Jesus Christ I can’t believe I’m still making this damned game. It started as a fun little diversion and then people liked the look of it and had expectations and eugh pressure.
The end’s in sight, though. The game’s been through a few testers, who all went “yep, it’s a football sort of game. It’s fine, here’s what I liked and didn’t like” so I’ve popped through and addressed the concerns I agree with.
I’ve spent a lot of time getting the core gameplay polished up and feeling nice, and I think that’s there now; it’s moved away from single-button retro Sensi style to something a bit more complex. The reason is because it all felt very ‘surface level’ with a single button doing everything, like there was no skill behind what you were doing.
I reasoned that any game of skill, like football, is actually centred around its players making mistakes, and adding more moves and more complex controls to that made sense: the ability to fluff a tackle by pressing the wrong button, or pausing for a beat to remember what button is Dash adds so much texture to the core gameplay. Added to that are the new Sprint moves and Lob ability, meaning there’s plenty of options at every turn. Plenty of ways to do something wrong, or to do something brilliant and satisfying.
I mention this because people will hate it. The liberating thing about making a football game is I don’t reeeeeally care.
The last thing I need to do is the Story Mode, which sees you progressing through the ranks of the British Football League to win the World Cup. Enemy teams are now generating nicely (in an organic, random, Roguelike way), and the Story stuff is in-and-working but hasn’t been written yet. I’m looking forward to that. The big headache is how I’ll handle the Player’s team stat progression… something I’m leaving till last because it’s a nightmare to get right (I want the player to have agency over decisions, but the core game doesn’t really lend itself to in-depth squad management… so we’ll see how that all comes out in the wash).
Anyway: I’m considering Early Access to get it ‘right’, but hesitant to extend development indefinitely. Whatever happens hopefully it’ll be at least ostensibly done by the end of the summer. So sorry this is dragging on, I didn’t expect it to either but there you go.Posted in Behold The Kickmen, Development, Stupid Idiot Comments Off
Hello! I NEED YOUR HELP.
So, Behold The Kickmen is finally playing really nicely. The AI are good, it ‘feels’ like old-school Sensi or Speedball, and I’m now fixing bugs and making it funny.
One of the things I did to make it funny last thing on Friday afternoon was to record myself shouting into a microphone, and mixing it into the ‘crowd’ chanting. Proper actual things people shout at football match like “Do a Big Kick!” and “Where’s the support? WHERE’S THE SUPPORT?” whatever that means.
They sound brilliant and I’m very pleased to have learned that I’m both a high-grade Voice Actor suddenly, but also a fitting addition to any genuine football crowd, probably.
HOWEVER, I need about a billion of these shouty voice bastards or they’ll repeat annoyingly, and ideally in voices other than ‘slightly posh idiot man’, which is where YOU the Kickmen fans come in.
If you’ve got access to a decent microphone and can shout, please record yourself shouting as if you’re part of a footie crowd, and you might feature in Kickmen!
1. Please make sure the audio is decent quality. I can’t use anything tinny, or echoey, it sounds weird mixed in with the decent stuff.
2. Kickmen is a serious football simulation, and as such details are KEY. I’ve received some ace files from people but they’re making mistakes – such as referring to “the referee”. Referees are for American Football, in Britain we have Umpires. Likewise it is “do a goal”, not “score a goal”.
3. There’ll be a form to sign, and you probably need to be over 18 for legal reasons I guess?
4. Individual .wavs, all packaged up in a .zip please.
5. Send them to email@example.com
6. I can’t afford to pay you, but I’ll gladly buy you a drink if we ever meet. You’ll also be in Kickmen which Jesus Christ has to be reward enough, right?
MOST IMPORTANTLY: you’re part of a FOOTBALL CROWD. You’re trying to be heard by a player 200ft away, over the top of 50,000 other fans. The best stuff is BOLD and BRASH and LOUD. Don’t just say “Come on, team” limply into a mic. I can’t use that.
You can shout whatever you like, but swearing feels out of place so keep it PG, and ideally some of it will be something funny. It doesn’t need to be funny, but it helps if some of it is.
This is all also for ‘gameplay’, and it’s just plucked at random. So contect-sensitive stuff like “yay we’re winning” or “yay we’ve done a goal” isn’t brilliant.
Thanks!Posted in Behold The Kickmen, Development, HELP, Legally Dubious, Shilling, Stupid Idiot Comments Off
Kickmen took off because I was doing loads of COOL and INTERESTING things making a unique football game, and tweeting out gifs of the progress.
Sadly, the reality of Game Dev has set in and those days are over for now. The real grind of boring work sets in.
The first thing that happened this week was designing something to stop football being so impossibly dull. It’s just endless running up and down the arena, trying to do a goal. You have the ball for a bit, they have the ball for a bit. Repeat to fade. It lacked something, something more long-term. I was (still am?) tempted to put Power Ups in to liven things up a little, but for now I’ve added the FEVER system, which is something the game needed and really really helps.
