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Spidi777
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Re: I am overburdened [devlog]

by Spidi777 Mon Apr 03, 2017 4:59 pm

Exhuminator wrote:You might want to make the colored borders for the sprites optional (in like a settings menu or something).


That is a good idea. Really thoughtful. In my previous game, Operation KREEP, I added a CRT like "scanlines" + glow effect to enhance the retro look & feel of the game, but I know some people just like their pixels crisp and clean :) , so I implemented the option in the graphics settings menu to disable it.

Somehow this did not occur to me. I guess I was focusing too much on the style choices / final looks. Since it will require some code modification too, I think it will be only feasible to be implemented in the final version (probably I will not have time for it in for the upcomming alpha release, but soon...).

Thanks for the tip and the comments :wink: !
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Re: I am overburdened [devlog]

by Spidi777 Wed May 10, 2017 1:33 pm

Hi there, long time no see!

Last month was rather chaotic for me. After a lengthy Easter vacation a nasty flu forced me to spend almost a week in bed, and overall the progress on "I am overburdened" was dreadfully slow up until last week. That is why I had no energy and not much drive to write new posts or to create video log entries, but it is time to break the silence.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SOsV0bUoKFI

Really, no progress?

There was a lot actually, but the development entered its last stage where there are a zillion small tasks left to be done but no modifications are substantial. The notorious last 10% which takes 90% of the development time :D . I go through all the changes made during last month in a few sentences, than I'll adumbrate when and how am I planning to push this game through its finish line.

Monsters

I completed all the monsters from the easiest pawns up until the final boss. Their attributes are not balanced yet, but all their names, sprites and basic settings are done. Now each and every one has its own corpse graphic and unique sound effect too. This last bit was originally flagged as a nice-to-have addition, but after trying out the game with a few monsters having its own sound and carcass, there was no turning back :) .

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Attack and skill effects

The battles and item skills were lacking visually, so I decided to apply some cosmetics. I Implemented a simple system to flash in and out various sprites at given coordinates in the dungeon on top of the entities. I was pleasantly surprised with the effectiveness of the initial results. Since than, I added configurable opacity easing- in and out and timings. Now item usage and battles are really shiny :O .

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Notifications

Another set of crucial visual queues missing from the game were notifications. Many pickups and events yield varying results in a roguelike and yes a player can figure out how much gold was picked up, but it is so much nicer if the game helps a little with these, especially when important changes occur. Clearly when it does not fit the style its not necessary, but I am overburdened is not a "super serious" game. Of course these can be overdone, but I tried making them not too obtrusive. Both the effect system and the notification system is accessible by the item skills, so various "spells" can trigger these too.

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Items, items, items

103 unique items, each and every one having a unique sprite. All the graphics are done with around 50% of the item lore finalized and it was a hell of a lot of work. Sadly something I underestimated again. Making the graphics was not difficult but coming up with unique, interesting or funny concepts, skills and short descriptions after having around 75 piece already, was tough. The last mile became a grueling, laborious crawl! When a lot of great content is already in place and almost every single archetype is taken, it becomes ridiculously hard to come up with new ideas hitting the same quality bar :( .

After all I think I achieved my goal in creating intriguing hand crafted loot what may serve as a strong hook for the game, so I'm proud of the end result. I don't want to spoil too much so I'll only show a small selection of sprites. Sorry, you have to play the game for more :) .

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Localization

In Operation KREEP I hard-coded some strings, rendering the game impossible to be fully localized without code modification. Some buyers actually asked about how they could do translations. I felt really ashamed while answering those mails :( . For I am overburdened I've built a system which allows to bind assets for specific cultures and all the strings are read from asset files too. There are no major limiting factors now, so technically the game could be localized to any language without modifying the application. I know some languages are super hard to handle, e.g.: right-to-left ones or the ones with huge glyph sets, but the point is, that it is feasible now.

Since I don't have the budget to pay for professional translations, only English and Hungarian will be done for release, but if the game does well, this is something, that is high on my list ;) .

In-game UI

The user interface for the game is pretty much complete. Some finishing touches are missing here and there, but it is already pleasant looking and almost fully functional from the health-bar all the way to the item pickup pop-ups.

