Creators of Caveman Craig, Teka Teki, and more.. 

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Recreating the classic gaming experience

Some of my fondest childhood gaming memories were on the Sega Mega Drive (or Sega Genesis for you Americans). I can’t recall ever being much more excited than the day our Dad gave in and drove us down to the nearest mall/shopping centre to pickup the Toy Story Bundle. We spent the whole afternoon trying to work out how to tune our TV to the console’s adapter which broadcast the games on Channel 36 (I even remember that).

Soon we were renting games from our local video store, squeezing every minute we could into trying to complete the game before it was time to return it. No game was too easy, but nor was any game worth giving up on. The Mega Drive had no storage, and so no saved games once the console was reset. Many games, like Sonic the Hedgehog or Spider-Man & Venom: Separation Anxiety, didn’t even have passwords to start again on a later level. Nope, this was hardcore gaming at its finest. If you don’t time that jump properly, you’re starting from the beginning, buddy.

A few months ago I discovered that one of my brothers still had our old mega drive, and some of the games we bought (although most of the greats we borrowed from friends or the video store). It was an intimate experience, unpacking the mega drive and all its cables and pieces and configuring my TV to see Channel 36 once again. Sadly the only original games left were NHL 95, Andretti Racing, and Brian Lara Cricket. Nothing shooty or jumpy. So I bought some classics from a garage sale: Sonic 2, Another World (WE PLAYED THIS BEFORE IT WAS COOL), Jurassic Park, and Mortal Kombat. Of course, I had played all these many times since the Mega Drive began gathering dust, via emulation on my PC. But the cover art, the manual, the controller, the flickery TV signal.. it was a whole different level of special!

And so I allowed myself to get hooked on Jurassic Park. Like old times. No saving, no graphic filters to pretty up the game, no minimising to check facebook. And just like old times, it took me over 2 hours over numerous sittings just to get through the early levels. And as each level passed, I scribbled down the password as quickly as I could (OK, I typed it on my iPhone..) before it would automatically progress to the next level.

Gaming just ISNT like this anymore. We expect progress with little effort. But could it be? That’s a large slice of the dream that many indie developers have: to tug our (and their) nostalgia-strings. But I don’t think it’s as simple as creating a game inspired by the classics. The world has changed and so has the way we use our time.

While playing Jurassic Park was great fun, I had to fight off this feeling that I could be doing something better, and more efficiently. I’m used to making progress quickly and feeling productive, even in my playing sessions. Minecraft is particularly good at making you feel like you’re getting work done, even though you really aren’t. Furthermore, we have access to 1000s of games, free and paid, at our fingertips at all times. Why spend 10 hours on one game when we could spend 10 hours on five games? I remember running around aimlessly on Brian Lara Cricket, letting my imagination run wild, because a. I didn’t know how to play cricket, and b. I had no other games to play.

Sonic 3 only has 6 ‘zones’ and if you cheat your way through using emulator save-states, you can probably finish the game in a little over an hour. So to many, playing the hardcore way and starting over and over again as you lose all your lives on the final boss is an exercise in futility. But in reality, the feeling you get when you finally destroy Dr Robotnik ‘once and for all’ (or at least until the next instalment) is far greater than cruising your way over the finish line of any modern commercial game. It’s just a case of committing yourself to the game and allowing yourself to get immersed.

And so I think the biggest challenge for an indie developer in recreating this classic experience in a new game, is to give the modern audience a reason to commit their time to finishing it. It’s not impossible but it is getting exponentially harder as the indie game industry grows.

New Year Message!

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.
-Parabox Games

Caveman Craig 2 END OF WORLD SALE


Today I have some helpful christmas advice!

If you’re struggling to find a meaningful gift for your friends or family before the destruction of the entire world, then our Caveman Craig 2 “End of World Sale” is for you! Caveman Craig 2 is 50% off from cavemancraig.com between now and 1/1/13, or when the meteors fall, whichever comes first.

