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Posts Tagged ‘keflings’

OK, so it’s not quite alliterative, or a proper tribute to Dorothy’s line, but it’ll do.

Just a few things of interest to note today.

One, some of my NinjaBee coworkers are out at PAX today, revealing our latest game, Nutjitsu!  I don’t have a lot to show for it just yet, but when we do the non-PAX announcement, I’ll be sure to point to it as well.  I didn’t get to work on this one, but it’s looking pretty good.

Two, one that I did work on, A World of Keflings, is now available for Windows 8, and we’ll have it out for the WiiU later this year!  It’s a little different, controlling the game via the touch screen of a tablet computer, but it’s still the great core game that I’ve had the privilege of working on for a few years now.

Three, there’s this gem from The Rampant Coyote (who worked at Wahoo before my time here, so hey, there’s the common thread), addressing the recent interview with Richard Garriott that has some game devs a bit… irked.  For good reason, as it happens.  He makes some good points, but man… the guy has an amazing ego.

Anywho, I had hoped to have my steampunk/gearpunk poker deck done by now, but tech issues and scheduling conflicts mean I still have 6 face cards to do.  It’s getting there, though, and it’s fun to see it come together.

Updated to add:

This is what the NinjaBee booth looks like out on the PAX floor.  Stop by if you’re in the neighborhood!

NinjaBeeBoothPAX

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Our A World of Keflings is on sale for Christmas, as is some of the DLC!  I found out about this through a roundabout promotional email, so I missed the first of the sale, but it’ll be up until the end of the year, if reports are correct.

I worked extensively on the core game and all of the DLC.  It’s been fun seeing things come together.  One of these days, I really should do a writeup of the process.

Anywho, go forth and conquer the Kefling world!

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The Curse of the Zombiesaurus

The newest DLC for A World of Keflings is going live on Wednesday!  Or would that be going undead?

…zombification is bad for verb tenses.

Anyway, I worked quite a bit on this one as well, so it’s good to see it finished and in the wild.  That cool promotional poster was done by my talented coworker, Daniel Hughes, though I did some work on the logo.  So yay, I’m famous an’ stuffs… but he’s a way better artist.

Happy Halloween, everyone, complete with candy and Zomblings!

…is there any interest in showing off some concept art and behind the scenes production stuff?  I can ask my boss if he’s OK with that if you all want to see it, and maybe a peek behind the game development curtain.

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Not all at the same time, though.

NinjaBee’s game A World of Keflings (a game I worked on quite a bit) is on sale this week over at XBox.com, and just in time for our latest DLC to hit the shop.  OK, technically it’s a little early, but it’s on sale this week, and the Sugar, Spice and Not So Nice DLC releases tomorrow.

As teased in that trailer for the DLC, we’re also releasing a second DLC, Curse of the Zombiesaurus, giving us a nice double serving of October-flavored gaming goodies.  I worked a LOT on both of these DLC releases, and it’s been fun to see them come together.

Curse of the Zombiesaurus!

I’ll be writing about the art and design of these things when I can get something put together.  If nothing else, I want to put together an article in praise of noobs.  …yes, it’s relevant.  Mostly.

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This one’s just a public service announcement.

My employer, NinjaBee, now has a trailer up for our latest A World of Keflings DLC, Sugar, Spice and Not so Nice.  I worked a ton on this, and it’s really good to see it getting some attention.

Happy Friday!

When the game releases, I’ll try to post a bit more on it and maybe talk shop about what I actually do at work, if you all are interested.  A look behind the curtain, as it were.

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I had no idea this was in the works.  Sneaky ninjas.

The Indie Royale guys have a new bundle up of NinjaBee games, four with a fifth if you beat the minimum price.  I’ve worked on four of these, though, admittedly, only on a phone port for Outpost Kaloki, not the original game.  Cloning Clyde was done before I joined the Wahoo/NinjaBee team, as was the original Outpost Kaloki.

