The Arena: Early Construction

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Click to Enlarge.

So we’ve got our plan laid out for the year, and the pace is going to be pretty grueling considering how new we are to Unreal and 3d games in general. January is my month for blocking in most of the game’s arena environment, finishing up our first character’s animations, and working out all of the UI. Thankfully, I had a head start on a lot of this artwork at the end of last year. Hopefully by February I’ll be free to focus on the meat of the project: character art!

The shot above is a peek at the current state of our untextured arena. It’s going to look miles better once the details and lighting get finalized!

I should probably take a second to explain what a Hex Gambit is. In a world called Agon, the Hex Gambit is a wildly popular arena sport where contenders engage in live “battle chess”. Each player assumes command of a squad of expendable tin soldiers. Whether you win or lose, your performance will influence a larger metagame, which we’ll show off later in development.

Want to know more about our upcoming turn-based strategy game, Hex Gambit? Stick around! We’ll be posting lots of artwork and details here weekly. If you haven’t already, be sure to sign up for our mailing list to get email reminders when we hit big milestones, like the launch of our Kickstarter, Early Access/beta, and the official release.

Categories: Hex Gambit

Outwitters Race Refresh

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While we thought about how our followup to Outwitters would play, I also took some time to work on how it might look. Very early on when a straight-up sequel was being considered, I explored some fresh looks for the old races.

The Dystopian Adorables: If we decided to bring the Adorables back for another round, I thought it might be fun to “Mad Max” them up a little.

ow_dystopianadorables

I also experimented a little with new takes on some old Feedback and Veggienaut designs:

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ow_veggienautsreimagine

Since Hex Gambit isn’t a true Outwitters sequel, these characters are staying in my sketchbook for now. When we decided to explore themes outside of Outwitters, that opened up all kinds of possibilities for what characters could look like. I’ll have some real designs from HG to post very soon.

Want to know more about our upcoming turn-based strategy game, Hex Gambit? Stick around! We’ll be posting lots of artwork and details here weekly. If you haven’t already, be sure to sign up for our mailing list to get email reminders when we hit big milestones, like the launch of our Kickstarter, Early Access/beta, and the official release.

Year of the Hex

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The consensus around the internet seems to be that 2016 was bit of a turd. But every turd has a silver lining, depending on your diet.

We were extremely nervous about the launch of our first PC game, but the results we’ve seen from Space Food Truck have been super encouraging. We owe a huge thank you to everyone who supported us this year by picking up a copy. You’re the reason that our sixth game is coming in 2017! It took a bit longer than we wanted to get SFT’s tablet port out the door, but we made good use of that down time learning Unreal Engine and Blender to make our next game in 3d.

What’s Ahead?

HexGambitLogo

If all goes according to plan, you’ll be playing Hex Gambit, the spiritual successor to Outwitters, by the end of 2017! This new turn-based strategy game takes everything we learned making Outwitters and improves on it. It’s fast-paced and easy to learn, with loads of depth and tons of tactics to try out. Also, it’s really pretty.

A Kickstarter is coming around the middle of the year with some cool pre-order-style goodies, and you can keep appraised of that situation by joining our mailing list. If you want to support the development of Hex Gambit right now, you can do that by buying any game or soundtrack we sell! All the money coming in from our other games goes straight into music, sound effects, and mortgage payments for the next one.

We wish you all the best of luck with your own hopes and dreams for 2017, and thanks for sticking with us for our SIXTH year as full-time game designers. We wouldn’t still be here making new games without your continued support. Happy New Year from One Man Left!

Conceptualizing: Part 3

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The search for a worthy successor to Outwitters continued, and the Ow: Skirmish prototype evolved into Ow: Skirmish 2, where we experimented with a fresh take on the minions’ role.

skirmish2-gameboard

In Skirmish 2 you still selected 2 heroes, but now their moves were set in stone rather than being customizable. This gave players less reading to do up-front and made it easier for us to make more characters.

The minions were totally overhauled, and they were no longer tied to specific heroes. You could pick any 3 minions you wanted to bring with you: 2 runners and a soldier; 3 soldiers; a soldier, a heavy, and a runner. They were designed to work interchangeably.

