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Showing posts from 2018

Post Kickstarter

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Well, the Kickstarter is finally over and the results have been abysmal.
We only had a hand full of backers, so thank you to those people.

The Stats Lets look at some stats:

In the last month, we have had about 1,400 people come to our Kickstarter page with only 12 people following through - a conversion rate of 0.857%.

Reddit indicates that 43,800 people viewed our adverts, with 507 clicks - a conversion rate of 1.158%.
Youtube indicates that 29,000 people viewed our adverts with only 29 clicks - a conversion rate of 0.1%.
Twitter failed to even launch the advertising campaign and our attempts to reach out to them fell on deaf ears.
Also our attempts to reach out to the gaming press also mostly fell on deaf ears with the exception of gaming on linux

From my research a conversion rate of about 1-2% is normal.

What now? We have taken the last month to reflect and pester the press and twitter (with no luck). We lack the funding to be able to complete Trains & Things to the leve…

Kickstarter & Demo Now Live!

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Kickstarter & Demo Now Live
Trains & Things Kickstarter is now live! Go visit our Kickstarter page and support us. 



There you will find a link to a demo!!! YAY!

The demo includes two maps, a tutorial level and Hawaii, which you will have seen in many screenshots. It is also limited to 30 minutes of play time which should be enough to give you a good taste of the game.

Finally, I've put together video running you through the tutorial level in case you happen to get stuck.


Kickstarter Prep

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Mac OSX Build Good news! We have a Mac build of Trains & Things functional! But, we have no Mac to test our build on! So I've sent a demo build to a mate who has confirmed that it is working!

Secondly, you may have heard the news of Apple depreciating OpenGL and OpenCL.

Apples walled garden got a little bit scarier! I don't know what this means for Mac support for us in the long term, it really boils down to what the Godot team decide. Either way, I suspect that we will try to ship a Mac build but that it will remain officially unsupported - ie. if it doesn't work, we wont invest much time in it, but if it works for you, great!


Track Building Over TimeSince time began (early 2017 for Trains & Things) tracks have always built instantly. You plan the path they are to take, press the buy button and *BAM* instant track.
Yet it has always been planned that tracks would build over time. I've been putting it off, others on the team have kept nagging me to do it. The r…

Texas

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Terrain Yes we are dealing with terrain again! While we had 8-bit initially, then went to 16-bit but found using texture image editing software support lacking so we decided lets just make 8-bit work.
As we proceeded, I just wasn't happy with the terrain, and as you increase the terrain geometry it would start to "step." The final nail was to see the tracks again also going "jaggey" making things look terrible.

See what I mean?!

So whats changed now? Well, we've embraced blender as our terrain editing tool. My bro, the artist on the team has been programming the tools to allow us to use blender in our terrain pipeline. This has freed me, the programmer on the team to do some art!
What have I been doing as the artist you say?
Well, I present to you...

Texas 
Ain't she a beauty? This is based loosely off of actual GIS elevation data, which we take into blender and smooth out and exaggerate some features to make it playable in a game.

I have found the wh…

A reason to play multiplayer

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A reason to play multiplayer Coop is great! You can play at what ever pace you like and the game ends when you achieve a certain company value, although you can continue if you want.

Now for versus multiplayer this doesn't cut the mustard! We need something compelling to drive the player forwards. So we have finally done this!

As with every good railroad game, you can now invest in the shares of your competitors, and eventually to buy them out - if you can do that before they buy you out.

The challenge is making this some what self balancing to a degree. How do you restrict those players who are the bee's knees from stomping the newbs? Especially a problem if your a newb and your friend wants to have a game with you just to stomp you in 5 minutes flat *cough* Railroads *cough*. We have some ideas we are experimenting with here, no doubt these are not final and we will not tell you what these are. If anyone has some good ideas feel free to let us know. Fortunately, being bough…

Tutorial map & Master server

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Tutorial map & Master server
Tutorial map Every game needs some sort of instructions on how to play. In Dog Fight we just had some images explaining the gist of the game. But Trains & Things is a more complex game. I also wanted to provide some form of basic scenario/campaign system so those that are keen could make single player event driven maps.

My initial attempt at a tutorial was all hand coded into a single script file, but I eventually cleaned it up and have broken it down into a nicer event system which can allow for a script to "listened to". It is still quite basic but provides a simple framework for setting up a campaign. Knowing how to program in GDScript is required however.

