Going Forward After Minecon
November 3, 2016 6:19 pm by Brady

Hey guys! The past two months have been incredibly busy, so I apologize for not writing more updates. I’ve been traveling a lot recently in order to promote Dwell, and we’ve been working hard to implement every suggestion and piece of feedback we received.

So first things first… Minecon was amazing. We had a booth on the show room floor next to some other amazing indie games and a lot of great people from the Minecraft community came around and checked out Dwell. We got feedback from all ages and demographics– from young kids, to teenage Minecraft modders, to other prominent game developers. One of the best parts was that a lot of people came back multiple times to play because they wanted to see what new things had been built. Because everyone at the event was used to sandbox creative games, Dwell came naturally to them and they had a lot of questions and feedback for us. We also reached a new milestone– Minecon was the first event that I’ve attended where most players reported the game being “fun” instead of just “having potential”. That’s a huge step for us and means we can focus on moving forward, building on our foundation.

 

 

The month since I’ve been back has been the most productive in Dwell’s development. Invigorated by all the feedback we received, I’ve made numerous fixes and worked on things like animal AI, item equip graphics, a new networking library, and a new combat system.

Here is what our animals look like!

Our new combat system is simple, yet deep. With a weapon equipped, you can hold down left click to charge an attack and hold right click to shield. Quick clicks create a jab, while held down clicks create a powerful swipe that breaks past shields. Different weapon types (spears, swords, etc) will have different charged attack radii and damages. Also, we have a buffs system in place which leaves room for enchanted weapons like poisoned blades and fire swords.

I had fun one day and decided to add visible item equips. Here is what the player looks like while equipping an axe and swinging at a tree…

Using the same techniques as visible item equips, I also added an outfits system. Our outfits will correspond to different roles instead of material tiers, so instead of “Iron Armor” or “Silk Robe”, you’ll have “Warriors Armor” and “Lords Robe”. We’ll also have outfits for people who want to roleplay as pirates, assassins, or traveling merchants, and they will boost relevant stats. We are avoiding Tolkien high fantasy in favor of ancient folklore, but here is what a wizard’s or magician’s outfit would look like…

As you may have noticed, a lot of our actions lack some tweens, animations and particles (like the tree falling down, etc). Luckily, I’ve also completed a new particle system which takes into account different particle physics (ex. falling leaves/feathers, exploding pebbles, and rising flames). Here is an example of those new particles…

There’s a lot more we’ve worked on too, but it would take too long to explain! Going forward, I’ll be working on that progressions/stats system which I’ve procrastinated on for a while. We also have to redo some of our menus (with server selection, settings, etc) and add a new character creation screen.

Finally, after we complete those tasks, we’ll let in a new group of testers! It could be anywhere from a couple weeks to a month, but we want to make sure that the game has enough content to occupy everyone for more than a couple hours and has an overall goal to work towards.

Thank you to everyone who’s been following along, and thank you to everyone we’ve met at the conferences we’ve attended!

Cheers~
Brady

Feedback & Improvements
September 2, 2016 10:33 am by Brady

So first, I’d like to announce that Dwell just got accepted to show at Minecon! Michael and I are very excited about the opportunity because it will be the first time we have shown Dwell at a major conference in almost 2 years. A week afterwards, we’ll be headed down to San Diego for Twitchcon in order to talk to streamers. If you’re going to either of these events, please stop by our booth or arrange a meeting with us– we’d love to talk to everyone we can!

In development news, I have been improving Dwell’s feel, accessibility, and input. In other words, I want to make sure that everyone will understand how to play the game when they boot it up for the first time. Although most of these changes are not major feature additions or flashy new systems, they have improved the game by lot.

One way we’ve tested Dwell’s accessibility was by showing at a local Washington DC indie developer’s showcase– we received lots of amazing feedback! Since then, we’ve been working nonstop to improve any confusing systems. As a result, actions are now action-oriented, not menu-oriented. Left click interacts with objects and performs a default action based on what you’re holding. Holding an axe? It will chop a tree. Holding a pickaxe? It will mine an ore node. Right click pulls up a menu in order to access more advanced options, like reading an object’s description or accessing an object’s options panel.

We also condensed forests’ foliage generation in order to give the world more life. Previously, everything felt spread apart and sparse. With vegetation condensed, it forms procedurally generated forest clearings which will guide you.

Soon, we’ll be adding more tips and description text to the items and menus in the game, and improving the inventory system.

