Hindsight and closing thoughts

Hello Everyone

It’s been quite some time since we’ve reached out to the community. To get straight to the point, Primulus has ceased official development. We haven’t actually touched the project for many months now. Looking back on the project today, I’m quite pleased with the work we have done and I still feel a tinge of optimism in the project and am NOT closed to the idea of reopening it again some time in the future. For now, I have to put my attention elsewhere. Now for some honest words and hindsight.

What I  have learned since the Kickstarter 1.5 years later

before

One of the first Primulus screenshots.

In the field of marketing and communication, we failed greatly. I attribute this to ignorance on my part. The ideal  market penetration is ~15%  in order to have an impact on the target market according to the theory of diffusion of innovation. At this point, about a year and half later, I realize we started our kickstarter far too early despite the fact we had a working and fully functional demo out. I think the only thing we really had going for us was the “Why” of why we are doing this project. Check out this TED talk to learn more about this. The entire project was driven by inspiration and a desire to play a game that hadn’t yet existed. Since we didn’t follow a well known model of successful game design, we struggled to find an audience and limited ourselves to a rather niche (and extremely critical) market. On top of that, we weren’t the first to take on a game of this scope. There are a few others out there that have met a similar fate as ours. Because of this, the niche market we were targeting was already not very optimistic.

creation

One of the last Primulus screenshots

At this point, some of you may be thinking “Well if this project was driven by inspiration on your part, what do you care about the market and the size of your audience?”. When I started this project, I was at a point in my life where I could dedicate ~50 hours a week to the project without concern of income or time. I had just graduated college and decided to take a year off with what savings I had and focus on this. Near the end of the project, that safety net of savings was running thin and I needed to find a way to support my family financially. As an independent developer (Or as any living person with a family, really), we can all relate to some extent. I buckled down, used the things I learned from this and found myself a good career.

Future of Primulus

So, what now? Again, I’m not closed to the idea of reopening the project sometime in the future. For now, I have my plate full with work and life and wont be able to dedicate the time to work on this project. However, I’m also open to the idea of releasing the Primulus project source files, as is, for the community to do as they see fit. For whoever is still out there reading this, let me know if this something you’re interested in. If so, I’ll talk it over with Head and see what we can do.

Closing thoughts

If you’re someone who wants to go into independent development, despite the lack of success I’ve experienced, I would say go for it. Even in an extremely competitive market with little to no pay, the amount plethora of things you learn and experience you gain along the way are things a college degree can NEVER teach you.

Thank you all for your time and thank you all for your interest in my passion project. Until next time…

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Week 29 & 30: Kickstarter is now live

Hello Everyone!

First off, we’re sorry for not posting an update last week. As mentioned in week 28, there simple wasn’t enough to report on. After lots and lots of waiting and about 13 hours / day of finalizing things, we’ve finally went live with our kickstarter and released the first prototype build of Primulus. For those of you that have been with us since the beginning, we thank you. Without your feedback and excitement, I can’t say we would have made it this far.

Download prototype

So what now?

Well, from here, we keep on developing. While the campaign is going on we’ll probably put out minor updates to the prototype download while working toward the next release. We’re also trying to complete the digital art book so those that helped us fund the game can get a copy. Since we’ve finally got the launch of the kickstarter behind us and have went live with the prototype build, we can finally get back into development. On top of this, we have a lot of PR to do. We’re looking to use a majority of the funds to expand our team to make higher quality content and add things at a higher rate of speed. So we’ll need to consider where we need to expand and get job postings out. If you’re a developer and are interested, keep active here. We’ll announce the job postings on our blog.

Again, we appreciate everything the community has done for us to help get where we are today. If we could ask one thing of you, it would be to share Primulus with your friends however you see fit. Thank you!

 

KSOver

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Week 28: Jobs

Hello Everyone!

I would like to apologize for delaying on the typical Thursday updates over the past weeks. As user Bushig said on the forums,

Why are you posting game updates less frequently? It makes me sad! (sp)

Well, Bushig and everyone else, there simply is much to report as of now. We’re trying to get back into posting them on Thursday’s but there’s not much to report. We’ve been spending 100% of our time on creating our Kickstarter and wrapping up what we have now into a solid prototype build. We’ve successfully (yes, this is actually a success) stopped adding content so we can focus on getting the prototype release into your hands. Blog posts are generally reflective of what’s new and what’s been added to the game but this Kickstarter process takes a long time. So there’s nothing new to really report from last week to this week. All of this takes time and we have to wait on other people a lot of the time. I’m sorry if I’ve saddened you with less frequent updates. If it’s any consolation, think of the soon to be KS page to be one HUGE update.

