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[Submissions Open] Indie Insights: Weekly Game Critique Liveshow!

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#1 Highsight

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Posted 06 January 2016 - 04:56 PM

THIS WEEK'S SHOW (3/8/16)

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Hello World!

 

My name is Highsight and for the past year I've been running a weekly show on Twitch by the name of Indie Insights!  This is a very specialized show based around game development, specifically, every Tuesday at 8PM ET I take 3 games submitted to me by their developers and playtest them live in front of my audience here.  As I play my audience and I all give collective feedback on the game, involving everything from mechanics to aesthetics.  The overall goal of this show is to help developers enhance their games by viewing them through the eyes of a new player.

 

The response to this show has been overwhelmingly positive, and I've met alot of great developers along the way, many of which are actually a part of this community!  They suggested that I come by here and let you guys know about this show's existence so you could have a chance to submit your game for evaluation as well.  This show works best for games that are in their alpha and beta stages, as this is when feedback can be the most helpful, but any stage of game development is fine really.  I accept all PC games, but I'm afraid I can't do mobile games at the moment as I've yet to find a good way to make them work.  So basically, as long as your game can be played on a PC, we're good to go!

 

After each show, I take the footage I've recorded for each game and archive them on my YouTube.  This way if the developer was not around for the livestream, they can still catch the feedback.  They are also welcome to share that footage wherever they want, it's there for them to use however they wish.  My chatbot will also be collecting feedback presented by my audience throughout the stream, and that feedback will be emailed to you as soon as the video goes up on YouTube!

 

Be forewarned, if you choose to submit your game, it will be HEAVILY analysed, so expect constructive criticism and feedback, this is not strictly a promotional show, this is a game analysis show first and foremost.  I'm not going to be saying things like "this game sucks!" but you can expect me to point out flaws and ways to improve them.

 

I plan on using this thread to discuss each game a bit more in depth after it's been posted on YouTube and give my final thoughts on the experience.  I think this would be a great place to talk more about game design aspects of game I check out, and I'd love for this community to be a part of that!

 

If any of this interests you, I suggest you submit your game to Indie Insights today, or just come on by the stream!  Even if you've never made a game in your life, your tastes and ability to differentiate good game design from bad game design could be the deciding factor in what can make a game great.

 

tl;dr You can submit your game here.  Every Tuesday at 8PM ET I will play 3 submissions here.  Feedback will be given by myself and my audience which will then be emailed to you.


Edited by Highsight, 08 March 2016 - 08:00 PM.

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#2 chance

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Posted 06 January 2016 - 06:05 PM

Just so nobody thinks this is spam, I told Highsight it was OK to post this.  It's not the usual topic for game design, but it's related -- especially if members use this discussion to learn more about marketing and promotion.   But there's a possibility the topic could be moved (or removed) later if it takes the wrong turn.  Or if someone identifies a better place for it.

 

There's some discussion among moderators about whether members should submit their own games, or only submit games by others they feel are worth reviewing.  I don't have strong opinions either way.   But if you make a game suggestion in this topic, you should carefully explain your reasoning, based on the game's design, feature content, unique gameplay, etc.

 

@Highsight:  I hope you choose games based on their merit.  That's not to say you should only review games you like.  Negative criticism can be constructive.  I just hope you can avoid reviewing games that are obviously unfinished, or just horribly (amateurishly) designed.


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#3 lasso_games

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Posted 06 January 2016 - 06:51 PM

I thought the show last night was excellent, not just because our game was featured. I have seen Highsight do gm(48) streams where he plays every submission, and he and the audience always provide quality critical feedback. I'm really excited to be a part of this moving forward and hope it picks up a lot of traction. It's a great way to put your game to the eye of a new player with lots of gaming knowledge while at the same time getting an early audience for your product.

 

Best regards going forward, keep doing what you do!


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#4 webber17

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Posted 06 January 2016 - 07:40 PM

Highsight featured my game a few weeks ago and the feedback I received from him and the audience was exceptional. I now enjoy regularly watching his show and I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants some real-time constructive feedback from a group. 
 


Edited by webber17, 06 January 2016 - 08:10 PM.

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#5 YanBG

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Posted 06 January 2016 - 08:36 PM

Egoisticly, i have submitted my game :). It's in beta testing, so don't spare me the critiques!


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#6 Highsight

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Posted 06 January 2016 - 08:38 PM

Egoisticly, i have submitted my game :). It's in beta testing, so don't spare me the critiques!

 

Wonderful!  I'll be sending out an email to let you know which week your game will be played.  Thanks for the submission, I look forward to checking it out!


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#7 Highsight

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Posted 12 January 2016 - 07:14 PM

Games for 1/12/16

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Interfacing With The Press

 

Ahoy everyone!

 

Here's a detailed list of the games we'll be studying this week.  We've got two games made in Game Maker, Onion Force, which has recently been Greenlit on Steam, and Bogarash, which the developer has a devlog of right here!

