Last week, we ran a ‘re-launch’ BETA testing party. This was very similar to our ‘pre-launch’ party back in 2012, but of course stress-testing the new features in Caveman Craig and evaluating its potential on the Steam platform.
Caveman Craig is now in the hands of a number of private testers, and we are on the final stretch to release!
The day was a massive success, at least in our eyes – the testers diligently entered issues into a bug tracker *cough* google spreadsheet over 8 hours of playtime. There were some pretty major bugs and errors to fix up, but that’s what a BETA test is for!
The buggiest part of the game was saving & loading – which presented a catch 22 to players. Do we save our game and risk losing our progress if it crashes during the save? Or do we take another risk in playing through the whole level without saving? This caused a fair bit of frustration amongst the testers.. which was unfortunate but showed how invested they were in the game.
We setup split-screen co-op on the big screen, for people to take turns playing together. Working together to take down the enemy proved to be lots of fun!
Some other key areas to test included..
- Mac OS X – Ran almost flawlessly!
- Steam leaderboards and achievements – It was heaps of fun comparing our scores with other players in the room.
- New dudu forest level – presented a unique challenge, that many spent lots of time on. The level is beautiful and serene, with a fantastic celtic soundtrack by Ricky Garcia.
We had a couple of game developers and professional testers with us, and there was no shortage of merciless, brute force testing of the game. One managed to get a ridiculous tribe size before crashing the game..
And now, it’s time for me to shift gears entirely and complete some contractual app development work. After pouring every spare hour into Caveman Craig for the past month, a well deserved break is going to do me and the game some good. We can’t wait to release the game, and after some meetings and plans, we will be excited to announce something more official very soon.
This past week or two have been big ones for me – working every weeknight and all through the weekends to keep on schedule. I’ve been playing with the new lighting engine of choice – a modified version of prettylight by Nik Sudan. It looks even better than in Caveman Craig 2, and has the added benefit of a gaussian blur shader which we’ll use sparingly for a layer of polish. It looks especially pretty in the main menu, as we blur the background scene when the menu elements appear.
Each level has added unique charm. The new level, originally to be part of DLC, set at Dudu Forest, works a little more like Survival mode as far as dinosaurs go. Rather than having a director ‘unleash’ groups of dinosaurs at chosen intervals to provide a crafted pace like most levels, dinosaurs are spawned at random, at any given time. I call it “frenzy” mode, and it will be an option when playing custom games, another feature we’re adding.
We had a lot of feedback about the ending of Caveman Craig 2. The final challenge, in which you lead the other tribe leaders into battle with a family of T-rexes, was an unexpected change of pace from the rest of the game. It was fun, though perhaps implemented poorly. In the new update, the T-rex challenge will become part of the final conquest level against our furry friend, Steve. It’s heaps more fun because you can enlist your entire tribe to take down the nest together, and strategise accordingly.
There’s still a lot to do, and my next big job is to implement Steam leaderboards. The current plan is to include leaderboards for each Conquest level, plus the mini-games. I’m not a big fan of global leaderboards, where seeing the number 1 player in the world only discourages you from bothering to even try. So we’ll be focusing on comparing scores with Steam friends only.
How do you measure how well you played a Conquest level? How quickly you finish it? How much damage you inflict? There are many different ways to play each level , and we want to encourage you to play the game in different ways and be rewarded for it. Each level will have a few standard high score measurements, but there’ll be some unique challenges as well in each level.
Our Steam update is nearing a private BETA release, the commencement of which will be flagged by a Caveman Craig re-launch Party, scheduled in a couple of weeks time. Before we initially released Caveman Craig 2 in 2012, we ran a testing party for a private group of friends. It proved very helpful in ironing out bugs, getting feedback, and generally prepping the game for final release.
With the amount of changes Tim and I have made over the past couple of months, we decided that another testing event was in order. With the use of Steam’s API, testing with a larger group of people is especially necessary to see how well everything works with regards to leaderboards, achievements, cloud sync, and so on.
Soon after the re-launch party, we hope to announce a release date and some more official details about what you can expect in Caveman Craig for Steam.
A development update for Caveman Craig for Steam for you all.
Progress is coming along quite well, and I’ve set myself a deadline for the end of the month to have all the core work done. We’ll then need to spend a few weeks testing, preparing launch material, and configuring the various aspects of the Steam page.
There’s a lot more to Caveman Craig for Steam than a layer of polish and a bunch of bug fixes and tweaks. We’ve added new features – stemming from the Dudu Forest DLC, or features we’ve wanted to implement since the original release in 2012, or new ideas we’ve had while porting the game to Steam.
Each Conquest level will feature a unique challenge to either aid or hinder you in your attempts to conquer the enemy tribe, or provide a secondary goal.
