Conventions!

Wow. So much has happened, is happening, and will happen.  I bring you: THE CURRENT FUTURE HISTORY OF ESCAPE FUEL.

First, THE PAST: We were at iFest Indie Game Festival in Seattle! And we met some of you! And then you went at voted us the People's Choice winner of the festival. You are so thoughtful.

Commander-Kamala.jpg

In the picture, you can see me, Charles, with red shirt and glasses, talking about the game. There is a little kid there in a sailor suit who, if I remember correctly, was not a real sailor but was a total whiz on the controls but skipped past all the in-game story text. That dialogue was funny, kid; next playthrough, go slower. And in the picture there are also two dudes standing in front of our game, and I believe the first one is saying "This game is awesome and I would totally buy this" and the other one is say "yes, yes, me too." This is what I choose to believe they are saying. 

We also got to meet a lot of hardworking other indie devs who are working on other sweet games like Texas Twist Poker and XO from Jumpdrive Studios. So much great stuff is coming from the indie scene up here in the Pacific Northwest. 

And in addition to all the warm fuzzy feelings and kind words from real people like "fun,” "pretty,” and "this doesn't suck,” we asked for and received a boatload of constructive feedback on the game. The feedback from players is one of the most rewarding aspects of attending conventions. A game isn't a game until it's in a player's hands. The feedback is making our game much stronger. For those of you interested in game design: our biggest feedback was that two of our super cool features were judged to be indeed super cool, but only after I explained how they worked while I was standing next to the players. Since each copy of our game does not include a personal visit by Escape Fuel staff to explain how to play the game, this means our tutorial sections needed fixing. And fixed they now are, and fixed hard. 

All in all, a good week. Now we move from THE PAST to THE PRESENT! And in the present (defined as five days ago until now), we've been preparing builds - fixing bugs, polishing features, rewriting punchlines - for submission to two important game events: The Indie Megabooth and the PAX 10. Acceptance into either programs of these means that we would get to present at PAX!  Which is extremely unlikely, but it would be dream-come-true awesome as we would like to meet you and show you our game. It would be super great. Like, I'll tell you flat out - at my first PAX a few years back, before Escape Fuel got started, I remember walking around the PAX floor, seeing those video game setups, and I thought, man, that is what I want to do: make a video game and have it look good like these games and make people happy like they seem right here.  Cut to today, where we are on track to make a great video game, and presenting at PAX is an itty-bitty teeny-tiny possibility. So cross your fingers for us! 

And now to the FUTURE.  Escape Fuel is going to bring Commander Kamala to a few more conventions!  We'll be at the Power of Play Indie Expo in Bellevue, Washington on May 15th and 16th and then VEGAS BABY as we travel to Las Vegas, Nevada for the Level Up Expo on May 30th and 31st. Live in Bellevue or Vegas and like video games? Please come see us at these conventions! 

(BTW.  Speaking of the FUTURE, and speaking as someone making a game which tries to humorously capture the vibrant, passionate, hopeful adventure that the Golden Age of Sci Fi wanted to bring us: how awesome does Tomorrowland look? I mean I haven't even seen Avengers 2 yet since I've been working on the game for all these deadlines, and I might even see Tomorrowland before Avengers 2). 

Anyways. Long story short: we're working hard, we're glad when we can meet you at these conventions, and we love all your feedback. More to come soon (more stuff about the game proper, game design, etc.) 

Best,

Charles

Keep That Feedback Coming!

Hey there, Charles here.  Lots of little odds and ends to talk about today, provided to you in convenient list format.

  • First, hello to all of our new Facebook and Twitter followers!  Thank you so much for signing up to follow Commander's Kamala's eventual path to world domination, where world domination means "a solid appreciation of the game among a narrow band of discerning game players and break-even profit margins."  Y'all are cool for hanging with us.  (Not following us on Twitter or Facebook?  Well join us then!)
  • Next, a reminder again that you can try out the build by just signing up on our mailing list here!  We're getting high quality feedback on the game.  Even though it's super early, responsive has been more positive than I would have imagined.   There is still a ton of work to do and lots of things to work on in the game.  But we're on the right track.
  • We've even got some people who would like to stream our game on Twitch!  That is AWESOME and you are super cool for asking!  Right now, it's a little early for that.  We want to get some more gameplay in there.  At least a boss fight.  (And our boss ship looks SO DOPE.)   So hold off on the livestreams, but we'll get there soon.  We're working as fast as we can.
  • We're targeting a cadence of about two weeks per new build.  In our next build, you can plan to see more weapons (blaster and lasers and rockets, Oh My), and our first actual non-tutorial case.  You may get to meet Becca's kid sister, Juneau, who is running with the Yolo Squad, or you might meet Snaffles, the internet cat video star whose disappearance is taking the galaxy by storm.  Or both, if I can do the code fast enough.
  • This weekend was PAX East, and our art director Ryan found a bunch of cool games (both space- and non-space-related) worth checking out.  We'll post on that more later this week.
  • To close, a little win/win funny story.  So: Commander Kamala travels the galaxy through wormholes.  These wormholes are cool little particle light storms that get bigger when you get closer and then explode when you travel through.  Fun and pretty.  But - they are actually a little time consuming on the computer (you might see your frame rate drop a little bit when you are near one.)  So I'm saying to myself, how am I gonna get performance up and keep all those ten thousand cool pretty light particles?  Well, we've gotten some feedback from our players and the #1 unexpected piece of feedback?   Turn down the wormholes.  Too many particles and too distracting.  WELL THAT'S EASY TO SOLVE. :)