However, we did manage to compile a basic list of the jobs that will be available on final release into a pretty graphical format.

Engineering Supply Service security Research non-human Misc Medical

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Week 27: Still Alive

Hello Everyone

This was a Triumph. We’re still working to get the final bits of the game wrapped up. Funding everything out of pocket so far has had some unexpected set backs for us. My monitor died this past week right as I was making a new video for the game. I could record the video on my backup 1600×900 monitor, but I don’t really want to compromise that. We do what we must because we can.

We really can’t overstate our satisfaction with how the game has progressed over the past several months. Above that, we can’t wait to get it into your hands. Yes, we’re still working on wrapping things up. There’s a famous rule in game development where the the last 15% of the game takes 90% of the time. I assure you, it’s true. I don’t want to compromise on quality and have everyone’s first experience with the game be poor. So we’re working hard to make sure that every corner is polished even for the prototype release. Soon enough we’ll get the game out so the science can get done and you can make a neat gun.

We’re also going to add pterodactyls to the game. That was a joke. Fat chance. With the new camera angle we showed off last week, anything floating above our defined ceiling level would look odd. We’re still hoping to get the kickstarter out soon so we can get look for some more people to help us with development. Maybe Black Mesa. Look at me still talking when there’s work to do.

Anyways, not much more to report this week. We’ve worked on revamping the chat for multiplayer and reworked some more UI elements. We got our hands on a Unity Pro 30 day trial and got access to the profiler again so we could see where our performance was bottle necking. We’re now back up to about 120FPS from about 30. The future of Primulus is looking bright.

 

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Week 26: Amend

Hello Everyone!

We’ve been slowly moving away from the default Unity UI and moving into a powerful third party software. Over the past week we’ve really pressed down hard to get rid of all Unity UI components. What we’re left with is a huge increase in frame rate and performance.

As some of you may recall, we’ve never been 100% happy with the positioning of the camera and have been wanting to change it for quite some time. We finally got around to it this week and we’ve REALLY changed the positioning of the camera. The new camera makes it feel a lot like how we initially planned. We haven’t been able to achieve this effect properly until now, though, and have instead been focusing on bringing the camera closer to the player. Here’s a quick view of the current state of the camera without anti-aliasing.

cameranew

This is still a WIP and we will probably refine it based on feedback. For those of you familiar with Space Station 13, we really feel this camera angle helps capture the essence of the top down SS13 feel. Please let us know what you think about the this minor, yet very important, change on the forums.

thumbs1

Next, Jeff has been working hard on drawing up more environmental concepts while Head an myself wrap up the game for the prototype release. We’re trying really hard not to add more content at the moment while we refine what we have in place at the moment. For those of you that follow the blog, you know that we’re going to be releasing a free prototype version of the game very soon. This marks a huge step in our development process because we’ll be doing a lot more at this point on top of releasing the prototype.

 

 

As far as changes this week we’ve:

  • Revamped the main screen to add a news and social media section.
  • Reworked the Character Creation screen. You can customize your character to some minor extent.
  • Reworked ALL the UI’s in the game.
  • Added a revolving Chat Bubble above the player’s head to show when s/he is typing.
  • Added a couple pairs of shoes.
  • Made UI elements drag-able.
  • And of course, lots and lots of bug fixin’s.

 

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Week 25: Belated

Hello Everyone.

We usually post our updates on Thursdays, as some of you may know, and we have no idea why. It just kind of happened.

This week we’ve been working to wrap things up still. We’re trying our hardest not to add new stuff until we can wrap up what we have into a solid build but just can’t help ourselves. We realized the batteries run out of power eventually so we need to have a power generator of some sort. So we spent about 3 days (and counting) making a generator. We didn’t really want to use the solars due to the lack of content on the surface of Primulus.

Speaking of the surface, we’ve also spent quite a bit of time this past week ironing out details about that. I wont get into the specifics until we’re satisfied with what we come up with. It’s pretty exciting, though.

Added:

  • Item placement rotation
  • Complete wall deconstruction
  • Tooltips when hovering over item (Just says item name)
  • A button to quickly change hand.
  • Power Generator.

Fixed:

  • Broken UI’s
  • Item’s clipping through walls/floors when placed
  • Player Blood Decal
  • Can no longer place items ON the player (Yes. This was an issue)
  • And probably a ton more I’m forgetting about.

We’re looking to get our hands on the Unity Pro Profile before we do the prototype release the game. We want to do a bit more optimizing and it’s hard to see what resources are being allocated where without the profiler.

That’s about it for the week. I mentioned we’ll be a bit scarce over the next few weeks while we wrap things up. If you have any questions, you know where to find us.