 

In light of Onion Force's recent greenlight success, I'd like to talk a bit about things you can do to get your game better seen and distributed around the press cycle.  While my case is a bit unique, I feel these tips can help anyone who is working on game reach the press in a new and more positive light.  As you may know, I get all of my games submitted to me through this form right here.  I designed this form to make it easier for me to present to my viewers information that will be of help to them.  Here are the fields in the form, what they do for me and why they are important to get right:

 

Game Name

NEVER underestimate the power of a snappy name.  Your game's name is how everyone will identify it, and if it doesn't sound fun, engaging or clever it's not going to help you.  In addition, try to keep your name as easily pronounceable as possible, no one can talk about your game if they don't know how to say it!

 

Company or Dev Name

Ideally, all of your games should be under some sort of brand.  Most of the time you'll want to have a company name, but alot of times I end up with submissions where the developer simply goes by their forum handle.  This can be a major point of professionalism and can immediately turn people away from your game.  Would you rather play a game made by a company like "Thunderclap Games" (random name) or by some guy named "Thunderthighs5213"?  If you don't have a studio name, there's no time like the present to start thinking of one, it's a MUST!

 

Contact Email

This one's a bit of a special case, as usually you'll be the one emailing other people.  If you can afford it however, you should consider investing in a private email address, or at least making a separate GMail.  It's so nice having your work/hobby life and your real life separate, and this is just one extra step to help that.

 

Game Link/Key

Usually for press you'll want to ensure they have access to some sort of "dev build".  You can always toss them a public demo, but if it's something anyone has access to, there's a good chance press may pass it up.  Why would a popular personality waste their time on a public demo when they have exclusive access to something else?  Press is always looking for exclusives, so always try to offer one!  If you are giving out Steam Keys or specific Developer Kits, MAKE THAT INFORMATION KNOWN IMMEDIATELY.  Put it in the email subject that there is a Steam Key inside the email, do not keep this information hidden!

 

Build Version

It's always a good idea to let the media you submit your game to know EXACTLY what state your game is in.  If it's an alpha, do not be afraid to say so, tip-toeing around that can cause players to think they are playing a final product, and that could spell doom if an unfinished product is portrayed in such a light.  Be it alpha, beta, v0.00001, prototype or whatever, make it perfectly clear to whomever you're presenting it to what they're in for.

 

Promotional Materials:

This is the BIG one, and I could be here all day talking about it.  I cannot stress enough how important it is to have an easily accessible press kit filled with promotional material.  Many of the games I play are in very early stages, so I am pretty lenient on this, but as soon as it is possible, you NEED to get a press kit started and keep it updated.  For anyone new to the presskit game, I cannot sing the praises highly enough for presskit().  This little free module has saved me so many manhours in collecting materials for my work.  But then there's the question of just what to put into your presskit.  Here is what I believe to be the absolute most important things to submit from top to bottom:

  • Transparent Eye Catching Logo (Access to a transparent logo is CRUCIAL for all press.  They need it to make thumbnails among other things.)
  • Trailer/Gameplay Video (Downloadable versions and not just YouTube versions are super helpful for video creators)
  • In Game Screenshots
  • Email Address
  • Feature Bulletpoints
  • Detailed Game Summary
  • Social Links (Twitter, Facebook, Etc...)
  • Company History

Known Bugs

Again, I'm a bit of a rare case here as I tend to deal with buggy dev builds, but it's still a great idea to let the press know of any potential pitfalls in press builds you may send out.

 

Feature Bulletpoints

This one is more of a catchall.  It's important to press to a degree, but it's VERY important to consumers.  There are TONS of people out who's decision on playing your game hinges on your ability to hook them immediatly.  Bulletpoints are your game's elevator pitch, they need to be unique, concise and attention grabbing.  DO NOT make paragraph long bulletpoints, those will not be attention grabbing, just boring.  Conversely, don't be too short or vague.  The following are bullet points that were legitimately sent to me in the past from various games:

  • Bad Bullet Points:
    • Coop
    • platformer
    • puzzle
    • Challenge!
    • Score system with achievements.
    • Stuff (Yes, I'm serious, "Stuff" was a feature bulletpoint)
  • Good Bullet Points:
    • Poker-esque card-based combat mechanic.
    • Immersive gameplay inspired by Flashback and Another World.
    • A wealth of spells to collect.
    • Shoot, dodge and reflect enemy fire through 9 levels to get to the boss.
    • No frustrating class-based gear limitations.
    • Dozens of brain busting puzzles, with more being added all the time

Notes

There's no real harm after getting the bulletpoints, features and such out of the way in engaging the content creator in extra information about the game or your company.  If you have a humanizing story about your company and the way it was founded, don't lay it on too thick, but feel free to disclose such information, some of the time press may choose to build on that in their story.

 

Webpage

Make yourself a company website AS SOON AS YOU CAN. Websites are an amazing linkback resource and you might be amazed how often having one can come in handy.  Just by getting one, you can get your own personalized email linked to it, much like mine.  This can increases your perceived professionalism 10x.

 

IndieDB

Really not important to mention to most people, this one's a special case for me.

 

Twitter

Twitter has become SUPER important in the gamedev scene, especially amongst indies.  It's a great way for you to get in touch with your audience, and vice versa.  You can also post mini-devlogs and screenshots which can easily net you new viewers.  Some handy hashtags to know are #indiedev, #indiedevhour, #screenshotsaturday and #gamedev.  Make absolutely sure you include your Twitter in your signature on both forums and emails, it is a super convenient way for people you are getting in touch with to follow you!