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The main menu

I dislike making menus because they are usually boring to design and program. For Operation KREEP I came up with the idea of creating a "screen in the screen" look, to make it more interesting and alleviate this feeling while working on it. You navigated the menus of a retro-looking computer and the whole frame of the machine was drawn. It blitted the maps on the level selection screen in awful 4 colors and all the cozy stuff like that :) . It worked for me and for the game too.

I tried a non-traditional approach again, but menus are still boring :D . Since it is a classic trope to have a city in action RPG-s and roguelikes where you return to from time-to-time, I thought about including one in I am overburdened. The idea did not align well with its mechanics, so I decided to make it the main menu! You move around in an inn, interacting with people and objects there to enter specific parts of the game. Talking with the inn-keeper lands you on a help screen, poking a bookshelf shows the settings, leaving the inn exits the game and the trap-door starts the actual dungeon crawling... If a player gets lost, escape will bring-up an ordinary focus driven menu. It is far from complete, but the skeleton is there and some parts already work.

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Open beta, plans

I've been talking about this open version thingy for ages and I still haven't released it. In my original plans I wanted to have the full game completed by now :( . For the most part it is, but some planned content and finalization (+polish) is missing. There comes a time when I have to say stop and I think it is here, so from now on I will only focus on wrapping the whole thing up and this starts with putting out a beta version. Will prepare some marketing materials beforehand, like store page graphics and texts, maybe even a teaser trailer, so it may take a few days, but will share a download link for it in the next post :) ;) !

Stay tuned.
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Re: I am overburdened [devlog]

by noiseredux Wed May 10, 2017 1:37 pm

thanks for the update.

I'm curious about the controls - do you think this would be playable on a WINDOWS tablet?
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Re: I am overburdened [devlog]

by Spidi777 Fri May 12, 2017 3:55 am

noiseredux wrote:thanks for the update.

I'm curious about the controls - do you think this would be playable on a WINDOWS tablet?


I should be the one thanking my readers :)!

About the tablet:
Currently it does not work :( , but I looked further into the matter ...
Luckily without major modification of the application (e.g.: without significant user interface changes) or without heavily changing the underlying input system I could make the game work with touch controls.
I've been thinking about a mobile port too, so this would be a logical first step. Definitely no promises :| , but I will investigate and try to solve this in the upcoming month.
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Re: I am overburdened [devlog]

by Spidi777 Mon Jun 05, 2017 11:31 am

Hello everyone!

I've been pretty silent for a while again...
I really dislike this, because I'm usually open and post a lot about my progress, but sometimes it just slows down and I end up in a spiral of "awkwardness", when I'm not progressing too much and I really don't want to talk about that :| .

Oh well, I'm preparing for the beta, some tiny fine-tuning left before I'm ready to upload a build, but before that, I share this update with a teaser.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EvkOPHpJEmk

Menus, menus everywhere!

I completed most of the menus. Some minor stuff (few more characters) are still missing but I will finish those during June. I included myself as the inn keeper :) . Interacting with the guy brings up the help screen and he also tells the "story" of the game in the teaser.

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Your journal

I went for a journal look for the classic focus driven menus and your inventory. I think it turned out good looking and it fits the game well.

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For item pickup notifications I made a fancy scroll too.

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Animated box-art

While preparing the trailer and other marketing materials, I had this urge to animate something related to the game :) . The in-game sprites are all static and I wanted to keep it this way, so I made an animated box-art. Some say it's a better attention grabber on storefront pages ;) .

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Dungeon templates

I made a bunch of new dungeon templates for the generator. Not enough for the final build, but there are already plenty and they provide good variety for a full beta play-through.

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Progress, balance

First balancing pass over the item, monster and pickup power levels is also done. Nothing major, but you can complete the full 30 level deep dungeon now, encountering a new set of monsters and a new tile-set after every 3 or 4 levels and generally fighting stronger enemies as you progress. It is going to take days of tweaking to make it engaging though. I'm planning to devote a full entry to this topic soon.

Teaser trailer teaser

Yes, the following is just a teaser for the teaser trailer :D , a sneak-peek so to say. I'm working on a lengthier one which showcases gameplay features too with music, flashy texts and everything one would expect from a proper game trailer. So this is just the first 20 seconds of the real teaser, but I thought I should share it in this form and ask for some feedback/opinions about it...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tGqP1CHf754

Thanks for reading!
Take care.
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Re: I am Overburdened [devlog]

by Spidi777 Fri Jul 14, 2017 7:53 am

Hi there!

