It’s exciting to be productive enough to write another “etc” post here. Although to be honest, it’s just a lazy way of coming up with a title to say “here’s our latest news”.
Caveman Craig 2 for Steam is coming along very well. I’ve spent many evenings and weekends improving the game – a balance of fixing old bugs/glitches, new features and improvements, and most importantly, porting the game to GameMaker Studio. This process has already proven very promising (though time consuming) – the game is much more stable, powerful, functional.. and moving to GMS has paved way for some fun new features which we hope to announce soon. It also means that Caveman Craig 2 runs great on Mac OS X, integrates easily with Steam’s API (achievements, statistics, leaderboards…), and soon we will test the game in Ubuntu as well (but no promises here).
At this point, it’s making more sense for us to ditch the idea of making an interim update/patch to the GM8 version. It would have been a rushed job, and not a reasonable or adequate way to launch the Dudu Forest DLC, nor appropriate use of our time.
What this means for current CC2 owners is that you will need to suffer with any bugs or crashes you are encountering for a little while longer – but the reward for your patience will be greater! I can’t wait to show off some of the stuff we’ve been working on.
That’s all for now. By the way, whenever I’m on a roll I like to tweet my updates. So (and say hi! It’s nice to know I have company) – who knows, I might leak some of the new features on there first..
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 , a group of secondary school kids get to learn some really cool stuff – programming, game design, robotics, augmented reality, you name it – and we also share the Gospel with them. It’s a real pleasure being able to use my experience in game development to educate, while also being able to share my faith.
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.
Over the past few days I’ve been working my way through the new “Tomb Raider”, developed by Crystal Dynamics. I have generally very high standards on games that try to revive a beloved video game character.
I’m a big Lara fan, having played the original Tomb Raider to death as a child (as well as the “Unfinished Business” expansion pack, and the Tomb Raider 2 demo which was included on the CD). I never did play through the sequels up until Angel of Darkness, instead just drooling at the new outfits and abilities that Lara showed off in the previews that played at local video game stores.
Angel of Darkness was the second Tomb Raider game we bought, and while it was essentially a terrible game, full of glitches and silly attempts at reviving the gameplay with stat building mechanics, there were some elements I *really* liked. The detailed cityscapes and apartments were so fun to explore, and they really nailed the melancholy, parisian, early morning atmospheres. It was a great mix between new and fresh environments, classic tomb raiding, and realism and fantasy.
Until now, the only other Tomb Raider game I had played was “Tomb Raider Anniversary”, which I thoroughly enjoyed. It was truly as nostalgic yet fresh a remake as I could have asked for.
Now, to the “Tomb Raider” reboot released some weeks ago.
There is so much to like about the game. In fact, if this was a brand new series with no expectations to meet, I would call it ‘flawless’. The visuals are highly detailed and varied, immersive, and beautiful. The story is interesting and mostly believable. Dialog, interactive cutscenes, etc.. all fantastic.
But I have some serious issues with it as a TOMB RAIDER game.
Firstly, Tomb Raider has always been a puzzle adventure game. Combat was pretty minimal; other than taking down wild animals and crazy fictional or extinct creatures (Dinosaurs, Mummies, Skeletons..), Lara’s bodycount was a believably small and innocent number. In the original Tomb Raider, coming across another person was the scariest, most confronting part of the game. They had guns, and you could die very easily. Often they got away, and you only end up killing a handful of people that got in your way. Overall, a pretty civil game focussing on the jump puzzles and exploration elements.
In 2013’s Tomb Raider, the exploration is optional. Puzzles are minimal and generally very easy – rewarding but leaving you wanting more. Instead, your focus is on taking down hundreds and hundreds of deranged & stranded men who really probably don’t deserve death if you could just sneak past them (which you can’t – I tried). If this is Lara’s first big adventure, why is she so sweet, innocent, and hesitant in her “future” adventures that we’ve already played? Or are we re-establishing Lara as a soldier with archaeology and acrobatics as a side dish? This reminds me of Max Payne 3, which too focussed on an unrealistically gigantic number of soldiers trying to take you down, with the depth of each confrontation lost.
I was really fearful that the reboot would see all fantasy get thrown out too. Thankfully, there was one weird beast thing that appears early on (at which Lara gasps “What the hell is that thing?”), and the story is based on a supernatural, ancient power that uses storms to prevent anybody leaving the island on which Lara is stranded. But having not once been placed face-to-face with a huge, mythological beast to fight, I’m still left wanting.
Other minor yet dear elements missing – the memorable Tomb Raider theme tune, dual pistols (at one point she is given a 2nd pistol and I was like “HELL YEAH!” only to find she gives it to another survivor within that same cutscene), and the Croft manor.
All hope is not lost, though.
I really liked Lara as a character. They got her accent right, her face, her clothing. There were references to her father and the Croft legacy, and she had a child-like love for artifacts and discovery even in the heat of battle. She didn’t *want* to kill anybody, at least not at first. The writers were intentional in turning her into a bad ass warrior by the end of the game, and you notice it through her gradually brewing anger towards the people she’s killing. And minor as it might seem, the way she ran, jumped, shimmied, etc felt very similar to previous Tomb Raider games. I also liked the way she related to other characters in the game – courteous and well-spoken, but generally distant, as if she has a hard time relating to people on a personal level. Not socially inept, just very introverted and happy to study and explore.
Essentially, Lara still seemed like Lara, just thrown into a very different and extreme situation to what I’m used to – maybe that would be OK if it were chronologically placed AFTER all her previous adventures, but if this is to define her character, it just doesn’t match up.
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!
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.
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.