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Springing Forward

Spring is almost here, and we’re leaping forward with exciting new things. Here are just a few things that we have been working on.

Let There Be Life is now available on Desura.

We just added Let There Be Life to SteamGreenlight . So please go show your support and vote for us! For those of you that have already voted we thank you, and hope you continue to spread the word. If you buy the PC version of the game on Desura, IndieGameStand, or from our Humble Widget, we will have a Steam Key for you so that you will not have to buy the game twice to play on PC.

We also have been hard at work porting Let There Be Life to Android – that way you can play when you are on the go (or taking a break while on the go). Later this Spring and Summer we will be also be porting to iOS and Mac so don’t worry if you have an Apple device we haven’t forgotten about you.

Please keep checking back for news about Let There Be Life.

 

Let There Be Life now on IndieGameStand

Good news! Let There Be Life is now available through IndieGameStand here. Even better news: to celebrate its release, we’re offering it for 20% off the normal sale price!

It’s hard to believe that a year ago this time, we had not even yet conceived of Let There Be Life. It was early March of 2013 when Edge-Online announced the theme for their “Get Into Games Challenge 2013” competition, and our work began immediately after (by the end of the day, we had already settled in on the design of the game). After being announced as one of three winning entrees, we knew we were onto something.

About eight months later, we finished expanding Let There Be Life into something we were ready to release to the world. We hope everyone will try our game, and experience the relaxating creativity it has to offer!

Let There Be Life is done, AND we’ll be at IndieCade East this weekend!

Hey everyone! We are proud to announce that work on Let There Be Life has finished, and we are currently going through the process of making it available for download from various digital retailers (Desura, IndieGameStand, and more).

We’ll have more to discuss once the game is online, but for now we want to mention that we will be demonstrating Let There Be Life this Saturday from 11am-1pm at IndieCade East in New York! We’re taking part in their “Show & Tell” event, where a small number of developers get to show off their games for a couple hours, then the next group comes in with their games. If you’re going to be at IndieCade on Saturday, please stop by and give our game a try!

The Greenlight Supershow!

We will be appearing on “The Greenlight Supershow” tomorrow (Saturday, June 29th) at 2:30pm to discuss our game Dukes and Dirigibles. The show is a day-long event promoting independent game developers who are trying to get their games onto Steam.

Come check it out!

We Won!!

We are both happy and proud to announce that our game entry “Let There Be Life” is one of three winners in Edge-Online’s “Get Into Games 2013” competition!

Their article about the contest with the winners list can be found here.

Specifically, we garnered the “First Runner-Up” award, which comes with it a suite of Unity Pro game development licenses (worth thousands of $$$!).

Developing the game over the month-and-a-half duration of the competition has been hectic, inspiring, nerve-wracking, rewarding, and much, much more. And now we’re turning our prototype into a full game, which is…well, pretty much the same!

We are so looking forward to Let There Be Life being finished and available for everyone to play, but for right now, please enjoy this screenshot that features some new game play elements that aren’t included in the web-based contest entry:

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Our new game: “Let There Be Life”

Last year Edge Online hosted a contest for games built in the free version of Unity, based upon a theme of their choice. We weren’t using Unity last year, but since we’ve moved to it as our game development engine, we decided to give the contest a shot this year, hoping to earn thousands of dollars worth of software licenses and also some publicity.

The bragging rights wouldn’t hurt, either. :)

So we waited with baited breath for the announcement of this year’s theme on March 4th. It’s impossible not to imagine potential themes and design game ideas in response to them, but we were committed to the principle of following the eventual theme as best we could, and not kid ourselves by squeezing an existing game idea to whatever theme was presented to us.

March 4th finally came, and with it the competition’s theme: “Do no harm”.

Immediately we began brainstorming. Naturally, a medical game was brought up, but quickly was  discarded as being too predictable. Naturally, a zombie game was brought up, but….well, anyway.

Then my wife Sasha had the idea of “growing” a tree such that plants on the ground below it “weren’t deprived of light.”

[singlepic id=57 w=600 h=375 float=]

I thought she was crazy. I said, “Are you crazy? I don’t know how to do any of that!” I’m pretty sure my arms were waving up-and-down as I said this.

