Life sure can be a rollercoaster, huh?
After tons of life changes, I'm finally back at it.
Most of these changes are overwhelmingly good; I've found happiness, my center, focus, and a path forward in all avenues of life.
More on that in the days to come.
So, what about those video games?
That's why you're here, so here's the rundown.
The Bounty V2's final development push will resume ASAP.
I'm looking at some biz opportunities to get The Bounty V2 and Bug Attack! into more hands.
I'm neck-deep in studying Unreal Engine 4; my next main project will be "next-gen" and multiplatform. Vastly different than anything I've every built or released before. This is of course, a long way off.
Circumstances left me without any gear, and moving forward will require some beastly hardware, which is currently out of reach. So, I'm running a mini PC in the interim. This means that in my spare time when I'm not studying, I'll be working on some lo-fi projects.
I have (long delayed) plans for a full Doom sequel WAD, as well as a NES game; we'll see where we are heading.
Stay tuned, thanks for reading. It's been too long, friends.
For a change of pace, we're running a little Q&A here with the amazing Dya, whose contributions to The Bounty: Deluxe Edition have really (In my honest opinion) elevated the game to a higher level. I'm personally a huge fan, so this is just as fun a thing to do for me as it is any of you. Anyway, let's start!
So, for a little background, how did you get started in music, and down the path that you've gone?
Oh man. tough question. I think it must have been back in the late 80s - when I was barely old enough to walk. My mother was a pianist for the church - so we had an old hand me down piano at home I used to mess around on. I also remember us having a Yamaha PSS-270 keyboard around that time. I absolutely LOVED all the unique sounds it could produce. Video games and RPGs were also a huge part of my childhood. I remember us having a Sega CD and a copy of Lunar. I would often just sit and listen to the amazing orchestral score.
Sometime around 1997 I started playing trombone, joined band and learned to read sheet music - but piano was always my main instrument. At some point I took piano lessons, and playing piano and organ for church. I also began dabbling in music production on PC with programs like Jeskola Buzz, Fast Tracker 2, and Anvil Studio. To be honest - my sound design was terrible! But I got better (I swear).
As the years have progressed, I've developed my own chiptune and VGM sound using various trackers and DAWs such as Renoise / Reaper / Deflemask and Famitracker.
Could you describe a bit of the creative process that went into writing and recording the tracks in the game?
Absolutely. I had a specific mood in mind for each track to reflect the "game within a game" cyberpunk aspect of The Bounty. For each track I would sit at my piano and start vamping on various chord progressions until something stuck. I then took these ideas and translated them into songs using Renoise and Reaper.
Perilous Journey - Title Theme - was my personal take on the rain-drenched dystopian future of Blade Runner's Las Angeles mixed with a little bit of Jan Hammer and Miami Vice. I wanted the track to sound "futuristic" by way of the 80s but also organic - so using synths of that era - like the Yamaha DX7 and Mini Moog mixed with more acoustic elements like bongos and piano.
Chamber of Echoes - This was the first track I composed for the game and honestly - it totally started out as an accidental homage to Crystal Teardrops from the Castlevania: Symphony of the Night OST! I wanted to make something that sounded like an underground cavern. It's also one of my favorite soundtracks of all time. Beyond that - you've got it all here - trip hop , deep acoustic sounding bass, and sultry jazz instrumentation - rhodes electric piano, flute, trumpet etc. My pal Jisun Hughes did a phenomenal job on the trumpet solo at the end as well!
The Weapon - Speaking of solos! I wrote this song envisioning the music of Tron and the game Flashback from the 90s. Another killer solo - this time from my guitar shredding pal Jesse Jensen (th4 D34D) who is fantastic composer in his own right.
I can't honestly pick a favorite that you did here- but if there is one, it's probably the main theme, "Perilous Journey". It's like an adventure in itself, and to me captures the game's whole sci-fi-lite premise. Is there a track in here that you're especially proud of, or just stands out for any reason?
It's hard to chose! But I think I personally like Chamber of Echoes the most because of the different transitions and solos throughout. I'm also a sucker for trumpet!
You're a busy man- besides being a huge part of this game's soundtrack and doing the music for Bug Attack! (also coming soon to Steam), you have a staggering body of work. Mind sharing a bit about what you have going on right now, and maybe what's next?
My most recent project was an FM Sega Genesis collaboration that took 1st place in the FM Synth competition over on http://battleofthebits.org . You can hear that song here:
I'm also currently working on a second album! It will a variety of different styles composed using the Turbo Grafx 16 chip.
Thanks for your time, and everything you've done to make this game really come into its own. You've really added a new dimension to the whole experience!
Be sure to keep up with everything Dya's got going on at...
Alright, that'll do it for now! I'll come back next time with a bit about the music Fred Capps and I did, and then go into SFX work!
Thanks for reading, dear players.
