Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

Tales From the Gaming Trenches

Thursday, November 28th, 2013

Creatures_iOS_thumbNo need to tell you that we have been quite busy these days. Most of our teams are working on several projects at the same time excepting Creatures’ team who is focusing on finishing Creatures Online. That game really cost us an arm.

Talking about Creatures Online,  we have been releasing a “weekly update” on the forum every week for 4 months now  . The point of those updates is to show to the community where the development exactly stands. We should have done that from the beginning but the community management was not that effective back in those days. It was the first time we had to manage such a big license with such an active community. We did our best and I really hope that the community noticed it. As you certainly know, Fishing Cactus doesn’t take care of the CO page on Facebook nor the Twitter account anymore.

Algo-Bot_SGE13_award_thumbAndrea and I talked to Raphaël “Ulandar” from ProsiebenSat.1 Games, who is in charge of the whole community management of Creatures Online. A bunch of good ideas came from that conversation such as making videos to show game improvements, talking about CAOS, etc.

The sooner Creatures will be finished the sooner the team will be available to work on other games in production such as Algo-Bot which should hit Kickstarter in January. Yeah I know what you think! It’s a fact that we have deadline issues :-) I have to admit that I’ve never thought that launching a Kickstarter campaign could be that difficult. Meanwhile, you will find our Kickstarter video here and signup if you want to be informed the day Algo-Bot hits Kickstarter. Hope that this game will be funded because it really deserves to be finished. It’s not my only opinion, the awards below talk by themselves: Top 5 of the best Indie Game at Indie Prize Showcase and Best Serious Game in category HR – Training at Serious Game Expo. So, proud of our little fellow <3

To finish my post I would like to wish you a lot of Roasted Turkey, Mashed Potatoes and Pumpkin Pie! Happy Thanksgiving!

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Fishing Cactus at Casual Connect Kiev 2013

Friday, October 18th, 2013

badge_indieprizeIn exactly one week, Fishing Cactus will attend to Indie Prize Showcase with Algo-Bot in its pocket.

The Indie Prize Showcase will take place at Casual Connect Kyiv on October 23-25, 2013 with something like 850 industry professionals attending the event. Over 25 indie game development teams will be showcasing their games and two of them will win prizes awards from the showcase sponsors and Indie Prize committee.

I have the Conference content just in front of me and judging by what I read it’s gonna be very interesting and… Oh waww Fishing Cactus is a speaker!  “Algo-Bot: How Coding Can Be Fun” … wait! What?! Coding can be fun. Can coding really be fun? Of course it can and we will show you how we managed to do that :-) So, be sure to be at Casual Connect the 25 October at 10:30 to hear our Guillaume telling you how difficult it is to make a learning game without being boring.

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Also, you are warmly invited to read the article about the development of Algo-Bot  that we wrote for the occasion on Gamesauce.org. You will notice that this game taught us way more than concepts of programming.

All this blabla brings us to the most important thing about this event: What can we eat in Ukraine? 

Creatures Online: News from gamescom 2013

Friday, August 23rd, 2013

creaturesonline_gamescom_booth_thumbThe gamescom in Köln, that is the biggest videogame event in Europe, has now started. For the occasion, four brave cactuses from the Creatures Online team have landed Tuesday in Germany with the very last demo of the game in their hands.

It only took a few hours before the Creatures Online booth was surrounded by a crowd of people who wanted to test our beloved game and have their picture with some crazy Norns – BTW have a look at mine with Icke from ProsiebenSat.1 Games.

About the demo, I hope that the Creatures community will enjoy the new baby Norn’s head that is smaller than in previous versions of the game. Also, may I introduce you the Kabuto Norn  – my favorite by far

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The team will go back to Belgium on Sunday, so, if you attend gamescom don’t forget to come at the Creatures Online Booth H7.1 to say “Hi”. I am sure they will have nice giveaways!

Stay tune for more Cactuses news!

Fishing Cactus will attend Gamescom2013

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

As every year, Fishing Cactus will join the party and celebrate the games! Our team will land the 21st of August and go back to Belgium the 24th with schnitzel-full bellies.

