Sunday, May 10, 2015

Neofeud Demo Coming Soon!

Neofeud progress is supercharging faster than Tesla Powerwall sales! We've taken Elon Musk, Mars colonizer / world saving alt-energy guru extroardinaire's advice. "You have to put in 80-100 hour weeks. You have to get done in 6 months what the competition accomplishes in a year." Because that is the approximate time-horizon of Neofeud: 6 months. (off-the-record! We're not vaporware but don't hold us to that release date!)

"If you want a cyberprosthetics job done right you've got to it yourself!"
That's right, we're talking sustainable DIY cybrogery here. Upcycling Nintendo gamepads and picosatellite dishes into interactive minigames to do Lucas Arts proud.
We're giving you the quality brain-juice puzzles, taste-the-rust gritty cautionary dystopia, and copious (though hopefully not annoying!) pop/mid/high-brow cultural references from Terminator to Brazyl to please your inner 12-year-old SNES-nerd, your inner 20-year-old cybergoth Philosophy major, and your outer 32-year-old IT administrator with ADHD toddlers and overbearing middle-management bosses!

Proto-J "Ninja" Connor. Father was an A-list cybernetics corp scientist with a God-Complex, feckless disregard for Turing Police regulations, and fatherhood issues. Conceived of a million lines of LISP, a bleeding-edge neuronet and graphene sheets "Prototype J" was possibly the first fully-sentient AI, born in a top-secret, polarized-window laboratory. Since being deemed "defective", Proto-J has become a delinquent gangbanger, been shuffled through more robot-foster care and juvie detention facilities than Ice Cube and Ice T put together. AKA, "The 6 Billion Dollar Baller"

Speaking of Elon Musk and space tourism, here we have Murdoch Beach. The arcologized resort in the background is one of the many exotic neofeudal arcologies accessible by orbital hypersonic jet in Neofeud.
In less figurative news: we have about 10-20 minutes of fleshed out gameplay at the moment and hope to put out our first demo soon. We do eventually plan to put out a fully-realized multi-hour commercial AGS game, however that does depend on enthusiasm and reactions to the demo, to some extent. So please spread the word about Neofeud!

Stay tuned for the upcoming demo!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Gemini Rue and The Meta Puzzle in Adventure Games

I'm probably a bit more than halfway through Wadjet Eye Games' cyberpunk-ish point-n-click adventure, Gemini Rue at the moment.  Before you read anything else, go fire up Steam or GOG or even better, buy this game directly from Wadjet Eye because it is possibly the best adventure game I've played that's come out in the last decade or two.  It's solid story and storytelling, hardcore sci-fi trenchcoat noir.

The gameplay is spot-on -- where a lot of p-n-c adventure games get bogged down in details and bucketloads of case notes, Gemini Rue is super tight and to-the-point.  Whether you're rollicking through the beautiful interstellar noir-Pittsburgh or you're figuring your way out of the supremely creepy whitewashed-lab and the ever-present sound of the nameless "Director's" voice -- there's never a point where things make no sense.  The puzzles are all logical which is a big deal in adventure games.   (Yes, I'm looking at you, Gabriel Knight 3 and you're goddamned cat mustache!!!)  

I particularly like the main dude, Azriel Odin, (What an awesome freakin' name, right!?)  and his torn character.  It's tough to convey a sense of empathy and ethical doubt in a character, especially in the retro, lo-res format, but creator Josh Nuernberger pulls it off in GR.

I love the game to death, and I think it's the open-ended, multi-room puzzles that only occasionally gave me a tough time.  The times I started fidgeting for the 'Esc' key in Gemini Rue are mostly when I leave the game for a day or two, then come back, and have no idea what the mission was, on one of these bigger puzzles. It's like you've got all of these variables stored up in your mental RAM, "evil space Yakuza want x", "Screwdriver needed to fix that iPhone", "Call the drug runner that sounds like Han Solo about smuggling you to Taurus", and then you hit the hay.

Six hours office work, family birthday party, troubleshoot your Ford Taurus' solenoid, and you sit back down to play again and...

