Here is a quick catch-up of what’s been going on lately:
Empire of Sin
It’s out, boss! Empire of Sin was released on December 1st on PC, Mac, Playstation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch. This is several milestones rolled up into one. I had never released a game on a console and now it’s out on pretty much all of them! Also, until now all of my videogame releases had been digital so it’s a special thrill to be able to hold it in my hands (once my copy gets here) and to see it on store shelves.
Imirt represents game developers and creators from all disciplines throughout Ireland, both analog and digital. I’ve been following their work from abroad and now that I’m back I want to help. The first step was to give a talk, the second was to run for their 2020 board elections and now I was elected! Thank you to all of you who voted for me.
Now it’s time to roll up my sleeves and start putting those plans in action!
Cortiça made it to the top 10 finalists in Button Shy’s 18 card worker placement contest. I haven’t really mentioned this one here, have I? This one deserves its own post. Soon.
For the second part of the catch-up I’d like to talk about digital games. These don’t come up as much here because of NDAs but I do like to celebrate when they come out!
Cook-out: A Sandwich Tale
Cook-out was my main project at Resolution Games. It’s a cooperative game about making sandwiches in virtual reality, for the Oculus Quest and Rift S. It was really fun to work on because virtual reality is in such an early stage that there aren’t many standards on how to do things we take for granted in flat screen games such as menus, which suddenly become complex once they’re diegetic. If a floating menu takes space in the room, then it can also obscure the other players! Suddenly there are wrong ways to interact with buttons, such as from the back.
We wanted to avoid menus as much as we could, and on a multiplayer game this is even trickier because there are moments where players have to decide on things together like which level to play, if they want to restart and so on. That interaction was one of my favorite additions to the game. Instead of having “Yes/No” buttons you use your hands and do a thumbs up to vote “yes” and a thumb down to vote “no”. Once everyone has voted, the game moves forward.
We had to figure it out on our own and with luck, some of our solutions may stick around for future games.
Glimt: The Vanishing at the Grand Starlight Hotel
Glimt was a very interesting project as well. Our briefing was to make a more narrative-focused game for the Magic Leap. We quickly found that one of the advantages of the headset is that it allows you to walk around the scene to see it from different angles, so we thought that photography could be an interesting mechanic to use. Placing props and characters in a dollhouse set also felt very natural so we ended up combining the two: You are a psychic detective. If you can recreate the scene with your props you can look into the past and see what actually happened! Then you can take and bring back photos to prove it.
This time I was involved in the story as well, since it’s so connected to the gameplay. It was fun!
There was definitely a learning curve involved in learning how to use a Magic Leap. Finding our way around the limited field of view, figuring which minimum space would be acceptable, the ideal lighting conditions, only having a few buttons, working around the fact that dark colors just turn transparent…! That said, when everything works, it’s magical.
Empire of Sin
Now I’m in Ireland once again, this time in Galway. I’m now at Romero Games, working with a team composed of both friends and personal heroes! An offer I could not refuse.
Empire of Sin is a strategy game set in 1920s Prohibition-era Chicago. Slip into the shoes of one of fourteen bosses, assemble a gang, build and manage your criminal empire and defend your turf from rival gangs. I had never worked on a game with so many interconnected systems! It’s my first game on consoles, which is a big milestone.
Last but not least… I ran into my own games on Tabletop Simulator! It was a nice surprise, it’s very heartening to know someone cared about them enough to create these modules, especially now that Superhot and Blight aren’t that easy to find.