Drentsoft Games Ltd

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Category: Game Development

Production Prototypes in the UK

Posted on October 25, 2021  in A Taste for the King, Game Development

It’s been a long week of waiting but the shipment for the prototypes has reached UK soil and cleared customs. As soon as the package arrives I will be ripping it open and, all going well, documenting the process of analysing the print quality and checking that the artwork looks good printed. Once everything is approved we are hoping to launch the game on Kickstarter.

Look out for analysis and Kickstarter announcements on Twitter, Instagram, Discord and YouTube.

Atlantic Travel Log

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Category: Game Development

A Taste for the King – First Production Prototype

Posted on October 14, 2021  in A Taste for the King, Game Development, Tabletop Games, Uncategorized

After much work, countless revisions and frequent playtests the first production prototypes of A Taste for the King have been ordered! The order is with The Game Crafter who will be printing the parts shortly. Upon receipt we will be looking for issues in the design of the parts such as colouring of artwork, especially for the second prototype. We will also be evaluating print quality and identifying any issues, making sure that our choice of production house is right for us. Once we’re satisfied with these prototypes we are hoping to launch the Kickstarter for the game.

Now to play the waiting game. The Game Crafter must print, package and ship the prototypes and then they must endure an arduous 2-4 weeks across the Atlantic to the UK. Here’s hoping they enjoy the trip. In the mean time there are plenty of things to do and blog about in preparation for the final release. Keep an eye out for coming updates!

Feel free to drop by the official Drentsoft Games Discord Server to discuss the game and play it with the developer!

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Category: Game Development

Mockup of the box art for the paper edition of A Taste for the King

A Taste for the King – Paper Edition Contest Entry

Posted on October 1, 2021  in A Taste for the King, Game Development, Tabletop Games

For the last few months I have been working on A Taste for the King, a fast paced dish collecting push your luck card game. The Paper Edition has been created as an alternative version of the game, favouring paper and wood parts over plastic and metal for environmental and sustainability considerations. In fact this was the original idea of the game, having been inspired by the prompts and rules from the Small Box Challenge contest on TheGameCrafter. The rules of this contest stated that no plastic or metallic parts could be used and the Small Stout Box and a Medium Booklet had to be used. Excited by the idea of creating a game for the contest I quickly got to work on two ideas. A Taste for the King won out rather quickly as the easier project to develop and produce, however the other is still in development on the back burner.

As time went on I was slightly put off by the costs involved with producing a game specifically to fit the Small Stout Box compared to other variations of the game. It turns out that chits (small punch out tokens) are expensive when printed using a Print on Demand manufacturer. With the game requiring ~6 sets of 28 chits to make the full game, alongside the box and booklet added almost $15 more to the game than other variants I had explored. This cost concern, combined with a general enthusiasm for the game itself, and really wanting to see it through to release, led me to abandon my aspirations for the contest, eventually almost forgetting about the contest entirely as I became somewhat laser focused on improving the game for final release.

Time went on and the game went through several more iterations, largely tweaking balance of mechanics such as how many cards could be discarded and how abilities worked. The chits were replaced by a dry erase pen (approximately 1/10th the cost of the chits), the box changed to a much smaller tuck box and the rules transferred from a booklet to a folded document sheet. All these changes served to lower the initial cost of the game as well as make it more portable and, hopefully, quicker to play. However, as I was preparing the game for final release I was reminded of the imminent conclusion of the contest. Given the work that had been put in to develop the game initially, using the parts already required in the contest, it seemed like a little work could be put in to making a contest-compliant version of the game and the Paper Edition was born. At worst it would push me to finalise some of the remaining parts of the game/marketing material and at best be a good way of doing initial and almost free marketing for the game. At this point there was just under a week until the contest ended.

As I prepared the game for entry, I quickly realised there was more work to do than I had initially thought, from updating the rules to reference the chits rather than the pen and reformat them back into a booklet form, finishing the how to play video I had been working through slowly but surely and updating all the promotional artwork to use the latest version of the card art. However, the work was mostly inline with what needed doing for the production version of the game. As such I saw it more as a slight branch in the tracks that would lead back to the same station of having a completed product.

