Reflection time

It’s April 2019. A year after the original planned release date for the game. When Swords ‘n Magic was first conceived it was supposed to be a short foray into Unreal Engine to get my feet wet and learn the ropes. A year and a half and two project restarts later and I think we’re finally just about ready to head into the realm of Beta!

I’m really excited about this project. In the early days when I first dropped in that “Create Player” node and realized I could go back to my roots playing couch coop games with my two brothers in Unreal Engine, I was smitten. Swords ‘n Magic was no longer a test project where I learned the engine, it became my passion. And when I introduced it to the Twitch community a couple months later they fell madly in love with it.

But as with all young love, we get ahead of ourselves. The game turned from a small coop adventure into a sprawling open world with tons of enemies to best, items to craft, mysteries to uncover and houses to decorate. With every donation goal we stuck another new feature on the list and pretty soon I was overwhelmed as a solo developer.

Not to mention that with my very limited knowledge of Unreal Engine the game was starting to feel a lot like a it was made entirely of toothpicks and duct tape. And when the first private alpha test dropped, I knew two things:

Swords ‘n Magic and Stuff was a game that deserved to be finished, and it deserved to be finished the right way.

[Credit MegaMiley for this short hijinx montage of all that was wrong with Alpha 1.0.1]

So the first revamp began. I hired a fantastic programmer, restarted the game from scratch and spent the next 6 months building new locations and content and then… drifting away from the project while my family moved into a new stage of its own development.  With a big move across the country the rift created between the programmer and it became too big to close back up and eventually we parted ways.

Enter restart number two.

After a few months of no development of any kind I was really starting to miss my project. I went live on Twitch and started from scratch once again. This time back to the roots with a focus on local multiplayer, discovery and immersion. Before long I realized how much I’d learned over the last year in Unreal Engine and I rebuilt nearly everything on a much sturdier foundation with plenty of room to grow and expand in a much shorter time than I ever imagined.

And here we are. Just on the verge of leaving closed alpha and moving into closed beta. That’s a big deal because beta means the game is fully featured. All the initial Steam Early Access features are nearly finished. Not polished or even bug free, I’m sure, but they’re implemented and working!

I’m sorry for the huge post but I wanted to take a bit to reflect on how far this project has come and how much love has gone into it. The Swords ‘n Magic and Stuff community on Twitch has grown from zero to over 2000 followers since I started streaming and the Kindred Games Discord community is sitting around 400 members right now. This game and it’s community has come a long way and I’m so excited to finally start giving back by inviting many of you to test the game when beta is released.

I know I’ve been absent from Twitch lately and a lot of you are in the dark about the progress of the game, but I can assure you a lot of work has been going on and I can’t wait to show it off. As I get ready to roll into beta I’ll be focusing most of my dev time on adding new and exciting content to the game and I plan on streaming a whole lot of it.

Stay tuned for another post about the progress so far and when our beta testers will finally get to test out this long awaited little project.

 

Playing Catch-up

In the last couple months we’ve come a long way with the game, but not as far as I was hoping.

So what has changed?

Well we have a robust and feature-packed item and inventory system that allows not only players, but also NPC’s and enemies to utilize any item created in the game. These systems feature dual wielding with zero limitations and even two handed weapons. Now you can play the entire game left handed if that is your preference. I’ve been wanting a system this fluid for a long time and I’m relieved it’s finally become a reality.

Next up we have swimming. Swimming and water in general was something I’d been dreading for a long time. I wasn’t sure how to go about the entire mechanic or if I was going to restrict water to being knee height altogether. Luckily some of my regular viewers came to my rescue and water is now fully implemented and working like a charm. To prevent issues with underwater combat and spells, I’ve restricted all items use when underwater and in place of it, your primary and secondary attacks give you a slight boost in speed instead. Because of this boost in speed, and the float mechanic, you can even launch yourself high out of the water to reach secret areas. Keep that in mind.

Housing is now just about fully implemented. Currently you can purchase a house, lock your doors to keep other players (and NPC’s) out and of course, decorate your house with furniture items you collect. This has been a planned feature for a long time and it’s finally here and just about fully functioning. You can craft, find or purchase furniture throughout the game to place in hour house. Some of this furniture has uses and others are just vanity pieces. I’m hoping to expand on the housing feature later on by allowing players to use wallpaper and flooring items to change their walls and floors, respectively.