Furthermore, we guarantee to give you a full refund if the world does end before you get to have a full playthrough.

And if THAT’S not enough, then you might be pleased to know that, mayan’s willing, we’ll be releasing our “Battle at Dudu Forest” DLC for Caveman Craig 2 in early 2013, free for all owners of Caveman Craig 2!

Just click the banner at the top of this post to claim your bargain!

October’s Etc

Hello all!
It has been a very very busy two months for me, having just moved into my first home and working my way through a number of big life changes. Tim has been busy kickstarting some of his various personal projects, including GLEN AT WORK (Video TV Show), and RORYS REVIEWS (Youtube + Radio Movie ‘Reviews’).

A lot of conversation is happening revolving our next 3 projects, NIGHTBEAR, STADIUM BUILDER, and a 3rd yet-to-be-announced game. And with CAVEMAN CRAIG 2 still gaining ground in the Steam Greenlight Scene (we’re now up to 26% towards being in the top 100… PLEASE support us!!), we are looking at future development of the CAVEMAN CRAIG franchise to support CC2 in Greenlight.

I hope to upload a new devlog video for Stadium Builder soon. Please stay tuned!

-Rhys

Let’s Push for Steam!


Hey guys! Caveman Craig 2 is about 25% towards making the top 100 list of Steam Greenlight.

We’ve had almost entirely positive comments from visitors to our steam greenlight page, and that means we know CC2 is a worthy candidate for Steam. However we’re lacking the exposure, and it takes a wave of supportive fans to get the exposure we need!

If Caveman Craig 2 is released on Steam, any existing owners of the game (purchased either through Desura or BMT Micro) will receive a Steam key for the game if it is technically possible for us to do so.

So what can you do??


If you haven’t yet, VISIT OUR GREENLIGHT PAGE and select “YES” under “would you buy this game if it were available on steam?”. Then use the share buttons for facebook, twitter, reddit, and digg (depending on what you use) to spread the word!

Rugby League Live 2 Review

Usually I use this blog to promote Caveman Craig 2 and our upcoming games, Nightbear and Stadium Builder, but tonight I was given an opportunity to be one of the first fans to play the new NRL game, Rugby League Live 2. So I believe an exclusive review is highly necessary!

For our regular Parabox Games followers who are not from Australia, let me give you a quick run-down of the sport and its history in video games. Rugby League is one of the most popular sports in Australia and New Zealand, but due to our relatively small populations (on a global scale) Rugby League video games have been largely neglected in the past, as there isn’t a huge market compared to sports that are popular worldwide. Understandable. A few RL games were released throughout the 80’s and 90’s, and then a series of 3 games by New Zealand developers Sidhe, Rugby League, Rugby League 2 & Rugby League 3 (exclusively a Wii game) hit the shelves throughout the 2000s. While they were good for a RL games, and I played them to death, I felt that they never quite hit the spot. They never measured up to the standard of other sports games available at the time. Then a different company, Big Ant, took on the next family of RL games when they released Rugby League Live in 2010. Sadly, this was one of the worst RL games of all time, and many fans hated it (including myself – sold it on eBay the day after I bought it).

However, Big Ant is out to right their wrongs by daring to make a sequel, the game I played tonight, Rugby League Live 2!

Let’s start with my first impressions…

Graphics and Visuals

The graphics in this game are simply excellent! The player likenesses are also very good. I played as my beloved Panthers and was impressed with a few cut scenes that showed Luke Lewis and Kevin Kingston… they were spot on. Unfortunately, people skipped through most of the cut scenes, but from what I could see, they were very good. Big Ant was generous in all the small details when it came to creating the visual atmosphere of a RL game. Cameramen, flags in the crowd, referees, refs throwing their flags in the air after a goal, and… cheerleaders! And I’m not talking about low-polygon objects in the background… these were fully-detailed dancing cheer girls. The detail they put into this was admirable.

