Dev blog #14 – Playtests and updates and voiceovers, oh my!

DRAGONS OF TIRENIA

So the playtest! The playtest, that is, for the adventure that we are going to be selling in our Quick Start Guide at Armageddon (and online as a PDF thereafter, watch this space). Well, one half of it happened last week. The second half is tonight. We had LOTS of fun. I was the dungeon master, to give James a break for once. It has been a long time since I’ve GMed anything (except online text-based) and I realised pretty quickly that I had forgotten how much fun I have when I do it! So that was a happy revelation. The first session revealed to us a lot of minor bits of detail that might need to go in, but for the most part the structure and characters we have are very supportive to a GM, and allowed me plenty of freedom to go with the players, while at the same time always knowing the motivations of the NPCs and what would happen next logically with them.

I’m feeling very proud of this adventure James has written, and am really excited to be selling it in a month’s time. Also, we hashed out a system to run a chase scene in the climax the other night, after realising that D&D can’t really sustain a cinematic vehicular chase scene rules as written. So that part is getting tested out more fully tonight, we’ll see how it goes!

Art for the book and posters on the expo stand is all coming along nicely. Can’t wait to be able to share some of this stuff online closer to the time. There’s going to be a big print order going in next week for all the books and posters… it’s pretty daunting but still very exciting. Part of me just wants time to hurry up so I can see what our experience of the expo will be like. I hope we are popular. Not going to lie, I will be slightly devastated if we don’t find our audience there. We have contingency plans for if we fail there though, so at least there is that. It won’t end up being a big waste of money (I hope…)

PC GAMES

So voice acting carries on for Prince of Cats and White Rabbit. It’s a long process but we are getting there.

I did a lot of work on the code of Prince of Cats in the weekend. Mostly minor fixes, adjusting the positions of things to fit 16:9 ratio better, etc. But it just occurred to me this morning, there is a major feature I wanted once upon a time that I completely forgot about… and I think I know just how I can do it! I’m going to try and put in a visual depiction of the humours changing. Like a little gauge, with the humours’ colours and stuff. I think it’ll going to be easier than I think! But I reckon at the end of this weekend, I will have finally finished all the code updates to Prince of Cats, and I’ll just be waiting on the final pieces of reworked art and all the voice work to come in.

Speaking of art, Sean has actually finished all of Her Jentle Hiness, and caught me on the back foot! I am regretting not having the code for the game ready by now, otherwise who knows, I could have potentially released this year! Oh well… realistically, I don’t see how I could have fit it in with everything else. And I still have to get the music, voice acting, proofreading, and also I’m going to trial a testing firm for the first time (but Claire, you’re a tester, I hear you cry. Well, it’s always a good idea to get someone else to test, second set of eyes and all that). So I’m thinking vaguely in a February direction for the release of HJH. This will also be the first one I’m doing without a Kickstarter! I’m happy that means less admin for me, but I will miss the sense of community that it brings with it. Perhaps I can create that in some other way.

PODCAST

We’re recording this tomorrow, just a small interlude episode after our big political one last week… but also because the one after will likely be big and political again hahaha…

Well, here I was thinking this would be a small update. Oh well. Busy busy busy. Better get back to it!

Introducing Piccino!

Ladies, gentlemen, and non-gender-conforming individuals, we are pleased to introduce our new logo for Dragons of Tirenia, along with our mascot, who we have called Piccino (Italian for ‘tiny’). This stunning logo was created by Ryan Wong of http://ryanwongdesigns.com/ and we are looking forward to having Piccino grace our posters and products that we’ll have at Auckland Armageddon this year.

And in slightly less impressive news, the next episode of Street Rat is out, with a guest appearance of sorts of a dragon called Piccino! Enjoy: https://skybeargames.itch.io/street-rat-viii

Dev blog #10 – Big developments

It’s been a really big week, and I’ve got a lot of plates spinning at once. Let’s take a look.

White Rabbit: Royal Scheduler is undergoing a name change (to secure an absolutely unique trademark, rather than the very generic ‘White Rabbit’), getting extra art done, and getting voice acting added in! All my team are working very hard to get it done asap so we can hand over to the company who will do translations and porting. When I say all my team, I mostly mean Rose who is back at it again with new pieces of ending artwork and a few other bits and pieces, and my friend Lauren who is doing all the sound engineering and a great deal of the coordination with the actors for me. Then I have a bunch of voice actors working on individual characters, and it is so exciting to hear everyone coming to life!

