Craig talking at Develop this Thursday.

Hey guys,

Just a quick heads up that I’m going to be talking at the Develop Conference on Thursday (which is tomorrow!) at 12:15 in Room 2.

I’ll be talking about Designing an online multiplayer game… and the difficulties of working remotely – which is convenient, because that’s the name of my talk. If you feel like coming along, you can expect some of the Dlala story, how we got to where we are, some of the decisions behind what we did on Overruled! and stuff we learnt along the way when we built the entire thing remotely.

It’ll be nice to see some friendly faces in the crowd, so come along if you’re there!

Craig

Overruled! – Bugs, End of Cycle and Must-Play 2015 (According to Official Xbox Magazine)

Hey Guys,

How have you all been?

We’ve gone super quiet at the moment and I promise it’s not us running away and hiding it’s just been a case of getting Overruled!’s console versions finished up. We sent over the build to T17 last night which is hopefully signed off this morning to go into cert. Which is terrifying by the way!

Assuming everything goes well then we should be able to announce an official release date soon. It took longer than any of us could have anticipated, or predicted for that matter. We’re super aware that we haven’t updated the content to the live Steam build in a couple of months but I assure you there will be a nice new content drop come out when we fully launch.

Now for something super exciting, saw a tweet from our PR rep Beth that we’ve actually been named a “Must-Play Game for 2015″ by Official Xbox Magazine.

This is completely mental, was not expecting that at all. We love Overruled! but, as many devs will no doubt agree, it becomes very hard to separate yourself from the game towards the end of a dev cycle. You are no longer being creative and making new awesome things appear, you are plugging in platform specific features and discovering how different those platforms really are from each other and worst of all you are fixing bugs. Now most of us here have shipped a game before so we’re use to the cycle, but for those of you that aren’t. You very often end up in a situation where you are so anxious to get the game out that you fix a bug and then accidentally cause some more, or what happened more for us is that we would fix a bug and there would be another edge-case bug hiding behind it. It happens on every game though. This is the reason QA teams exist. You don’t always spot bugs as you are writing games. It’s like those word “tests” you get online where the words and/or letters are switched round but you still read the sentence perfectly. When you build/create something you know what you want it to do and then you make it. Thing is if it does very close to what you wanted it to, more often than not, your head will fill in the blanks. It’s not until someone separate from the project has a look, someone not close to the creation process, and they go “Hey do you realise that this guys head is actually attached to his ass”, ok not a great example but you get what I mean….right?

It does remind me of a funny story from my-so-called career. Back when Craig and I were devs I once had a producer tell me that we shouldn’t have bugs on a new feature for a live product and that the upcoming game from another team within the same studio would, and I quote, “have no bugs at launch”.

This was hilarious to me.

I mean firstly it was very much the typical situation:

**Month back in time – it’s project planning time**

Producer: How long is feature X going to take?

Aj/Craig: Well it’s hard to judge as it’s an unknown, looking at it it’s probably going to take about Y amount of time.

Producer: We need it in Y – 2 weeks.

Aj/Craig: Umm we just said that it’s going to take Y.

Producer: Yep, but we need it before then.

Aj/Craig: Can you see the problem here?

Producer: Needs to get done, Marketing want it out then.

 

Don’t even get me started on how backwards the developer to marketing relationship was. But this was the start of another horrible, pointless crunch period. Sleeping under the desk on a bean bag and Craig and I working all hours of the day with no breaks. This method of development is not going to lead to a clean, perfect product. To be honest no method of development will ever lead to perfect.

The second reason this was so funny is simple:

All games/software has bugs at launch.

You cannot find every bug in a game and you cannot anticipate how your players are going to play the game. This is why we have QA teams who do strange things to games. When you first witness this it’s often the first reaction to go “Why the hell are you spinning on the spot 10 times and then jumping off two ledges into a pot of jello”, then suddenly the game blows up and you go “Shut the front door, that’s mental”. Players do things like this, you know how I know that? Because I am a game player and I have played games with other people. We’re always looking for glitches and bugs, it’s just part and parcel of it. Sometimes it’s hilarious (Tony Hawks Pro Skater infinite spin bugs) and sometimes it’s not so hilarious (unnamed recently released title where I had a door I needed to go through but the door hadn’t loaded”).  But players will find bugs. Devs are not perfect, QA are not perfect and management (speaking now as a ‘manager’) definitely aren’t bloody perfect.

