Tuesday, January 27, 2015



Well, that was something, wasn't it? Vienna's first attempt to unity the central European gaming community just a few hundred meters away from the Danube. With a focus on the independent side of game development a total of 30 indies got the opportunity to showcase their games, more than 20 industry veterans and experts spoke at the conference and covered valuable topics ranging from production to commercialization and on the weekend the event was concluded by the Austrian Game Jam.

Honestly, I was a bit skeptic when I first heard of the location of the event; "A university", I thought, "So we'll be in classrooms and a lot of people will have to sit on the floor because there are no more free seats?" - Wow, that took me back to studying times. The funny thing is that both the speeches and the expo really took place in classrooms, except for one big lecture hall, I think. But you know what? It really didn't matter in the end. If anything this tinted the whole event in some shades of seriousness instead of being a popular mass-media, fancy lightshow, appeal to 12 year olds mega event with so much loud music that you can hardly talk to yourself anymore. Since I was exhibiting myself, regretfully I didn't have the opportunity to listen to the speeches but I actually enjoyed the talks with other developers, publishers and all kinds of service providers a lot. Naturally I also had the chance to play an abundance of awesome indie titles, many of which are developed right here in Austria without me previously noticing. To me events like that always come down to meeting people. It doesn't matter what games they're making or whether those games are appealing to me personally. It is much more this hardly describable atmosphere of intellectual freedom and the spirit of making dreams happen that I feel most warm and welcome to dwell in. If you look closely you can see that certain spark of craziness in the eyes of most indies that unifies us all under the label "I love games" or "I was there when games became everything while the rest of the world still killed itself for oil or money". You can feel the passion that brings us together and drives us. And that is what makes events like this really stand out!

I'm having a hard time finding something to criticize on the event. Ok, there were small things like standing between buildings with a hundred kilo of computer equipment under your arms and nobody or no sign telling you where to go to (at first), or that a lot of indies almost died from starvation on the first day because the catering didn't work as planned, but seriously... in the bigger picture that becomes more of an insignificant background noise. Besides, there was an unlimited supply of Redbull and coffee, so what more can you want?

If I can make one suggestion though; I would really like to see some sort of rewards for the indie games on the next conference.

You know, not much. No price moneys or racing cars but do something small like giving the first place a pack of Manner Schnitten, some wet and warm handshakes and a few kisses from your prettiest volunteer - I don't know; "Hack the Planet"... maybe a personal tour through or a "Schnuppertag" (trial day) at one of Austria's bigger game studios. It really doesn't have to be much because I am sure all the teams were already happy to be invited there in the first place, but still it's some sort of motivational or rather appreciating thing to do.

As far as I've heard - and of course experienced myself - the party on Friday seemed to have really hit big time; great location (maybe a bit too small until the basement was opened), great drinks and great people having lots of fun while talking business, of course.

Seriously, all in all, very well done! I think it goes without saying that we - especially the Austrian Gaming Community - owe a great deal of gratitude to the people organizing this event. I know there are a lot more invaluable people and partners behind it, but nevertheless let me do a few respectful shout-outs to Mariebeth Aquino, Simon Wallner and Michael Tisler and express my sincere personal appreciation as well as many thanks on behalf of the whole community!

Speaking of "communities",... are you an indie developer, an artist, passionate about videogames and from Austria? I guess you're probably having a hard time connecting to the community for... whatever reasons. Well, I don't fully understand it myself yet and to a certain degree it seems that also drinking is involved (haha), but seriously, you might want to check out some of the following links and connect to those platforms via their various social networking channels in order to see what's actually going on:

Games Austria, IGDA Vienna, Gamestage@AEC, Subotron, OCG

I am sure there's much more but this is definitely a good point to start looking. Since I also personally like to bring people together you may also consider checking my twitter page where I am about to open a public list especially for the Austrian indie/gaming scene. Actually - although much appreciated - it shouldn't require you to follow me in order to get on that list or to retrieve information from it, but if you don't know how this feature works and you want the "easy" way, just follow me, wait until I follow back (which I usually do if you're not a spammer or a bot and which is necessary to) send me a private message with something like "mach den catconnect bitte" and I will hook you up manually. Also please don't get pissed if you're not on the list yet, I am doing the best I can and I hope you know how to contact me.

