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Missing Minutes and Missing in Action

Posted by [email protected] on November 16, 2015 at 9:00 PM Comments comments (0)

Hey y'all, so first off I'm sorry that this is yet to be another "hey we're not dead post" as opposed to a real meaningful update on Deeper. Like we've mentioned before, we're on and off college students while working on this, and while we can occaionally justify some time off school to get things done in the Deeper world, we are also keen on finishing up our degrees and with the game's various setbacks, waiting for school will only make things more difficult to get school paid for down the line. In other words, things are slow now because yeah, we're back in the grind of normal life, and normal life has been kicking our collective butts.

But it's not all doom and gloom. Recently, our team's favorite game jam Indie Speed Run rolled back into town, and we made some time to get a little hardcore game development rocking and churned out this nifty little experience for all of y'all to enjoy! (And got a little done for Deeper in the process, I might add, with various carry-over effects/code being created). Anyway, it's called" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">The Missing Minute, and it's about a little kid who has to survive his nightmares filled with tooth decay with the help of his stuffed animals. It's cute, short, sweet and to the point, and features many cool new tracks from our newest composer David Johnsen! So go give it a try and be sure to rate it up if ya like it:" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">

In other news, while development on Deeper is a lot slower recently, it certainly hasn't stopped. Lately we've been coming up with the design for the tutorial scenario that starts the game out, so that players have a chance to learn the ropes before they jump into a game with friends. While we debated for some time whether or not this could be accomplished purely in-game via tutorial messages, it became clear to us through playtests that our game's core mechanics are still unique enough that they really have to be drilled in with a proper tutorial.

But not to worry, because to make up for having a wee bit of forced single-player time, we're trying to make this tutorial mission just as fun and exciting as the rest of the game. As it is actually based in a location not seen in any other part of the game!  While I won't outright say what it is, I will share with ya'll one of the finished enemy designs for this section; I'm sure it won't be much of a stretch to figure it out.

And with that, I leave you all with a belated Happy Halloween! I'm a huge fan of the holiday so I was upset we couldn't get anything out for it in time. Consider The Missing Minute our Halloween gift to you, since it's got enough spooky to count as one. More updates to come, we promise! And thanks to all of our fans who have sent emails and comments about Deeper, we thank you for being patient, and it's always comforting to know people are still excited for it.  Peace, y'all.

- Nick Lives from Deli Interactive

Caves, Caves, Caves!

Posted by [email protected] on August 25, 2015 at 4:10 PM Comments comments (0)


Well, so much for more frequent smaller updates. Oh well- So for the last few weeks, probably the last month actually, my focus has been on totally rejiggering and reworking our expedition caves. For our Gamemaker build, caves were probably the most overlooked aspect of our game. For one, unlike the outside areas for sub exploration, caves weren't procedurally generated at all. Instead we would just select from a variety of pre-built caves, and spawn enemies on the fly. We wanted to eventually do something more than that, but never found the time. Now that we're rebuilding everything from scratch anyway in Unity, we figured one of the features we ought to try tackling is true procedural generation for our cave systems, at least one that would be comparable to the system we had for our outside areas. Not to mention make caves more fun to explore, make ground-based enemies more fun to fight, and enemy and treasure placement more randomized and sensible.

Well, having been working on nothing but caves for the past while, I can definitely say with confidence that caves have been vastly improved on!

Screenshot of our current caves, this one being a Barnacle infested cave.


For starters, we tried making the flow of a cave expedition feel more organic and cave-like by adding new angled tiles so that hills and valleys could be created without looking too blocky or require a lot of jumping to navigate. We also opted for adding climbable areas around caves, as despite our 2D perspective, platforming and jumping was never really planned to be a huge part of our game. We're not trying to be Spelunky here, and since players navigate through the submarine mostly through ladders, we figured adding them to caves would make caves fit in better with the rest of the game.


To add variety we also added in a few new destructable cave pieces, such as destructable thinned rock pillars and stalagtites; along with moveable physics objects such as boulders. These additional physics objects helped to break up the flow of caves and make exploring them more rewarding. Using the jam game to code and implement these ideas also gave us a nice testing environment to see what kinds of designs for caves would be most engaging.

This is the mockup I made early on to pitch the new cave ideas, although after testing in Morlocks we discovered that making the ceiling rocks intractable wasn't such a hot idea, so we instead created non interactable cave decorations to create visual variety.


During all this, we've also been working on making cave enemies more varied, more interesting, and more fair to fight. Back in the Gamemaker build the only cave enemy we created was the crab, who back then would spawn in a random size at a random time, and rush the players. These create some fun and hectic moments for players, but because the way they damaged the players was by merely touching them, it sometimes felt unfair because there was no way to escape the attack, especially for some of the faster ones.