Still, I did a few bits of the art for Ancients of Ooga, a fair bit of art for Band of Bugs, and a lot of art for A Kingdom for Keflings.  (Oh, and we’re working on more DLC for the sequel, A World of Keflings, as a result of this contest from a little while ago.)

So yeah, go check it out, y’all!  It’s hard to beat the price on these.  Am I shilling for my company?  Yes, yes I am.  They are good games, too, and ones I’d recommend as great indie titles anyway.  I have a soft spot for Band of Bugs especially, tactical game nerd that I am.

Oh, and speaking of ninjas and hidden secret things, I’ll come back to that “hidden” photo from last post.  There’s an art point I want to make with it, but I’ll let it sit for the weekend.

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My generous employer, Wahoo Studios/NinjaBee, gave each of us an OnLive miniconsole for Christmas and a coupon for a game.  They are one of those rare workplaces that actually wants its employees to play games… albeit not actually at work (QA crew excepted, of course) for sensible reasons.

I’m on record as being… unimpressed with the concept of OnLive.  I stand by my earlier reticence and my own preferences against online gaming in general.  (Yes, I play online games still.  They aren’t devoid of value, the pros just have to outweigh the cons.)  Still, one should never sniff a gift fish, so it was time to dive in and see how well this OnLive thing works out.

Turns out… well… partially fudge, partially onion, and the two don’t exactly mix.  (Apologies to the fudge-covered onion lovers out there.)

Pros:

  • I got Arkham City for $1 thanks to a promotion for new accounts they were running.  Can’t argue much with that.  Probably a fluke of timing, but hey, maybe they will do that again.
  • A decent selection of older games for the $9.99/month subscription plan.  For that, you can play any game on the list as long as you’re subbed.  If you’re a fan of subscription services and games, it’s probably a pretty good deal.
  • Speaking of the library, A Kingdom for Keflings is part of the library as of very recently, so go check it out!  (I built many of the buildings for that game.)
  • Small footprint.  The games all run on remote servers, so the client is little and fast.
  • Digital library.  All the advantages and downsides of that, as with Steam and its ilk.  In a nutshell, they track and host the data for you, but your data is in their hands.
  • Nice tech crutch.  You really only need a good internet connection and a screen to play on.  The hard parts of staying on the cutting edge of gaming, the expensive hardware rigs, are covered by the OnLive guys.  This is a pretty cool idea.

Cons:

  • You need a really good internet connection.  As in, 3mbps minimum and low ping of 25ms or so.  Those are somewhat pricey beasts, and if you’re in a remote area with third rate ISPs, you’re just out of luck.  If you’re getting one just for gaming, the cost/value ratio changes a bit.
  • You need a HDTV-capable display.  I use my computer monitor since I don’t have a HDTV, and since it’s a plain old 4:3 screen, the widescreen HDTV content is bordered by black on top and bottom.  (The bars don’t actually bother me, but they might bug some players.)  Maybe you already have a spiffy HDTV, but if not, those are pricey beasts, too.
  • Because it really needs another bullet point, you need a really good internet connection.  Lagspikes will kill your gaming.  Low speeds will kill your gaming.  ISPs that are interruptable by phone calls will kill your gaming if anyone uses the phone.
  • Demos only last 30 minutes, but they are time-limited, not content limited, if you’re into that sort of thing.  I’m not, as I’ve noted before, so I list this as a con, tempered by the realization that you can play the demo over and over, it just resets your play.
  • Somewhat underwhelming library.  I suppose this will get better over time, so I can’t count this too harshly, but at the moment, they don’t seem to have a huge selection of games.  It’s decent, but it’s not comprehensive.

Other:

I got Dirt3 with my gift coupon.  It’s a solid, fun rally racing game, but about the only other one on the service that I even partially cared about.  OK, Bastion is on there, and I will get that someday, but I prefer to get it on the XBox, ditto with the LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean.  The library of games they offer isn’t very big at the moment, but I imagine it will get bigger.  Since I don’t buy or play M-rated games, that naturally cut me off from a quarter or so of what they offer, too, but that’s a limitation on my end, not theirs.