 "What the fuck? Why are these Japanese dudes shooting at me, and why do half of them sound like Woody Allen? Why the hell is a detective slogging around 2090 interstellar LA with a SCREWDRIVER!? WHY DO I NEED TO BE SMUGGLED TO A CAR!??!?!?!!!"

This isn't particular to Gemini Rue, though, it's pretty common, I think, for me, in the point-n-click adventure genre.

It's like you're the Chandler-esque detective, but with no leads, wandering from 320x200 pixel Blade Runner setpiece to the next, clicking mindlessly on every 1920's lamp fixture, conveniently placed wooden crate, and femme fatale, to gales of condescending laughter from an invisible audience. Or maybe you're like the dude who doesn't even have a name (barcoded as 'Delta 6'), just woke up in some creepy secret prison/research facility, and has transcranially-induced retrograde amnesia. "Who am I? And why do I have a carrot and a piece of conduit in my inventory!?!? Goddamnit, I need to Google a walkthrough!"

The biggest puzzle in point-n-click adventure games, sometimes seems to be the meta-puzzle. As Dave Gilbert of Wadjet Eye (maker of Gemini Rue) once put it, "In adventure games you often don't know the puzzle you're supposed to be solving." Which I guess is an interesting philosophical mindstate to explore in our goal-oriented late-Western culture -- that of goal-lessness. But not knowing wtf to do can also make for an intense desire to rage-quit.

Which is why in Neofeud I'm definitely going to be adding extra hints, guidepointers, or maybe even some kind of simple journal-mechanism that briefs you each time you restart the game. Doesn't need to be a hand-holdey "waypoint" system a la 20-teens first person shooters, but just a simple summary of what you were recently doing, key objects / figures at the moment, so you can "restore" not just the save-game state, but also your mental-state. Put the short-term memory back in your brain RAM so you don't feel like you just had a stroke or a brainwipe from the MiB.

Friday, April 17, 2015

A Song of ICEbreakers and Firewalls - (Our Workstation Asploded!!!)

A Song of ICEbreakers and Firewalls (Neofeud Recap, E01S01)

Citizens of Coastlandia, Silverspook Games bannermen...  I hate to be the three-eyed raven bearer of terrible news, but... My trusty indie-game-dev steed, my Windows 7 Dell Lattitude e5510 and possibly-maybe work laptop just went utter AWOL.  All the King's safemodes and all the King's BIOS settings, can't put Humpty together again...  

Presently trying with my Flashdrived Win 7 image to salvage whatever silos of PNG, javascript, and binary data, unspoilt by the contagion of bad sectors in my mortally wounded workstation...  But prognosis remains uncertain.  The maggots of poorly rolled-out Windows Update installs continue to fester, tearing registry setting from kernel, like crows feasting upon flesh of a corpse.

(Artists' rendering of Silver Spook's black-death-afflicted laptop.)

I have, however, at Wired and Lord Larry Page's behest, "migrated to Cloud Country", to some extent.   I have a Google Drive backup zip from a week ago of the Neofeud edifice, including game logic, level matrices, spritework etc.  I also have most of the art offlined in a Thumb-vault, canted between my Bitcoin Wallet prepper-nestegg and my scanned W2 tax forms for the past decade.  I keep my Van Goghs, Hirsts, and K. Bryants (our virtuoso concept artist), all those invaluable pocket-retirement funds sealed up tight against the data looters and bit-rot zombies.

"Backup your brainchildren, gird your System Restore images, for 'format c:' Winter is Coming!!!"

Neofeud hath suffered a blow, not unlike the Wildlings with the death of ***** ******* in S01E01 of Game of Thrones that my wife and I just finished watching as a cheer-me-up.  A most hit-point-decimating magic missile-to-the-laptop.

  (Artist's rendering of me after 8 straight Rockstar-powered hours of Dell driver-questing, hacking away at SATA configs, and generally being my own geek squad.  Also an in-game screenshot of Neofeud.)

But Silverspook Games' Library of Alexandria survives!  the Arthurian Quest For the point-n-click holy grail, the epitome of Retro-Adventure Game Perfection continues on!  Neofeudalism prevails!  

