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November 19, 2018, 12:39:06 PM

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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsThe Red Market - A Narrative Monster Hunting Game
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Author Topic: The Red Market - A Narrative Monster Hunting Game  (Read 1156 times)
Keirley
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« on: July 05, 2018, 02:09:02 AM »

The Red Market is a narrative, text-based monster hunting, trading, breeding, and eating simulator:




  • Choose one of five characters with unique benefits (e.g. influence with high society as a result of your loveless cage of a marriage to a local captain of industry) and drawbacks (e.g. an empty, ravenous void where your humanity once was).
  • Send out expeditions to capture dangerous and disquieting monsters.
  • Cook them into disquieting dishes.
  • Cross-breed them into arguably yet more disquieting offspring.
  • Sell them for profit, or else be crushed, gored, dissolved, enveloped, consumed, or hollowed out and inhabited by them in turn; your limbs moving at their command; their eyes looking out through your own.

You can download the prototype from here (please extract the files and play the game in your browser): https://nkeirle.itch.io/the-red-market


Made in Inkle's amazing narrative scripting language 'Ink'. I've just finished the prototype of the game, which consists of an extended tutorial (with a fair deal of player freedom and hidden secrets) and one extra monster encounter. The next step is to get it running in an actual game engine (Unity, specifically), and then gradually add further monsters, locations, and secrets. In the longer term, I have plans for an end-game, a restart mechanic, and multiple character-specific hidden end goals.


Future builds will add dozens more varied monsters, such as:
  • The Tree of Hands
  • The Threadbare Visitor
  • Jenny Hundredweight
  • And, of course, the elusive Double Lion


It's always going to be a primarily text-based game, like its influences, but I am looking to make it a slightly more visual experience (think Cultist Simulator or King of Dragon Pass) in further updates. I'll also be looking into commissioning art for the game at a later date.

I'd really appreciate any feedback or criticism on the prototype! Feel free to post any below, or send me criticism/advice/death threats/doxx me on Twitter (https://twitter.com/nicholaskeirle?lang=en)


(Inspired by Fallen London, A House of Many Doors, Chandler Groover’s 'The Queen’s Menagerie' and Eat Me’, King of Dragon Pass, the Sorcery! series, as well as books like Hilary Mantel’s ‘Wolf Hall’, Amy Sackville’s ‘Painter to the King’.)

« Last Edit: September 29, 2018, 07:38:39 PM by Keirley » Logged

Play the prototype for The Red Market here: https://nkeirle.itch.io/the-red-market

If you like the game, or have suggestions feel free to comment on the DevLog thread: https://forums.tigsource.com/index.php?topic=65289.0

Or come say hello on Twitter: https://twitter.com/nicholaskeirle
Keirley
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« Reply #1 on: July 18, 2018, 08:37:36 PM »

(2018-07-19) Quick update. Minor bug fixes, and a general tidying up. Now available for download on its own itch.io page:

https://nkeirle.itch.io/the-red-market


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Play the prototype for The Red Market here: https://nkeirle.itch.io/the-red-market

If you like the game, or have suggestions feel free to comment on the DevLog thread: https://forums.tigsource.com/index.php?topic=65289.0

Or come say hello on Twitter: https://twitter.com/nicholaskeirle
Rarykos
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« Reply #2 on: July 19, 2018, 03:04:04 AM »

Ahh I'd love to see some pictures!
And a web export! I got so used to playing twines and inkles instantly, that it makes me very sad when I have to download anything. ( i know itchio supports that, I make these games  Who, Me? )

Maybe add Crypt Shyfter to the inspiration list? It's a cool series, lots to learn from it!
For example, it'd be great to see a crude picture sometimes, maybe just as a tone setter, but even choose-your-own-adventure books had fun art covers!