<Let’s be clear on something: I’ve only been programming seriously for a couple years now, and had only been using Unity/C# for about four months.>

This concept scared the crap out of me. We discussed several other ideas for awhile, but none of them stood out as anything that interested us. Dammit. Okay, I then submitted to spending a few hours writing out ideas for how we could actually make this game happen.

Right away we settled on a 2D game, because 3D would get too involved. Then I realized I could set up colliders for each branch, then cast rays to test for valid connections. It started to sound doable (for better or worse). But how would I know how much light/shadow is falling on a plant? Hmm, more rays and colliders…uh, oh…looks like I ran out of excuses!

Prototyping began. After one week we could attach a rectangular branch to a rectangular stump of a tree. Ugly, but promising. Weeks two and three introduced being able to attach one branch to another, and to track the amount of shadow falling on a plant on the ground. Wow…it actually worked, and even better – it was kind of fun!

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And a good thing too – we only had until April 15th to finish our entry, and we had used up three of our six weeks of development getting to this point.

The following weeks went by quickly, but I’m proud of what we accomplished. Sasha painted art assets for the game while I improved the branch generation and connection tech. We collaborated well on the designs of the game play and interface. In the end we had a fun, innovative game with a pretty tight presentation package.

We were happy to find that our parents were able to sit down and quickly pick up the game. Not only that, but they were still playing it days later without us even asking them to, which just warmed my heart.

We won’t know for another few weeks how we fared in the contest (which is driving me nuts), but we’ve already begun marching ahead to make the game a standalone, full screen application that we will make available on pretty much every digital download service that will have us. For now, please enjoy some screenshots taken from the competition entry build of our new game:

“Let There Be Life”

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– Jason

New Year! Welcome 2013

Happy New Year! This should be a very big year for Backward pieS as we have multiple projects in the works. We are moving away from the flash game portals and stepping into 2013 with mobile gaming,  while still developing “Dukes and Dirigibles” for the PC .We have also started working on a children’s game for Android using Unity3D. We are looking forward to a prosperous new year and wishing everyone the same. :)

 

Desura Prospects

Okay, so I mentioned Desura in my previous post.

Here’s what’s going on: the editor there played Dukes and Dirigibles, liked it, and is interested in having on their website. So now we will be spending the next couple months updating the graphics to add new bosses, level tiles, and more (so it’s actually worth paying for, as opposed to playing for free on game portal).

A week or so before it’s released, we’ll probably open up for pre-orders at a discounted price. We don’t know what the final pricing will be, but the pre-orders will cost about 20-40% less than the full price.

Exciting times, but  there’s a lot of work to do!

-Jay

But Wait, There’s More…Waiting

In our last post (which feels like roughly one million years ago) we stated that Dukes and Dirigibles was up for active bidding on FlashGameLicense.com.

We’ve since accepted an offer and have been working on preparing the game for the winning bidder’s website. This includes additions such as a pre-game splashscreen for his game portal, as well as some links to his site within the game’s user interface.

It’s been a very slow process, with emails usually taking 2 or more days each for a response. And with a host of change requests going back-in-forth, you can see how this adds up to weeks of development.

In a nutshell – we’re close to being done, but the game is not up yet. I plan to write a postmortem about the whole process sometime soon.

In more interesting news, we showed Dukes and Dirigibles to the editor of Desura, the digital marketplace for games. He liked the game and is interested in publishing it. :)

Now, we’re still ironing things out. Our vision is to place a version of DnD on Desura that includes enhanced graphics and additional levels. This is going to involve some careful planning, because we need to estimate how much time is truly worth investing to maximize sales without wasting our efforts.

Honestly, I have no idea what kind of sales we’ll get over the lifetime of the game…a thousand? Ten thousand? More? Plus, if we can get into one of their bundles, that would nab us both sales and exposure, which would be great.

I’ll be posting more on our Desura efforts in the near future (no, for real, it actually will be soon!), and keeping everyone up to date. The game itself won’t appear on Desura until available for purchase (or at least pre-order), but you can check it out on Desura’s sister site, IndieDB right here.

-Jay