(Artist's rendering of Neofeud Masthead, manifested as a Commodore-64 arcade box, played by young John Connor in Terminator 2 circa 1988)

Now I return to my regularly scheduled Westeros heroin-withdrawal, until next Sunday (or next io9 or Gawker reviewer with questionable conscience auctions leaked episodes 5-8 to the highest Pirate Proxy bidder.)

(Screencap of Neofeud prevailing through the fire and flames of computer FUBAR.)  Three parallel versions of Win 7, valiant slaying of Win Update, and resurrection of a WD hard drive later, and I've since completely restored the laptop.  Thus we continue our ascent to the annals of adventure gaming glory.

P.S.: Fun fact!  Neofeud was in fact originally inspired by spin-off roleplays of the Game of Thrones world that Mrs. Spook and I nursed our addictions on, between episodes of GoT.  The concept was "Feudal real politiks in a cyberpunk setting".  Things have evolved, but the core concept remains.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Video Game Profanity Is ****ing Wrong!

I'm writing script for my game right now and I'm at that point of having to make a decision about whether and how much swearing to include...

It's one thing when Microsoft bans XBOX users for excess profanity but what about when you're making a game?

From Grand Theft Auto's gangsta pottymouths to Q-Bert's bleeped-out cussing, video games have had a History of verbal violence as well as physical. And a history of controversy and retaliation as well. The "shock" value of having f-bombs and rated-R content in games has been played up, used as marketing by these franchises, but sometimes it can backfire, if enough people throw the controllers down in disgust. To cuss or not to cuss? That is the question.

The themes and content of our game Neofeud are somewhat stark, dystopic future-noir that partly place in a Section 8 Public Housing ghetto made out of a landfill, filled with angry poor people, drug dealers, gangs, etc.. I'm worried about the game ringing hollow and unbelievable without cursing, but also don't want to "scare off" those who are offended by swearing. I know it would be unbelievable to me since I was a social worker and know the underpriveleged don't say, "Oh darn," when they get into a fight with an ex or get served an evic notice.

I'm thinking I have a few options...

1.) Just go full rated-R, keep the swearing, offend some people, but make it a bit more believable.

2.) Bleep out the swearing... that could be annoying?

3.) Work the "evolution of language" angle since it's Sci Fi, and insert "future slang" curse words. Like "Frak" in Battlestar Galactica, "Shtako" in Defiance, or Chinese profanity in Firefly.

4.) Rewrite the story to be PG-13 or PG. Might make the game fall flat pulling some of the punches.

Kind of at a mid-game crisis right now. I'm aiming for the indie, adventure-gaming crowd, and I'd like to reach a good size audience.

What do you guys think personally, and in terms of the entire gaming community?

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Former "Aliens" Artist Joins Neofeud!

Progress, progress, capital-p Progress on all fronts!

Silver Spook Games now has its own Facebook page! Welcome to the post-noughties, or the "teenies", or whatnot! Please Like! us, we need friends! Our therapists said so! :)

Apart from several cyberpunk-tastic new grimescapes, character designs, assorted gadgetophile gizmos (like Zippo-lighter flamethrowers and Nintendo Powerglove-style cyborg arms), we've added an illustrious mind-frakkingly talented new team member to the fight against the Illuminati game development. 

Please welcome, Kiel Bryant! Our new, "resident pencilist", AKA concept designer. An award winning illustrator, designer, and writer who has worked with such august names as Dark Horse comics and theAliens franchise. We're going full-fangirl here; it's like a birthday, Christmas, and a Neil Blomkamp premiere, all rolled into one!

Hypetech Excalibur Prosthetic, Series 9Finding Mr. NeofeudNeofeud Masthead 2.0Coastlandia Public HousingHere we have Coastlandia Public Housing. Used to be mixed-income, mixed-species, gentrified real estate. Now it’s a mixed-travesty. The Laissez Faire Market did its thing, Section 8 overflowed, now we have Section 9. A Third-World-quality ghetto for the millions of half-animal genespliced deadbeats and the battery-acid junkie robots who qualify for foodstamps and welfare. Welcome to Paradise.

Paleofuture Scrapheap
CONTEST: Name all of the sci-fi / cyberpunk pop-cultural references in this pic and win a free shout out in the next news post + insider access to some of the latest top-secret Neofeud material! Just post in the comments.

