The Red Market Dev Log #6 (November 2018, Part 2): I am Very Sick

In today’s fortnightly update: I’m very sick, and I haven’t done as much work as I planned because I am very sick.

In case you weren’t aware: I am very sick. I missed three days of work, and considering I’m only doing game dev two days a week that’s quite significant. I’m currently very much on the mend, and doing my best to avoid getting annoyed at myself for missing so much time on the project.

Here’s what I managed to do this fortnight:

  • Continue rebuilding the game from the ground up.
  • be very sick

As much as making this game is a test of my writing and scheduling skills, self-discipline, and technical abilities, and so on, it’s also a test of my ability to cut myself some bloody slack. I tend to be unhealthily self-critical, to the point where any amount of consistent, good work becomes ‘the bare minimum of what should be expected’, and any temporary lapse (regardless of reason or duration) becomes an unforgivable sin only atoned for by hair shirts, self-flagellation, and a good dose of crunch.

This last year or so has seen me improve on this quite a lot. I’ve steadily improved at cutting myself slack for minor lapses and mistakes, and occasionally even allowing myself to feel proud about my successes. And while my initial instinct after recovering from my illness this week was ‘I have to immediately cram as hard as necessary to catch up’, I’ve managed to keep myself from doing so. I have time built into my schedule in December and March to catch up, with extra time scheduled at the end of the project in July just in case. If something happens and I can’t finish everything by the end of the project, I’ll start cutting out things that are ‘nice but unessential’ until the game’s in a fit state to release on time.

As much as I’d like this whole game dev lark to be a professional, even full-time thing in the future: (a) my mental health is more important than a deadline and a set of features I arbitrarily decided upon, (b) rushing myself is just going to help me burn out, and (c) there’s no deadline for getting into professional game dev. So long as I’m working on improving my skills and building interesting games, I’m at the very least going in the right direction.

Until next time – I’m going to go play some Night in the Woods (which is lovely, by the way) instead of cramming into the early hours of the morning. Thanks for reading!


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The Red Market Dev Log #5 (October 2018, Part 2): Haunting Memories and Very Spurious Rumours

In today’s fortnightly update: fun, evocative writing, very boring planning, and shameless self-promotion.

Another small update this week. Development has been going pretty darn smoothly, if I do say so myself. I did lose a couple of days due to hurting my back (while hiking (i.e. somehow hurting my back while *walking* (i.e. I’m now an old man))) so badly I couldn’t sit at a computer for more than a few minutes at a time. But luckily I was smart enough to plan for these kinds of hiccups during pre-production, so we’re still 100% on schedule.

Here’s a short list of the things done this sprint:

  • Rebuilt the game’s Challenge system from the ground up. Instead of just percentage based rolls for success or failure the game will now take into consideration the expedition party’s condition, illnesses,
  • Reworked and rewrote a lot of the tutorial content so it’s not a flabby mess of poorly-written code.
  • built and tested the majority of the game’s other gameplay mechanics (more on Secrets, Memories, and Rumours below), so that when it comes time to write fun new storylines (starting December) I’ll be able to focus on just writing fun new storylines without worrying about the foundations crumbling around me.
  • written a lot of fun flavour text for the Secrets, Memories, and Rumours systems.


When you’re searching the world for monsters to capture it helps to have some reliable information to guide you. Well, what could be more reliable than unsourced rumours? At a certain marketplace you’ll be able to pay a little ready cash to hear about the latest sightings and regurgitated superstitions that might – *might* – lead you to a lucrative catch. Here are some examples of the rumours you may be lucky enough to encounter:

“There appears to be a patch of sickness clinging to the surface of the Dabrowan sea like the skin on a soup. Reports that it moves of its own volition, or that it can eat through the hull of a ship in seconds are, as yet, unverified.”

“Have you heard of the night hag Jenny Hundredweight? They say she comes in through your window as you sleep and crushes you beneath her weight. Just an old wive’s tale, eh? Tell that to the precipitous rise in night-time crushing incidents in St. Tepping-on-Sea.”


In The Red Market everything is a commodity – from tinware to iced cream, from holy relics to the very memories buried behind your eyes. Experience something wondrous (or horrid) enough on your travels, and you just might be able to trade the memory in for useful Secrets. Here are some of the memories you may be lucky (or unlucky) enough to acquire:

“A Feast of Rats – beneath the skin there is, almost invariably, flesh. But beneath the skin of The Concatenation of Rats there is something quite different. Whatever it was, you should not have eaten it.”

“A Vision of Death – You have seen the way you will die. The knowledge hangs above you at all times. A curse, yes, but also a kind of blessing?”

“Inhabited by Another – the heart cauterised, the self hollow. Other eyes looking out through your own.”


Trade in memories and you can get secrets – useful, often cryptic hints that will let you peel back the hidden places littering The Red Market. From letting you know the best way to bring down a dangerous beast, to teaching you how to properly treat that troublesome fungal infection you picked up fighting a sentient mushroom – Secrets will be of great use on your adventures:

“Those who enter the sewer-waters under Angmering come out changed. This is to their great misfortune, but not necessarily to yours.”

“The Sea-Bound Tomb is a place where one must give of oneself greatly. Greatly, and for increasingly dubious rewards.”

“The doll lies.”

That’s all for today! Remember – if The Red Market seems at all interesting to you, you can follow me on Twitter for more updates and, among other things:

  • lovely photos of hiking in rural Japan
  • impenetrable tweets about niche videogames
  • my thoughts on the various literary fiction novels and poetry books I read to convince myself (successfully) and others (not so much) that I’m smart and good.

Until next time – thanks for reading!


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The Red Market Dev Log #4 (October 2018, Part 1): Building the Foundations, Contracting Diseases, and Turning Back Time

A very quick update today as this sprint has been 100% boring ‘building the foundations good and strong so those nice decorative columns don’t collapse the moment they’re built’.

During this sprint I’ve been essentially rebuilding the game from the ground up. As I’ve said before, I learnt a lot about using Ink, and general game design while making the The Red Market prototype. And after I finished I looked back and saw a bunch of little mistakes I’d made that, while not affecting the game in its current state, would most likely cause headaches further down the line.

So, for this and the next three sprints I’m going to be focusing on (a) rebuilding the game from the ground up with an eye to keeping everything nice and clean and future-proof, and (b) building and testing all the game’s new mechanics and systems. These new mechanics and systems are:

  • a completely revamped party system, with NPCs in the player’s party able to be injured or killed, or receive Scars and Boons that affect their abilities.
  • a completely revamped, and much more in-depth Challenge system that takes into account various Scars, Boons, Relics, and Treasures.
  • Scars and Boons – semi-permanent buffs and debuffs that the player character, or NPC party members can gain, and that affect their abilities. Expect to encounter and contract such ordinary illnesses as St. Ernestine’s Tar, Butter Lung, and Profound Enervation.
  • an expanded set of Treasures and Relics, including the Chthonic Scrimshaw, and the Febrile Shirt.
  • the game’s various endings, and the all-important game-reset time-travel mechanic, alongside the mechanics that let players skip quickly through already-seen content (more on this in a future post).

After that (which should take us through to the middle of December, at which point I’ll take a holiday), I’ll get to work on implementing the new monsters and storylines. These will take up the bulk of the rest of development, and we’ll start with The Bishop-fish – a fabled fish-bodied, man-faced sea creature with the power (but not necessarily the inclination) to grant wishes.

Until next time – thanks for reading!



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