Tag Archives: weekly wrapup

  • It’s really nice when things work out. Like our awesome new quest system, new grove, and revised layout to the forest. We were talking today about how difficult it is to nail that last 10% of any creative project, how you can find yourself lost in a soup of self doubt and hopelessness at struggling to find a solution that you can truly be proud of. But those times when you break through and end up with something awesome really make it worth while.

    We’ve decided on a live date, and it is Monday 2nd of August, 10 days from now. Exciting! We’ll also be ramping up our public exposure, starting with a new Twitter domination plan orchestrated by our resident funny-man Mark. You can follow us here, and here.

    If you’re in Dunedin and keen to do some play testing later next week, message us on Facebook or in the comments here. We’re getting brutal on refining the user experience and need fresh people’s clicks to analyse (wow that didn’t sound creepy at all).

    Couple of things that we thought were really cool this week:

    Transformer Owl

    Kevin Butler takes on New Zealand TV3

    Ian Bogost presents a Facebook game parodying Facebook games

    Final Staracraft 2 story trailer

  • Check this guy out! He’s awesome, very happy with how our animals are turning out, which is what Emma and Mark have been working on for the last couple of weeks. They’ll be in the game and live for everyone to play with a week from Monday.

    While the art team have been heads down on new stuff, the coders have been iterating through the live build, adding features, fixing bugs, plugging holes, getting services and APIs to play nice with each other. We’re working hard to refine the core loop we have, packing enough stuff in to do on your daily visits into the world of Flutter, while making sure its all balanced and intuitive. I’m pretty happy with a couple of huge simplifications to the pollination design I’ve made this week which should streamline the experience and not require you to plan your whole life around when you need to check back in with the game (we’re looking at you Hotel City!).

    Jeff was unwell earlier this week, but is on the mend now so send him your positive healing energies and all that hippie stuff :)

    Some cool links:

    “Indie Game: The Movie” got funded through Kick Starter and is looking like an amazing documentation of the indie game dev spirit

    Mark is bigtime in to the works of Adventure Time’s Fred Seibert

    Darwin’s Beetle is both tireless, and ruthless

    Zynga and Facebook conclude their very public squabble, with a favorable outcome for our chosen virtual currency solution (Facebook Credits)

  • We made it! The game is live on Facebook, all the elements have come together into a cohesive experience and our design focus shifts away from dreaming up user stories on paper to refining a playable experience. That’s a screenshot right there from the game playing, and you’ll be able to get your hands on it real soon.

    So what happens now? We’re going to spend about a week iterating and refining ahead of focus tests in house here at NHNZ. Watching people play through the first 5 levels of the game will give us some great feedback for ensuring everything is intuitive before kicking a version out the door for our Facebook fans. We then have a great feedback system for all you guys which will allow us to capture a ton of qualitative and quantitative data, all of which will mix into a close feedback loop as we iterate through the game. Through an 8 week process, we will expand the base of testers, add features, refine and reset the balance of the world, all in the quest to fine tune a fluid, rewarding, and meaningful gameplay experience.

    I’m personally very proud of where we are now, and hugely grateful for the supportive structure here at NHNZ which has given us the time to refine this game to be all that it can be as opposed to kicking something average out the door. We’re very lucky to have such an awesome team here, let’s get cracking on some serious spit and polish guys!

    Neat new things this week:

    1. The Humble Indie Bundle raise over $1 million for indie developers and charities
    2. Steam comes to Mac with free Portal
    3. Zynga and Facebook butting heads over credits and the constantly evolving social platform (p.s. we’re personally down with the whole credits thing)
    4. If Super Mario Brothers was made in 2010, it might be a little more social
  • We’ve made an incredible amount of progress this week, the first in a five week stretch running up to the beta release of the game on Facebook. On the art side, Mark finished all the butterflies for Chapter One while Emma cranked out a ton of functional and aesthetic flowers which add a huge amount of colour and character to the environment. We were also really lucky to have Kei Kasai working with us for two weeks, focusing on the development of our “forest magic” particle system. The depth, light, and general wonder that her work has brought to the world is really incredible and those chain reactions of exploding pollen are really going to be a highlight of the player’s experience.

    On the tech side, we played the game in a Facebook frame for the first time which was really cool, seeing our persistence / database hooked into the platform was definitely a big win. I’ve also been working to refine the mechanics of the pollenation system which will be the core “harvesting” mechanic in our game, while Jeff implements it. Soon we’ll be iterating through these mechanics on a live Facebook build.

    Everything is really coming together, the game is looking beautiful and starting to feel really fun.