Today I managed to sit down and leave my coder hat for my bro and I stole his artist hat and put together a tutorial level. With a brief introduction to blender, by my bro, I was away and modeling cliffs as you can see in the picture below.

Master server: Matrix & Social buttons…

More Terrain

More Terrain Last time we discussed the terrain pipeline, particularly the height and normal map generation.


Well, as a test of the new pipeline we have attempted to upgrade our old Texas prototype map. As I have been doing this I have also been working on documenting the whole process of making a map: http://trains-and-things-docs.readthedocs.io/en/latest/

I have found the pipeline for terrain still inadequate. While if you got the perfect texture straight from the GIS software it would work well, but if you want to run your height map through some image editing software, this was not possible!
The reality is there is no image editing software that really supports a 16-bit pipeline. We found issues in both Gimp and Krita.

As a result we have gone back to using 8-bit textures for the terrain and tried adding some smoothing in the code.

I've also added in some very quick and dirty multi-threading of the terrain to allow it to load quicker. Other improvements are that the terrain…

Going back in time

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Going back in time It been a long painful one this time around. We have stepped back in time to fix up some of our old projects, so lets jump in and tell you what we have been doing over at bitshift.

Dog Fight As we have recently updated our company name, I decided to dig our our previous project: Dog Fight. I figured it should be easy to just pull it out, update the version of the Unreal Engine it is running on from 4.11 to 4.18, change the splash screen with our new company logo and possibly add Vulcan support (which we hoped to release with but never made the cut).
Unfortunately I have forgotten how painful and slow using the UE4 Engine was/is. I've wasted a good half a week just trying to get the game open in the editor. The frustrating part is that it takes so long to do one thing, and if you do not get it right I need to go back and try again - which has happened a lot! But at least I now have this running on the latest UE4 engine but have put this on hold.

QLaunch I updat…

Vehicle Edit & Clone Support

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Vehicle Edit & Clone Support We are having a LAN with mates soon and want to test out T&T with more than 2 players. On that note, we have been sprinting towards ironing out the final big pain points.

What would that be you ask?
I'm glad you asked... seeing as I planted the idea that you in fact did want to ask in the first place! If not, tough! But you already know as the title has given it away: Bug free (I hope!) support for editing a vehicle's route as well as the ability to clone a vehicle.


The vehicle panel (left side of the screen) has some snazzy looking tool buttons that provides access to: (1) locate and follow the vehicle, (2) edit the vehicle, (3) clone the vehicle, (4) delete the vehicle.

Clicking edit or clone will bring up the dialog you see on the right which shows where the train will stop and what will be unloaded and loaded at each stop. This is now editable once the vehicle has been setup, which should allow for some good micro to optimize profit!

Pain point iteration

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Leveling System  We have been continuing our "pain point iteration," that is, playing the game, finding pain points - things that are painful to endure when playing, fixing them and repeating the process. Again we sat down as a team on the weekend and had a multiplayer game of T&T. Once the game was over we discussed what is the biggest thing that needs to be improved?

Surprisingly we came away feeling that the game was really fun and well balanced. It caused us to have to think about where and when we built, to watch the wallet and to ensure we were encountering profit before we proceeded to attempt to expand.

The biggest pain point was that the only way to expand was to expand to other cities and develop resources all over the map (lets call this "horizontal" gameplay). The cost of horizontal expansion is significant which leads to a mid game economic slump. The early game we have the bank to give us enough of a loan to get up our first resource chain to de…

Dialog overhaul

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Now that setting up a train is a really lovely experience, we sat down and had a few games of multiplayer so that we could identify the next major pain point when playing Trains & Things.

Surprisingly, it boiled down to fighting with the user interface - we were always moving windows around and they would always end up in crazy positions. Especially when playing in a window and resizing the window. They would even vanish into the ether and we could not rescue them!

Our initial UI design philosophy was to have dialogs as we knew from the get go there would be a lot of information the user could dig into. We figured that allowing the user to lay this out as they liked would be great!
But here we see the ideal depart from reality. The theory is great, the practicality is vastly different.

We again talked about what different games do thing well, and why they are done well and those games that do them bad and came up with a new solution to the problem: Let the game pop panels in from …