Archive for July, 2011

Project Seven Test Version Up for Download!

Hey everyone, Ben here!

AVCON finished up yesterday – a big thank you to everyone who came and played the game, we were overwhelmed with the positive feedback we received and thankfully didn’t run into too many bugs.

I want to extend a huge Thank you to Ben Kilsby from Holopoint Interactive, the man who runs the Indie games room. We would never have had the chance to show our game without him! Another thank you to everyone else who made the IGR possible, sorry I can’t list everyone’s names.

Anyway, enough about that – on to the real News! A downloadable test version of the game is available here. It’s the same version we had at AVCON, and features 22 levels of varying sizes to play though, as well as most of the weapons and tool-keys in the game.  However, it is a test version and we are looking for feedback – if you come across any nasty bugs or just have some general feedback Feel free to e-mail me at

Again, the download link is Here, so why not Give it a try and tell us what you think?

Thanks – Ben, Nightfall Studios. 

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Levels are done, plus thoughts on multiple campaigns.

It was a tough two weeks, but the demo is now complete. I just finished the Front-End a few minutes ago.

We will be showing this at AVCON, and soon after we will host a download for you guys to see.

The demo consists of a small game world that goes light on the NPCs and worldbuilding. The goal is to go east into the mountains and run a gauntlet across a pass to safety. There is one town and one dungeon. Five out of the seven tools are present, along with all of the weapons. These are scattered across the world, and the player will have to find them on his own.

The heavy weapons, ie the machine gun, anti-tank gun and mobile bunker are concealed in a secret area.

One of the cool things about P7 for us is that all the enemies, tools and terrain can be used to make a bunch of ‘campaigns’, ‘stories’, ‘adventures’ or whatever label you prefer. This means we can release multiple ‘games’ (or expansion packs) using the same resources, which makes the development time for new content a whole lot shorter. This was how Nintendo was able to get The Majora’s Mask done so fast and so cheaply – much of the resources used were sitting there from Ocarina of Time. Another example is the open source game Battle for Wesnoth, which comes with multiple campaigns from a variety of different authors.

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Adelaide’s Anime and Videogame Convention is coming up, 22-24 of July. Over the days to come we will be working to get the levels done to present at the Indie Games Room.

We were recently at July’s ARGGGH, Adelaide’s Really Good Gathering of Gamedevs. The H is silent. It was a casual affair, very friendly with a feeling of community spirit and cameraderie I had never expected. We just walked right in, found the others and started talking. I realised with a pang of regret that we had neglected to bring a laptop or even a flash drive with P7 on it. However, we kept up an excited barrage of description which quickly turned me hoarse.

Anyway, regarding AVCON: we could have just shown a linear level that demonstrated all the features, but that wouldn’t have captured the feel we wanted. The final game will not be a sequence of levels.

The levels in this demonstration are structured like a network. While there are levels that just go from one place to another, there are others with three or even four exits/entrances. The weapons and tools are scattered around, and the player will have to hunt for them if they want to progress further.

While there is no plot, the drive to continue exploration beyond raised barriers might drive the player just as well.

In the end, there is going to be a large gauntlet level, just for fun, a long icy run against everything the game has to throw at you.

There’s also going to be a dungeon crawl about halfway through.

So, why not come to AVCON, pop into the indie games room, talk to us and have a taste of the game?

Here is the Indie games Room Promo vid, Featuring P7 and a ton of other games by Adelaide-based Devs. Everything you see here will be in the Indie games room at this year’s AVCON! 
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Developmental Dam Demolition!

I am now freed up to work on the code for Project 7 in my own sweet time, without having it compete with my everlasting struggle with Nethack. For perhaps the fifth time, I realised when playing P7 (Playing? Playtesting? Not sure which) that playing the same damn test level 3*10^8 times is going to get boring, regardless of the quality of the game mechanics. So I made a new level and was amazed at how much the experience improved.

This happens a lot to me because I put game mechanics first and foremost. The art of level design is something which I do not have much experience. My approach is to divide the level into ‘sections’, areas containing enemies and terrain. With linear levels, the defining feature is that areas are connected sequentially. With nonlinear levels they are laid out in a grid or similar two-dimensional structure.

The two types require different sections, because of the ways you can approach the section. A linear section can make fantastic use of set-pieces to create interesting tactics, whereas a non-linear section can be approached from multiple directions for different results.

A key component of all levels is breathing room. In the past many of my test levels have been concentrated with enemies all the way through. If you moved the wrong way you’d end up in a desperate fight from four sides. I’ve solved this through the use of destructible blocks which will obscure vision from the enemy (if only temporarily). In addition to this, areas between sections will be devoid of enemies, perhaps containing healthkits and save-points. The very use of the term ‘section’ requires that the level be partitioned between them.

As is frustratingly predictable in these situations, my drive to program has been intensified. Currently I am working on the code dealing with the different faction types the player will encounter. Their visuals need to be altered from the base enemy, and if attacked they need to become wary, then hostile.

Factions in P7 each have their own influence meter when dealing with the player. When the player does something a little bit naughty or psychotic in their line of sight, influence goes down. We’ve decided that if you’re attacking someone, the attack needs to be reported by a comrade, ie a witness, that can see the action. If this happens your influence will go down, but if you can isolate someone, you can shoot them and no one will be the wiser.

There are certain enemies called Sentries that will have special properties here, but we haven’t fully fleshed them out.


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