Prince of Cats is also undergoing a name change (for the same reasons), but is going to be done second for the porting and translation, so it’s not as much of a rush. I can’t remember if I’ve said this anywhere before, but Jade’s working hard away at turning all the backgrounds into 16:9 and other bits and pieces, and Lauren is also engineering and coordinating the voice acting with this one. Many more characters but smaller roles mean that the voice actors for this one have several roles, so they get to try lots of different voices. James and I have had a lot of fun recording our voices to add to this one 😀

Meanwhile, even with all that going on, we still have our grand Armageddon plans (it looks like the expo is going ahead! cross fingers!). As I mentioned last week, James has shifted focus to working on a small sample world guide to sell at Armageddon, so I’m working on formatting that, and we’re working with some new artists with more sort of typical Dungeons and Dragons styles for art and maps for that. But the other big plan is to run a massive drop-in campaign all weekend, where the players can affect the fate of a city under siege by siding either with the home side of silver dragons, or the bronze dragon invaders. Not only that but we’ll let people walk up and ‘pledge’ for either side – that’s all it takes, just saying ‘I pledge for the silver/the bronze’ – and you’ll get a faction sticker for doing that. I’m hoping we can sorta ‘go viral’ in a way, become something that people have to see at the convention. We’re still brainstorming whether we do some sort of giveaway e.g. recruit people to come and pledge and you earn points towards some actual personal reward. Marketing stuff like this does not come naturally to me but I am actually really excited about this.

I don’t see how things can get bigger over the next week but seeing how busy things got over the last week… who knows. I know I would like to streamline things into working on less at one time though, hahaha… I feel like all these three projects right now have hard deadlines or ends so at least there is that. One project at a time after that 😉

… yeah, I’ll keep telling myself that…

Image from page 266 of “Science and literature in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance” (1878)

Dev blog #5

Not a lot of movement this week, but I promised a weekly update so here goes.

THE PODCAST: This week’s podcast came out on Tuesday and you can find it here for audio, or here on YouTube. Our main topic is how to create a great RPG character.

ROLEPLAY: We have been greatly enjoying our heist plotline on the Discord this week. Come join us for the next plotline!

OTHER: James is still working away on his manuscript for the Dragon Princes/Tirenia sourcebook. Test art is coming through at a steady pace. I’m taking a break from Android dev as another opportunity may have come up. Can’t talk about this chicken before it hatches though! Cross fingers for me!

Dev blog #4: Taking it slow

Hi team, back at you with another weekly update.

DRAGON PRINCES

James has hit 60,000 words! He’s at about 75 out of 131 topics covered, and that’s a growing list as he thinks of more and more things that ought to go in the book.

The RP over on the Discord is going strong! A second scenario is about to start up, so hop over there and join us: https://discord.gg/bWauN2t

ANDROIDIFYING THE BACK CATALOGUE

I’m working on it! The struggle is real though, this is a completely new area for me, so I have no ETA for you.

THE PODCAST

So tomorrow night we record, and our episode should come out Tuesday-ish. We turned segments of the show into youtube clips, which you can find here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLv-uX03VmexIo-0_nvAl62cstdRDGWXfw

Tomorrow we’ll be talking about creating good RP characters, doing some reviews, and a follow-up on our topics of racism in respect to D&D. Our first episode started some interesting conversations on our Discord, and we wanted to cover some new information that was brought to our attention thanks to a patron of ours.

WHAT HAPPENED TO THE NEXT PC GAME?

I know I have been a little quiet on this one. Don’t worry, it’s coming! I’ve planned to do a major dev and testing push from the 1st to the 8th of August, even taking all that time off work to do so. Sean has injured himself too, so he’s just taking some time to recover before coming back to it.

That’s enough for now. Keep gaming!

Dev blog #3: Lots of new stuff!

We have been getting very busy indeed this week! Hmm… what shall I start with?

JOIN US ON OUR DISCORD

We’ve started a Discord with text roleplaying. Now that can mean a lot of things, so let me be precise: it is D&D based, set in the Dragon Princes Tirenia world, with play-by-post for major plotlines, and open free-for-all roleplaying in the taverna at any time. You can earn experience points as in a typical D&D session for taking part in the major plotlines, and for all roleplay you can earn RP Points which get you unique rewards such as bonus points in your stats, special items, whatever you can imagine! If that sort of roleplay appeals to you, come and join us! https://discord.gg/bWauN2t

LISTEN TO OUR PODCAST

That’s right, James and I have managed to make our first episode of the podcast. I’m actually super proud of it, I think it sounds pretty good and I’m really happy how it turned out. This time we talked about ourselves, about the gameosphere’s response to Black Lives Matter and police violence, and did some quick reviews of things we’ve been playing lately. In the future you can expect more news and opinion about gaming, philosophical explorations of gaming, and discussions about various gaming mechanics and best practices. You can check it out here: https://www.spreaker.com/show/the-sky-bear-games-podcast

BACK US ON PATREON

We have finally launched a patreon after many years of thinking about it. But now that we are putting out so much free content, we feel like it is time. We have only the one tier, as at the moment we’re not putting any of our usually free content behind a paywall. You can visit us here: https://www.patreon.com/skybeargames

AS FOR THE REST…

Besides all that, we continue as usual. James is working very hard at Dragon Princes. I completed the latest bitsy jam with another episode of Street Rat, and you can find that to play here: https://skybeargames.itch.io/street-rat-vi

Right, back to the grindstone!

