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Monsters & Monocles Greenlight Progress - Week 3

Greenlight Link - If you haven’t voted yet, please do so! If you have voted, please share the link with other gamers you know and encourage them to do the same! We need your help to keep our spot on Greenlight.

Previous Entries:

So, how are we doing? Let’s check out the stats:

That’s pretty good! We haven’t moved up as much as we did in previous weeks, but things are going to get more and more congested as we move up.

However, the downside is in the last two days we’ve had a pretty scary falloff in traffic, check out this graph of the last week:

Ouch.

The drop over the last two days has been really hard to watch, mostly because there’s not much we can do about it. At this point the bulk of our traffic is directly from within steam, and the drop off corresponds to that traffic going down. The traffic from twitter and other sources is pretty consistent still.

So, what to do?

I’m not sure what to do beyond continuing to post new content on a regular basis and encourage people to get the word out and vote. So I’ll keep writing devblogs, sharing gifs, etc. If there’s something in particular you’d like to see, let me know!

We’re also considering doing key giveaways for games as we hit certain vote thresholds. Is that something that would encourage you to share more? I’m happy to do it if it’s an idea people are into.

Here’s hoping for a new greenlight batch soon. :)

Greenlight: Please Keep Voting!

We’re doing great on Greenlight, we’re up to #38! But competition is tough and we need your votes to help climb up to the top.

So please:

Thanks to everyone who’s voted so far, you are the best!

Crumpet Cannon! →

monstersandmonocles:

image

After Craig worked on the initial sprites this morning, I spent some time getting an initial version of the gun working in game. Lots of fun to run around with!

Right now the crumpets bounce off walls and damage anything they hit. After 4 seconds they explode, doing damage to anything in a…

tearascal:

I started reworking the player HUD and info pop-ups in Monsters & Monocles to show the special relics and abilities that can be bought and equipped :)
We’re still up on Steam Greenlight so please give us a vote or tell your friends if you can! :D
http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=296028311 …

tearascal:

I started reworking the player HUD and info pop-ups in Monsters & Monocles to show the special relics and abilities that can be bought and equipped :)

We’re still up on Steam Greenlight so please give us a vote or tell your friends if you can! :D

http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=296028311 …

Monsters & Monocles Greenlight Progress - Week 2

Two weeks ago we launched our Greenlight campaign to get Monsters & Monocles on Steam. As of last week, we were 82% of the way to the top 100 and still rising. So, after another week how are we doing?

Not only are we in the top 100, we’re inside the top 50! Once again we’d like to give a massive thank you to everyone who’s voted. You’re directly responsible for the success we’ve had on Greenlight so far and we are incredibly grateful.

Press Mentions

We’ve had some great press mentions this week, here are a few:

Daily Content

We’ve continued to try and post at least one thing about the game every day, regardless of the type of content. So far we’ve done concept art, new sprites, gun implementations, procedural generation devblogs, and more.

None of them seem to get significantly more attention than the others, although the pixel art posts tend to do quite well. We hope the variety of content appeals to different sets of people, but we don’t really have the metrics to back that up.

What’s Next?

In the short term? We’re going to keep doing the stuff we’ve been doing. It seems to be working and we’re continuing to climb up the charts.

The next greenlight batch should be coming soon (this Friday maybe?) and if we’re accepted then we’ll need to figure out what kind of content/posting cycle we’ll use as we work on the game. I’d love for this to happen so I can start integrating steamworks! The network game creation stuff needs an overhaul and I’d really rather use steamworks than create my own separate system.

If we’re not accepted in this batch we’ll need to continue promoting to hopefully get accepted into the subsequent batch. But we’ll deal with that if/when it happens. For now here’s hoping we’re greenlit soon!

gavinbowman:

New Game: Ninja Ninja Ninja (iOS)
+ Google Play
+ Amazon App Store

Monsters & Monocles Devblog: Intro to Graphviz

This is a series of posts that I’ll write on some of the technology behind Monsters & Monocles. If you like what you see please consider voting for us on Greenlight! http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=296028311

Graphviz? What?

