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Claustrophobia: The Downward Struggle
Claustrophobia: The Long Awaited News
2013. december 17. - The Indie Forge

Hello there everyone! I hope you’re all well. Before I begin, I must apologise properly for my disappearance and the general lack of development of my project over the last two months. Being a one man development team is difficult enough, but when you also happen to be at university and work starts to pile up, it becomes even more difficult. Therefore Claustrophobia has recently had to take a bit of a back seat while I sorted everything out, but it was never abandoned. Of course, this doesn’t excuse me from not explaining this until now, so I am sorry for that. With that out of the way, I’d like to talk Claustrophobia! That’s what we’re here for after all. To warn you in advance, this is going to be quite a long post of everything I have been thinking about, so I will provide a tl;dr summary at the bottom for those who don’t wish to read all of my thoughts.

I have recently been reviewing the progress of the game, as well as re-reading the source code and original design documents from the beginning of the project, and while I’m happy with majority of the gameplay decisions that I - and you, the players - have made, I am unhappy with the overall execution. As you may have noticed over the past few patches, many of the updates have been to improve coding style or efficiency, rather than to add new mechanics or features. This mainly stems from the fact that Claustrophobia’s base systems were written a little over 2 years ago now, when I had very little programming experience. This has made almost every addition or change unnecessarily hard, and has recently caused development to grind to a halt.

So, what can be done about that? Originally, the plan was to work through the major components, rewriting and restructuring everything, which I have been doing in the last few patches. However, doing so has proven to be way too time consuming, as much of the logic of the low level systems is badly flawed, and getting new content out to the players should be the main priority over battling my own code. This, as far as I can see it, leaves me with only one option, and I’ve been told by friends that I’m a little mad for even considering it. You can be the judge of that. Starting soon, I will be rebuilding Claustrophobia from scratch.

Let me explain a little more about why this is a good idea. Claustrophobia originally started out as a small project that I would put together in my own time in order to practice programming and game design. Of course, after it was met by good feedback from everyone who tried it, I turned to a small funding campaign to raise a bit of money to further development. Of course, the project was received very well by the communities of Desura, Steam Greenlight, and GamersGate, which far exceeded my expectations. I now feel like the product that you have all been playing is just not up to the quality that it could be, and I know that I could improve on every aspect of the game now. And that’s exactly what I plan on doing. So, here’s a little bit of a breakdown on exactly what to expect from Claustrophobia (Alpha 2?):

  • Completely redesigned graphics, upped from 16 x 16px tiles to 32 x 32px tiles
  • Development switched from XNA to Monogame, for multi-platform support
  • Redesigned combat/stat system, with enemy skills, improved AI, and animations
  • Much deeper gear customization, encouraging actual gameplay changing choices
  • A much more comprehensive class/skill system
  • The same explore/fight/loot repeat gameplay you’ve come to expect, but greatly polished

Once I reach a point where I feel the first new build of Claustrophobia is ready for testing, it will become available to previous purchasers alongside the current build of the game, which will no longer be updated from this point. I realise that this will probably become a little confusing with version numbers and everything, but I will do my best to sort everything out. Treat the current build of Claustrophobia as a taster of what’s to come.

Of course, it will take some time to work on all of this, especially with university work. I cannot set any dates for anything to be ready any time soon. I hope you can all understand why I feel like this needs to be done, and can support the fact that the final product will be something that will be worth waiting for. As someone said to me the other day, you can either eat eggs, sugar, and flour now, or wait a bit and have glorious gooey cookies. I talk to some strange people.

tl;dr: I am unhappy with the current state of Claustrophobia, and will be rebuilding it from the ground up to create a much better game.

I hope you can all support me in this decision, and I will be updating you all as frequently as possible on progress. If you have any questions, just let me know, either here, on Twitter, or at my email address. Cheers!

Happy Holidays Everybody!

Dan Millward