About the content, it's best to keep paragraphs bite-sized. If you'd like to reveal a big chunk of text it's best to move to a new page. The gameplay tempo in IF is an art of its own haha. When I click and I have to wait 2-3 seconds before I can start reading again, that's kinda off-putting, it's a cool trick to use in an usual situation, but for normal reading, we should try to create as little friction as possible. Like, turning pages is quick, every couple of pages you might have a popup illustration of a crazy castle, but you gotta space them out. 

Create more please! :D
« Last Edit: July 19, 2018, 03:10:05 AM by Rarykos » Logged

Keirley
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« Reply #3 on: July 22, 2018, 01:14:37 AM »

Thanks for your feedback!

I've never heard of Crypt Shifter before - I'll have to give it a look!

And yeah, part of the reason I'm working on bringing this to Unity rather than just the in-built Inky web-export is that it does that slow text scroll every time you make a choice, instead of instantly displaying the next piece of text. Still working out the length of text that feels good, but I've noticed that anything more than a sentence or two starts to feels really slow, which is less than ideal.

Next stage of development is going to involve balancing content updates to this version with developing a version in Unity (I'm still very new to Unity, so getting things up and running is a bit of a slog at the moment!). I think once I have it working in Unity I'll have a lot more options to make the text display/reading setup feel a lot better.

Also - pictures! I have mediocre art skills, so any proper art for the game would take the form of collaborations/commissions. Definitely planning on that for the future, but want to get the fundamentals down first!

Thanks again for playing, and for your helpful feedback!
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Play the prototype for The Red Market here: https://nkeirle.itch.io/the-red-market

If you like the game, or have suggestions feel free to comment on the DevLog thread: https://forums.tigsource.com/index.php?topic=65289.0

Or come say hello on Twitter: https://twitter.com/nicholaskeirle
Keirley
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« Reply #4 on: August 17, 2018, 06:01:34 AM »

Another relatively small update:

  • Introduced 'Challenges' into the game. The size and condition of your expedition party, as well as any relevant equipment or relics, will affect the likelihood of success or failure at difficult tasks.
  • Added a little public domain art from medieval bestiares for the Luminant Heron and the Harbinger Beast. I'd love to add more art, but turns out there aren't any medieval bestiary entries about walking rat golems or fungal monsters.
  • The game now runs in a browser, and should run on mobile.
  • Included debug mode in the general build, so anyone can play around and break the game (note: some ways of breaking the game are more literal than others). Debug mode can be switched on at the main hub, after the tutorial has been completed.
  • Various minor bug fixes, and some editing to improve the flow of text.

The new version can be found here: https://nkeirle.itch.io/the-red-market

I'm currently on holiday so any new updates are probably two or three weeks away.

Cheers!
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Play the prototype for The Red Market here: https://nkeirle.itch.io/the-red-market

If you like the game, or have suggestions feel free to comment on the DevLog thread: https://forums.tigsource.com/index.php?topic=65289.0

Or come say hello on Twitter: https://twitter.com/nicholaskeirle
Keirley
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« Reply #5 on: September 16, 2018, 12:46:19 AM »

No new content today, but wanted to post letting everyone know that a full version of The Red Market is currently mid-way through pre-production. Here are some details:

It'll be a 10-month production (including 1-month pre-production). I'm going to continue using Inkle's Ink narrative scripting language, and I'm continuing to teach myself Unity so I can eventually integrate the two. 10-months is not enough time for this to become a graphical game in the vein of Sorcery! or Cultist Simultaor, so it'll stay text-based for the foreseeable future.

