Monday Game Dev: Our Plans for 2015 & Your Feedback

We hope you had a wonderful Christmas and have enough energy saved up for some New Years celebrations this week? You do. Excellent! Unfortunately we are skipping New Years at Oointah and will save our celebrations for when Plunder/p is a success.

As development is now on a linear path of content building and balancing, our focus is shifting from problem solving to marketing. From New Year we want to really try and get Plunder/p out and about, leading into a Kickstarter campaign that has a floating date of “sometime around February”.

Our first requirement is to ensure our game has a build that can be played at a HD resolution so we can capture “real” footage and screenshots. We highlight real because we want to show the game for what it is, and how it grows rather than how we hope it looks – which is something done far too regularly in our opinion.

We have already started releasing some content on the website in the shape of blogs, imagery and early screenshots. From the New Year we want to add development diaries, teaser trailers and possibly a podcast. With new content almost daily we will push hard on social networks to encourage followers and hopefully get your feedback – as that is VITAL for Plunder/p’s path forwards.

We hope you join us on our adventure forwards. Thank you for reading and have a Happy New Year!  

Our feedback is set to 11.

Our feedback is set to 11.

Plunder/p Defense Building: The Cannon Mess

You’ve probably never heard of Steve Cannon, our favorite radio personality of all-time. He’s the inspiration for The Cannon Mess, a new defensive structure in Plunder/p coming in the Spring of 2015 for PC/Mac computers. Steve has passed on, yet during the 70’s, 80’s, and the 90’s he did an afternoon drive show in Minneapolis/St. Paul at WCCO Radio. No guests, no callers, just him and his cast of voices including Ma Linger, Backlash Larue, and Morgan Mundane. In our minds anyone that features barking dogs, AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell,” and closes each show with “I Got The Money” – well, that’s our kind of inspiration.

In the game, the Cannon Mess is a kill switch which attacks and fries any aerial enemies. It’s origins come from a point where drone deliveries were more likely to kill than deliver, some clever chap built a huge shotgun and told their once loyal droid servant to scout the skies for incoming drones.  Those days of watching the skies are gone but these shotgun towers still have many uses.

The Fearless Prognostication is for a 'Droid poundin'!

Monday Game Dev: Think Pac-Man, Resogun or Gold Miner

This is our last day of development before Christmas and it feels good to finally have a build that feels like a game. There is something entertaining about speed-running-destruction with what plays like an RTS in an arcade games clothing. When playing you get this Whack-a-Mole vibe, yet one where accuracy is swapped with strategy. Just considering a multiplayer “King of the Hill” style game mode in this is pretty cool!

So what next? Content building. When we moved from being a sandbox we lost the luxury of giving the player a blank canvas. We now need content for the player to WIN in. As a big fan of arcade style games we prefer quick-play over lengthy linear experiences. Think Pac-Man, Resogun or Gold Miner.

So how does a sandbox fit into a quick-play arcade game? In Plunder/p your buildings are key. The more you have, the more you can mitigate an enemies attack or dominate an enemy base. In normal mode you always have access to these buildings through proximity, you can manage positions and re-think defenses on-the-fly. In ultra mode we take that luxury away by giving the player an entire planet to manage.

Plunder/p doesn’t tell the player how to win, it just gives you the tools and the arcade milestones to beat.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from Oointah.  

resogun

“I’m gonna take you down – down, down, down. So don’t you fool around. I’m gonna – pull it, pull it – pull the trigger.”

Meet NS Bowers from Plunder/p

To properly describe the star of our show – N.S. Bowers – would be to say he’s got the agility of Tommy Boy, the savvy-intuition of Uncle Buck, and the quick-wit of… Peter Gibbons. No wait, Peter Dinklage. No, that’s not right. Peter Griffin? Either way, he’s all peter!

NS is ready to rock Plunder/p and win big. He may be working on a his 3rd heart attack and have the fashion sense of Beatrix Kiddo The Bride, yet NS is a good guy trying to do what’s right for his family and humanity. Plus, if he wins big there’s promise of a lifetime of free Fuddruckers.

Recently we caught up with N.S. Bowers and asked him what the N and S stand for him in name. With a glazed look, he responded with, “Not Sure.” Clearly he’s leery of the media and he was being coy, yet we’ll continue to ask and sneak around to find out what NS really means.

Turns out his eyes weren't bigger than his stomach!

 

Oointah Rant: That’s Not An Indie Game

I love games, I really do, but one thing that grits my teeth is discoverability. In previous years this was less of an issue as us little guys still had the term “Indie” to rely upon. Sadly, now everyone uses the term indie – even when the game costs $5,000,000. It might be a good buzz word to use in marketing but games that have large professional teams cannot be considered indie, surely?

My frustration at this is that the moment you are paying professional rates you aren’t making an indie game. Retro art does not equal indie!  Indie development is the raw side of the industry, not a buzz-word used in a $500,000 marketing plan. It is simple economics, if a company spends $1,000,000 on game development, it must have a target audience, it must have a proof of concept, it must have a marketing plan. THIS IS PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT!!!! Not indie.

