Archive for the ‘Game Development’ Category

Shadowhand Dev Diary #11 – Character Sheet

Tuesday, April 18th, 2017

In RPGs it’s customary to level up regularly, gaining points to spend on customising your character, boosting and tailoring their abilities to suit your preferred playing style.

For Shadowhand, we had a choice of coming up with stats that affected the player’s combat, like most RPGs do, or using stats which affected the card play only. Since weapons & outfits affect combat, we decided that it would be nice if character stats only affect card play. This would make the game stand out from other RPGs; plus card play stats are universal in that they affect both puzzle and fight levels.

Improving your chances
Our previous game, Regency Solitaire, had a lot of shop items that affected card gameplay. Some of those items lent themselves well to the kind of stat that you can increment by a small percentage each time, e.g. the number of cards face up at the start of a hand or increased chance to find jokers, wild cards, etc. We have expanded on this in Shadowhand with stats such as luck, which means you find better loot, and finesse, where you “finesse” the stock pile to bring a favourable card to the top.

The final step was to get icons that represented the name of the stat and also their effect. We tried to come up with names that spoke about what they were doing within the framework of being a highwaywoman. Here a screenshot of our final selection, which shows how you can mouse over to get the full details of each stat before deciding how to spend your points:

What they do
Willpower: Charges Active Abilities faster.
Insight: Start hand with cards face up.
Guile: Find more jokers & spare cards.
Finesse: Cheat! Draw better stock cards.
Prosperity: Boosts starting multiplier.
Luck: Find more gear in loot.

Balancing
These stats need careful balancing and testing using our own automated test system that we spent a long time developing, to make sure none of them is over- or under-powered.

There are six stats to which you can allocate up to ten points each although some of them let you go slightly above ten if you chose to wear a special outfit item. The game will give you 40 points to allocate, this allows some level of customization for different players, depending on what they find important.

Game Wisdom podcast

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

Jake was recently a guest on the Game Wisdom podcast.

Host Josh Bycer discussed Jake’s background in the game industry as one of a few indie developers who has been around for over a decade making video games. The chat also takes on topics such as appealing to casual and core gamers, and what it means for marketing your game, as well as how upcoming game Shadowhand is focused on the Steam audience.

Have a listen to “The winning hand of Grey Alien Games,” here!

The Question Bus podcast

Jake was also interviewed by Keir Miron of The Question Bus at Steam Dev Days in Oct 2016 about Regency Solitaire and Shadowhand and you can listen to that here.

Worldbuilding with words

Wednesday, December 21st, 2016

Helen was fortunate enough to be invited to take part in Wordplay London in November at the British Library: a festival of interactive fiction and writerly games organised by the Hand Eye Society.

For those of you who missed it and would like to get some insight from a host of experts about writing in games, the Hand Eye Society has put together a video of some of the panels from the day.

Helen was part of the panel called “Worldbuilding with words,” along with a lovely panel with varied backgrounds ranging from dystopian Twitter fiction (Nate Crowley) to choose-your-own-adventure style game books (Jon Green) with a bit of dating Twine fiction (Hannah Powell-Smith) along the way. Helen spoke about facilitating different levels of depth that work for a range of play styles in both Regency Solitaire and Shadowhand. She also talks about connecting with as many of the player’s senses as possible to build a game world; and how a limited plot scope and richly researched lore can help with effective writing. You can catch this panel at 5:00:00 (5 hours) into the video.