I'm John, and I recently left a stable job and career to pursue my dream of making a game. The game is called Liege, and its a story driven, tactical RPG. I moved back home and have been living off my savings to work on the project, and I just met my funding goal on Kickstarter way sooner than expected. Now I'm in talks with Nintendo and Sony to bring the game to their platforms. It's been a crazy last couple of months- AMA!

EDIT: Need to step out for a bit. Thanks everyone for all the great questions, it's been fun! Feel free to keep asking away, will respond to anything I missed later tonight when I'm home.

EDIT: That's a wrap. Feel free to reach out anytime on FB, TW, or in the Kickstarter comments. Thanks again :)

Proof: http://www.codagames.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/hi_reddit.png

Comments: 278 • Responses: 96  • Date: 

Kaesepatriarch33 karma

What happens if a character dies in combat.. Will he be revived after the combat? Will it be like Fire Emblem where every character can die except the main one?

imamechanicalman57 karma

If one of the main cast of eight character dies, its game over. You'll also be commanding other units that are non-central to the story. These aren't persistent characters; instead, they're positioned through the narrative in ways that lead to interesting tactical scenarios.

TJzzz6 karma

how do i learn to code. did you go to college or read a book/internet?

imamechanicalman8 karma

Taking coursework in college can help, but I've found that most successful programmers teach themselves through side projects and doing research online. It's just much easier to stay motivated when you're building something that's actually interesting to you than doing it for the sake of completing an assignment.

el_pinko_grande23 karma

As someone who was a big fan of JRPGs in the Super Nintendo era, but not so much the ones that came later, I just want to say the Liege looks exactly what I hoped JRPGs would evolve into when I was a kid.

Oh yeah, and a question: I really like the concept art for the characters. Did you do that, or do you have an artist that you're working with?

imamechanicalman12 karma

Thanks- that's exactly what I was going for :) The concept art I did myself, but I'm hoping to find an artist that can match the style/tone and really take it to the next level so I can focus on other areas.

mrmcduff19 karma

Congrats on living the dream. As a software developer, I have to wonder how you keep such an expansive, major product stable, given that you have a development team of 1 (or so it seemed in the Kicktarter vid - i'm a backer)

imamechanicalman19 karma

Thanks, you're right that I'm currently the only developer! I'm hoping that if the campaign continues to do well, I'll be able to bring on some help with this. As far as keeping things stable, I try to keep things as modular as possible and test extensively as I go. The core components have been in dev for a pretty long time, so I've had time to do lots of testing. That said I plan to do extended alpha/beta periods to iron out the kinks.

RamsesThePigeon7 karma

[deleted]

imamechanicalman5 karma

Sorry, as of now I'm not looking for additional writers. Thanks!

ProblemHaters3 karma

OP.... Pls. Respond to /u/RamsesThePigeon D:

I'm a QA Lead at a videogame company. I'm also a writer. I'd like to do the latter professionally. Just sayin'. Maybe you and me, we could work together.

Pls.

imamechanicalman4 karma

Done.

dyffryn10 karma

Will you consider bringing this to the Vita? The Sony handheld is perfect for a game like this, the fanbase for SRPGs on the Vita is huge. What do you think?

imamechanicalman8 karma

Yes, absolutely- I'm hoping to get the greenlight from Sony soon!

nyanfish2 karma

if i support the KickStarter will i get the vita version too?

imamechanicalman3 karma

Once I get confirmation from Sony, I'll make an announcement and add a tier. Stay tuned!

javierabegazo7 karma

I really appreciate that you're not going to focus on grinding. It just reminds me of the direction that far cry blood dragon took, where immediately from the start the character was fully capable and it was pure focus on the mastery of the core systems of gameplay. Same basic reason why I loved bastion, or dust: an Elysian tale.

I put final fantasy tactics on my phone months ago and just started to play it, and I find myself falling into the grind habit, that while fun, I don't appreciate how necessary it is to be a success on the battle field.

I know this is looking ahead, but will there be an inventory system and any kind of new game plus feature? I think new game plus is like desert after dinner, where you can reexperience the game after all the "work" and exploration of the mechanics, and that if the core design is strong enough

imamechanicalman3 karma

Thanks! I'm surprised more games in the genre haven't done this, especially since a lot of the audience is getting older and shorter on free time. I love FFT, but walking back and forth on the same road to fight enough chocobos to make it past the next city was my least favorite part.

