March News: spring madness

Greetings, our precious reader. Spring has come with fresh colours and wet shoes. Pilots are ready to rock now! Or maybe a little later, after a cup of coffee…

Here’s how our studio goes on and what we learned this month:

  • Spring is more productive for us than any of seasons. Because of increased sunlight maybe. What about you?
  • Email updates are great. In Basecamp you get an overall progress digest every morning. You can add an event or start a discussion or post a file and notify certain people about it. These small updates motivate team, especially when working remotely;

 Selection_015

  • Community manager’s cat has a clinical depression.

What’s new with Isles Of Umbra:

  • Check out demo! We added new scenes, dialogues, characters and post-effects. Try it, rate and comment please. You can fill out feedback form to help us make our game better;
  • Also, here’s our page on itch.io. We decided to set up PWYW scheme from zero to infinity with 100% revenue share. It means all your money will go to the platform. We love itch.io philosophy and want to support these great guys. Revenue proportion will be changing gradually only with major project updates.

isou_concept

  • ISOU participates in CIS indie game festival #GamesJamKanobu2015! Support us please by clicking heart button here!
  • We started to prototype new scenes using placeholder art. Such a common practice was forgotten by us at the beginning. Pre-visualisation is very helpful and art production pipeline has speeded up a little;
  • Unity 5 is buggy. We can’t port ISOU properly yet. Editor crashes after atlas packaging. Maybe you know why? Also, maybe you are C#/Unity Developer with interest in project? We need one right now, please mail at this address if so;
  • Our composer updated OST playlist on Soundcloud with a new track, check it out:

What’s new with Breached:

  • Taking part  on a GamesJam again. Like, share, retweet. :)
  • We updated documentation and six hour skype call was worth it. Now we have feature history changelog! Seems we’ve invented homemade version of practice Dan Cook wrote about;

Скриншот-2015-03-02-22.01.28

  • Second UI iteration is almost done and we are not satisfied with it. Closed playtest showed many flaws. Overhaul is coming. Btw, flight screens are already in the update process;
  • 3D artists continue to work on both environment and objects. We started from locations which players will see in last turn. First impression is crucial, so it’s useful to build them at final stages of production.

breached_ui_screen_3

breach_exterior

Well, It was intense month indeed!

Thanks for reading and be ready for the updates.

Twisted Pilots.

P.S: We got Drone!

drone_gif

Twisted Pilot Studio: February progress

Hi!

February is a special month for our team. We started to develop Breached and Isles Of Umbra a year ago. What a year it was! We went to the conferences, meetups, showcases. Many features were killed with a fire and many were born in the same flame. It’s nice to see you all here, so we want to share our progress and plans with you:

Studio

  • This month we went to the Casual Connect Amsterdam to gather feedback on Indie Showcase. It was a great networking experience and also a cold shower. If compare to other projects, we have so much work to do.

  • Casual Connect was also a platform to find new auditory. If your game will be localized, give it to the native speakers. We live in CIS, so classy English is a really big issue for us.
  • We gathered a lot of feedback from colleagues. It was difficult to hear the truth sometimes, but impersonal judgment is crucial to polish the projects. However, there is a little trap: developers aren’t consumers;

10966867_10202484011700385_1808267978_n

Breached

  • We updated time machine GUI! But we must rework it again in order to improve;
  • We started to overhaul first person flight interface;
  • We found a few 3D-artists. Finally, they will do some assets for us.

8229ffde34e578eab31ef69e07905c55

  • It’s time to revise project documentation. Bigger team needs better communication.

Isles Of Umbra

Selection_011

  • We added some eye candy post-effects;
  • Our 2D artist Marina made art bible and visual guideline doc;

Selection_010

  • We started to sketch new locations. Hope you’ll see them soon;

Plans

  • It’s time to wake up from winter anabiosis. We’re planning to show you new playable stuff in May. Also, there’s CIS conference DevGAMM coming up and also Login conference in Lithuania. Hmm, we must choose where to go…

That’s all, folks. See you next month!

 

Twisted Pilot Studio in 2014

It’s been more than four months since this blog was updated. During this period, all efforts to share progress with you were swept away in “oh-one-more-problem” avalanche. We felt how it’s hard to make games in the indie mode. With a focus on the development, there’s not much time for publicity left. Definitely not ok.

