Mockup Image

After a couple weeks of searching for and reviewing portfolios we’ve finally found an artist that has the talent and style that we were looking for. He, Leonard, has worked on a couple open sourced projects in the past but nothing commercial but we’re hoping to make this project a huge success and a great start to his promising career in game art. I’m sure you will agree that the mockup image he provided is masterfully composed.

The art is a tricky thing because, honestly, we’ve never done dynamic lighting/shading in code for flat 2d images. We have a general idea of how it’s done in code but we’re antipating long hours of tweaking to get the saturation, brightness, and shading just right. The first few assets that Leonard will create will need two versions - one fully shaded and lighted and another with full brightness and saturation with no shading. The first version is what we will try to match through dynamic lighting in code with the latter version. Eventually we’ll get it just right and be able to create a fully lit version and have it look amazing in the engine. I’m expecting a lot of blog posts about that system in the near future.

We’ll keep you posted on future developments which will now include pretty pictures!

Posted by @LunarPeter

We are now past the initial flurry of progress and ideas that is the prototyping phase. The basic game idea is proven to work and is fun. Now the goal is to keep drilling down on that fun factor and make it bigger.

When doing prototyping most things are just thrown together. You do want to keep in mind how things will be later but only for a few moments. The point of prototyping is to get something working good enough fast enough to know if its worth doing. If you spend too much time planning you wind up months into something probably making tools. Step away and all you have made are tools!


The initial game concept for ‘Taia Arcana’ was running after a week. It was a dirty mess with not even programmer art but you know what did work? The basics for moving and shooting things. What you will spend 99% of your time doing. We spent the next week smoothing things just a bit mostly with controls and bullet patterns to see if it stayed fun.

Now that the prototyping phase is done you can start working on the game again with more tact and hopefully better scope. One thing to do at this phase is take another look at what you think you actually need to make the game (fun). This step should honestly be repeated as many times as possible without getting on the way of progress.

Bullet Editor

So the biggest point of a bullet hell/shooter are the bullets. Flying all over looking cool and being scary. When I started working on a bullet editor I thought I could handle it without much planning. The first few levels of complexity went okay but I soon found I was out of my element. I had never done a crazy math oriented bullet shooter before. I looked around at some other alternatives. Unity being as modular as it is with its Asset Store and community I started shopping around. There are a few options but none that satisfied our needs. Some gave insight into what a better system would look like though which was really helpful.

I set out to redo my initial design to be easier to edit. If its not quick and painless you can’t play with numbers and effects to just see what looks cool or feels right. This by the seat of your pants feel is something suggested many times by other successful shooter games.

Posted by uwee

** Data, graphs, and insight provided by Lobster Sundew **

You may have heard about Neverending Nightmare’s last minute push to reach it’s funding goal of $99,000 and all the competition it faced during it’s campaign (including Hyper Light Drifter, Shantae, and Mighty No. 9) but you may not know what happened behind the scenes.

I hope to shed some light on this campaign for you.

Neverending Nightmare

Neverending Nightmare (NN) was both a well run campaign with tons of prep work and a project that many backers took a personal interest in. Without the large number of backers who wanted to see it succeed it may not have been possible. Eventually, however, it was so close to becoming a success that it simultaneously became a project that was “too big to fail”. The campaign was engineered from the start to do this and it performed perfectly. The existing backers were kept motivated throughout the campaign and they helped spread the word about the project. Many of them also increased their pledges. We will touch on funneling briefly later in this post.

Despite NN’s success, the conversation rate of visitors to backers was poor. It is not a game that can appeal to the mass audience of core gamers. Another project would have brought in a lot more funding with the same exposure that NN received – even several members of the press backed the projects themselves. Let’s Players covering the demo also helped tremendously.

One problem that NN faced was the fierce competition. A lot of medium sized campaigns stalled out during the same period and many campaigns saw pledges pulled away so people could move their money into Hyper Light Drifter.

The $1 Tier

NN used a $1 tier to help keep the project’s popularity ranking high and it was very successful at doing so. During the Kickstarter through the $1 tier kept the project ranked higher than it otherwise should have been without it. In order to utilize a $1 successfully, it needs to have real value and needs to appeal to the “over-achiever” personality type (adding one’s name to credits works perfectly). The reason why it works so well is because Kickstarter’s ranking system is crude and unrefined - a $1 backer has as much pull as a $50 when it comes to rankings. From the looks of it, something as seemingly insignificant as a couple $1 pledges may have saved NN from dropping sharply in the rankings as during the slowest days a significant portion of new backers entered at the $1 tier.