For google+ users I can also offer you the g+ Community Track17, which I created some time ago for the same purpose but never really took too serious until now. Yes, it is a private community - at least for now - but I guess you can imagine why. Being private basically only means that you would have to request permission to join the community from me and that whatever is posted there can't publicly be accessed. Not that I would decline somebody in general but for the sake of keeping a quality stream rather than a spammed one, also taking care of really just having Austrians to help the local scene in this case, as well as keeping some development-related posts at least somewhat "protected"... for now it will stay that way.


So, how did Phi do at the expo? Well, actually pretty good, I'd like to think. Considering the very early stage the game is in after only a few months of solo work on the preproduction prototype, I really think it turned out great. There were no unexpected errors, glitches, crashes or whatever. Sadly my cool - as well as expensive - mouse didn't survive the trip and now I have to turn the pennies to buy a new one... yep, learned something there. But more importantly the players in general seemed to be pleased and played - as little of a game I made for them so far - more or less precisely how it was intended. Yes, of course there were some that didn't really understand where the game is going, but given the characteristics of a story-based, classic, non-linear and utmost atmospheric adventure - of which nothing could be really experienced in the prototype as it will be later - that is more than understandable.

What hurt most was seeing a lot of players totally fail and getting near their frustration tolerance limit at the wall-jumping sections. BUT not to worry, similar to a lot of other - so far - purposely neglected, movement related features that is one thing that is doomed to change radically, as soon as the 3D model of the main character will replace the stickman placeholder and "real" physics and animations take over.

What made me happy the most was watching at least a handful of people who really took the controller and knew exactly what they were doing. From a lot of talks afterwards those players seemed very like-minded to myself regarding the games they've played in the past, the games they consider to be great games and ultimately the games they would like to play again in these times of somewhat chaotic innovation and false promises. For the first time - outside the realm of my close friends - I had the feeling of really connecting to people through my own vision of how a game could be. Like some sort of confirmation that this "magical" target audience that I always only assumed is out there, in fact really exists. That was really a great experience and an even bigger motivation for me.


Well, as much as my weariness amazes me too, Mr. Dylan, at some point I promised my body (and my girlfriend) that I will rest a bit, so this is what I intent to do now for a while. It's not that I will do nothing but at least the crunching is over and the programming aspects of Phi will be stopped until I have found somebody to support me in this field of work. First I need to put a bit effort into the public representation (website) of Phi. Then I really want to start work on the 3D model of the character, which alone is going to take several weeks and just then hopefully everything boils down to a swift and polished state of the prototype which will lead to some nice game teasers around spring time.
Also I desperately want to play some games again for a change. I still have several reviews and posts scheduled that I want to finish and put out to you as soon as possible, the new remake of the Resident Evil remake is out already, not to mention all the great stuff I saw and played at the conference expo!

So yeah, stop by some time and see what's going on. Thank you all very much for your ongoing support, thanks again to the people behind CEGC15 and many thanks also to my close friends Eibi, dem Mann aus der Kiste and Natalie for helping me at the conference and with the artworks!

Help building the Austrian Indie Game Community yourself by being active, linking, tweeting, sharing, drinking, producing,... you figure. The CEGC15 was just the beginning - and for that it was already more than a success! It's events like this that bring us forward... that cause ripples in a world of concrete with rules that shatter dreams before they are even born. It's about time that also Austria truly enters this sphere of cultural importance that is video gaming. The indie wave is already in motion. Let's ride it instead of just watching it, shall we?

Play more! Connect more!

