Prisonscape Alpha 3 Release

This is probably the last bigger alpha release, hopefully the next ones will be out much faster. I had to throw away the previous combat code and think up a better system. Normally I don’t like doing heavy refactoring this far in a project, but it was mandatory (for my sanity) in this case.

Alpha 4 and Alpha 5 will still be heavily concentrated on combat, we are still missing stuff like: animations, particles, sound effects, ranged attacks, henchmen and consequences. Once those are implemented, then we can say “We are looking so damn good”.

List of completed stuff:

Game

  • combat v2: complete refactoring
  • combat v2: new script API
  • combat v2: larger combat levels
  • combat v2: free look
  • combat v2: flee spots
  • combat v2: simple enemy AI
  • combat v2: action turn bar v1
  • combat v2: smooth scroll camera
  • fix bug where item locations are not removed when the item is taken
  • add setPlayerSpawn() to LevelAPI
  • add game debug command: show trigger areas
  • fix bug where player activation line is not aligned properly after a cutscene
  • add trigger actions to trigger areas: STOP_PLAYER -> causes player to stop
  • pass target level as a program argument, not as a property
  • implement zooming in and out
  • implement transitions between all levels

Editor

  • only set the background tile when increasing level dimensions
  • fix bug where tile debug data is not shown when increasing level dimensions
  • pass target level as a program argument, not as a property
  • only show level files that can be loaded
  • implement zooming in and out
  • implement free spawn placement
  • add level editor debug command: show trigger areas

Engine

  • fix all warning generated by -Xlint:all
  • fix compile time warnings
  • fix world object selection in level editor (can still be improved)
  • refactor java2d rendering code
  • refactor opengl rendering code
  • update JOGL

Working on Prisonscape Alpha 3

Short update on where we are at:

It’s looking like the combat system needs to be split into two alpha releases. Currently I’m working on completely refactoring the combat model, adding stuff like side information, custom AI scripts etc. Pekka finished the design of the new combat in September, I just need implement it so that we can start tinkering with the details.

I naively thought that I could build on the existing system but it was just a pile of garbage built fast so that we could demo the combat in general.

Alpha 3 will have the basic system and rules working, and Alpha 4 will have the animations, sounds and other bells and whistles implemented.

Until next time.

Prisonscape Alpha 2 Release

Only took a year to release.

Anyways, I recently started working part-time so that I can concentrate on finishing Prisonscape.

This release contains mostly bug fixes and code refactoring.

List of completed stuff:

– add license attributions (LICENSE file)
– add teleports to level editor
– add trigger areas (game model + level editor)
– fix all bugs found from Alpha 1
– refactor texture atlas creation process
– update all libraries
– upgrade to Java 8
– fix redundant code style issues
– delete useless libs
– update lib folder structure
– update and clean build file

Alpha 3 will contain Consequences and Drug Effects, maybe some improvements to the combat as well.

Once there’s more stuff to show I’ll be posting screenshots on our forums at the RPG Codex.

Prisonscape Alpha 2

Hello hello,

We’ve been working on Alpha 2 for a while now and hopefully it will be out in July.

Alpha 2 will have few engine related things I’ve been working on, mainly a refactoring of our asset pipeline so that, for example, Pekka can add new textures easily.

As for features, consequences after combat is a big one we’ve been wanting to get right. Now fights in Prisonscape don’t matter as there are no real consequences, they guy you killed or injured just disappears without any blowback to you or your status inside the prison.

We don’t want combat to be just another grind for experience and items. Even though we’re not aiming for realism, it would be kind of funny to just slaughter groups of inmates like you’d do in Chrono Trigger or Final Fantasy. We’d like the fights to be harder (and maybe longer) and have both positive and negative effects during the game.

Anyways, stay tuned!

Back to work, you lazy piece of shit

Here’s a confession which to most of you shouldn’t come as a surprise: We have been way too lazy with the game development lately. It would be easy to blame this on realities of life, but it’s not just that – sometimes your work becomes this enormous hurdle
which seems impossible to overcome. When you haven’t worked on the code/script for months, you tend to forget where you were, what you were supposed to do or even what has been done. Because of this, it is challenging to get to that flow-like state where
you bang on your keyboard and something magical happens. Basically, I haven’t done any development for Prisonscape in months.

courtroom-01

It seems that I have been trapped in a world of instant gratification for a while now, and this needs to change. I am actually the only one of the team who had no other than made up reasons explaining the lack of development. It’s not a writer’s block, per se, I just got overwhelmed by the complexity of the game at its current state (you REALLY should make your first game simple!). I got even more discouraged after our first alpha wasn’t very successful due to several bugs and plain bad writing and designing.

riot-scene-big

So, here  we are. A lot of people have already forgotten Prisonscape, and those who are still checking it from time to time probably think that it’s yet another game that’ll never be finished. But I’m not gonna let that happen. We’re not gonna let that happen. I think the game still has crazy potential to become an interesting roleplaying game in a very interesting setting. I think we already we have plenty of great material for the game. I think that at times the writing is good, and the characters are interesting.