Where was I for a month again?! Many friends already asked this and other difficult questions like "I planned to finish this game in 4 months and I've been working on it for 6 now" or "Last month you kind-of promised to have an open beta and a complete game by now" and "Quality over quantity" was the best answer I gave. Actually I really believe in what I'm doing and the way I'm doing it. I know it is madness, game development is about risk management and this project is becoming more and more risky day by day (risk of losing a lot of money and losing the ability to continue full-time game making :( ).

The thing is the game was NOT GOOD two months ago. I could have rushed it to market, I really could, but my ghost whispered to me and I had to follow its lead. I'm in this for the love of it and for the love of the craft as a whole. I want to make games and continue making games as a living, but at the same time I want to be good at it and be proud of what I make.

Now with this out of the way let's jump onto the progress in the last four weeks :) !

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ctK1XLrjxpE

Polish

Few people said to me, based on my last entry, that the game starts to look really polished. I felt really happy about that, because I haven't actually started on my planned polishing tasks. Besides composing the sound track and working on finalizing and balancing game systems, the last few weeks were spent on polishing the look and feel of the game :) .

Movement

First I added some sprite effects to the player movement which fades out over time. This is a great visual cue to show the direction and the old positions of the player and also makes the "dusty & old" dungeon image more believable :) .

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Then a subtle bounce was put on top of the original player movement transition. It does not seem like a big addition but it does make it feel more like walking than the old moon-walker dance move :D .

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The last movement tweak was configurable sprite and sound effects for levels. Now there is splashing in the caverns instead of dust puffs as an example.

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Animated health-bar

This is something which is absolutely not a necessity for a game, but once you saw the Diablo 3 health globe it cannot be unseen :D . Back to reality. I wanted to add a subtle sliding animation to better signal the player about the significance of the health change. I think it turned out wondrous :) !

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Ambiance

One nice touch I really like is atmospheric sound effects. In many games if you mute the music you can easily hear a lot of background effects which do not come from entities in the world but from the environment itself. Examples include crackling fire, rats squeaking, stuff like that. I Am Overburdened is not a gothic themed nor a horror game, far from it actually, but I wanted to achieve a "spooky" overall feeling so I added something similar. Dripping water in the caves, rattling chains in the dungeons etc...

Dripping.ogg

Chains.ogg

Monster skills

This was a feature which was missing from the game for so long. I actually implemented the underlying system while working on the prototype (so really really long ago), but I had no time to actually add unique skills to the monsters :( . Now each and every one has it's own "thing" which makes them memorable and really stand out. Not just attribute differentiation, like :O careful this one is "strong", this one is "fast", bla bla, but instead something like this: careful this can dodge your attacks, or that one can interrupt you and cancel your hit, or that pesky beast can resurrect so it is a real damage sponge!

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There are some neat ones which I will not spoil because they are really fun, powerful and buy the game once it's out :P (there is no fun in spoiling everything) !

The Black Raven Market

During a play-testing round I realized there is a huge problem with the pacing of the game. The game-play did not change enough during a full play-through regardless of the changing environments, monsters and increasing power levels. Another problem a lengthy game usually had is RNG (those infuriating random numbers :D ). It felt a little boring and a bit too random (not enough control over the outcome). I realized a shop could solve these issues, but not a typical buy whatever you want when ever you want type, but more like a rogue-like shop ;) , that allows more player control but it also presents another hard choice (as many things in rogue-likes).

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Welcome to the Black Raven Market. Every first shop level sells random pickups (health potions, attributes etc...) and every second shop level sells random magic items, but you can only buy one stuff on each level! I'm evil, I know it :D MUWHAHA. In a full play-through you will encounter 10 shop levels which gives some extra space for player choice and nicely breaks up the "kill some monsters defending important loot and run to the next level" game-play loop.

Music makes the world go around!

I'm not a musician and the following sneak-peek into the official soundtrack of the game is proof of that. Regardless of it being pretty amateurish I'm still really proud of it :) . Instead of trying to make AWESOME music (which I simply can't :( ) I focused on adhering to some fundamentals I settled on before jumping onto composing:
  • Retro sound, match the looks of the game.
  • Leave a spooky and mysterious impression.
  • Be consistent using similar patterns and tunes.
  • Gradually get more intense and chaotic.

