Courier approves “Replay value”

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Study hold me back for far too long but I’m finally over (for now). I’ve promised lines of text about the replay value in the Courier of the Crypts and guess what, here it is! There is also a small ornament attached to it called “sketch“.

Every developer should reward loyal players with chest of goodies called ”replay value”. Many times I found myself crying in the corner because I’ve completed the game and I didn’t have anything new to do (except playing over the same linear content) and I don’t wish for my players to have the same fate as I did. So, here’s what I did to prevent this:

In my game, every map has the exit, which you have to reach in order to complete the level before your flame runs out. It may sound simple but there are many hazards and tricks that will try to keep you among the dead. Next to that, I’ve added the treasure which can be collected along the way…and it may deceive you as well. Every map will have the perfect’o’meter which counts how much treasure did you pick in those maps and if you get all of it, map will be marked as <insert awesome rank here>. With all maps covered, you’ll get an achievement of Greedy Courier or something so you can brag before the others.

Treasure will be placed carefully so you can get out of flame if you don’t move wisely and that’s another way to play the game and different tactics to use. It’s not just about the shiny stuff that human’s eye see, it’s about an additional element to the gameplay, to survive the crypt’s maze while picking shiny coins from the floor carefully.

Let me give you an example on my finest sketch

you are looking at my finest sketch

Let’s say this is an end of some random level and you’re already running out of the flame. What will you do? Let me give you a three possible scenarios for the ending:

You just want to finish the map:
You simply run to the button, push it and run past the doors to the exit.
You are greedy:
Grab the gold along the way and you’ll stay out of the flame before you reach the exit, which calls for the level restart.
You are greedy yet smart:
You run to the button, pick the coal behind the doors so your flame refills and you can run back to the gold quickly and then straight back to the exit for the <insert awesome rank here> title on the map.

By now you should understand how replay value works in the Courier of the Crypts. In most cases, it will require different approach to the puzzles in order to get that perfection on the map and that’s exactly why this system is interesting.

Play the game in relaxed way trying to reach the exit or you can as well sweat while sneaking behind the golem’s back trying to pick that last coin in the crypts. It’s your choice!

Why is it taking so long

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There was an October and November 2011 when I did a lot of things for the Courier of the Crypts and even released in-game preview videos. And then, there was silence…

If we skip elements like job and studying I had to rewrite the framework on which this game  runs, so this is the reason for no “visual” previews and progress. Most people ask if I really had to rewrite it instead of just finishing the game with what I have.

I put considerable ammount of thinking into this issue because past experience taught me that this leads nowhere except to another unfinished project because there is always something new to add and you end up in the endless loop.

I had in mind the new design of the framework and did it right away (in a week or two) and after that I’ve packed the old game code and moved it to it’s new home. Of course there were some big changes and most of the code had to be rewritten but this time it works so much better.

So, what are the results of rewriting the framework and the game logic:

  • About 40% less code
  • Faster development
  • Easier to add or change special effects in the game (like animations, particles etc.)

Was it worth it? Totally!

I’m already near the end of writing the game logic so I’ll most likely start with the level design and pixelling more stuff for the environment in February. Next time I’ll explain how “treasure” system (aka replayability) will work but until then…

…Enjoy the weeked!

Down below the crypts

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I should definitely write more often and post regular updates about the progress but sometimes there are things that can’t be shown. I had to rewrite whole framework and there were some complications but more about that in the next post.

I have two tiny pictures for you – this is the new theme for the last hub of levels. It’s going to be darker and I’ll do my best to give you a feeling that you’re closer to death itself.
<insert evil laugh here> 

There will be cracks in the ground trough which lava will glow, spider nets, spike pits, ghost… but I can’t show you everything now, at least not yet 🙂

Tell me what you think or what would you like to see and I’ll try to make it better!

Happy new year 2012

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Not just us, but the young courier is going to watch the celebration fireworks as well. He doesn’t know that this new year eve may be his last. That’s right. in 2012, Courier of the Crypts will be released and this is a big moment for Emberheart Games.