We’ve added some more achievements, and with them come new unlocks. In particular, there’s now a cheats menu where you can activate a number of fun modifiers, ala TimeSplitters, providing you have unlocked them. There are currently 7 cheats, including the “Barno” cheat that you can already unlock in the current version of Caveman Craig 2.
I’ve been going to town with Steam API integration. All the achievements are tied in with Steam’s system. We use Steam cloud to synchronise your game profiles, saved games, and stats between computers. And I soon plan to integrate Steam leaderboards. You’ll be able to compare various statistics and scores from Conquest, Survival, and all the mini-games with your friends (providing they also own the game).
A feature I’m really happy about is the ability to play 2-player co-op on a shared / split screen, old school style! You can play through the Conquest campaign with a sibling or a pal using a game controller (PlayStation, Xbox, etc). This was an experiment, and it proved to be a whole lot of fun. Players can now make cavemen follow them specifically by pressing “F” on the keyboard (or triangle / Y on the game controller) while they are standing over one. I’ve been playing with Tim and other friends – one might be in charge of training gatherers + preparers, the other in charge of training hunters… have one defend the tribe while the other attacks.. or both go all in.
We’re really taking advantage of the sandbox nature of Caveman Craig’s engine with this Steam port, too. Players will be able to start a custom Conquest or Survival game – customising the difficulty, scene, and characters. Personally, I like a game that gives players the freedom to customise it to the point of absurdity or malfunction. I’ll be trying to bring out this nature in Caveman Craig more. For example, last night I accidentally created a zombie apocalypse in one of my play-tests.
Ricky will be expanding the soundtrack to accommodate the new forest level (originally for the Dudu Forest DLC), and to include battle music! Tim will begin significantly redesigning the main menu to support the new levels and features, improving old animations, designing the new characters + dinosaurs, and so on.
It’s only taken 2 and a half years, but Caveman Craig 2 has been green-lit for distribution on Steam!
It came as a big surprise to us on the morning of Feb 14ths. Yes, Valve, we will be your valentine. Thank you to all our fans for their ongoing support for the game.
We have been wanting to bring to light a few things recently, and the news of CC2 being green-lit has prompted us to do so much sooner.
Firstly, we are well aware of a number of crashes and bugs in the current version of CC2. CC2 was built in the Game Maker 8 engine – some aspects of that engine, in particular the sound functionality, has not aged well with newer machines and hardware, and this has caused more and more frequent crashes.
We are not comfortable re-releasing a buggy game on Steam, so our first chore is to port the entire game over to the newer GameMaker Studio engine. This comes with quite a few other benefits, including:
- Vastly improved audio engine. True positional sound, dynamic effects, etc.
- Native support for Mac, and possibly other platforms such as Ubuntu.
- Built-in Steam API functions will allow us to easily implement achievements, in-game overlay, etc.
- Better texture handling, native compiler, etc = faster performance overall and possibly lower minimum hardware requirements.
We had been working on this over the past months, and as it stands it’s running pretty well on both Windows and Mac. But we still have to rewrite the lighting engine, sound engine, and save/loading scripts.
Second on our list of chores is the Dudu Forest DLC.
It’s actually almost finished, but we’re in this awkward spot now where releasing it on the GM8 engine is not far away but it’s also sort of a waste of time if we’re planning on porting to GMS. We now also have the opportunity to integrate the DLC as part of the core game for Steam. Dudu Forest will be free to everyone with a copy of CC2 as promised. Whether it is on the GM8 engine or GMS engine will be confirmed soon.
Finally, we are looking at rebranding Caveman Craig 2 as simply “Caveman Craig: The Tribes of Boggdrop” and modifying the game accordingly. It’s still a sequel in our hearts, but this will make more sense to the mass Steam audience, who mostly won’t have heard of the first anyway.
We have a few other secrets up our sleeve that we will announce in due time!
Thank you all once again,
Rhys here. As you might expect, there’s not a whole lot happening in the Parabox camp. We’re busy bods in areas outside of game design, but we have so many ideas we can’t wait to put together and show you.. if only we had more time!
As far as programming and game design does go, however, the past few months has been a fun learning experience for me. Firstly, I was contracted to develop an ‘in-house’ educational game app, and have been spending most of my free time acquainting myself with GameMaker Studio to accomplish the task. This is the first time I’ve used GMS to build an iOS and Android app from the ground up (some of you may know that our game, Teka Teki, was released for iPhone many years ago – but this was recompiled and distributed by YoYo Games for the short window of time that they were offering such a service). Now in its final stages, I’m heaps more confident in building for these platforms, and this opens so many doors for Parabox Games when considering our future projects. I can’t show you the app I put together for copyright reasons. But trust me, it’s pretty cool!
reboot computing camp
A few weeks ago, I lead at ‘reboot’ computing and technology camp, running a workshop in Advanced Game Design. At
In preparation for my workshop, I challenged myself to build an Asteroids game in one day, and have it functioning on desktop and mobile. It’s a simple Asteroids game with a shop where you can upgrade your weapon, armour, etc. The campers at my workshop were able to build a similar Asteroids game, as well as their own designed game. I’m thinking of finishing it off and releasing it as a free download here. It’s just a classic, retro Asteroids game, but it’s pretty addictive!
