Hello Reddit!

We are a small team of developers who spent the last year creating a game called Artizens. It's a 2D online co-op platforming game, inspired by Monster Hunter and Megaman, where you fight hard boss monsters and features intense character customization, all the way up to drawing your own gear. You can learn more about the game at our Kickstarter page.

We started work on Artizens a little over a year ago. We all quit our jobs so that we could work on Artizens full-time and we cut our expenses as much as possible (mmm that ramen). Since then, we've hired a team, designed the game, coded the framework and tools that support the game, and launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funding.

In this AMA are:

  • Charles (artizens_charles) - co-founder and game designer
  • Nash (artizens_nash) - co-founder and music composer
  • Kai (artizens_kai) - co-founder and programmer
  • Derrick (artizens_derrick) - programmer
  • Simon (twinconceivable) - animator
  • Howie (Howi3) - artist

We'll be here for the rest of the day. Please ask us about the game, game development, our history, anything you want!


UPDATE: Thanks everyone, what a great AMA! There are lots of things to read about Artizens here, so make sure to give it a read through. If you have more questions, come over to our subreddit at /r/artizens and post them. We look forward to hearing from you!

UPDATE 2: If you don't feel like reading through everything, Ludo Crew has written a great summary of the top questions and answers from this AMA.

Comments: 184 • Responses: 27  • Date: 

Hellberg5 karma

How is your multiplayer networking code written? Did you use a library? How long did it take for you to be satisfied with your multiplayer networking code?

artizens_kai7 karma

For the low level packet sending, we are using ENet. On top of that, we have a custom message protocol defined using Protobuf. At a high level, we use the same design patterns as the Source engine to get completely smooth gameplay and still have everything run on the server.

The networking code took about 3 months to complete. I built it up alongside some of the other systems we have in the code such as component based entities and Lua scripting.

Hellberg2 karma

For the high level, did you simply read that article and started coding on your own?

artizens_kai5 karma

The Source wiki has a bunch more articles that are useful as well as others around the internet. Gaffer on Games comes to mind. And I found Game Engine Architecture to be useful all around. Basically, read as much as you need to feel confident and then get into the code as soon as possible.

ScrapBuilder7743 karma

What makes your game different/ better than other similar games available today?

artizens_kai11 karma

As far as I know, there really aren't any similar games available today. If you look for online 2D platformers you'll find games such as Maplestory, Dungeon Fighter Online, and Awesomenauts. We're different than all of these, mainly because we believe in skill based gameplay and intense customization options.

Artizens is a co-op game where you fight monsters alongside your friends, kind of like 4 player co-op games such as Gauntlet Legends and Magicka. Except in Artizens, you're not just progressing from screen to screen. Instead, you are hunting a huge boss monster in every mission, and the mission is made of up many arenas that you run through to chase the monster down.

On top of that, we have character customization that exceeds pretty much any game you've ever played. We're letting you pick from a huge list of equips, mix them however you want, and even draw your own images for them. Other drawing games, such as Draw a Stickman and Grafighters, are very focused on the drawing and have relatively shallow gameplay. We're going for serious gameplay and serious customization, so that your drawings really matter.

All in all, I'd say our game plays like Monster Hunter with great online multiplayer support, and we're bringing character customization to a level that other games haven't really tried yet.

Xeon062 karma

Hey, your game looks very good. You got one more backer and I'm certainly looking forward to it. You guys are living my dream, and I wish you the best of luck. Onto questions:

I'm interested in the technologies behind your game. Are you using a specific engine, if not, what libraries are you using? OpenGL, OpenAL? What about for networking, or are you handling it? RakNet or something similar?

How will the multiplayer aspect be? Will we need to host our own games on our computers, or will there be servers where games can be started on? Some kind of matchmaking? Friends system?

Are you planning on trying to get on a distribution platform such as Steam?

artizens_kai6 karma

I wrote about some of the technologies we are using to implement Artizens in a blog post.

We're going to host our own multiplayer servers. There will be a friends system and matchmaking for jumping into missions together, although they may not be robust until later releases.

We are going to try to get on Steam after we launch the game.

Xeon061 karma

Thanks for your answer! How do you plan on paying for the hosting of the servers? Do you plan on the game sales being enough, or maybe some recurring payment model will be needed?

artizens_kai2 karma

We have the game sales, as well as expansions, and a virtual currency that players can use to purchase items off of other players.

davidrab1 karma

that blog post was really cool. how do you go about designing a system that is so expandable?

artizens_kai1 karma

Very carefully! Check out component based game engine design.