Thursday, January 8, 2015



Hope you did spend your Christmas and New Year holidays as productive as I did... if not, I hope you could at least rest and relax and leave that excruciating last year behind you. Need some motivational music to welcome 2015? - You might want to check out Corporate Lifestyle Simulator. ;)

Sorry that posts about Phi seem to get a bit out of hand. I am actually also working on a lot of other hot drafts, including reviews about Xbox One, Assassin's Creed Unity, Satellite Reign (to which I've had alpha access for quite some time) some mobile games, the final Reboot Infogamer post, with a ton of great indie games and more.

- Unfortunately you will have to wait a bit longer for that because currently all my energy is channeled on the Central European Games Conference Expo and getting the Phi prototype as ready as possible for it.

So yes, I have been working my ass off during the holidays and therefore I proudly announce the abundance of new features that I have added to the prototype:

1. HUD-System
  • Life-Bar (display health minus damage)
  • Item-Icons (found/active/inactive)
  • Button-Layout/Interactive Help (f.e. X-Button will be showing "Use", "Push", "Throw" depending on the situation) - This was extremely important since without that a player would have no clue what to do in certain situations... naturally.
  • GUI-PopUp Messages (for character comments and tutorial purposes / key items)

2. Essential Game/Prototype Systems
  • Health/Damage System (player can now die! ... and heal) in conjunction with
  • Damage Types (f.e. Fall-Damage, depending on the time falling, Instant Deaths, etc.)
  • WallJumping (reworked, smoothed, tied to FallDamage and other components)
  • RopeClimbing and Swinging (further improved to the point where most glitches should be avoided)
  • CheckPoints and Respawning - Essential for the prototype to avoid frustrated players at this early stage. The final game will not work with Checkpoints however!!
  • KillZones (in general, should something go wrong, and in specific places) for example for:
  • Traps (spikes you might land on, or that drop from the ceiling, and so on

3. Sound Effects
  • Character Movement (walk, run, jump,..) determined by
  • FloorTypes (onConcrete, onDirt, onWater, onWood, onSand, etc.)
  • Other Character Sounds (walljump, wallsliding, die, fall, get hurt,...)
  • Environmental (3D sounds for atmosphere, f.e.: torches, sand, water,... GREAT STUFF!)
  • More Sounds (Checkpoint reached, respawned, itemFound, and so on)
  • All old sounds (door, switches,...) reworked and adjusted

4. Other Stuff
  • Added several death animations and
  • Added blood particle effects to the character
  • Reworked the camera to show the animation plus:
  • FadeToBlack and FadeFromBlack functions (also used for example with the respawning)
  • Improved certain areas in the game where it was hard to know what to do or the physical options weren't there (mostly walljumping related)
  • Added multiple assets to further increase the ambience and give a bit of eye-candy (yep, this I'll be still doing in the last night before the Expo, I am 100% sure!)
  • Reworked all lights (textures for the torches, sound effects and light composition... needs more)

Ok,... I think that's all I can recall from the top of my head for now. Sounds like a lot? - It is... really! If I simply drop dead tomorrow, you know why. :D Believe it or not, the things that are still on my list (not including making posters, flyers, a ridiculous trailer, composing a stage theme and so on) is still one more time that long. One major point on that list is adding enemies... great, huh? And the clock is ticking.


C'mon, you get that one, right?

Ok, let's just enjoy some more of the new screenshots and - as always in the worst quality ever - a short video, this time demonstrating how you're not supposed to do walljumps.

It is really a shame you can't enjoy the great 3D environmental sounds... well, some time, I hope you will.

I honestly don't know if I can put out another devlog before the Expo - or any other post for that matter. But I will do my best! If you really miss me that much, I suggest you also follow me on twitter for the time being. Yes, and naturally I would also like to welcome you very much at the Phi booth at the CEGC15 Indie Expo!

I hope you enjoyed this devlog as much as I did. Have a good day/night everyone!

Play more! Work more!