Blog Post: Getting more people from different backgrounds involved in game development is just one aspect of increasing our industry’s artistic output. We also need better tools to give them.

Nothing defines a developer’s game more than the tools they use. Tools, as well as your experience with them, define what you can and cannot do. Can’t use Blender to make 3D models? Looks like you’re going to have to do it in 2D. Don’t have Photoshop? Looks like you’re going to have to make those textures with GIMP. Can’t program? Then looks like its Unreal or Construct 2 for you. Whilst these are very big decisions, we also can’t forget about the small ones.  Familiarity with our game engines can speed up or slow down the day-to-day creation of our games and can make the difference between the life and death of features, games, or even game companies.

Tools, then, are the essence of game development.

Game development is incredibly complicated, and it doesn’t help that the tools we use to create them are equally complex. Learning how to use even a basic game engine can take many days, and even after doing so can still provide you with little reward. It’s this tool difficulty which, I believe, limits gaming’s artistic growth.

In order for games to expand in different ways, we need far easier tools: tools which someone with limited technological experience can use.

Of course, some tasks require an incredible amount of depth and complexity and I’m not arguing that AAA tools be converted overnight to something far more simplistic, however I do believe there is a big section of the market which could benefit from something easier to use.

I’m a solo game developer; my game engine of choice is Construct 2. Why? Because unfortunately my programming skills are lacking (as are my artistic skills), so the time it would take me to learn an engine is time I can’t spare, especially as I also work on the game’s art, sound, design and writing. And even with Construct 2, I still struggled during development for my recently released game, The Empty Inn.

But without Construct 2, and the other easy-to-use tools that I used during my development, The Empty Inn wouldn’t even exist.

The game industry is in dire need of game engines, 3D modelling software and level design tools, which are easy to learn and quick to use for new comers. These tools don’t have to be state of the art. Indie’s don’t need fantastically wondrous lighting engines, but they do need to be usable and have understandable interfaces and programming languages.

Construct 2, is in my eyes, one such game engine. It’s easy to learn, and creating basic games with it such as shoot-em-ups and platformers, can be done in mere minutes. But even underneath its simplicity, the game engine has a lot of depth, enabling developers who dig deeper to create something original, unique and entertaining.

Unfortunately this comes at a cost. In some areas Construct 2 struggles, especially for PC development. But having short-comings and existing is better than not having short-comings and not existing, and I’m very thankful that Construct 2 exists.

There are a few other engines in the same vein as Construct 2, and I believe the audience for these engines will continue to expand as more game developers with less formal education and experience get into the industry.

Not everyone grew up with computers in their house, painting palettes or musical instruments upon which to practice. Some may have only discovered video games recently, unable to get up to speed with the latest tools, yet still wanting to contribute something to the world of gaming. We need to ensure that these people can be catered for, because they might well open different artistic doors through their varied background and understanding of other things unrelated to games.

But how are they supposed to do that when game development requires extensive knowledge of C#, C++ or any other manor of foreign programming language? How are they supposed to bring their ideas to life when opening up Blender or 3DS Max feels like staring into world full of sci-fi technology?

As game developers we take the complexity for granted. We forget what it’s like for a newcomer, approaching our tools for the first time.

Instead of giving painters a brush, why can’t we give them a 3D modelling tool? Instead of a poet using pencil and paper, why don’t we give them a game engine? With game development becoming more approachable we can not only get people from other medias trying new things, but also give those who have always dreamed of creating games a chance to go ahead and do so.

Of course, this could lead to an oversaturation of low quality games. However, if we can get more people into games development and make it more accessible then we could experience huge shifts in the gaming medium and change the face of games as we know it. Cultures which we previously had no connection to can be shown to us, and lifestyles which we may not have realised existed presented to us in a new way, through new genres.