 

Steam Greenlight

If you are running a Steam Greenlight campaign, you need to get a link to that EVERYWHERE!  Anywhere could be a potential area to find that one person who is willing to share your campaign to the millions of people who can get it seen.  Greenlight campaigns, as well as game marketing in general is a game of luck and numbers, so do whatever you can to increase that number.  The more your game is linked, the higher the chance it will be seen, it's that simple.

 

Keys or Giveaways

While I never REQUIRE such things, giving a couple of extra keys and giveaways to the press is never a bad idea.  They may be just the people to get your game into the right hands for circulation.  Do not think of giveaways as a lost sale, but rather a chance to reach a new person who otherwise would never have seen your game.  For all you know that new player may introduce the game to their friends, and so on and so forth.  Word of mouth is a powerful thing!

 

 

 

And that covers this week's basic lecture on interfacing with the press through my own personal experience.  Again, every person is different, and this is by no means a catch-all situation, but hopefully it will help you better understand things from the other side and maybe even get your game seen more by some new people.  So what did Onion Knight do to get their campaign to be a success? Come on out to Indie Insights tonight and ask them!  One of the devs will be available to chat during the stream, so come on out and ask them whatever you'd like! I hope to see you all tonight at 8PM EST as we further discuss game design, development and distribution live on Indie Insights.  Hope to see you all there!


Edited by Highsight, 19 January 2016 - 02:52 PM.

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#8 yokcos700

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Posted 12 January 2016 - 08:30 PM

So what, do you have a giant list of every bullet point submitted to your show or do you just remember those examples because they were so good?
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#9 xPac7x

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Posted 12 January 2016 - 09:58 PM

Interesting, I'll have to check out the channel - could be fun. I'd definitely like to get my game Rogue Harvest featured at some point if possible.


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Please check out Rogue Harvest on Steam: http://store.steampo....com/app/409490

Please also check out my Google Play games: https://play.google....745135653735703

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#10 Highsight

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Posted 19 January 2016 - 03:44 PM

Games for 1/19/16

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Streaming Your Development

 

Good day gamedevs!

 

This week we've got 3 great games, one of which was made in Game Maker (Skyling: Garden Defense).  The developer of Dungeons and Damsels has been streaming development of his game since the very beginning.  Thanks to this, his game has gotten a huge following and an active community who are always around for feedback, testing and most importantly, sharing/distribution.  The streaming of game development is a relativly new thing, but it has already shown to be quite popular among devs and viewers alike!  In that vein, I want to talk a bit about the pros and cons of streaming, and what you as a developer can do to stream your own game's development.

 

Why Stream Your Game Development?

 

I've chatted with many developers on the subject and the one thing they keep telling me over and over again is that they stream their development because "it keeps me focused."  When you are showing the entire world your work ethic, you tend to be on your best behavior, like a worker with their boss looking over their shoulder.  But it's not just all about focus.  When you work on your game in a bubble with no one else around it's very easy to convince yourself that what you're doing is creating a fun experience.  It's not a malicious thing by any stretch, but when you develop a game you know every little aspect of it, every mechanic, every secret, every potential pitfall.  Because of this, you may not realize "why does the game play so slowly?" or "why is the player's attack range so short?" or even "Why does the pixel art look so plain?".  These are all things that your audience may be willing to ask you that you might not ask yourself, and this can lead to some very interesting feedback.  2dgamedev has actually gone through a variety of itterations on his game from player feedback alone.  It started as a hardcore 2D Platformer, then turned into a Diablo platformer and now it's a roguelike platformer.  Where it will morph from there, who knows!  Did I mention that if people really like your game there's a chance they may donate to you?  Some people make a living and fund their entire development through viewer donations, and as we all know, in the indie world, every penny counts!

 

Why You Shouldn't Stream Your Development?

 

Of course streaming's not for everyone.  First off, if you work in a noisy environment, enjoy working with Netflix on (though you really shouldn't do this....) or do not have access to a mic, streaming may not be for you.  Commentary is important to streaming, especially streaming development as you get to talk through what you are planning and even formulate new ideas.  A webcam is also a great idea, but it's not really a necessity.  If you have constant background noise going on through your mic however, it will absolutely drive people away.  Next, if you have a computer with a weak CPU (yes, CPU, not GPU) then your computer may not be able to handle the stress of streaming, especially while compiling code.  Third, you should absolutely not stream your game if you want to keep its contents under wraps.  You shouldn't worry too much about someone stealing your idea (ideas are a dime a dozen) but your content WILL be seen by some, and that could lead to story spoilers and such.  Lastly, if you don't work well with others, streaming MAY not be for you, as you'll be meeting lots of new people.  Gotta turn up that charm. :)

 

How do I stream?

 

This is a very VERY VERY basic tutorial to get you started on your way for development.  There's much more to learn from here, but this will get you started and on your way.