AI is currently in the works. The goal is to give each NPC, whether an enemy, villager, etc. an item they can carry around. This can be a weapon or a spellbook or even a flower or a shovel for villagers. This should add some variety to NPC’s as well as give the player an idea of what to expect when wandering into an enemy camp. In addition to this held item, enemies will also carry a special item or two that they can use when things get hairy in combat with the player. Guards and other friendly NPC’s will also have be given access to an item like this.  These items can be potions which heal or buff them in some way, food items or even a trap they place for their enemies. These items will help keep combat feeling more natural and dynamic so it isn’t the same hack and slash thing every time. Players will have to anticipate if/when an enemy would use their emergency item and fight around it.

AI will also be equipped with a secondary weapon much like the player would use in special combat circumstances. This item will be a ranged spell or bow for melee characters and a melee item for ranged characters. This means that if a player attempts to “cheese” the AI by standing on an unreachable cliff to attack, they’ll simply swap to a ranged weapon and still be able to engage the player. Some enemies may even have a special teleport spell which lets them close the gap and keep the player on her toes.

Finally, item storage. This feature has been quite the workload for me, with a bit of work left to go. The item storage system has evolved quite a bit from the game’s first conception and will hopefully be one of the last steps before the game is ready for an alpha test.  The storage system allows players to place weapons and spellbooks on racks and shelves to visually display inside their homes. Players can also place more miscellaneous items into a storage trunk which is purchased or crafted in towns. These items will be displayed as icons to ensure that all items fit inside the trunk without any odd visual bugs. This means that the player can store any item, including large weapons and small keys inside the trunk to store safely in their homes (or a bank). Each storage trunk holds 8 items, meaning that true collectors will need quite a lot of these trunks.

The only features we have left to work on before an Alpha build are storage and AI. Once these are done I can spend a few weeks building out the world and adding interesting content for players to discover and interact with during the alpha test. Hopefully once all the bugs are resolved the majority of the work left to do will be a character creation/saving system and a whole lot of content building.

The last week I’ve been spending some time on promo art for the game and redoing the main logo. I’ve come up with a handful of characters which I think encompass the heart of the game’s concept. I plan on using these characters plus more for marketing and promotional art going forward. What do you think?

While I’m still aiming toward an April release, I want to have ample time to market and get information out to the public. So if I need to spend longer marketing then I’m prepared to push that date back.

Thanks for sticking it out through this update! I’m hoping to start video dev logs soon for Youtube, which should cut down on these walls of text quite a bit.

 

November Update

I’m getting worse and worse at this it seems.

Swords ‘n Magic and stuff has gone through a lot of changes over the last year, but 13 months into development (1 month on the latest revision) and the game is looking and feeling very solid.

I’m still streaming the development full time over at https://www.twitch.tv/kindreddev so please come join us!

So what has changed, exactly?

 

The new revisions include a shift in game loop focus from explore, fight monsters, collect loot to include more options for players to enjoy the world. A lot of these include more life sim-esque features as well. Now the game has a rich crafting system where you collect and discover recipes and resources throughout the world to make unique weapons, items and even furniture for your house(s). The game also has a fully functioning mount system now that lets you traverse the new, much larger, open world map much easier. Collect mounts and use specially cooked food to increase their stats permanently.

The game is coming along great after only a month and I have a very confident April release date planned for Early Access through Steam.

Hope to catch you in a live stream and I can’t wait to get more content rolling out to you here!

The End of a Hiatus

My family and I moved a few weeks ago. My wife was relocated for a promotion and we ended up in a new state. We were very excited about the move, but boy was it a stressful affair. Because of the hectic nature of moving to a completely new state where you don’t know anyone I took a much needed hiatus from SnM.

But I’m back. And since I was able to get so far away from the project I realized that it was a bit of a mess. Our feature creep got way out of hand, like always, and it was time to reign it back in. In order to keep myself from cancelling the project I decided to first attempt a redesign using all the same mechanics and assets already created to build something far more manageable.

With a heavy heart, I chose to stray far from the open world sandbox feel I had originally been aiming for. That game needed a team of 6 people and another year of development to bring to fruition and I don’t have that luxury in my current position. The redesign introduces a much requested PVP feature, but removes much of the coop content originally planned.

The new design pits two teams of 4 to 6 players against each other in small battlegrounds. Combine a weapon, ability and utility item choice to create a team composition to defeat your enemies and upgrade your items throughout the match to shift the tides of battle.

I know many of you will be disappointed with this new design, but if Swords ‘n Magic is ever to be released, it needed it’s wings clipped.

My hope is that this game will be somewhat successful enough to grow from and eventually bring those grandiose dreams to life in the future.