The path taken to finish the game for the contest

Tokens

In the game, players score their turns by marking off collected dish cards on a menu card. The menu has icons on it that match the art on the cards. In the version targetted for production this is done by marking the card with a dry erase pen. The card is then wiped off at the end of the game, ready for the next. In the Paper Edition (and the original iterations of the game) this is done by placing the chits/tokens over the icons on the menu card. I went through several iterations of artwork for the tokens from having the icons be faded out on the menu and then the tokens be full colour versions of each dish. However, testing in Tabletop Simulator showed trying to keep the tokens in order proved difficult even in a virtual space and it was quickly determined this would be nigh impossible in the real world. Another design I considered were empty plates, which worked thematically but logically placing the plate on the food didn’t make sense.

The initial design of tokens for Tabletop Simulator using the placeholder artwork from the very first draft of the game.

The game will be available as a print and play version and once printed it will be left up to the player whether they want to sleeve their cards and then write on the sleeves with a pen or use tokens. As a result I kept working on the tokens in the background, first trying a happy king with a satisfied tongue sticking out of his mouth, but this didn’t really match the style of the rest of the artwork.

The prototype happy King design of token.

I then considered a similar design but with a bit more detail of a taste tester as inspired by the Wikipedia image below.

For the Paper Edition I decided the most thematically appropriate design would be tokens using the crown icon/motif that had come to represent the game. This crown is present on the box artwork, the back of the cards and even became the symbol for the winner in quick play versions of the rules such as the action reminder card.

Counting the Tokens

One thing that was still causing me problems until quite close to the deadline was how many tokens to provide with the game. Technically the game needs 168 tokens and this can be produced using 6 slugs. The way the chits are produced is each chit is placed on a slug of 28 tokens and each punchout sheet holds 10 slugs for a total of 280 tokens per sheet. The next issue was that the way the game was currently set up, you needed at least one more chit to indicate the first player in the game, just this chit alone pushed the game to 169 which would require 7 slugs, leaving at least 27 spare chits.

My worry was, from my basic understanding of the production method, that any slugs less than a full sheet would be wasted and as such I was considering providing the full set of 280 tokens, leaving plenty of spares in case any were misplaced but potentially confusing and annoying players for the 90% of the time until they had missing tokens. This isn’t even taking into consideration the cost, each token costs about $0.04 to produce as they have to be laser cut from the sheets. This meant that providing the extra chits would increase the price about 9%. However, my concerns were somewhat alleviated by talking to the wonderful TGC community on Discord. They assured me that while the extra slugs would be “wasted” from a technical manufacturing point of view they would in actual fact be recycled or utilised as spares for game developers to use for prototyping games which are often given away at conventions.

This left me with just one decision: Provide 7 slugs to get the extra token required to indicate the first player and leave a few spares or quickly rework the game to work without using a token to indicate the first player and provide only 6 slugs. Luckily this turned out to be a really easy solution. As one of the most recent updates to the game I had added a crown to the menu which would be used to indicate the first player. Due to a slight oversight in thinking how the game would be produced, this was intended to be circled/marked with the pen at the start of the game, however with the additional confines of the Paper Edition it suddenly became clear that I could just make two versions of the menu card, one with no crown and the other with a crown. In hindsight this should have been both really obvious and the initial solution to indicating the first player.

All of this to say that the game has been entered into the contest and is now in the community vote and I await the results with baited breath. The contest starts with the community vote where 20 semi-finalists will be chosen before the judges vote on the finalists and ultimately the winner. You can check out the entry at the link below. https://www.thegamecrafter.com/games/a-taste-for-the-king-paper-edition

I am considering releasing the Paper Edition as a separate version of the game and would love feedback as to whether people would be interested in this version of the game, weighing up the extra cost vs environmental considerations. Come join the Drentsoft Games Discord Server and discuss the game.

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Category: Game Development

Elf Intern

Posted on January 17, 2021  in Game Jams, Godot, Jam Games

Elf Intern is my entry for the 2nd annual 12 Days of Sketchmas Game Jam. You play as a new elf interning at Santa Corp. 2 days before the big day and things have gone wrong. Reindeer are missing, the reactor’s shut down and your colleagues have largely fallen asleep after their lunch. Help the motor pool chief find his tools and get the toy factory back in shape, help restart the reactor by diverting power to the backup generator, help find the reindeer and more!

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Category: Game Development

Halloween Assault

Posted on November 20, 2020  in Game Jams, Jam Games

My entry to the first 12 Days of Sketchoween Game Jam.

The wicked witch is angry with the village about the Halloween decorations and has decided her first stop is your pumpkin farm. Defend yourself agains hordes of zombies.

