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dev-blog Release

Dev-(b)log #4 – Survive the Maze is Back!

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Hello friends! I have some exciting updates from the past couple of weeks. As I mentioned two weeks ago, I have the foundation laid, and I am finally re-building Survive The Maze in the Godot game engine! There were a number of factors that led me to the decision to switch engines, but so far I am very happy with the new direction this is going.

It’s on a store now!

For the first time ever, you can download a game I made from an online store. I spent a few days creating the fundamentals in order to get a working prototype together. I submitted this game to the “AI and Games Jam 2021” There is still a lot of work to do, but I am excited by the progress I have made in such a short amount of time, and it is really encouraging to have a working game together in such a short amount of time.

Can you spot my game? Voting is open now, feel free to check out my game, and others.

What’s next?

My current plan is to get the sound and art started next, there is another game jam (One Game A Month) that I am targeting for a second, more complete release. This is a much faster development time than the year and a half that I put into the Unity version of the game, but I have learned a lot and grown greatly since then, and I believe that I can complete a good game in that amount of time. I can choose to continue development for as long as the game needs, but I think that it would be wise for me to set short goals that keep the game fun and playable at every step along the way.

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dev-blog

Dev-(b)log #3 – I finished the foundation!

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Hello friends! Here with another game update. Last time, I shared that I was working on a common foundation for my games. I finished this, and also took the opportunity to share some of my work. I made my first ever store page on Itch.io, and I submitted my tools to a game dev jam. You can see my entry here: https://sdggames.itch.io/modular-godot

The next two weeks are going to be fun: I am finally rebuilding Survive the Maze itself in Godot. I needed a solid foundation to build off of, and I now have that in place. If all goes according to plan, I’ll have (most of) the game as it exists in Unity rebuilt in Godot two weeks from now!

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dev-blog

Dev-(b)log #2 – Learning to make moddable games in Godot!

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Hey friends, it’s time for another update on my game dev adventure. I didn’t complete an entire game this week, but I did make something that’s still pretty cool (I think). It’s not a game this time, it’s a foundation that I can begin building off of in the next few weeks. For anyone who missed my first update, I recently completed a small game in the Godot engine. I decided that re-building my first game in this engine would actually be easier than fixing the bugs in Unity, so I’ve been on a two-week exploration through some of the more advanced concepts that I would need in order to make this change.

I finished two major things, and ended up with working demos for both. This is a screenshot of my mod loader system. This enables me to easily separate my game into multiple files, and makes it trivially easy for anyone else to contribute if they want. The demo project is just tic-tac-toe, but there are actually three different “skins” for that game that can be loaded from their own texture packs while the game is running. I will be using this tool extensively for Survive the Maze (and future projects), and I am incredibly pleased with how easy it was to implement in Godot. When I did the same in Unity, it required an external library containing around 10 thousand lines of code! This was built directly in to the engine, and I only had to write a couple hundred lines of code in two files. Super nice!

My second major win was the build system. Again, not a lot to look at, but I now have a system that will automatically build and test my games for me. No manual input required! Every single change I make will be tested, and if anything goes wrong, I’ll get a warning right away. This takes a ton of busy work out of my schedule and makes it way easier for me to focus on the real challenge: making great games. For anyone who is technically minded, this project is fully open-source, and you are definitely welcome to take a look around and let me know what you think! (Source code here) I will have a game (or at least some part of a game) built on top of this foundation next time. As always, thank you for being a part of this adventure!

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dev-blog

Dev(b)log # 1 – Hello from SdgGames

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Hey friends, I wanted to share an update from my game development journey. I’ve been forming an idea for a different kind of game studio over the past two years, and I’ve been working towards my goal over the course of the past year or so. I’ve had quite a few ups and downs during that time (haven’t we all?), but the important thing is that I’m still here, and I’m still making progress.

