Look Out Norwich: Pixel Pete Coming Through!

Tommy Thompson: Supreme overlord and mad scientist.

So the word got out last week that we are headed to the Norwich Games Festival in April to showcase the latest version of Sure Footing.  I’m really excited Sure Footing will be on display among some really awesome looking games at the event.  While I’ve played Biome and DiscStorm before, I’m keen to see how these games have progressed since I last tried them.  In addition, the rest of the collection look fantastic and I’m looking forward to trying them out.

It’s been a rather quiet couple of months for us, but we’ve recently been ramping up so we can showcase an updated build with new features and more polish!  It’s often quite challenging for the team to find time to work on the game for a multitude of reasons.  The biggest one is that we are not working on the game full time!  I’m busy with all my research, teaching and other weird and wonderful stuff on YouTube (shameless plug), but also the rest of the team either work full-time or are currently full-time students at university.  Naturally, that will suck a lot of free time from anyone’s schedule, but it’s really important that what we do doesn’t interfere with that.  Especially for James, Rob, Neall and Michele, who in mere months from now will have completed their university degrees.  So we get together periodically to discuss where the game will go next and with that we focussed on what we wanted to achieve this spring in preparation for heading to Norwich.

We learned a lot from our time at GameCity last year.  Perhaps the most important thing we learned was people actually like Sure Footing!  This was a big thing for us given that, having only worked on the game a couple of months, we had never exposed it to a wider audience.  Ultimately, we had no idea whether the game would find an audience.  I’m really happy to say it did and in in some ways that we did not expect.  Once again my thanks to everyone who came along and tried the game out at GameCity.

However, what was equally as important for us was that we got feedback on what is missing or needs improved.  We really want a tight, stable and fun build before we focus on the social and intelligent systems that we want to have in the background (a point I will hopefully talk about soon).  That means going back to basics and looking at our core mechanics: can we polish them to make them faster, more responsive and more engaging for players?

We’re focussed right now not only on adding new features to this build, but also improving that which we already had in place.  While I’m largely focussed on the gameplay mechanics, James and Matt have been improving the visuals: tweaking shaders, art assets and scene composition.   Ultimately, we want to make sure the game looks as good as it can whilst as smooth as possible.  Not to mention our new artist Jonathan Boorman (whose work you can see here) has been busy working on some really cool backdrops and characters skins which you can see in these screenshots.  Last week James began to show off the graphical improvements in part due to our work, but also migrating to Unity 5.  While we can’t take all the credit, given Unity 5 has helped really shape up the games visuals, I can’t help but be impressed by how good the game is currently looking and a big pat on the back to Matt, Jon and James for making that happen.

The screenshots you see here are in-game and taken using our Screenshot Tool that we developed (which I hope to have up on the Unity Asset store soon).  The tool was designed given the amount of effort Matt has having to go through to take screenshots for promotional purposes, so James and I worked on finding a means to make the process smoother.  So these screenshots are achieved by pausing live gameplay and then positioning a camera to take a screenshot of the current view.  Really happy with the results.

I’m keeping tight-lipped but we have one or two new gameplay features to show off at Norwich as well as this fresh lick of paint.  Really looking forward to getting our new build out there, getting input from players and also checking out the range of others games at the festival.  It looks like it’s going to be a great weekend!

If you’re over in Norwich on the 10th-12th of April, come along and say hi!  We’ll be posting on the site on the week of the event to tell you all about the new features built in the game!

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