Each team has a good selection of jerseys. For my Panthers, I could choose home, away, heritage and also a classic 1991 jersey… inviting players to consider making their favourite teams from history. They were very accurate, however, some teams are without sponsors (namely ones with alcohol and gambling advertising – I don’t have a problem with these being left out)

The menus in the game looked very impressive also… like something you might see on Fox Sports.

There’s a huge list of stadiums in this game, and from what I saw, they are more than sufficient and reasonably accurate.

I noticed in some of the screenshots released recently that all the players have the same bodies…. and yes, this is a fact, but you don’t notice once you’re playing the game. The ball is also too small, meaning that intercepts and offloads often go unnoticed as both opposing players suddenly lose track of where the ball is.

There’s a generous selection of different camera angles to play with (at least 4 or 5) with side angles, and views that sit higher in the sky, allowing you to see out to your wingers. This, however, makes it even more difficult to see the ball.

We only had the opportunity to play quick ten-minute games, but the Big Ant representative also boasted some extensive player creation/customisation, including over 70 different tattoos.

 

Gameplay

You don’t need to worry about frisbee-ing your game out the window because of frustrating gameplay. RLL2 is going to easily be the best RL game ever.

This game has very extensive controls, which has potential to be its strongest or weakest point. There are 4 different types of tackles, which sounds great!.. but nobody really mastered the controls on the night. Are 4 tackles necessary? It looks like this is the type of game you’ll have to sit down and play solid for hours and hours – rather than casually pick up a controller and play. It’s difficult. I like getting a few mates over to play sports games, but I can imagine most of my friends would get frustrated trying to learn the game, rather than just having fun.

To change players, you had to use the pass buttons, or press two of the triggers to change to the closest player. This was very disappointing for me. I would rather they had one less tackle button.

60% of the time somebody made it over the tryline, they did an embarassing grubber kick, rather than ground the ball. I would’ve hoped that once you’re over the line, any button you press grounds the ball. Mastering the kicks took a while for most people too, but they weren’t bad.

Passing was ok. You can double-press the pass button to do a quick pass to the player on your immediate right or left as they run onto the ball. I tried this a lot, but got nowhere. You can also hold the pass button and do cut-outs, but many balls go to ground, or float forwards. You have to pass straight away, or all your players will be in front of you, and you’ll throw a forward… don’t bother running from dummy half.

They play the ball very slowly, but the tackle animations are VERY good… and you can hold players down in the tackles to make it even slower.

The sad thing about passing was that occasionally the players would do a massive impossible pass halfway across the field. At one stage there was a glitch where a guy tried to pass the ball right, and instead, it flew up in the air and floated 60 metres LEFT over the sideline (it was the only glitch I saw on the night, so it can be excused). Still, the passing was an improvement on previous titles.

If you get tackled when you dive over the line, most times it will go to the video ref… but it’s ok, because the cut scene is pretty cool. The ref makes the TV screen signal, and we see the TRY/NO TRY screen come up – accurate to real life.

Most people struggled with goal-kicking, and kicking off. It wasn’t hard, just very different to previous RL games. You simple rotated your player (taking the wind into consideration) and held down the button and released at maximum power (without going too far). The ball even curls around depending on which foot they kick from.

Big players and forwards are capable of making good busts, and bouncing off tackles from smaller players. I saw someone playing as Manly and sent Brent Kite through for a try, after fending off two smaller players. It was awesome. Fends and sidesteps need to be properly timed. You won’t win a game by simply ‘skating’ up the field with sidesteps, like in previous titles.

There were a few ugly skeletons from previous games, with players often completely out of position. I was hoping to send the ball out to my speedy Penrith centres and wingers, only to find big Cameron Ciraldo positioned on the wing… no wonder I was beaten 22-0.

Commentary & Sound

Andrew Voss returns for the commentary in this game (they’ve recycled old commentary, but they’ve recorded new stuff too), but they’ve now introduced Phil ‘Gus’ Gould. Gus is a great addition to the game – I’m happy they added it – but you will hear the same lines over and over, even within the one game. He also says “no no no NO NO!” a lot, making you murmur “shut up Gus” all too often. The comments are appropriate though. If you score as a result of a mistake from the opposition, he’ll express his disgust at them giving the points away. If it’s a low-scoring game, he’ll comment on the solid defense in the match, and make comments about how good the game is, big hits etc.