We decided to try and rebalance the way combat worked with crabs and other player-sized enemies by giving them proper animation states via mecanim. Now instead of hurting the players merely by touching them, crabs will scuttle towards players and once in range, stop for a moment to try and bite them. The attack doesn't register unless the player is caught within biting range by the time the bite happens, so this gives the players some time to escape and ensures that those who are paying attention will rarely if ever take damage from them. Attacking in large numbers still gives the crabs some advantage of course, but this small change made combat feel so much more believable and fair.


Cave enemy AI as a whole also got a much needed boost, as now instead of just bum-rushing players full-hog from the get-go, enemies now only start to chase when they catch sight of a player, and can chase them for a period of time after losing them which we can control via Inspector values.


Now, on to what should probably be the real meat of this post, the actual cave generation. Taking a tip from Spelunky, we crafted a system made from a grid of potential pre-built cave "chunks" which are hand made in categories. Categories of "MiddleChunk," which are always guaranteed a left and right exit "Right Edge Chunk," which is guaranteed a left exit, "Left Edge Chunk" which is guaranteed a right exit, "Up Chunk" which is guaranteed a left, right and top exit, and "Down Chunk" which is guaranteed a left, right, and bottom exit. When a cave is created, all tiles select from an array of appropriate chunks. Middle regions all pick from middle chunks, right edges from right chunks, and so on. After a general cave is created, it is decided whether or not there will be a second floor to the cave. If so, a random middle chunk section is decided to be replaced with a random Down Chunk and the tile immediately below it becomes an Up Chunk, to create a path to the second floor. A simple system, but one that can create a wide variety of cave types with the addition of certain settings. Over the time I've been creating this system, many inspector values have been added that can alter the caves in meaningful ways. "Claustraphobic" and "Open" settings, choose from a subset of random chunks that are designated as claustraphobic style cave chunks, or open style, and if these options are chosen, different types of caves can be generated appropriately. We also recently introduced different grid sizes to control the width of caves, and the option for having one to two floor caves. Here's a gif showing off generation with all these settings:

And instead of populating these caves on the fly, we have instead opted for populating them at the start, so that enemies and treasures are guaranteed to appear at pre-designated spawn points for each cave chunk. Population then works by creating a number of enemies and treasures based on a percentage of available spawn points, to ensure that the enemy and treasure ratio is always the same, but always scales to cave size. This percentage multiplier can also be changed on the fly, to allow our AI DM to decide whether it wants the cave to be more or less populated. This way, caves still feel lived-in but we can still change them based on player performance.


And that's about it for caves! There's plenty more to discuss when it comes to our new enemies, random treasure loot, and modular enemy code, buuuut I've probably stretched this post out longer than necessary already. I should also mention that this is mostly just been what I've personally been doing. Soon enough I hope we'll be able to start posting about our new water physics, new exterior areas, and new submarine design, but it'll all happen in due time I suppose. I was really hoping to start writing more short-form updates on a more regular basis, but time really got away from me with this cave stuff. If you have any questions, suggestions or comments as always feel free to leave em! Trying to be more vocal these days.



Twitch Streams and Time Machines!

Posted by [email protected] on June 1, 2015 at 6:00 PM Comments comments (0)

It's been a while since our last non-jokey update, so here's a good time to catch y'all up on what the Deli team has been up to as of late!


First of all, since I realized I failed to mention it earlier on our main site, although a "test" run of it has been going on for some time now - I've recently been live streaming development of We Need to Go Deeper on Twitch twice a week, on Mondays and Wednesdays at 12 pm MST with some special all-team streams occasionally going up on weekends around 7 pm MST! This is something we talked about doing for some time, so now's a good a time as any to let y'all interested in Deeper know that you can watch us work on it live now! Here's the link:



Questions, comments, suggestions are always welcome in the streams and so is just regular old chit-chat, so if you can, stop by for a spell and shoot the shit with me while I work! I always appreciate the company, and if you were ever curious about what goes into making a game or are making one yourself, it's a good way to get a raw picture of what it's actually like. Moments of confusion, frustration, and self-doubt being punctuated by achievements celebrated to the tunes of Frankie Valli.


It's all good fun, so I hope to see more of you folks there! Oh and I should also mention that the stream is a great place to share your work if you're an aspiring indie dev or hobbyist yourself. A lot of streams these days have rules against that sort of thing, but I wanted to make it a safe place for networking, sharing and feedback, so feel free to pop in and show off your stuff!