 

  • Create a Twitch Account
  • Download and Install OBS (I recommend AGAINST the multiplatform version right now)
  • Go to your Twitch Dashboard and locate the Stream Key (http://www.twitch.tv/<your account name>/dashboard/streamkey)
  • In OBS go to Settings -> Settings
    • Encoding
      • ​Encoder: x264
      • Use CBR: Checked
      • Enable CBR padding: Checked
      • Use Custom Buffer Size: NOT Checked
      • Max Bitrate (kb/s): Start at 2500, if your viewers are getting buffering, move it down until it's not.  Try to stay above 1500, this value directy effects visual quality.
      • (The audio settings below should be all defaulted correctly)
    • Broadcast Settings
      • Mode: Live Stream
      • Streaming Service: Twitch
      • FMS URL: Select the server closest to you.
      • Play Path/Stream Key (if any): Copy the stream key from the previous step and paste it in here.
    • Video
      • ​I recommend keeping the defaults, however, if you need to use a lower Max Bitrate, I recommend the following settings.
      • Resolution Downscale: 1280x720
      • Filter: Lanczos for higher spec computers, Bilinear for lower spec computers.
  • Save the above settings.
  • Right click on the "Sources" list and add in a Monitor Capture.  Capture your primary work monitor, the one you want everyone to see.
  • Right click again on the Sources list and add in a Video Capture Device.  Add in your webcam.
  • Click the "Preview Stream" button on the right.
  • If all went well, you should see your primary monitor with your webcam above it!
  • If you press the Start Streaming button, you should go live on your Twitch page with no issues!

In the future you can/should modify your sources to include images, donation tickers, and tons of other overlay goodies, but this is a great way to get started.  You can think of the Sources List like a layers list in Photoshop.  If you pess the Edit Scene button during a preview or a stream you can actually move where each source lives, you can even crop and scale them in the window using the corners.

 

There's alot to learn when it comes to streaming, but hopefully this will help everyone interested in streaming their development to get started!  Good luck out there, and feel free to ask any followup questions.  I hope to see you all tonight for Indie Insights to see live game development feedback in action!  Tonight at 8PM ET!


Edited by Highsight, 19 January 2016 - 03:52 PM.

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#11 tabc3dd

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Posted 19 January 2016 - 11:17 PM

Love the concept :) ! I submitted my game, not sure it meets your quality standards but this kind of feedback is the best way to improve in my opinion.
Good luck with your streaming and I hope you'll be able to help people and have fun while doing it.


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#12 Highsight

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Posted 20 January 2016 - 12:18 AM

Thanks for the submission, I got it successfully!  As far as "qualtiy" goes, I'd say you're doing just fine from what I've seen.  I look forward to checking it out!  Don't forget the show starts in 30 minutes if you'd like to join in for tonight's feedback!


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#13 xPac7x

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Posted 20 January 2016 - 03:58 PM

Just submitted my game Rogue Harvest - hope everything went through okay. Looking forward your feedback!


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Please check out Rogue Harvest on Steam: http://store.steampo....com/app/409490

Please also check out my Google Play games: https://play.google....745135653735703

Thanks x1000 for any & all support!  :bunny: 


#14 Highsight

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Posted 26 January 2016 - 04:58 PM

Just submitted my game Rogue Harvest - hope everything went through okay. Looking forward your feedback!

 

Thanks for the submission buddy, I think I can get you in for next week's show!  But now it's time to talk about THIS WEEK!

 

Games for 1/26/16

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Achievement Unlocked

 

This is the 50th episode of Indie Insights! I honestly never expect this to get as far as it has, and to me that is a huge accomplishment.  People love milestones, that's why we celebrate centennials, it's why we parade around how many people have downloaded our games, why YouTubers are always so proud of hitting their 100th follower.  Milestones are a tangible way to say "Look how great I am!" and if there's one thing we should understand in game development, it's how to make your player feel that sense of achievement.  So let's talk a bit about Milestones, and their actual use in game development!

 

While global achievement tracking is relatively new thing popularized through XBox Live, achievements in video games are not a new thing.  Back in the arcade days, your sense of achievement was given to you for being the top of the only one in town with the #1 score on Pacman.

 

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Mrs Pacman would be so proud!

 

The issue with scores alone as a sense of achievement however is that it's a boring unit of measurement.  No one cares that you got 10,000 more points than someone else in a game of Super Mario Brothers, what they care about is what you did to earn those extra 10,000 points.  Perhaps you got those points by getting through the first level in 15 seconds?  Which would you rather have celebrated then, that you managed to do that, or that you got the extra points?  The acknowledgement of an achievement is almost as, if not more important than the actual achievement itself!  To that end, as games have evolved, developers have been working to move away from a standard scoring system, instead, opting to provide the player with a less quantifiable, but more tangible feeling of achievement. Sticking with our theme of Mario, have you ever wondered just why Super Mario World introduced Yoshi Coins into the game?

 

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Mmmm... Currency...

 

For those unfamiliar with the concept, each level in Super Mario World had 5 Yoshi coins hidden inside them.  If you found and collected them all, you'd be rewarded with an extra life.  Sure, it's a meager reward, but the actual reward isn't the point.  The point is that the game acknowledged to the player that they went above and beyond what a normal player would do, and this makes the player feel GOOD.  By giving the player something extra to look for, Nintendo presented the player with an achievement, no matter how minor it may be "how many levels can I find all the Yoshi coins in?".  This boosted players interest in level exploration and general replayability.  Later, Nintendo would to add "Star Coins" to their levels with the same concept, but an even great reward for finding them, extra, harder, levels!