As of now there won't be an inventory system since I think it'd throw the balance of the game off and shift the focus away from the spatial element. I may consider adding a new game+ kind of thing, but honestly I don't know how much value it would add since leveling isn't a big part of the game. If anything I may add in more challenging, optional battle objectives for players who've gotten skilled at the game on the first playthrough.

javierabegazo7 karma

Hey fellow new yorker! backed your project a few weeks ago!! How is the music being handled? By who and what programs are you using?

imamechanicalman9 karma

Hi, thanks! I've been lucky enough to come into contact with some really awesome sound guys after going public with the project. It's too early to share details, but I'm hoping to make an announcement with their names before the campaign ends. Expect an update soon :)

Kapuman6 karma

This game looks really fun! And I love the art style. Once I get a bit of extra money, I think you may have another backer.

What has been the most difficult part of the development process behind making the game? Did you ever have doubts it would come to fruition?

imamechanicalman6 karma

Thanks! I'd say the most difficult part for me was putting the core framework together in a way that would realistically let me complete the game in an acceptable amount of time. I ran into a lot of technical challenges while putting that backend stuff together, and it's the least amount of fun to do since you don't immediately get tangible stuff that you can see and interact with.

HeyImTristan4 karma

No question, but I thank you for making this game available for Mac! Good luck

imamechanicalman4 karma

No problem! I use a Mac as my primary, even for games these days :)

mrmcduff4 karma

If the game takes off like the Kickstarter campaign has and really builds an audience, are you planning on expanding Coda Games, adding people, etc, to make your own indie publisher? Or do you see yourself joining forces with an established (but please not EA-size) house to keep going in game development?

imamechanicalman3 karma

I definitely would love to add people and grow a small team. I'm thinking something like Supergiant Games. Giant Bomb did a documentary on them while they were making Bastion. That's pretty much exactly what I'd want to do.

Charizardking143 karma

When did you first have the idea of leaving your job to make a video game? What kind of job did you have before?

imamechanicalman5 karma

I've been thinking about making games since way back in high school, and have been doing it on the side since then. About two years ago is when I started getting really serious about it. Before leaving my job, I was basically working in technology in a big, corporate setting.

Charizardking142 karma

Well, good for you. Hope it all goes well :)

imamechanicalman2 karma

Thanks, me too :)

mrmcduff3 karma

Did you do all the writing for the story of Liege? Also - is the written story finished, or is that part of the yet-to-be-completed stuff?

imamechanicalman1 karma

I've done all the writing for the story so far, but I'll be running it by some of my writer friends for their input. As of now I've written almost everything for the first game, and outlined what will happen in the last two.

theotherborges3 karma

How much of the trilogy story do you have written/planned out?

imamechanicalman2 karma

The first game is more or less all written out (about the length of a standard screenplay). I've outlined the story for the remaining two.

Kaesepatriarch2 karma

What did your family say when you told them that you would quit your job to start making video games?

imamechanicalman3 karma

They were a bit worried but surprisingly supportive, especially my old school Asian parents! Guess they figured better to get this all out of my system now rather than later :)

Arcky2 karma

Hi there! So how long have you been working on the game, and have you been doing it solo up until now? Because the material looks pretty darn decent from what I've seen.

Good luck in your future endeavours!

imamechanicalman1 karma

Thanks! So far I've been doing things solo since I had a pretty specific idea of what I wanted the game to be and its overall tone. With the Kickstarter doing well and the main direction set, I'm hoping to start bringing on some additional help, especially for art and sound.

Thejacobplumb2 karma

Is the the battle system like most JRPGs? How will leveling up work? Is it JUST the character or will I micro manage all my weapons, spells, etc.?

imamechanicalman2 karma

The battle system is closer FF Tactics or Fire Emblem than typical JRPGs. The main emphasis is on spatial positioning rather than just selecting an ability from a menu. Leveling will not play a major role in the game, since I don't want it to be about grinding. That said there will be some upgrades/customization available for the main cast.