In other news, Deli Interactive recently entered into The Public Domain Jam 2 - a game jam centered around basing your game off of public domain works. And in our case, we crafted a game based around H.G. Well's The Time Machine! It's called Lair of the Morlocks and can be played and downloaded for absolutely free! So give it a spin and be sure to leave your feedback! The game is more closely tied with We Need to Go Deeper's development than you might think, and all the feedback we get from it will absolutely be useful for us going into further Deeper development. In fact, I covered pretty much all of the reasons for why that is in this recent Gamasutra article, so check that out if you're curious.


Well this certainly has been quite the meaty update - we'll try to get back into the habit of posting more smaller updates more regularly so as always stay tuned!


- Nick

We Need to Go Deeper - New Art Style, Game Design, and More! (April Fools 2015)

Posted by [email protected] on April 1, 2015 at 11:50 AM Comments comments (2)

Here at Deli Interactive, we are always looking for ways in which we can make our games better. But with a world where bills have to be paid, and with only so much time to give ourselves to make good games, we sometimes have to seek alternative methods of funding. That’s why today, we’re proud to announce our newfound partnership with software publishing house NjoySoft!

NjoySoft, for those who aren’t already familiar, are responsible for helping publish iOS titles such as Five Night’s at Teddy’s – a popular iOS horror title in which you play as a security guard for a haunted Build-A-Bear-Workshop, MemeMatch, the match-3 RPG with a wacky sense of humor, and dozens more. We’re happy to be part of the NjoySoft family, and are even happier to announce some of the new exciting changes being made to We Need to Go Deeper at the request of our new publisher.

For starters, we have been working hard on a whole new look for our game! To make things a lot cleaner, smoother, and iOS friendly, we have completely revamped our game’s art to be better suited for a mobile platform, and so far we’re pretty proud of it! Check out these rad new screens:


We’ve also been making some changes to the game design itself; we realized that the perma-death mechanics and randomized level layouts, while cool, didn’t really suit a long-form multiplayer experience as we originally intended for. Instead, our new publisher suggested to us the idea of turning those very same mechanics to a much shorter, albeit still replayable experience, in the form of a single-player endless runner! This allows us to better focus our gameplay on really nailing the submarine driving mechanics, without having to worry about fiddling with things like power distribution, fixing leaks, etc. We’ve really narrowed the game down to its core experience, and we’ll wind up with a much stronger game for it.

Lastly, we’re also excited to announce that We Need to Go Deeper is now going to be absolutely FREE! That’s right, no need for laying down money upfront, you can get We Need to Go Deeper the day it comes out completely pro-bono. Instead of charging money for the base game, we decided it would be better to instead simply offer optional in-game rewards for some petty cash. In addition to being able to purchase new skins, hats, and sound effects for your submarine, you’ll also be able to boost your best runs to the max with BOOST FUEL™ packs, which have a variety of pricing options to suit you no matter what your financial situation.

We’re very excited to announce all of this, and we hope you are too! Watch this space for updates, and keep on rocking everybody!


The Engine Overhaul

Posted by [email protected] on December 12, 2014 at 5:45 PM Comments comments (0)

Hey folks, so some people may have noticed that we have somewhat recently changed our release date from Winter 2014 to a sort of vague estimation somewhere around Mid 2015. Well, we've been meaning to explain some of the reasons behind this decision, but honestly have been in such a heads-down development state that we haven't yet gotten the chance to. So here's a post explaining a bit about what's been going on with Deeper development.


In a nutshell, we ran into some size limitations with our previous engine Gamemaker Studio, that proved to cause a lot of trouble with the build, making it unstable. After working our butts off trying to optimize the game as much as we could without sacrificing what we considered essential elements, we decided it would be best if we switched to a new engine. We've run into several similar problems with the engine along the way, but these last problems (networking issues and data leaks among them) proved themselves to be insurmountable if we wanted to deliver the game as we envisioned it.


So we made the difficult decision to switch to Unity, which has a pretty steep learning curve. Basically, anything that was easy to do in Gamemaker winds up being pretty difficult in Unity, but the things that Gamemaker made difficult for us (like dynamic animation, which had to be coded by hand) Unity has nifty features like Mechanim to help streamline. Allowing us to significantly shrink the size of our game's memory, and thus allows room for a higher number of animations for our game world within our budget constraints. Additionally, because this requires a bit of an overhaul with the way some of our base systems work, we've been able to approach this new build with features that would otherwise take too much time to implement before in mind. Features like controller support and split screen game modes are now back on the table as we consider ways to implement them right from the start as we work on rebuilding the game's features and structures.


Needless to say, as with any engine switch, this switch will cost us some extra time initially, but we hope it will help us bring an even better product to everyone. As you can see from some of the above posts, this switch also certainly hasn't stopped us from overhauling assets and polishing the things we had before now that we've had experience testing out many of our game's features. So design work and other tasks are still in a very forward-moving direction as we work to rebuild what was there before but newer and shinier. Bottom line: we need more time, please don't hurt us.