This has been a pretty hot-button topic at least since the infamous horse armor in Oblivion. EA's new Star Wars Battlefront II is the most recent high profile offender; though criticism has been leveled at most everyone at some point over the past several years.
I'd like to talk about it a little- but first I want to lay out my personal approach.
The Bounty: Deluxe Edition has a LOT of post-launch content updates coming. It's all stuff that I'd like to have in day one, but time just doesn't allow.
It's all coming for FREE. Here's why. First of all, it's what I want to do, and it feels like the right thing to do. I love it when a developer adds stuff to the games I enjoy- and doesn't ask for anything in return. It gives an impression like, "Man, these cats really care about this thing they've built." It keeps me personally invested. Secondly, my overhead is low. I'm just one dude. So I keep these updates coming, keep the game really alive, keep attracting new players; and keep the older ones involved. It's good for everyone, and for the game that I've invested so many years in.
Here's the Schedule-
Endless Dungeon Level Pack 1
New Player Skins
Spring '18 #1
Extra Episode 1
New Dungeon Skin
New Player Skins
Spring '18 #2
Endless Dungeon Level Pack 2
Extra Episode 2
Endless Dungeon Level Pack 3
The first year's updates will effectively double the amount of content to be found at launch. Some of these are already partially finished. The Endless Dungeon's framework is built in a way that all I really have to do is make new maps, and plug in the array of events, and voila. Level pack. So yeah, it's a LOT of stuff... but I'm not going to kill myself getting it out. If I were a big company, a lot more would be at stake.
Paid DLC, is it that bad?
Sometimes, yes. Let's say that right now. There's a lot of skeezy stuff out there, man. So, when is it ok? This depends on you, but my threshold seems to be about where it's definitely value added, and wasn't just present content locked behind a paywall. This can get tricky though, right? In Capcom's case with Street Fighter X Tekken, they had character files on the disc itself, which became available for purchase later on. I was ok with this, but why? The assets were built, yeah... but fully testing, balancing, and integrating characters in a fighting game? That's the real work, so I was happy to pay there. There are a lot of people in these companies that work very hard; games are overall cheaper than ever too, so how do they keep this thing going? Paid DLC is definitely one way.
What if a game launches, and on day one there's DLC available for extra levels or something? Are you ok with that? Did they have a assign a separate team to get that content built and ready? It's hard to say, but I'd like to hear YOUR opinions.
I often long for the "good old days", when you bought the cartridge and that was it. The game was in your hands already, totally complete. I also look back very fondly at good old PC game expansion packs, which I mean... were well packaged DLC. On the other hand, these streamlined additions are cool. Not having to buy 3 versions of Street Fighter, but just adding the new content. Diablo 3 is hardly the same experience as when it first launched. The fact that I can release a game... and keep adding to well after launch is special to me.
There are abusers, and that is not ok. I can't just dismiss the concept because of a few bad apples, but that's me.
Tell me what you think.
A Post-mortem, Part 2 of ?.
This will be a short piece, I promise. The graphics are pretty much the least important part of this game from my standpoint- so besides some neat simple things and the (awesome) monster sprites, there isn't much to say! (famous last words)
Generally speaking, the look and feel are really simple. Very deliberate, edged map layouts. Very plain "textures" to keep the player focused on the action and inconsistencies/clues. Lots of breaks in patterns for small levels, with a mix of clear and subtle landmarks or "tells" for larger ones.
All of the visuals adhere to a pixelated 16 bit standard. This means 15 colors + transparency maximum, a 4:3 viewing area, and size consistent with the era. Where we did cheat a bit is with the dynamic lighting! The effect is just cool and easy to implement for a number of things from torches to Bonus Level collectibles, so that's what stuck. ;)
One of the more distinguishable parts in The Bounty Deluxe are the multitude of player and dungeon skins. Using a in-game items (and sometimes passwords) you can change your character's appearance and the style of the game's graphics. Some are based on gaming history, some on backers, and some are plain silly- but there's a variety. A lot more will be coming with the free game updates, so there should definitely be options for everybody.
The game is constantly breaking the fourth wall to keep your aware. One of the ways this happens is visually. From swappable graphics, arcade cabinets and code peeking through breaks in the walls, to the office and secret test lounge, to "glitches", you'll see plenty of irregularities! These are meant to keep you from getting to comfortable in the game world; and hopefully get a chuckle or two.
Here's where things get expressive. Every last one of the beasties were lovingly crafted by Michael Wright, aka The Quester, aka The Bard of Badassery, etc. These guys are more evocative of perhaps the NES, with big, bold designs that really get in your face.
That'll do it for now. Next up will be music and SFX, with some input from Dya himself. That one will be a lot of fun, so I hope you're looking forward to it!
Post-mortem. Part One.
I'm writing this summary/post-mortem/thing as a supplement of sorts. The Bounty: Deluxe Edition (hereafter mostly referred to as "the game" or "TBDX") is a little hard for me to explain. Despite being my creation, I have the damnedest time actually communicating the ideas the game represents, without someone experiencing it in person. So here goes.