Finally, I would like to briefly explain how our stats/skills progression system will work, and why. For most of early August I was trying to prototype a progressions system that would fit within Dwell’s design goals, and I even implemented a few placeholder systems (skill trees, perk unlocks, etc) to test them out. Eventually, we settled with a “crafting skills” system which progresses as you craft items, and includes skills like “alchemy”, “construction”, and “cooking”. Each crafting skill has crafting recipes which you can unlock. If you have any questions about how it will work, feel free to ask me personally in our Discord channel!

Thanks for reading~
Brady

Villages!
July 9, 2016 6:19 am by Brady

This past month, I’ve made a lot of important additions to Dwell. Along with a bunch of security, stability, and networking improvements, the most obvious and important gameplay addition is our village system!

A village can be constructed by a group of players in order to protect and govern their grouped land. The player who creates and names the village is designated the “Manager” role. Managers can add and remove villagers from their claim. They can also promote an unlimited amount of new managers who can do the same. We want to allow for loose governing styles so that every village can be managed differently.

In the above GIF, you’ll notice two different types of claims– personal (gold) and village (blue). Personal claims overpower village claims’ permissions. That way, each villager within a village can choose to have their own house and belongings.

Within the next month, I’ll be finalizing our doors system. It will allow claim managers to designate people who can open/close specific doors on their property. Since each door will have a permissions list, cool ideas like inns, bank vaults, and community buildings will be possible. I’m looking forward to adding this feature because it will greatly allow for emergent, player-created gameplay.

As always, be sure to check out the sidebar for the @DwellGame twitter feed, which contains constant updates!

Thank you!
Brady

Wall Upgrading & Audio
May 21, 2016 2:10 am by Brady

I’ve been making major gameplay additions recently, so I decided to add an idea Michael and I have been designing for a few months- wall upgrading. Wall upgrading will add a continuous purpose for metal, and will make the “mining” stat worthwhile.

In order to upgrade your walls, you simply have to equip a hammer and hover over a village wall piece (for the sake of demonstration, the pictured wall piece is a house wall). Then, the recipe will appear and will show you which materials you need to gather or create. Clicking the wall piece will begin the upgrading process!

Besides wall upgrading, I’m also excited to say that I was able to code the basics of our audio engine. Our composer, Patrick Egan, has spent months working on the theme music, so this is exciting for all of us. You can find a preview of the music on his blog. Along with the theme music, we were also able to add in some basic subtle sound effects which will be refined later. As always, you can adjust the audio levels in the Options menu.

That’s all I’ve got for today 🙂

Thanks,
Brady

Some Graphical Tweaks…
May 7, 2016 1:24 am by Brady

This week I’ve been mainly working on fixing up some bugs in our core engine. I was able to fix several memory leaks, item dupes, and desync issues. However, I also tried to spend 6 hours per day working on pixel art! I don’t do the majority of the art in the game, but I’ve been practicing so that I can contribute more when the time comes to add content.

One key visual flare I added is more shadows. Players, workbenches, and virtually every object in the game now has a shadow. It gives the art more dimension and really polishes things off.

I also worked on adding better claim border graphics and distance markers for placing objects. Previously, claim borders would appear as a very intense particle effect. I fixed it by making it a simple image overlay, but later on I will also add a toggle so you can hide it. The new distance marker allows you to see if you’re placing an object out of range, while also giving you a preview of distant objects’ positions.

I’ll be posting more graphical and content updates soon!

Thanks,
Brady

New Website!
May 7, 2016 12:54 am by Brady

Hey everyone! It came to my attention a few days ago that until this point, we’ve exclusively been doing live updates via Twitter and Discord. As a result, many people aren’t up-to-date on the progress we’ve been making. Today I spent ~20 hours working on revitalizing the site. Lots of changes have been made, and I’m excited to share them with you.

Firstly, as you can see, we now have a development blog on our homepage. Previously I’ve been using my personal blog for updates, but Tumblr isn’t optimal for lengthy text posts. Now, we have a central location where Michael and I can share updates with everyone. We’ll try to post updates monthly or more and stay on a schedule.

Secondly, I wrote up a lengthy description of Dwell’s gameplay on our About page. This will hopefully answer a lot of the questions we’ve been getting on our forums.

Finally, Michael and I are reorganizing our milestones list. We’ve been using Google Docs until this point, but we would prefer our development to be more public. Starting this week, we’ll start posting all of our milestones and goals on Trello.

Thank you to everyone who has stuck around despite the lack of obvious updates on our site! We’ve been extremely hard at work developing our core engine and will soon begin working on new, exciting content. Going forward, if you ever have any questions or concerns, be sure to visit our forums! I try to respond to every person who asks a question 🙂

Thanks!
Brady