On top of that, minions were immortal. When your minion was defeated, your opponent would choose a checker space to respawn them on, and their max HP was reduced by one. So as the game went on, you had to rely more and more on your heroes to get things done.

The goal for victory was the same: Defeat both enemy heroes or control all four flag spaces to win. So much havoc was going on with this prototype that the Victory Points from Skirmish 1 weren’t really necessary to keep the game lengths in check.

oweastereggThere was really nothing wrong with this one. It was fun, it was frantic, and it met pretty much all of our goals for a worthy successor to Outwitters. It was actually a contender to be developed instead of Space Food Truck, but for scheduling and financial reasons we thought SFT was a better project for that time. This is back when we thought SFT was a 6 month project, lol.

So after a few months away making Space Food Truck, we came back with a fresh perspective and sort of blew the whole thing up. We remixed the pieces we liked from every Outwitters prototype we’d done, then we added some fresh ideas on top.

The resulting prototype is Game 6. It’s kind of like this one, but not really. The core idea was: what if instead of weakening as the match went on, your characters got stronger? For my money, it’s the best of the many PvP strategy prototypes we’ve done. It’ll also be our first 3d game!

Want to know more about our upcoming Outwitters follow-up? Stick around! We’ll be posting lots of artwork and details here weekly. If you haven’t already, be sure to sign up for our mailing list to get email reminders when we hit big milestones, like the launch of our Kickstarter, Early Access/beta, and the official release.

Categories: Bonus Features, Hex Gambit

Skirmish Sketches

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I got pretty enthusiastic about the Outwitters: Skirmish prototype and did some sketching on the subject.

The six hero characters each represented a different Outwitters race: Tronk for the Veggienauts, Overclock for the Feedback, etc. Festress was sort of her own thing from a race of muties I was calling the Abhorables (sort of an anti-Adorables). The bottom row of the top image are minions that went with each hero.

Only one of these characters still exists in the current version of our sixth game, which isn’t set in the Outwitters universe.

Click to enlarge.

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owskirmish_festress

I also played around with an art style for the game, which you might remember from a previous blog post.

OWSkirmish

Want to know more about our upcoming Outwitters follow-up? Stick around! We’ll be posting lots of artwork and details here weekly. If you haven’t already, be sure to sign up for our mailing list to get email reminders when we hit big milestones, like the launch of our Kickstarter, Early Access/beta, and the official release.

Categories: Bonus Features, Hex Gambit

Conceptualizing: Part 2

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From our earlier CQC prototype (along with a few others that didn’t quite pan out), we arrived at something we were calling at the time Outwitters: Skirmish. It was “Outwitters” in name only; there were no races, no bases, and no fog of war.

skirmish1-gameboard

In Skirmish you chose 3 heroes, and each hero had its own minion class (the little guys with the numbers). You’d win the match by owning all 4 flags, defeating all the enemy heroes, OR by earning enough Victory Points. VP was a way to keep matches from dragging on too long; you got them from taking over flags or defeating enemies.

A lot of these ideas are still present in Game 6 in one form or another, but a lot has changed.

The biggest cut feature from Skirmish was character customization. Each of these heroes had something like 5 special moves to choose from, but you could only equip 3 moves for a battle. So we might both pick the Scallywag Captain, but we could still be using him in different ways.

This was very cool for variety, but it took a lot of reading and comparing to choose from all those moves (choose 3 characters, now choose 3 moves each). It didn’t help that the moves were also fairly complicated and interacted in all sorts of weird ways. They involved things like status effects and passive attributes that basically went full RPG.

Overall it was a lot less approachable than Outwitters and a lot harder to teach, which is not what we’re going for. Our goal for Game 6 is something as elegant as Outwitters, but with more flexibility and surprises in the way characters can be used.

Here’s a look at a few of the game pieces we had for the myriad status effects and traps in Skirmish:

skirmish1-gamepieces

From this prototype we learned that customization was cool, but we had to keep complexity in check.

Want to know more? Stick around! We’ll be posting lots of artwork and details here weekly. If you haven’t already, be sure to sign up for our mailing list to get email reminders when we hit big milestones for our followup to Outwitters, like the launch of our Kickstarter, Early Access/beta, and the official release.

