Monday, 26 June 2017

Release Date

Following some good rounds of beta testing, the date of the live release is being brought FORWARD - in what can only be described as an exciting and unprecedented move*.

The game will now be released on July the 3rd 2017

*Unless someone has done it before... I'll not check, and assume they haven't

Friday, 9 June 2017

Release Date

Exciting news: Release date is confirmed for the 25th of July!

I think that in pretty much every announcement I've made I've said a later and later date... but this time I MEAN it!

It has continued to be a busy few months since the last update. Mostly just getting bugs fixed, but also all of the assets together for release on steam. It turns out you need a load of them - images for trading cards, backgrounds, achievements, badges and so on. Well that's all done now. Here's a bit of "cover" art I think looks neat:

Kickstarter rewards will be going out on the 18th of July.

Closed beta is going to start in the next few days. If you are interested in participating then please get in touch!

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Alpha Release! Escape From BioStation v0.1

I'm delighted to announce that Escape from BioStation is now in the alpha testing phase!

You can check out the full article for the awesome kickstarter folks here:

Friday, 4 November 2016

Is this the penultimate update?

Time appropriate greeting, earthlet!

So I'm starting to get excited, there might only be one more kickstarter update before this thing is actually finished! If you want more regular info on what is going on you can follow on twitter @tuskygames or faceblab 

 So it’s time to let you know what’s been completed since the last update - In pictures

So in the last post, there was a picture of the "verybigship" - the baddies cruiser, but I wasn't happy with it so got a new one.

 The level 12 boss is done. Here's a bit of a gloomy shot of it:

There is now little ship for the heroes.

 Couple of new baddies; a floaty bot

 And one with a working name of "Merv":

 Redid boss 1 so now it uses little robots to power a shield. Also his hammer is on fire and sets everything on fire.

 So other than that all of the levels are pretty much done bar 1: the final boss. That should be wrapped up in the next week or 2. We've been doing lots of re-recording as well. We have Bonetopick (the main villan) and his underlings down, as well as a few other parts like the lift, scientist and computer. Lots of thanks to everyone who has given their time for that - It's going to be great to hear it "in situ".
So what I'll be working on next is the final Boss fight. Then I'll start on the 4 cut scenes. There are also a lot of other things like finishing off the options menu, save & load etc. We've also made a start on some media for the store page and getting a proper trailer together which should be fun. The current trailer is over a year old now and no longer a fair representation of the game, so I'm very keen to get that updated.

 In terms of go live date: I am confident that by December there will be a full, cohesive & playable “thing” ready for alpha testing. However are 2 main items that might cause a delay to actually going live. The key one is animating the cutscenes, which at the moment is a little bit of an unknown in terms of how long the might take. So once I have got through one I will have a better idea about if the timeline is still realistic. The other potential cause for delay is any issues and feedback raised from testing. I suspect that there might be quite a few suggestions to implement once there are fresh eyes on it - so again that presents another bit of an unknown.

 Testing is going to start from early December whilst the cutscenes are finished off, so at that time it will become more clear what is left to do. As such I have decided to move the original launch date from December to February.

 Sorry :(

 But that will ensure that there is plenty of time to test, refine, get a steam store page up and that kind of thing. It’ll make sure the game has at least some polish and isn’t launched without being refined. I especially don’t want to go down the route of launching something that is not finished and call it an alpha release.

 That’s all for now.

 The BioStation Drone

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Dev Blog Update!

Howdy there space station fans.

What's new? Here's what's new:


I'm targetting completion of the game in December - Q4 2017 is the date listed in various places like steam and indieDB so I do want to try and hit that. There isn't much in the way of "contingency" time left in the timeline, though, but I think it is achievable.

Voice recording  

After months of attempting to find suitable times and means of getting the script down we finally got it done. There are still a few parts to fill in but at least at this point there is full voicing for the script. Once the talented sound engineer has had his way with the files then I can drop them into place within the levels and start on the cutscenes!


The main cutscene models are getting there. Here's the dastardly "Admiral Bonetopick" in front of his vessel the "SS Verybigship"

Upgrades system  

You now earn biobucks from your space station related antics. You spend them on various upgrades including, but not limited to, increased max health; a machine gun; a rocket launcher; and a spell that makes the enemies fight each other.

Battle music  

At the moment most of the background music is quite serene and suits general exploring or puzzle solving. However the game has frequent combat bits. It was clear that it wasn't suitable to have some relaxing dreamy music playing when you were frantically trying to blow things up. So what will happen now is that when combat starts the music will shift up a gear and suit what is happening a bit more. Alexei has got started on that and should have them completed in the next couple of weeks.

Sound effects  

Playtesting the game up till now has been an eerie and silent experience, but no longer! It is full of explosions, footsteps and pew pew noises.

