Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

Frayed Knights, Crunch Mode, Research, and Development

Posted by Rampant Coyote on April 26, 2012

There are a few advantages to being a part-time indie. You have considerably more freedom to make any kind of game you want, as your livelihood doesn’t depend upon sales. Your “day job” can finance your game development habit. The disadvantages are pretty obvious, however, and a big one is that the indie thing has to take a secondary priority to the job that pays the bills.

Most of the time – at least with the current job – it’s not been too big of a problem. My previous job as a game developer at Sensory Sweep was a lot more challenging, and my indie work suffered as a result. Since December, it’s been a little challenging at my current position as well. Frayed Knights 2 has been off to a little bit of a slow start, especially with me working on an engine change, as the day job has kept me hopping. They sent me to Thailand in December, I was in crunch mode through most of January and February (and a good part of April), and I’m heading to France at the end of May through the middle of June.

The guy doing the Mac port of Frayed Knights: The Skull of S’makh-Daon also got hit by crunch mode pretty bad with his day job, too, which stalled progress there for a bit. I’ve not been bugging him like I should have been, but between a far worse-than-anticipated porting effort (I thought the multi-platform game engine was supposed to make that EASY!!!!) and his schedule getting hammered, that’s been delayed a bit. The last I heard was that it was partially playable but buggy, with serious problems in animation and sound.

So there’s the bad news. The good news is that except for the France trip, things may be lightening up for at least a little bit. And while progress has been slow on the Frayed Knights 2 front, there has been progress. A lot of it has been experimentation, as the new engine does demand a different way of doing things. I’m taking advantage of hindsight to create a bunch of tools from the very beginning that I wished I’d had during the latter stages of Frayed Knights‘ development. What tools I had made proved to be either inadequate for the task or, in some cases, way too over-designed and complicated to do something that turned out to be pretty straightforward – meaning a lot of wasted effort on a tool I hardly ever used.

The biggest tool (I apologize for being vague) is approaching the end of its “black triangle” stage. It still may not be completely practical for a few weeks, but its showing promise. It’s pretty much a whole pipeline process for content generation – not something fit for general consumption, but stuff that should allow me to rapidly generate, edit, and debug content for the game.Β  There are a couple more tools I’ll be working on as well which will also really solve some time-consuming problems I faced in Frayed Knights’ development.

From a code perspective, we’re treating it as a port from one platform to another (which it really is, when you look at it). It’s funny, looking back on it, discovering just how much code was generated for Frayed Knights: The Skull of S’makh-Daon. I think the inventory system alone was more lines of code than some entire games that FK was modeled after! This opportunity will allow us (and I do mean “us” – I’ve hopefully lined up a little bit of help on this front) to do some overdue refactoring, clean-up, or out-and-out overhaul of some of the systems.

So in a nutshell, we’ve been in a slow R&D mode with an emphasis on the “R” so far, shifting soon (I think!) to “D”.

So what will the sequel be like / about?Β  With a new engine, it will have a somewhat different (improved) appearance and UI, but it won’t be a radical departure from the original. It should work better on modern machines, and a major bonus (considering the aforementioned problems) will be that the Mac version should be almost trivial. The game picks up shortly after the first game left off, and you will be able to import your party from FK1 to the new game… but it’s not necessary, and there will be some rules changes that may necessitate some tweaking an imported party. While it picks up from the loose threads of the first game, it will be a completely stand-alone adventure, and should take the party from around level 10 to around level 20.

There will be rats.

And giants.

And a dragon.

You know, the classic fantasy RPG stuff. But done in a way that you probably haven’t seen before. And done with the same irreverent, character-based humor of the first game.

So – will Frayed Knights 2 make it out in 2012? I won’t say it’s impossible, but the probability is extremely low. But I think things will be in a much better place for both Frayed Knights sequels to be released in a timely manner *if* I don’t face a whole lot more day-job crunch time. Now, if I could only figure out how to sell tons more of the game so I could afford to go full-time… πŸ˜‰


Filed Under: Frayed Knights, Geek Life - Comments: 9 Comments to Read

  • jwmeep said,

    So I guess with this post, and all the previous posts and tweets about playing around with Unity, I guess it’s safe to say that’s the new Engine.

    >”Now, if I could only figure out how to sell tons more of the game so I could afford to go full-time… ;)”
    I wish I knew how to help on that one. Word of mouth sadly doesn’t appear to be enough. And I have tried, but I guess I really don’t know enough about RPGs.

    >I liked Frayed Knights, and would recommend it.
    >Ewwww! Blob RPG! Yuck!
    >What is a blob RPG?
    Though seriously, what is a blob RPG? I’ve been playing RPGs since the first Fallout got me hooked, and some of my favorite games have been RPGs, but I guess I still don’t know enough since I’ve never heard of the term.

    But yeah, sadly I don’t know any free ways of advertising niche games to the point of success.

  • Rampant Coyote said,

    I hadn’t actually heard the term until I was in mid-development either. I guess it’s because your party is a “blob with legs” – your perspective isn’t a single character, but rather the aggregate of the party.

    I guess nowadays I could describe it as being, “kinda like Legend of Grimrock… except totally not.” Aside from the group-based first-person perspective, it’s a vastly different game… but I guess that’s something.

    And yeah, good guess on Unity. πŸ™‚

    I wish I could figure out a better way to sell the game, too. But it’s still selling, and I hope that a couple of sequels later it’ll prove to still have legs. πŸ™‚

  • GhanBuriGhan said,

    Yes, I figured you’d go unity for a while now. It potentially opens the idevices to you, and that could be a big deal. I hear Jeff Vogel sells really well on those.
    I am sure you are already considering Kickstarter. You are not Brian Fargo, but you have a released game and industry experience to show, so you have a chance to get some funding, I’d say. Maybe not enough to go full time, but maybe enough to justify a couple of months unpaid leave /sabbatical to finish the next game and outsource more art? You could play the Kickstarter plea on peoples complaints about the games looks – “This is what FK looks like now – this is what it COULD look like with your help!”
    Honest Hearts KS tanked, but I must say I though the art style they showed was really neat, and something like that would be perfect for Frayed Knights.

    Anyway, good to hear FK2 is officially in development. Looking forward to that, and lots of interesting blogging in the meantime!

  • GhanBuriGhan said,

    Err, I meant Tortured Hearts…

  • Alrik Fassbauer said,

    just (and simply) out of curiosity : Could you imagine doing a completely text-based RPG ? Like an text adventure game (aka “interactive story”, only that it would be an RPG) ?

    It’s a question that arose in my head when I was reading your blog entry here.

    (And I do know that it most likely wouldn’t commercially sell. Keeping that in mind : My question is aside of all possible or impossible financial success. Just imagine.)


    (Edit : Sorry for my grammar.)

  • Brian 'PsychochildI' Green said,

    I’m excited to hear how the development of FK2 goes. I enjoyed FK1 quite a bit, so looking forward to continuing the saga. πŸ™‚

  • JeffSullins said,

    Glad to hear the rats are coming back for FK2. However, I had a thought this morning:

    There should be HONEY BADGERS!

    Just saying.

  • Rampant Coyote said,

    Those would be an epic battle at the end of the game. Enemies with tons of hit points, and may not even attack each turn because Honey Badger don’t give a sh**.

  • JeffSullins said,

    Hehe, excellent, you see where I’m coming from πŸ˜€