People complain about how hard it is come up with an original game, when really what they mean is that it’s hard to come with an original game within our current confines. For example: we still haven’t got the gaming equivalent of a rom-com or romance novel. Slice-of-life dramas and historic documentaries still continue to elude our industry. And that’s just looking at a few of the genres currently available through film and books.

When we speak of making video games more diverse, we need to focus not just on the people. They are only one aspect. We need to focus on the tools on we give them, and ensure that what we give them can unlock all of their capabilities.

By Joshua Temblett

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The Empty Inn is now on Steam Greenlight!

The Empty Inn is now on Steam Greenlight! Want to help us get onto Steam? Then do one of the following:

1) Click here and you’ll get taken to the Steam Greenlight page WITHIN your Steam client! Please note, that this will only work if your Steam client is located in your C drive.

2) Visit http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=434828596 (or just click on the link!), which will open up the Steam Greenlight page in your web browser. You’ll need to login to Steam and then you can vote.

3) Go to Steam Greenlight in your Steam Client (click on Community on your Steam toolbar, it’s next to Library, and then Steam Greenlight on the drop-down menu), and then search for The Empty Inn.

Thank you so much for taking the time to vote for us out! With your help, The Empty Inn should be on Steam in no time!

Josh

 

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The Empty Inn – Game Updated (HARD and EXTREME MODE ADDED!) and more!

Hey everyone!

So if you didn’t see my tweet last week then you’re in for a surprise!

Last week I updated the itch.io build of The Empty Inn and added two new difficulty modes: Hard mode and EXTREME Mode.

Hard mode is just like the normal mode, but your light dims significantly quicker. EXTREME Mode on the other-hand only gives the player one health, as well as randomises match placement and increases how quickly your light dims. It’s pretty safe to say that EXTREME mode is only for the hardest of hardcore gamers.

Having said that, I feel like the EXTREME mode could be a bit harder… but I’ll let you guys determine that ;)!

I’m hoping to do another update to The Empty Inn within the next couple of days, this will just be a small bug-fix patch, after which I’ll upload The Empty Inn to Steam Greenlight and send the game off to a few more Youtubers/press outlets.

That’s pretty much what I’m up to at the moment! Aside from sorting out press/PR for The Empty Inn, I’m working on a few other projects right now, but nothing to report just yet… but maybe I’ll have something to show off soon!

Until then – Happy gaming!

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The Empty Inn – Out now… and it’s free!

Hello everyone!

I’m proud to finally announce that The Empty Inn has been released… for free! That’s right; you can now download and play The Empty Inn without paying a dime! Having said that, there is the option to pay-what-you-want and give us some cash if you wish to support us.

What are you waiting for? Click here, download The Empty Inn, and start playing!

Don’t know what The Empty Inn is? Then watch the trailer below:

I’d also like to take this opportunity to apologise to everyone who was waiting for The Empty Inn to launch!

I know that I announced that the game would be release on Thursday 7th May… and then it didn’t and for that, I’m sorry. I’m hoping to write up a lengthy post-mortem about The Empty Inn’s development, explaining what happened and why the game’s release was pushed back so far. So stay tuned!

For now, go play, and enjoy, The Empty Inn!

Joshua

PS: For those of you who have been asking, The Empty Inn’s Humble Widget will be coming back within the next 2-3 days, we’re just waiting for them to upload the build! Thanks!

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The Empty Inn Release Date Revealed (Plus New Trailer)!

Hey everyone!

Today I’m proud to announce that The Empty Inn’s release date will be 7th May 2015, and that the game will retail for $2.99.

The Empty Inn is a 2D, experimental-horror game with 8-bit, NES-style, pixel art and puzzle-exploration gameplay. With only a small lamp in hand, the player is required to solve puzzles and explore the vacant inn, ensuring they keep their lamp lit along the way. If your light goes out then the monster will show its face…

The Empty Inn is a short, polished experience that is close to my heart. I thoroughly enjoyed making the game, and I hope the excitement I had for the game during it’s creation comes accross as you play through it on the 7th May!