 

While this is a more "long term" achievement system, games should also be searching for consistent ways to acknowledge when their players are kicking ass.  Let's take a look at a slightly more bloody game than Mario for an example.  Quake 3 Arena had an amazing, if not simple method of acknowledging its player's skill through a series of Medals that would quickly come on screen accompanied by an announcer to let the player know "Well done soldier."

 

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Gotta Catch'em All

 

In actuality, these badges really don't mean much of anything, they're nothing more than images that exist on the screen for 2 or 3 seconds, but that's far from the point.  The point is I will never forget what these images look like for as long as I live, because these images were my trophies growing up.  They were my badges of honor for kicking an immense amount of ass, and to be able to make players associate a feeling of great personal achievement through the connection of some images is a huge benefit for any game to have.  When developing your games, it's important to remember what keeps a game going. Longevity is guaranteed when you give the player challenges outside of the scope of the standard gameplay.  These DO NOT have to be giant, but they do need to be acknowledged by the game itself.  Did you just knock out your opponent without taking a single hit?  PERFECT!  Did you just finish a really hard level in record time? NEW RECORD! Did you find the hidden room that took alot of effort to reach? Secret rave party room with 1-UPs everywhere!  No matter how you wish to acknowledge your player for going above and beyond, the player will just be happy for the acknowledgement.

 

 

 

I hope to see you all tonight at my big 50th episode.  We'll be revisiting games from Indie Insight's past and seeing what sort of achievements they've unlocked since our last time seeing them.  The show begins on my Twitch channel at 8PM ET.  I hope to see you there. :)


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#15 xPac7x

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Posted 26 January 2016 - 06:31 PM

Great to hear - I look forward to seeing Rogue Harvest on your channel. Congrats on the great accomplishment, you have built quite a large following! I just followed you as well, and will share the stream. Looking forward to tonight's episode!


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Please check out Rogue Harvest on Steam: http://store.steampo....com/app/409490

Please also check out my Google Play games: https://play.google....745135653735703

Thanks x1000 for any & all support!  :bunny: 


#16 Xer0botXer0

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Posted 27 January 2016 - 04:09 PM

I love this whole idea, from what I can gather this is excellent exposure for developers, the whole purpose of it is good and it seems like OP is very high spirited.


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#17 webber17

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Posted 27 January 2016 - 04:20 PM

I love this whole idea, from what I can gather this is excellent exposure for developers, the whole purpose of it is good and it seems like OP is very high spirited.

He has been outstanding with his feedback. I had my game on his show last night and it wasn't performing well but he was very understanding and supportive. I'd highly recommend submitting your game if it is a semi-polished/playable state.


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#18 xPac7x

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Posted 28 January 2016 - 08:38 PM

I've been watching the stream the last few days - it is really great. Hoping to see my game featured next week and get some solid feedback. If you guys want some great advice on your projects i'd definitely check this channel out.


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Please check out Rogue Harvest on Steam: http://store.steampo....com/app/409490

Please also check out my Google Play games: https://play.google....745135653735703

Thanks x1000 for any & all support!  :bunny: 


#19 Highsight

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Posted 02 February 2016 - 06:19 PM

I've been watching the stream the last few days - it is really great. Hoping to see my game featured next week and get some solid feedback. If you guys want some great advice on your projects i'd definitely check this channel out.

 

The day is upon us!  Your game is up tonight!

 

Games for 2/2/16

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Attack of the Clones

 

Being unique is important.  Yes, this is an obvious statement, but if it's so obvious, why is it so often ignored in game development?  The term "clone" is thrown around so often in our field it's become a standardized term.  Back in the mid 1980s any Platformer was a "Mario-Clone", then around the mid 90s all First Person Shooters were "Doom-Clone", somewhere in the late 2000's all survival games were "Minecraft-Clones", but why is that?  Why is it that whenever a unique concept becomes popular, anyone who tries to copy that success with their own twist on the formula has the game labeled a "clone"?  Sure, there's obviously going to be the imitators that are simply working to make a quick buck by ripping off what's popular, but there are always legitimate copycats that are working to create something unique based off something they really love.

 

screenshot_03.jpg

Seems Legit

 

So where does that leave developers who are genuinely trying to be unique by working around a popular concept?  Are you doomed to never be able to create your perfect Fatal Fantasy RPG?  No, I don't think so at all, I think it's just a question of your ability to stand out above the rest.  Let's expand on this with an example.  In the N64 era, Super Mario 64 came out an revolutionized the concept of a 3D platformer.  The concept of exploring huge open 3D worlds in a sort of "hide and go seek" way, searching for stars was a brilliant new concept that had never been attempted before, and people loved it.  Then two years later, along comes RARE with their new IP, Banjo-Kazooie.  Tell me if you start to spot the similarities:

 

Yj40t8I.gif             Vl3xIcQ.png

A person in danger...

 

RuV18ez.jpg      9P3JyGQ.jpg

Sends a hero on a Quest to Collect Stuff...

 

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Who may also find some extra stuff along the way...

 

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And will use magical powers in their quest to help them get around.