Categories: Bonus Features, Hex Gambit

Conceptualizing: Part 1

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The road to Game 6 started with some pretty simple questions. What do we like about Outwitters, and what could we have done a better job with? As game designers, we explored these questions with lots and lots of prototypes. Some of them never got passed the “idea” phase to a playable state, like this abandoned “gameboard” file I found while digging through our old stuff. I think I was in the middle of figuring out what size everything needed to be on a phone screen.

abandonedprototype

We explored all kinds of stuff. Should moving a piece really cost you a wit? What about square spaces instead of hexes? What if you could push people into pits? Does that kill them? How can we make teams more unique from each other without adding a ton of production time to new races?

cqc-gameboard

This is one of our more “out there” prototypes; what we’re working on now is a lot closer to the classic Outwitters map setup. I throw these gameboards together in Adobe Illustrator (much faster than having Alex actually code them), create a quick and dirty PDF manual, and we copy/paste game pieces around the board to play.

I called this prototype “CQC” because we were experimenting with very small boards. Positioning your units was important, but it wasn’t as crucial as how you played your character’s abilities.

Only red team could move on the red spaces, and only blue team could move on blue. The three brown spaces in the middle could be used by anyone. Your general, the mustachioed guy, could only jump between the 3 dark spaces, and you lost if he was defeated. Each player had a deck of cards with troops you could spawn and crystals to trigger their special moves. As you can see we had lots of different minions, and you could choose which ones you wanted to add to your deck.

The card deck portion felt too random for an Outwitters follow-up, and the board size was pretty stifling. But the idea of having a general, like a living Outwitters base that could fight back, was one that we decided to explore further…

Want to know more? Stick around! We’ll be posting lots of artwork and details here weekly. If you haven’t already, be sure to sign up for our mailing list to get email reminders when we hit big milestones for our followup to Outwitters, like the launch of our Kickstarter, Early Access/beta, and the official release.

Categories: Bonus Features, Hex Gambit

The Evolution of Outwitters

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So explaining this new game, you probably noticed we’ve been carefully dancing around the phrase “Outwitters 2″. Don’t freak out. Keep reading.

There was a temptation to call whatever PvP strategy game we ended up with an Outwitters sequel. The new game has hexes, it’s turn-based PvP combat, it’s got a carefully thought-out league system. It even has runners, soldiers, and snipers. I think anyone who enjoyed Outwitters is going to love this game, but so many of the rules have changed that it feels misleading for us to just slap “Outwitters” on it. I prefer to think of it as an evolution of Outwitters, like a spiritual successor.

What are these changes, you nervously ask? “Destroy the enemy base” is no longer your goal; you’ll have a more flexible path to victory. There are lots of differences between teams, not just one super-expensive unit. You can start exchanging blows on turn 3, and the action escalates as a match goes on, so you won’t be seeing 100 turn games. We were even able to remove fog of war without killing the element of surprise, because minions now have several abilities and are a lot less predictable.

Want to know more? Stick around! We’ll be posting lots of artwork and details here weekly. If you haven’t already, be sure to sign up for our mailing list to get email reminders when we hit big milestones, like the launch of our Kickstarter, Early Access/beta, and the official release.

Categories: Hex Gambit

What Now?

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Space Food Truck is complete. We have a lot of features, expansions and gametype ideas we could still add to it (maybe we’ll post some of that later), but there was another project being tossed around that we’ve really been itching to green light.

In 2012 we made our first strategy game called Outwitters, and ever since moving on from that game we’ve had a pet obsession. When I looked through our “Outwitters 2: Think Again” folder just now (that was a working title), I counted 9 hex-based, PvP strategy prototypes we’ve tinkered with. Some were a lot like Outwitters, and some were barely recognizable. Finally, after 4+ years on and off experimenting, we’ve got it. A worthy successor. And that’s what we’re working on full time, starting next week.

In about a year, we hope to have it ready for launch. There will be a Kickstarter, and we will need your help! If you haven’t signed up for the mailing list yet, definitely do to keep up with our progress. And you can also check back here weekly to peek over our shoulders while we work.

Categories: Hex Gambit, News, Outwitters