PortableGamingRegion2 karma

What are your all-time favorite RPGs, regardless of whether they've influenced Liege or not?

imamechanicalman6 karma

Not necessarily in order: FFVI FFVII FF Tactics Morrowind Oblivion Chrono Trigger Zelda ocarina of time

whore__of_babylon2 karma

How old are you, and what are your plans after finishing the Liege trilogy?

imamechanicalman3 karma

  1. Hopefully if the series does well, I'll be able to start growing a small team to continue making games independently. As mentioned somewhere else here, Supergiant Games is basically exactly the type of team I'd want to build.

imamechanicalman3 karma

Whoops. Skipped the first point: 28!

Pknsko0l2 karma

Just read up on your game at FundThisGame. Looks great! I look forward to playing it.

imamechanicalman1 karma

Thanks- It's still kind of weird for me to come out and do interviews/Q&As since I've been working under my rock for so long.

Pknsko0l2 karma

Also, I think you made the right choice at the appropriate time since Sony is embracing indie gamers and all.

imamechanicalman1 karma

Yeah, its seriously awesome what Sony/Nintendo are doing for indies lately. It would be a trip to see my game running on their platforms, especially since FFVI on SNES and VII on PS are to this day my most memorable moments in games.

nevon2 karma

Pledged in the hope that you'll reach your Linux stretch goal!

imamechanicalman1 karma

Thanks! Hope we get there too :)

HerbalWine2 karma

The game looks gorgeous, and I love the music. Congratulations!

Apart from JRPGs and maybe (?) GoT, what other media were major influences in your story line and art style? What was the most challenging part in producing the script?

imamechanicalman5 karma

Thanks! Story-wise, the main influences were books and shows I was really into (Dune, Battlestar Galactica, basically anything epic with lots of interesting characters, power struggles, intrigue, etc).

For the in-game art, all the early Squaresoft stuff was probably my biggest influence, along with some other old school top down JRPGs. It's really just amazing what they were able to do with 16x16 tiles/characters.

For the concept art, Yoji Shinkawa (Metal Gear) and Yoshitaka Amano are by far the biggest influences. Without shame I'll say the concept art for Liege is my best, shoddy attempt at imitating them.

AakaashR2 karma

You mentioned that you drew a lot of inspiration from chess. Could you go a bit more in-depth on this (besides the obvious)? Also, when's that Paypal option going up? :D

imamechanicalman1 karma

Sure, I'll try to keep it short! Apart from the obvious fact that they're both turn based games played with units on a grid, the main thing is the minimalist ruleset and the amount of complexity that emerges from it. A lot of tactical RPGs get their depth by piling on tons of rules and mechanics, which is can be fun, but can also deter people from the genre. My hope is to combine some of the variety (as far as abilities, classes, etc) that makes tactical RPGs fun, but also add in some of the depth that comes from the spatial element like in chess. So to give a direct example, one scenario might involve cornering an enemy swordsman with two of your own, similar to how you might use two rooks to corner a king in chess.

AakaashR2 karma

I love that! My main beef with FE (even though I loved the games) was that all the rules - weapon triangle, magic triangle, terrain, weaknesses, special abilities, criticals, biorhythm, etc - often limited you to particular patterns that you repeated over and over again. This minimalistic ruleset you're talking about sounds a lot more freeing. Do you play chess yourself?

imamechanicalman2 karma

I do play, but I'm not very good. I'm practicing though. More than anything I admire it as a designer. I guess those who can't play prefer to make up their own rules instead :)

frones2 karma

[deleted]

imamechanicalman1 karma

If I could I would. Stay tuned for additional stretch goals soon.

Gabeyluke2 karma

Have you had any experience in making games before this? (Looks great btw looking forward to it)

imamechanicalman2 karma

I've been working on smaller RPG prototypes since late in high school, but haven't released anything publicly. One prototype replicated the core RPG elements for FFVI (UI, combat, wandering, cutscenes, etc), but after what SE did to Chrono Resurrection I scrapped that. That said, a lot of what I learned on that project (tiling engine, building out an RPG backend) is in the code for Liege.

youranalogbuddy2 karma

how come you still haven't played demon's souls / dark souls? what are you afraid of? also, do you have any specific game designers that you look towards as inspiration? (RPG or otherwise).

imamechanicalman2 karma

Both of those games are too hard for my brain to handle. Maybe I'll try again after Liege is done.