Creatures Online demo

Yeah that’s right, Creatures Online’s gonna be at Gamescom! Join us playing Creatures Online and be one of the lucky ones to have an exclusive sneak preview of the game. You’re talkative? Then we’ll be happy to welcome you at Bigben Interactive’s Creatures Online booth to chat with the Cactus guys and ProSiebenSat.1 Games.

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Creatures Online: live session round up

Thursday, July 4th, 2013

Creatures Online is now over and we would like to thank all the 85 of you who were on the chat and TUNED in to our Q/A. Special thanks to the ambassadors who helped in moderating this wonderful session. Our final thank is for ProSiebenSat.1 Games and Bigben Interactive who support us in our efforts.

Over 190 persons have seen the recorded version that was available on our twitch channel. Unfortunately this video has been deleted by Twitch.tv. But thanks to HelloInterloper, a version with the live chat has been recorded as well. And for those who haven’t seen those videos yet, you will be pleased to find below a third version with devs annotations.

We were extremely happy with the response to the livestream, hopefully we can get around to stream the game again up until the release.

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Creatures Online: live session

Friday, June 14th, 2013

shii_okay_smallAs promised the live session is coming with tiny modifications. The idea stills the same: you will be able to see the game in live and question the team on the chat. Following the feedback we got from the community, we decided to drop Google Hangout and go with Twitch instead. It came to our attention that Twitch would be more suitable due its history with the community and furthermore, the tests we carried out seem to point at a better overall streaming quality that Google Hangout.

So, tune it on the 27th of June at 8PM (GMT+1) and join us on our Twitch.tv channel. The live stream will be accessible to everyone but if you want to access the chat room make sure you have an account on Twitch.tv

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As for the chat room, moderators from Fishing Cactus and ProSiebenSat.1 Games will both be on the chat to make sure that we have got all the answers to your questions. To easily recognize us and keep the place clean, the team will be in red color, so please do not use the same color. Sometimes the chat room is a little bit fickle and the page needs to be refreshed twice to be able to see it.

C4 update: Euro distribution of Creatures Online

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

shii_yeahOver the last few weeks, Fishing Cactus has received a few visits of the nice people from ProSiebenSat.1 Games. The reason behind all that brouhaha was Creatures 4.

ProSiebenSat.1 happens to be a proper media and entertainment mogul over here in Europe. “ProSiebenSat.1 Games GmbH is the games company of ProSiebenSat.1 Media AG. As a leading publisher, the company focuses on the licensing and distribution of online and mobile games, and acts as a strong digital distribution partner for the gaming products of premium partners all over Europe.” is what the press release lingo precisely says. Not only do they distribute in Europe several hit online games, including the great blockbuster games DC Universe™ Online, PlanetSide® 2, and the sequel of the EverQuest® franchise. They also run successful television stations (their original activity) in Germany and Nordic Countries, and have ties with massive French and Italian channels too (TF1 and RAI).

This is just the ideal partner for us, as small indie developer, and Bigben Interactive, as publisher. By partnering with this ideal fit, our respective companies will be able to each focus on what they do best: us making the game, Bigben Interactive making the toys and physical goodies and handling the logistics, while ProSiebenSat.1 Games makes sure that there are many people playing the game across Europe and that we can scale up the network properly.

Cause it’s now official, the ink on the contract barely dry: we have entered an agreement with ProSiebenSat.1 Games for the distribution, maintenance and marketing of our game on the Old Continent.

There are a few consequences to this.

The first one is merely cosmetic: the official launch title will be changed from the tentative Creatures 4 to the definitive “Creatures Online” in an effort to attract new players who had never heard of the previous episodes some good 15 years ago.

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A more important shift is the fact that ProSiebenSat.1 Games is now in charge of deploying the right server network for us, which they have booked already and plan to be ready with around July or so. Once that’s in place, they will be running a first round of beta, which at first will be CLOSED. Access to the beta will be as easy as creating an user account on their network, signing Non-Disclosure Agreements and then stick to confidentiality for realsies ;-)

If you live in another area of the World not covered by ProSiebenSat.1 Games, don’t worry about a thing — We have no intention of leaving you standing in the rain alone. We are currently on the look for Northern American and Asian distributors of similar magnitude and we are in talks with several companies for that. Announcements will follow in due course.

