Making a Monster
9 months ago
– Wed, Feb 06, 2019 at 10:41:44 PM
We’re hard at work on getting No Mercy off the ground, but we owe all of you an update on where we are! Before we get too deep into this update, we’ve replaced our Tumblr with Instagram! If you want a few more updates, particularly on the art side, check that out now!
This month, I’m going to try something new. We’re going to focus in on one aspect of the game that we’ve been working on. This way we can really go into our process, showcasing some of the cooler features, and not feeling like we have to sit on a lot of things before providing a beefier update once every quarter (if that...). With that being said, let’s talk about some new enemy designs and how we go about designing them!
As we’ve finalized our final story arc and mission list for the game, we started to sit down and think about some of the final enemy designs that we’ve wanted into No Mercy. We then looked through what interesting ideas can we pull from what our story team has written about the world, what interesting things we can come up with from a Gameplay or Art perspective, and, if I’m being 100% honest, which puns we can create for enemies.
As we design our enemies, we try to think about some lessons that they can teach to the player. These lessons can range from “Enemies can Fly” to “Ranged Attacks are More Effective.” We then take all of these lessons, and try to combine them into whatever final battle the player will face at the end of the missions. Since we are designing our Levels and enemies in a horizontal fashion (i.e. from start to end) we can then expand upon these lessons with more and more complex enemies and bosses.
Once we have these rough designs figured out, our design team (typically me!) goes in and creates a “Character Sheet” of the enemy. This sheet will eventually hold any lore/background/concepts/AI Trees, but for now it just has a basic moveset with some flavor text for our art team to make animations off of. Meanwhile, our Concept Artist goes in and create a bunch of interesting ideas about what this creature will look like. Sometimes we already have inspirations for the story team (such as our Village Bird Monster Below) and other times we’re creating rough ideas during the game design sessions (See my sketch above!). Then, when the concepts and character sheet are finalized, they get sent to our 3D team to create the final models and animations for the game!
That takes us to where we are now with our first new set of enemies, Whiteboxing! Modeling and animation is a crazy process of its own, so while our Art team is deep into that, our Tom (our programmer) and I start diving in and creating a very basic version of the enemy to tweak gameplay settings and try out our designs. Currently, Tom creates a rough version of the enemy implemented, and then I’ll jump in and tweak it until it’s a fun boss to fight. Then finally, once we get the actual models into the game, we can just tweak our current whitebox to match the new model, and we have an almost finished enemy into the game!
While this process turns into a giant cycle of AI Creation, Testing, and Revisions, that is the rough of how we approach creating some of the enemies that you will be fighting throughout the game! We’re just getting started in this process, so I’m sure there will be plenty of changes as we get more and more advanced with our enemies.
So that’s a wrap! Let me know what you think about this new approach to Updates in the comments below! As we get further into implementation, we’ll have more and more to showcase, and the game will start to shape up into the final vision that we have, making these updates even more frequent and (in my opinion) more pretty to look at.
Until then, we can’t express how much we appreciate all of your continued support on the project! Make sure that you hit us up with any Fanart/Cosplay you do around the game. It keeps us fueled in the studio, and we also started creating Instagram Stories with the content that gets sent our way! As always, you can interact with us on our Discord Channel, where Tom likes to dive a little deeper into the daily work of development. Otherwise, we’ll chat with you next month when we go a little bit deeper into our overall Whiteboxing process, and start to show a little behind the curtain about our approach to level/mission design!
Thank you so much for being involved in No Mercy!
about 1 year ago
– Fri, Oct 12, 2018 at 11:47:38 PM
Hello friends! I'm just gonna cold-open this, if that's fine.
It has been quite some time since we've emerged from the depths to talk about game progress, or much of anything for that matter. There are several reasons for this.
The first and most comprehensive reason is that our company has always existed primarily on revenue from client work and services. We have 5 full-time salaried employees, and that takes a lot of work to sustain! The Kickstarter was instrumental in keeping us alive during a couple of months of a particularly vicious drought, and without it we wouldn't have been able to survive as a company, let alone make this or any other game. So, little surprise, the thing we've been doing the most of in the last couple years is the sorts of client work we've always done.
The second reason was our expo, GDEX, which just finished up its 6th and (so far) most successful year in terms of both growth and sales. Over the last few months, we had to put the game on hold to focus on making this event as successful as possible without neglecting the client work.
Anyway, that's all for the excuses. We're back on the No Mercy development grind for the moment, and it feels great! While there hasn't been much concrete, shareable development done on the game itself for a while, we have continuously been refining our design and vision. We've been polishing the story, planning the layout of the world, and finalizing our concepts for the characters and enemies this whole time.
Right now, our current activities are focused on building the networking infrastructure that will facilitate online co-operative 2-person play, and beginning to really implement the world and story that we've been working so hard on.