Tomorrow, it will be just another cassual day (maybe a bit exhausted from all the celebrations) but I view it from another angle – as the new beginning. It’s like formatting the computer, when you erase everything and make a fresh copy of OS. It’s still the same old computer but it’s a new chance not to trash your desktop with some random application icons and other malicous

All that I wish you for the year 2012 is happines – with that you can achieve everything. Work hard and be happy.

Happy new year 2012

Courier’s story setup

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Are you one of those that likes the story in games? For me it’s always nice to go trough a story in games as long as it’s not long or wrapped in dozens lines of boring text. I even support short story for small games that doesn’t really need a story like tetris.

In Courier of the Crypts story is quite simple – young courier gets a letter which should be delivered to the guardian of the crypts. In order to successfully deliver a letter you have to pass dark crypts. For that, I could simply write few lines of fancy text when you start the game, don’t you think? Well yes, I could but then again, story is the first thing besides the main menu that player see at the start. I would be quite disturbing to start in the dark crypts with creepy enviroment asap so I’ll use a story to get a player there first.

Mockup for the story map

Instead of those nasty story lines, you’ll be given a story map (first map in the game) on which I intend to spend quite some time. I’ll try to find a good way to skip the map for those who really want to get right into the action but for others there will be a carefully designed map with some trigger events along the way that will tell you the story while you move around. At the end of this map, you’ll be ready to start the game. Of course, map won’t be too long neither will it be boring so it will be recomanded to go trough it.

What do you think about it?

Freshly baked to-do list

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I just love to-do lists, because I don’t like to keep all task that I have to do in my head (including those to buy pizza). Ussualy I make more lists while working on the project. Why? Because I don’t want to be like “Oh man, there are so many things to do, project is not going anywhere“, so I make smaller lists that gives me a feeling that I’m moving forward. Today I took some time to write one of those detailed lists and it’s about the stuff that needs polishing…It’s very long but hey, it’s always nice when you can cross-out something from it, right? I have wrapping paper, lipstick and other visual-shapers ready to polish some stuff. I’ll just start at some “yuck” source code, it’s a very good place to start.

In the next post:
Story is important factor in the games but it can ruin everything if you tell it in the wrong way. Next time – how the story will be told in the Courier of the Crypts.

Stay well!

Introducing Courier of the Crypts

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Courier of the Crypts is the first game by the Emberheart Games which is still in the development. Idea for the game was born at the Ludum Dare 48 competition where I made something rough in 2 days. Few months after the competition, I’ve decided to start fresh game with the same idea – leading a courier trough some dark crypts just to deliver a letter to the guardian of the crypts.

It’s neither time nor monsters that threats, but the fire of your magic torch. Everytime you make a move, flame on your torch lowers and when it runs out, courier is helpless. Of course, there is lurking evil in the crypts as well as nasty puzzles but the most important thing is your torch because visibility and safety depends on it’s power.

Since the game is not heavily based around action, there aren’t many monsters but I’ve designed them carefuly so each of them requires different approach. E.g. some may be affraid of fire then others won’t stop before it. Among other mechanics you’ll have to think about that as well in order to pass on your letter. In accordance with the thematic I didn’t forget on spooky moments that will make your heart beat faster (just a little, don’t worry ). There are more things that I won’t mention here but all together, I should desrcibe my game as  spooky-action-puzzle-adventure … I should really work on this to shorten it up, ey?

Since I’m primary a windows game developer, Courier of the Crypts will be released for Windows first but I intend to release it for MAC as well in the future, that’s a promise. That’s a rough description on current project. It will have lots of great maps, whole bunch of spooky moments and a fine story. Follow the develpoment of the Courier of the Crypts and you’ll see. If questions burdens you, please do take them off here!

Best regards!

Release the flames!

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Here we go, welcome everyone! Emberheart games studio is alive, ready to release it’s flames to the world of indie games. First of all I invite you to the famous about page to learn more (it’s not that much really) about the Emberheart games and the man behind this. Currently, there is my first commercial game in the development called Courier of the Crypts, about which you’ll hear more in the next posts. That’s all for the intro post.

Stay tunned!