Wednesday 31 December 2014

Welcome to the Future!

2015 already? Wow. I was watching Back to the Future Part II yesterday, and if Hollywood is to be believed, we're less than one year away from consumer hoverboards, flying cars and cyberpunk costumes being mainstream fashion - so that's something to look forward to at least. I remember watching that movie at the cinema as a kid and thinking 2015 was so far away, and yet here we are. I also remember spending many a weekend in 1989 cycling over to a friends house to play on his C64 and I never would have imagined that now, 26 years later, people would still be messing around with these ancient machines - nor that I'd be involved releasing new games for them.

2014 was a pretty quiet year on the RGCD cartridge release front, with only 3 games published (Darkness, Phase Out and Powerglove), mainly due to real life issues such as moving house/office, redecorating, loads of DIY and other not-so-fun stuff. Of course, 2014 also saw the release of r0x (Extended Play) - our first in-house developed PC game since 2010 - as well as the founding of RGCD.DEV Ltd by myself and Jamie Howard. Sadly, the news/reviews side of RGCD has suffered as a consequence, and I think pretty much all our writers have jumped ship (although I'll try to find time to write a few things myself each month going forward).

So, what's next? We have two new C64 cartridge games due for release in the next few weeks - the long-awaited Rocket Smash EX (complete with a kick-ass easter-egg), and a previously unannounced puzzle game by the name of Gravitrix, which will be the first title on our new 512KB PCBs! After that we'll be helping Throwback Games with his multiplayer C64 basketball game Jam It! and probably looking into releasing some of the 2014 Cartridge Compo entries too. So yeah, we've got a lot of work to do there.

In other news, we've currently had to pull all our downloads from sale via our online shop due to the new EU VAT law (Jan 1st 2015). Neither RGCD or RGCD.DEV Ltd are VAT registered (and RGCD itself is far too small an operation to even consider it), so we simply cannot comply with this new law at all. We can still legally distribute downloads for free alongside the sale of a physical product, so we'll continue doing the poster bundles, but going forward it looks like the best option will be to release all our future C64 games for free shortly after launching each cartridge. Obviously I need to update the store info pages to reflect this... again, more work to do!

Those of you who follow our Twitter account will have probably seen WIP shots and videos of our two new PC/Android game projects, both of which are planned for release in 2015. Droidz is the main one, a bigger and bolder multiplayer spiritual sequel to Robotz DX with a killer soundtrack provided by Atari ST chipster Ultrasyd and graphics by the pixelart legends Vierbit, iLKke, ptoing and Tikipod. Jamie has been taking the lead on this one for now, basically because he's a math genius and stuff like mesh distortion and shaders scare me, so in the meantime I've been leading a smaller project with Folmer Kelly - the ludicrously titled Pan-Dimensional Conga-Combat.

PDCC started out as a simple exercise to help me relearn the little GML I already knew, and Jamie has been giving me some lessons on using primitive 3D objects and creating animations via code instead of using huge sprite sheets. It started off as a direct-copy of a tiny game called Mini01 by Japanese developer Buster, and under direction from my 7-year old daughter Millie it has started to evolve into a fun little arena non-shooter with happy geometric monsters invading various weird dimensional planes/parallel universes. My personal goal with this one is to create a game that is accessible to all - without being 'casual' - so it remains challenging for adults who want to go for the high score but it's also not overly frustrating for children to play. My kids (aged 7, 4 and 2) all love r0x (Extended Play) in multiplayer mode, but the youngest ones whine when they run out of lives, so in PDCC I want to do something else instead of just kicking people out if they are playing badly.

Millie has given me my orders; next to add to the game are 'enemy conga lines' and a 'mega-laser beam' ("like in Mrs. Dad") that is charged up by hitting those invincible purple crosses. But why the obsession with conga dancing? Well you can blame our two male rabbits for that, who are (according to Millie) "always dancing the conga around their cage". Horny little buggers. Oh, and talking of horny, those sexy beats you hear in the background of that game were provided by iLKke - PDCC will be the first game he has contributed to solely as a musician. There seems to be no end to the talents that this man possesses!

Both Droidz and PDCC are planned as commercial releases, and although we are initially targeting desktops and Android consoles/boxes like the Amazon FireTV , ideally we'd like to break into the proper console market in 2015. Oh, and Steam of course...

...which reminds me. I received an email the other day notifying me that Wide Pixel Games' Heavy Recoil - Convoy Chaser, a game that we helped Mix256 release on Ouya, has been successfully greenlit on Steam - using our RGCD account. Whoops! This wasn't really ever supposed to happen, but I think that we're all happy it has! Mikael has decided that he really doesn't want to have to revisit the old code to integrate the Steam SDK for achievements and so on (he's released three other games since this one), so after we've sorted out the paperwork Heavy Recoil will probably be submitted to Valve as a completely free game. But hey, the fact that such a modest little release got through in the end is pretty cool, huh? :)

Before signing off, I think that we completely forgot to announce that r0x (Extended Play) is now also available on the Amazon FireTV. You can pick it up for free here, but you'll need a controller (or four) to play it. And please, if you've played and enjoyed the game on either Ouya or PC, consider writing a short review on the Amazon page to help with the game's visibility in the marketplace - it would be hugely appreciated!

Ok, so that's about all the news I have here for now. Have a very Happy New Year!

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