If you work with procedural generation, you will invariably run into issues where your generation goes crazy and it’s not immediately clear what’s gone wrong. One of the best ways to debug these issues is by trying to visualize your results in a different, more abstract way.

When working on our room generation system I decided to use a tool called Graphviz to debug the room connections. To give you an idea of what that looks like, graphviz takes these floors:

And displays it like:

So, what data do we see in this graphviz version of the map?

  • Rooms and all of their logical connections (doors)
  • Floor start and end points (green and red rooms)
  • The first floor has a locked door & key objective, the locked connection and room containing the key are highlighted in purple
  • A floating node used as a comment gives the seed used to generate the map. That’s the blue box.

Beyond the raw data you can use the graphviz model to discuss the properties of the generated map and ask questions like “is this what I want for the game?” For example:

  • The critical path for each floor seems to be about 7-10 rooms long. Is this what I want for gameplay? How long does it take to clear a room? What does that mean for how long it takes to clear a floor if you take the optimal path?
  • Dead ends rarely exceed two rooms in length. Is this enough to feel like you’re exploring?
  • The keygun for the locked door on floor 1 ended up really near to the locked door. Would it be more interesting for the key to be earlier in the level? It takes up a gun slot for the player which can be limiting, but it’s also the best crowd control gun. How would it affect play?

It’s really hard to reason about those types of questions without having this kind of data. When I’m working on map generation I’ll often generate 20-30 mapsets and graphviz equivalents and use that as the start of analysis in addition to playtesting.

Create your own Graphviz maps

So, I’ve convinced you on the value of graphviz. Great! Now let’s do a quick overview of how to make your own maps. Fortunately it’s really easy!  The graphviz file format is a text based format that revolved around nodes and connections between those nodes.

Here’s a small sample graph with three nodes and a connection:

graph map {
	node [fillcolor="#444444", fontcolor="white", style=filled, shape=box]
	edge [color="#666666"]

	room0 [label="room0"]
	room1 [label="room1" fillcolor="#44CC44"]
	room2 [label="room2"]

	room0 -- room1
	room1 -- room2
	room2 -- room0 [label="special", color="#CC4444"]
}

Top Level

Everything gets included in a graph block. The word after graph is the identifier, I’m just using ‘map’ for mine. You can use anything you like though.

The next two lines are directives that tell graphviz how to process all nodes and edges by default. The “node” line tells graphviz to make all nodes dark gray boxes with white text for their labels. The “edge” line tells graphviz to make all edges a lighter gray.

Nodes

The next three lines create three nodes, which we call room0, room1, and room2. The label in the options block is what will actually show up in the generated graph image, the identifier at the start of the line is used for telling graphviz about the connections between nodes. If it makes sense you can give your rooms a different label that’s more readable (e.g. “Start Room” instead of “room0”). Note on room1 we show how you can override default values as necessary. In this case we’re setting room1 to be green in the generated graph.

Connections

The last section defines all the connections in our graph, and they take the format <node 1> — <node 2>. In our example our graph is not directional, but graphviz does support one way paths if you need them. Again note that you can add labels or override colors as necessary.

Generating

The graphviz website will tell you different ways to generate your graph, but on os x I use the following command line:

neato -Ln100 mymap.gv -Tpng > mymap.gv

Which for our sample map, gives us the following output:

Other Uses

I’ve shown how we use graphviz to debug our maps, what else could you use it for? Anything where you have elements and transitions! Use it to validate the flow of text dialogue in your scripts, asset dependencies, level transitions. If you think of any other uses, let me know! For more graphviz options and a full specification of the language you can go here.

Any questions? Feel free to ask it below, ask me on twitter, or start a discussion thread on our greenlight forum.

And if you enjoyed this post, please click here and give us a yes vote on greenlight!

Monsters & Monocles: Steam Greenlight →

We hit the top 50! I couldn’t be happier hitting that milestone in less than two weeks since we started our greenlight campaign.