Thanks for your ongoing support and feedback and don’t forget to stop by Twitch.tv/kindreddev to watch the game come to life right in front of your eyes!

So much dark work!

So another update is finally here.

This one is going to be pretty messy because there’s been a lot of ups and downs going on. Let’s start with the good.

Today is Janna’s birthday! Happy birthday Mrs. Kindred! Thanks to my AWESOME Twitch viewers we were able to buy her a freakin’ Nintendo Switch for her big day and she couldn’t believe it when I handed it to her. If you see her in the Discord please wish her a happy birthday, even if it’s a few weeks late. (She drags it out all month…)

I started work on dressing the new Red Canyon zone in the game. Hoping to have it all finished up and dressed by the end of next week.

Some hanging buildings in the Red Canyon zone.

I also finally got around to modeling the Ember Cat, which still needs some UV, texture and effects work before this little guy is ready to singe your leg hairs off.

Swords ‘n Magic and Stuff was featured by Epic Games as a community spotlight pick the first week of April! That was huge! We saw a ton of new faces in the channel and we have one of our own viewers, an Epic community manager, Kalvothe to thank for it. If you see him in the channel or the Discord be sure to tell him how awesome he is!

Next up, Kindred Games contracted a programmer, DeadlyMidnight who is now taking care of (you’ll like this) all the networking for the game and most of the primary coding work. Midnight has so far been extremely helpful and has really taken a lot of weight off of my shoulders so I can focus on the fun stuff! The game is slowly making it’s way back into a playable state (with networking this time) and we’re hoping to see a new alpha build up and running for weekly testing from our hand picked testing team very soon!

The final good news is that Kindred Games has also officially recruited an art intern who is going to be an awesome asset and hopefully take a lot of great experience and know how away from this project. The intern, Alkainz (from the Twitch channel) will be making his debut this week once he’s been set up with version control and a copy of the game. He’s going to be working on props and building art and helping dress the world.

And the bad news. The game is STILL in a state of dismay. No real progress (at least playable progress) has been made since before the alpha and it’s taking a toll on me and the Twitch channel. It’s very discouraging not seeing any progress in your project and if it weren’t for having a team now there’s a real possibility that I may have put the project into a state of hiatus while I got back my motivation.

Luckily there’s a silver lining and things are starting to look up. Midnight is getting ever so close to finishing up the backend and has begun work on the combat system. So my motivation is slowly returning and I can’t wait to start seeing real gameplay changes again.

We’re rooting for a June/July Early Access release now with full multiplayer support and will update with a more narrowed down date when we get back to a playable version and have an idea of where we’re going next.

Keep in touch on the Discord: https://discord.gg/7PEaXq5

Drop by the Twitch: https://www.twitch.tv/kindreddev

Don’t give up hope! Swords ‘n Magic and Stuff will make it to Steam! I promise!

Long past due updates

Life can get crazy when people start getting interested in your game. I wasn’t ready for this, but boy has it been exciting.

A few weeks ago the Alpha 1 was launched as a closed test. Then about 10 minutes later after discovering almost immediately a game breaking bug, Alpha 1.0.1 was launched.

Alpha 1.0.1 was out for nearly 6 hours before I patched and released Alpha 1.0.3, the most stable and bug-free version of Swords ‘n Magic yet. The closed alpha was given to about 2 dozen people for testing. The test went over remarkably well in my opinion.  Many testers spent hours in the game saving up gold to buy houses, seeking out some of the more rare weapons, and some attempting to find their way into areas they weren’t intended to go. (Yeah, I’m lookin’ at you, Jawa) Overall the game seems to be a whole lot of fun and has the potential to be something great. And as expected, it was chock full of inventory dupe bugs, duplicate enemy spawning bugs and UI issues. The game also had a lot of complaints about a handful of design decisions. Namely potions, ranged bow combat and the magic system.

After a few days of realizing how big this game could be and how many very dedicated and loyal fans I had I came to the revelation that even though this was going to be my first actual commercial release of a game, it didn’t mean it had to be neglected and half-baked. The game deserves to be played and deserves the development time it needs to be an enjoyable experience for every once of my Twitch viewers who have been so closely following the game.

So an entire system rework began. I created a new test level, stripped out all the art from my character player and started basically completely from scratch. I expected 2 months of work and we’re nearly a month in already. I think I’m still on track, but I’m going to estimate that the new enemies are going to be more work than I bargained for, which might put me over the time frame. And on top of that, this rework is not entertaining. A lot of it is the same stuff my viewers have seen before, which has left me with low Twitch views and donations for the last little while. This part I wasn’t expecting.