 

So what am I getting at?  Yes, I am flat out saying that Banjo Kazooie is a Mario 64 Clone!  But then here's the real question, "does anyone actually care?"  This game came out 2 years after Mario 64 and borrows MANY ideas from the Mario 64 formula, and yet you'll be hard pressed to find someone calling it out for being "Mario 64 Staring A Bear and a Bird", so why is that?  It's because even though the gameplay may not be 100% unique, it's still different enough to stand on its own merit.  It's got its own look, its own story, its own sound and most importantly, its own charm.  The developers didn't just take what it saw Mario 64 doing and copy it exactly, but rather the developers cherry picked what they saw as the most fun parts of Mario 64 and replaced the parts they didn't enjoy as much with their own things.

 

Don't like how when you get a Star in Mario 64 you exit the level?  Neither did we!  Collect as many jiggies as you want before leaving!  Don't like how coins were never used as currency?  Same here, how about we make doors that open when you get enough Notes!  Feel like the worlds should have been populated with more characters?  How about a whole cast of crazy critters, both good and bad, to interact with during your quest!

 

It was design changes like these that helped make a great formula stand out even through the popularity of Mario 64 itself.  If you are choosing to create a game that is based on ideas from another very popular game, you are doomed to failure unless you are willing to step outside of the comfort zone provided by that game and come up with your own unique ideas.  Think outside the box, be yourself, you can do it.

 

 

 

Tonight we'll be checking out 3 games that are inspired by others, but have chosen to step outside the comfort zone provided by those original inspirations in one way or another.  We'll see if their design decisions help separate them enough, and if there's anything we can do to help them out along the way.  Come on by at 8PM ET and let's help shape these games into something truly unique!


Edited by Highsight, 02 February 2016 - 06:20 PM.

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#20 xPac7x

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Posted 02 February 2016 - 08:27 PM

Highsight, not sure if you usually get a chance to test out the games at all before each stream. A few users (specifically with newer AMD processors) have reported the game not opening at all after this last weeks update. I am looking into those issues and going to push out a patch asap, but if you haven't had a chance to run Rogue Harvest yet, it may be worth running it and making sure that it is starting up. The issue doesn't seem to widespread yet but wanted to give a heads up.


Edited by xPac7x, 02 February 2016 - 08:28 PM.

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Please check out Rogue Harvest on Steam: http://store.steampo....com/app/409490

Please also check out my Google Play games: https://play.google....745135653735703

Thanks x1000 for any & all support!  :bunny: 


#21 Highsight

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Posted 02 February 2016 - 08:38 PM

Highsight, not sure if you usually get a chance to test out the games at all before each stream. A few users (specifically with newer AMD processors) have reported the game not opening at all after this last weeks update. I am looking into those issues and going to push out a patch asap, but if you haven't had a chance to run Rogue Harvest yet, it may be worth running it and making sure that it is starting up. The issue doesn't seem to widespread yet but wanted to give a heads up.

 

Hey Pac,

 

Last night I opened it and got as far as the main menu.  Is this as far as others have gotten?  I generally don't play games before the stream as I want to enter them with as fresh eyes as possible.

 

-Highsight


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#22 ExtremeSpace

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Posted 02 February 2016 - 08:46 PM

 

Highsight, not sure if you usually get a chance to test out the games at all before each stream. A few users (specifically with newer AMD processors) have reported the game not opening at all after this last weeks update. I am looking into those issues and going to push out a patch asap, but if you haven't had a chance to run Rogue Harvest yet, it may be worth running it and making sure that it is starting up. The issue doesn't seem to widespread yet but wanted to give a heads up.

 

Hey Pac,

 

Last night I opened it and got as far as the main menu.  Is this as far as others have gotten?  I generally don't play games before the stream as I want to enter them with as fresh eyes as possible.

 

-Highsight

 

Can I send an android game to you?


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Check out IIVOX, A new puzzle game!

cIzGIUN.png


#23 xPac7x

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Posted 02 February 2016 - 08:51 PM

Great, yeah the reports that I have had seemed to stop the game before the initial splash screen would appear only seconds after opening so you shouldn't have any problem. Still figuring out that issue, just wanted to run it by you.


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Please check out Rogue Harvest on Steam: http://store.steampo....com/app/409490

Please also check out my Google Play games: https://play.google....745135653735703

Thanks x1000 for any & all support!  :bunny: 


#24 Highsight

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Posted 02 February 2016 - 09:00 PM

Can I send an android game to you?

 

Hey there ExtremeSpace.  I'd love to check out your game, but sadly in my many many attempts to do android emulation and/or screen mirroring, I've never met with any success.  Every method I've tried has either been too compromising, or too unstable (crashes, etc).  Unless you can export your game to a PC playable format, I'm afraid I can't check it out.  If you can however make a PC version, I'd be happy to check it out for ya!