We decided to change the situation. Sasha, our new team member, will pull out info from us and share it with you. We plan to write one post at month here and tell you about:

  • Team members;
  • Studio life;
  • Projects progress.

Also, prepare to read nasty things about us in Facebook and Twitter. So, all this buzz will be started in the next month. Today we retrospect our first year in development. Let’s start from the beginning of 2014. Just like King of Hearts from Wonderland advised:

  • January – Ross and Bogdan started thinking about project for RU/CIS festival GamesJamKanobu. Festival consisted of three phases: design docs, concept art, playable version.
  • February – We made two entries: Isles Of Umbra and Breached. Projects participated in all the phases except ISOU.

  • March – We tried to make a small demo of Isles of Umbra in Game Maker. Initial core mechanic was a mix of Consuming Shadows + Final Fantasy series.

  • April – 2D artist Marina joined Isles Of Umbra team for a long-term partnership. We changed our first core mechanic and start doing BIG adventure with all the genre features.

сказитель__concept

  • May – Breached won two nominations at DevGAMM Moscow 2014: “Game Of Show” and “Best Unity Game”.

  • June – We made first build of Isles Of Umbra using new technology: Unity + PlayMaker. We worked without programmer (tough!). PlayMaker was the best thing to make a rough prototype.

  • July – Breached achieve another victory and take first prize at GamesJamStarcon. Unfortunately, our team had no resources to visit St. Petersburg and get a reward. First prize was handed over to the team that took second place. Also, we estimated Isles Of Umbra release! Wanting to achieve it so badly. Finally, Twisted Pilot Studio was founded!
  • September – Both projects took part in festival GamesJam2014. It was a good challenge and served us as a shake-up. We released public demo of ISOU! This festival was not so fruitful, though our projects were in the top 15 projects of 150.
  • October – We started working on new UI and art style for Breached. This process took almost 4 months, duh. Also, we presented new ISOU demo at DevGamm Minsk. Project won “Best Unity Game” award!

  • November – We failed our main deadline for Isles Of Umbra – IGF submission. Project was not polished to be submitted. Very demotivating, but we found new comrades. It was Sergey (ISOU programmer) and Kirill (Breached level designer). Later Kirill presented Breached new flying mechanics at DevNight Moscow.

  • December – we won tickets at Casual Connect 2015! Many thanks to people from GetApp Conference for such a chance.

So this year ends! It was a good test for our teams. A lot of wins and fails. We have survived and continue to work. We make a lot of decisions and a lot of them were wrong or didn’t work as we expected.
It was a good experience for us as a team.

Only at the end of the year we saw where to go with our projects. We’ll step on this way in 2015.
At the and let’s speak a little about Breached and Isles of Umbra.

Isles Of Umbra

As previously mentioned, during the last 4 months we had two significant events with ISOU. It was DevGamm Minsk award and team reinforcement. Sergey helps us to get away from PlayMaker and implement new features faster.

Now we are working on a new demo of ISOU. We’ll show it on Casual Connect Amsterdam 2015 (Feb 4-6th). The demo will include additional content not shown before. Come to our table at Indie Prize Showcase and play Isles Of Umbra!

Also in a few weeks after conference this demo will be available on our site.

screenshot_06-ISOU_JohnRoom3 screenshot_07-ISOU_UltarBels screenshot_09-ISOU_WitchNest

Breached

We started to implement new UI! That was a very long way.
New solution needs a lot of playtests. We’re aiming to get a bunch of those at Casual Connect.
Three-day long showcase will be the good chance to get them.

Also, it’s time to explore new visuals through the series of concept art and illustration work.
First area overhaul is almost 100% done. It is all in props, so we’re desperately looking for a 3D artist. Come to us, mysterious stranger and Unity crawler! Ahem.

ui_horizon_6ship_workbench smalldrone_1

That’s all. Thank you so much for supporting us.
Stay tuned! February is coming.

Isles Of Umbra: The Road to Alpha, Week 12

Hi! Silent we’ve been: we worked hardly to get pre-alpha build for RU/CIS game festival GamesJam2014.