…but what about the performance?  How does it play?

Well… it’s geared to make the play more important than the visuals.  As in, if the lagmonster strikes and you lose some speed on your internet connection, the visuals degrade instead of the play response, at least, as much as possible.  You’ll see artifacting that you’d see in a JPG still frame or MPEG videos; blocky, blurry, smudgy visuals.  This will be flatly intolerable for some players, but I actually didn’t mind it as much as I thought I would.  This is partially because of how I play and the two games I have.

Y’see, Batman’s Arkham City is a grungy, dystopic place, beautiful in its decay in a terrible sort of way, not unlike the photos of Detroit’s urban decay that I noted a while back.  It’s great to just look at… but a lot of the gameplay of Arkham City is about moving from place to place and beating up thugs.  A fair chunk of it is played in “Detective Vision” as well.  As such, when I want to take a look at the scenery, I just stop and look.  The system doesn’t need as much processing or communication power when you’re stationary in the world, so the visuals improve when you stop to look around… which is a nice confluence of circumstances.  When I’m fighting, the important part is seeing the motion and UI cues for counters, and those are perfectly serviceable, even if the overall visuals degrade a bit.  When I’m soaring around town looking for stuff, I’m sure I’m missing some details, but for the most part, the sense of motion is key, and that translates pretty well unless there’s a very strong and/or protracted lagspike.

Dirt3 has similar quirks.  As in, the bulk of the play is in the middle third of the screen, and there’s a speed blur effect around the perimeter anyway.  It’s all about control, and as long as that stays tight, the game plays really well.  On the longer Rally races, you have a couple of assists in driving anyway, like automatic gearshifting, a radio caller to tell you what turns are coming up, and a ghostly green “optimal race line” overlaid on the track to follow.  Of course, these are optional, and I’m playing in Easy mode, so I’m not sure how well a purist hardcore gearhead (I use that term affectionately, not derogatorily) would like it.  For me, though, it plays about as smooth as slightly sugary butter, which is a key component of fudge, so I’m happy with it.  When I’ve missed a turn or botched a move, it always feels like my fault, not the game lagging on me.  (I’m still not really good at dirt track racing, and the Gymkhana thing, heavy on the drifting and precision control, is very cool, but beyond me at the moment.  It’s like trying to steer a cinder block on ice with turbo-powered hamster wheels.)

So… color me at least partially impressed with what the OnLive people have been able to do with the tech.  I do still think that the high speed internet requirement will make it a niche product, but with luck, as the tech gets better, it will be more useful to more people.  It’s not a perfect system, but it really is playable, which is more than I expected initially.

And hey, I’m playing a sweet driving game, Dirt3, and the so-far-phenomenal Arkham City, and I’ve only spent $1, not counting the computer or internet costs (I’m not using the miniconsole, though, without a HDTV… maybe I’ll come back and review that someday).  I can’t complain much about that, either.  Yes, there’s still that blasted internet tether, but for the price, I’m pretty happy.

I actually wish MMOs would take a page from the OnLive pipeline, too.  I don’t mind if the visuals compress a little bit as long as the play stays at peak.  I know, the tech is different, but I can’t help but wish that there were a similar on-the-fly tradeoff in MMOs to allow play to stay sharp, even if the data transfer rate isn’t constantly snappy.

… in a late-breaking bit of news, apparently OnLive works on tablets and smartphones.  At least, some of them.  That’s an interesting extension of the technology, though I’m not sure I’d want to play Arkham City with touch controls.  Dirt3 might work fine, and our A Kingdom for Keflings PC port was designed for single click use (so it should translate to touch nicely) but not every game can be converted well to the touch interface.  (Random plug for a pair of great articles that enumerates many reasons I don’t like touch tech… A Brief Rant and Jobs’ Legacy)

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I received the 3D prints of my Druid Signet ring, the Druid Glyph ring and my set of Gearpunk dice.  Shapeways does good work… though it looks like I need to do a little still with the D24 to make it read cleanly.  (So to the one person so far who has ordered the ten die set, I’m sorry!  Please contact me via the contact info up there on the About tab, and once I get this D24 model all happy again, I’ll print out another one and send it to you.  It’s not really Shapeways at fault here, I didn’t design the numbers well enough.)

