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Author archives: Melissa

UX Updates Coming to Ossuary

Ossuary—which is currently 50% off on Steam, and will be 50% off next week on FireFlower—is getting an update soon to provide some user experience improvements.

One in particular that we noticed in watching folks play on YouTube is that colorblind players find the floor puzzles impossible to solve without brute forcing a solution through trial and error.

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DevOps in Game Dev: The Beginning

DevOps in Game Dev: The Beginning

In early November, I attended and gave a brief talk at DevOpsDays Charlotte 2015, a conference dedicated to exploring ideas around the modern movement of operations informed by and possibly run with development practices.

The typical, most obvious example of devops is the automation of builds and deployments of ...

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Two Tutorial Videos for Exploit: Zero Day

Two Tutorial Videos for Exploit: Zero Day

Exploit: Zero Day is still in Alpha, but we're getting a nice little base of enthusiastic players, who we greatly appreciate. While we're developing content and some nearly-core features, there's a bunch of user experience features that aren't implemented yet.

Some of those surround the new user experience, like more tightly integrated welcome guides for new users and intro cinematics. Others are general improvements, like tooltips on nodes when editing, better guidance during editing, and tighter integration with the forum to make it easier to get to people’s profile pages.

While those things aren’t done, we’ve created a couple of little tutorial videos for playing Exploit: Zero Day puzzles:

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Diversify, Diversify, Diversify

In the third quarter of this year, we committed ourselves to diversifying Future Proof's income. Our only real source of income right now is sales of Ossuary, and while Exploit: Zero Day is trucking towards having salable plot, development on that has barely begun.

We had another idea, though: in the process of prototyping the Car Game, we started developing a simple scene loading tool in Unity. (Think of the sort of code that loads upcoming areas in an open-world game as you approach the edge of the current one.) This would let us dip a toe into dev tools (an altogether different market than game sales) and wouldn't have required much in the way of PR work: its discoverability would primarily be managed within the Unity asset store.

"All it needs," we said, "is a little bit of polish and some error checking. A couple weeks of work at most."

Famous last words from developers.

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Roleplaying in Exploit: Zero Day

Roleplaying in Exploit: Zero Day

A major part of our vision for Exploit: Zero Day involves lively discussion and roleplaying among players. When registering for the game, you pick a hacker handle and automatically have a forum account created for you — the forums are just another part of the game.

In the spring, when our first relatively large batches of folks got access, we saw some awesome roleplaying and player-created story and puzzles. That's since trickled off, and the forums have more site updates and bug reports than anything else.

Why the desire for forum content? There are a couple of reasons.

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The State of Exploit: Zero Day

The State of Exploit: Zero Day

We launched the Alpha of Exploit: Zero Day on December 22, 2014, but we haven't posted a "state of the union" type of post since February.

In that time, we've gotten a lot done, including finishing the features that allow us to craft stories and releasing some early story content.

So what is Exploit: Zero Day?

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How to Make Game Code Business Cards

 How to Make Game Code Business Cards

When we decided to go to the GDC this year, we knew we wanted to give out access codes to Exploit: Zero Day when we spoke to people. The easiest way to give out a code to EZD is with a link that includes the code and will guide the player to register, then apply the code.

I set out to create labels containing both a QR code and a shortlink that could be affixed to the back of our business cards. It took quite a bit of trial and error to make this process smooth, but a combination of a Google Spreadsheet, Excel, and Microsoft Word 2013/365 got the job done. Unfortunately, this process won't work with Word 2007 or 2010.

All this work is worth it, though, to have the back of my business card look like this:

The back of my business card with a fancy label on it.

Join me on this sweet and technical ride of mail merging.

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Puzzle Design Tips for Exploit: Zero Day

Puzzle Design Tips for Exploit: Zero Day

I've just finished creating puzzles for the latest piece of free content in Exploit: Zero Day, and it was my first time doing a considered design of puzzles. I wanted a few levels of difficulty, but for puzzles to not just become obnoxious as the difficulty increased.

The puzzles I've designed will be going live later this week, and hopefully folks will like them. I iterated quite a bit on some of them as I tried out different tactics, especially the puzzle pictured with this post.

When it was all said and done—which took a while, since I was new to it—I was able to distill the tactics I used into this handy-dandy list.

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Integrating the Indie Press Services

Integrating the Indie Press Services

As indie devs, we leverage a variety of services to keep track of keys we've given out, press we contact or want to contact, vendors we've talked to, customers we've interacted with, and fellow developers/artists/etc. we follow.

Here's our list:

  • Highrise: a free-for-small-setups Customer Relationship Manager (CRM) in which we store customer, press, and vendor contacts and email discussions. Highrise was originally developed by the makers of Basecamp and Campfire, and still has that clean UX.
  • Promoter: a free-for-tiny-setups system to track press mentions of your games.
  • presskit(): a free, self-hosted PHP tool to create a presskit for your company and its games — descriptions, screenshots, videos, press quotes, awards, etc.
  • distribute(): a free, centrally-hosted tool that houses game keys and provides an interface through which press can request them. Requests are vetted to ensure they aren't from randos, and shows the reach/audience size of the folks requesting keys.

All four of these services can talk to each other, but it's not always the clearest to figure out how.

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