That's all for now!  More to come soon.

Best, Charles

Into the world!

We are super excited.  Today is the day we've been waiting for at Escape Fuel - when we let our delicate little bundle of beauty, imagination and wonder out into the world for the very first time and watch helplessly as it get torn to shreds by a cruel and indifferent public.

I mean, today's the day we start playtesting!  WOOO!!!!

To be fair, this isn't the first time anyone has seen the game (hiding the game for this long would be game design MADNESS) but it is the first time that we'll release it to the public.  And we're glad for the feedback.  Cliche time: what ever doens't kill you makes you stronger.  And feedback doesn't kill you (much).  The game will be so much better for your feedback, and I am grateful for each of you who gives up between five and thirty minutes of your time to try out the game.

You haven't signed up for the early builds, you say?  Not a problem - just go to www.escapefuel.com/signup and, well, sign up.

The game is currently super-pre-alpha, still in-development.  It's not feature complete, it's not content complete, it's not story-complete.  It's completely incomplete.  And there is so much more coming in later builds. 

But there's a speck of a game in here, and even that speck needs feedback.

We will sending out the early builds in waves, which will be throttled by the amount of feedback we get.  If the first ten players come back and say, "this is hardcore broken because of A, B and C and we can't be friends anymore" then (1) OK, you are taking a pre-alpha playest a little too seriously and (2) yes sir/ma'am, we're on it.  We fix those problems, then release to the next ten people.  If, however, feedback is generally workable (X could be better, I don't like Y, but boy do I like Z) then we'll keep on handing out the build until the list is exhausted.

And then, every couple of weeks or so, we'll drop the latest build with new and /or exciting additions to the game.   And you get to try those out, too!

Also, this week, we are going to start give you loyal readers sneak peaks into all the great art and gameplay that makes Commander Kamala.  I am super excited to show you all of the fantastic art that Ryan and the art team have created over these past few months.

So get ready to hear a lot more from us!  (But not so much that you'll want to unfollow us.  We know our limits.)

Onward!

- Charles

One Step Closer!

Hello there, future fans of Commander Kamala!  Just a short post today to let you know what's going on with the game.

We're working hard to get that first build ready for you.  (And the second.  You actually want the second.)

It's taking a while, because in parallel to this, we're also getting ready for our trailer.   Our trailer includes real game play footage, so weren't not just trying to draw a bunch of pretty motion graphics and animations - we're building the real game play that you'll see later in the game.

(Now, as it turns out, the game play actually uses the Unity Legacy Animation system, which is how we can get all those bad dudes flying in cool formations.  How we do that will be the subject of another post, along with How To Make A Laser Cannon and Sorry, Isaac Newton, But Real Physics Is Not Fun.)

And, honestly, gameplay is coming along slowly.  It's tricky.  We want the game to be fast, but not frantic; challenging but not arduous, and, well, fun!  So we're trying lots of things out and turning lots of knobs.  We are turning so many knobs that I actually need to build a better Knob System so that I'm not the one who has to turn every knob.

Our first build, PB1, will be kind of rough.   This first build is for finding that brain-dead stuff that neither Ryan nor I noticed because we're so close to the game, like we didn't notice that you can't actually start the tutorial or no one can figure out how to fire the cannon.

If you would like to try our first build, you can sign up for it here!

These are, of course, examples.  We are experienced professional game-making people.  For the record, the tutorial has been started and the cannon has been fired AT LEAST ONCE by someone not employed by Escape Fuel.    Volume control just started working, though.

Our second build, PB2, will make use of all that super-obvious feedback and then we open ourselves up TO THE WORLD, to you, dear reader.  That will come about two weeks later (mid-to-late Feburary.)  If would like to try the build - and we would like you to try it! - you can down load it here.  Don't worry, when that build is available, we'll be screaming from the rafters about its release.  Because we are excited to have you try it out.

More to come soon!

Charles

Hello New Followers!

Hello to all of those who have found us through social media wizardry.  Welcome!

I wanted to drop a quick note to let you know exactly how things are going, and what you can expect to see from the blog here.