The number of votes we need to keep moving up is incredibly high, so if you haven’t voted yet please consider clicking the link and voting for us. And a huge thanks to everyone who’s voted already, you’re directly responsible for the success we’ve had so far.

Cheers,

-Ryan

tearascal:

Here’s the sprite version of the evil chimney sweep boss from Monsters &amp; Monocles :)
Please vote for us on Greenlight! :D
http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=296028311 …

tearascal:

Here’s the sprite version of the evil chimney sweep boss from Monsters & Monocles :)

Please vote for us on Greenlight! :D

http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=296028311 …

(via monstersandmonocles)

tearascal:

Here’s a character design illustration for the evil, bat summoning chimney sweep boss from Monsters &amp; Monocles :)
Please vote for us on Greenlight and tell your friends too!
http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=296028311 …

tearascal:

Here’s a character design illustration for the evil, bat summoning chimney sweep boss from Monsters & Monocles :)

Please vote for us on Greenlight and tell your friends too!

http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=296028311 …

(via monstersandmonocles)

A recap of our week on Greenlight

What a week!

Last Tuesday we launched our Greenlight campaign to get Monsters & Monocles on Steam. It’s our first PC game so we didn’t have a great idea of how the community would respond.

I’m happy to say the support has been overwhelmingly positive. Right now we’re 82% of the way to the top 100, and we continue to climb a bit closer each day.

I’ve included all of our stats page as it looks right now so you can see it, it may be interesting or useful to other teams considering doing greenlight.

What’s Worked

Twitter: Twitter has been a great resource for us. People have been really generous in spreading the word and we’ve seen a steady stream of visitors to our page because of it.

Daily Content: To give people a visit to visit the greenlight page, our website, etc we’ve been trying to post at least one content update a day. People have really seemed to like this, and it does seem to be driving some people to the greenlight page.

The Trailer: We put a lot of work into the trailer, and the reaction to it has been really positive. It even got picked up by Gametrailers! The trailer is the first impression a lot of people have about the game, so I’m glad we took the time to make it as solid as we could.

What Could Have Been Better

Press Contacts: Being our first PC game, a lot of our attempts to contact the press have been ‘cold call’ emails, and we haven’t gotten a lot of responses. The exception was Destructoid, they were fantastic about taking a look and posting a bit about it last Friday. So, thanks Destructoid!

It’s also been hard for us to find the right press contacts. Lots of sides (CVG, etc) don’t even have a tip/contact email on their website that I could find. So we’re slowly building a list of people to try and contact but I really wish we had this sorted out when we launched the greenlight.

No Press/Demo Build: This is just a reality of where we are in the project. But I think we would have a much easier time talking to press if we had a demo build to send them, and we also could have talked to youtube folks since they’d have something to show. We’re working on getting this done ASAP since I think it will be a big help.

'Nuclear Clone': Because our first trailer focused on a lot of the action, we’ve gotten a lot of accusations of being a clone of Nuclear Throne. I’m confident that our game will stand on its own when people see more of it, but I wish in retrospect we had highlighted some more of the differences in the trailer.

I’d like to thank Rami and the rest of the Vlambeer team again for their support when we launched last week, I think it helped minimize a lot of the negative reaction. But we could have done more on our part as well, and we’ll have to as we continue to promote the game.

Going Forward

I’m not sure how many votes we actually need to get greenlight - for now we’re focusing on getting into the top 100. It seems like Valve greenlights 50-100 games every few weeks, so that seems like a good initial goal.

So, we still need your help! If you haven’t voted yet, please go vote for us by clicking here. If you have friends who you think might be interested, please let them know as well.

Any questions about any of this? Leave a question in the comments, use the ‘ask’ tumblr feature, or hit me up on twitter (I’m @rje). Thanks for reading!

Monsters & Monocles Devblog: Mansion Door Placement

This is a series of posts that I’ll write on some of the technology behind Monsters & Monocles. If you like what you see please consider voting for us on Greenlight! http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=296028311

In my last post, I described one of our methods of creating a room-based map. At the end of the generation we were left with a map that looks like this:

image

So now we have a series of adjacent rooms, but none of them are connected! The next step in the generation process is to add a series of doors to connect the map together.