So that's in in terms of progress. It's actually a little bit more than I had planned to do which is encouraging for meeting the completion date. In September the key goal is to have the last full level completed. Also there are a lot of details that need to be filled in on some of the levels, since the initial set up was done in somewhat of a "broad strokes" way in order to have the structure in place.

 That's all for now!

 The BioStation Drone   

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Building the beam bunny

Today I thought I'd share an image diary that goes over the process I took in building the "beam bunny".

Following initial front and side view sketches I started on the head, adding vertices to follow the contours from each angle:

After completing the head I followed the same approach on the legs and body.

Finally added the arms to complete the model.

Following that came the process of adding some animations, texturing and importing into the engine, and here is the completed beam bunny:

Monday, 6 June 2016

The challenge and reward of third person shooting

So a decision I made early on was to allow that the player play in First person or third person perspective, with a free moving camera to look. It's basically lead to having to develop 2 different experiences. However I have now decided to remove the first person aspect entirely. So I'd like to share some of the many issues I encountered with third person, (in case it helps or is of interest to anyone) and how I came to prefer it over first person.

The initial reason behind the idea was that first person is easier for shooting, and third person easy for looking around the environment for clues, navigating platforms and other general puzzle solving activities. Well initially the shooting mechanic was entirely physics based so it made sense. In other words if you pressed fire then a bullet object would be generated that went in the direction the player is looking. It's clear with this method what the bullets are doing. The only problem with that was: It was absolutely terrible and aiming that way was a tedious chore.

As such this was revamped to have a more traditional shooter feel, which I talked about previously. Basically whatever the reticle was pointing at would become shot. Simple. This was a big improvement. It worked perfectly in first person but in third person it became a colossal pain.

So what were the issues?

1. Obstructions: In first person if you are behind a wall then it is clear that you cant see a target behind the wall, so if you press fire looking at a wall, the bullet will hit the wall. But as a player in third person, When you are looking at your reticle which is pointed an enemy, You press fire expecting the enemy to be peppered with bullets and die - but you might not have noticed that you are behind a wall.

At first I didn't worry about this, and just made it so that your shot would hit whatever was under the reticle regardless of if the player could see or not. It became clear however that this would make the game ridiculously easy, because you could just sit in some cover, impervious to enemy fire and gun them all down without taking a shot. The solution was to draw 2 lines, the first one from where the camera is looking to what is under the reticle (i.e. what the player wants to shoot), then drawing a line from that point to where the player object is in the scene to see if they can see it. If they cant then show the "disabled" red reticle. The player can still shoot but the bullets bounce off whatever is blocking the players view.

2. Visual feedback: Since the "gun" can be behind the player as they move around, and pretty small compared to the first person version, so you cant immediately tell what gun you have selected.

In Escape from BioStation you only get one gun with different abilities you can buy so it make life more simple, and was a case of adding clear Icons to the UI which inform the player what ability they have selected

3. More Obstructions The player being in the way of the gun and what you are looking at and want to shoot proved to be a giant pain for a few reasons: Detecting whether a shot actually hit anything required that you trace from the gun to the target, except if the player is facing the camera then the first thing in the way is the player... also you need to make sure that the shooting effect is set behind the gun and player.

I haven't applied the real solution here, which would be to have the player pointing their weapon over their shoulder. In Escape from BioStation I am going with the excuse of "It's a magic squirrel, of course it can shoot backwards" which is a bit of a cop out to be honest. Maybe if I ever do a sequel I'll sort that out. An interim solution I tried was to have the squirrel rotate in the players hand to look the right way but looked terrible in practice.

The shooting effect was fixed by having another point that adjusts itself in the scene relative to where the reticle appears to be for the player on the camera, and having the bullet effect go to that point.

Once the issues I list here were resolved I found that the combat situations had become lots of fun. Some of the benefits of third person over first person are that you have clear feedback on what is happening to the character in the scene. For example if you are being hit in melee from behind, you can see straight away without needing to turn around. Or if you get knocked down this is obvious because you see it happen, but that doesn't really work in first person, unless you add in some limbs that the player can see the character getting back up which I don't really fancy doing. The other, and greater advantage in terms of game-play is that you can view a scene safely from cover without needing to expose yourself. This is good for planning a strategy ahead of combat, or taking cover from a hail of bullets and checking for when its safe to return fire, or if you want to fire off an ability you can duck into cover and watch the ensuing carnage!

There were a lot of challenges to overcome to allow the player to fight both in third person and first person, but I think that the third person shooting works really well, and I prefer it to first person, which has lead me to the decision to actually remove the first person element altogether. I found that it detracted from the way the combat had come to flow, probably largely due to the fact that I had kept playtesting in third person and reluctantly went into first person as an afterthought to fix any bugs that had appeared.