Monster Intros: Vlad and BOT_3000

With the game coming out in less than a month, I'm going to spend a little bit of time over the next month talking about all of the monsters in the game. First, a brief note!

Realm of the Ghost King is sort of unique (or at least I'm not aware of many other roguelikes that do this) in that the player can play as and against all of the same enemies (with a few minor exceptions). You choose from one of eight monsters to play as and you face off against those same eight monsters when you play. While player monsters and enemy monsters do share similar powers, players have some added abilities, but it's also important to know which monsters can do what to better conquer the game.

The second thing you'll hear a lot about are "souls", which are the main currency of the game. Each monster drops a soul when it dies, and souls can be used to purchase stat upgrades, items such as health or bombs, as well as being utilized for "special attacks" which are attacks or abilities every monster has but can only be used by spending souls.

So with all that said let me introduce you to the first two monsters!

Vlad is a bat who has a small health pool but has the ability to sap health from any enemy killed by a close (adjacent) attack. Using this ability allows Vlad to survive some attacks that other monsters cannot. By spending souls (via a special attack) he also has the ability to convert enemies into allies who will fight on your side for a short amount of time. In the gif below you can see a couple of converted enemies, denoted by the skull helmet.

When fighting against Vlad he does not sap health from the player, however he will move backwards a square whenever he is damaged. This means your approach to Vlad needs to be a little bit more considered since he'll move out of direct attack unlike all other enemies.

BOT_3000 is a robot caught in a world of monsters. Thanks to being a robot, it explodes when its health reaches zero, but ejects its robot brain, surviving the process. The explosion will hurt any monsters adjacent to it, which is good because it'll need help getting around after that. Once BOT_3000's body is destroyed it can no longer use bombs, only adjacent attacks. However, if you collect two (or more) souls you can use your special attack to build a new body.

When in full-body form, BOT_3000 can spend two souls to gain one health. This provides an extra degree of survivability without needing to revert into robot brain form.

Enemy BOT_3000 doesn't possess a robot brain, however it does still explode when you kill it, which does require some degree of thought if you don't want to lose too much health. However the explosion works the same as any explosion in the game, and could be used to your advantage if you're clever.

That's all for now, but I'll have info on the next two monsters up on Saturday, and every Saturday thereafter until the game launches.

Official Announcement Trailer!

Hooray, I made a trailer! That's a thing you do when you release a video game, right?

This is all very exciting and it makes the game feel official in some way. I mean, it's definitely a game I made and will sell for money (that's weird!), but making a video about it for some reason makes it seem like a legitimate game. Also I'm impressed that I don't completely hate watching the trailer. I can't be around when other people watch it yet, but one thing at a time.

Anyway, some insider info for those of you who care. As with most game stuff, making a trailer is hard and also time consuming! I've never made a video like this before and due to not really having any video editing skills to speak of it was kind of a challenge from the start.

The trailer is done entirely in game! All the level transitions, changes to the player, text overlays and so on are all in game. It's actually piggybacking on the tutorial system I wrote which allows you to display some text (or anything really) on the screen and then transition to the next step when some condition is met. The sequences where the player moves in the tutorial are just me. I actually recorded the footage for it probably 10 - 15 times and each one was unique for any sequence that requires player input. Also the level generator continues to do work so if you looked at the raw footage the levels would also be different.

This was mostly done due to my aforementioned lack of video editing skills. Rather than capture a ton of footage of what I thought would be cool and splicing it together in a video editor I just staged it all within the confines of the game itself. A lot of sequences are trimmed for time of course, so the cuts when you "play" the trailer aren't as abrupt. Either way it probably cut down on the work I had to do since I already know how the game works but not how video editing works. I don't know if this is the best way to make a trailer (I'm guessing it's not) but it worked pretty well for me.

