Alpha AccessXPO Tulsa 2016

Invisigun at XPO Game Festival this weekend!


ih_xpo

Just a quick reminder to come check out and play Invisigun Heroes at the XPO Game Festival this weekend, September 23rd – 25th, 2016! We’ll be at the booth all weekend and would love to meet some of you there. :)

Deadlines are a good thing


PAX West 2016Alpha Access

PAX West is nearly upon us, and there’s absolutely nothing better than an external deadline to help turn on the afterburners. I’ve been working at a feverish pace for the past few weeks, adding a ton of new content, refinements, and going on a bug-squashing rampage. I’m relieved to see that some of my development lists are actually shrinking for the first time. I’ll be in Seattle for the week surrounding PAX, so updates will be slower (or nonexistent) for a short period of time. If you’re going to be attending the expo, please stop by booth 6014 and say hello!

In other big news, alpha access to Invisigun Heroes is now open to the public! This is sort of a trial run to see how this goes, but it should at least be available through September. If all goes smoothly, alpha and beta access will be open to the public until release. The game is purchasable through itch.io, with some very clear alpha disclaimers (not feature complete, online coming soon, etc). If you know anyone that missed out on the Kickstarter and is interested, please let them know!

spriteUpdates

I was never fully satisfied with placeholder sprites and aesthetics for some of the newer worlds, so I took some time to give them a much-needed facelift. In particular, Arx-515 has updated boundaries that fall more in line with the cute-cyberpunk feel that was originally intended, and pulls some of the distracting neon signs out of the levels where they were seemingly important. Glaciarii also has reskinned boundaries, and players finally look appropriately frozen by the Yeti. Arenae has some global value adjustments so that objects (rugs, shifting walls, etc) don’t stand out so much and feel more at home within the temple walls.

newMaps

Much of the focus for the past few weeks was trying to get as much of the planned final content in. This means the latest update has tons of new maps (and refinements to existing ones), new and exciting powerups (Ability Recharge, Split Shot, Diagonal Shot), a handy Field Guide to serve as in-game reference for new and studious cadets, mastered music tracks, and most importantly – a fundamental gameplay adjustment with ability cool downs. If you don’t spam your abilities, you shouldn’t notice that last one. If you DO, you’ll find that constantly activating your ability will incur longer and longer cool down periods (during which you are visible). It is very easy to stay away from this, but this solves a number of situations where abilities could be abused, and also creates an extremely useful tool for balancing them.

I know that a lot of you are eagerly anticipating online-play, and it’s still a top development priority. I’ve made a lot of headway and am constantly chipping away at edge cases and synchronization issues. From a development perspective, the annoying thing is that I can’t release it for testing until all the loose ends that I’m aware of are cleared up. You can’t play a networked game if it only partially works, like you can with a local game; if something is broken locally, everyone is at least still on the same page. I just want to let everyone know that online play is moving along, even though it’s taking longer than expected. Thanks for your patience, and see you at PAX West!

Artificial intelligence, dev status, and expos!


Hey everyone, hope you’re having a great summer so far! It’s been around 105°F here in Pasadena, which is just a few degrees above “pleasant.” As a reminder, if you haven’t received your download keys or your physical rewards, please message me on Kickstarter (or here) and we’ll get it squared away. Almost everything should have been delivered by now, barring the soundtrack and some late surveyors.

Along with plenty of bug fixes, the latest alpha update (v0.8.98a live on Itch and Steam) has bots enabled. The foundation for the bots was in place for a while, but they have a lot of logic now to react to the environment, search for opponents, and try and follow game mode objectives. Their logic will be improved with every update to address any feedback, but feel free to try them out!

Bots fighting bots

Bots fighting bots

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve made serious headway into online play. I ran into a few stumbling blocks and it’s definitely not going to drop as early as I’d previously hoped, but most of the major technical barriers are out of the way. I’m focusing on the basics, starting with being able to connect via IP address. Currently connections, disconnections, player selection, game setup synchronization, and basic in-progress match actions are synced correctly.