I told Michael it was his idea but really I’d planned something like this from the off (good management technique: make people think they’re contributing in some way). The game needs a currency. I’m not sure what it’ll be used for yet, probably upgrading your players, but the FEVER system works well for that. Every time you perform a key action – a goal, a successful pass, a big kick, a tackle, whatever, you earn FEVER points as the crowd goes wild. It also increases your FEVER MULTIPLIER, which ticks down over time. What this all means is the better you do – lots of lovely passes and kicks in the right places, the more FEVER points you earn.
This adds an extra layer to the game. Yes, you’ve got to win and do lots of lovely goals, but you also want some cash to spend so you’re constantly upping the quality of your playstyle.
The other thing that’s gone in is LEAGUES. I understand this is a huge part of Football. We currently have 6 Leagues each containing 5 teams. If you win, you move up the League, if you lose you go down. That’s probably how it works in real football, I couldn’t be bothered looking it up.
It currently looks like arse, I’ll show it off when it looks a bit less embarrassing.
Anyway, getting all that generating, loading and saving properly was just one long boring headache, and the lack of interesting gifs of the process simply goes to show that 10% of game development is an enchanting, hilarious, fun experience and the rest is just dreary typing and things going wrong.Posted in Behold The Kickmen, Development, News Comments Off
Hello there! As you may have heard, I’m now making a little football game, despite knowing nothing at all about football and not really liking the sport or the people who used to walk past my bedroom window at 11:30 at night after the “big game” shouting “WAAAAY-OOOOH, WAAAAY-OOOOOOOH, WE DID IT, WE DID THE FOOTBALL-aaaaah” or whatever it was they shouted.
I liked Sensible Soccer though, back in the 1990s on Mike Horner’s Amiga. I also enjoyed Speedball on IBM-compatible PCs but (ssssh, heresy incoming) Speedball 2 left me a little cold, it wasn’t as good. There, I said it.
Anyway. Here we are, we’re all here now making a football game and there doesn’t seem to be anything anyone can do about it so probably best to just knuckle down and make it into a viable product to shovel into people’s faces.
Progress has been thick and fast, loads of cool stuff going in. It’s starting to ‘feel’ like a sport, but I’m aware quite a lot of the work at the moment is ‘game feel’ and tinkering, which is something I really enjoy but doesn’t make for a barrage of interesting gifs for Twitter. So, here’s a little run-down of the stuff that’s getting done, and where Kickmen is going.
Lovely Michael Cook has been slaving over the AI – they’re still the game’s biggest problem at the moment. When it was all a silly joke the idea was to have players dogpiling the ball, like a playground match, and the AI for that was going to be exceptionally simple. Sadly, it turns out that just isn’t fun, and while Behold the Kickmen is a tongue-in-cheek silly little game, it still needs to be fun and enjoyable to play. So Michael’s hard at work making the little football men do sensible kicking, and making them do things that make the game more enjoyable to play – spreading out around the arena a bit, predicting what you’re thinking, that kind of thing.
I like working with Michael. He’s super-intelligent, funny and – importantly – doesn’t know anything about football either, so his AI code is all just guesswork as well. It’s helping make Kickmen not feel like just another football game. It’s warped enough to be its own thing, thanks to sheer, blissful ignorance of ‘facts’.
For my part, the main football stuff is bordering on finished. I’m working on giving it some variety, and hoping to get the main “football match” side of things finished soon – all the rules like goals and penalties are in, it’s now a case of making the whole thing ‘flow’ in an interesting way. We’re getting there, but it’s all a lot of jiggling.
From there, I’ll be adding “leagues” or “divisions” or whatever that is, as well as some sort of Management side. Not sure what form that’ll take yet, but it’ll probably be cribbed off of Speedball with a little bit of X-COM thrown in, because who doesn’t love that game loop?
I think that’s where Kickmen‘s development will end – with a nice progression up the ladder to win the World Cup, and some sort of management side to tailor your team. I should point out I’m focussing purely on Single Player. Mainly because I’ve heard from loads of other indies (as well as my own experiences with Gibbage) that Local Multiplayer just won’t sell copies. I’m also not touching Online Play with a bargepole, for reasons I’ve outlined here.
Obviously if the game sells a million billion copies and it’s something people want, I’ll shift my stance. But for now, the game is strictly SP only.
That’s it for now. That’s where the game stands – bordering on playable and interesting, but not quite there just yet. But that’s game development, isn’t it? Everything’s always shit for at first while you wiggle the pieces into order.Posted in Behold The Kickmen, Development, HELP, Legally Dubious, News, Shilling, Stupid Idiot Comments Off
I’m counting today as Size Five Games’ 10 Year Anniversary. Although I started learning to code some time in 2004, my first paid-for release Gibbage came out exactly 10 years ago today.
