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I’ve been a game developer for as long as I can remember. I’ve done hundreds of Flash games and about a dozen mobile games – three under the guise of Whiskeybarrel Studios this year alone.
I’ve been fortunate that after many years of working full time as a game developer, I’ve been able to take a bit of a break. Thanks to having a nest egg of savings and the occasional bit light contracting work, I’m now in the position that I can spend a bit of time doing dedicated indie game development. I’ve got about a 4 month window or so to get something done.
You have moments in your life where you realise, this is probably your last big attempt at getting a successful game out there – this is one of them. After this, I have to get serious and get back to ‘real work’, ‘app development’, ‘web development’, all those terms that make your eyes glaze over but pay the bills. The game development scene, from the +AAA company right down to the smallest solo indie developer, is ultra competitive. The bar keeps getting raised higher and higher and the big players keep taking more and more of the pie. This year, I’ve released a few small games to test the waters. The most successful, a physics puzzler called Captain Fishblock , has netted me a couple of hundred dollars. Pocket change. I can’t financially afford to do this for much longer, the real world will be calling me again sooner than I wished for.
I realised that the dream of being a financially successful indie game developer is just that, a dream. Most of us aren’t going to make it. I’m probably never going to make another Swords and Sandals hit game – something that actually gets a huge following – but I can do something maybe just as good – I can make a game that I would want to play. Nobody is standing in my way – no meddling boss nor demanding client. I have had a lot of interesting ideas pop up this year, at least 5 which I would love to build. There are budget constraints to all of them – a 3D basketball RPG is just way too big in scope. A multiplayer space exploration, giant robot fighting game requires way too much artwork. A anthill view castle building simulator where you control every aspect of the castle, from finances to plumbing. And so on.
So, the game I keep coming back to is this. It’s a game that’s been kicking around in my head. Everyone Gets Treasure: The Role Playing Gameshow
Basically, it’s party based tactical combat RPG , done as… a game show. Think “The Running Man meets Deal Or No Deal.”
A crazy wizard hosts a game show for adventurers to compete for fame and fabulous prizes. Heroes from all over the realm travel to his tower and are grouped into teams of five. Each episode, in front of a live studio audience, they will do battle against waves of ever more dangerous enemies as they climb the tower higher and higher. When only one remains standing , the game stops. As the audience cheers, the wizard and hero reappear on stage. This hero can either return to compete in the dungeon again with a new party, or go into the tower’s “Roster of villains” where they will appear in future episodes as bosses for the party to compete against.
Fade back in to a circular pillar with the 5 heroes standing on it ( top down view). The pillar rises up through a tower, past windows etc. You can use this time to rearrange the position of your heroes – this is an important tactic in the battle, because heroes in the front can attack, heroes in the middle and rear can only used ranged weapons, and so on.
The platform then comes to a standstill at a room with four gated doors. Depending on the level, there will be up to four stone walkways connecting to the pillar. Monsters will appear on the level out of one of the four doors. In early levels, they will only come from one direction (the north gate) but as the players get higher in the tower they will appear from the other gates.
The wizard will occasionally appear in a speechbubble to commentate on the fight’s progress. He might also decide to intervene in the game “Let’s throw some fireballs into the mix!” or “This is too easy, I think we need to get some giant slimes in there, what does the audience think?”
Some levels might even have water underneath the platforms , so we can have aquatic enemies that attack the players. A giant tentacled squid for example.
At some point during the battles, characters will die. They cannot be resurrected by any means. The party must go on without them, meaning battles continue to get tougher. If the group survives a level but has a few deaths, items once belonging to those heroes will appear in the group’s backpack inventory.
Once all heroes are dead, the game is technically over – however, on the killing blow for the last hero, the game will fade to white and that hero will reappear floating in the air, lights around him. The wizard will appear and announce something like “Barbarian is the last hero standing!”
The player is then given the option of reviving the barbarian ( for a gold cost depending on what level they reached ) – if they do so, that character then goes into a pool of heroes that may be used in future games.
Should the player not choose to revive the barbarian, the crowd will boo and the barbarian will become a BOSS MONSTER in future adventures. This character goes into the pool of monsters and will be randomly selected to appear in future games. Even if killed, they will keep returning. Eventually, the tower will be full of these villains who were once in your party.
The next time a game begins, any characters in your pool of heroes can be added to your group, making your group far more powerful. For a gold cost, the group can also start at a higher level ( but no higher than whatever tower level their most powerful character has reached. )
Should these ‘allstar’ characters die, they will still return to the pool of heroes but will not gain any power they may have earnt during this play through ( unless of course you choose to revive them again at the end of the game – you can alternatively send this new, more powerful hero into the dungeon as a villain to be faced off against.)