IP connections and player synchronization

IP connections and player synchronization

In all honesty, this foundation was one of the biggest hurdles and technical challenges, so it’s a relief that most of the issues have been resolved. It’s based on a new and not-so-battle-tested networking system in Unity, so it’s been somewhat painful for most early-adopter developers. We spend a lot of our dev cycles in networking forums, trying to figure out if bugs are on our end or theirs, helping each other, and trying to decipher incorrect documentation. There are lots of edge cases I need to find and tackle before turning the feature on, and after that, it will be more fixes and progress on public and private match listings.

While the focus was definitely 95% on network play, I managed to sneak in a couple of new Nemoris maps for testing, and I worked on some content lists for the final stretch. There is less time for experimentation at this point, though the game is by no means feature-locked (still alpha). I will still work with the Heroes to design new characters, and I’m still planning out the Cartographer details for the backer maps.

Ali and I have completed the soundtrack and the first final mix / mastering pass is complete! The updated tracks will be in the next update, though some of them still won’t be heard until their associated planets (Craterus and Arenae) are released. Stay tuned for crispy-sounding tracks in the next drop. Once all the final audio assets are in place, the game will go through an entire mix pass before release as well. And of course, those of you who backed the project at the Composer tier or higher will receive download codes for the soundtrack once it’s ready.

My time at the moment is divided between development and all the logistics for the upcoming conventions. We’ll have a booth (#6014) at PAX West from September 2-5, and also at XPO Tulsa from September 23-25. There’s a ton that goes into planning these, involving extra help, flights, hotels, shipping gear, arranging on-site resources, preparing promo materials, and of course, finalizing the convention game build. I want to thank you all again for supporting this campaign, as part of the funds were definitely reserved for this, and it’s because of you that we’ll have a presence there!

If you’ll be at any of the conventions, please stop by! I’d love to meet you in person, and I’ll have more expo details as the dates approach. This does mean that Invisigun development will slow down in September, though I’ll have the middle of the month for progress on that front.

That’s it for now, please enjoy the updates and while I can’t promise when, I hope to have network play via IP address turned on soonish!

Check your (real) mailbox!


Hi everyone – hope Summer is treating you well so far!

If you have filled out your Kickstarter survey before April 25th, your physical rewards should have been shipped and delivered by this point (including international orders). If you believe you should have received your art prints and buttons but haven’t yet, please contact me and I’ll get it sorted out. For everyone who filled out their survey after April 25th, those are being processed now and will be shipping soon! I see people posting some tweets about receivingthem, and those are always very happy moments. :)

shipments

As always, those who care about details can view the ongoing development changelog here, but I’ll summarize the noteworthy stuff. I’ve basically completed laying the foundation for localization, so every bit of text in the entire game is now pulled from easily editable external files. This means that making it support other languages in the future will be very simple and just a matter of contracting out the translations. The June update has tons of bug fixes, improvements, and performance optimizations, as well as a lot of work on online play connectivity. Most of the past month has been spent on the new network manager, which unfortunately means there isn’t a lot of new visuals to show off. However I am pleased to say that it is going well, and at the moment I can successfully connect to a remote host, and properly synchronize player selections and match settings. I’ve also resumed work on the AI for the bots, slowly but surely making them more intelligent and giving them motivations for their actions.

On the music front, Ali and I still have weekly production sessions and all the alternate planet tracks are very close to being complete. Here’s a sample of the secondary Glaciarii track (though please note that none of the tracks have gone through their final mixing and mastering phase yet), and also a little screenshot of what one of the production sessions looks like.

musicProductionA

I’m also in the planning stages of having a presence at upcoming conventions later this year. The current alpha has been submitted to the Indie Megabooth, and I really hope it gets accepted for PAX West in Seattle! While I applied last year, it was a very early prototype and was before the Kickstarter campaign, PAX South, the positive press, being greenlit on Steam, and polish – so I hope my chances are much higher this year. The judging won’t be complete until July, so keep your fingers crossed!

In other convention news, I’m happy to say that Invisigun Heroes will also have a booth at the XPO Gaming Convention in Tulsa, Oklahoma (September 23-25, 2016). I met the organizers at PAX South, and they have been extremely accommodating, generous, and supportive – looking forward to it!