It looks like I was aiming too small for the detail work, but overall, for custom 3D printing, these turned out really well.  Only a decade ago, this would have been absurdly expensive to do.  Now, for all three prints, it was around $50.  It’s not practical for big stuff, but for little cool widgets and wodgets, this is awesome.

Druid Rings Together

The big ring is size 10 and the small ring is size 6.  Bigger is better for detail work, apparently.

Druid Rings On Hand

Both of those are on my fat-fingered hand.  Note to self:  hands on the same person can vary in size somewhat… the ring almost got stuck on my right hand, but fit just perfectly on my left (it fit nearly as well as my wedding band; it’s quite comfortable).

Gearpunk Dice Set

Dice Size Comparison

I fully intend to dye the dice black and drybrush them with metallic paint to get the proper steampunk feel, but that will come later.

In the meantime, there’s also this little gem that I burned 12 hours on over the last few days.  A World of Keflings, now in Sculpey!  (Based on this promotional poster, direct from NinjaBee, my employers.)

A World of Keflings

Wire, armature wire and tinfoil armature on wood, 2 hours.  This is really the crucial part, because it’s the skeleton of your sculpture.  It needs to be solid (though you can fudge it a little bit with a thin layer of Sculpey you put on and then cook, then put on your detail layer) so you don’t have trouble with the structural integrity.  Like a figure drawing, you really need to nail down the proportions or else all the detail work in the world won’t help down the road.  (Notably, I should have made Doug’s arms longer so his face would be more visible, but once I got the clay on, it was too late.)

Kefling Armature

Tools of the sculpting trade, Super Sculpey and a pair of simple plastic tools.  Yes, this is really all I used beside my own two hands.  You can do a lot with simple tools if you’re careful.

Tools of the Trade

Base and some detailing, 3.5 more hours.  Most applications of the Sculpey are 1/4″ or less.  Thinner layers bake better and faster, and are lighter so the armature doesn’t get overloaded.

Getting Started

Finished product, 6.5 more hours, plus cooking.  45 minutes at 200F, standard electric stove, cooled for 1 hour before I took it out of the oven.

They Probably Don't Need Their Winter Coats

Hero pose!

Grand total, 13 hours or so.  Totally worth it.  Maybe someday I’ll paint it with acrylic paints, but for today, I’m happy with it in this “raw” state.  There’s a certain appeal to the basic sculpture.

In The Soft Daylight

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Microsoft likes A World of Keflings.  We do too (enough to have made it in the first place and to still play it afterwards).

Some of us are going to be playing the game tomorrow evening (between 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. EST on Thursday Feb. 3),  showing off and answering questions.  I hear there are also viral emotes to be contracted.

I’ll be there in my Tish Tosh Tesh guise (the XBox Gamertag JavaScript widget isn’t welcome under WordPress, but that gamertag name should work if you go through any of Microsoft’s systems if you’re trying to contact me), probably blathering a bit about game design and the 3D stuff I built for the game.  I built a lot of stuff for the game.  That’s what I do.

More details to be found on our official NinjaBee blog thisaway.

I know, I know, not everyone has an XBox.  I’m more of a PC guy myself and only got the silly console a few months ago.  Still, this is a good excuse to come play the game and maybe get some questions answered about how we made it.  It might even be fun, however weird that might be in the gaming world.

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Forget that voting nonsense, this is the big news from yesterday:

A Kingdom for Keflings on sale

Why bother electing someone to push you around when you can do the pushing?  Be a giant, control the masses of mindless servants!  For $5, complete with two map packs (XBox DLC), this is a pretty sweet deal.

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