots to do though, so worth the wait!

And a Food Truck Redux update: The game now has 4 scenarios that steadily introduce the new crew, with the final scenario being this game’s version of Space Food Truck. It’s super fun, with better replay value thanks to a new scoring system. It’s also easy for me to add more scenarios later, which I plan to.

I’m switching gears a bit this month from implementing mechanics and features to getting things looking pretty, so I have something decent to show.

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Hands On

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After months of procrastinating by adding more features and content, at last I have actually played the Food Truck prototype… and it is really good!

The character abilities are no longer specific cards, so playing a Job card now opens a menu with lots of things that you can do. Each session is a work day, and you craft and deliver as many recipes as possible for a score. Deliver a meal in one town, and a craving for it will pop up again somewhere else on the map. There’s a lot more cooking in this one.

It’s interesting how this is being built vs. Hex Gambit: Respawned (release date still TBA, but it’s closing in!).

HGR was a definite, green lit project. I had all of the character artwork from the start, and I wasn’t positive how much runway I had or what I was even capable of. So I’d work with a very limited scope and polish it up to shippable. First it was a one map, local multiplayer game. Then something good would happen like the MegaGrant or the publisher, so I’d scope up a little and finish it again. I added more maps, then AI, then campaign, then menus for online. But it was a shippable-looking game very early on.

This Food Truck prototype on the other hand, I want to be able to play as much as possible before committing, and I have no pre-existing artwork. I’ve been leaning HEAVY on the programming side so far, and there’s a few more features I still want to fill in before I start making things look good. I have some concept art, but the game itself is mostly grey boxes and spheres and text at the moment.

So Dev Phase 1 feels like the “get all the ideas in and working” phase. That’s almost finished, and Phase 2 will be “make it pretty.” Hopefully I’m not kicking myself later for implementing so much content before dressing anything up. Phase 3 will be pitch it to publishers and get a roadmap to launch.

So is Food Truck 2 my next project? I think so, it’s definitely fun and worth finishing. My only hesitation is if Hex Gambit finds a large enough audience, I might have to recalculate.

Categories: Food Truck Returns
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New Truck, Who Dis?

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I think this was something like month three or four of the Food Truck prototype? I feel pretty committed to finishing this one, but I’m having a hard time officially calling it my next project before seeing what Hex Gambit does.

Anywho! A tutorial scenario with just the Captain and Chef characters is playable. Events, Arrivals, new Revisit cards, even hints are all in the game and working. The reimagined Scientist and Engineer classes are working as of today, too.

One cool new feature for those of you that played Space Food Truck: the map hints have types now instead of giving you the event name. Good thing, bad thing, mega bad thing, ingredient. Your map will tell you how many of each are out there at any given time. So the arrival memorization that helped you in SFT isn’t needed anymore.

Lots of quality of life improvements like that are being implemented, as well as making it easy for myself to add new cards and scenarios.

I’m a little nervous to playtest this in earnest, since I’ve put so much time into it. I’ve been putting that off to add more features, which is a silly thing I do.

Categories: Food Truck Returns
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On to the Next Thing

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Hex Gambit: Respawned is complete on my end, being translated and certified for console/PC/Mac release. The release date will be announced here as soon as we have it!

That process can take a while, so it was with zero closure or certainty that I went back to work on my Food Truck prototype this month. It’s extremely weird to finish a two year project and be sitting here with no idea how it went over, starting another one.

This new Food Truck game is looking like a strong candidate for the next project, though!

The base gameplay is similar to SFT, but built for one player this time around, meaning just one deck to manage. I’m also excited about the idea of “scenarios”, like multiple levels to play with different menu types and arrival/shop decks. The replacement I have in mind for the old SFT crisis system is also very cool, excited to show that off later.

Categories: Food Truck Returns
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Now We Wait

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It’s been a somewhat momentous month in the lengthy saga of Hex Gambit: Respawned.

If you don’t recall, last April I turned in the original “final version” of HGR to my publisher. They spent the last year or so reshaping that into an online game, and in the process a whole lot of stuff broke (because the game wasn’t built with online in mind).

Since May I’ve been cataloging and fixing everything that wasn’t working like it used to, adding some menus, and now finally the game is back in that shipping candidate state, but with online multiplayer!