I think we can do this, we’ll just have to get back to work. Actually, I already started.

About GamerGate

I’ve been wanting to write my thought on GamerGate for a while now. I suppose there’s always the chance of getting no coverage for our game, but based on our previous “success” with several gaming sites, I don’t know if that’s such a big loss. The thing I’m most afraid is the reaction from my game dev friends, I hope we can still be friends even if we have different opinions on the issue. I would also like to emphasize, that everything I say here is just my opinion – the rest of the Prisonscape team probably
doesn’t share my opinion on Gamergate.

Like some of you already know, I am pro-Gamergate. I have been following the debate since day one, and slowly it has grown into the huge movement that is covered by the biggest news outlets out there, including NY Times, BBC and CBC. As biased and one-sided these stories were, it is a sign that this debate won’t be going away anytime soon. Mainstream and “normal folk” will be interested for a short while, but as soon as we have another scandal exposed, their attention is elsewhere. But gamers will still be there, and they will remember all this for a long time. Like TB wrote on Twitter,
“When the dust settles, remember who it was that fed their own readership to the wolves.”

There are few reasons why I am supporting this movement:

1) Censorship – When this whole thing started, there was a huge wave censorship on Reddit. For example, r/gaming had a thread with over 25000 deleted
comments, Mundane Matt’s video was hit with DMCA and even 4chan started censoring everything GG related. Naturally, any commenting or conversation is
censored in several sites that are critized by GG movement, including Kotaku, The Verge and Polygon.


This Mundane Matt video was struck with DMCA

2) Lack of dialogue – So far it seems that there has been only few parties that are trying to resolve the issue through dialogue. The Escapist has written
about Gamergate covering both point of views and Huffington Post Live had two live segments and that’s about it. What are the reasons for this? I’m pretty
sure there are levelheaded people on both sides ready to discuss.

3) Blaming it all on misogyny – This seems to be a very common narrative (god I hate this word) amongst anti-GG’ers. They claim that all Gamergate supporters
are women-haters. I’m sorry, but WHAT THE FUCK? I don’t know ANYONE who hates women. That’s like, half of the population in the world. Disliking some women
is not misogyny, and neither is critizicing them based on their actions. The threat against Sarkeesian and USU was unfortunate, but I’m pretty sure that it
had nothing to do with Gamergate – there a lot of crazies out there who want all the attention they can get. GG’ers even helped to identify one of the people
who sent threats to Sarkeesian. She should be irrelevant to the whole debate, since she has very little to do with journalistic integrity issue at hand.


Easy – just support GamerGate

4) Namecalling – Please don’t call us basement-dwellers, don’t make snarky comments about our personal hygiene and don’t critize our sense of fashion. Here’s
a short quote from the infamous Leigh article:

“‘Game culture’ as we know it is kind of embarrassing — it’s not even culture. It’s buying things, spackling over memes and in-jokes repeatedly, and it’s getting mad on the internet.

It’s young men queuing with plush mushroom hats and backpacks and jutting promo poster rolls. Queuing passionately for hours, at events around the world, to see the things that marketers want them to see. To find out whether they should buy things or not. They don’t know how to dress or behave.”


Hey guys, it’s like high school again!

How on earth is this even relevant to the issue (yes, I read the whole article)?

5) Blacklisting – This is just speculation, but I’ll change my mind on this as soon as Kingdom Come: Deliverance is covered by any of the involved parties.


The good old times

I’m not very smart man, and I don’t have a way with words. That’s why I don’t have solution or even suggestions on how to solve this. That’s why I really suggest you read some of these articles that talk about Gamergate from a neutral point of view:

#GamerGate Is Not A Hate Group, It’s A Consumer Movement

#GamerGate – An Issue With Two Sides

And to those who think Gamergate is about misogyny, I’d suggest you watch this Huff Post video:

By the way, I’m always ready to talk about Gamergate and my views on this issue. Hell, you can even doxx me if that makes you feel better.

12.1.2014 #pixelshit Wednesday

Heyoooo! We’re back in business, with a little shorter work time this week. The theme for this week is nature. Start drawing those beautiful (or ugly, or alien, or whatever) landscapes and blow our minds with your art.

Here are some additional rules for the coming week:

  • Limit size for this submission is 128 x 128 pixels
  • This submission is limited to 32 colors
  • Upload the image Imgur if possible. If not, use Twitter image uploader
  • You can of course submit multiple drawings if you want
  • When Wednesday comes (any timezone), tweet your creation with the hashtag #pixelshit (or if you need SFW hashtag, use #pixelWeek)
  • I will resize the images to a large size when I put them up. If you want to use the original size, please let me know

#pixelshit Wednesday

All indie game developers without any artistic ability, unite! We have created an amazing, weekly pixel challenge for you and the only requirement for joining our little group is to be BAD at art. Our goal is to become better at this by putting up our pixel-y creations for the public so that we can get creative feedback on them. Hopefully we can get some proper artists to give some constructive feedback on them, too!

cell-characters2

I spent over 10 hours on this.