I’ll be heading out to E3 next week to check out the madness, and hope to see and meet some of you there. If you’ll be there, drop me a note!

My goal was to get the alpha version of Invisigun Heroes in the hands of the backers in early Summer, and I still stand by that. I’m working on making sure the current build is ultra stable, and I’ve already generated a couple thousand keys for you guys. The first drop will still be local-multiplayer only, but once it’s in your hands, there will be very frequent incremental updates with new features and systems being “turned on” all the time – including online play. I want to make sure everyone gets their copies first, and the basics of the game are working for everyone, then move onto all the new features, testing, and feedback. Following the distribution, it will also be time to start working on the new heroes and maps in collaboration with you guys!

Speaking of the alpha, I’ve decided to give all the Kickstarter backers both DRM-Free and Steam keys. I’ve been integrating the development tools provided by itch.io in my build pipeline, and I love their platform’s simplicity and everything their developers stand for. This means that when you get your copy, it will be a key you can redeem at itch.io, but Itch will also provide you with a Steam key as well. It’s the best of both worlds, and you aren’t forced to choose one over the other, and makes distribution logistically more simple on my end. Note that this is only for the backers, and all purchases post-launch will just be single keys from whichever site they buy it from.

This also means that once it’s in your hands, I can explore adding a purchase widget to the website, which many of you have recommended. Itch has an interesting new Refinery program to solve the problems that plague Steam’s early access system, and some developers are giving it a go – including Finji’s new title Overland. In fact, I believe Finji chose to publish Overland exclusively on Itch, which is a pretty big vote of confidence.

In other gaming news, Paper Unicorn has just launched a Kickstarter campaign for their awesome-looking sci-fi game, Transmission. I’ve met up with the art/creative director Nathaniel West several times, and there is nothing but passion and hard work poured into this project so far. The aesthetics and design are fantastic, and reminiscent of the tones from 2001: A Space Odyssey, Alien/Prometheus, and Blade RunnerCheck it out and show them your support!

Rewards, development, community, and press


tubes

Art and pins shipments

The backer rewards are shipping now, as noted by the last quick campaign update on Kickstarter. They’re still going out in batches as Gallery Nucleus gets to them, so keep an eye out for yours if you are a backer with a physical reward. Please note that there are pin(s) inside the packaging in a small brown paper bag, so don’t throw that out. Unless of course you can’t stand pins, then by all means, go right ahead. :|

Along with continuous bug fixing, miscellaneous todos, and ongoing ability / balance experimentation, work is progressing on the desert / temple planet, Arenae. I’m really happy with the progress and visuals so far, and it has an interesting new mechanic that involves switches to toggle various environmental changes. The first one implemented is for barrier tiles that retract into the floor, which can dynamically change the map layout. Up next will be shifting walls, which should also make for interesting map designs as well.

Arenae, the desert temple world

Arenae, the desert temple world

We’ve also been working hard on the music, and are almost through all the secondary tracks (each planet will have 2 associated music tracks). I’ll have a preview of the new music for Glaciarii in the next update.

A lot of the development work is stuff that isn’t necessarily interesting to most players or backers, but is necessary for the foundation of the game. Many development hours are spent on things like game event/notification systems, dialog boxes systems, in-house tools / map editor improvements, etc. They don’t make for very exciting updates, but are vital for release.

Since the Kickstarter campaign started, several awesome artists have contributed some Invisigun fan art, and I couldn’t be more pleased. It honestly makes my week whenever someone shows me one, and the latest one is a fantastic action shot of Iris from George Rottkamp. Check out the amazing attention to details of the game, including the skull on the floor, and the headphones port on the gun! I decided to make a section on the main Invisigun Heroes page dedicated to any fan art that comes in, check it out!

Iris, by George Rottkamp

Iris, by George Rottkamp

I’ve also had the privilege of talking with some press and podcasts over the last couple of months, so check out these episodes for some interviews with me about Invisigun development. They were all amazingly kind hosts.

Thanks again for all the support… charging forward!

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