Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

Shadowhand coming on 7th December, New trailer!

Before I go any further in talking about the card-battling RPG/Adventure?Visual Novel/Unique game we are publishing called Shadowhand…check out the trailer..

If you have not heard of the game before, its an interesting mash up of a whole bunch of genres. The basic card game is solitaire, but revved up to the max with power-ups, special cards, and a unique ‘combat’ mechanic version, all wrapped up in a cool story about an 18th century highway-woman with two identities. I recommend checking out our website with more information about the game here.

Shadowhand is being developed by Grey Alien Games and published by me. The game was originally planned to come out about a year ago, but the games scope changed a bit which pushed it to January, and then…well to cut a long story short, it took longer than expected, but the end result is truly awesome and I’m very excited that we are about to release it to the world.

Oh yes…I haven’t mentioned yet that the release date is now 7th December. Thats a proper, public, its going to happen release date, even if I have to break down jake’s door with a bat-leth and grab the final build from his desperate claws to upload it to steam…

Shadowhand will be extremely interesting as a publisher (although TBH I am moving away from publishing games directly now), because it represents a unique experiment. The developers (Grey Alien Games) have a lot of game development experience, but that experience has mostly been in casual games, of the sort normally sold by the big casual sites like Big Fish games, and back-in-the-old-days, RealGames and Yahoo Games, IWIN and so on. It was all those years ago that I first met Jake, who was selling games through those sites (and eventually went to work for a big casual games developer) at the same time I was selling Kudos and eventually Kudos 2.  There was a time back then when a decent, experienced indie game dev could make a reasonable liviung from making casual games and selling them direct, and also through the big portals for casual games.

All that changed with the consolidation of casual games publishers, combined with a shift for that game style to first facebook, and then mobile. This led to lower revenues per game, lower game prices, and a miniscule revenue share for the actual game developers. Suddenly the smart money was in ‘hardcore’ games on steam and GoG, instead of the ‘mass-market’ casual games often sold to ‘soccer moms’.

Thats a long history to explain why the developers behind Shadowhand have so much experience, but so few well-known games on steam. The problem was, selling on steam was ‘different’ to selling casual games through other portals. Also, the level of polish, game design and user experience often demanded by casual games was often actually higher than the typical indie steam game. This is especially true now, where most games launch into early access with bugs ahoy and placeholder stuff everywhere.

So together, me and Jake hypothesized that he could take his design skills and experience of user-interfaces and game-polish, and bring that sort of game design to steam gamers with a suitable theme. The idea for shadowhand was thus born. If it works, it proves there is a gap in the market for taking what casual games do best, and applying them to serious hardcore game designs for the steam audience.

I strongly think its going to be a success.

Shadowhand will be out soon for $14.99, 10% off at launch, and you can add it to your steam wishlist right now, (which might be a good idea, as you will get a reminder on launch day). If, in the meantime you have a need for some similar entertainment, Grey Aliens previous game ‘Regency Solitaire’ is already out on steam…

(Nothing to do with me, this is a game Grey Alien Games made and sold themselves).

Update on shadowhand! potions!

Shadowhand continues to make awesome progress. We are close to releasing the games steam page for ‘coming soon’ and wishlist adds, which is a bit of a milestone. The trailer is nearly done and the launch is in sight. If you haven’t heard me talk about it before, shadowhand is a game developed by Grey Alien Games and published by me! Its an interesting card-game/rpg/story based game that has no real direct comparison. Its very polished and very addictive. Here is Jake talking about the latest developments in the game:

Its hard to know how best to describe the game, I would say ‘darkest dungeon meets solitaire with steroids on’.  I like it (and think its a good bet to publish) precisely because its no hard to describe, and thus is likely an experienced most gamers have not had. Its going to be really interesting to see what people think of it.

Both me and Jake will be at GDC next week. if you are a youtuber or twitch streamer and want a demo, just leave a comment or email me at cliff AT positech dot co dot uk. Also obviously we are always keen to talk to bloggers and journalists about Shadowhand and Production Line. Plus we are British, so you can offload all your political angst on us while we nod sagely and understand :D.

Hopefully new Production Line patch tonight or tomorrow morning…

New blog video, Production Line 1.07 and onwards…

Wow its been a BUSY week, like crazy busy. I released build 1.07 for Production Line, and started on 1.08. The price went up to $11 today, and I also started laying out a list of coming soon stuff in the forums here. There has been a steady (and accelerating) growth in daily pre-orders for the game. 4,000 sales seems ages ago now, and I’m struggling to keep up with all the feedback. Anyway…here is the new blog video.

I shouldn’t really be surprised, but the pace with which people have got around to building REALLY BIG factories is kinda amazing. This meant I needed to do some optimisation for those cases, often totally revising my idea of how big I should make certain fixed size buffers. (640k is enough for everybody!). I know some programmers might say ‘but dude…variable sized data structures. Yup, know all about them, but they can be SLOW. Try comparing the performance of a list or vector and an array one day… its HUGE. What I tend to do is have fixed arrays of oft-used objects, and allocate extra arrays if I start to run out, meaning rare one-off frame skips, but silky smooth performance most of the time.

My day is just now a blur of checking email;, then twitter, then facebook messages, then reddit posts, then forum posts, then forum messages, and then going through my bug list and my features todo list until its time to sleep or blow off steam in Battlefield One. However…just in case you thought that made me sound lazy, don’t forget we are also publishing another game (Shadowhand) which is coming soon. Here is Jakes latest video about the game:

Before long it will be GDC, and before that I’ve agreed to speak at TWO(!!!) events, which means…holy crap. I should stop typing and get on with it.. I will leave you with the exciting changelist for Production Line build 1.07:

[version alpha  1.07]
1) Major performance optimization for large factories.
2) Much faster vehicle rendering when zoomed out.
3) Fixed bug where very high car output resulted in no market price for a car being low enough.
4) Fixed the 'No room to TrashLowPriorityResource from stockpile' bug.
5) Fixed the 'Route Pending!' bug.
6) Possible fix for corrupt efficiency graph.
7) Fixed bug where manufacturing slots showed as not connected to a stockpile until the first resources arrived.
8) Added game-clock to top right menu.
9) Quitting the new car design dialog now gives a unique default name and price to the design.
10) Fixed bug where the warning notices on cars would persist until they encountered an empty conveyor belt.
11) Fixed bug where right clicking on research screen could delete items in the factory.
12) When a car is unable to move to the next (connected) slot, the message now tells the player which requirement is not met.
13) Background sound FX in R&D screen reduced in volume.
14) Fixed bug where some conveyor belt placements resulted in multiple placement sounds on top of each other.
15) Fixes to the layout of some R&D and slot menu items.
16) The warning and error notices in the factory now shrink to icons when zoomed right out.
17) As a temporary quick balance measure, only 4 valves are needed for engines now!
18) Fixed bug where supply stockpiles would not always fill correctly.


Shadowhand’s designer will be at GDC

Jake Birkett, one of the developers behind Shadowhand is going to be at GDC this year, shortly before the final (yay!) release of the game. If you haven’t already heard about it, check out the website or read the announcement on Jakes blog:

Its a very interesting game, because its a sort of RPG/Card game/Visual Novel mashup with cool characters and a very interesting combat mechanic. I think it will appeal to casual card game players and Darkest-Dungeon lovers alike.

I’ll also be there, wearing a REALLY BRIGHT jacket, and pretending to be networking.

Another shadowhand update!

Another video from Jake talking about the enemies abilities to use consumables in Duel sections of ShadowHand. I’m really looking forward to playing the finished version of this. Its getting closer to release!