Keep your documents up to scratch!

Hey Indies!  Remember I posted that info TIGA provided regarding Video Game Tax Relief?  When you take the cultural test on the British Film Institutes websites, make sure you have your designers documents to hand such as a game design document. concept document etc as they may ask you for it!  Luckily I’m hell bent on keeping my documents up to date and on track!

 

Chris Ledger
CEO and Lead Designer

Video Game Tax Relief – One for the Indies!

For all those indie developers out there, you’ve probably heard about Video Games Tax Relief and several funding methods but never known where to start I’m guessing?

Well today I (Chris Ledger – CEO and Lead Designer) happened to come across a piece of information from TIGA regarding Funding AND Video Games Tax Credits.  It’s a fairly recent couple of documents produced by TIGA.  I suggest having a read through them as they’re fairly handy.

In regards to Video Games Tax Relief, you need to head to the British Film Institute and pass a cultural test and then get in touch with HMRC’s Corporation Tax/Tax department.  I am currently looking into this and I will post up any successes or or hurdles.

I have bundled the information provided by TIGA in an easily accessable Zip file and even provided a link the direct page where you can take the cultural test mentioned within:  http://derpstudios.com/documents/videogamestaxreliefinfo.zip

Has anyone else applied for this?  It’d be great to hear from you if you have as this looks like it could really take some financial pressure off developers.

Courtyard is improving! Check this out!

Got the Monday blues? Maybe we can help you overcome that by showing you some progress with our Courtyard level in Dire Consequences.

Our modeller, Max, has been very busy creating some static meshes and a few other bits for the courtyard level. It’s starting to shape up really nicely.  He’s really putting a lot of love and attention in this, which we are confident that it will yield the best results!  You’ll also notice that the lighting has improved a fair bit as well. We just need to sort the lighting around the ramparts to get the atmosphere just right!

Take a look at a before and after picture of Courtyard (darker image=old, brighter image=new).  Remember it’s still a work in progress but you’ll be able to play this level (with all its fixes) at the start of next month!

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Before

 

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After

 

We’re about to test cloth physics!

We had one hell of a storm here at Derp HQ. Then again, I think a lot of people round the UK encountered it! Speaking of storms, we know this guy will definitely be hurling more than just lightning! We’ve been experimenting with a bit of physics and how to make cloth. So far so good for our first attempt.

I have a feeling that this will be highly amusing to balance these physics!  We will definitely post up some bloopers as they are always amusing!  In fact we might have a few from the original game to post at some point!

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Undead Mage is becoming….Undead?

We have some more progress in regards to the Undead Mage!  Our artist Michael has been hard at work making this thing look pretty creepy.  However this is still a WIP, BUT everyone at Derp Studios is excited about seeing this nasty pasty come to life and summon a spell storm players won’t forget!

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New enemy announced for Dire Consequences!

It’s Friday! Which also means that the weekend is close!  To celebrate we thought we would show off the next enemy to be brought into the world of Dire Consequences!

This is the Undead Mage, which will accompany the Undead Knight! (Click to enlarge!)
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This piece was drawn by our character modeller and animator, Michael!

 

Known bugs in Dire Consequences and Solutions

It’s only been a day and we’ve encountered issues already!  #gamedevproblems

Below is a list of known issues in Dire Consequences:

  • Ramparts have no collision
  • Level is too dark due to static lighting
  • Lighting switches off outside of peripheral view
  • Missing MSVCP120.dll upon running the game

In the next build, those issues will be rectified.  We appreciate your support and look forward to making this game the best it can be!

 

**MSVCP120.dll fix**

We do however have an external solution to the missing MSVCP120.dll file upon starting Dire Consequences.

If you are receiving the error message:  “The program can’t start because MSVCR100.dll is missing from your computer.  Try reinstalling the program to fix this problem.” then it is because of the Visual C++ re-distributable files.  You can download them here from the Microsoft website.

In the future we will be creating an installer which automatically installs these files.  We apologise for any inconvenience!

Dire Consequences Re-Launch!

Yes you read that correctly!  The first title our studio ever made:  Dire Consequences is being re-launched, re-branded and totally overhauled for the PC!!  Now you’ll be able to go toe to toe against bigger and badder foes.

