It's been over a year ago since I've released the Vectronic Demo using Leadwerks. The demo was composed of assets I've made ported from the Source Engine and my lack of understanding of the API and lua scripting at the time. (I'm used to coding everything in C++) As of writing, it has 1,221 subscribers on the Steam Workshop, 25 out of 26 positive ratings, and is the second most subscribed item! So there is sigh that this as a MVP (Minimum Viable Product) was a success. And again, the Game Launcher is in Beta..
Since the demo, the engine got a lot of improvements and features, and I've learned a lot more about game development in general. (Models, Texture making, etc.) Last summer, I sat down to develop a base application for my projects. I wanted the world, context, and window management to be out of the way while making the full game, and I was concerned about a UI as it was a sticking point when I did a Source branch change from the 2013 SDK to the Alien Swarm Branch in favor of better development tools. (That engine is really fragmented when it comes to things like that....)
Once I finished that application; LEX, I then started over developing the game using that template. Two months went by, I've done some interesting puzzles in dev textures.but I felt that one element was taking over the vecball power elements. It was more fun to use that than fire balls at boxes. (And it was more work than the Vecballs) So, I paused development on that project to research if that 'thing I added' would be a better focusing point.
I only spent a week on it. I didn't want to work on it too much, just enough to see if it'll work. It turned out, that minus some placement calculation, it was really fun. As you can see, I don't want to talk about it in-case I decide to go with it.
November was approaching again, and it's a special time for me. In 2010, I released my Portal mod Blue Portals with mostly positive reviews. Every November, I like to do something to give a reason for people to revisit it. Last year (2014) I fixed the mod so it'd work with the steampipe update, and last November, I decided to put the mod on Steam as an "Anniversary Edition"
Although we had massive support about Blue Portals on Steam, there was things I wasn't happy about, and prevented me from putting it on Steam earlier. Some things didn't age well and I've made some poor design choices. There was also some criticism over the difficulty curve (which is kind of common with Portal mods), and somethings just broke. I can spend a few months patching it up, or I can take the extra time and reevaluate the entire project, and have it be a quality mod on Steam. Plus, if the difficulty curve was adjusted, more people can actually play it!
This first started as a revamp project, but slowly became it's separate entity with it's own needs. I'm learning a few new things I've haven't known before, and it's interesting how some concepts/techniques I've learned using Leadwerks came into play here. I was first very worried about Vectronic being on the back burner, but then I realized that it's actually a good thing I take a break from Vectronic for the following reasons:
- I can experiment with marketing, community management, updates with little to no risk. I can try something and see how it goes and decide what I did right and/or wrong with that decision and use it in the future.
- I can get used to Steamworks, and have an idea going into Steam Greenlight how it's gonna be, which is a plus over most indie devs who need to take time to learn that stuff.
- Blue Portals: Anniversary Edition can be/will be used as an advertising piece for future projects, I can comfort future consumers with an example of our work before they vote on Greenlight or purchase it on Steam.
- I was really unsure where to take the project, so coming back with a clear head would help. I have a bunch of ideas now, but not gonna jump into anything now.
I see the Blue Portals: Anniversary Edition project (BPAE) as a stepping stone for marketing and consumer confidence. Since the mod can be downloaded with zero risk to a consumer, I feel better taking chances with it then I would a product I'd wish to sell. So what's the battle plan?
- Continue to develop BPAE. I'm aiming for a December release. Since most research and development have been conducted five years ago, I think if my team and I keep working at it, we can have a polished product on Steam which in return can help sales with Vectronic. I plan on starting to experiment with Marketing next month. I really want to find that "How Early is the right time to show?" mark. My first guess is "When the project has an established direction, but nothing is 100% final just yet.". Which for this project is short of 6 months of development.
- Continue to chip away at LEX2 as it's going be the new foundation. Unlike it's predecessor, the solution is very minimal and allows for easy C++ entity implementations. I want to participate in the next Tournament using it to make sure it's all solid and good.
- When BPAE is wrapping up, start programming the yucky gross parts like the player and some custom collision rules. Start thinking how everything will tie together and use the new things I learned with BPAE while making design and development choices. I think doing this while BPAE becomes a touch up project will allow me to not feel like I'm doing the same things on two projects.
- Start the true cycle of development for Vectronic once BPAE is submitted to be released on Steam.
So that's the plan. Taking this one at a time. I'll keep you posted on what I'm doing like always. Although Blue Portals: Anniversary Edition isn't a Leadwerks project, I still think me writing my findings with it can benefit others while making their games. We're all learning here!