Ragethekid2 karma

will this game be directly available in the software center for linux?

artizens_kai3 karma

I'm going to do my best to keep Artizens updated in the package managers of popular user-facing distros such as Ubuntu and Mint. If we are successful enough there will be someone on our team dedicated to this.

Ragethekid1 karma

what will the specs be?

artizens_kai1 karma

We're not sure yet but they won't be high.

FHayek2 karma

Looks good. If this game get some fame, would you consider mobile devices? And if I'll draw the gear of my dreams (pitchfork, of course), how do I affect it's stats (damage per minute etc.)?

artizens_kai6 karma

You change your gear's stats by attaching mods to it. For example, you could attach a sharpness mod that would increase its damage output but make it wear out faster. Each mod is balanced with a pro and con, so you can customize your gear however you like, and it stays fair.

We'll be taking a look at other devices and consoles, but it'll be down the road, after we have the PC game all ready.

Burdicus2 karma

Are you looking for anyone to assist with testing or 2d art (storyboarding, conceptual, vector, graphic design, etc...)?

I have a career in software testing, and a background in art.

artizens_kai5 karma

We're not hiring currently, but if you're interested, keep up-to-date with our website to know when we are hiring.

emazzuca2 karma

What language / or Game engine did you guys write this in?

And any reason why you chose that option over the others?

artizens_kai4 karma

The game engine was written in C++. You can read more about why we chose it in my blog post.

zushiba2 karma

I see someone already brought up dick shaped equipment which is 100% going to happen but what will you guys do about possibly infringing items.

I can see people drawing popular weapons from like Lord of the Rings or World of Warcraft. I don't know what the law would say about stuff like someone drawing & naming a weapon Thunderfury, Blessed Blade of the Windseeker or Anduril: Sword of Aragorn or Sting.

Is that even something you're worried about or is it a non-issue?

artizens_kai6 karma

We are going to handle copyright infringement the way that Youtube does -- by removing the infringing content only when we are asked to by the copyright holder.

Dynzad2 karma

Are there plans for the endgame of Artizens?

Once I've drawn and magically imbued all my favorite stats into my equipment and beaten all the monsters currently available, is there an incentive for me to continue playing the game?

Also, towards defeating all the monsters is there going to be difficulty settings for each battle? If so, what would you change about the fights to make them more difficult?

artizens_charles3 karma

Our mission system should always have something fresh for you since it generates missions semi-randomly and can scale difficulty up for greater rewards.

Your incentive to keep playing is to get your skill rank as high as possible, aiming for the highest skill rank among all the players if you're really competitive. Each time you complete a mission, you skill rank will go up and your mission selections will get harder. Each time you lose, your skill rank will go down and missions will get easier.

To make missions more difficult we can do a lot of things:

  • Different monsters that just start off harder.
  • Making existing monsters smarter, faster, tougher.
  • Giving you multiple bosses to fight at once.
  • Not telling you what you'll be doing on your next mission. The ol' mystery mission!
  • Giving you new kinds of mission types that will challenge your existing builds, like an escape mission where you need to run away from an invincible boss.
  • Time limits.
  • Build constraints, like a mission that doesn't allow you to equip any armor.

We've got a lot of ideas for how to keep missions fresh and scalably challenging. We definitely don't want anyone to feel like they've reached the end of the content.

jacknash1 karma

this all seems awesome except for the time limits :( please no time limits!

artizens_kai2 karma

Stop flirting with the monster and kill it already!

salamanderjuice2 karma

Hi there,

Any plans to bring the game on Steam? I am surprised I couldn't find you guys on Steam Greenlight.

artizens_kai7 karma

Yeah, we'd love to be on Steam, and have full integration with Steam Workshop. That'll be something we look at after the Kickstarter finishes and we release the alpha version.