I hope it isn't grating at least :| .

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X7qzXaWzQ0E

The full OST is around 15 minutes so its my longest work in this regard yet + it is long and varies enough to not get too repetitive during a full play-through :) .

I should also mention, that I used the wonderful Bosca Ceoil tool for composing. It's quite limited, but it is really really easy to use. You should definitely check it out if you would like to make some chip tunes. It is free and works in the browser too!
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Thanks for reading!
Stay tuned.
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Re: I am Overburdened [devlog]

by Spidi777 Thu Aug 10, 2017 7:36 am

Hi everyone!

I took my time again to make this new post, but I was really occupied with life and stuff and took approximately two weeks off from work (got married <3 + been pretty sick for a week :( ). Last week was only spent on polish and adding "extra" features, so it is only a matter of a few weeks to finally tackle this beast of a game :) , I'm almost at the end of this marathon!

I'm also trying a new vlog format this time, with more video content and less slides. It is a video log after all ;) ...
I hope you all will like it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mKrz4l_LOpo

Map generator tricks

I extended the implementation of my "semi-procedural" map generator algorithm with a neat and simple trick. It is working from hand authored map templates, so I added the possibility to randomly flip over the vertical and/or horizontal axes!

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For the 4 resulting maps on that screen the exact same handmade tile-map template was used. This results in 2 to 4 (if you can use both axes) times the possibilities of slightly different generated maps for the same amount of hand made maps ;) .

Dungeon progression

Each level type has a unique name now :) + when you enter a level you get a notification about where you are in the dungeon/story:

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I'm still not 100% satisfied with this level change pacing/effect. I may add a really tiny "to black-screen and back" transition effect too. I'll try it out and see whether it works better...

Speech bubbles

These fancy text graphics are pretty useful for delivering help notifications, narrator or character speeches and to convey more details about the world to the players.

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I also implemented some features to make them easier to control and more readable:
  • New ones can optionally "cancel out" old ones (request them to start fading out), or can simply be played alongside the existing ones (conversation)
  • New ones are automatically overlaid on top of the existing ones.

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Some conversations and player speeches will occur during the game-play too, not just in the "menu".

Polishing animations

The game has only static sprites, no hand-drawn or any key-frame based animations at all. So far I tried my best to move the sprites in a way, that make all the motions look fluid, but I always had plans to go further than that! I wanted to achieve a look, regardless of having no "proper" animations, that is interesting, at least a little bit.

I implemented an animated "stretch and squeeze" transformation for sprites and added a subtle one to the hitting obstacles/walls movement of the player character.

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As the next step I added stretch, squeeze and shake to sprites at various points during battle.

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These GIFs have "New & Old" slides for comparison, but it's fun to check back how the game looked few months ago. Here goes the "same" battle from an early version:

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I'm really proud how much I could achieve with only "static" sprites :) .

I wanted to further enhance the user interface too, not only the in-game action, so I added a small and short "Back Out" ease to item pickup sprites to make them pop:

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I still have plans for more animation enhancements, but it is already August and I still have a lot of other tasks to take care about before releasing this game, so it most probably will have to suffice.

Collectibles

I integrated some systems into the game last week which I deemed "extra" previously, but as I mentioned around a month ago, I want to make the most out of this game, and completionist players (myself included :P :D ) are going to love this ;) !

Now you can gather detailed information about the monsters and artifacts of the game. After several kills you can unlock a monster (weaker ones need more kills) and after a few pickups you can unlock an artifact (rare ones need less pickups).

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There is an extra secret monster unlock too, which you have to look for carefully during a play-through, its hidden well :P . There will be more traditional achievements too, but they are currently in the design phase, so nothing to show yet.

I also ~finalized my "elevator pitch" for press/buyers:
I Am Overburdened, a silly roguelike with 20 inventory slots
Tell me what you think!

I'll be back in a week or two with more news on the game ;) .

Thanks for reading!
Take care.
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Re: I am Overburdened [devlog]

by Spidi777 Sun Sep 17, 2017 1:43 pm

Hello there!

