Fishing Cactus at Casual Connect Kiev 2013

October 18th, 2013 by Sophie Schiaratura

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? 

Happy Programmers’ Day

September 13th, 2013 by Sophie Schiaratura

A few months ago, we celebrated the Moustache Day. Yesterday was the Video Games Day and we celebrated it, as well, the best we could by spending more time with games we like. But today is one of the most important days of the year for Fishing Cactus. Today is the Programmers’ Day and we decided to make a special post dedicated to our beloved programmers who are working very hard these days on a couple of secret awesome new games.  Also, we would like to thank programmers all over the world for the good work they do to improve our everyday lives.

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 Nowadays, coding is coming to every industry you can think of. From your Facebook page to your newspaper online, including games and apps on your Smartphone, it’s everywhere. Without even knowing it, coding turns out to be the most important and desirable skill there is. It’s huge part of our future. At Fishing Cactus we are completely aware of that and that’s the reason why our Artists and Game Designers worked hand in hand with our Programmers to create a very special game named Algo-Bot. Games are mostly related to coding, now discover a game that offers a real coding experience.

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Check out Algo-Bot’s Facebook page for more information about this coming game and feel free to spread the word all around you.

Creatures Online: News from gamescom 2013

August 23rd, 2013 by Sophie Schiaratura

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

August 8th, 2013 by Sophie Schiaratura

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

July 4th, 2013 by Sophie Schiaratura

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

June 14th, 2013 by Sophie Schiaratura

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

May 28th, 2013 by pascal.clarysse

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: The Mystic Norn

April 24th, 2013 by Andrea Di Stefano

mystic_thumb1Despite being likeable and affectionate, the Norns often proved a tad basic when it came to helping out on scientific matters. Feeling the need for a more rationally minded companion, the Shee set out to engineer a new Norn breed.

Expectedly, a fair amount of Shee creativity went into the creation of this new breed, leading to some unexpected results.

At first these new dark-furred Norns behaved as the Shee had hoped and proved very resourceful in helping their creators in their daily tasks. The Shee were delighted and amazed that their new creation turned out so flawless, even more so that these Norns developed a curious and almost supernatural connection with the surrounding world. For instance, on several occasions the Shee were able to detect environmental abnormalities and threats by looking at their small furry companions’ behaviors. This new Norn breed would turn visibly uncomfortable whenever anything abnormal would near.

This unique trait led to this particular breed being named “Mystic”.

Sadly, with time the serious character of these Norns turned into deep-rooted melancholy; Mystic Norns were often seen alone, their blue eyes gazing hopelessly beyond the confines of their home.

In truth, Mystic Norns were always a less playful bunch than your typical Norn but this new turn in their personality definitely stemmed from something deeper, a new desire for freedom, exploration and connection with their environment that the Shee did not intend for them.

While to this day the Shee believe a Mystic Norn wouldn’t be suited to life in the dangerous wilderness and prefer to restrain them from setting out on their own, no Mystic Norn ever resented its generous creators for limiting its freedom. Instead Mystic Norns resigned themselves to see the desire for a more adventurous life as nothing more than a far-fetched dream. Or is it?

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Creatures 4: Giant Easter Egg contest!

March 29th, 2013 by pascal.clarysse

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Surprise, surprise! Creatures 4 Giant Easter Egg collaborative contest – Break the Egg to free the Norns and get a chance to win yourself an exclusive limited edition Norn figurine! Starts right now. Deadline is April 1st and that’s sure not a joke. Happy Easter everybody!

http://creatures4eastercontest.fishingcactus.com/

Creatures 4 : Procedural Fur Patterns

March 22nd, 2013 by Andrea Di Stefano

Many of you, in comments to our blog posts, during the Q&A chat sessions and also on Facebook, have shown curiosity regarding the procedural methods that we use to ensure that no two Norns look alike. Today we will be detailing how the Norn fur patterns are produced by our artists and coders. 

 

First things first. There are several breeds in the game, between 12 and 16, depending on what we manage to fit into the launch edition.

Up to a couple of months ago, our process for creating new breeds was rather messy to say the least, based on us trying to understand how to make the bricks turn into solid foundations that were still being designed. Uck!

We are in a far better spot now, which makes it actually fun to create a new breed :-)

It starts with one of us coming up with a cool idea for a Norn breed and defining some basic traits for the breed.

The second step is to prepare a reference art for the new Norn breed

Olivier and Antoine, two members of our awesome art team, work together to produce a concept art that conveys the traits of the breed.

WildlingNorn

 

This one above is a “Wildling Norn” by the way, a Norn that managed to escape from the safety of the Hatchery region and evolved in the wilderness.

 

Once we are satisfied with the art, Olivier’s procedural tinkering begins.

Two main goals here: first, to make sure two Norn from the same breed do not look the same (that’s one of the main perks of using procedural generation); second, to allow all the Norn breeds to be crossed together through natural breeding and gene splicing operations.

Each Norn is made of several texture layers, some procedural and some hard-set. Every element below can be swapped during breeding/splicing.

  1. One Skin texture: static picture that contains the underlying skin which is unique to every breed and can’t be “blended” with other skins. There are variations of these for male, female and elder Norns.
  2. “Belly” Texture: static texture that contains the belly spot most Norn breeds show.
  3. Eye texture & color: static texture. The color is pre-set in the texture, meaning that all Norns that are pure breed have the same eye color (of course they can be crossed with other breeds to exhibit another eye color). Heterochromia iridum is also determined by this texture. That means that a yellow and pink heterochromia will always be yellow/pink. While this is a limitation of the system, it bears the benefit that it allows us really setting in stones the look of a breed.
  4. Base fur color: while the color is not set in the texture, it is fixed for each breed during the creation in our tool (see below). At the moment two pure breed Norns have exactly the same color although we might end up adding some slight hue variations to further differentiate two same-breed Norns.
  5. Main Pattern: There are two pattern textures (which can be empty if needed). We call this the “main” pattern as it is usually used for the most recognizable visual markings.
  6. Main Pattern Color.
  7. Detail Pattern: Same as the previous one, but usually used for smaller dots and marks on the Norn fur.
  8. Detail Pattern Color.

 

Once Olivier has completed the technical design of the pattern and produced the required visual assets, the last step is to assemble all of the above in our Norn creation tool. It’s a web based tool that allows us to push new breeds into the game and preview them in real time. It’s pretty neat!

You can see that the information here is grouped into 8 boxes. This is important as they correspond to the 8 genes that define the Norn visual look. More on that in a further blog post about splicing ;-)

 

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As a side note, this creation system allows us to specify cosmetic differences reliant on gender/age but truth to be told, we haven’t gotten around to use this cool feature yet, due to time constraints.

 

The assets themselves are produced as follows:

The static textures are produced in Adobe Photoshop as standard character textures.

 

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The procedural textures are generated in an open source tool that allows basic 2D patterns to vary depending on several parameters defined by the artist. 

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This is really cool because even if two Norns have the same pattern (eg. The gene is the same), the pattern will be generated and applied a bit differently on each Norn.

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Once that step is finished, the only thing left to do is to preview the Norn in the game. Tada!

 

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Hoping that this brief overview gives you a better understanding of how the Norn cosmetics are created. Obviously the goal of all this is simple, making sure no two Norns are exactly equal and give you bazillions of possibilities for combinations!

We’re pretty sure you’ll have even more questions after this post and we’ll do our best to answer them, just keep in mind that part of our team is at GDC next week so replies may take a little longer than usual (okaaay, we’re not THAT quick usually, but still, you get my point :-)

 

UPDATE: fixed a couple of link to full-sized pictures