Stackware2 karma

Dick-shaped equipment, yay or nay?

artizens_kai7 karma

Yay. Anybody who doesn't want to see your dick-shaped equipment can choose to hide it from their own view. But you can draw to your heart's content and your friends can see everything you've done.

theyorkreport2 karma

This game looks amazing. Character and gear customization is something that I feel developers don't spend enough time on these days. Kudos to you for that. If I wanted to start drawing my gear ahead of time how would I go about it? Do you have some sample images we could use as templates?

artizens_kai3 karma

We have template images that we use, but they aren't final yet, and I wouldn't want you getting everything just right and then having to redo all your work. For now I suggest coming up with concepts for your character and drawing those (which can be very fun) so you're ready as soon as we launch.

chilliar262 karma

Were you guys scared to quit your jobs and go off in this direction? I know I'd be scared sh*tless of the possibility of failure. Best wishes to you guys though! :)

artizens_kai7 karma

It was a huge decision, but I'd say we were more excited than scared. We lose the comfort of having a steady paycheck, but in return, we take full responsibility for our own direction and we always work on things that matter to us. We all still pretty young and so we love the idea of being adventurous with our careers before we've settled down.

jjesh1 karma

How will you stop players from making penis swords?

artizens_kai3 karma

You mean the dildo swords of wrath?

Shadaesus1 karma

I'm studying computer games technology at college in the UK most likely going into university to study, I was thinking about making a game or two in my spare time with other students or by myself although I'm not sure where to start, my education has taught me nothing about how to go from an idea to a beautiful game that sells, so I have a few questions: Which languages do you prefer for games and why? What game engines/software should I be looking at for 2d games that have a lot of features or can be made to have a lot? How would I go about distributing games for money or for free? Are there any books or websites that are great for development resources for things like AI and other things? Any help would be fantastic :)

artizens_kai3 karma

There are a lot of good questions here and I don't think I could do them justice in a Reddit comment. Instead, I recommend going to /r/gamedev to learn more about game development and get advice from many developers.

goldfox641 karma

Do you have any plans for a guild system? I would love to be able to draw/customize your own guild hang out and guild emblems.

artizens_kai6 karma

We don't have plans yet because we're focusing on the gameplay. After the alpha is released and people are in-game, we'll be looking a lot more closely at the systems that make adventuring with other players fun, such as guilds and matchmaking.

thatwasinpoortaste1 karma


artizens_kai8 karma

If we launched our Kickstarter campaign and got absolutely no attention and zero community support, then I think we'd have moved on. Now that we're out here, we see that we're on track toward meeting our goal and we have hundreds of backers. Things are looking good and we're on schedule for a solid alpha release.

Let's say everything went to hell and somehow we lost all of our funding and backers. In that case, we'd be forced to disband the team because we couldn't pay them. We would spend whatever little time we have left looking for outside investment. And if that didn't work out, we'd go back to working our full time jobs and start Artizens again once we're ready financially. It's not the end of the world for any of us, and we've already enjoyed the experience, no matter what happens.

goldfox641 karma

What are the recommended specs for running Artizens.

artizens_kai4 karma

We still have to test on a variety of machines before I can give a definitive answer, but it will be lower than most games that are released nowadays. We are a 2D game so it's less taxing on the graphics card, and because the missions are instanced the bandwidth requirements are low.

GoatBass2 karma

Can it run on my 512mb RAM and 64mb intel g(no shaders) laptop? Or at least cheap netbooks? Great idea btw, guys. Loved the game videos. :)

artizens_kai3 karma

No promises, but I'm guessing that it'll run fine on that. I just ran our latest test build and it uses 63 MB RAM.

goldfox641 karma

So will every thing be server side? or will it be a mix of server side and local hosting resources.

I ask Because my next question, What steps are you taking to prevent people from modifying in game addressing (such as increasing health gold etc.)

A good example in this is the first borderlands for the PC. Where if you where "hosting" you could modify other players local save files. it was a huge security flaw.

I don't want that to happen to this game.

artizens_kai2 karma

Everything is server side and the only thing the client sends is input, so there will be limited to no hacking in Artizens.

davidrab1 karma

what did you all study in school/college?

artizens_kai2 karma

We answered this in another comment.

elmerion1 karma

Could you elaborate on what you mean with creating your own gear? I can picture people making all their equipment look like penis. How would you handle that?

artizens_kai1 karma

Take a look at our Kickstarter video, it shows you what it's like to create your own gear. We've got the penis problem handled.

Irockz0 karma

Would you be interested in hiring? I'm an avid writer, although this is the most recent sample I can provide. http://halofanon.wikia.com/wiki/Project_Britannia%3A_Fellowship I have a more recent sample which depicts my further progression since, but I am yet to type out even the prologue.

artizens_kai5 karma

We're not hiring right now but we'll be posting on our website when we are.