My first Game

I intentionally chose a small concept for my first game so I could complete it in a few months instead of they typical multi-year development time. I struggled to make progress over the past six months or so for a few different reasons, some personal and some technical. As I was beginning to recover and make headway again, a friend suggested that I take a break and do a “game jam” (small project typically completed in a month or less). I took him up on the suggestion and started working on Atonement.

During this time, I started using social media again (I had stopped using it altogether back in October), and I found a small but positive reception when I shared my plan. During the second and final week of development, I advertised that my game would go live on Friday. It was a reckless move, but it gave me the motivation to finish. Two different friends mentioned it to me during the week, and their encouragement was enough to keep me going. I worked over 80 hours that week between my job and my game (a stark contrast to the lethargy I was struggling with the week before). In the end, I managed to get it done, but there was an unexpected bug that prevented me from sharing the game right away. I took a third week and polished the rough edges before finally publishing my completed project.

This was a huge milestone for me. The last time I published a complete game was six years ago, and I was honestly beginning to doubt that I was still capable of finishing a project. From stories I’ve read online, this is an extremely common issue among developers. The combination of self-doubt, disillusionment and perfectionism that I went through is often referred to as “development hell”, and is the number one barrier that prevents hobbyists from becoming professional game developers. Many projects slowly die over the course of years or even decades, so I’m very thankful that I caught myself slipping after only a few months.

Community is vital

One thing that I learned through this experience is that community is vital. Two friends checking in on me was all that I needed to push myself beyond my perceived limits. (I don’t plan on pushing myself that hard all the time, I averaged two or three hours of development time per day this week, and I feel confident that this schedule is actually sustainable.) So, going forwards, I’m going to be sharing my progress every two weeks. In the games industry, this is called a dev-log (development log) and it is a great way to slowly build community around a game.

A couple friends recently asked about my blog from a couple years back. I feel like I can make a much larger impact in the games industry than I can through a written blog, but I do plan on using these dev-logs as a platform to share life lessons and theology thoughts as well. So it’s not strictly a dev-log, more of a dev-blog. There may be a little bit of everything here. But I will always share a playable version of my game in whatever state it is in. Feedback is always welcome! I am hoping that sharing my progress biweekly can help me stay motivated to finish my second game in just a few more months!

What’s coming up?

What’s next? Well, I completed Atonement in the Godot game engine, and I overall feel like Godot is a better game engine for my purposes than Unity was. This week, I started re-building Survive the Maze in this new engine. I am giving myself the next two weeks to complete this task. (It seems like a ton of work, but if you’ve ever accidentally deleted an essay and had to re-write it, you’ll know that things are always faster and easier the second time.) At that point, I’ll be deciding between Godot and Unity as my tool of choice going forwards.

I also have a number of topics to share in the coming weeks. I plan on sharing game updates every two weeks, but if I have a lot to say (like I do now), I might post an update on the off weeks as well. Here are a few of the things I hope to share in the near-future: What is SdgGames, and what makes it different than a typical indie games studio? What kinds of games do I plan on making after Survive the Maze is complete? What lessons did I learn during this past year?

Thank you!

As a final piece of the puzzle, I want to use these dev-blogs as a way to advertise in a larger community. I still feel very weird about self-promotion, but I am slowly learning the art of tasteful marketing. I’m going to try to share these things on social media outside of my friend group. I know that the majority of my friends are not gamers, and if I hope to be successful, I will need to transition into a larger and more focused community. With that said, I do want to thank everyone who has supported me through the process of getting this far. If you have any marketing advice for me, or you have friends who would be interested in my game projects, please don’t hesitate to reach out! Thank you to everyone who has already done so!

As I promised above, here’s a link to the game I just finished. In two weeks, I’ll be sharing a link to both the old Survive the Maze and the new one (which will hopefully be playable). I also plan on sharing a more technical look at the mistakes I made in the past year, as well as the solutions I found to them. See you then!

~ Matthew Stoering, S.D.G

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Release

Atonement is complete!