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Week 24: Early Update

Hello Everyone!

24 weeks later. Ha.

So we have quite the update today. I think the past week of ~10 hour work days and sleepless nights has left us all in a state of debilitation, but it was worth it. We usually do our updates on Thursday but I’m quite excited to show you all what we have for the past week. I’ll try to keep the droning to a minimum this week but I can’t make any promises.

First, let’s start with our change list for the week:

  • Still working on Tutorial scene (this thing is taking forever).
  • Added chem-lights.
  • Added Flashlights.
  • Reworking construction code.
  • Redesigned the website.
  • Made a new logo.
  • Tons of bug fixin’s

We’ve also spent a lot of time this week trying to make things work together again. When we add something new to the game, we have to integrate it into all the mechanics we have implemented already. But when we slack on this task, we have to rework a lot of things to make them work together seamlessly. Not only mechanically, but visually, too. Since we made a new logo, we’re working on getting that worked into everything. On top of that, we now have chemlights and flashlights so we had to rework a lot of materials on the objects to better show off the lighting. We re-added the specular maps to a lot of the materials. We removed them before, as you may recall, because the lights were at an angle that didn’t show off the spec maps so it created a pointless draw call. Now, since we have small dynamic lights, we can now utilize the spec maps. So, we’ve been working on the visuals quite a bit. On top of this, we’ve finally got around to adding a flashlight. It has some post processing that needs work but it doesn’t look bad as it is. Check it all out:

Untitled-3Untitled-2Untitled-1flashlightflashlight2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can click the images for a larger resolution. As mentioned above, and as you may have noticed, we’ve made the long needed changes to the website. We’ve finally got around to adding a media section where all the media in all previous blog posts is compiled into one easy to access area. And, yes, we’ve added a download page for the prototype version when we get there. If you guys wouldn’t mind taking a moment to head on over to the forums to give us some feedback on some of the visual improvements, we’d appreciate it. We’re close to releasing the prototype and will NOT be updating it past release so we want to have it as smooth and polished as possible.

So that’s about it for the week. I leave you all with another wonderful concept piece illustrating the survival and escape aspect to the game.

stationescape

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Week 23: Prototype Version

Hello Everyone

A while ago you may recall that we have expressed interest in releasing a prototype version of the game. We had a plan to get it out at the end of January but, unfortunately, we weren’t ready. We more-so weren’t ready to show you all half completed mechanics and visuals that were currently undergoing a complete overhaul. Today we have some good news for you. We’ve been working really hard to get the game to a state where we’re ready to show it off to the world. We’ve re-wrote just about all the mechanics of the game and have redone about 40% of the visuals. We’re quite content with the state of the game but are still in the process of wrapping a few things up. With that said, I’d say we’re about 1-2 weeks out from the prototype now. Please don’t quote me on this. Things come up all the time and I can’t be certain that we’ll get there in the next two weeks. Optimistically, however, we’ll have the prototype out by then. Again, this version is completely FREE for anyone to download and play with. Later versions will not be free, however.

I should take the time to say that the content in the prototype version will NOT represent final software. In other words, what you see in this version is not necessarily what you are going to see in later versions. We are notorious for remaking things over and over until we’re happy with them and since we just recently took on a concept artist, we’re going to be remaking a lot of things with more consistency. The prototype version is not a Pre-Alpha version. It’s not even a Pre-Pre-Pre-Alpha version. It’s a prototype version to show what we have planned and to show some of the mechanics we have working in game. You’re going to hear this a lot throughout this phase of the development process. Despite this, there will still people that don’t understand this and will complain about the game. So be it.

Yet again, we’ve been working really hard this past week and got a lot accomplished.

  • Looped ambient audio added to all scenes.
  • Wire construction is in. More on this in a moment.
  • Can now construct ECU’s, Lights and Doors.
  • Added tutorial level to prototype version.
  • Redesigned the UI to better correlate with the main screen.
  • Redesigned the tables.
  • Redesigned the cryo tubes.
  • Built a new final facility (WIP).
  • And tons of bug fixes (obviously).

Head has been working really hard to make wire construction happen. Not only did he make it happen, but it looks and feels pretty good. Players can now place wire boxes throughout the scene and place wires inside them. They can also take a screwdriver to the wire boxes to open and close them. We’ve added a wire spool that player can hit the open boxes with to add wire to the box. Now you can wire up ECU’s to power parts of facility. Say you want to add on to the facility but the nearest ECU is too far to power the lights to the add-on. Now the player can build a new ECU and wire it to power all the additions. How fun.

I do believe that is it for the week. We planned on getting a video demonstration together of the wire construction but simply didn’t have time.

 

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Week 22: Conceptualize

Hello!