Last but not least, a lot of you have asked us to show video footage of the alpha version we’ve recently feature locked. We’d like to do that. But rather than taking a lot of time editing a trailer that doesn’t talk to you, we’d like to combine the depth of our game with the pleasure that was the Q&A session we recently had in the CreaturesCaves chat rooms, a few months back… So! How about a Google+ HangOut event with the team sitting in a sofa in front of the running demo, everybody? Would you attend to that? Say some time this June? Let’ s hook it up!

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Creatures 4: Q&A session round-up

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

The Q&A chat session between C4 dev team members and Creatures community took place last Thursday 28th of February as scheduled. Over 60 fans attended and it was sure an epic chat, which we have very much enjoyed on our end. Special thanks to Jessica from DiscoverAlbia for moderating the questions stream, it would have been much more chaotic without her help! We tried to answer questions to the best of our ability (and without breaking certain confidentiality ties with various stakeholders). An edited log of the event can be accessed on Creatures Caves, thanks to Rascii. We’re also very grateful to our three other fantastic Ambassadors, Laura (host of the party), Don and ChosenPredator for all the effort they’ve put in to spread the vibe and sort out absentees’ questions ahead of the live show ;-)

As always in such circumstances, some questions were left unanswered. We have received a summary of those through Jessica, and in a “get bonus” spirit, game designer Andrea is going to tackle some more right here:

Q: You mention 150 chemicals ; sounds like the old versions, did you change or improve things about biochemistry or did you stick on the previous mechanism? (Dr_Shee)

A: While the main system is relies indeed on the C3 foundation, we definitely tweaked some values and adjusted the system to match some new sections that we have added in the game, and also to implement the “altruism” mechanic that regulates the Norn willingness to carry out actions that are beneficial to the Norn “society”.

Q: My question is, you’ve obviously done a lot of changes to the morphology and colour patterns of the Norns, how is this reflected in their DNA and inheritance of these traits? It seems much more complicated than in previous games! (NornsofOurAlbia)

A: Indeed, it is more complex. We’re keeping these details for an upcoming full-on blog post (which our recent Instagram photo was a tease for) but to give you an overview, each Norn is made of several texture layers, both procedural and human-made. Procedural textures mean that while the overall look of the pattern will be consistent among a specific breed, there’ll be an element of randomness in the detailing! Naturally, patterns/colors/morphology will be carried over to the offspring DNA. But I’m getting ahead of myself; more details soon!

Q: Can we 3D print our favourite norn as action figure? (MK-Grendel)

A: Love the idea! Creatures 4 would hypothetically be a good candidate for this sort of service. Nothing planned in that respect at the moment but we’re definitely keeping an eye on emergent tech.

Q: Can Norns still mutate their walking or is everything animated? (MK-Grendel)

A: Unfortunately this is one of the cuts we had to make due to the way we’re animating 3D objects in the game.

Q: I’d like to know if we still get to look inside the norn, checking out their brains and poke at the neurons, by clicking on them, like we could in C1 and C2. (Creature905Yme)

A: Not in the first commercial build that we will release. In all honesty it is a bit hard for us to justify developing and integrating this at this point, not knowing what would be the appeal of tools as advanced as those (internally, we’re still using custom-recompiled C3 tools in regards to brain!). We’ve limited ourselves to the science kit for now as it strikes a nice balance between showing the Norn’s complexity and preventing it from becoming overwhelming. We’re not excluding anything in terms of post-launch content updates though.

Q: Will the game engine run localy or will a client server architecture be used? (Gigamoi)

A: The game engine runs locally and the game will connect to a webserver that will contain all the database data and player progress. This is required for the seamless bridged experience we want to offer across all supported platforms (means: we need this to enable continuous play when user walks away from his desktop and resumes play on his mobile device).

Q: Will there be food that can only be obtained in certain specific enviroment? (YeikoVneef)

A: Not food per se, but specific plant pots are unlocked once you discover new environments. You might find a few surprises if you search Sphericus thoroughly ;-)

Q: Will Angry Nornito feature in any later parts of the game? (C-Rex)

A: Wow! We didn’t anticipate Nornito to have a fan club of his own :-) So while we don’t have plans now, Nornito might get back to C4 at one point!

