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: Prototypes
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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: Prototypes
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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: Prototypes
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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: Prototypes
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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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Hoist the Anchor!

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I’m already running out of piratisms for blog titles, but the Pirate RPG prototype got its first playtest this weekend. There’s 5 battles (1-2 hours), all kinds of ways to grows and equip the characters, and plenty of ideas for developing it into a full game. Players had fun, and I think it’d be a great single player/local co-op follow up to Hex Gambit: Respawned.

My favorite prototype enemy: Gullet (left & center) & his Fowl minions (right)

It’s a very ambitious game, though. Lots of art needs no matter how I slice it. Working alone, it’d take a few years. So I’m gonna explore some other ideas, give myself some options before I commit to a project.

I tackled HGR because I needed something ASAP, it was already halfway done (before I upped the scope a few times), and it felt like a mistake that I wanted to ‘correct’. The next project doesn’t come with any of that baggage.

I do have some interesting limitations going forward. Unless I can find a partner (like I have with HGR), online multiplayer is not a thing I want to do alone, and Steam is my only certain platform (there are other possibilities, but not certain ones).

I’ve also got a back catalog full of games that I’m trying not to touch. I have a million ideas for resurrecting Tilt to Live, Outwitters, and Space Food Truck, and plenty of good reasons not to go there. Least of which being that two of those were mobile games, which I don’t know the first thing about launching in 2022. Going backwards feels like a crutch right now.

My next prototype exploration will be a tabletop/card game, maybe a digital hybrid like Space Food Truck was. We’ll see where that takes me.

Categories: Prototypes
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Too Quiet

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Weird month! Two rough colds, a lot of bonus child care, some life changes to add anxiety. I was more than a little distractible. Most of that situational weirdness is behind me now, and I’m aiming to make up for lost time in February.

Hex Gambit: Respawned news! At last, I’ve seen a match with a server and a client connecting to play. A lot of the undercode™ is being reorganized by my publisher for online play, so that’s still a very cool strategy game coming later this year. Can’t wait for you guys to play it!

Prototyping! …This damned pirate hex RPG. I’ve pumped a LOT of time into this one. I think it could be very cool, but it’s also a huge project. There’s a few more enemy encounters to put together, and then I’ll have a playable thing that I can show to people. My next prototype will likely be much simpler, for my sanity.

I did get to play with some of my nephew’s sketches for pirate monsters, which was fun!

And hey, here’s some DnD characters I drew this month when I was feeling extra distractible. That’s my bard, Ziggy McJagger, plus a fire druid lady for a teammate.

Categories: Hex Gambit, Prototypes
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I Got Time

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Happy Thanksgiving, Americans!

First a quick Hex Gambit: Respawned update: I’m getting some firmer timetables from the publisher on the online multiplayer and console ports, and Summer 2022 is looking like a likely launch window. That’s a bit of a wait, but they’re adding a ton of value to the game and I’m excited to see it all come together. HGR will be a big frickin’ game.

So minus a month or so of UI work on Hex Gambit, I’ve got 6 months on my hands. What do I do with that? Short term, I want to get this pirate RPG prototype firmed up.

Pirate mechs!

I have a good idea what the playable game will look like, but there’s SO much setup to get an RPG ready to try. Items, accessories, buffs, debuffs, abilities, weapons, character growth, enemy encounters… can’t really play until all of that’s working.

This month I dressed up the UI a bit, added an item system (my only currently working item is an apple, but the system is ready to make pretty much anything), and added an equip menu for weapons and accessories that I’m pretty happy with. I’ve got the basics of buffing/debuffing in for the accessories, and a general idea of how I want to tie this all together.

I’ve also dabbled in some character and item art. This isn’t really a style I’ve decided on, I’m just blocking in shapes and concepts at this point.

Categories: Hex Gambit, Prototypes
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Digging for Treasure

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Hex Gambit: Respawned news: nothing much to report. My publisher Blowfish Studios’ team of devs are still hard at work porting HGR to its various launch platforms, squashing bugs and getting the basic online features up and running. Things will get more interesting on this front closer to the game’s release date (Q1 2022).

So I’m in a holding pattern, which gives me lots of time to think about what I might do next. It’s hard to answer that without knowing where Hex Gambit’s launch will go, but I’m not gonna sit around here doing nothing!

Doesn’t look like much yet. More concerned about how it plays atm.

My latest experiment is a piratey tactics RPG for 1-3 players, coop. I’ve been working on this one on and off since July, which is insane, because it’s still not playable (almost!). A prototype REALLY shouldn’t take this long to put together, but if it doesn’t work out I’m thinking I could rework it into something else easy enough.

Here’s what I’ve got:

  • Movement and targeting are in, thanks to the basic hex game starter project I made.
  • Six weapon types like cutlasses and flintlock pistols, each with a unique advantage/disadvantage.
  • Damage calculations feel good! Had to rework this a few times, so that defenses reduce attack damage in a way that makes sense. There are six types of elemental damage, which can be physical or magical.
  • Each character on your team is a blank slate. What you choose makes your characters better at using certain elements and weapons. I also want a random growth mode, if you want to challenge yourself to adapt your strats to the way the game grows your characters.
  • Lots of art. Pirates are fun.
Categories: Hex Gambit, Prototypes
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Ahoy!

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Hex Gambit: Respawned is largely in the capable hands of my publisher, Blowfish Studios at the moment. We’ve got some dummy menus in place for host/join game setup, and the servers are being integrated. So with that ball in their court, I’m continuing work on another prototype!

This one has a pirate theme, and it’s my first use of the Hex Bones project I built a while ago. The idea is something like a tactics Final Fantasy (I’ve never played Final Fantasy Tactics), with some simple character building and no random encounters or EXP. I’m probably gonna try 1-3 players co-op.

Figuring out how everything fits together for something like this is more complicated than I expected. I know how it’s traditionally done, but I’m trying to minimize some of the things I don’t think are very fun. Generally I’m not fond of having too many armor and accessory slots, or armors that are 1% better than each other, or random encounters, or finding a dominant 9999 strategy that I use every turn.

It’s giving me headaches some days. I don’t think I’ve ever built a combat system this complicated, but it’s starting to come together. And hey, ghost shrimp!

Categories: Prototypes
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