Like with the layout, I had a few design goals that I wanted to achieve with my door placement:

  • The map needs to be well-connected - the player should be able to start in one room and eventually traverse to any other room.
  • The map shouldn’t just be a linear path where each room has two connections. That’s boring to navigate and doesn’t give you a lot of options in terms of placement of objectives. Having multiple ‘dead end’ rooms is immensely helpful.
  • Ideally, generate some rooms that act as ‘hubs’ that players can travel in multiple directions from. This is mostly a personal preference, but I like having a set of rooms that you branch out from and come back to as you explore a map.

To start, let’s give each room an ID to make talking about the generation a bit easier:

image

So the system I currently use works something like this:

  1. Put all of the rooms into a list I call ‘remaining rooms’, these are rooms that have not yet been connected 
  2. Pick a random room from the list and add it to the ‘placed rooms’
  3. While there are rooms left in the ‘remaining rooms’ list, find the subset of rooms that are adjacent to placed rooms. Pick one of those at random to place.
  4. For the room we’ve chosen to place, create a door between it and one of the placed rooms. We pick the room to join with by picking the one with the most existing doors (this helps us create hubs).
  5. Return to step 3 until all rooms are placed.

 

Step 1

This is pretty straightforward, just stuff a reference to all the rooms into an array. No rooms are placed in this step. To help with visualization I’ll put all unplaced rooms in purple, and placed rooms will be in the original blue.

image

 

Step 2

Here’s when we start placing. This step is easy though since it’s just picking a room at random. We’ll place room 2 into the map.

image

 

Step 3

In this step we find all the rooms adjacent to placed rooms, and pick one of them at random to place. In this first run only the rooms adjacent to room 2 would be available, so our options are rooms 1, 3, and 7. We choose an available room at random, in this case we’ll choose room 1 for placement.

image

 

Step 4

Now we need to create a door between the newly placed room (room 1) and any of the adjacent placed rooms. In this case it’s easy since there’s only one adjacent room. But in the case of there being multiple options we’d pick the adjacent room that has the most doors already.

image

 

Step 5

We continue the process until all rooms are placed, you can see the full process in the gif below. Note that in cases where there are multiple adjacent rooms it picks the connecting room with the most existing doors, and is random in the case of a tie.

image

And that’s how we place doors in the mansion! We still have start/end point, enemy placement, prop placement, and objectives placement left to go in future posts.

Any questions? Feel free to ask it below, ask me on twitter, or start a discussion thread on our greenlight forum.

And if you enjoyed this post, please click here and give us a yes vote on greenlight!

wtiam asked: Monsters & Monacles looks like a very fun arcade style game. Supported on steam greenlight! :) Any advice for a group of 10 teens forming a game studio?

Thanks for the support!

Advice for a new 10 person group - that’s a lot of people, especially when you’re first getting started. That’s not to say it can’t work or you should try to do something else, just know that having that many people involved from day 1 will add to the challenge.

I think with a new team a big challenge is learning how everyone can best work together. If you haven’t already, find some game jams that sound interesting and work on them as a group. Focus on communication! How are all 10 people going to know what the next goals of the project are, what the design decisions are, etc.

Let me know when you release something! I’d love to see what you make.

lo-teks asked: Are you ever afraid you'll never make it?

All the time. I don’t think that feeling ever goes away, you just need to work around it somehow. Easier said than done.

First Press Mentions of Monsters & Monocles

Monsters & Monocles is starting to get some great coverage in the press, here are 3 different news posts from the week:

  • Destructoid - Top-down shooter Monsters & Monocles looks delightful
  • Pixel Dynamo - Monsters & Monocles brings occult antics to Steam Greenlight
  • Saving Content - Monsters & Monocles Up For Voting On Steam Greenlight

HELP US!

We still need lots of votes on Greenlight before we can sell our game on Steam, so please click here and give us a yes vote! Monsters & Monocles on Stream Greenlight