I'm still alive and working on the game so I jump right into what I worked on in the last month or so. Even though I was pretty silent a lot has "changed". The topic will be polishing, because it never stops :P , some input handling tricks and another pretty complex one: game balance.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_E4o1_TnBzs

Polishing

During a series of play-test sessions with friends, family and old colleagues I gathered some really valuable feedback on how to enhance the user experience. Thankfully the game itself was well received, but the mentioned "issues" really bugged me, so I sat down for a week or two to further enhance the presentation.

Cost indicators

This was a tiny addition but helped a lot. Now the color of the chest and shop item cost texts reflect the state whether you can open/buy them.
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Animated texts

I went into an in-game UI tuning frenzy, so I added a "pop" animation on value change, besides the existing yellow highlights, to gold and attribute texts.
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Health bar

The health bar got some love too! I implemented a fade-in/out effect for the heart sprite slowly turning it into a "black" one when you are low on health. I also added a maximum health indicator and the same value change "pop" animation I used for the gold and attribute texts.
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Battle events

Battle events and various skills (hit miss, dodge, fear or cripple events etc...) got many complaints due to their visibility being insufficient, leaving the player puzzled sometimes why a battle didn't play out as expected. Besides using the existing sprite effects I added text notifications, similar to the ones used with pickups. No complaints ever since :) .

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Critical strike

This one was an "extra". I wanted to beef-up the effects of the critical strikes to make them look more ferocious and better noticeable.
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Level transition

Play testers shared my enthusiasm towards having a better level transition effect, so I slapped on a black screen fade-in/out during dungeon generation and it worked wondrous.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LwY76foJ9oM

Input handling

I knew for a long time now, that the simple input handling logic the game had will not be good enough for the shipped version. I already worked a lot on and wrote my findings about better input handling for grid based games, so I'm not going to reiterate.

I mostly reused the special high-level input handling parts from my previous game Operation KREEP. It was a real-time action game, so some parts were obviously less relevant, but I also added tiny new extras.

I observed players hitting the walls a lot. Since the player character moves relatively fast from one cell to another this happened frequently when trying to change directions, so I added a timer which blocks the "HitWall" movement state for a few milliseconds towards each walled direction for the first time when a new grid cell is reached. Again, results were really positive :) .

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Balancing

My great "wisdom" about this topic: balancing a game, especially and RPG, is hard. Not simply hard, it is ULTRA hard. Since I never worked on an RPG before, in the preparation phase I guesstimated, that it will took around 2 to 3 days of full-time work, because after all it is a simple game. Oh maaaaaaan, how naive I was :( . It took close to two weeks. Having more experience on how to approach it and how to do it effectively I probably could do it in less than a week now with a similar project, but that is still far off from from 2/3 days :D .

Before anyone plays the judge saying, I'm a lunatic and spending this much probably wasn't worth it, I have to say, that during the last 6 months nothing influenced the fairness and "feeling" of the game as much as these last 2 weeks so do not neglect the importance of it :| !

Now onto how I tamed this beast!

Tools and approach

Mainly excel/open-office/google-sheets, so good old-fashioned charting baby :) . And how? I implemented almost all the formulas (damage model, pickup probabilities, loot system etc...) in isolated sheets, filled it with the game data and tweaked it (or the formulas sometimes) to reach a desirable outcome.

This may sound boring or cumbersome, but in reality charts are really useful and these tools help tremendously. Working with a lot of data is made easy and you get results immediately when you change something. Also they have a massive library of functions built-in so mimicking something like the damage reduction logic of a game is actually not that hard.

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That is the main chart of the game, controlling the probabilities of specific pickups, chests and monsters occurring on levels. It plays a key role in determining the difficulty and the feel of the game so nailing it was pretty important (no pressure :P ).

If balancing this way is pretty efficient why it took so much time? Well, even a simple game like I Am Overburdened is built from an absurd number of components, so modeling it took at least a dozen gigantic charts :( . Another difficult aspect is validating your changes. The most reliable way is play-testing, so I completed the game during the last two weeks around 30 to 40 times and that takes a long while :D . There are faster but less accurate ways of course. I will talk about that topic in another post...

