This week, we finally had a chance to meet Kyle, who took a very long drive to get to our offices and stayed with us for the week. In the picture below, you can see she whole team finally united!
We also pushed a big update to Steam today! You can have a full look at the changelog at http://www.sauropodstudio.com/changelog if you’d like.
But, if you’re in a hurry and want the short version, here’s a small wrap-up of the major changes:
Added the explosions over the network.
Added the new damage system on the network.
Added Fabric and fixed couple of memory leaks that came with it. Completely removed the Wwise integration.
Added a system that block the user from firing the catapult if it hasn’t been aimed.
Fixed a new logging system (will help us a lot with the debugging)
Fixed a couple of bugs that were affecting the lumber task
The task area not being set
Bricktrons not stopping to gather logs and just continuing to destroy the forest
Added a Christmas tree. ;)
We also did a lot of refactoring that we included into this build. Nothing should change on the player side, but it will be very helpful for us in the development.
Return on the AMA
As you now know we did an AMA this week and it went really well. As of now, all the questions have been answered. Here are a couple of questions we gathered that we wanted to share with you.
Kastornak (originally in French): As Quebec francophones who develop video games, how do you find the experience of working in an area which is predominantly English terminology ? I guess your working language is French , right? Is there a vocabulary game development project in French too, or do you empreunter words and ways to discuss games in English ? Is that the act of communicating with a public or Anglo- allophone influences how you interact with the community ?
Thierry (Originally in French): Very good question ! In fact, we mostly had the chance to swim in a bilingual environment. Even in my previous job I had to interact regularly in English. But it is clear that even within the studio discussions generally occur in French . Those who had the chance to analyze the code of Castle Story also have noticed that we often use French words for our variables for example. This is probably unconsciously we added some of our linguistic knowledge in our project. To be honest we use a lot anglophones terminology when we talk about development itself because in many cases there is still no adequate translation. Yes I think having to interact with the community in English only influences the processing of information that we are trying to communicate. While we all understand the language well , we are not always comfortable when the time comes to communicate our ideas. If English was our first language , we would be more likely to make explanatory videos easier and faster for example. Since it takes us much longer we do less and allocate this time in development. Kyle has recently officially joined our ranks in part to compensate for this failure at the language. Voila!
Kyle (Not originally in French): To add my own bit, it has been interesting in the studio. I have yet to learn French, though I’m working on it. So, 90% of the time, I have no idea what everyone is talking about.
On the bright side, I’m never curious about whether or not they’re talking to me. If it’s French, it’s not aimed at me. If it’s English, it is. I always know when someone is talking to me. :)
avatera32: Can we get an official changelog on the forums idk what has changed since updates.
Kyle: We’ve got an official changelog up at http://www.sauropodstudio.com/changelog
The forums are pretty much community driven, but I’ll try to keep a patch-notes post updated there in the future. :)
phorest: People are often quick to judge games and unjustifiably compare their development length and process to that of other games – I see a lot of “Why doesn’t CastleStory update as much/as fast as Prison Architect/Kerbal Space Program”.
So my question is: Do you guys find any similarities in the development process of Castle Story to other Early Access games or games in general?
For me, DayZ comes to mind. Like Sauropod, Rocket announced a release date (before the end of 2012), which ended up being overshot by a year, like CastleStory.
Germain: I have enormous respect for Rocket and much empathy for his situation. Although I don’t play DayZ (I’m waiting for the 1.0 release), he’s trying something genuinely new and innovative, and with that come a lot of research, trial and error, and mistakes. I feel that we have a similar situation; we are exploring unknown territory in terms of game design and technology with a specific goal of innovation.
This said, Introversion are devs with tremendous experience, and that has not prevented them from getting bogged down in development dead ends as illustrated in this talk. It can happen to all of us, and Early Access helps preventing this kind of situation by giving a constant stream of feedback.
As to the question of “Why doesn’t Castle Story update as much as…”. My answer is that contrary to most game projects, ours is technology driven rather than content driven. This means that much more effort must go into AI, mesh generation and networking than the average game, and these changes are not visible to the end user. The content will come eventually, it’s just that it’s useless unless the tech is there to run it.
Kyle: This is a bit of a tricky question.
Every game is it’s own project, and takes on it’s own life. There are obvious similarities, naturally, like optimizing later in development, and doing concept work before implementing things, but every game is different when you’re talking about independent games.
I would think it almost insulting to say that Castle Story’s development is very similar to, say, Minecraft’s, and I think Notch would feel the same. The process is as much about the people doing it as it is about the project itself.
Working on an independent title, without the backing of a major publisher, isn’t really a job, it’s a life style choice. The pursuit will effect every facet of your life in a very real way.
Everyone’s story truly is their own, unique story.
Melaithas: Hey. Are you guys planning put another purpose to yellow gems beside light source and bomb
Francois: Yes. Once we stabilized our main game systems, we would like to add some magic gem-mixing alchemy-like system. We have no working prototype for that right now, but when the time comes we have some interesting ideas about that.
soadzombi: How far are you guys from what you wanted the game to be? I played it as it is now and I felt like it was a very early alpha with some pacing problems. There are some innovative ideas but the game is not “there” yet. Should I feel this way and it’ll get better or am I just playing the wrong game?
Et bien sûr, ça fait toujours plaisir de voir de bons jeux comme ça se faire à Montréal. Félicitations les gars.