Pencils are now up, and we’re starting the certification processes for all the consoles. I imagine it will be months before we have a release date, and I’d guess the game will launch sometime in the first half of next year.

That puts me back into “kinda sorta finished, but the game isn’t out” limbo. I’ll be getting reacquainted with the food truck prototype next.

Categories: Hex Gambit
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Home Stretch

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Been picking away at my remaining to do’s for Hex Gambit: Respawned this month. Progress report time!

There are some minor crossplay-related menus to polish up and bugs to look into on my end. It’s nice to have a short to-do list for a change. We’re starting the process of localizing all the text into different languages, and QA testing is ramping up.

This is sort of a tidying up phase of development, not a lot of cool new stuff to show off. The launch window feels like it’s shifted back a bit, I’d guess late this year or early 2023. You can bet I’ll be shouting from the mountaintops when a release date is locked in!

Check back here for monthly updates.

Categories: Hex Gambit
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Whiplash

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My Food Truck prototype was thiiiis close to playable when, wouldn’t you know it, Hex Gambit: Respawned came back knocking. Also I took a little vacation time and got COVID.

I’d been on standby for a long while, waiting for my publisher’s programming crew to get the online multiplayer ready. This month I’ve finally got the green light to add our missing online multiplayer menus and wrap my side of things up.

Unfortunately some of the features I mentioned previously had to be cut for the sake of time, so no online tournaments or skill-based matchmaking at launch. I have added some neat stat tracking to keep things interesting, though. Here’s the state of things:

  • EXP is granted for wins only. As you level up, your title and badge will gain prestige. Win streaks add bonus EXP, so skilled players level up more quickly.
  • Best win streak, most wins in a month, and lifetime wins are recorded.
  • The captain you’ve used most frequently in the past 11 matches is recorded as your favorite captain.
  • Playing local multiplayer or online now grants medallion rewards, which unlock captains and multiplayer levels. So you can unlock all of the game’s content playing whatever mode you like!

I’ve got a few more animations and polish items to take care of, then my work on HGR should be wrapped up next month. No solid release date for the game yet, but late this year or early next seems likely. Keep an eye on this blog for updates!

Categories: Hex Gambit
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Hunger Games

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Hearing progress on the Hex Gambit: Respawned front, some online builds are being tested, but no release date yet. Keep an eye on this channel for updates. Eventually I’ll dive back in to polish up the online multiplayer menus, then my HGR work is truly done.

This month has been dedicated to the Food Truck prototype! I’m liking it as a project because it’s pretty scalable, meaning I could go crazy with all kinds of scenarios and maps, or aim for a single procedural map like Space Food Truck. Or both!

Currently I’ve got cooking working, which is pretty different already from SFT. You can work on all of your recipes at the same time, and I’ve been putting together combinations of ingredients that make more sense. With dairy and grain, you make a bagel with cream cheese. Two meats = meatcakes. I’m also thinking you’ll earn money for completed recipes, and be able to cook and deliver several “#1’s” to build up a highscore.

Traveling around the map as Captain is just about ready. Next I think I’ll make a tutorial scenario with just the Chef and Captain cooking up some simple recipes. Then I’ll add complexity from there.

Categories: Food Truck Returns
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Return of the Food Truck?

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While thinking about digital tabletop games along the lines of Space Food Truck, I arrived at something interesting.

SFT was designed for coop, but I found a lot of people were playing it as a single player game anyway. It’s a complicated way to play, having four different decks to build and keep track of, but people still enjoyed it. That got me wondering, what would Space Food Truck look like if it were actually built for single player?

In sketching out the rules for that, I hit one of those juicy idea geysers. “I could tweak this, ditch that, skin it like this…” And before long I had a doable, interesting game idea in the wildly popular deckbuilding food truck simulator genre.

So I’m prototyping that right now! Here’s some of the key differences I’m from SFT that I’m aiming for:

  • New theme, not a direct SFT sequel.
  • More focus on recipe crafting. Removing the limit on how many you can cook and deliver in a session.
  • Recipes that feel more real. Meat plus bun equals burger, for example.
  • Less turns where you can’t do anything, and more flexibility in which crew member’s job can be done when.
  • Experimenting with removing movement, doors, and crises altogether. I want to swap those for a different challenge that’s less frustrating.

So that’s where I’m at! Will this be my next project? Too soon to say, but it does feel like a strong candidate. Check back next month to see how it’s going!

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