This morning I backed Distriqt’s fantastic Kickstarter that will allow me to have multiplayer gaming across Google Play and iOS. The idea is that you’ll be able to put your party of heroes against a friend’s party and see who’s the greatest. The power of multiplayer gaming is not to be underestimated – long after players are bored of the single player campaign, they will keep playing your game as long as they can compete against another person. And here’s the thing: No computer can ever match the unpredictability of a human opponent , in a tactics game that is really exciting.
The multiplayer aspect of the game is being planned for but will likely be a late phase addition as the Native Extension won’t be released until September. I’m excited about it.
One Last Roll Of The Dice (For Now)
This is it: One last real attempt at making a popular and financially successful game as an indie developer. I hope you’ll come with me on my journey, I’ll be updating the development diary as long as I can. There’ll be plenty of interesting tidbits and hopefully I can share with you the process of how I build a game along the way. I’m trying to build up support and awareness of the game, and that starts right here, at the very beginning. I have a trusted artist friend on board and a stack of music ready to plug into the game. I’m going to need a marketer ( if you’re interested in getting on board, get in touch with me and we can discuss it further ) to help me promote the game.
So, start spreading the word. Everyone Gets Treasure is coming, and EVERYONE’S GETTING TREASURE!!!!
Cheers, and happy journeys! Oliver Joyce
Hey everyone... been taking a long break from Swords & Sandals ( aside from a port to iPhone which got brought asunder by the good folk at Apple ) to work on client projects and other things.
One of these things was a quick little game I put together over the last few weeks.
Inspired in part by a recent trip to Japan, the amazing works of Orisinal, the classic Balloon Fight NES game and the current batch of "how high can you climb" jumping games, this is a little of all of the above.
The story is a tragic tale of true love, samurai, ninjas, the race for a cure, and so on. In particular I love the music - found it here on the NG portal - brilliant track called 'Melancholy 'by Wyldfire.
It's not often that I'm proud of the games I build, but I truly believe this one has turned out pretty well. It's up on the portal now, so please play it and if you like it, send the link to your friends.
Cheers, enjoy, and thanks . Oliver Joyce
Hey everyone! Some of you may know me as the creator of the Swords & Sandals series.
I had actually posted to Newgrounds today my latest game Heroic Sports Football... but there's been some last minute trouble getting it to work on this site, so , to my embarressment I've had to take it down.
Anyway it's a fast paced soccer game. I'll post it here in the next few days, in the meantime, you can play it at Fizzy.com or check out the youtube link below.
Cheers all, Oliver
Just a quick post to let fans of the Swords & Sandals series know that we've upgraded the multiplayer server this week , meaning that those who have tried to play the multiplayer version of the game in the past, but couldn't log in, now's your chance to play the game as it was intended.
The server is much more stable now - if you haven't played Swords & Sandals III:Multiplae Ultratus in a while, come check it out and let me know your thoughts. You'll still want a broadband connection.... dialup will just be too slow.
In other news, I'm currently hard at work on a football (soccer) game - part RPG, part Speedball, part NBA Jam . Lots of cartoon blood and action , should be out later this year, then I'll be back working on another Swords and Sandals game.
For fans of ExMortis, my mate Ben Leffler tells me ExMortis 3 will be dropping in a few weeks so keep your eyes peeled for one of the best horror adventure games in the indie world.
2009-05-17 20:10:43 by hechaos
Morning all, just letting you know another chapter in the Swords & Sandals saga is out!
It may only seem like a short time ago that I released Swords & Sandals III: Solo Ultratus (and its multiplayer brother) , but it's that time again. This game took just under 4 months to build, largely because I used the S&SIII engine.
This is a bit more of an experimental direction for the series to go, rather than just being straight up combat, it centers around a bunch of gladiators playing board games in a tavern. Gladiators create characters, roll dice and move around a fantasy board playing minigames, fighting each other and having adventures.
Think "Mario Party" with a lot more blood and guts. :) You can play this "hotseat" multiplayer, so gather a few friends around your computer and give it a go , I think you'll have a good laugh , certainly more so than playing against simply computer opponents.
Anyway not everyone will like the direction the series has taken, but like all good things it evolves and I always try to listen to the fans ... let me know your thoughts and what I can do for the next game.
Speaking of which, I'm about to embark on a sequel to Swords & Sandals Crusader - the spinoff wargame ... this one will be more RTS focused, ala a mixture of Warcraft/Dawn of War and Heroes of Might and Magic ( in my head that works anyway... haha ) , I'll get back to you before the end of the year :)
Cheers and have fun. Oliver Joyce
Morning friends... I trust this email finds you well and free of the dreaded porcine plague that is Swine Flu!
