Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Announcement: TinyKeep is now powered by Unity

Good morning dungeoneers. For those of you who have have been following the forums, you may have noticed a couple of teaser videos from me in the past few days (if you haven't joined yet, go do it now! The forums are the best place to get all the latest updates on TinyKeep).
Today, I'd like to announce a big change in our development plans for the game. From this point forward, TinyKeep will be built using the Unity engine.

From the initial 2D version all the way up to the recent Kickstarter prototype, TinyKeep has always used Adobe Flash/AIR as its platform of choice. In particular, we utilized Flare3D, an amazing 3D engine built on top of Adobe's Stage3D "Molehill" technology. In our opinion, this is currently the best commercial 3D solution around for Flash, allowing us to create the kind of high quality immersive graphics that we never before thought possible.
However, there were a few caveats. Since June 2011, Adobe announced that they will no longer support desktop Linux distributions for AIR. Adobe also announced the cancellation of Flash Player Next, which was to be a new generation of the Flash virtual machine. While this does not affect TinyKeep at the moment, the perceived future of Flash does not look great. What if in a couple of years we find out that Adobe decides to drop support for the Mac? Say TinyKeep succeeds in the marketplace and we decide to port to mobile, only to find that Adobe's tools are no longer updated to work on the latest versions of iOS and Android? As much as I hate to join the "we hate Flash" bandwagon, the most important thing is to prioritize the future of TinyKeep. I've been a keen supporter of Adobe Flash and its related technologies for many years now, and I really want to continue using it, however Adobe's actions give me no confidence that they want it to succeed in the industry as a gaming platform.

Moving to Unity

In light of these issues, I decided to do some research and evaluate other possible technologies to migrate to. A number of people have e-mailed us asking for Linux support, and while that is possible with Flash Player via the web browser, we wanted a engine that could handle fullscreen 3D on Linux just like on Mac and PC. In the end, Unity became the obvious choice. Unlike Flash, Unity's feature set, support and take up seems to be growing and growing.
Not only can we now fully support Linux, the Unity engine offers us a huge amount of other benefits that you guys will all see in TinyKeep:
  • Much, much faster performance. Unlike Flash, Unity was designed from the ground up to support the kind of high-framerate 3D graphics that we're all used to from the top PC games.
  • Better lighting, Unity's rendering pipeline allows us to use hundreds of dynamic lights, with beautiful real-time shadows.
  • Rigid body physics powered by NVidia's PhysX engine, already used in games such as Borderlands 2 and Batman: Arkham City.
  • Ragdoll animations!
  • The possibility in the future to port to mobile platforms (iOS and Android) and consoles such as the XBox and PS3.

Will this affect our development schedule?

Absolutely not! Our original plan was to recreate everything from scratch anyway. The proof-of-concept prototype you see on the Kickstarter video and screenshots are just that, a prototype. It was designed from the beginning to be thrown away, and later rebuilt properly where we would put greater focus on making a stable and fast game. In fact, as I am still working out my notice period at my current place of work, this is the best time to be considering drastic changes like switching technologies. It is much better to future proof TinyKeep with Unity at this point rather than deciding to do so 6 months into full time development.
So rest assured, nothing will change in regards to timelines. We're just going to make TinyKeep a better, more higher-quality game than ever before!

Friday, 14 June 2013

TinyKeep Site and Community Overhaul

Finally, our new website and community forum is up! From the day our Kickstarter got funded, we felt that the site needed a good overhaul to replace the old fundraising blog. With this comes a shiny new forum - where our most loyal fans are already posting ideas and discussing suggestions for the game... So, if you're interested in TinyKeep, join up, introduce yourselves and get involved!

We've also set up a new pre-order page, so if you were late to the Kickstarter party you can still pledge to receive the Beta and Soundtrack bundle. Of course, you can still donate to us via the PayPal button on the campaign page if you wish to take advantage of the original reward tiers.

Join the forum and participate in our feeding frenzy of ideas!

So, what's next?

We're still waiting for Kickstarter to post our funds to us! In the meantime, I've handed in my notice and am now patiently waiting to be released from the clutches of full time employment. Ben is still hard at work quietly finalising the core mechanics of the game, and Jim is playing with his mini Casio keyboard he got for Christmas (ok, I lied about that - I think he plans on composing the soundtrack on his lovely plastic xylophone!). Oh - and we've nearly finished concepting our hero model. Incidentally, how the hell did our game get funded with no player character in sight?! Maybe for this game, it's all about the monsters :)

The pace has changed a lot since those hectic Kickstarter days, and it's taken some getting used to! I just want to get started right away but I think it is important to remind myself to be patient and take the proper steps to lay the foundation for such an ambitious project. The game I want will come in time...

For those backers who are still waiting for their surveys - please remember that we will not be posting these until the rewards are ready to send, Kickstarter recommends against asking for addresses too early as people do move. For those with non-physical rewards - we're working on it!

This is it from me today - have fun on the forum and see you there!