We wanted to show small playable demo to RU/CIS auditory and collect first feedback before making playable release for EU/US. During preparations for this Jam Marina made teaser (above) and it’s reeeeeeally coooool.

Also we collected a lot of comments during the contest period! Both angry and glad.  Comfy UI is the main goal that we want to achieve now.

All these temporary buttons and screens destroy magic of art, music and story we’re trying to show.

To achieve this goal we found UI-artist!

So our plans for few next few weeks looks like that:

  • Bug fixing. We found a lot of strange bugs which we couldn’t reproduce. Time to catch ’em all.
  • UI. Prototyping, design, implementation.
  • New art assets for the Forbidden Forest.

So thank you for your time and see you around!

Isles Of Umbra: The Road to Alpha, Week 10

Screen Shot 2014-08-11 at 2.26.05 PM

We had no news for a while because of the hard work on Forbidden Forest. We’ve tried to find a good approach in developing locations and characters, to make them faster and richer.

You can see the results on the screenshot above.

What is done:

  • Ultar’s Place – location where John meets Ultar;
  • Ultar’s invocation riddle – we made first puzzle with Playmaker, it was painful. Now you can summon Ultar and he’ll speak to you;
  • Main menu – we made the new menu from scratch;
  • Dream selection screen – to choose a dream while sleeping.

What we’ll probably do next:

  • Hero parameters – stamina, sanity etc.
  • Battle system – we hope in a few weeks John will be able to resist ancient creatures that trying to kill him. :)

Stay tuned!

ISOU Devlog №9: The Road to Alpha – Release Plans

Scene_Isle_ver_1

At the very beginning of the development we considered selling Isles Of Umbra like a full game in Q2 2016. This plan was based on the main game idea to give players as much content as we can with focus on replayability.

But soon we decided to change this paradigm and move from replayable structure to chapter structure. Replayability works in rogue-like games, but it’s a very hard challenge for adventure game to make an interesting puzzle and provide clear victory-and-defeat system.

Chapter structure also changed sanity system and some other special stuff we couldn’t speak about for now ;)

It’s about special conditions which will affect on your progress.  

Advantages of chapter structure:

  • We can release game much earlier;
  • We can get user feedback faster;
  • We can develop the final product faster;
  • We can polish new chapters with an experience of launching previous ones.

How do we plan to use chapter system:

Isles Of Umbra leads two gameplay mechanics –

  • Protagonist room, where John is in safe and trying to find clues that will help him in dreams;
  • Dreams, where John explores oneiromantic worlds and communicates with Islanders.

We will make new chapters  knowing of player’s likes and dislikes. Each player who pre-ordered the game will finish it with us, so to speak. ;)

Each chapter has its own plot, so it’s easy to develop separately. Each dream is all-sufficient. The link to connect all the dreams is protagonist room.

First release will include:

  • Protagonist room
  • Forbidden Forest chapter

The first chapter will include all the gameplay features we planned.

How do we plan to launch our product:

  • Isles of Umbra is developing for PC/Mac and Linux platforms. We don’t look at mobile platforms for now.
  • We’ll launch public demo version before starting pre-orders.
  • We’ll run early access/pre-orders, but we can’t speak about prices for now (it will be revealed in a few month).
  • During the early access we will give players possibility to play, watch and comment our product.

Approximal release dates:

  • Demo release – middle of Autumn 2014
  • Early access –  end of Q4 2014 or middle of Q1 2015

Of course, these dates can change when we will finish demo release.

If you have any questions about our release plans feel free to ask them in comments!

Breached devlog №1: Summer plans

Hi! This is our summer plan briefing for Breached with explanation on why we’re not hurrying to show the project at local sci-fi festival Starcon 2014.

hand_01_0001

So, our game took the first prize at game jam for CIS-devs called GJStarcon recently! What we could get: showcase at sci-fi festival Starcon 2014. It’s a good chance to induct a little more attention – but we’re not going anywhere.

Read More →

Isles Of Umbra: The Road to Alpha, Week 8

Today we have a small update with new pre-alpha video!