Hiroyuki Ito and Hironobu Sakaguchi. Not a big fan of standard JRPG mechanics these days, but their games blew my mind at one point, and you have to respect what Sakaguchi did for the genre. Kris Piotrowski and the guys at Capy. S&S and Clash of Heroes are two of my more recent favorites. They also have an interesting story of how they started out that's basically what I want to do. There are a lot of others out there that I admire but don't really relate to what I do (Jon Blow, the Bethesda guys, etc). Also, whoever invented chess.

LargeVisibleMachine2 karma

What framework are you using, if any?

imamechanicalman6 karma

So far the development was done in cocos2d, and porting to the cross platform version (cocos2d-x) is in progress. That said, if I get the green light for Sony/Nintendo, I'll be switching over to Unity since they'll have console support built in. I've actually been looking at Unity for a while, and it would really open up a ton of awesome new options for me.

Rawkher2 karma

I don't have a question but I just wanted to let you know you have successfully converted me into a backer. I'm already a huge fan. Can't wait to play the finished product. Also, I created /r/LiegeRPG if anyone is interested.

imamechanicalman1 karma

Awesome, thanks!

AakaashR1 karma

Any chance of adding some basic multiplayer? I'm sure it'd be tremendous fun playing against one or two friends.

imamechanicalman1 karma

Multiplayer may happen down the road, but only after the trilogy's done. Setting up the network sounds pretty daunting, plus there will need to be some rebalancing for the mechanics to work. Could be fun though. I played way to much uniwar way back when.

moichelm1 karma

How did you come up with the name "Liege". Is it some other language?

imamechanicalman1 karma

The name was chosen for a few reasons. Short version is, its the name of the kingdom where the game takes place. I didn't want to make up a typical sounding high fantasy name, and wanted something that quickly conveys some of the themes and tones I'm shooting for. As pointed out elsewhere here, Liege is the name of a city in Belgium. Confusing its residents is a side benefit.

krazyking1 karma

Congrats! I look forward to playing this! Do you need any extra music for the game? I have written some song which I think would be perfect for games!

imamechanicalman2 karma

Thanks! I've already come into contact with some awesome sound guys, so I'm not looking for extra help there.

AakaashR1 karma

Just to confirm - the game will be told with a split viewpoint amongst several different characters, correct?

imamechanicalman1 karma

Yep, but their paths will converge/diverage at different points in the story. There will be points where you have a good chunk of the cast together.

AakaashR1 karma

Do you have any points planned when some of your characters are direct adversaries? Not sure if you played it, but probably my all-time favorite game experience was when you faced your own characters in battle in FE: Radiant Dawn.

imamechanicalman1 karma

Don't want to give too much away, but from the start of the game, you'll be controlling characters from opposing factions. You can also expect alliances to evolve over the course of the story, since it isn't based on a clear cut, good vs. evil kind of scenario.

mobius1ace51 karma

A good friend of mine is looking to fund a TV series he has been working on for a while now via kickstarter, any advice for creating a campaign that will help get the attention of as many people as possible while providing appropriate hype like it seems you have done? I am instructing him on the business stuff (because that is my specialty) but neither of us have any idea about kickstarter. Thanks!

imamechanicalman2 karma

My main advice would be to prepare as much as possible in advance (both content and PR wise) and to have as much to show as possible before the launch. I'm not well versed in how KS works outside of the gaming space, but he should definitely do lots of research into similar projects out there to get a good sense of how to structure reward tiers, set his target goal, etc. If he has an established name in the industry, that can help, but if not, he will need a solid pitch that shows backers exactly what to expect.

mobius1ace51 karma

Thanks for the reply! Unfortunately he has no name in the industry and is resorting to crowd funding because it will not only help with promotion but it also reduces the amount of personal funds needed to be invested keeping the overall cost lower to him. I am glad I have him on the right track by essentially looking at other KS and seeing how the good ones did it. I figure having the pilot episode (2 min or so) ready BEFORE making the KS would be essentially mandatory? What other types of promotional material would you recommend?

imamechanicalman2 karma

If you can get the essence of the show across that quickly, I'd definitely do it. For the main video I'd think a short trailer/pitch might make more sense than a clip from a pilot, since it'd be easier to engage an audience that way. Basically anything that grabs people's attention and gets the point across quickly is what you should be aiming for, and you can fill the details in using the text section.