    Links that ruled this week:

    Venture Beat features Runaway and Flutter

    Pixel looks good when viewing it with your eyes

    Murray the Nut breaks down the creative process

    Run Jesus Run is a super tidy 10 second platformer

  • Above you can see a glimpse into our world at the moment as we balance all of the elements in our eco-system. There have been some big developments since my return from GDC. We’ve decided to focus Chapter One exclusively on the Amazon Rainforest as we feel tying it into a locality will give each chapter a heightened sense of identity, while structuring the factual core that inspires / informs our choices for flora and fauna.

    So it’s been a week of research for me, locking down the species, learning about their habits, diet, and various species variations, ensuring that all the t’s are crossed and i’s dotted from a factual perspective. This process has brought up a lot of cool new ideas as well, which we’ve added to the pile while iterating through the core loop of the game to make sure those daily activities of exploring, pollinating, and tending to your grove are fun and rewarding. Soon we’ll be testing that loop with persistence and user accounts linked to Facebook, which is very exciting indeed.

    We also have some very exciting news in the form of a complete overhaul for the central grove area which will put a whole new level of control in the hands of our players, allowing them to create their own truely personalised part of the rainforest. More on that next time :)

    Links that kicked ass this week:

    Jane McGonigal convinces the TED conference that games will save the world

    Dude slices a baseball in half with a Samurai sword

    Spike Jonze tells a robot love story

    Bill Murray bar tending at SXSW

  • Since I returned from DICE, our focus has been on building the social mechanics of the game atop our pretty new environment navigation. That means giving people something to do on a daily basis, and rewarding them for returning many days in a row. In the open field, your key activity will be pollinating flowers, which will subsequently produce seeds and spread through the environment. The more subsequent days you return in a row, the more flowers there will be and the more “honey dust” (the game’s currency) you’ll collect, which you can then go back and spend in your home grove (pictured above). This launch screen for the game is kind of like your home in Pet Society. You’ll launch into all your adventures from here by choosing one of your butterflies. You’ll decorate the place with various flora, and over time your vibrant environment will attract other rainforest creatures to make it their home (more on that later).

    If you’ll be at GDC this week, pop me a line as I’d love to show you the game in the flesh. For those that cant make it, we’ll be putting up a teaser video in the next couple of days to whet your appetite.

    Things we loved this week:

    Sushi Cat is Sushi Cute

    The Witness is coming and it looks pretty as hell

    GLaDOS Returns!

    Creators of Zoo Tycoon enter the Facebook arena with the super slick Zoo Kingdom

  • After a whirlwind week and a whole lot of dedication from the team over the weekend I’m very proud to announce that we made our deadline, and have a very tidy demo to show off at the DICE conference for which I am about to depart. I’ve thrown in a few shots to whet the apetite, and can now promise that with solid foundations laid on both the visual and technical sides, the content will be coming in thick and fast.

    And you know what content needs? Testers! That’s right we’re now very close to putting this thing out in the wild and are super excited to be moving from a very “under the hood” mode into an iterative relationship with an eager group of testers. This is the fun bit :)

    Links we thought were awesome this week:

    Jamie Oliver gives an amazing talk on the vital role of food in our future at TED

    This sure is a Mosquito getting disintegrated by a lazer

    Scuba Divers ambush Google Street View van

    Robot Unicorn Attack might be one of the best Flash games ever

  • What a full on week! We’re getting some great momentum going for the new year leading up towards the two big conference deadlines of DICE and GDC. We took part in the Global Game Jam over the weekend, which meant we started off the week a little shattered but still full of energy and insight after getting three games together over 48 hours. You can check out the games we made here.

    We then had Emma arrive from Germany after a grueling ~35 hour trip with 4 stops along the way. So we now have the whole team on site here and we’ve been having a lot of fun throwing ideas around while testing, breaking, and iterating through some of the mechanics for pollination and general environment interaction in Flutter. The weather in Dunedin has been epic, lending itself well to outdoor meetings and making the butterfly exhibit and the Otago Museum incredibly hot (35+ degrees on the top story). We visited this afternoon and got a huge amount of reference photos, some of which you can see in the Flickr stream (super awesome thanks to Emily Hlavac for her amazing photos)

    And we decided on a logo! Wow that was a mission, but we’re incredibly happy with the result and have just ordered some super sweet business cards which should be ready in time for DICE. Thanks Hayden from HAMR for such an awesome job, and sorry for being such a fussy client.

    This week also sees us approaching completing of the new rendered and level editor, which together with our new dynamic tree construction system will give us so much power in iterating through our level designs. We’ve had to be very patient so far this year as the visual and technical sides ran seperate from each other to establish solid foundations. Very excited to see the progress culminate in a new playable early next week.

    Links that rocked our world this week:

    This Global Game Entry is a real scream

    Sonic 4 (you can do it Sega!)

    My life ends when Civilisation comes to Facebook