As this is the first week and it’s already Saturday, we’ll start with something fairly simple – draw a 2D character of either size of 16×16 or 32×32 pixels. Colors are limited to 8. This submission will be used to determine if you are bad enough for our group (just kidding, everyone’s welcome). Upload your image to Imgur and when Wednesday comes, link the said image to Twitter under hashtag #pixelshit. If you have questions, send me a Tweet to @Prisonscape.

Godspeed, gentlemen.

Core features and beyond

Why hello there!

While Pekka has been designing NPCs and the layout of the County Jail, I have been working on the core features of the game. I’ve completed first versions of the combat system, item handling and quest (job) system. I’m sure we’re going to rework these features several times, but it’s nice to have even rough versions up and running. Prisonscape is starting to come alive! As a side note, people from Reddit seemed to like the fact that you can taunt your opponent during combat. 🙂

We’re currently working on getting the tile layers work with each other, so that transparencies and object rendering orders are correct. It’s actually quite a bit of work to get them working properly, but once the system is done we don’t have to touch it for the rest of the project.

cells-12

Layering in action – player character is standing behind the table

The reason we switched from working on core features to engine functionality is that we’re trying to get our first gameplay video out. It will feature a simple quest, combat action, and in general show the ‘world’ of Prisonscape a bit. So, having working tile layers will be nice so that the player will actually disappear behind walls and items instead of climbing all over them.

cells-13

Checking if the Dance with The Dragons has finally arrived…

As for deadlines, we’ll try to get the demo ready for September or October. I’m guesstimating that we will be working mostly on gameplay features this year with polishing and the rest of the engine work going to next year. There isn’t much engine work left anyways, implementing OpenGL rendering and building an audio system basically. Making sure the game works as intended on our target platforms will also require time.

It’s important to note that we’re basically building Prisonscape from scratch, using a custom engine. I know we could have accelerated the development of Prisonscape by using Unity or some other existing engine, but I made the decision to use a custom engine based on few key reasons. Mainly, I like to have control over everything in the code. Having total control over code means that I can tweak every aspect of the game without waiting for a 3rd party. It also allows me to implement Pekka’s ideas without ever going ‘Nope, sorry, the engine can’t do that’. We also won’t be bound to any license fees or royalties.

cells-14

“Sir, I’d like to checkout from the premises.”

Even though custom development is slow in the beginning, we’ll begin to see the advantages in the mid to late stages of the project. Also, we’ll have a “production tested” code base which can be used in our next game. Anyways, Tommy Refenes (programmer of Super Meat Boy) had a nice blog post about this same issue at Gamasutra. He also seems to like the idea of custom engine development.

Well, this rambled on longer than I expected. Until next time!

Punishment fits the crime

It’s been a while since our last blog post because we’ve been celebrating the holidays with our families. But now we are back in business! First of all, few general announcements about our progress and how Prisonscape is doing:

– Tuomas has been working hard on the collision detection and some graphic glitches, and the work is almost done. Next he will start working on the fight system
– I have done the map for the first part of the game and it actually starts looking like a prison now
– We started looking for a pixel artist and we already have a lot of potential candidates for the job
– We wrote short introductions about who we are, so if you’re interested, check this page

In this blog post I’ll be explaining what happens when the player “screws up” and how the punishment system works in Prisonscape. Based on my research, in real prisons it goes something like this: If you do a small misdemeanor, they’ll take away some of your privileges – no rec time, no books, etc. Offences like this are e.g. spitting on the floor, masturbating in public or shouting. For other offences you’ll get to spend some time in the hole. Your time in solitary confinement can vary from one day to months depending on the severity of your offence.

Then there is the ‘game over’ scenario where you fuck up real bad. This means you are put into a Special Housing Unit where you get to spend the rest of your miserable days or until you get sentenced to death. In game terms it means that you have to either start a new game or load some previous state where you haven’t done that utterly stupid thing. Some of the crimes that will destroy your future altogether are: killing a guard, killing another inmate, and/or trying to escape. Of course, you won’t be punished if you can do these things without getting caught.

Special Housing Unit

But because of the universal rule of snitching, you often get away with the killing of another inmate. Gangs will frown upon these acts, though, since it breaks the balance of fear between ethnic groups. Gang wars are always bad for business and nobody enjoys constant lockdowns and shakedowns. For this reason ‘neutrons’ (inmates who are not involved in gangs) going on a killing spree are in great danger of getting attacked by the gangs.

From here on, spoilers.

The game is divided into three completely different parts: waiting for your sentence in the county jail, doing your time in the prison and trying to escape. In game terms, this means that if you don’t fuck up real bad (say, kill a guard), it’s impossible to get a ‘game over’ inside the jail and the prison. But after you start your escape, the game changes. You are constantly in danger of getting caught, and if you do, you have to reload from a save. I believe that this will not ruin the experience, and I can think of many ruthless games which are still extremely playable and enjoyable. If you don’t believe me, go play ADOM or Nethack.

– Pekka