July 27, 2019

Early Access is a program on Steam designed for players to jump in and start playing games while they are still in development. The goal of the program is for players to provide valuable feedback to improve the game and make for a more polished, complete experience. But is Early Access right for just any game? This article is a reflection of my experience and opinions and may help offer some insight to other developers looking to enter the program.

My experience with Early Access begins a couple years ago, midway through The Forbidden Arts’ development cycle. I began to think about ways I could improve the game through various types of player feedback. After a bit of research, and back and forth in my head, I decided to try out the Early Access program on Steam. I went in completely blind and oblivious to how the system worked. I’d never purchased an Early Access game in my life, let alone browsed the Early Access category on Steam. I knew literally nothing other than the program seemed...

December 29, 2017

Recently we entered our game, The Forbidden Arts, into the Windows Dream Build Play contest. One of the requirements for entry was to build and publish the game on the Windows UWP platform, although it isn't required to be live in the store. We didn't have the smoothest ride, but we did make it to the end of the road. I'm writing this Blog to help other developers who might be struggling to port your Unity game to Windows UWP. At the time of writing, we were using Unity 2017.2.1 and Visual Studio 2017.

First let's begin in Unity. Most of The Forbidden Arts' code is compatible with Windows UWP, but there are some parts of .NET that are not. Be prepared to change some of your code. For example, System.Reflection is not supported in UWP development. We had to rewrite any code which used System.Reflection, but it wasn't the biggest deal. Just take note you will likely encounter errors with your game and have to fix them before proceeding to port the game. This of course, depe...

November 18, 2017

The title says it all. Zelda has Hyrule, Mario has the Mushroom Kingdom, Elder Scrolls has Tamriel and so on. We need a name for the world the game takes place in. We are asking for suggestions from anyone and everyone. If we choose your suggestion we will give you a $50 gift card to Steam, or simply $50 via Paypal. We will make an announcement on Facebook/Twitter with the winner when and if one is chosen. Please email info@stingbotgames.com, or if you follow us on Twitter or Facebook you can simply reply with your suggestions.

Thanks for being a part of our development process. We look forward to hearing your suggestions!

August 31, 2017

Music can really strengthen a game and make you fall in love with it. Mario 64 would have been a very different experience for me if it wasn't for the beautiful melody that is Dire Dire Docks. I remember swimming around collecting red coins just to listen to the music on repeat. Or how about the original Mario on NES? Remember the first time you entered level 1.2? Such a simple theme and so classic. Makes me happy just thinking about it. Music can play with our emotions and make us feel things we didn't know we could feel. It does truly have a profound effect on us.

Game development is actually something a bit newer to me in my life. I actually have the most experience in writing, recording and playing music. I started playing piano at the age of 7 and guitar at 15, which then led to singing, playing bass and drums as well. I played in a band for 8 years in my late teens to mid 20s, toured some of the world and I've released 3 albums and several E.P.s. I have and will always love music....

August 19, 2017

This past summer has proven to be quite a busy one. We are very happy to announce a demo of The Forbidden Arts has been completed and we recorded a video showing some in-game footage which can be seen here: 

We explore the basics of the game mechanics, story, exploration, collectibles and challenges available. Aside from finishing a demo we have integrated hundreds of voiceovers and sound effects, and lots of music. We have built more than 50% of the game world to date and about 70% of the game is fully programmed. We are very pleased with the progress we have made and the game is playing smoothly. It's been a long road but we can see a light at the end of the tunnel and can't wait to meet you there. 

July 9, 2017

As an indie game developer it’s very difficult to juggle time between development and marketing, so I decided not to spread myself too thin. I wanted to focus on just a few social networks to promote our upcoming game, The Forbidden Arts. I decided on Facebook, Twitter and Youtube.  With nearly 2 billion users, Facebook was a prime choice and should be a no brainer for anyone wanting to promote their business or services on a social network.

Once I got started with Facebook and began to build a following for the game I realized how expensive Facebook promotions actually are. This isn’t meant to be a deterrent from using Facebook. Quite the opposite. I value Facebook quite a bit and we intend to use it as one of our main sources of marketing in the future. This blog is intended to shed some light on our experiences with such costs, and how we run effective campaigns.

I decided to run a test for this Blog. I posted a promotional image to the Forbidden Arts Facebook page.

Before I ran this c...

May 21, 2017

Today I’m going to discuss exploring the World Map of the game. In a previous Blog I mentioned how much fun it was to explore the castle of Super Mario 64 when I was a kid.  From extra stars to collect and challenges to complete, the World Map was a blast to explore.

I wanted to change up the feel of The Forbidden Arts a little bit when you are on the world map.  The actual levels are played in 2d side scrolling mode within a 3d world, but on the world map the movement is full 3d as shown in the GIF below.

I revised the system to feel a bit more open and offer a greater sense of freedom.  My goal is to capture that Super Mario 64 feel of exploration while on the World Map.  There are 3d platforming areas, unique challenges, and more collectibles.  The world map is not just a way to get from level to level.  In The Forbidden Arts, the world map is an adventure all its own. 

I like splitting the control style between 2d and 3d.  Although the main emphasis is 2d and I abs...

May 13, 2017

The past 2 weeks have been quite a ride.  The beginning of May marks allergy season.  There’s nothing like waking up at 4am with my eyes crusted together and having to literally pry them apart.  What’s even better is when I was driving to dinner and I ran out of tissues and napkins so I had a dedicated sweatshirt to soak up all my snot as I sneezed up a storm.  Fun times!  But in the midst of all this allergen madness I have been working hard on creating the first video trailer for The Forbidden Arts. 

The idea for the trailer has been simple: to capture the essence of the game within a couple minutes.  I worked with my Cousin Spencer on this video as he’s a talented videographer and director.  All it took was buying him a Nintendo Switch and a little cash.  Good deal, thanks bud.  He helped me map out the storyboard for the trailer and directed it for the most part.  I had a clear vision of what I wanted: to capture the environments, characters, themes and demo...

May 7, 2017

Collectibles are great!  From hoarding in-game currency, to obtaining precious weapons, armor, treasure or artifacts, collectibles can offer players a sense of accomplishment, pride, and achievement.  The Forbidden Arts does not shy away from offering players a chance to collect an assortment of items. 

There are various types of collectibles in the Forbidden Arts.  Some are mere quest items, and others are important artifacts that can be used to unlock unique content, special environments or offer items to increase your power. 

A couple things players will notice is lots of gold scattered throughout the game and the Overworld contains several mysterious towers.  The catch is that these towers are deconstructed, but if you collect enough gold you can rebuild the towers.  Once a tower is rebuilt you can enter it to face a unique challenge that will yield you a great reward.  No spoilers here, but we are very excited about this.  I spent most of the past week working on the...

May 1, 2017

This past week has been quite a ride and it’s been hard to keep up with things.  Being a small studio is quite challenging when developing an ambitious game.  You often find yourself wearing multiple hats to get the job done.  This past week I have been working on developing a narrative with my cousin for a video trailer for The Forbidden Arts, writing and recording the music for the trailer, writing code for the game, managing my artists across sea and providing them with feedback on a daily basis, approving level design and guiding Marcy, and continuing to support our social media sites for the game.  I’ll be moving soon, so I also had to go out and buy loads of new furniture and amid all of this I did manage to find a few moments to myself where I could venture out into Hyrule on my switch and enjoy the Breath of the Wild.  The best advice I can give to anyone wanting to get started in the game industry is to just take everything one step at a time.  You will often find yourself wea...

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