Of course, it wouldn’t be a release date announcement without a trailer, so without further adeu, here is the release trailer for The Empty Inn:



You can purchase The Empty Inn at the game’s mini-site, as well as view screenshots and find out more information about the game. To go to the mini-site, click here!

I hope you guys enjoy The Empty Inn when it finally launches, I can’t wait to see what you think!

Joshua

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The Empty Inn – Price Reduction

Hey guys,

Today we changed the permanent price of The Empty Inn from $4.99, to $2.99. This change was made to ensure that we provide a fantastic gaming experience to customers for an amazing low price.

But what if I brought the game for $4.99?!

Then you’ll be refunded the full amount, and you get to keep a copy of the game! This is our way of saying thank you to our fans for supporting us early on, and to give something back for changing the game’s price. We can garuntee you that mistakes like this won’t happen again.

If you have any problems/questions then just email me at joshua.temblett[at]candlelight-studios.com!

Thanks for the support guys, The Empty Inn will be launching very soon!

Josh

 

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The Empty Inn and Untold Story – Similarities

Hello everyone!

As I’m sure you’ve seen by now, we’ve announced a new game, The Empty Inn!

The Empty Inn is a 2D, horror-adventure game with 8-bit, NES-style, pixel art. If you haven’t already, you can check out the trailer below:

You can also pre-order The Empty Inn below:

This means that when the game releases (within the next two weeks), you’ll get access to it straight away!

Anyway, pre-orders aside, I mainly wanted to talk about the similarities between The Empty Inn and Untold Story and how they share more than just an art-style. But before I go any further, I just want to highlight that Untold Story is still in development. The Empty Inn is a side story, something for players to get excited for Untold Story.

Let’s start with how The Empty Inn came about:

Whilst developing interior art assets for Untold Story, I had an idea based on the interior pixel art I was creating. The idea was to create a game set inside an empty inn with the player exploring it and discovering its treasures. The game would also have horror elements to it (what’s more spooky than an empty inn?), and would require the player to manage their light resource whilst solving puzzles and exploring the inn.

After producing a quick prototype, I came to the conclusion that the game would be fun and that if I used some art assets from Untold Story I could create it fairly quickly and release it. I thought it’d be am interesting game to release before Untold Story and would get players hyped for the game.

The development of The Empty Inn wasn’t just driven by creative curiosities though.

I wanted to release something small and polished before Untold Story so that I could generate a bit more revenue (using the money I made from The Empty Inn to support Untold Story and any other games I create), as well as help get the Candlelight Studios brand out and into the open. Any money generated from The Empty Inn will be a huge help and will contribute to increasing the quality of my future games (for example I could use the money to get a dedicated sound track for Untold Story!)

The Empty Inn doesn’t just share art assets with Untold Story, the game uses a lot of Untold Story’s code, as well as sharing a lot of the game’s design and story philosophies. In fact, developing The Empty Inn has taught me a lot of lessons which will be applied to Untold Story’s development. This will make Untold Story even more awesome!

I hope this clarifies some things. Sorry this is a bit short! I’ll be making more blog posts about The Empty Inn over the next couple of days, going more in-depth about the game, so stay tuned!

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The Empty Inn – New Game Announcement

Today we are proud to announce… The Empty Inn (the game which we teased last week)!

You can watch a trailer below:

The Empty Inn is a 2D, horror game with 8-bit, NES-style, pixel art and puzzle-exploration gameplay, similar to many of the adventure games of the era. Utilising an interesting light mechanic, the player is required to solve puzzles and explore the area, ensuring that they can keep their light on whilst doing so.

The Empty Inn is very similar in style to another one of Candlelight Studio’s games: Untold Story. This is because the game was made using the same engine and shares a lot of the code. You can read more about the similarities here!

The Empty Inn will be launching very soon (within the next two weeks!) for Windows! You can pre-order the game below:

I can’t wait for everyone to play it!

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