My buddies and at work were just talking about the hysteria surrounding the virus on Wednesday night, and we began speculating about the (excuse the pun) viral games that will follow in Swine Flu's wake.
There's already been one game out, Swinefighter - totally amateur game , it would get blammed here - but it's done huge traffic around the world because the media picked up on it.
Anway, we thought we'd try our hand at making a viral game. Started Thursday morning, finished Friday lunchtime, and voila , here it is. Nice and simple premise, you're on the US / Mexico border, chucking pigs into the desert.
So I've just submitted it to the portal, have a play and shoot yourself some deadly swines. Needs Flash Player 10 and a fast machine to get it to run smoothly, I went a bit overboard on the blur effects!
Good times , good times :) anyway, have fun, if you like it, send it round and we'll see how viral we can get it.
In other news, Swords & Sandals IV due out next Friday !
For fans of the Swords & Sandals series, the latest one is about to roll out the door next month. Swords & Sandals IV:Tavern Quests is a bit different from the previous games and may polarise the fans.
Basically it's a cross between the gladiator fighting of Swords & Sandals and the minigames/boardgame aspect of Mario Party/Talisman etc. You move around a board, having adventures, fighting and playing minigames such as horse riding, platforms, puzzlers etc.
You can play up to 4 players "hotseat" style on one computer, or against up to 3 computer opponents.
For those that aren't a fan of the new game, rest assured the next game will be back to arena combat and there's also a seuel to Crusader on the way. It's important to keep some variety in the series, keep people on their toes ;)
Look for the full release next month. Cheers Oliver
Morning all ! Congratulations to our American friends on a) the addition of Barack to the Whitehouse and b) the subraction of Dubya from the Whitehouse! I watched the speech live here in Sydney at 3.30am ... powerful and inspiring stuff.
Here's a game I've been sitting on for the last 18 months... I ended up shelving it for quite a while while I build Swords & Sandals Crusader and Swords & Sandals III ... in recent weeks I've come back to it just to finish it off ... introducing "Get Off My Planet"
You'll notice the title screen features a character who looks suspiciously like Barack Obama... this is of course , a bit gratiutious of me but also , a bit of fun given I'm releasing the game today. Hell, who's to say Obama couldn't conquer the stars anyway. The whole presidential thing actually came about from the title, it's a pun on Harrison Ford's famous line in the movie "Air Force One".
Anyway, check out the game , it's a variation on the Tower Defence and City Building genres, it can be quite punishing but in my mind it's a lot of fun.
I usually get a lot of grief here on Newgrounds for not releasing free games - this one is 100% free, no demo, nothing. Have fun with it.
Next up , I'm really not sure. I think it will be another Swords and Sandals game but this will be quite different from the last few... no doubt it's also probably a year away :)
I welcome your thoughts! Cheers all!
Morning all and happy new year to everyone. I've just uploaded to the portal a new game....
What you see above is my first non-"Swords & Sandals" game in quite a while. After Swords & Sandals III I needed a break. The damn thing took me almost a year to build, would you believe. Mainly because of the multiplayer dramas of course, but still a long time no doubt.
So, over November and December I decided to tackle a project originally concepted and built by my old buddy Silas "Sidog" Rowe, a game called Yum Cha Showdown. It's sort of a "worms style" action RPG game where you guide three little heroes across the orient in search of a meal to please their empress.
I had to scale back Silas' original plans due to time constraints. Originally there were going to be a lot more RPG elements, customised magic and armour, much more stats and a deeper story, but I like how this one turned out anyway.
The full version has over fifty levels, this one for Newgrounds has ten, but check it out and see what you think.
As for what's next? I'm not entirely sure... I need a bit of a break from Swords and Sandals before I start on the next one... would love to hear some ideas from where people would like that series to go!
Cheers and thanks everyone for supporting Flash Gaming - you're a great and vibrant community.
Hey everyone, been a while since my last post. Since that time, the multiplayer version of Swords and Sandals 3 went up in beta - it was a huge success. 850,000 loads in a month just on our site, which is pretty good considering there was no advertising or promotion for the game.
So, S&S3 multiplayer will be back with us shortly, but in the meantime I've been working on a single player version of the game with computer controlled gladiators and Arena Champions to defeat. It's not quite the same experience you get from fighting another human, but the story mode is certainly a challenge and the full version has 24 Arena Champions and many thousands of magic items to collect.
I've just uploaded it to the portal today, so have a play and let me know what you think.