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Polyslash

Slashing through boredom

Day 1: The New Beginning

It happened!

Polyslash is officially starting in the new office in “Małopolski Park Technologii Informacyjnej”, or shortly: MPTI. Although we moved in a few days ago, the whole crew met for the first time just today. Anyway, this is the end of teleworking and working after hours. Everything is in one place. Now we are on our own and we are making our own project full time. Polyslash is growing stronger so we consider this day as Day 1: the beginning of big changes and better standards.

The office is a bit small (23^m) and has 5-6 workplaces: big, comfortable desks connected to each other and awesome, very comfy chairs. And the view? The view is amazing – large meadows and forests with hills in the distance. Admiring the nature is easier thanks to large windows. It’s really inspiring and relaxing when, after work, you can turn your head and watch the horizon through the wall of glass. Here are some photos so you don’t have to read to long descriptions (who would ever want to read it?)

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As you can see, the office is modern and pretty cosy. What’s more, we are slowly giving it a gamedev look with posters, figurines and some random gadgets. After all, we are going to sit there for some time. How much time? I can’t say yet, because I might say too much (and you would have to die) but, I promise, I will on some day in the future.

It’s the time to speak about what we are doing here. Basically, we are making a survival horror game: ‘Phantaruk’ which was being created before as a small, indie project after hours by a few people. The situation now is different: the concept of the game won’t change but we want to upgrade ‘Phantaruk’ to create a horrifying experience for everyone.

There are going to be about 9 persons working on the project but it will be covered in the next entry. For now I’ll write that we gathered a really positive crew with great skills. We are motivated, ready for hard work and we will do everything to make ‘Phantaruk’ a great, scary game.

Cheers,
Patrick Polewiak.

Digital Dragons 2015

A small summary of first day ‪#‎DD2015‬ from the indie game developer’s point of view. Generally speaking, it was awesome! We received a lot of great feedback what gave us some interesting ideas.

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Phantaruk is Greenlit!

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We are happy to announce that ‘Phantaruk’ made it to Steam via Greenlight. In other words – we got Valve’s attention and Gabe’s employees opened the door to release our horror game in their store.

I’ll admit – it wasn’t easy. First days gave us a kick which had to be (and was, in the end) enough to the end of the campaign. However, it turned out that after a momentary boost, which had resulted in 40% of required votes without any advertising, there was a stagnation. In the next 30 days we had to fight for each, single vote. The problem was not that the game wasn’t appreciated enough – almost 60% of people upvoted our project on Greenlight. The truth was simple – people didn’t know about us. ‘Phantaruk’ doesn’t have any catch-phrases or catch-images, the mechanics, which is not very original, won’t appeal to the masses. The basic issue was then the game design which from the beginning hadn’t been set up to sell the product. Luckily, there were (many!) people who liked the atmosphere and the way of building tension in the game (that was its main element).

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What’s more, game media wrote about ‘Phantaruk’, what brought us ca. 10 percentage points more on Greenlight. Each appearance on couple of game websites gave a good result (we recieved great feedback and positive reviews, one below) but also a small disappointment – only 200 votes?

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I don’t want it to look like a “post mortem” text so I’ll just summarize it with some final statistics: we had over 1000 votes, what was 57% needed to get to Top 100. It seems Valve doesn’t always pick games from Top 100 but also doesn’t forget about the rest.

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We hope we’ll deliver you a nice game which will scare you more than once. That’s why I’d like to thank all of you who believed in us and upvoted and therefore helped ‘Phantaruk’ get on Steam.

Thanks from Polyslash team! 🙂

HUD-making autopsy and tips

Today I’d like to tell you something about designing HUD for ‘Phantaruk’. Creating a working, immersive system is not an easy task, that’s why I hope our experience will help others to avoid unnecessary problems. “To learn from the mistakes of others”, as it is said.

Our first approach to HUD mechanics was very simple – it had to be as much useful system as it can be, showing all available information so the player wouldn’t forget what is what. It soon turned out it didn’t worked exactly as we planned. On one hand, there was too much on the screen – icons covered much space and sometimes hid elements of levels. On the other, player’s couldn’t remember what the icons mean – even bringing an introduction screen with instruction didn’t work out because players just didn’t read it.

This whole situation made us realize how important element GUD is. Up to that point we had treated it negligibly, almost ignoring it and player’s feedback changed our view of good game interface and its significance. In the end, it is something the player has contact with through the entire game.

Second approach wasn’t fruitful, either. To be honest, we just focused on the look, not usability, and changed the layout. Of course, it improved readability (“Rem” was changed by an infection bar and “Heartbeat” – by an animated image) but still it covered too much screen and still didn’t show all necessary information. What’s more, there was much more focus on the HUD due to the animated elements.

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Therefore, we decided to change the approach and try making something more compact, somehow similar to what can be seen in ‘Dead Space’ and ‘Amnesia’ series. Having these ideas in mind, we implemented a medpad – a small computer on main character’s hand. It works in two modes: quick-view and inventory. The first one allows to check the heartbeat and intoxication; when right mouse button is pressed, main character raises his hand to show the display with the pulse and the infection level. Second mode is switched by using Tab/I key and turns a hologram on. There, the player has access to items, logs and list of objectives.

At the moment, the medpad works great. Not only it merges brilliantly with the game but is also functional and useful. Although its screen is mocked up, it is not hard to understand how it works.

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Is there something left on the screen? Yes, there are two elements that can be seen in the game. The first one is stamina bar which appears when the player sprints (it disappears shortly after). The second is a crosshair – it changes if there is a possibility of interaction with an object (like pickupable object or usable mechanism).

So this is an evolution of our HUD. I hope this post helped some of you look on this subject from the other point of view. Have you ever had similar problems? What’s your opinion on GUI, especially in horror games?

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Sneak peek gameplay + Changelog

Hey guys!
We are excited to show you gameplay video of the Phantaruk for the first time! In the video you can see the first moments of the game (without cutscenes). We made it look like a speed-run but it will take you longer to finish the first objective. There are many things that we have to improve but we are slowly getting to the end of the development process.

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Unique Health System

Today I want to talk about health mechanics in “Phantaruk”. We wanted to add something special to our game, besides the story and graphics. A system that gives the player an immersive feeling.

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Level design in Phantaruk

Level design is a great thing. Today I want to share some information about locations in Phantaruk and what obstacles you will find while exploring Colonial-02 spaceship.

But, before I get to the heart of the matter, I want to describe current status of the project – I haven’t posted anything for a long time.

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Changes.

In general we decided what Phantaruk really is. Design is already closed and we just make what we want. Phantaruk is going to be a small survival horror game in which player has to run from abandoned spaceship, Colonial-02. An ancient, great evil, Phantaruk, will stand on their way; a monster with one purpose: kill everything.

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