We're hoping to have a major update out as soon as it's ready, but we don't want to rush it; all of the updates up to this point have been simple tweaks to our old prototype vertical slice build. The playable demo you're all familiar with has been separate from our main development branch for nearly a year now, and we're really not trying to spend any more time on it.
The update we recently pushed to the demo (https://multivarious.itch.io/nomercydemo) reflects the changes we made for GDEX 2018, and includes a couple of bugfixes, as well as all-new music. Nothing worth getting too excited about, although as a team we're very pleased with the direction of the music revisions. We figured we'd use these changes as an excuse to touch base and let everyone know that yes, we're still alive, and indeed, the game is still being made.
We are trying our hardest right now to break free of the cycle of client work and fully emerge as a proper game development studio. We are in starting conversations with some possible partners to allow us to focus on full-time No Mercy development as well as promotional assistance, although that's already probably more than I should say about that, I don't want to jinx it!
As always, we value all of the support and feedback of our community. You are all wonderful people and we couldn't have done anything without you. Thanks for being with us so far on this crazy journey!
Our main point of interaction with our friends and supporters is now our Discord server. Feel free to join and harass us! (Please don't actually harass us, just hang out and be chill!) https://discord.gg/tq6WxqH
Our main website is here, if you feel a burning need to fact-check me on all this client-services nonsense I've been spewing. https://www.multivarious.com/
We love you five-ever! - Tom and the Multivarious team
The Game Plan
over 1 year ago
– Thu, May 31, 2018 at 11:09:50 PM
Hey everyone, it’s been a while.
Life has been hectic at the Multivarious office these past few months, but here we are with a collection of updates for you. In essence, we’ve made a lot of progress on the game, have to take two months to focus on client projects and our expo GDEX, and then we’ll be back with a new game plan and release schedule to ensure a quality game for all of you. If you want more detail on these three steps, read on!
As far as progress goes, here’s an overview:
1. Our story is fleshed out, dialogue drafted, and a backup, truncated story in the works. We wanted to prepare for a shortened timeline. Though we love our story as is, if we need to make cuts to get the game out to everyone on time, we already have Plan A, B and C prepared.
2. Our entire art style for the game has been updated to be even more glorious than before. You can download an updated version on our itch.io page.
3. We’ve finished up a major refactor making the game run much better and creating a system that will be significantly easier for our designers to create the levels and missions of the game.
4. We’ve brought a new composer onto the project to expedite the music process and complete the soundtrack faster! Everyone meet Roland. He’s cool.
6. We’re working on 3 new enemies for the early levels of the game: The Sentree, Book Binding, and Meowl.
What all of that means for production is that we have all of the components we need to make the game. We just need to start making levels and playtest them.
Now for the less exciting news. We’re in the middle of a two month break to focus on keeping the lights on. We’re going to keep the break as short as possible, but our goal as a company is to ensure our team has the ability to keep working on the game. One of the ways we can do that is by focusing on some of our initiatives, such as our GDEX expo and client project. These are our two best ways to generate revenue in the short term to keep us moving. We love No Mercy and have been working to solidify the design and timeline for the game to make sure that we can move quickly when we get back to development. No Mercy is the passion project that keeps us coming in every day, but as a small company we do have to shift focus from time to time on incoming projects that help bring in money that allows us to pay bills, and eat, and all that, so that you all get the best possible finished game.
We're going to use this space to tell you how we’re going to get this game out. For the next month or so we’re going to focus all of our energy on GDEX and client work. Once we have a comfortable flow of income for our team, we’re going to start cranking out levels. Since the story is written, dialogue is outlined, enemies are modelled, level design system is functioning, all of the background programming is completed, and 3/6 of our playable characters are playable, all that’s left is putting all the pieces together.
I’m gonna pass it to our Producer and Lead Game Designer, Cody, who is going to part the curtain a little on the game plan and let you know a little bit more about these next steps
Hey All! Thanks so much for being supportive of No Mercy and believing in our vision for what the game can be! These next few months are going to be an exciting time for the game, and as we start building these systems, we can’t wait to start sharing them with you!
After this hold is over, we’ll be building out the world in what’s called a Whitebox. These levels will be very basic, typically using template art assets to get a good idea of how the world and missions will play. Once we have white boxes in a good position, our Art teams will go in and start making the game look like out current vertical slice!
Once the whiteboxes are done, and we start getting our assets made, we’ll be building out the “Story Layers” of the game, essentially creating the missions of the game! We’ve got a plan established for our Beta Access that will allow players to play through the first couple of levels of the game!
While we build these whiteboxes and start to layer them out with story content, we’ll have our other teams working on creating the bosses and enemies that you’ll be fighting. As we get these new enemies, the design team will be implementing them into our test levels to try out the fights, and make sure that they feel balanced. Finally, as we approach building the final acts of the game, we’ll then go back through the game, doing our final passes on design and balancing for the game’s progression.
