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!

Nick

 

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The Red Market Dev Log #3 (September 2018, Part 2)

It’s the end of The Red Market’s month-long pre-production. Also, there’s a super typhoon heading towards my home (Nagoya, Japan), so what better time to post an update?

The Red Market - Deep NPC Interactions

I managed to finish everything on my list for this and the previous sprint of pre-production, so feeling pretty chuffed about that. Specifically, here’s what I did:

​General:

  • A very nice player helpfully pointed out a few bugs, so I fixed them and uploaded a new version of the prototype. No content updates yet, unfortunately!
  • I’ve added the ability to pay me thousands of pounds via itch.io if you really like The Red Market (smaller denominations will also be grudgingly accepted)
  • Extra time spent on various research for (a) (possibly) commissioning art and music later on in the project, (b) improving the game’s social media presence to the point where it’s not just me on Twitter occasionally posting about what food I happen to be eating that day, and (c) (possibly) looking looking into some form of crowdfunding towards the end of the project.​  If you’d chuck me a couple of dollars a month on Patreon let me know. If you wouldn’t then, uh, maybe let me know but in a nice way please?

The Red Market - Eat

Planning:

  • Planning all content for 14.5 new monsters, as well as breedings, and super-secret Monster Variations.
  • Re-jigging Player Characters, their effects, and their special interactions
  • Planning all item and relic interactions with monsters (since each run of the game will be relatively short, with a huge emphasis on replaying to find new monsters, new secrets, and new paths, these hidden interactions are going to be a vital part of the game, rather than just fun easter eggs).
  • Planning the game’s Boons and Scars system of semi-permanent but treatable/losable buffs and debuffs.
  • Planning in excruciating detail how all stats and story info will be tracked by the game, and how the game’s central time-resetting mechanic will work.
  • Making a detailed schedule for full development, including several fortnight-long sprints sprinkled throughout development to cushion the blow of any setbacks.

The Red Market - Relics

Next sprint is the first of full production, and will take the form of rebuilding a lot of the current game. I learned a lot about Ink (and about game design in general) while developing the prototype, so before I focus on building new things I’m setting aside a fortnight (possibly two) to make sure the foundations are nice and strong and not sinking into a terrible haunted swamp.

I’ll write a blog post at the end of the next fortnightly sprint. Cheers!

Nick

 

 

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The Red Market Dev Log #3: Pre-Production Round Two, or, Re-Pre-Production

The Red Market - Title

The prototype of The Red Market has been out for a while now. A decent number of people have played it [citation needed], it got a small dollop of love on Twitter [prove it didn’t], and two highly-regarded industry professionals had very encouraging things to say about it. So what’s next?

Well, I’m about halfway through a month of pre-production on The Red Market. That’s right – I’ve decided to turn the prototype into a full, 10-month project. And I’ve decided on this for two main reasons:

  1. The core of the game has a lot of promise, and could support a full game very well.
  2. It’ll be a good opportunity to practice and improve my skills – both skills I used to get me this far (writing, game design, project management, etc.), and skills that are still very new to me (coding, working in Unity, trying to build up a small but violently loyal base of fans, selling my soul on social media for likes and retweets, etc. etc.).

10 months also seems like a smart amount of time to allocate to this. It’s long enough that I can put a fair bit more meat on the bones, but not so long that it threatens to become the endless dream project that trips up so many first-time creators – i.e. that 3D Photorealistic MMORPG Voxel Space-Sim planned for release on PS4/Xbox One and VR platforms in 2084. I may have strong ideas for over 50 new monsters and countless cool mechanics, but I also want to finish this thing some time in the next decade. My new motto: If at first you don’t succeed, cut the project until you can bloody well ship it.

I’m going to be incredibly strict with myself on time management here, and if it looks like I’m going to run over schedule I’ll just start cutting. This is going to be a 10-month, limited-scope project, and while I’m excited about the creative possibilities, I’m arguably even more focused on building up my production and project management skills.