We’ve got quite a big update for you all today. I’m going cross-eyed from staring at this computer screen for about 9 hours a day over the past week so bear with me while I try to get you all up to date. Some of you may have seen that we spent a bit of time over the past week looking for a concept artist. With no budget and not much to promise in the names of compensation, this wasn’t an easy task for us. In all honesty we were hesitant to make this move because of the fact we couldn’t promise compensation to someone putting forth all their time and effort into this project. That is also why we haven’t taken on anyone else thus far. Well, we finally found an artist and we are quite excited about what the future holds. With this step we can now design things with a sort of consistency. In the future, we’ll be doing a massive redesign on all the meshes to make them more consistent and visually pleasing. This also allows us to get our ideas down visually for ourselves and for you so we can all get an understanding of what we have planned for Primulus’ future. First thing we did was design a medbed to test out our new workflow from concept to finished piece.

 

show

 

Awesome. Again, our goal with the concept drawings is to help visually represent what the overall mood we’re going for in the final release of Primulus. We’ve spent a lot of time collaborating with the concept artist to get our ideas across.

desertenv1

 

 

room1

 

You can click the images for larger resolutions. We’re going to be doing a few additions to the website over the next couple of days and we’ll include an area on there where we’ll have all the art compiled from the blog in one easy to access place. Keep your eyes out for that. On top of all this, we’ve also  done a massive rewrite to a lot of aspects of the game. To list a few of the mechanics we rewrote:

  • Object placement
  • Fire spreading and its impact on the environment. Fire now heats up rooms and burns oxygen and spreads.
  • Player health. Players can now be killed and knocked unconscious. When knocked unconscious, the screen will fade in and out. We’re also in the process of adding blood decals to the player to represent injury. Players can also hit other players with medkits to heal them. This is a temporary medical procedure until we expand upon it later.
  • Construction. We completely rewrote how construction works in game. The new method will allow us to quickly and easily add lots of steps to the construction process for constructing pretty much anything.
  • Input. A complete rewrite of input to make things work better with the mouse and keyboard.

I think there’s more but we’ve done so much over this past week I’m probably forgetting about it. We’ve also spent a bit of time creating and recreating some of the physical assets in game. We just recently completed the space suit so the player can venture out onto the surface of Primulus without exposing himself to the hard atmosphere. There’s not much to do out there right now, but we’ll get there. Not only did we rewrite a lot of the fire code, we also redid the visuals behind it.

It’s probably obvious by now that we’re working hard to wrap up what we have to get it into a stable build. As mentioned last week, I’m not going to explicitly state why, but, I assure you you’re really going to like it. In order for us to complete this wrap-up process, we’ve spent a lot of time building another facility around the objects we have now. It’s not likely going to be representative of the final facility, but it’ll do for now. This facility will also be accompanied by a simple UI tutorial to guide the player through the game as it is now. We’re not sure if we’ll have a tutorial in the final release or not. We want the players to experience and learn the game as they play it. That’s part of the fun. However, since we’re lacking a lot of UI elements and game play elements, it may be difficult as of now to understand what’s going on around you, hence the tutorial.

So I believe that’s all for the week. We’re powering through this and, optimistically, we should have our first stable build wrapped up in a couple of weeks accompanied by our next big public move. Thank you all for being a part of our development process. If I could ask you all one favor, please tell your friends about Primulus. We will love you eternally.

 

Big Med Bed Rendering

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Week 21: Incognito

At what point did our titles go from descriptive lines of text to an arbitrary one word summary? We’re willing to give the person that figures this out a free one year subscription to Indigni +.

We’ve manged to get a lot done over the past 168 hours. However, all we have to show you is this hilarious tiny .gif.

gamedevfunSo that’s all for the week. Bye.

 

 

 

 

 

I wonder what would really happen if I just left it at that… As for some back story, we’re working on getting “pewpew” (yes, that is actually what we’ve been calling it all week) implemented into the game. Head decided to test part of the item spawn code and this was the result. We’ve also decided that the rigid body physics of the, what are they, pills? are a lot of fun and leave this as part of the final game. Okay, that’s not true either. I really need to stop joshing you guys.

… I need sleep.

On a serious note, we’ve been gearing a lot of our energy towards our next huge step of the project. It’s not much of a secret as to what this may be, yet we’re not going to explicitly state what it is. Because of this, development will be a bit slow for the next few weeks while we prepare this next step. We’ll still post our Thursday blog posts and we’ll still be active on social media, though. As for what we’ve done this week, as you can see, we’ve spent a lot of time on combat. You can now knock other players out and shoot them into unconsciousness. How fun.

(There’s no such thing as Indigni +)

 

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