Anyway, here's the list of planned features:
  • 15 new monsters, and their accompanying storylines. Including: The Tree of Hands, Jenny Hundredweight, The Bishop-fish, and, of course, the elusive Double Lion
  • ~10 breeding matches between these monsters, giving birth to such unwanted things as Shivers-in-Brine, The Rakehell, and The Glabrous Child.
  • ~7 new areas in which to hunt monsters/meet your demise.
  • ~ 5 new NPC monster-purchasers. Find your beasts comfortable new homes at, for example: The Cabinet of Curiosities, Bruisewater Offcuts & Rendering, or an entirely normal circus.
  • ~5 new powerful Relics, as well as extra treasures to find and sell
  • Visions of your own death, and 8 ways to die!
  • A handful of endings that don't end in your own death.
  • Scars and Boons - semi-permanent preternatural effects that might help or hinder your efforts.
  • New interactions, options, re-balancing and editing of current content. Lots of extra secret, large and small.
  • A radical new mechanic: turning back time. Upon death or game completion, reset back to the beginning with all your secrets, memories, relics, etc. Make different choices, fast-forward through parts of storylines you've already played, and devise time-looping strategies to achieve your goals.
  • (if possible) full integration into Unity: in a groundbreaking innovation still new to gaming, The Red Market will be a downloadable file with full save and load features.
  • A better UI, or at least my best attempts at a better UI.
  • Approximately 200% more having-your-cake-and-eating-it. Experience a barely-veiled critique of capitalism and environmental exploitation while having fun engaging in ruthless capitalist exploitation of nature.

I'm also going to be very strict with myself on deadlines here: this project is as much an attempt to improve skills like scheduling, time management, and other incredibly unsexy things as it is an attempt to improve my writing and designing skills.

Anyway, that's all for today. I'll be posting fortnightly throughout development.

---

Remember that you can play the prototype here: https://nkeirle.itch.io/the-red-market

If you like the game, or have suggestions feel free to comment here, or come say hello on Twitter: https://twitter.com/nicholaskeirle
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Play the prototype for The Red Market here: https://nkeirle.itch.io/the-red-market

If you like the game, or have suggestions feel free to comment on the DevLog thread: https://forums.tigsource.com/index.php?topic=65289.0

Or come say hello on Twitter: https://twitter.com/nicholaskeirle
Panurge
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« Reply #6 on: September 16, 2018, 06:17:00 AM »

Lovely concept and lots of scope for interesting gameplay. I just had a quick glance and it drew me in enough that I'll be returning for a longer play later.

Ink is nice flexible tool for this sort of thing. Did you do anything for their recent jam? I meant to but didn't quite find the time.
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Keirley
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« Reply #7 on: September 19, 2018, 07:39:10 PM »

Thanks very much, Panurge! I'm looking forward to expanding it, and (hopefully) making it much better over the next few months.

Wish I had been able to make something for the Ink jam! It happened right in the middle of a busy holiday seeing family, so just didn't manage to find the time, unfortunately.

Did you make anything for it? If so would love to check it out.
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Play the prototype for The Red Market here: https://nkeirle.itch.io/the-red-market

If you like the game, or have suggestions feel free to comment on the DevLog thread: https://forums.tigsource.com/index.php?topic=65289.0

Or come say hello on Twitter: https://twitter.com/nicholaskeirle
Panurge
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« Reply #8 on: September 20, 2018, 01:19:36 AM »

Looking forward to seeing how it develops! I did have another play later and I think you already have a good skeleton around which you can slap on as much flesh as you need - the basic gameplay mechanics seem really sound. I guess avoiding feature creep is going to be a key challenge!

I didn't submit anything to the ink jam. I placed in their Future Voices comp a few years back though - I think it's still available on the app but you can also play the story here: http://textadventures.co.uk/games/view/wzehrme36emdnlqzbrwq_g/your-first-giant
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Keirley
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« Reply #9 on: September 20, 2018, 01:44:37 AM »

Oh man, I remember playing Your First Giant years ago! Just replayed it now, actually. Really evocative text, fun little puzzle box of simple choices, and love how much it pressures you to accept the wine if you refuse it.

In terms of The Red Market: feature creep is definitely something I'm trying to be careful about. Currently still in pre-production and have had about fifty cool ideas I've had to immediately put in the 'it'd be nice, maybe someday' pile because I know if I don't limit scope it'll balloon completely out of my control.