Back then it was Zombie Cow Studios, a company name I despised from the off and people still tell me was better then Size Five. They don’t have to live with it, I guess. I was making it up as I went along, and I still am – beware anyone who order xanax bars for surviving as an indie, they’re making it up. There’s only one rule: have fun doing it.
And it has been such incredible fun. Somewhere along the way I’ve learned to code relatively-competently (stop sniggering) and been privileged to work alongside some astonishingly talented people. To name but a few: Ben Ward, Louise James, Michael Firman, Tobey Evans, Chris Simpson, Andy Hodgetts, Mike Watts, Adam Foreman and oh god just so many people who have taught me so, so much.
Thanks also everyone who has supported me and liked my stuff over the last 10 years. I am achingly grateful to everyone who has bought one of my games, and helped contribute to me being one of those lucky bastards whose hobby is also their full-time job. Thanks also to everyone who made the Zombie Cow/ Size Five Forums such a joy to hang out at (especially in their heyday!), and to everyone who supports me on Twitter.
If you want to celebrate, please buy a copy of The Swindle. To celebrate, it’s 0% off (or 100% on, if you’re a glass-half-empty sort of person). Every penny helps keep me afloat.
I’d say “here’s to the next 10 years” but I think deep down we all know there’ll be no need for indie developers in the apocalyptic after-times.News, Shilling, Stupid Idiot Comments Off
I’ve got a SMALL PROJECT on the go that needs some gorgeous Pixel Art.
It’s a tiny thing so a few weeks’ worth of PAID work, but honestly you can kind of take your time with it and fit it around whatever else you’ve got going on, there’s no massive hurry to get it all done so it’s a pretty sweet side-gig. As long as it’s finished by Christmas.
It’s work-from-home and you don’t need any experience making games, we can work through inexperience together, you just need an interesting, professional and unique pixel art style and importantly: to be capable of animating your work nicely.
Style-wise it has to be Pixel Art, and ideally with a very ‘indie’ feel to it, but honestly I’m happy to see any style. As long as it’s GOOD and make PROFESSIONAL-GRADE art and PIXELS.
I can’t explain right now why I’m banging on about pixels so much, it’s a secret and there may be other people reading this, so for now just please bear in mind it’s pixel art I’m after. PIXELS.
If you’re interested, drop me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with a link to your portfolio and some idea of how much you’d charge.Posted in Development, Legally Dubious, News, Stupid Idiot Comments Off
I don’t have a massive burning conviction about game prices particularly; we all love a bargain. I’ll pay full price for something I know I’ll love, but it’s nice to try other stuff when it’s on sale. That’s fine, that’s human nature. It’d be hypocritical to denounce sales while yumming up some new experiences myself.
But this ‘race to the bottom’ pricing concerns me. I haven’t helped – Time Gentlemen, Please! launched at £2.99 and has been in numerous bundles and in sales at up to 91% off. As an indie developer, it’s always good to try things, see what works. Bring in new fans, more money. Some stuff works, some doesn’t. It’s all just part of the rich tapestry of life, and pretending these decisions are based on METRICS and DATA rather than just guesswork would be disingenuous.
I do worry about the industry, though, and I worry about my job in the future if games cost pennies, so when I launched The Swindle I promised myself no sales until Christmas (it’d be silly to miss the biggest sale of the year, 6 months after launch), and no bundles in at least the 1st year (this is PC-only, by the way; Curve are in charge of Console versions and we’ve worked together on my desire to keep the game full price for 6 months as best we can).
Anyway: The Steam Winter Sale was the first time it was discounted, and it received a generous discount of 50%.
Has it sold less copies for not frequently having a ‘10% off’ banner throughout the Autumn? Probably, I guess? Has it sold less copies for not being in the Thanksgiving Sale, or endless Bundles? I expect so.
But data? Strong, hard, reliable data? No idea. It did well, it sold lots of new copies and brought in more money for the company to make more games with, so that’s good. But I’ve got nothing really to compare it against, so no insightful conclusions to draw.
I’ll say this, though, so here’s your INSIGHTFUL ANALYSIS: I feel better in myself for not devaluing my work. I feel happy that I haven’t devalued other peoples’ work by encouraging race-to-the-bottom pricing. And I feel better for my customers who bought the game full price at launch that they didn’t find the game discounted after a month.
So, worth doing, I think.Posted in Legally Dubious, News, Shilling, Stupid Idiot, The Swindle Comments Off
We’re all in this together – you’re good for me because you help spread the word of my game, and I’m good for you because I save you cash when making your videos by flinging over a free key. I thought it might be useful for youTubers to know what the situation is like from my end, so you can plan your emails to devs accordingly, and get more keys, which will help you make more brillo videos of the latest games.