mobius1ace51 karma

Great idea, sounds better to me, and probably less expensive! Your video happens to be longer than most (average was 3-4 min) but you capture it so well, I guess the detail of the game really does need to take more time than most? Your video is quite well put together, was the editing and post production done by you, or was it contracted out?

imamechanicalman2 karma

Thanks! I did the editing/post in FCP. It's definitely longer than most and probably longer than it should be. If I could go back I'd probably try to trim it down to under 5 mins.

hugo_the_man1 karma

What's the better game, Dragon Age: Origins or Mass Effect?

imamechanicalman1 karma

I've only played some Mass Effect so far, so I'll go with that for now. I tried playing Origins a while back but my PC couldn't handle it at the time. They're both on a very long list of games to revisit when I get some time.

sheepdoc1 karma

Congrats on taking a huge step out of a stable job into living your dreams. How are you currently supporting yourself/your family?

imamechanicalman1 karma

Thanks! I don't have a family to support yet; if I did I honestly probably wouldn't have left my job. I've been supporting myself with my savings for the last few months, and part of the reason for the KS campaign is so I can continue eating/paying some rent while pursuing this full time.

el1min8r1 karma

Anyone else come here expecting to see one of these?

imamechanicalman1 karma

Yes.

rolfraikou1 karma

This game looks like if Suikoden was done in heavy watercolor paint. I frigging love the look of it.

This is actually what I envisioned the future of games to look like back in 1994. I didn't foresee 3D becoming the mainstream (there really wasn't much indication at the time that it would) and I was looking so forward to games like this.

Can't wait for it to come out.

imamechanicalman1 karma

Thanks! Hope you like it. I loved the first Suikoden, and am looking forward to playing the second one since I've heard so many raves about it from backers after starting the campaign.

Crook3d1 karma

You're an everyday hero and an inspiration for following your dreams, so thanks for that. People like you are the reason I love kick starter and the reason it's brought me close to tears a couple times while going through projects. Can't wait to check out your project after work tonight.

imamechanicalman2 karma

Wow, thanks- I just did what I've been wanting to do for a long time, and am glad I'm able to. Hope you like the project!

GL_TRIANGLES1 karma

As a game programmer that can't afford to quit his job: you are living the dream my friend. Make good use of it. Looking forward to play your game.

imamechanicalman1 karma

Thanks! It's been a lot of fun. Pretty damn scary though, especially in the beginning.

Captainpatch1 karma

[deleted]

imamechanicalman3 karma

Thanks! Those are fair questions. Apart from a coma, aliens, etc. my plan is to complete the series. The minimum funding goal was set to ensure I'd be able to commit to working on this full time for the next year, and to get a decent soundtrack together. As shown in the videos, the core mechanics promised in the game have already been largely implemented, so there's little to no risk that they won't get done. I think the real question at this stage isn't whether the game will be made, but how much content I'll be able to generate for it on the framework I've built. I've based my estimates on the pace at which I've been able to generate the content created so far, with some buffer added for the unexpected.

All that said, as with any creative process, there is some risk, and I think most people who support a crowd funding project understand that. I waited until the pre-production stage was completed to minimize that risk for potential backers.

If for any reason I need additional funding later on, going back to work is an absolute last resort since I can't realistically complete the game part time. Before doing that, I'd look to scale back and/or seek private funding. It goes without saying that backers will be informed on the work blog well before it comes to any of this. Lastly, my understanding is that backers have some degree of protection, since if I don't deliver at all on what's promised, I'm legally on the hook to issue refunds.

Hope that helps!

usrevenge1 karma

I ask this of every video game AMA.

any plans or consideration of doing a console port?

especially with the new consoles coming it seems porting from pc won't be as difficult as before.

imamechanicalman1 karma

I'm definitely hoping to do console ports, just need to get the green light from Nintendo/Sony at this point!

Ambience78171 karma

As soon as this gets vita support, it is mine

imamechanicalman2 karma

Just had my developer application approved by Sony, will be making an announcement as soon as some legal docs clear :)

jasnbekr1 karma

So i saw you want epic music orchestrations. Are you looking for a composer? I would be happy to help! My style is like Hans Zimmer-ish mixed with Clint Mansell. (at least, i would like to think)

http://m.soundcloud.com/matthewjvince

imamechanicalman2 karma

I already have some sound guys in mind, thanks for the offer though. Took a listen through some of your samples anyway, they're awesome. Can't believe you did Paramour Suite in an hour!