Not up on your skiffy trivia?  We're a little volunteer army working out of Section 8 and plumbing-free microhomes, so please consider a little donation!  You'll receive the shoutout as an official "Neofeud" patron and receive the backstage-pass to our latest material.

The smattering of the junked flying cars and decommissioned DoD mechs will serve as a major motif in Neofeud. A metaphor for the inevitable "luster-loss", the hype fading of the new hot tech, the "bohemia", becoming yesterday's canned PR presentation, and then appropriated as a pretense to Gentrify, and to Develop.

Yes, Neofeud will have everything- the platform-masher action, the adventure-puzzler brainbenders, and the relevant techno-socio-philosophical thought-provoking for the thinking gamer!  

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Progress progresses!  An M577 APC full of new art, more lines of code than I care to count, functioning retractable T-1000 finger stealth-mode assassination gameplay.  The Shape Of Things To Come is shaping up.
"Marty! Marty! Get back in the Delorean! We've got to go back to the... Wait, who forgot the tachyon-proof car enamel?"

At present, I'm in the process of permutating the protagonist. I've got about ten different screencaps of Harrison Ford, Karl Urban, et. al. as "sci-fi cops" spread out in a Photoshop file. The twist is, main dude is going to be an ex-cop turned social worker. Crucified by the department for backing out of a direct order, serving a sentence of 25-to-life dealing with druggies and deadbeats and doing paperwork.

The trenchcoat is an easy signifier but simultaneously worn our, threadbare. I'm thinking an office shirt gone mottled-brown with coffee-stains, wrinkles. Black tie. 5 oclock shadow. Salt and pepper colored hair. Slightly overweight. Suspenders, slacks.

Player Animations:

IDLE: Slouching a little. One hand in pocket? Arm constantly twitching. Sparking. Jittering. Randomly reaches up to choke him. He whacks it away. Smoking?


Karl Carbon. Age 32. Ex-Cop. Ex-husband. Ex-human.

Maybe Det Bullock from Gotham, after he gets hung out to dry.

"Welcome to Coastlandia Public Human Housing, a mixed-income, gentrified neighborhood. Alter-human sentient transgenes and Siliconths are strictly forbidden. Robots and OMGs (Organisms Modified Genetically) with a Gortzel-Takeda Consciousness Test score of 4.1 or greater and who meet gross income requirements of 40% of the federal poverty level may be eligible to enter Section 9, a mixed-species landfill, doubling as waste disposal site and affordable housing."

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Silver Spook Games Ver 0.1

SO!  Neofeud progress is progressing along.  Hack-n-slashing my way through Unity, Photoshop, Audacity, et. al.

Some added funkularity in the past week:

-enemies take multiple shots. Killin mutant's ain't shootin 3-eyed fish in an improperly disposed-of cesium barrel.

-headshots take them out in 1. Aim small miss small! (Sorry, don't mean to give American Sniper hashtag a boost)

-new adaptive cursor-position-based zoom. Camera pulls in when examining nearby documents, items, then pulls back to a wide shot when you're in a shoot out, all the way to aerial view when you're picking'em off with the 30.06. This one I'm pretty proud of and am going to put on the product box blurb, if physical distribution in mortar-stores still exists when this game hits the market.

- Enemies sped up, should be tougher. Basic game balancing. Slug-paced baddies are no challenge. Also, reduced mobility while aiming / backpeddling. You can fight, or flight, but not both simultaneously. Make it harder to break the AI with bullshit hit-and-run tactics. (Disclaimer: we do encourage tactics, but slightly smarter ones)

- Enemies' brains upgraded with killer-instinct microsofts - will chase you if a gunshot is heard in vicinity rather than flounce about happily while their bros are mowed down.

- walk sounds, bite sounds. TURN IT DOWN FOR WHAT?!

- Rudimentary health readout in white Arial text. This UI crap took figurative eons to crack. Why does it take 2 seconds to get a functional 3rd person shooter player class with solid rigid-body collision working, yet it takes four hours and twelve Rockstars to get a "Hello, World!" Marqueed across the damn screen? #IDontGetTheFuture