We decided to go ahead and see what we could pull off in the Unreal Engine 4 in a month, at the same time we also enlisted for a game jam to really challenge ourselves.  The results were very impressive, seeing as we had the artists either moving house, at Download Festival for a week,  or working flat out on a 2 week stint and to top that all off the programmer trying to revise and finish his exams!

With that being said I think we managed to recreate 75% of the original title on PC.  Our first playable is actually a game jam candidate so it’s very raw.  There are many known issues with the first playable and to top it all off, it’s been set to low quality to improve framerate.

You can download and play the remastered Dire Consequences here.

However please bare in mind that this is only a first playable, rush built for a game jam.  At the moment we are at a Pre-Alpha stage so there are things that need and will be fixed.  The team will be performing weekly maintenance on the title and will be adding further content to the game.  This is a great opportunity for players because they will get to see the game evolve over time until it reaches Gold Master status!  Not only that but players are currently playing the game for the very low price of free!

To keep players up to date with Dire Consequences we are using the website and Tumblr accounts to blog about the development of the game.  We will also begin using our YouTube channel and of course Facebook and Twitter will be updated as usual, even more so than we have previously!

You can find our social networking and media links below:

Website
Facebook
Twitter
Tumblr
YouTube

**A Note from the Designer**

All team members who worked on Dire Consequences past and present will be credited….when we get around to implementing the credits that is!

Sneaky preview of our Undead Knight from the RPG Maker Game Jam!

Everyone at Derp Studios is loving Michaels model of the Undead Knight.  We love it so much that we’d thought we would share it with you all!

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Throwback Thursday: Dire Consequences

Now this is something that brings back memories!

In fact this game is the roots and foundation of Derp Studios!  I owe many thanks and respect to those who worked on the project and for their contribution in getting Derp Studios FIRST (and by all means not the last) title to the iOS App Store.

The story of Dire Consequences is a tragic tale, where a random team of 10 of the best game jam participants were to form the 4th team and take part in Make Something Unreal Live 2012.  Baring in mind that none of the 4 teams had ever made a game before in their lives, we all recieved the challenge of not only developing a title in 8 months, but to utilise the Fighting Fantasy franchise of Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone.  That we could handle, however what really through the curve ball was that we had to develop a game within the first person genre, for iOS devices.  That’s right, a first person title, based on Fighting Fantasy, for iOS.

Making something for PC would of been fine, in fact a lot easier due to less restrictions, however the real challenge was mobile.  As UDK users know, mobile and PC development within UDK was very different in the way you made your materials and you were also targetting your title at iPhone 3GS and iPad 2’s as a minimum hardware submission.

Our team wasn’t alone though.  The other 3 teams (also comprised of Train2Game students, all fresh out of the box in regards to developing professionally) were in the exact same boat, only their studio had been given different genre’s.

I’m assuming you’d like to know the teams right?  These teams gave ours a run for our money, I can tell you that now.

  1. Digital Mage
  2. Indigo Jam
  3. Commando Kiwi
  4. Derp Studios

So there you have it, 40 students, fresh out of the box were to take part in Make Something Unreal Live 2012, the first 3 teams were the winning teams of the Train2Game and Epic Games game jam of September 2011, which gave the other team the advantage of working in a team as they already knew and worked with each other for a couple of days.  Not that it made much difference, but in regards to their teams gelling, they had an advantage (because when you’re in a room for 48 hours flat with a team of 10 in a contest you kind of need to team up to make the magic happen).

Us “Derpsters” as we were called later on through the MSUL preparation events were comprised of random individuals who were essentially “the best of the rest”.

So what happened in these 8 months?  Well that’s a story and a half my friend.

First things first the teams needed a captain, in which I bravely stepped upto the plate.  I took that step into the unknown, fully aware that if my team screws up, or we miss a deadline then it’s all on my head.  I was responsible for myself and 9 others.

Dire Consequences

Soon after that we were given the game books from the Fighting Fantasy series which we would base our game off.  We were given “The Citadel of Chaos”, game book 2.  Soon after that we got onto brain storming game designs and ideas.  In fact originally we wanted to make Dire Consequences an RPG, however being the noobs we once were (and still are to be honest, only a little less nooby) our industry mentor Pete said that we were biting off more than we could chew.  We had already though of having a wave game mode.  Sort of like Gears of War 2’s Hoard mode and Pete strongly urged us into making our planned “Chaos Mode” which was effectively, “Hoard with Swords”.