Q: Why in the Gamescom 2012 demo did that Norn fly off into the air? (C-Rex)

A: Two possible answers: 1) the Norn was using the Norn hairdryer in a clever fashion. 2) A nasty coding bug we hadn’t removed yet!

Q: Being multi platform, will norns be able to travel from one system to another? (McDuff)

A: If by system you mean iOS, Android, PC, Mac — The answer is yes!

Q: Will Norns be able to call the Hand by name? Can they interact with it, liking or disliking and such? (LilyNorn)

A: They certainly look at it (they do that a lot actually! Looks cool!) but not directly interact with it (like grabbing it). At the moment they can’t call it by name, but the idea kind of makes sense now that you mention it — Let it percolate with us during the ongoing alpha-test phase ;-)

Q: Will there be a ingame breed-editor or is it planned? (dk1987)

A: The splicing machine lets you tweak some values when creating a new genome. Mostly cosmetic at the moment but there again we have some surprises in store.

Q: There seem to be some “loading” action in the demo, it’s something that was never seen in the previous version, why did you go with this mechanic? (YeikoVneef)

A: It’s mostly a matter of feedback. We’re not planning on having long-lasting Norn actions with progress bars and such. The world can get pretty cluttered when you start decorating your regions. Sometimes, more feedback on some meaningful actions is helpful in seeing clearly what is going on.

Q: If a norn loses all genes for their look – how would they look like? (eg in c3 would look like a bruin norn) (MK-Grendel)

A: Mmm… Naked? I don’t think it’s possible any more to be honest. We’ve secured that part of the genome to make sure cosmetic genes are always present as they also determine the morphology of a Norn and removing them would probably break the game.

Q: Will C4 include support for user-created add-ons? And if yes,on what level? What are the possibilities? (Eprillios)

A: At this point we don’t have plans to support user generated content. As we’ve said in the past, we’d love to look into that possibility but we need to finish and release the core of the game first.

Thank you again for everything! We sure look forward to organize another get-together some time soon :-) We’ll try to come out with a new blog update as soon as humanly possible, but please bear with us a little bit as we are knee-deep in alpha-testing here… In the meantime, you can enjoy the interview our team gave to national Belgian TV station “RTBF” last month, now subtitled in English on YouTube (click on the “Closed Captions” icon at the bottom edge of the frame to activate the subs).

Creatures 4: Q&A with the devs & Alpha-test

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

We’ll be holding a live Q&A session between game designers Andrea Di Stefano and Samuel Languy, from the C4 dev team, and you folks, from the vibrant Creatures community! You’ll get to directly discuss with them about the development so far, and about the inner-workings of the upcoming game. The event will take place in the CreaturesVillage Chat Rooms, also known as CC Chat, where most long-time fans of the series already have their habits. An active mIRC connection is required to attend. The dialog is scheduled on Thursday 28th of February 2013 at 7.00 pm G.M.T.

For those who can’t make it, a transcript will be recorded and shared publicly after the fact. Even better, you can register your question right here, ahead of the gathering and get a chance to have it asked by our Creatures 4 Ambassadors during the session, if its relevance catches their attention! The live session must be restricted to one language only, which will be English. So if you want to ask us questions in French, Dutch, German, Japanese, Swahili or any other language known to Man and Google Translate alike, feel free to do so in that same pre-show thread.

In case you hadn’t noticed, the #NornInvasion of Earth is gearing up, with little ones popping all around the globe. The limited edition figurines have been won by some lucky few during an Instagram Adopt-A-Norn give-away. If you missed the occasion, we’re prepping up more contests as we speak, so keep an eye on our social media in the coming weeks!

On the development side of things, March 4th has been formally set as the beginning of our Alpha-Testing phase. It has been decided that this one would still be internal for now and the target will be to get the game “feature locked”. The polish ‘n’ refine cycle will continue in parallel for a while (that will feel like forever to you, and like the bat of an eye to the devs), until we finally feel confident enough to open the testing to outsiders, therewith commencing beta. Alpha-testing will involve absolutely all Fishing Cactus employees, regardless of which department or team they belong to.