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Category: Game Development

Ludum Dare 41 Update 1

Posted on April 21, 2018  in Game Development, Game Jams, Ludum Dare

This is just a quick update blog to say I’m officially in Ludum Dare 41. The theme for Ludum Dare 41 is Combine 2 Incompatible Genres. I’m working with a couple of friends to come up with some ideas then we’ll get to creating the game. Because of the late start time in Europe (usually 2AM) we’re always a bit late to start. There’s been talk of possibly moving the next event forward 3 hours and personally I think that would be a great idea as it’ll give time to digest the theme before a regular night’s sleep before really digging in first thing. Obviously we’ll be entering the Jam.

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Category: Game Development

Drentsoft Games in Ludum Dare 41

Posted on April 19, 2018  in Game Development, Game Jams, Ludum Dare

About Ludum Dare

This weekend, 20-23rd April 2018 is the Ludum Dare game jam. Ludum Dare runs a 48 hour competition every 4 months in which you must create a game based on a theme chosen by the community in the week leading up to it. At the end of the weekend  you can release your project and over the next 2 or so weeks other participants play and rate it. Historically the competition was limited to video games but recently it’s officially been expanded to board and card games but the organisers warn that getting votes on non video game entries can be hard. There are two variations of the jam. The first is the competition. This takes place over 48 hours from Friday evening to Sunday evening. All code and assets (except licensed fonts and brand identities, such as your logo) must be created during this 48 hour period and by just a single person. Once submitted you must provide your source code to prove that it was created during the competition and I guess as a sort of give-back-to-the-community sort of thing. Libraries and game engines are allowed as long as you are willing to share your source. The second is the jam, this is the less formal version designed for teams, usually professional studios who would like to develop their games further, into full games. In this version you are free to use any assets from any source provided you have the license to use them.

Some History

I first participated in Ludum Dare during LD28 and the theme was “You Only Get One”. I made a little game where you had you complete mathematical equations using only the number 1, spawning more 1s as needed. I had intended there to be a little story where you could rescue and unlock other numbers to help progress through the game. Unfortunately this was the first time I’d really been developing something to such a tight deadline and I was creating the engine from scratch in Java so I didn’t get very far, only able to rush out one poorly explained and buggy puzzle.

You Only Get One character selection screen

I’ve taken part in most of the jams/competitions since with varying degrees of success, sometimes with friends, sometimes by myself. I fully plan to “compete” again in the upcoming event (LD41) depending on the theme and whether any viable ideas present themselves. I may even stream some of the process if there is interest or a streamable amount of progress being made. If you’d like to watch you can do so by visiting my personal Twitch channel.

Choices For the Jam

Engine

If I/we create a video game (the mostly likely outcome) I will most likely be using Godot Engine. This is a relatively new Unity-like engine with a fully open-source MIT license with a good community. I like Godot because it is lightweight, fully open-source using a license I prefer, integrates well with Blender, a decent little Python-like scripting language and seems to be under heavy development. While Unity and Unreal are more mature I’m not keen on the licensing and I’ve found their communities a little less helpful.

Asset Creation

Adobe Creative Suite 5.5 is my go to for most production of assets such as textures, sound effects and music, though I’d rather use open source alternatives such as Krita.
Blender for 3D modelling and animation.

Misc Tools

Bitbucket for git versioning, due to its free private repo functionality and team sharing. Backup repository on my local Raspberry Pi server.

The Themes

Currently the headline themes are:

  • You are the weapon
  • A light in the dark
  • Keep growing
  • 3 rules
  • Shelter
  • Unusual magic
  • Colo(u)r changes everything
  • At the beginning there is nothing
  • Combine 2 incompatible genres (e.g. turn based racing)
  • You really shouldn’t mix those
  • Floating islands
  • It spreads
  • The environment changes you
  • Fragile
  • You are what you eat
  • Self-replication

I’m keen on about 3, indifferent on about 8 and fairly against another 5 though I won’t say which in case the final theme goes against me, it usually does.

Getting Involved

If you’ve been thinking about doing some game development, this weekend would be a great time for you to give it a go, yes the time is short and it can be very tiring but it’s also a great way to get over all those little excuses you might be using that put it off. The game doesn’t have to be great, several times I’ve tweeted that the game isn’t worth posting for the jam only to be tweeted back by someone that it’s better to post an unfinished pile of junk than to wuss out all together. Even if you only manage to get a character moving on screen it’ll be an improvement on where you are now. The game doesn’t even have to be that linked to the theme if you can’t think of a connection.

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