Thanks again for your kind words. I'll be checking out some more of your stuff now!

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Play the prototype for The Red Market here: https://nkeirle.itch.io/the-red-market

If you like the game, or have suggestions feel free to comment on the DevLog thread: https://forums.tigsource.com/index.php?topic=65289.0

Or come say hello on Twitter: https://twitter.com/nicholaskeirle
Devilkay
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« Reply #10 on: September 20, 2018, 07:47:42 AM »

no screenshots?
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Keirley
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« Reply #11 on: September 20, 2018, 03:34:30 PM »

No screenshots yet - since it's 100% text based at the moment I wasn't really thinking about screenshots. Potentially going to be commissioning some static 2D art later on in the project, and figured I'd worry about screenshots if and when that happens.

But people can still get an idea of if the game's for them through screenshots of evocative text/interesting choices/funny lines, so I guess it makes a lot of sense to have a few screenshots, even if they're just screenshots of text for the moment.

Cheers! Will add a few into this thread in my next fortnightly update next week!
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Play the prototype for The Red Market here: https://nkeirle.itch.io/the-red-market

If you like the game, or have suggestions feel free to comment on the DevLog thread: https://forums.tigsource.com/index.php?topic=65289.0

Or come say hello on Twitter: https://twitter.com/nicholaskeirle
nathy after dark
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« Reply #12 on: September 21, 2018, 11:46:00 AM »

High-five for working with Ink!
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Keirley
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« Reply #13 on: September 29, 2018, 07:23:14 PM »

It's the end of The Red Market's month-long pre-production. Also, there's a super typhoon heading towards my home (Nagoya, Japan), so what better time to post an update?

I managed to finish everything on my list for this and the previous sprint of pre-production, so feeling pretty chuffed about that. Specifically, here's what I did:

​General:


  • A very nice player helpfully pointed out a few bugs, so I fixed them and uploaded a new version of the prototype. No content updates yet, unfortunately!
  • Incredibly basic screenshots of text!
  • I've added the ability for people to me thousands of pounds via itch.io if you really like The Red Market (smaller denominations will also be grudgingly accepted)
  • Extra time spent on various research for (a) (possibly) commissioning art and music later on in the project, (b) improving the game's social media presence to the point where it's not just me on Twitter occasionally posting about what food I happen to be eating that day, and (c) (possibly) looking looking into some form of crowdfunding towards the end of the project.​  If you'd chuck me a couple of dollars a month on Patreon let me know. If you wouldn't then, uh, maybe let me know but in a nice way please?

Planning:

  • Planning all content for 14.5 new monsters, as well as breedings, and super-secret Monster Variations.
  • Re-jigging Player Characters, their effects, and their special interactions
  • Planning all item and relic interactions with monsters (since each run of the game will be relatively short, with a huge emphasis on replaying to find new monsters, new secrets, and new paths, these hidden interactions are going to be a vital part of the game, rather than just fun easter eggs).
  • Planning the game's Boons and Scars system of semi-permanent but treatable/losable buffs and debuffs.
  • Planning in excruciating detail how all stats and story info will be tracked by the game, and how the game's central time-resetting mechanic will work.
  • Making a detailed schedule for full development, including several fortnight-long sprints sprinkled throughout development to cushion the blow of any setbacks.


Next sprint is the first of full production, and will take the form of rebuilding a lot of the current game. I learned a lot about Ink (and about game design in general) while developing the prototype, so before I focus on building new things I'm setting aside a fortnight (possibly two) to make sure the foundations are nice and strong and not sinking into a terrible haunted swamp.

I'll write a blog post at the end of the next fortnightly sprint. Cheers!