I have a strong bias for Vossy’s work in this game (and previous titles) because I’ve worked with him in the past on a few projects and he’s a good guy. When I was a skinny teenager, we did a piece for Boots N’ All together – it’s lurking somewhere on YouTube. I also illustrated his book, and he made some glorious cameos in my Aussie-bogan-flavoured animated web series, Glen At Work – well worth checking out!

The commentary and crowd amps up as you get close to the tryline. The sounds are as you expect from the game. The menu music, from memory, was pretty decent.

 

The bad news from the night, was that the game won’t be out in time for the finals.

The good news is that the friendly Tru Blu Entertainment folks are sending me a free copy of the game when it comes out on the 11th October!

Truth is, I would have bought it anyway, because I feel that after a few solid hours in front of this game, it may very well satisfy that thirst for a decent RL game.

Help us release Caveman Craig 2 on Steam!!


Hi all!
As outlined in our previous blog post, we need YOUR help to get Caveman Craig 2 released on Steam, the mother of all distribution platforms.

CLICK HERE TO VISIT OUR GREENLIGHT PAGE AND RATE US UP!

We need a BIG response in order to have the game considered for release. Even if you already own the game, this milestone will help Parabox with further development on both Caveman Craig and our other games. Our very small revenue is what enables us to keep going and Steam will open us up to many more opportunities.

So RATE & SHARE! Thank you!

-Rhys

Caveman Craig 2 + Steam Greenlight


Late this month, Steam will be launching a new service called ‘Greenlight’. The service will allow game developers such as ourselves to submit games for the Steam community to decide whether they want to be able to buy it off Steam.

Steam currently has a game submission process, however the fate of every submission is in the hands of staff. I dare say, catch them on a bad day or fail to grab their interest immediately, and a game with oodles of distribution potential misses out on the best opportunity an indie developer could ask for – to sell their game on the biggest game distribution service on the internet.

Needless to say, we’re excited about this and will be submitting Caveman Craig 2 to the service as soon as we are able.

Many of you have been urging us to try and get Caveman Craig 2 released on Steam. We have decided to wait for Greenlight to leave the decision in the hands of our fans.

So in order for the game to be released on steam, we NEED your help! Once Greenlight is released and CC2 is submitted, we will be urging you all to support it in any way possible. Caveman Craig 2 fits into an awkward category of indie games. It needs the support of its fans to draw the attention it deserves.

– Rhys

Development Video for Stadium Builder

Check out our first development log video for “Stadium Builder” on youtube! It’s short & sweet, but I’m sure we’ll have a lot more to show you soon! :)

Announcing ‘Stadium Builder’!

We’re really excited to be announcing the 2nd of our games in development – “Stadium Builder”! Check out our latest Vlog entry below for full details!

With Tim being quite the sports fan (I also enjoy the occasional yelling at the TV screen), we wanted to try something new and come up with a game that is appealing to fans of a number of international sports without forsaking our existing indie game fans. As such, Stadium Builder will be a true ode to simulation classics like Sim City, Sim Tower, and Theme Hospital – introduced into the smartphone/casual age!

I’ve been spending some time on the basic engine for Stadium Builder using GameMaker Studio, to become acquainted with its new functionality and changes in the programming language & interface. I’ll be uploading development videos for Stadium Builder throughout its development to keep you updated on its progress.

The Vlog above also reminds you of our “Battle at Dudu Forest” DLC which will be released once we get enough facebook likes, twitter followers, and youtube subscribers. We’re edging closer and closer! The DLC will include a new dinosaur or two, a new enemy to verse, new and special scenery, and some other challenges! So keep sharing Caveman Craig 2 with your friends and you’ll be rewarded!

Thank you all for your support!
-Rhys