The problem now is that every company able to put together a professional team is saturating the market masking true indie games. Just look at mobile gaming! For every success story, you have 10,000 failures; and as someone who looks through most games – some of those 10,000 are miles better than the ones which are a success, why? Marketing power. When success is down to paid installs or market saturation how can real indies compete in this pay-to-win market? And yes, the $5 – $20 game market is now being dominated by companies just like the mobile market was.

We need to protect true indie developers, those who develop in their spare time, those who create to express themselves. Without the indie scene the current gaming ecosystem would be flat. For every No Man’s Sky, there are 30 indie games getting no coverage, withering and dying.

I believe no game should be able to call themselves “Indie” if it cost above $400,000 (including development and marketing). Do you think there should be new categories of games that fall between Indie and AAA? Or is it just me?

Duane Beckett is the lead designer of Plunder/p for Oointah

No Man's Sky by Hello Games

No Man’s Sky by Hello Games

Meet Odee from Plunder/p

At the end of Martin Scorsese’s brilliant “The Aviator,” Howard Hughes played by Leonardo DiCaprio gets stuck on the line… “The way of the future.” We’re pretty sure Mr. Hughes wasn’t talking about this droid in Plunder/p, coming the Spring of 2015 for PC/Mac gamers.

Odee is the caffeine fueled roadrunner of droids.  No brains, no brawn but a very volatile combination of energy drinks and mentos.

When on the front line Odee gives speed to its droid cohorts but never lasts long enough to see the victory as it always drives into the first enemy and explodes.

Show me all the blueprints, Odee!

Show me all the blueprints, Odee!

Monday Game Dev: Stuck in the Plunder/p Queue

Another week, another challenge to overcome.  Who would have thought the idea of adding a “queue” to a spawning system could pose so many variables?  It all started one afternoon, what began as a simple system grew into a multi-wave overly complex series of “what-ifs” that when combined collapsed under countless issues.

Our challenge when moving to an arcade game was to ensure a player could move and play without penalty.  Our prototype forced the player to be stationary to spawn offensive units which without a queue was incredibly limiting.  Our first solution was a simple queue with a “go” button; this solution needed no explanation as the UI (user interface) spoke for itself.  Ideal!

However, we started to add to it.  Firstly we added multiple waves; which then posed the question “how do we manage placement?”  “How does it work with resource management?”  “What happens if you remove a droid?”  And with each new question a new problem was introduced.  It is unclear why we went down this path but the moral of the story is – in a game with many moving parts; keep it simple – or face the problem of having to explain everything to the user.

We're stuck in the queue with John Luck Pickard!

We’re stuck in the queue with John Luck Pickard!

 

Plunder/p Defense Building: Rust in Peace

We love us some Dave Mustaine and Megadeth and the band is the inspiration for this defensive building that will be in Plunder/p coming for PC/Mac in the Spring of 2015.

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Oointah Rant: The Game Awards Kudos & the PlayStation Experience Diss

On the last rant we took a couple of jabs at The Game Award nominations and feel vindicated in many ways as some categories were a mockery (see our previous rant to see why). It’s good being right. Anyway, onwards and erm…  onwards.

So what did I think of The Game Awards? It was spot on! Finally Mr Keighley has nailed the format. The biggest compliment we can give is that it felt like a real awards show, unlike the VGA’s which felt like a joke. So from these game fans “well done to all who created it and I look forward to next years.”

Now lets  move onto the Playstation Experience. Let’s get this out the way first, we are Playstation fanboys! And we say it with pride.

So one year on and it blows to say “the PS4 blows!” So what if it has more graphical power? All the AAA exclusive games from PlayStation thus far are the equivalent of a pretty but dumb person – distracting for about 15 minutes and then boredom kicks in. The only exclusive we would put on a pedestal this generation is Resogun (We completed TLOU on PS3 and count it as a PS3 game).

We’re not saying ALL AAA games have sucked – but when the most fun experiences are coming from low budget games (and we’re not calling a $5 million game  an “indie” as its disrespectful to true indie developers) you can see how important these developers are for PlayStation. So all those who complain about the influx of smaller games on PS4 can “get bent!” 😉

We know 2015 will bring better exclusives but from this PlayStation Experience we get the feeling the same flow will continue; the AAA’s get prettier but remain the same mechanically and the creativity is left to the smaller budget games.

What do you think of the Playstation Experience? What do you think of this years AAA lineup?  Let us know…

The PlayStation Experience  came off as green.

The PlayStation Experience came off as green.

 

Meet RD-SLK from Plunder/p

Did you ever see The Office – we’re talking about the UK version with Ricky Gervais? We love it. Brilliant. Right up there with Arrested Development (Season 1 through 3) and The Simpsons (Seasons 2 through 6).

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