Dev Blog #2

Hope the new week has been good to you in these crazy times!

What have we been up to this week? Slowly making our way forward:

  • Art continues to come in for the next PC game release, Her Jentle Hi-ness. See below!
  • James continues blogging at http://tirenia.blogspot.com/. He passed 50,000 words this week in the gathered document which will eventually become his D&D setting book!
  • We’re developing our podcast, hopefully to come out next week
  • We’re also developing our Discord channel, which will feature several Dragon Princes roleplay channels alongside general gaming discussions
  • I’m working on my next Bitsy jam episode of Dragon Princes: Street Rat https://skybeargames.itch.io/

Dev Blog #1: State of the SBG

So here’s the thing. I am so crap at self-promotion. Seeing the abysmal sales of White Rabbit, a project I poured so many hours of heart and soul into, I’ve spent the last few days scrambling around trying to get some traction somewhere, anywhere! Someone on one marketing website was like, you’ve got to have a dev blog and always be writing about what you’re doing next. That cuts so against the grain for me. I prefer to only talk about projects that are 90+% done, so I don’t look like I’m tooting my own horn and then not delivering. I see so many people talk big and then… nothing. I don’t want to be that person.

But ok, fine. Dev blogs work? They build up hype? Ok fine, let’s see then. I’ll do a dev blog every Thursday and we’ll see how it goes.

This is probably an appropriate time to start this right now, because we’ve reached the natural finishing point of some things, and other things are about to jump off. Let’s talk about them, project by project.

Released projects: White Rabbit and Prince of Cats

So I’ve built a small following through successful Kickstarter campaigns and two good quality major releases. I also have been taking part in game jams on itch.io, specifically the Bitsy monthlies and Nanoreno. I’m not sure where to take it next, except for mobile. Yep, White Rabbit and Prince of Cats are going to come out on Android at the very least, and iOS if I can borrow some equipment to do that too. My goal for this is asap, but particularly before the end of October. Why? I’ll explain soon. (And I think if I do that, I really need to probably pay someone to give me a slick advert to promote those releases!)

Also, I would like to add more art and possibly a few other features to White Rabbit. I’d love to put voice acting in both White Rabbit and Prince of Cats. But we’ll see on that. It may be a while. That’s going to require significant financial outlay.

Some positive news on Prince of Cats. Even though I’ve made no money off it, the Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality on itch.io sold brilliantly, and 1000+ people have downloaded Prince of Cats from it. It was nice to be a part of that. I love the itch.io community.

Future projects (Claire)

My immediate current project is my deluxe remake of my Nanoreno project from earlier this year, Her Jentle Hi-ness. It’s going to have full colour art by local artist Sean Miller. It’s going to have a soundtrack by me and my brother. It is going to have more plotlines and better mechanics than the demo version (here). It is NOT going to have a Kickstarter, because it is a much smaller project which is basically done, and the art budget is manageable without funding this time. And it is going to be out on Steam and hopefully mobile too before the end of October. Why? Read on…

My mid-term goal is my next project, working title Super High. I’ll be working with my high school best friend (appropriately) Law Baker for the art. It will likely be my first non-Renpy based major release! I’m still deciding for sure on the engine. I am very slowly working on this, writing the script a bit at a time every day. I’ll pepper more details in future posts, but this time I will say my major influences for this one are Persona (game series), Twin Peaks (TV series), and The Luminaries (book/TV series). How on earth do those all fit together? You’ll have to wait and see.

What’s James up to?

I’m sure I’ve mentioned it before, but James has a major project going on too. You can find his main Dragon Princes blog here: http://tirenia.blogspot.com/ . He is going to turn all of this into a D&D setting and Kickstart it at… you guessed it… the end of October. Why?! I’ll tell you soon!

To get to this point, and drum up more publicity, he’s going to start posting regular D&D vlogs to our dried-up husk of a Youtube channel. Look out for that in the next couple of weeks!

What, pray tell, is at the end of October?!

I’m so glad you asked. Sky Bear Games is going to have a stall at the Auckland Armageddon Expo. James will be demoing scenarios and mechanics from Tirenia, I’ll be selling my two/hopefully three games at special expo prices along with merch, and Julia from Cheeky Parrot Games will be with us selling Cat Capers and other titles from her collection. Hopefully an artist or two from my games will come along and sign prints. We’ll see.

We’ve set ourselves this challenging deadline to, well, challenge us! I love love to be able to do this full time one day, and you know what? Not to toot my own horn too much, but I think I am worth it! I think my games are pretty fun and unique, and I think there is a bigger audience out there I just haven’t reached yet. All I need is a leg up from someone big, just a day on someone’s front page or something, for people to hear about Sky Bear Games! It is hard to get noticed these days. But delusional or not, I am going to try, and I want to do it honestly, ethically, and for the sake of art and entertainment. For the love of gaming itself.

Geez, sincerity sure whiffs, huh? 😀