Nick



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Play the prototype for The Red Market here: https://nkeirle.itch.io/the-red-market

If you like the game, or have suggestions feel free to comment on the DevLog thread: https://forums.tigsource.com/index.php?topic=65289.0

Or come say hello on Twitter: https://twitter.com/nicholaskeirle
Keirley
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« Reply #14 on: October 12, 2018, 07:04:02 PM »

A very quick update today as this sprint has been 100% boring 'building the foundations good and strong so those nice decorative columns don't collapse the moment they're built'. 

During this sprint I've been essentially rebuilding the game from the ground up. As I've said before, I learnt a lot about using Ink, and general game design while making the The Red Market prototype. And after I finished I looked back and saw a bunch of little mistakes I'd made that, while not affecting the game in its current state, would most likely cause headaches further down the line.

So, for this and the next three sprints I'm going to be focusing on (a) rebuilding the game from the ground up with an eye to keeping everything nice and clean and future-proof, and (b) building and testing all the game's new mechanics and systems. These new mechanics and systems are:

  • a completely revamped party system, with NPCs in the player's party able to be injured or killed, or receive Scars and Boons that affect their abilities.
  • a completely revamped, and much more in-depth Challenge system that takes into account various Scars, Boons, Relics, and Treasures.
  • Scars and Boons - semi-permanent buffs and debuffs that the player character, or NPC party members can gain, and that affect their abilities. Expect to encounter and contract such ordinary illnesses as St. Ernestine's Tar, Butter Lung, and Profound Enervation.
  • an expanded set of Treasures and Relics, including the Chthonic Scrimshaw, and the Febrile Shirt.
  • the game's various endings, and the all-important game-reset time-travel mechanic, alongside the mechanics that let players skip quickly through already-seen content (more on this in a future post).

After that (which should take us through to the middle of December, at which point I'll take a holiday), I'll get to work on implementing the new monsters and storylines. These will take up the bulk of the rest of development, and we'll start with The Bishop-fish - a fabled fish-bodied, man-faced sea creature with the power (but not necessarily the inclination) to grant wishes.

Until next time - thanks for reading!

Nick
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Play the prototype for The Red Market here: https://nkeirle.itch.io/the-red-market

If you like the game, or have suggestions feel free to comment on the DevLog thread: https://forums.tigsource.com/index.php?topic=65289.0

Or come say hello on Twitter: https://twitter.com/nicholaskeirle
Keirley
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« Reply #15 on: October 27, 2018, 01:25:37 AM »

Another small update this week. A more detailed update is available on my blog: https://haruspexgames.com/2018/10/27/the-red-market-dev-log-5-october-2018-part-2-haunting-memories-and-very-spurious-rumours/, but I figured here's not really the place for pontificating, so:

Here's what I did this sprint:

  • Rebuilt the game’s Challenge system from the ground up. Instead of just percentage based rolls for success or failure the game will now take into consideration the expedition party’s condition, illnesses,
  • Reworked and rewrote a lot of the tutorial content so it’s not a flabby mess of poorly-written code.
  • Built and tested the majority of the game’s other gameplay mechanics (more on Secrets, Memories, and Rumours below), so that when it comes time to write fun new storylines (starting December) I’ll be able to focus on just writing fun new storylines without worrying about the foundations crumbling around me.
  • Written a lot of fun flavour text for the Secrets, Memories, and Rumours systems.

Here's a few examples of that fun flavour text:

“There appears to be a patch of sickness clinging to the surface of the Dabrowan sea like the skin on a soup. Reports that it moves of its own volition, or that it can eat through the hull of a ship in seconds are, as yet, unverified.”

“A Feast of Rats – beneath the skin there is, almost invariably, flesh. But beneath the skin of The Concatenation of Rats there is something quite different. Whatever it was, you should not have eaten it.”

And finally:

“The doll lies.”
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Play the prototype for The Red Market here: https://nkeirle.itch.io/the-red-market

If you like the game, or have suggestions feel free to comment on the DevLog thread: https://forums.tigsource.com/index.php?topic=65289.0

Or come say hello on Twitter: https://twitter.com/nicholaskeirle
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