With our current timeline estimations, we’re estimating that the game will be finished in Mid/late 2019 with our current scope. As we move longer in development, and start to establish these systems in their final forms, we’ll have a better idea of how long the game will take to come together, as well as make the hard decisions in cutting features or content that we’ve been discussing that will push that date further.
As anyone can tell you, making games isn't easy, and no game that has ever come out has been shipped in a state where the developers got every featured they wanted to be in the game. However, I promise to all of you that No Mercy will come out in a timely manner, and be the best damn game that we can make. We owe it to all of you to make this a game the best we can, and we as a team can’t wait to show you some of the features and designs we’ve been working on for the last year.
If you’ve made it this far, thank you. It’s difficult to express how thankful we are to have the faith and support of our backers. You guys keep us driven to release this game, and your excitement spreads to everyone in the office. We will be posting updates more often. Development is never easy or straightforward, but it can always be transparent.
-Bria & Cody (and everyone else)
BackerKit and Project Updates
almost 2 years ago
– Wed, Nov 29, 2017 at 09:23:03 PM
It’s been a while, but we’ve been busy working on the game and everything else! We wanted to take a moment and update all of you on No Mercy, and some of our plans for the project going forward!
First off, we’re gonna start with BackerKit! Most importantly, if you have not finished your survey, please do that ASAP! The surveys are what we will use to make sure you get the right products, so be sure to finalize your survey soon to make sure that we can get your rewards.
Last month we turned off the ability to pre-order physical rewards, so our pre-order store is officially digital only. We plan on keeping this store up for pre-orders until the game is about to come out, so you still have plenty of times to get copies of the Game, Digital Soundtrack, or Digital Artbook!
Along those lines, we just locked in the current order details. This means that if you have done your survey, and locked in any additional items outside of your Kickstarter package, you can no longer change what you will be receiving. We’re locking in everything so that as we move to the production stage of all of these rewards, we won’t have to deal with constantly changing rewards. We also have charged cards, so payments should be taken out within the next few days if they haven't already. If you have any issues with these, you can always checkout the BackerKit support our reach out to us directly!
Now that we’re past the rewards side of things, it’s time to start talking about the project! We’ve been working hard on everything, but it’s become clear that we have underestimated what an undertaking this game has become. As I’m sure you may know, we originally wanted to get an Early Access version of the game live this month, and after talking about it as a team, we’ve decided that No Mercy isn’t a game that will flourish with the benefits of Early Access. Because of this, we wanted to maintain our resources on working to get the game done as a whole, in place of our original plan of piecing it out for chunked releases.
So what does all of this mean? We’re working on creating a better final product that won’t be as playable until release. A lot of what we think makes No Mercy special are lost in playing through the game in small chunks sporadically through development, and we want to make sure that this game is an incredible experience from start to finish.
So all of this is going to change up our overall timeline that we first set up when we did this Kickstarter. The first obvious answer is that we are moving away from an Early Access release plan. However, as we get closer to launch, we will be creating special builds for our backers so that they can test out the game in Early states, without us officially releasing the game. As we get into this points, we will be announcing them via these updates, so stay on the lookout!
The second major change to our timeline is our overall release. As you may or may not know, Multivarious keeps the lights on by working on projects for various clients such as our local Children’s Hospital. While we love the projects we get to work on, part of our day to day life is juggling this client work with our own internal projects, and from time to time, we need to focus on client work just to have the ability to continue working on our own projects. Couple that with No Mercy growing as a concept over the last year, to become a project that we are all proud of, but growing in size and scope in order to achieve what we want to accomplish. After talking about it as a team, we have decided that we would rather take the extra time to make No Mercy the game we want it to be, even though it would move back our release date. So No Mercy will no longer be launching in March of 2018, and we are moving our anticipated launch to just 2018. We feel confident as a team that we can create the game we want No Mercy to become in that time. As Mario Creator Shigeru Miyamoto once said, “A delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad.”
Finally, we have a little surprise for everyone for the Holidays. If you’ve seen the game at any of the shows we’ve been to in the last few months, you may have noticed some pretty significant changes to how the game looks and feels compared to our online demo. We are now at a point that we think this demo is a great example of what we want the final game to be. Therefore, we have pushed this version of the No Mercy Demo to our Itch and Game Jolt page! You can download it right now and see some of the improvements we’ve been working on over the past months. Let us know what you think!
So that’s everything I’ve got for you for now! As always you can get a hold of us on our various social media platforms, our you can join our Multivarious Discord Server, where most of the team is on during the work day to chat and answer questions about the game! As always, your support means the world to us, and we can’t wait to share more about the game in the coming months.
-Cody and the MVG Team
Indy Pop Con 2017 Wrap Up
over 2 years ago
– Tue, Jul 11, 2017 at 04:40:53 PM