And a final note, the music in the trailer is called "Ice Cave" and it comes from a Creative Commons album called "Songs from an Unmade World" by Visager. You can check out his website or follow him on Twitter for more. This is also the music the game plays and I'm pretty happy with it. Thanks to Visager for releasing some great free music and I hope my game does it some justice.

Build 'Em Up

We're now to the part of our story where your hero (uh, that's me, I guess) valiantly scrambles around to figure out how the heck to release a game. Back when I started this I envisioned having just a Mac and Windows build (and maybe Linux some day if I set up a VM) and that was it. There are lots of things you never think about: a development build with a bunch of debug stuff so you can easily muck about with bugs or tweaks. Then if you distribute the game on Steam having some integration with Steamworks is helpful. Also there's Mac and Windows versions of everything now. There's a reason larger game companies have build engineers to deal with all of this stuff, because if you are even on two or three platforms it becomes confusing. I can't even imagine doing launches on consoles or mobile at the same time.


The least exciting part of making video games?

Add to this that I basically have no idea what I'm doing and I am using my personal computers to do builds and it's all just kind of crazy. Also my poor foresight didn't allow for more than one build per platform, so if I want to upload the Windows version of game to itch.io and Steam I need to build one version, deploy it, then build the next version and deploy that. Then I have to do that all over again on my Macbook for the OSX builds. At some point I'm probably going to push an incorrect build somewhere.

There's also still a fair degree of manual stuff that's sure to ruin my life one day. When uploading to Steam you can push any number of platform builds at once, but since I only build Mac and Windows versions on separate machines and also deploy from those, it's a lot of running around and editing config files. There are ways to make this easier on myself, but I've locked myself into a launch date next month so I don't know how beneficial it would be. Maybe for the next game!

Early next week I'll be releasing the trailer and hopefully getting the Steam page up soon as well. It's the home stretch!

Release Date: January 16th, 2018

Exciting news!

Realm of the Ghost King will be released on January 16th, 2018! The decision was mostly based around the busy-ness of my own life, the holiday season and generally needing a little bit of extra time to put together everything required for release. Also finalizing a release date really helps when you want to show the date in a trailer.

Outside of getting the game's Steam page up and running and figuring out how to do a properly signed Mac build, I've been working on the trailer. It's been fun, with a special shoutout to my wife, who gave me tons of useful input. I don't know if it's perfect, but it's pretty danged good and it mostly satisfies what I wanted out of it. It's also surprisingly difficult to make a turn-based game look exciting in video form. Hopefully I pulled it off.

As for release plans, right now I'm in the "pre-pre-release" phase where I kind of finish up some behind-the-scenes tasks. Putting together assets for various stores (current plans are for it to be on itch.io, Steam and Humble) and at some point I also need to build the 1.0.0 version of the game (exciting!). About a month before release I'll probably fire off a few emails to some sites or post the news to some places. I have no idea what (if any) interest there will be, but this is all an important part of my ultimate plan to sell one copy.

I'll have more news and awesome content soon (like the actual trailer). Exciting times ahead!

Crafting A Release Plan

I put out beta 0.9.15 yesterday and while it's not quite final, it's pretty close. I've got a couple fixes and changes that need to go in, but otherwise it's close! Exciting times. Here's a new gameplay gif:

My current focus is now on making a trailer, which I'm still in the early stages of, but once that's done and I'm satisfied with the state of the game I'll come up with a release date and we'll be off to the races. I'm probably going to have it up for sale first (as a sort of soft launch) on itch.io with later launches on Steam, the App Store and probably places like Humble and other trustworthy sites. Most of my "marketing" plan involves just emailing a few sites and hoping they post about it, but really I'm most excited about actually launching.

It's been a fun journey, and the main advice I've seen is "just get the thing out there" and "make your own success metrics", which I think are both very wise. The indie games market is pretty flooded these days, and you don't get noticed unless you have something truly unique (and sometimes not even then). Getting a game out and getting just one sale are my goals. Very small goals for sure, but fortunately my livelihood doesn't depend on this. Hopefully I can meet them!

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