If you recently tried to comment to our blog articles in the section below and found yourself stuck because of not having an account, please note that guest-commenting was disabled by mistake earlier (we omitted to toggle an option off during our Disqus plug-in implementation)… Guest posts are now enabled again! So if you don’t like sharing private information at the same as your opinions, you can take it easy and feel free to speak out anonymously again!

Valentine Special: “Ultimate Care Bear Love Rampage” (Arcade title made in two days during Global Game Jam)

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

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Arriving At The Global Game Jam

That they work all day every day on Creatures 4 is normal. It’s their job. That they keep working on it overtime, long nights and during weekends is somewhat understandable. For it’s their passion too. But when we unleashed our Andrea DiStefano, Samuel Languy and Gauthier Billot for two days off so that they can relax and recharge the batteries a bit, we didn’t quite expect that they’d go ahead and build another game from scratch during their spare time. Yet that’s exactly what they’ve done two weeks ago during Global Game Jam. They were accompanied in their little escapade by our Fabrice Lété and Guillaume Bouckaert, though the latter both ended up working with other dev teams once on site.

 

 

IMG_2530For those who are not familiar with it, Global Game Jam is a regular worldwide effort organized by a central entity that coordinates all local chapters. The concept is both simple and amazing: on a given day, game developers and artists from around the globe, professional or hobbyist alike, set up locations in their region, where they meet and… Improvise the creation of video games on the fly. By the end of the event, the games must be finished.

The latest Global Game Jam took place between January 25th and 27th, and the Belgium scene gathered to the Design Center of Winkelhaak (Antwerp area) for the meet-up. Our three nutjobs only joined the partay on the Saturday ;-)  

 

doubleThe Ultimate Care Bear Love Rampage

Upon arrival on the set, two things immediately grabbed our gang’s attention. First, the camping tents in the corner of the room. Then, a fascinating object had already caught their eye:  the Winnitron indie Arcade system. Already existing in Canada, Shanghai and New Zealand, the collective-spirited retro system was introduced to Belgium for the occasion. A stick and two buttons over a stylish wooden cabinet. 

Take off your jacket. Code, draw, assemble. Don’t stop until they tell you to. Gauthier Billot took the lead on the actual coding, assisted in that by Sam Languy, who also handled sound and music on the side (he actually kept tweaking the main track for a week after, in the car-pool ride to work that he shares with Andrea every morning – note that his creation scooped the prize for “best sound”). Andrea drew the graphic assets to change his mind from his game designer routine. No real director to speak of, our three stooges pretty much decided the mechanics and the flow of the game collectively, in iteration and in consensus. 

The game was built upon the Love 2D multi-platform technology, using a Linux PC, a Windows PC and a MAC. It relies on the Winnitron Frameworks to run on Arcade machines. Maps were created with Tiled software. The underlying concept is clearly and blatantly borrowed from Halfbrick’s brilliant Jetpack Joyride. You press a button to go up, and release it to go down. But there’s a tiny twist that the crew borrowed from some frantic button-mashing titles of our youth, such as Track’n'Field: sometimes to floats upwards, you have to rapidly and repeatedly tap the A and B buttons at the same time until you break a sweat out of it. The action gets increasingly hectic as you progress. Levels are generated randomly. You can play the game alone or against a friend. 

In lieu of Barry Steakfries, the central character you control is an adorable care-bear made of thick and blocky 8-bit era pixels. Don’t be fooled by its cuteness though: it is out for rampage. There’s your title right there. Just throw in an “Ultimate” at the beginning for the wow-factor, and add the word “Love” somewhere in the middle because it’s got heart (and pixelated hearts assets too) — And that’s a wrap. Happy Valentine’s Day everybody!

You can freely download the game file from here

Special thanks to Wim Wouters for setting up the GGJ belgian chapter and making this wonderful weekend possible. Here below some more pictures of the event that he took.

If you recently tried to comment to our blog articles in the section below and found yourself stuck because of not having an account, please note that guest-commenting was disabled by mistake earlier (we omitted to toggle an option off during our Disqus plug-in implementation)… Guest posts are now enabled again! So if you don’t like sharing private information at the same as your opinions, you can take it easy and feel free to speak out anonymously again!