First, as head of the company, I am required to stay that things are going According To Plan, that we are Meeting Objectives, and that we are Exercising Our Core Competencies.  

(Sorry.  I recently left big-company-land and that stuff is hard to shake.)

In real-people speak - we're getting stuff done and we're on track for a Mid February drop of Commander Kamala Lays Down The Law.   We are coding up the tutorial, as well as combat and gameplay code (enemies and weapons.)  Our writers are dreaming up new crimes for you to solve and/or avenge with talking and/or guns, and our art team is turning some beautiful art for character portraits, background scenery, and UI controls. 

As mentioned in the previous post, it's going to be a really, really short build, with only a teeny amount of gameplay (10-15 minutes).  Our hopes are that, when you see the build, you'll think some of the following thoughts: 

  • "Hey, they are actually writing code and stuff.  This is not vaporware - in fact, it's even not terrible!  This game is going to happen."
  • "Yes, flying spaceships around in isometric 2D is just as fun as I remember.  You have reinvented this wheel most capably, Escape Fuel."
  • "SO PRETTY."
  • "That theme song is my next ringtone!" 
  • "I actually want to read these jokes instead of ruing the precious moments stolen by your writers from my short time on earth!"
  • "Wait a minute; they should zig when they zag and I need more X and less Y." 

The last one is pretty important to us.  We have a pretty crisp vision of what the game should be, and there are some things are pretty core the game experience.  But we're by no means finished and there are a lot of areas we can refine or extend.  So we'd love to get your thoughts on what this kind of game means to you.  

In fact, the build will have a feedback button on every screen so you can provide feedback on every part of the game. 

Second, I wanted to take a moment to call out the kind of stuff you'll see on the blog (and the resulting links from TwitterFace.)  We love our game, but we love all kinds of games, and we love other game devs too.  So you can expect to see the following from us...

  • Screen shots and gameplay videos.
  • Backstory and history on the game
  • Updates on development and the occasional technical passage about something we built.
  • Shout-outs to cool games we think you should play (in addition to Commander Kamala!)
  • Random coolness about sci-fi gaming in general (news, let's-plays, etc.)
  • The odd bit of gaming news that is worth repeating. 

In the coming weeks we'll start posting gameplay video and screen shots, and in Mid Feb we are going to drop our first game trailer.

More to come soon!  (Oh and not every blog post will be this long - I just finished a grande vanilla latte and the words Won’t. Stop. Coming.) 

Thank you for reading!  Viva Commander Kamala!

- Charles

Let's get this show on the road!

Happy New Year from Escape Fuel Studios, the team bringing you Commander Kamala Lays Down The Law!

Now your friends here at Escape Fuel have been super busy trying to get this game done.  Too busy to keep in touch, which makes us bad friends.  But NO!  We are not the let's-get-together-once-a-year-my-how-times-have-changed friends.  We are not the sorry-gotta-work friends (though, really, we got a lot a work to do.)  No, we are hey-it's-3pm-time-for-coffee, lemme-borrow-that-graphic-novel, hey-you-gotta-try-this game kind of friends.

We're going into high gear at Escape Fuel, seatbelts buckled and pedal to the metal, driving at least 10 mph over the posted highway speed limit (16 kph in Canada / au Canada.)   

Our game - Commander Kamala Lays Down The Law – is slowly but surely coming to life.

It's a sci-fi comedy action adventure, Flash Gordon meets Facebook, First World Problems meets 1930's Future Past.   And here's the recipe:

  • Start with two parts action RPG (Bastion!  Diablo 3!)
  • Fold in two parts kick ass 1980's space adventure (Starflight!  Star Control 2!)
  • Whisk in four parts sci fi comedy (Space Quest 1-6!  GalaxyQuest!)
  • Sprinkle a touch of graphic novel (KSD's Captain Marvel!)
  • Bake for several months under extremely high pressure 

Voila!  Your "Commander Kamala" is ready.  Don't wait for it cool - just shove the whole space-lasering joke-spewing galaxy-spanning mess into your mouth all at once.  It is going to be DELICIOUS.

Over the next several months we'll have plenty to share about art, gameplay, writing, screenshots, builds - too much to cram into a single blog post.  AND, we're going to be dropping out early builds to get your feedback, too.  Super early.  Unwisely early.   

But we're taking that risk because (a) constant feedback is the path to making an awesome game and (b) a game built in isolation is a game built for one person, and that don't pay the bills, friends. 

And of course, as legally mandated by the Indie Game Protocol Act of 2014, we'll be running a Kickstarter too!  In May 2015, plus or minus.  But we're getting way ahead of ourselves.

So sit back, welcome aboard and enjoy the ride.   This game is going to kick ass and we are super excited to bring it you.

Stay tuned for more posts, and thanks for reading! 

Charles Zapata

Founder, Escape Fuel Studios