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#25 Highsight

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Posted 09 February 2016 - 07:00 PM

Games for 2/9/16

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The Whole Wide World
 
 
In the beginning, humans invented the square, and for a time, it was good.  Our caveman ancestors used it for a great many things, including walls, tables and TVs.  Yes, the caveman once enjoyed their NESs on square shaped 4:3 TVs, setting a precedent that would be set in stone (haha, puns) for quite a long time to come.  Many years later however, after much scientific debate, it was discovered by the Earth's stop scientists that humans eyes were aligned left to right!  Accounting for this difference, the square began to go out of style, and humans discovered the magic of the rectangle and thus, after a time, the 16:9 monitor ratio was born!  Despite much hesitance to adapt, eventually AAA video games all made the switch to this widescreen format, as it had become the standard in gaming today.  But for some odd reason that I've never quite wrapped my head around, indie developers still tend to shy away from 16:9, but why is that?  Nearly all of their audience uses widescreen monitors, whether they be 16:9 or 16:10, so it seems odd not to conform to this standard, right?
 
prehistoric-tv-man-watching-television-s
Deer never caught.  How show stay fresh.
 
Well, the answer may not be as black and white as all that.  Although yes, it is true that most everyone in the world uses widescreen monitors, it's not true that widescreen would be a good choice for your game.  The biggest reason I know that people may avoid widescreen in their games is for aesthetic reasons.  Anyone attempting to create a game styled around an old console aesthetic (NES, SNES, Genesis) may opt-in to a forced 4:3 ratio in order to preserve the oldschool feel.  As an example, Undertale did this, and its look/feel was heavily inspired by Earthbound.  Another common reason developers choose a 4:3 ratio is to keep the player from being able to use the resolution to their advantage.  This is popular in platformers where looking too far ahead can give the player extra information over the environment.  4:3 is also popular among vertical shoot 'em ups, as the player travels north instead of east-west, and the extra space gives them too much manuverability.
 
I can sympathize with reasons like these, but I find there are many games that run 4:3 with little to no good reason behind it.  The main time I know a game should have been built with widescreen in mind is when the game stretches itself in full screen mode.  A stretched game can never look good, and your aesthetic will take a giant hit when a widescreen player attempts to play your game in full-screen mode.  If at that point you are still in 4:3 ratio, I highly recommend taking the La-Mulana route and adding not black bars, but a frame around your game, and keeping the game at 4:3.
 
La_Mulana_SCREEN_3.png
It's so pretty!
 
In addition, you can even go one step further and use all the extra unused space for HUD elements.  The last thing you should ever do though is allow your game to become stretched from 4:3 to 16:9 through Full Screen, it's not going to do your art style any favors.
 
 
 
I hope you'll join me tonight at 8PM ET as we check out 3 great games that are in development and further discuss the little things that can contribute to a game being great!

Edited by Highsight, 09 February 2016 - 07:06 PM.

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#26 Juju

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Posted 10 February 2016 - 09:18 PM

4:3 stretching to 16:9 is just criminal.


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Come find me @jujuadams

 

Try out my open-source 3D globe terrain generator!

How about a fancy-pants text engine?

Adding dialogue boxes to your games is now super easy. Also localisation. Also tweening.


#27 Highsight

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Posted 16 February 2016 - 06:30 PM

Games for 2/16/16

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Controlling Your Fate
 
Nothing can be more frustrating in gaming than pressing the wrong button at the wrong time.  There's almost no worse feeling than "that's not what I meant to do!"  I'm sure there is a fair share of Mario players out there whom have jumped just a liiiiiiiiiittle earlier than they wanted to, resulting in a bottomless abyss.  Controls can be a tricky subject when it comes to gaming because some games actually design themselves around the concept of difficult to master controls.  A great example of the duality of control complexity can be found between the Arcade Fighter super hit Street Fighter and the indie hit Divekick.  While Street Fighter features a directional input stick and 6 separate attack buttons which can create devastating combos, Divekick is a game made up of exactly two buttons, and nothing more.
 
divekick01.jpg
A custom built Divekick controller.
 
While only containing two buttons, Divekick still contains an immense amount of combat depth on par with Street Fighter itself!  This was achieved through very careful studying of what makes fighters so successful, and how those fighters can be distilled down to their barest elements.  Arguably, giving a player less buttons to work with might make it harder to control, but the developers were very careful in their control consistency.  They designed it so all horizontal (forward and backward) movement, is handled through the Kick button only, and all vertical (upward) movement is handled through only the dive button.  In addition to that, the only part of the game that truly matters is positioning, meaning once you have set up your movement correctly, nearly all of the job has been completed. (More details on the game here)
 
With this control scheme, the developers have succeeded in creating a game all about positioning while simultaneously limiting their control over precise positioning.  It's a game that nearly anyone could pick up and figure out within a couple of minutes, but a game that they could spend a long time mastering.  It's like a game of chess, except all the pieces are knights.  Games which utilize a limited set of controls can be very interesting and accessible, but there are also games that take the exact opposite approach.
 
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Come at me bro, I got like 40 buttons.
 