Soundtrack vs Beta Access

From an analysis of several Kickstarter projects (including NN, DwarfCorp, and others) it looks as though there are a significant number of people who care more about receiving the soundtrack over receiving beta access and vice versa. The trouble is figuring out which one to introduce first in the tier structure to maximize funneling and increased pledges. A good tactic currently is to introduce both individually in two tiers of equal value and also have a higher tier that includes both that is not too far off. The goal here is to funnel backers to higher tiers thus raising the per backer average pledge.


Another interesting tactic that is becoming more popular now is the Add-on item. An important thing to note here is that add-on items should be introduced during the last quarter of the campaign. Early introduction to add-ons may cause some people to occupy a lower tier in an attempt to budget for the add-on. The idea here is to introduce a backer with new add-ons to squeeze a bit more out of some of them after they have become comfortable with the current pledge tier they occupy. One good thing to keep in mind is shipping costs. Physical items that can fit in a thin envelop or take up minimal space make for great add-ons as they will not contribute to shipping costs as much as bulkier items. This allows you to minimize risk. NN was successful because the missing funds came from backers upgrading their original pledges. Add-ons would have fueled this behaviour even more. As a consequence, there was also a small surge of new backers when evangelical backers started to really push for the project.

Blood Alloy is another project that wasn’t as fortunate this time around. The campaign was buried fast after launch and stalled out shortly after. The rewards would have had more value added to them but they weren’t completely broken. It looks like a lack of exposure and crazy competition from other campaigns were likely reasons why it failed.

You all know about Hyper Light Drifter. Here’s the data for that project:

Posted by @LunarPeter

Lately on /r/gamedev, there has been a steady and noticeable increase in the number of posts about personal development streams. I brought up an idea with my fellow moderators as well as some other prominent community participants/contributors and we all agreed that eventually we’d want to have a single place to put all of these. We weren’t sure how to go about it though but I knew it definitely needed to show the status of each stream on demand. After some searching on google, I found a nice project that accomplishes just what we were looking for and used it as a base. From there, I formated a new web page under my Amazon S3 hosting account, tweaked the original code to suit our specific needs, and added it to the /r/gamedev sidebar.

In an attempt to try to keep neutral, I’ve removed the navigation menu on the streamer listing page and tried to automate as much as possible. However, one thing that I could not automate completely was the adding of new twitch channels to the list. To make sure that people are actually game developers and usually streaming game development I will be curating the list and making judgment calls about streamers’ content. I’d really like for this to take off and for more people to get comfortable with streaming their game development. I know for sure that Lunar Enigma and co will be streaming in the near future. For now the streaming API only supports twitch but I may add link and status support for other streaming sites in the future.

Developer stream

Get your stream on the list:

Twitter Message
Reddit Message

Posted by @LunarPeter

New Art!

Markus and I have been hard at work creating some new scenery and animations for Project Umbrella. You may have seen some of our work on our Tumblr, TIGsource, or IndieDB but we’re giving an early preview of our newest scene right on our technical blog. We know – it’s not really technical but hey, who cares, it’s beautiful.

Double extended cottage scene. Click for full resolution.

The Cottage Story

In the prologue of the story, our heroine starts off in quaint little cottage preparing tea for her grandmother who is seen knitting a scarf in her rocking chair. After serving hot tea to her grandmother, whom she loves dearly, she decides to take a walk to the daisy fields and exits the cottage. She could only take a few steps before her grandmother opens the door and asks her to take an umbrella with her because it looks as if it’ll storm. Our heroine politely rejects the offer and assures her grandmother that she will be back soon and that she should not worry.

Our heroine walks quietly on the beaten dirt path towards the fields – all the while taking in the beauty nature. She arrives at the fields, takes a deep breath, and kneels down to pick flowers to take back home. She is intently focused on picking flowers. Unknowingly to her, the natural beauty around her starts to wither and withdraw into the dark woods nearby. The sky subtly turns darker. The decay accelerates. She is still oblivious to her surroundings. She raises her head up and notices something is very wrong. Rolling, dark storm clouds are visible in the sky and are approaching quickly. Worried, our heroine stands up briskly, drops her flowers, and starts running back home.

As the cottage pulls into view, our heroine slows to a sluggish pace and we can see that the cottage is now in utter ruins. There wasn’t a shred of evidence that anyone lived there. She walks closer to the rubble and finds the umbrella her grandmother got for her on her 5th birthday. Not sure what else to do, she calls out for her grandmother and listens intensely to the eerie silence. Nothing.

Posted by @LunarPeter