So, onto the plan for The Red Market in the coming months, and the cool things I’m going to be adding in that time. But first, some notes:

(i) The project is going to be split into fortnightly sprints.

(ii) I’m planning on a very open production. As such, I’ll be posting a fortnightly blog post (generally at the end of each sprint) detailing what I’ve been working on recently, and what’s coming next.

(iii) While everything is of course subject to change, and we can’t ever really know the future, much less what is truly in our hearts, the only thing I anticipate changing significantly is Unity integration. Currently the game runs purely in the narrative scripting language Ink. While I intend to get it running in Unity with a proper save-load system (while still heavily using Ink) during this project, I quite honestly have literally no idea how feasible that’s going to be for me; someone with no Unity experience, and next to no programming experience, who is doing this all part-time. There’s a chance this will stay a web-only Ink-based game from the very start of this project to the very end.

Okay, with that out of the way:

Planned Content:

  • 15 new monsters, and their accompanying storylines. Including: The Tree of Hands, Jenny Hundredweight, The Bishop-fish, and, of course, the elusive Double Lion
  • ~10 breeding matches between these monsters, giving birth to such unwanted things as Shivers-in-Brine, The Rakehell, and The Glabrous Child.
  • ~7 new areas in which to hunt monsters/meet your demise.
  • ~ 5 new NPC monster-purchasers. Find your beasts comfortable new homes at, for example: The Cabinet of Curiosities, Bruisewater Offcuts & Rendering, or an entirely normal circus.
  • ~5 new powerful Relics, as well as extra treasures to find and sell
  • Visions of your own death, and 8 ways to die!
  • A handful of endings that don’t end in your own death.
  • Scars and Boons – semi-permanent preternatural effects that might help or hinder your efforts.
  • New interactions, options, re-balancing and editing of current content. Lots of extra secret, large and small.
  • A radical new mechanic: turning back time. Upon death or game completion, reset back to the beginning with all your secrets, memories, relics, etc. Make different choices, fast-forward through parts of storylines you’ve already played, and devise time-looping strategies to achieve your goals.
  • (if possible) full integration into Unity: in a groundbreaking innovation still new to gaming, The Red Market will be a downloadable file with full save and load features.
  • A better UI, or at least my best attempts at a better UI.
  • Approximately 200% more having-your-cake-and-eating-it. Experience a barely-veiled critique of capitalism and environmental exploitation while having fun engaging in ruthless capitalist exploitation of nature.

 

Content that is definitely not planned:

  • I know this game would work better if it weren’t a purely text-based game. I have an idea of what it would look like as a minimally-graphical experience (think more the Sorcery! series and Cultist Simulator than Monster Hunter: World. But I also know that I’m not going to be able to make something like that by myself in 9 months of production.
  • Similarly, art. I could pay someone to do it for me, but where’s the money going to come from? Are you going to give me that kind of money all of a sudden?

Actually, speaking of you definitely giving me money, let’s talk about the possibilities for the future:

The Future:

Ultimately, I want to turn game dev into a career. A part-time one if possible, or even a full-time one if I get phenomenally lucky. No matter how good I try to make The Red Market, that career’s unlikely to happen overnight. If possible, I’d like to slowly grow an audience. If, at the end of this 10-month project there’s any interested, I’ll consider crowdfunding for an expanded The Red Market, or another project.

That might take the form of a Patreon, or a Kickstarter, or people tipping me a dollar on whatever dystopian social media platform comes and ruins our lives next. But for the moment, before all that: if you want to support me you can do the following:

  1. Tell people about The Red Market. Point them to this blog, or my twitter
  2. Follow me on Twitter. Retweet the hilarious jokes I make so I can finally fulfill my dream of having more than 45 followers.
  3. Talk to me on Twitter! Drop by to say something nice, or just to start a conversation.

Anyway, that’s all for today’s post. The next post will come at the end of September, as I’m wrapping up pre-production. It should go into more detail about my schedule for the 9-months of full production, and hopefully also something less boring.

See you next time!

Nick

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