Where it Started, and What it is
Alright, so the beginning. The idea first came to me several years ago, in early 2010. I was taking a break from practicing for a Castlevania world record score, by playing the classic Rogue. This make me think "you know, there should be a role playing game for competitive scorechasing." The train of thought, of course, then stopped at "I should make a role playing game for competitive score chasing". So I did.
It's impossible to track down every nuance of every game or other media that affected this piece of work, but I can certainly hit the big ones.
Doom- Doom is actually the biggest one, if it sounds odd at first. The secrets, proximity switches, monster closets, light/dark interplay, and general speed of traversal are all here. Doom and Wolfenstein mods were my first experience in any game development back in the mid nineties, so it's not surpising that this game wears that love on its sleeve.
The Legend of Zelda- The Zelda influence is mostly limited to puzzles and ability changing items, the flow and layout of Episode 3, and a few hamfisted references. One of the (FREE, WOW!)post-launch episodes is shaping up to be rather Zelda-like too, but that's neither here nor there.
Rogue- This is where a lot of the concept came from, but it's presence definitely shrank over time. The randomized floors and full-on permadeath is the name of the game for Endless Mode- but the main Story Mode shaped up to be longer and more linear. You've got a fair bit of randomized loot, riddles, and level branching; but purposeful level design and quality of life perks like saving your progress steered the ship over time.
Dragon Quest/7th Saga- The battle system is pretty much Dragon Quest, straight up. The guard-boosting dynamic from 7th Saga makes an appearance as well. It's simple and straightforward with an ebb and flow.
NOT SO MUCH AN RPG?
I've heard the remark that TBDX is an RPG for people who don't like RPGs. I don't think that excludes typical RPG fans- but the assertation is fair, I think! Let's take a look-
No experience grinding
No towns/safe havens
Streamlined Battle System
No learnable skills/abilities
I'll note that there are a number of spells and abilities. However, ALL special abilities are delegated to special items. Magic, buffs, special effects, even a support character- are all items, and most of them consumable.
You've got Character!
As in, YOU are the character. Your on-screen avatar can be changed by a variety of passwords at any time (a-la Midway arcade games in the mid-late nineties!). This also has NO effect on your player stats, and no effect on the "story" as there really isn't one in the first place. Your actions are the story, so why not have fun with your look?
So, What the hell is it?
The Bounty is an arcade-like RPG. An introspective sci-fi fourth wall breaking competitive indie game? Or a top down action-adventure scorechasing rogue-lite? A stripped down retro RPG with action and puzzle elements? All of the above?
I've heard them all, which makes things really fun and confusing for me, cause I really just see it as "the game". I hope that if and when you play it, you'll enjoy your time based on your experience, and not concern yourself much with genre or buzzwords.
I'll leave off here for today. Join us next time when we talk about Graphics, then Music and Sound Design, and finally a little light tech talk!
I'll also be combining all of the parts and snazzing them up with images and such in the end- so if you want anything elaborated upon, let me know and I'll see about adding it in!
Things have been so insanely busy, that I've honestly just neglected the blog. So, let's start from the top.
If you recall the previous post, my father had suffered a stroke, but appeared to be improving.
I'm sad to say that he took a turn for the worse shortly afterwards. After a few more weeks in hospitals and a nursing home, we ended up taking him home on hospice. I took care of him the last couple of weeks until he died.
It's been a very difficult time, to say the least, but work has continued, and we're looking at a Steam release date for The Bounty: Deluxe Edition on November 1st. You can check out a new trailer on the home page. I'll continue working on getting the Steam platform goodies ready-achievements, cloud saves, etc.
Bug Attack! also now has a Steam store ID, and I'll share more on it's launch at a later date.
So, incoming blogs. Starting tomorrow, I'll be posting a series of blog post-mortems for The Bounty. Breaking down the design philosophy, approach, gameplay, the whole nine yards. I hope you look forward to them.
Hello friends. It's been a quiet couple of weeks.
Reason being, my father has suffered a massive stroke. This led to me taking several days off from everything to get things in order and visit him and other family.
His condition is improving- he hasn't truly regained consciousness, but his eyes are open, he's responding to things a little more, and seems to be out of the danger of this being fatal.
So, it's back to it. I'm resuming testing and trailer work on The Bounty: Deluxe Edition, and will roll out the web version of Bug Attack! Free to several portals such as Newgrounds, once it has been updated.
Steam Greenlight is closed and being replaced by Steam Direct, so I need to update some in-game wording. Once that is finished, I want to finish getting two player for mobile (player two uses a bluetooth gamepad, it's rad), and it'll be updated here and published all over the web.
Then we go in big on promotion, launch, and post launch support- and hopefully get some new game announcements made public really soon!
Thank you for your patience and support-
The Bounty: Deluxe Edition