With the new rework I’ve realized that bringing on extra help for this game could be worth the energy and pay if done tactfully.  Because of this, I’m working on the trailer for a Kickstarter campaign.  My asking goal is far smaller than the majority of Kickstarters out there. And I’m not relying on stretch goals to carry the development because I don’t want to make massive promises and then abandon the game like we’ve all seen in the past.  So I’m relying on everyone’s love of the game to meet the goal and anything over can go into making the game just that much better, or released that much sooner.

The Kickstarter was planned for release this Friday, but a pushback might occur just to make sure everything’s ready. Being a solo dev has it’s trials and tribulations and delayed releases of things are common.

Now that the rework is finally coming back into an actually playable state, I’ve decided it’s time to start working on getting more viewers into the channel and to start hyping up the game a bit more. With this in mind I’m beginning to set up a better schedule for my streams. I’m now planning to do rework and other programming content during the week and weekends will be art-based game content work. We’re starting with the new Stoneling Canyon area which is a huge cavernous canyon spotted with the houses and shops of a hanging village all hooked together by ladders and rope bridges to create a very interesting vertical level design I think.

Don’t forget to tune in this weekend to see this area come to life!

https://www.twitch.tv/kindreddev

I am now Kindred Games!

Today I filed for a new LLC.  The game was originally planned to release under Everbrave Interactive, which was reflected in my Twitch channel, but due to some possible future complications with other members of the company, I thought it best to launch this under a separate, solely owned entity.

So I’m officially operating under Kindred Games!  Well… I will be… once the paperwork goes though.

This won’t change anything about the game.  I’m still working solo on it as I always have been and will still stream all my development.

What it WILL change is my Twitch URL, which means you might run into some 404 errors over the next couple weeks in case I miss one.  If so, please let me know in the Discord.

The new URL is https://www.twitch.tv/kindreddev

If you haven’t caught a stream yet, please come visit! We have a lot of fun.

Site update and game progress!

I seem to be getting worse and worse about posting here.  But here I am, and I’ve updated the site’s headers to better work with the new direction the site needs to be moving in.  In addition, I’ve added a much-requested media section that shows off some screenshots from the current game world.

I can’t wait to keep filling up that media section with new areas. Stay tuned for more!

 

Also!

Recently on livestream we’ve been working on a new area in the game called Moonberry Farms.  It’s a small, rural farm that grows, you guessed it, Moonberries which is made into Moonbery Tonic and Moonberry Juice, both items which give you some special boosts for the duration of the day.

Moonberry Farms entrance

The farm is also home to what used to be harmless, inanimate scarecrows, but a traveling wizard has since enchanted them to protect the farm against the thieving Orcs, who have been stealing the farm’s goods.

The enchantment backfired and the scarecrows have begun attacking anything they lay their eyes on.  The farmers are scared and need help, but they don’t trust these new adventurers around the land after the wizard goofed so badly.

Could you prove to them that not all adventurers are so inadequate?

A surprisingly unfriendly scarecrow

Necrael The Spiteful

So I know it’s been a bit since I posted an update but we’ve been doing some awesome things live on stream over at https://www.twitch.tv/everbraveart.  Go leave a follow to get notifications next time I go live so you can join in and contribute to the development of the game through feedback and ideas!

So what have we been doing, exactly?  We’ve been designing and implementing the first real boss in the game, Necrael The Spiteful.  His name doesn’t do him justice and the items he can drop are just as awesome as they sound; Necrael’s Soul, Necrael’s Sin and Necrael’s Spite.  I don’t want to spoil what they do right here, but trust me, they’ll be worth doing this boss fight a few times to try to collect the full set.

More info to come! Hope you find your way into the Twitch channel sometime.  Watch Swords ‘n Magic come to life in front of your very eyes! It’s a blast!

New Weapon Drops!

Did a good chunk of weapon designs tonight and got them all in the game.  Nothing really special here other than the Frost Axe, which will be a rare/legendary/epic/whatever item drop.  It’s also currently the most OP weapon in the game for raw power. It might need some adjustments to stop it from looking like a club though.  I’ll look into that tomorrow during the stream.

Don’t forget to join the stream to give feedback and suggestions! Since the game is still so early on, basically any weapon and spell suggestions are going to be accepted and probably made right on the spot. That’s how tonight went anyway.

Follow me on Twitch to get notifications when I go live!