Grieverao1 karma

Hi there and congrats on the development so far! I see on your fist link you state there'll be an epic sounding orchestral soundtrack. Have you acquired a composer(s) yet or are you in need? Epic orchestras are kind of my thing. Get in touch if you are interested. If not, best of luck on the release and may it be the start of something much, much greater for you!

imamechanicalman1 karma

I already have some sound guys lined up, thanks!

scarf-ace1 karma

how did you get a kick-starter to make a rocket propelled grenade?i'll let myself out

imamechanicalman4 karma

My primary backer is the DPRK.

imamechanicalman3 karma

They were confused when they saw the pitch video

bronocode1 karma

[deleted]

imamechanicalman2 karma

I hear Fire Emblem Awakening and X-COM EU are two really good recent ones. I'm looking forward to trying them when I get some time. The first game will be out by this time next year, and I'm hoping to get the remaining two out by end of the year. Part III may slip a bit, but at the very least test versions will be ready by then.

klitzypoo1 karma

commenting to save. looks great!

imamechanicalman1 karma

Thanks!

AakaashR1 karma

How closely related will the three games of the trilogy be? Will we play as the same characters (and, if not, will we interact with them)? Will your actions in one game affect the next game?

imamechanicalman1 karma

The three games form a continuous story arc, and characters from each game will carry on into the next. There may be certain things that carry over from each title, but honestly not as much as I'd like since branching multiplies the amount of required content to create. As a small dev, I'd rather keep my focus on giving a smaller, tighter experience.

BaxterMudsyLinco1 karma

Am I the only one that thought someone quit their job, and Kickstarter funded, the making of a Rocket Propelled Grenade?

imamechanicalman2 karma

Nope.

risingstars1 karma

How the hell does kick starter work ? How much goes to kick starter ? I see people funded for hundreds of thousands of dollars over less than stellar products...I mean, I see so much funded kickstarters where the operating cost is roughly 20% of the funding, which means some simple 3 month projects have people pocketing upwards to 80k...EASY MONEY !

imamechanicalman1 karma

They say you can expect Kickstarter/Amazon Payments to take about 10% of the total.

I wouldn't call getting funded on KS easy money, especially these days. You either need to have an established studio with an existing fan base that you've delivered to before, or a product that's already pretty far along into development that you can show your potential backers.

Most games on Kickstarter are way more 3 month projects (especially those with targets north of 50k), and funding even a small studio whose employees expect salaries/benefits/etc gets expensive really quickly.

Spot-CSG1 karma

Reminds me of Golden Sun a little bit. What kind of different classes are their going to be in the game? Magic?

imamechanicalman1 karma

There will be 10 classes total, including knights, pikemen, assassins, archers, etc. Magic will play a role in the game, but it will be different from what you see in most RPGs. Its not well understood in the lore, it isn't well understood, and there are only a handful of mages in the game. Their presence completely changes the dynamic of combat.

AakaashR1 karma

I've another question, if you don't mind. What's the role of magic going to be in the story? Will it be outright and accepted (FFish), more mysterious and less integral to the story (GoTish), or just completely nonexistent?

imamechanicalman1 karma

More mysterious/less integral. There are a handful of mages in the game, and you'll see them in combat, but not in the way you'd see them in most places. When a mage is in a battle, the game's balance fundamentally change and it becomes all about him/her (similar to some of the really powerful units in Starcraft, etc).

jedivspaper1 karma

Hey will this game be avaliable outside the US?

imamechanicalman1 karma

Yes. Distribution will be digital only (minus the physical reward tier in the KS), so basically anywhere with Internet.

OF85621 karma

Excited! Looks fantastic!

imamechanicalman2 karma

Thanks!

woensdag3331 karma

When I read the title I thought:" Why the hell would you quit your job to make a Rocket Propelled Grenade...?" But now I all understand, Liege looks pretty cool! :)

imamechanicalman1 karma

I didn't get that scarf-ace's comment until I saw this. Thanks. I'm still thinking of a witty response scarf-ace. Stay tuned.

rhythmforest1 karma

Are you hiring? :)

imamechanicalman1 karma

I do have some sound guys in mind, but for anything else I need to wait to see how the campaign plays out :)

azmodee1 karma

I clicked on this link because I thought you were building a rocket propelled grenage launcher. But I'm not disappointed.

imamechanicalman1 karma

I'm glad! The other thing would definitely have been cooler though.