Francois: The game is not “there” yet. Turns out game development is really not linear. Figuring out where we are and how long we need to get “there” has noting to do with listing our features and dividing what’s done by what we want in the final product.
If your willing to stay tuned or come back when the time comes, we have great plans for this project. Even after the game is done, I’ll always be wanting to come back and do more but I have great hopes that it will be fun and worth your time until then.
Merci pour ton enthousiasme, ça fait toujours plaisir de savoir qu’on a des supporteurs au Québec.
Germain: Personally, still very far. With the kind of game we’re building, it’s expected that the game won’t feel “there” until late in development. We’re doing our best to provide a vertical slice of several gameplay styles with sandboxed gametypes with disabled options. Once we feel the game mechanics are solid enough we will start to merge them together (ie. co-op being a merge between multiplayer and survival/sandbox).
Carnageman: Do you guys have some advices for someone who want to make indie games ?
Germain: Go to game jams! There is nothing more rewarding than having a functional, mostly finished game at the end of a single weekend. You’ll meet lots of other game developers, make teams, form friendships and get more experience than working alone on your own game. :D
dokMixer: Why choosing “yellow” dudes, with so few facial expressions ? What is a color driven choice ? Is there anything else ? Do you plan on changing the colors for multiplayer or even for personal ingame customization ? (like, creating a team fo blue bricktrons, as well as designing a “flag” that could be crafted and displayed on your castle and spears ?)
Germain: Yellow feels more warm and alive than any other color without feeling like “skin” in any disturbing ways (ie. lego minifigs, the Simpsons, etc…). Giving them a fleshy color would force us to give them clothes. I don’t think we will attempt to change the skin color of the Bricktrons in other teams because they would stop being “Bricktrons” at that point. We’ll figure out other ways of differentiating between different teams, but yellow is a defining character trait of the Bricktrons.
Customizable flags are a must. Decorating your castles with your own banners would be so freaking great.
stecampesinos: Is there any point where you sort of regret the fame you guys have had?
Obviously it’s a blessing and you’re so lucky, but with the fame comes all the idiots who expect the fact of having put some money down the game should work fully and be of release quality!
Francois: Having public attention brought the scale of the project up. Whenever you grow past the “two or three people in an apartment” size, an incredible amount of paperwork and responsibility falls on your head. Accounting, incorporation, legal issues, taxes, banking and what not. When it happened, we weren’t ready and we had to figure it all out. At some point I had regrets because I thought all the paperwork and administration was a burden, stopping us from making our game the way we wanted to. Now I understand that these things are necessary to the growth and wellbeing of our studio and a healthy studio is the only way we can achieve a game of that scale. “Fame” brought us responsibilities but it also brought us the resources we needed to make our dream come true. I have no regrets about that.
Germain: Absolutely not! Without the attention we got early on, this game would have never, ever happened. To regret the “fame” (I wouldn’t call it fame exactly) would be equal to regretting working on the game at all, which I do not regret in any way whatsoever. It’s the most fun, rewarding, challenging job I have ever had and I’d be crazy to regret that. I am infinitely grateful for the support we got from Kickstarter, and if that brings me extra criticism, so be it, I welcome the challenge.
Obviously, like you say, game development comes with the usual negativity from certain people, and most of us feel the impact on a daily basis, but it all comes down to how we react. Personally, I know a lot of devs have it infinitely worse, so to be honest, I don’t mind at all. The indie game dev community is tightly knit and extremely supportive regarding those issues, so I’m ok with it.
busteranger: Hey Kyle I’m glad you are here to do a AMA I used to follow castle story for a while before it went into beta but I got into other things and forgot about it before it came out so I have yet to play it but my question is what is your favorite memory from sauropod studios?
Kyle: Truth be told, I haven’t been an official member of the company long enough to have a lot of memories.
But, I was working with them on sort of a volunteer basis since the kickstarter.
So, as an actual person at the company, my favorite memory so far is probably just coming up to Montreal to work in the studio. I’ve never really traveled much, and I’ve wanted to work in games since I was a kid. So, being able to come up here and work in the studio is pretty big to me, and I’m loving every second of it. So it’s easily my favorite memory in the making.
As far as memories from beforehand, when I was still just a community member, I’d have to say my favorite memories came from joining in on the blog work, editing it and working on the sound track of the week. Yeah, it’s a boring answer, but I really enjoyed it, and I still do. :)
XplosiveCows: Hot Dogs or Corn Dogs?
Kyle: The general consensus in the office is hot dogs, though I did have one person yell veggie hot-dogs, and someone else hot pockets. Personally, I love corn dogs.
It’s christmas for developers too, so we’re all taking a 2 week break to see our family and friends. Not to mention gathering up energy to blast into 2014! We’ll be coming back into the office on January 5th.
Bug of the week
We went through a ton of testing before we could push this update out to you guys. Obviously, we encountered bugs. Lots and lots of bugs. So, here’s a few of them! Enjoy!
Soundtrack of the week
I was recently introduced to another chiptune artist by my girlfriend. I swiftly purchased several of his short albums and tossed them onto my car’s radio, and that was my sound track for the entire 17 hour drive to Toronto, and then the 9 hour drive from there to Montreal. Somehow, I didn’t get tired of it, so now I’m sharing his music with you. Enjoy!
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