Caveman Craig 2 News
It doesn’t take a genius to work out that we’re a few years past our deadline for the Caveman Craig 2 DLC, Dudu Forest. Whilst there has been no development in recent months on the DLC, we are looking at incorporating more ideas into the DLC and making it even more worthwhile when it does come out.
For starters, I’ve been porting the source code into GameMaker Studio. We had originally wanted to do this when GameMaker Studio first came out, to release on Mac and perhaps mobile platforms alongside the Windows release. This never happened, for a pretty simple reason – when GMS came out, it just wasn’t powerful enough to handle some of the trickery I had to pull off to complete Caveman Craig 2. GMS has come a long way in the past 2 years, though, and I managed to get the game functioning 90% in GameMaker Studio – yep, that includes Windows AND Mac.
So will we see Caveman Craig 2 available for Mac anytime soon? I certainly hope so. But there’s still a lot of code that doesn’t work with GMS that needs to be completely rewritten. For starters, you can’t save or load, and the lighting engine is kaput. The sound engine I wrote for Caveman Craig 2 had to dance around the serious limitations that GM8 had in its built in sound functionality. Thankfully, GMS’ sound engine is brilliant, and most of this code is no longer necessary… but it still needs to be rewritten! So no sound yet, either.
Happy belated new year!
I want to apologise for the lack of communication over the past year. This post is largely to say – we are not dead! And nor is Parabox Games. But we are a small team who do this in our spare time – the chaos of life naturally sways our productivity.
Needless to say I feel pretty guilty that we have not posted much in just under a year.
While we keep the facebook + twitter feeds relatively active, the truth is not much is happening in the world of Parabox.
We’ve no excuse for the extreme delay in releasing our free DLC, “Battle at DuDu Forest”. Finding time amidst our already busy lives is extremely difficult. Sure we get an hour here and there, but when it comes to game development you really need to be in a creative ‘zone’ that requires mental space. Most of CC2’s development was smashed out in 3-5 hour marathons of programming, and finding that time nowadays is virtually impossible for both Tim and I.
The standalone version of the DLC is complete in the backend, but needs some art and sound assets. Once that’s done, we still need to put together a patch file.
And what of other projects?
Stadium Builder is still a project we are committed to, but progress as you might expect is also minimal. In fact, last year we had a mixup moving data to a new system and the project files were lost. There has been some progress in putting it all together again.
Additionally, Tim and I talk regularly about other project ideas. We still love video game development and yearn for more hours in the day to spend doing it. I am dabbling in a number of ideas to see which one is likely to really take off. Some are solo concepts, others collaborated with Tim. We of course will let you know here of progress in all our projects.
First & foremost, my apologies for not meeting our deadline to release the Dudu Forest DLC. We’re rushing around finishing off all the details on the stand-alone version of the DLC, and then I have to rewrite every change in a PATCH file so that existing owners don’t have to redownload the entire game.
But while you wait, I thought I’d go through some deets.
The Battle at Dudu Forest is a whole new level with a twist. There are four colours of ‘orbs’ that you can collect to unlock cheats. You may need to play through the level a few times to collect all of a particular colour.
These orbs are dropped by the new, bird-like dinosaur that crawls out of the forest trees for a snack every now and again. They can be hard to spot, and even harder to take down before they flee back to their tree. But it’s worth noting that the birds don’t like fire…
Another new feature, exclusive to the DLC level, is the ability for Craig to eat mushrooms. Millions of fans around the world BEGGED for Craig to be able to eat mushrooms. It seemed only logical. There are a variety of mushrooms scattered around the forest, each type with its own effect. Take note! The effect of these mushrooms change with each game, so Craig has to take a risk and remember which colour/pattern does what.
There’s a new enemy for Craig to defeat too, but we’ll keep that secret for now.
Finally, we decided to add new functions, tweaks, and achievements to the game.. here are just some:
- The player can now sort the list of cavemen in the caveman overview window by type, health, energy, etc. This makes it much much easier to manage your army.
- You now can use A and D (left/right) to shake off dinosaurs instead of space bar
- You can now throw rocks with W as well as pick them up, to make throwing rocks much easier
- There’ll be a special achievement… and possibly a special prize for the first fan who manages to ‘film’ the phenomenon and upload to youtube..
On 20th April, 2008, we released Caveman Craig to YoYo Games as an entry into their “ancient civilisations” game design competition. Today marks the 5th anniversary, and Tim and I wanted to celebrate with a few exciting announcements!