This, is a controller for a little known game called Steel Battalion.  It featured two joysticks, a throttle, 3 foot petals, and a variety of flip switches and buttons.  This was a game that wanted to simulate the experience of the player actually controlling a mech.  To even begin playing the game, you'd have to memorize a a startup sequence to get the mech into a baseline position.  While a brilliant concept however, many players found themselves completely unable to adapt to these controls, and gave up on trying rather quickly.  This in my opinion is an example of information overload that stems strictly from the controls themselves.  The more buttons that exist in a game's control scheme, the higher the chance they'll press the wrong thing, and then you have a situation where the player is fighting against the controls, not the enemies. In Divekick, the player might be fighting against the controls but there is a strict limit on how much the controls will let you do.  While Divekick offers the player the choice of jumping upwards, jumping backwards kicking forwards, and activating a character-based powerup, Steel Battalion has a wide array of movement systems, weapons systems, repair systems, and even an ejector seat.  It is far too easy to confuse one button for another, and when you're in the thick of the action, you don't want to be pulling out a manual to figure it out.
 
So what is the point I'm making here?  The point is not that you should limit your controls to a small number of buttons, but that you should limit your player's ability to do too many things at once.  Let's come full circle now to Street Fighter for a moment.  As I said before, this is a game with directional input, and 6 attack buttons.  The first time someone plays Street Fighter, they will most likely discover the truth behind it's deceptively simple control scheme, All 6 buttons can be broken into two categories, Punch buttons and Kick buttons.  Now many players will most likely not realize that each Punch and Kick has a "High", "Medium" and "Low" button, but that won't matter.  What does matter is anyone who gets into this game will most likely discover a "punch" and a "kick" option and they will work from there (or they'll just button mash, because hey, if it works!).  This low barrier to entry means that anyone can pick up Street Fighter and at least understand how to have some sembelence of control over their characters, even if they can't pull off a hadouken or a Spinning Bird Kick out of the gate.  Remember, your game only gets one first impression with a player, and if they have no idea how to control themselves properly, they will not enjoy themselves.  Make absolutely sure that the bare minimum it takes to control your game is intuitive, or you're doomed to failure.
 
 
 
 
We'll be talking more about the art of controls among other things as we check out 3 games in development tonight at 8PM ET.  I hope to see you all there!

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#28 Highsight

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Posted 01 March 2016 - 05:55 PM

Games for 3/1/16

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Stand Out And Be Counted
 
In our last discussion during Indie Insights we talked alot about color design in the context of game design, and I think this is an important subject to talk about.  Most people view their game's aesthetics simply as a way to create an atmosphere and make their game look cool (and that's a solid reason too!) but aesthetic design can be very important for gameplay as well.  Look at the following picture and tell me what you notice about the color design:
 
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Figure it out?  Look at how many similar colors are actually on the screen.  Red, Blue and a bit of Purple.  That is such a small number of colors, and look how they are used. Foreground objects are lit up red against the dull blue background.  The purple skeleton is meant to look somewhere in between the two, making the players question their first approach of him.  "Is he a decoration?  Is he an enemy?".  Of course now we all know that he's an enemy, but back then it was a real question that could pop up in your mind on a first encounter.
 
Through the use of clever color design, the important things pop out very quickly to the player.  We know if it's brightly colored, it's in the foreground, and therefore something to pay attention to.  The player, the ground, the hearts, the candles, all a varying degree of red.  Though the times have changed, many well made games still follow this color theory.  Take a look below at an image from the upcoming Iconoclasts.
 
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Even with everything going on in this image, odds are you can immediatly grasp what's in the background, what's in the foreground and what's "kind of" in the background.  Look at that tree to the left side.  You can tell the character can walk right past that because it's a slightly darker shade of green and brown than everything on the ground.  How about the way the developer deliberatly coated all of the ground and ceilings with green grass?  Does it look cool? You betcha!  Does it immediatly define boundries?  Oh yeah!  Two birds, one stone, all thanks to a little bit of green.
 
The colors may have gotten more complex, but the theory remains the same.  If you give the colors in your level design a designated meaning, these will translate subconciously to your player.  Consider very carefully when designing your levels just which colors you are using to help convey your atmosphere.  Your aesthetic choices can end up mattering just as much as any other level design choice!
 
 
 
We'll be talking more about the art of controls among other things as we check out 3 games in development tonight at 8PM ET.  I hope to see you all there!

 

 


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#29 strangastudios

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Posted 03 March 2016 - 07:19 AM

Hey thanks for trying my game Narvas 13. Sorry I wasn't there to watch/comment and If anyone has any questions I'd be glad to answer them. I've just seen it and I apologize for all the bugs, story and things that didn't make sense. This really was just a giant room to test all the mechanics, animations and items. But I enjoyed your whole show I look forward to seeing more. 


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Narvas 13: http://gmc.yoyogames...opic=682557&hl=  <-TRY OUT MY LATEST ALPHA GAME!

Website:http://strangagames.webs.com/    


#30 Highsight

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Posted 08 March 2016 - 08:05 PM

Hey thanks for trying my game Narvas 13. Sorry I wasn't there to watch/comment and If anyone has any questions I'd be glad to answer them. I've just seen it and I apologize for all the bugs, story and things that didn't make sense. This really was just a giant room to test all the mechanics, animations and items. But I enjoyed your whole show I look forward to seeing more. 

 

No worries at all, I was happy to check it out!  Bugs will happen, and it's something we've grown to accept. :)

 

Games for 3/1/16

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Sorry to say there is no fancy post about gamedev stuff this week due to lack of time.  I hope you will all come by tonight however as we examine these games in greater detail tonight at 8PM ET!  I hope to see you all there!


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