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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...

April 16, 2017

Do you ever wonder what game developers are thinking about when they come up with the concepts for the characters, environments or mechanics?  One thing I’ve heard time and time again throughout my life is “Write what you know.”  This is a saying that doesn’t need to be taken literally, but rather as a generalization.  In my case, The Forbidden Arts is a representation of me.  It’s what I know, what I love and in many ways, what I’ve experienced.

When Shigeru Miaymoto created The Legend of Zelda series, a lot of the world he created was a representation of what he loved as a child, exploring the countryside of Japan.  J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, claims that the absence of any meaningful relationship with her father and the loss of her mother have been two of the most important influences on her writing.

The point is: stick to what you know and love.  When you create something without meaning, more than likely it will feel empty and dull.  When you have...

April 3, 2017

How the player navigates a game world is very important in game design.  The 90s are long gone, and so are the days of creating expansive game worlds where players must set out on foot with no way of speeding up their travel besides a horse or using a potion to increase run speed.  Open-World games have done a lot right when it comes to traveling within a game’s world.  I’m going to reference two modern masterpieces that really do a great job with traveling and exploration: The Witcher 3 and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.  Both games are fantastic and I highly recommend playing them for both entertainment and/or honing your craft of game development, whatever that may be.  Each game focuses heavily on exploration, but I feel one game does a little better of a job than the other: Breath of The Wild.  In both games, once the player discovers a new area, they will then learn what places of interest are available within that area.  In the case of Witcher, discovering road maps, c...

March 26, 2017

In a previous blog, I discussed my thought process of level design. We thought it would be fun to take an in-depth look at what goes into building a scene. This past week I have been documenting the process of creating a scene.  After viewing the 3d environment art our team had created, I was very excited to start working on the scene The Desert of Marzule.  I loved the aesthetics and knew this would be a fun scene to put together.

Each scene is broken up into several parts that we call sections.  By splitting the scene into sections, this allows us a lot more customization for each section, as we tend to focus on one small portion of the scene at a time.  Also, from a performance standpoint: this allows us to limit the amount of 3d assets rendered on screen at any given time.  There is never more than 3 sections visible while playing the game.  This greatly helps to improve performance on some machines.  When building a scene I can deactivate and activate sections to work on whate...

March 21, 2017

The Green Vale is a beautiful forest filled with magical beasts.  Early in development I envisioned this area to be the kingdom of Pyromancy, complete with a large castle and villages.  As the story evolved, the forest did too.  I started to populate it with standard creatures such as bears and wolves, and eventually introduced a stronger fantasy element by adding creatures such as Griffins, Druids, and Dark Elfs.  The Dark Elf race made an important footprint in the scene and magic has become a very important part of the environment.  The Forbidden Arts is not your typical action platformer in that there is a strong focus on story and character development.  With a good story comes quests, and the player will engage with many NPCs in the first few environments, offering social interaction and some very important character development early in the game.  There will be many beasts to tend to in the forest, but the Forbidden Arts isn’t just about fighting, running and jumping from level...

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