AakaashR1 karma

What was your job before you left to work on Liege?

imamechanicalman1 karma

I worked in a couple of big corporations around NY (you can probably guess which industry). It was a boring and generally comfortable.

Donographer1 karma

Is this just you? How many people are involved? I am a concept artist looking to do the same.

imamechanicalman1 karma

Yep, so far it's just been me, but I'm talking to some sound guys already. I'm hoping to be able to bring an extra artist on board at the minimum, depending on the funding situation at the end of the campaign.

Donographer1 karma

How did you go about contacting Sony and Nintendo?

imamechanicalman2 karma

They each have a main point of contact for indies. It's actually crazy that it all pretty much goes through one person. These links have all the details: Nintendo: http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/189180/ Sony: http://www.psu.com/a019372/

AssistingPie1 karma

Was it really simple and easy to get onto Kickstarter?

imamechanicalman2 karma

Getting on to Kickstarter, yes. Setting up the campaign, no. It takes a ton of work to put together a campaign properly, especially for a solo project that's competing with the likes of Double Fine, etc. I created my stub page on KS back in December and have been chipping away at it basically ever since.

SplashRak1 karma

Congrats, John! We're currently working on a product that we plan to launch on Kickstarter. How did you go about marketing your campaign to ensure it funded? Thanks!

If you're curious, the product we're trying to market is SplashRak

imamechanicalman2 karma

Thanks! I spent a lot of time in the weeks prior putting together a PR list to reach out to before the launch. It went ok. I got picked up by some of the big sites which definitely helped, but there were some I really wanted that I didn't hear back from. These days I think KS is a hard pitch to press, especially with the whole Double Fine thing going on.

mrmcduff1 karma

Fortunately there are serial game funders among us who look at it as both helping get cool games out there... and discount shopping for future games. I have no idea what I'll do when next January rolls around and I have like 8 games to play, though.

imamechanicalman1 karma

Yeah, I was shocked looking at some of the backer histories at how many projects some people back. It's pretty awesome, guess it makes for an interesting hobby if you have the means.

MrGrivverMysticRiver1 karma

Backed. I'm really looking forward to this. Good luck, John!

imamechanicalman1 karma

Thanks! :)

MRivendare1 karma

Congratulations, John! As a fellow Game Dev doing a classic-styled RPG and doing it on Kickstarter, I'm genuinely happy to have more people getting the genre flourishing again!

My question is perhaps shameless, but since this is AMA -- would you be interested in doing a cross-promotion? I believe it would benefit both of us, and the genre overall. I am currently working with Ekuator Games and Celestian Tales: Old North is two days into its KS =)

imamechanicalman1 karma

Thanks! Just checked out your project, looks cool. Will PM in a bit once the AMA's done :)

azayii1 karma

  1. Do you have a job for a writer slash creative? :P Cheeky, but eh might as well ask!

  2. How did you manage to get into talks with Sony and Nintendo?

I'm really excited to see where this will go! Congrats on taking that brave step, and on getting the Kickstarter funding! I love that crowdsourcing is a genuine option these days for small and independent ideas and businesses!

imamechanicalman1 karma

  1. Not as of now ;)
  2. These link have all the info. Nintendo: http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/189180/ Sony: http://www.psu.com/a019372/

Thanks- crowdfunding isn't perfect, but it definitely opens up some cool options for games that wouldn't otherwise exist. Still can't wait to play FTL when I have some time.

noshore4me1 karma

How does it feel to live back under your parents' roof? Do you feel like you've lost your independence?

imamechanicalman2 karma

I don't live with my parents, but I moved into their old house (with my brother and a couple friends). I basically live in this kitchen alcove/dining room thing that has no walls, which sucks. Plus sometimes its loud when people are over. It looks much fancier than it is in the KS video. On the plus side, it's basically free :)

SteroidSandwich1 karma

How did you store all of the players stats? As a game programmer it would help knowing the most efficient way this should be done.

imamechanicalman2 karma

The data's saved into an xml formatted property file that's loaded at runtime. In game, the data's accessed from memory in member/class variables.

SteroidSandwich1 karma

That makes sense. Thank you.