The teams had to have 3 physical meet ups at the University of Bedfordshire in Luton, which was quite a journey for some of us.  We had to present our prototypes (ours was rough as hell, I actually don;t think we even had one at the first meeting).  Our nominated team speakers would go up and present the games and recieve feedback.  At the time we thought we had to scratch build everything, which was the reason our development was taking so long.  We soon noticed that all the other team had been using 80% UDK assets.  We really freaked at that moment and instead of using UDK assets, we continued to scratch build (not sure whether it was pride, stupidity, stubbornness….maybe a mixture).  By scratch building our own assets we could take ownership of the all the content being 100% Derp Studios.  We didn’t have to pay royalty for UDK assets, however Derp Studios really gave it there all in the assets.  There were many glitches on the way in regards to lighting, path-finding, materials and much more.  We even had team members drop out and be replaced for many numbers of reason.  It was a stressful time.  Trying to meet deadlines as a virtual team, who had never made a game before, only ever really studying the theory of it.

Originally our team thought kismet was amazing, don’t get me wrong, it was an awesome system and me and the level designer went to town on it.  However it had many limitations and was no where near as powerful as Blueprint is today in UE4 which is Kismet +9000 (class based AND level based).  We even had a designer learn code in a matter of weeks to pull this game off, we called him the “Devigner”, a mixture of developer and designer.

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Many things went right during the development of Dire Consequences, however just as many things, if not more went went wrong with it in many areas.  Not only were things stressful and going pear shaped a lot, the 5 days of developing 9 to 5 live in the Birmingham NEC with people walking around and observing us meant that people would be seeing our botched iterations.  However we took it on the chin and worked hard.  I think in that week at the Gadget Show Live, where MSUL 2012 was held, Derp Studios got more done in 5 days than they did in 3 months.  Which was awesome as the game was really looking good and actually functioning well.

The most stressful times of the MSUL days were having to build our game ready for the presentation.  To be honest we should of left our working copy on, because there was so many moments when we needed “5 more minutes” or we went on the show floor and there were cringe worthy bugs that game industry veteran such as Peter Molyneux, Jon Hare, and Cliff Bleszinski witnessed.  They did provide great feedback and it was nerve racking to watch the teams presenter and narrative designer Dimitri present the game, mostly with level designer Sam dressed in his Derp Frog onesie playing the live demo build.  They both pulled off their presentation, in fact Dimitri is one of the greatest presenter I’ve ever known.  That guy can sell ANYTHING!  He really sold it, maximum respect to the guy.

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I remember the time I literally broke down into tears beace it was 5 minutes before a presentation and the build showed one of our features completely broken on device in comparison with the unreal editor.

After 5 days worth of presentations and solid development, it was time for the judging panel to begin…well…errrr…judging I suppose.

Unfortunately our team didn’t win the competition, which was gutting, however truth be told, I believe we were the only team to get their title shipped onto the app store.  I think Dire Consequences only stayed on the store for a few weeks before we were asked to take it down due to licensing expiration or what not.

I thoroughly enjoyed MSUL, despite all the blood, sweat, tears, stress and everything else, the positives far outweighed the negative and would love to have another opportunity to take part in something like it.

Two years down the road, I remain as the only original Derp Studios team member.  Everyone else were either scouted, went solo or resumed their studies.  Since the departure of the original Derpsters, we’ve had many come and go, many happy times and a few low but we’ve stuck through it all and here the studio stands, loud and proud and earning not very much! haha!

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MyDerps
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A big thanks you to the following people in the cover photo of this album (left to right):

Back Row: Chris Ledger (Lead Designer), Stuart Moore (Lead Developer), Neil Gorman (Lead Technical Artist), Dimitri Michael (Narrative Designer), Connor Adams (Concept Artist), Matty Wyett-Simmonds (Concept and Modeller)
Middle Row:  Nigel Clark (Devigner), Sam Hawkins (Level Designer), Daniele Morisco (UI Developer)
Front Row:  Amanda Blatch (Modeller)

And for those not in the photo a big thank you to:

Jake Lock – Sound Engineer
Will Golledge – Sound Engineer
Levi Moscovici – Sound Engineer
Max Lacome-Shaw – Narrator
Pete ‘Leet’ Hickman – (Industry Mentor)