Caveman Craig Special Edition is now FREE!
The special edition of Caveman Craig 1 is now FREE to download from this website.
Caveman Craig 2 is now just $6.99!
We are reducing the prize of Caveman Craig 2 to $6.99, if you buy from Desura or CavemanCraig.com. That’s 30% off!
Release Date & feature list for Caveman Craig 2: The Battle at Dudu Forest, announced!
We will be releasing the FREE “Battle at DuDu Forest” DLC for Caveman Craig 2 on the 12th of May, 2013. The DLC is a brand new conquest level set in a dense and lively forest, featuring..
– Beautiful new animated scene
– A new dinosaur with a unique challenge to unlock secrets!
– A new enemy caveman that you can defeat and unlock for play in classic mode
– And more! But we don’t want to spoil it for you..
The DLC will also provide some tweaks and updates to the main game, including..
– Shake off dinosaurs by pressing A and D in rhythm instead of mashing spacebar
– Throw rocks/spears using the W key for easier throwing
– Sort the caveman overview list by birth date, caveman type, following status, skill level, health, or energy, for easier caveman management.
– And more!
And finally.. a ‘behind the scenes’ pack for the die hard fans!
Looking back on the past 5 years, it’s been interesting to see how our ideas developed. So I put together a bunch of old concept art, sketches, and even documents with notes on the development of Caveman Craig 2 (and some for Caveman Craig 1!), free for you to explore.
Today we celebrated the first anniversary since Caveman Craig 2 was released to the world. For those who follow us on facebook and twitter, 3 lucky fans got free copies of Caveman Craig 2 on Desura.
We just want to give you a BIG thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your support and kind words. I couldn’t be happier with the positive response we’ve had both from critics and fans on the quality of the game. I am personally really humbled to hear the praise on how Caveman Craig 2’s engine + programming has pushed Game Maker beyond its limits (however ironic it is that I am boasting about it!).
Caveman Craig 2 has been played by over 4,800 people on Desura, Oberon, and YoYo Games alone. On Desura, we’ve had a 34% conversion rate which is basically 33 times higher than the standard 1% conversion rate goal. We’ve got let’s plays all over youtube, indie game of the week mention on Curse Weekly , and reviews from a range of the top indie game sites on the web. On youtube alone we’ve probably reached well over 100,000 people. I know this is pretty small compared to many indie games out there but we are really proud that our hard work and creative ideas are being shown to the world.
Coming up in late April is the 5th Anniversary of the Caveman Craig franchise. We really hope to do something special for that!
2012 has been a really big one for Parabox Games.
I have always had ambitious ideas, and it’s been very difficult to stay motivated, to have the resources, or skills, to accomplish them. With thanks to Tim’s design vision and artistic skills, encouraging friends & fans, and the blessing of Ricky Garcia and Greg Vanderbeek’s contributions, Caveman Craig 2, our magnum opus, got completed with very little compromise on features and quality. Seeing your positive feedback, particularly those from fans who have been with us since the original Caveman Craig (and even earlier, with Conflict: Arcade and the GameCave era), has really paid off all the years of work.
It’s both a blessing and a curse that CC2 has only given way for bigger and more ambitious ideas. We’ve already announced NIGHTBEAR and STADIUM BUILDER, and have plenty more ideas up our sleeves. With Game Maker Studio, we are now able to branch off into all sorts of platforms and other markets – mobile, web, and other desktop platforms. We are still busy people outside of Parabox, and can’t churn out games as quickly as most indie game companies, but trust us.. we’re always thinking, always talking, and always passionate about creating games.
But the Caveman Craig franchise certainly doesn’t finish here. We’re working on the “Battle at Dudu Forest” DLC for Caveman Craig 2 right now. The DLC doesn’t just add a new level with new dinosaurs and unlocks, but we’re also going through ALL the feedback you have posted on various websites, to find new features to add to the game.
Some of you may be wondering about the release of Caveman Craig 2 for Mac, iOS, and Android – as mentioned in previous blog entries. It’s a real shame we were unable to release CC2 for mobile devices and Mac users this year, but there are a number of significant technical restraints on GameMaker Studio that we did not anticipate. Particularly for Mac, we expected a direct port to require minimal work, but alas GM Studio crippled the ability to save/load games, external resources, settings, and so on. Caveman Craig 2 pushed Game Maker to its limits, and a very elaborate loading/unloading system was put in place to minimize memory usage and lag. Rewriting this will be very difficult for Mac, and near impossible for mobile devices, unless we re-imagine the entire game for mobile. BUT, never say never!
And what of a multiplayer version of Caveman Craig 2? We hope to make an announcement on this in 2013. We’ll see!
Our best wishes to you all for 2013.