Tricks and tips

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#1.: Focus on balancing ~isolated parts/chunks of your game first.
This wide "chest chart" works out how the chests "behave" (opening costs, probabilities, possible items). Balancing sections of your game is easier than trying to figure out and make the whole thing work altogether in one pass. Parts with close to final values can even help solidifying other aspects! E.g.: knowing the frequency and overall cost of chests helped in figuring out how much gold the player should find in I Am Overburdened.

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#2.: Visualization and approaching problems from different perspectives are key!
The battle model (attack/defense/damage/health formulas) wasn't working perfectly up until last week. I decided to chart the relation of the attack, defense and health values and how their change affect the number of hits required to kill an enemy. These fancy "damage model" graphs shows this relation. Seeing the number of hits required in various situations immediately sparked some ideas how to fix what was bugging me :) .

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#3.: ~Fixing many formulas/numbers upfront can make your life easier.
Lot of charts I know, but the highlighted blue parts are the "interesting" ones. I settled on using them as semi-final values and formulas long before starting to balance the game. If you have some fixed counts, costs, bonuses or probabilities you can work out the numbers for your other systems more easily. In I Am Overburdened I decided on the pickup powers like the + health given by potions or the + attribute bonuses before the balancing "phase". Working out their frequencies on levels was pretty easy due to having this data. Also helps when starting out, since it gives lot of basis to work with.

Now onto the unmissable personal grounds. Spidi, you've been v/b-logging about this game for a loooooong while now, will this game ever be finished?! Yes, yes and yes. I know it has fallen into stretched and winding development, but it is really close to the finish line now and it is going to be AWESOME! I'm more proud of it than anything I've ever created in my life prior :) .
Soon, really soon...

Thanks for reading!
Stay tuned.
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Re: I am Overburdened [devlog]

by Spidi777 Sat Oct 07, 2017 5:33 pm

Hi everyone!

This entry is a bit more like an announcement and less like a devlog entry, but here it goes:
I Am Overburdened is going to be released on October 23 for PC :) !!!
Here it is, the release trailer featuring some fun game-play footage in all its glory:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7H_zHxgYzz4

Store, platform, price & wishlisting

The game will be sold primarily through Steam and itch.io for Windows PC initially. The future platforms will depend on how well the game does sales wise. I would not like to promise any other devices/OSs upfront as porting can be a big effort so if the game flops I may not have the time/capital to deliver.

It will cost 4.99$ (may vary based on store & region).

It is a relatively short game, but has a huge "replayability" factor.
Since it is run focused and has permanent death, completing it once will take less than an hour, but the game has enough content (artifacts, monsters, procedural dungeons, unlocks, game modes) to keep it fresh for dozens of playthroughs.

I really believe it is a correct price point. It has a lot of fun stuff to keep you entertained for a while ;) .

You can already wishlist the game on Steam to get an e-mail on release day:
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Or you can follow my developer profile on itch.io to get a notification:
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My website, the Steam store-page and the Steam Community Hub already has a lot more information about the features of the game and the release itself.

Release calendar

I'm doing a little marketing "sprint" thingy up until the release day. I'm calling it the "Wishlist Release Calendar". Essentially, to promote the game a little, I'm going to release an artifact from the game every day with its "fluff" text on various channels (here too) updating or posting the new version of the following image:

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Heeeeeeeelp!

If you like the game or liked it's development "story" you can help me. Wishlisting the game now on Steam (even for buying it later) or buying it on release day (there will be a tiny discount ;) :P ) supports me tremendously. Even if you are not really interested in buying/playing the game you can help. How :shock: ?! It's simple, share it. Share a store-page link or the trailer with friends and relatives who may be interested in playing it. That is all! It's really nothing, but it may allow the game to reach a broader audience, and thus in the long run may allow me to further support my game development journey :) .

Thanks in advance.

Promises, future

No one knows how the future unfolds. I have confidence in the game, because it is AWESOME, but I'm crazy nervous :( . The success of a game doesn't only depend on its quality (or I should say the quality it's developer perceives :| ). No matter how this release turns out I can promise more devlog entries ;) :) . At least one about the last development weeks of I Am Overburdened and a little later a postmortem entry about it.

My journey may change course, but it doesn't end here :) , wish me luck ;) !

Thanks for reading and thanks for all the support so far!
Take care.
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Re: I am Overburdened [devlog]

by Spidi777 Sun Oct 08, 2017 2:07 pm

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