What about with levels. How did you set up boundaries and which level to load without thousands of lines of code?

imamechanicalman1 karma

The boundaries are enforced through the core tiling engine, which also manages things like obstructions for houses, trees, etc. It's basically a big two dimensional array, and a check is in place for each entity's step to ensure he/she's attempting to move into a tile that's within bounds.

New environments are loaded when you step into a zone on a map, which triggers a script. For example, when you step onto the edge of a map on a road, it'll trigger a "take me to location x" script.

SteroidSandwich1 karma

That makes a lot of sense to use tiling. From there I'm guess it is a boolean 2D array and if the tile is false they can't cross... am I correct?

If it works with tiling how do you keep the controls smooth without there being a skip in either the animation or a delay in player movement?

imamechanicalman1 karma

Pretty much, yep. It's not boolean though since there are different types of obstructions you can run into (i.e. full block, prevent up/down/left/right/upright/etc movement).

Keeping controls feeling smooth is tricky. As of now movement is 8 directional for hardware input platforms (PC, Mac, etc) and touch based pathfinding for tablets/mobile. If the Unity port happens, I'll be switching over to a full 360 degree movement which will give a smoother feel.

Moabalm1 karma

Is your username in reference to the classic track played on Command and Conquer 1?

imamechanicalman1 karma

Yes it is.

Moabalm2 karma

I'm going to buy your game now.

imamechanicalman1 karma

I'm sad more people haven't noticed this. Thanks.

WonderfulTonight1 karma

Hello! Your game looks cool. Do you have any advice to someone who is thinking about making an own campaign on kickstarter? Did you market your kickstarter campaign in some ways?

imamechanicalman1 karma

Thanks! I would read as much as you can, there's a ton of good links out there on how to manage a campaign well. I'd recommend these to start with (first one especially if you're looking to do a game): * http://indierpgs.com/2013/04/how-to-not-fail-at-kickstarter-in-12-easy-steps/ * http://contentequalsmoney.com/tips-to-build-a-successful-kickstarter-campaign-part-1-planning-your-campaign/ * Search in Gamasutra

Also, do a lot of research ahead of time on projects that are similar to your own to get a sense of how to structure pricing, your target, etc.

mrmcduff1 karma

You've mentioned that you are staying away from leveling to avoid grinding. What are you doing (besides writing an awesome story, presumably), to replace that sense of the player's people growing/getting more awesome? Although that definitely contributes to grinding, it also contributes to fun. I always loved getting the "level up" screen/music/dance/big new fireball.

imamechanicalman2 karma

There is some character progression, but my aim is to have progression occur with the player skill level rather than the characters themselves, similar to RTS/FPSes. Sadly, there will be no level up dancing.

HolyBejeesus1 karma

Hi John

Thanks for sharing this with us. Your game really looks amazing and I cannot wait to buy it.

My heart skipped a beat when I saw your post because I'm also working on a story driven tactical RPG, but in the very early stages. However, I'm planning to have different mechanics (no overworld FFT style + characters that play like chess pieces moreso than RPG characters) and art (stylized low poly 3d).

I'm really impressed that your "programmer art" looks so good - I would think you'd already hired an artist! Can you offer some guidance on how you learned to make it?

imamechanicalman1 karma

Thanks! I've been drawing since I was a kid, but haven't had formal training. Most of it was just lots of practice and doing research in books/youtube tutorials. Just get a tablet and Gimp/Photoshop and go to town for a while.

While I enjoy doing the art I'm definitely looking forward to being able to hire an artist to help out and add some pro polish.

MerlinDuChaos1 karma

Did you know that Liege is the name of a city in Belgium ?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liege

Just for your information :-)

imamechanicalman1 karma

I did. I've managed to confuse more Belgians in the last two weeks than I ever expected to in my lifetime.

geaw1 karma

Are you doing both the art and the programming? If so, do you have formal training in both?

imamechanicalman2 karma

Yes. I have formal training in programming, but not in art. I'm hoping I'll be able to apply some of the Kickstarter funds toward hiring an awesome, up-and-coming (read:cheap) artist that can match the style and add some pro polish. I'm secretly hoping to raise a million dollars so I can somehow poach the artist for Bastion from Supergiant Games.

shakesmear0 karma

Which FF character would you have sex with?