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Atonement is my first complete game so far. It is also my first attempt at creating an interactive parable. Honestly, I originally intended for the game to carry a more somber mood (it is called Atonement, after all), but the orchestral scores I tried just didn’t fit the game I was making. When I put in the current soundtrack, I laughed so hard that I fell out of my chair. It was perfect, and I realized that my game had, in part, created itself.

I challenged myself to create this game in two weeks. It took three, but the extra time was definitely well spent. The game is intentionally short, I don’t want to put unnecessary filler in if it doesn’t support the core themes. You can play in-browser below, or download the game for PC if you prefer (More options may come soon 🤞). The audio does hitch a bit for the web version, but I would recommend keeping the music on anyways.

Atonement

Windows portable version here

<Click Here to load the game in its own page>

Every game I make is open-sourced and free. If you want to contribute to this project, or help with future games, please let me know! I would love to collaborate with a real artist for my next one.

Credits and details:

The source code for this game is publicly available at https://gitlab.com/sdggames/atonement

Engine: Godot v3.2.3

Art: Hand drawn by me, colored by my wife Jessica

Sound effects: Free audio from freesound.org, the full effect list is here. Most sounds were edited in length

Music: Rogue Strings Rag by code_box on freesounds.org

Bugs: Generously and abundantly contributed by yours truly

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Release

Play Anywhere!

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My third release is here to play! You can play my game right here, or you can download it and play anywhere!

Download and play!

I built an updater right into the game so you never miss a release! The game will let you know when there is a new version available.

If you don’t like installers, you can download the portable version here.

Play online:

I still recommend full screen mode (the blue icon in the bottom-left corner). Some web browsers (Chrome) may experience slowdowns as the content loads in. It gets smoother after a minute. You can try another web browser, or play offline if you want the best experience.

<Click Here to load the game in its own page>

What’s new in Release 0.0.3.0?

Feature updates:

  • Added in a versioning system that will auto-notify you when an update is available
  • Created an .msi installer file for the game

Bug Fixes/Improvements

  • Reworked the debugging menus and built-in unit tests
  • Probably introduced some new bugs ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Categories
Release

My First Update!

I would love to hear from you! Feel free to connect on Discord, check us out on Facebook, or subscribe so you never miss an update!

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Survive the Maze here to play! There is still a lot of work to do, so please send me your ideas/suggestions/issues. I will be releasing a new update every two weeks. Enjoy!

(Note: There are no loading screens. It is not frozen, the first 60 seconds of gameplay are just a little hitch-ey. It gets smoother after that)

Fullscreen mode recommended (the blue icon in the bottom-left corner).

<Click Here to load the game in its own page>

What’s new in Release 0.0.2.0?

Feature updates:

  • There are introductions and instructions in the game itself!
  • The AI is much smarter, although it still has some learning to do.

Bug Fixes/Improvements

  • Behind the scenes cleanup
  • Fixed some bugs
  • Introduced some new bugs ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Categories
Release

My First Release!

I would love to hear from you! Feel free to connect on Discord, check us out on Facebook, or subscribe so you never miss an update!

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Survive the Maze here to play! There is still a lot of work to do, so please send me your ideas/suggestions/issues. I will be releasing a new update every two weeks. Enjoy!

(Note: There are no loading screens. It is not frozen, the first 60 seconds of gameplay are just a little hitch-ey. It gets smoother after that)

Fullscreen mode recommended (the blue icon in the bottom-left corner).

<Click Here to load the game in its own page>

How to play:

Survive the Maze requires a mouse with a right-click functionality (no touch support yet) A keyboard is recommended.

Minotaur (Fear the Light) – Right-click to move. You can pass through walls as long as they are not lit.

Spartan (Bear the Light) – Left click to select a character, right click to move him. You can drag to select multiple characters as well. Walk into a defeated ally to bring them back.

Use the scroll wheel to zoom, click and drag the middle mouse or use the arrow keys to move the camera around.