Tuesday 5 January 2016

We're Back(!)

Hey there internet - Happy New Year and all that jazz! You probably don't remember me, but it's James Monkman here smashing the keys. You know, the guy who used to post on this blog quite often back in ... what? Oh dear...

...Ok, so the last blog post, Tweet and Facebook comments from RGCD were back in October last year and since then loads of people have written us panic-stricken emails and DMs. Well, the truth is we were here all along, but totally swamped with real life stuff. After the excellent Play Expo in Manchester Jamie and I took a short two week break, and then - lo and behold - my youngest of three kids catches the slap cheek virus and then proceeded to share it with the rest of us, one at a time. In fact, I spent my birthday back in November off work in bed with a fever, lying next to a bowl of vomit. Which was just perfect.

Anyway, after about a month of fighting with my wife as to who was going to take the day off work to look after the kids it suddenly dawned on us that Christmas was around the corner and we hadn't got anything sorted for that. And meanwhile of course, my GMail inbox was bursting at the seams due to me not having time to turn on my PC for the previous 6 weeks. You would not believe how long it took me to catch up with that lot. But hey! I'm back at last now, and I've made a promise to myself to post here at least once a week in 2016 (a New Year's resolution of course - let's see how long it lasts).

But what about Jamie? Well after many debates and months of hunting he and his girlfriend Ali finally bought a house! And then they totally ripped the guts out of it and are only just managing to get it put back together again :) Oh! And he's currently in the process of going full-time indie, so as you can imagine, he's had his hands full with that.

Whilst I was nursing ill children and getting no more than 2-3 hours sleep a night, Jamie (being the human dynamo he is) still found time to put down his DIY tools and drop hundreds of lines of fresh code into the now-one-year-old Pan-Dimensional Conga Combat project, so thankfully that has come on quite a bit since I last typed anything here. Oh, and if there are any Chris Wilkins Kickstarter backers out there with questions about Tiger Claw - fear not! The game is finally complete, with just a few minor bits to fix up before we can get it onto a cartridge :)

So, in chronological order, let's have a quick update as to where we are!

Play Expo & Conga Combat Continued

We had a superb time at Play Expo back in October, and it was really nice meeting some of you guys (our 'readers') in the flesh! We took along a couple of PC's and a C64, with the C64 mostly running long-term favourites Super Bread Box, Rocket Smash EX, Bomberland and C64anabalt and the 'proper' computers running Conga and an updated, currently unreleased version of r0x EP. Despite our stand looking like a teenager's bedroom when compared to some of the more swanky looking booths, we got some really valuable feedback, and we'll definitely be taking our games on the road the next time the opportunity arises.

Conga turned out to be surprisingly popular amongst the Expo visitors, with the controllers rarely out of use (in fact we ended up being voted 3rd best indie at the show, but enough bragging!) However, there were a lot of common complaints that Jamie and I jotted down and discussed post-show over a few pints.

Mechanics that we thought were obvious or self-explanatory were completely missed by the public, and it seemed that people were quite determined to play it 'the wrong way' wherever possible!

So here's the low-down on what we've changed:

  • Visible arena borders that fade in as you approach the screen edges.
  • On screen indicators that show where enemies are spawning from.
  • Clearer and more concise instructions!
  • A rating system that judges your performance each time you play (WIP).
  • Fairer enemy AI.
  • In-game playing tips/hints.
  • Tons of bug fixes.

...and what's yet to come?

  • Improved 'between stage' screen.
  • Credits! (WIP)
  • Options! (WIP)
  • Stats/Achievements (WIP)
  • Various improvements across the board.
  • Tons of bug fixes.
  • Ship it.

Joking aside, after a year of working (albeit very sloooowly) on this silly little thing we're confident that we'll have it complete before the start of the next financial year, so you won't have to wait much longer to get your hands on it. In the meantime, check out the latest gameplay capture video at the beginning of this post!

C64 Competition Chaos!

Oops. Ok, it looks like I totally dropped the ball on this one. Seems that if you don't post any updates to a game development competition then the end result is that hardly anyone enters :(

Not only that, but so far we have failed to even secure any prizes this year(!) I'll have to discuss this with Jamie, but at this stage I'm not 100% sure what we're going to do. Maybe extend the deadline? Beg our friends for support in organising a prize fund? I can't give an answer at the moment, but I can promise that the next blog post will be a compo update that will include details of all the game submissions. Not that there are many(!)

On the more positive side, the few entries I have seen do look promising indeed, but you'll have to watch this space for more news on that. For now, check out Richard Bayliss' blog for news on his (completed!) submission 'Vortex Crystals'. Nice work Rich!

Out of Stock Cartridges and New Releases?

This has undoubtedly caused the most worry amongst our supporters - but please fear not, the rather bare-shelved RGCD store is in the process of being restocked with just about everything. Oh! And it turns out that the planned extension of the new EU VAT laws for physical goods will NOT be coming into action this month (possibly not even this year), so we can continue trading as usual for the time being!

On the new release front, we'll be showing off the now complete Kickstarter Backer Exclusive Tiger Claw later this month, and there's Jam It! and Moonspire sat on my desktop ready to go as well. So here's hoping you C64 freaks haven't spent all your Christmas money yet! ;)

And on that note, I'm out of time here so you'll have to wait until next time for further news! Take care all, and check back next week for an update on the C64 Game Dev Competition!

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