What’s new:

  • Menu music;
  • Menu buttons aren’t shaking anymore;
  • Inventory system and interactions
  • Protagonist room SFX and music. You can see there the radio from our previous post. ;)

There’s not much to be changed at first sight, but we’ve done a great piece of work over the past weeks.

Though, we still need to learn how to make good video showcases. ;)

Maybe you can help us with some advice?

@riff_studio

Isles Of Umbra: Week 7, Music Research

Imagine that Lovecraft was not a writer, but a music composer. What his music would be like? Dark, solemn, vibrant, symphonic,
I thought that way when beginning to explore ISOU music aspect.

So, the first demo was the mix of distorted strings, voices and tympani:

Good for inspiration but distracting. Game experience should not be diluted. So I made the light version of this track in order to integrate it to the first location – John’s bedroom:

When the scene was ready, we notice that even the light version was drawing away the player’s attention. If to be honest, the biggest challenge for me is to create natural, easy, tolerate music background.

So, I’ve decided to start from the SFX work firstly. The rain, wind, scratch, whispering sounds were implemented into the scene. It was easier to find the missing piece of the puzzle after that.

Finally, we completed the puzzle with the idea of radio.

It’s natural to have a radio. No problems with the game lore. Plus, It’s a chance to explore the world of old radios for Marina, our concept artist. Plus, the player can turn it on and off when he wants.

So, I’ve improvised a short melody and put a few distortion layers on it.

Authentical? Maybe so.

Summary: game ambient should not distract the player from the gameplay. It is easier to start building scene soundscapes from SFX’s. Search for the natural sources of sound and music in the game environment.

What we’ll probably do next:

  • Bedroom scene is done, but we need to polish it.
  • Forbidden Forest game flow scheme is done. We need to throw it into the game to watch how it will behave itself.
  • We found an interesting art solution for the visual style for ISOU. There’s a need to discuss it.

This month was challenging and productive. We began our journey and there are many uncharted places waiting for us.

Thanks for reading!

@coauctor

ISOU: The Road to Alpha, Week 6

image

As you know we’re using Unity for ISOU. Our mantra for a trouble situations is: “If you can’t create something, go to Asset Store. Someone done it before you. Buy it, use it”.

Today we decided to talk about plugins used in the development of ISOU. They’re making our life much easier.

Playmaker

image

We’re using Playmaker for all the game logic because we’re not programmers. We needed to start making the prototype quickly and then use it in the further development.

Playmaker is an ideal plugin for game designers and artists who want to create games without learning how to code.

Playmaker is working like the Finite State Machine. It’s best to use it in adventure games, where you have many states which are changing when the player interacts with something.

Also, you can write the custom actions, which will extend the standard functionality of Playmaker. Nice.

NGUI

image

We started to use NGUI because of the friend’s advices. Also, we’re suffering from the native UI system in Unity.

But when we implemented it in the project we found that Playmaker actions for NGUI are much weaker than for native UI. Pity that you can access a very small amount of NGUI features from Playmaker. If you want to create a simple slider, it will be painful.

But Asset Store knows what you want! You can buy the plugin in Asset Store which will give full access to NGUI elements from Playmaker.

But we hope to get classy native UI in Unity 5. :)

EasySave2

image

We use EasySave2 for our inventory system and some user data storage. This plugin is integrated to Playmaker, so you can save all data that you need easily.

Also we use custom actions of ArrayMaker that provide us with ability to work with ArrayLists and HashTables.

Finally, a few words about our progress

What is done:

  • Start chamber is finished. We implement all the interactions  needed for the first iteration. It’s all works pretty good.
  • New sounds! Mostly all ambient sounds for chamber are in the game now.
  • Refactoring – Arghhhhh (angry murlocs attack)!

Community:

  • We started a devlog on TigSource. You can read us there too. We’re updating it few times a week with fresh news and answering on questions.

What we’ll probably do next:

  • Chamber mechanics are waiting to be finalized. We removed diary mechanics, because it will distract player from the main goal, and will use it like additional not in-game content
  • Forbidden Forest is waiting to be visualized. Our artist Marina is finally returning from Germany, so we can push forward our art.
  • Bugs are waiting to be fixed. Bzz!

That’s all, have a nice day!

@riff_studio