So how do we solve this problem of imperfection? Simple. We don’t.

We acknowledge it, we embrace it and we prepare the best we can:

Don’t take all the assets off at the end of a project so that we can get that new project kicked off. Hell why not bring on some extra assets to help with fire-fighting.

Don’t set stupid unobtainable deadlines. We’ve seen first hand in the not-so distant past that some ‘managers’ still use the technique of “well deadline is on July 1st but we’re actually going to tell the devs it’s March 31st so that they crunch and get it all done with time for errors”. Umm. HELLO. ARE YOU DAMAGED? How is this good? If you’re deadline is July 1st tell your team that is the deadline, but hey maybe say to them “look guys we have to deliver this on July 1st, it would be awesome if we could aim to get it done before then so that we can get some extra testing on it and we don’t have that last minute rush.” Or hell why not take it a step further, sit down, talk to the team and figure out how much you can get done in that time before you commit. That’s not to say that the time estimate will be right. You have a few things to take into account when you ask this questions:

  1. Time costing is guess work. Doesn’t matter how experienced you are it’s guess work. Sometimes a 2 day task turns out to be an hour. Sometimes a one day task turns out to be 2 months.
  2. Know your audience. Are there team members who are looking to impress you? If so is there a chance you’ve give them the feeling that getting stuff done quickly impresses you? This can be deadly for a project and for a team’s morale.
  3. Shit you don’t expect to happen will happen. You’ll forget that your lead tech has a two week holiday booked right in the middle of that development period, your designer will break his leg and need time off for physio. The unexpected will happen.

Let me give you guys an example of how we did some bad time costing, luckily for us it was in a time where it didn’t damage us too badly:

When Craig and I sat down and started designing Janksy we were feeling very confident. We were confident because we’d just started our own studio, we’d just made a great agreement for some marketing with Microsoft and we’d just found a killer dev in the Crickett himself Chris. So we started designing some levels, then we had the discussion “ok how many of these can we get done for launch.” Now Aj now knows better, Aj now knows that you always under-commit and over deliver. Aj back in 2012 didn’t. So the discussion basically ended up with Aj and Craig going “100 levels at launch EASY!”. It wasn’t easy we didn’t do it, hell even after all the extra packs I don’t think Janksy has 100 levels. Now if MS had been paying us to make the game, we had committed to 100 levels and attached a deliverable milestone to it. We would not be getting paid. Luckily for us the only people not paying us at that point was us.

Ok, so this turned from a quick update into me preaching from the school of “life is so hard”!

I’ll leave you guys be. Maybe I’ll randomly popup with some more stories soon. Definitely should tell some “why blame doesn’t work” stories!

Thanks guys,

Aj

Rezzed, Overruled! and Job Opportunities

Hey Guys,

So next week (11th-14th) is the awesome EGX Rezzed at Tobacco Docks London and Dlala are going to be there in a few different ways!

Firstly Overruled! is going to be showcased and there have been some big changes since the last expo and even some sneak previews of content which isn’t live yet so please come over and take a look. Have a chat with Loudon about the design, Grant about the art and Sam about the audio!

Also Ben and Me (Aj) are going to be around on the Friday to chat about future opportunities working with Dlala. We want to talk to all disciplines so please come find us. We’ll be checking out the careers fair and hanging around the bar for chats. If you want to book some time in advance drop me an e-mail aj@dlalastudios.com

Look forward to seeing you there!

Thanks,

Aj

January Overruled! Update – Apparently, too much to fit in to this title!

Hi there everyone!

We’re a fair few days in to 2015 now, so you’ve probably finished any new games you got for Christmas and have broken more resolutions than my broken monitor.

So, we’ve decided this is the perfect time to throw out another Overruled! update, and this one has got a lot of cool new stuff in to it. This time, in four different categories – New cards, Single Player updates, a new Multiplayer map and some extra playlists. So, without any more introduction.

 

New Cards

We’re pushing out two new cards in this update – Lend a Hand and Super Overrule!

You know how often you’ll find yourself in a position where you’re looking at someone elses deck of cards and wishing you had them? Well… Lend a Hand can make that a reality! Playing Lend a Hand effectively gets every player to swap decks. So if you’re sitting there with a points worth one and a disable ranged, and you really want those three double points cards someone else has – play Lend a Hand and see what happens!

Super Overrule is just like an Overrule card, except… Super! Rather than just cancelling out somebody elses card, you can actually take it for yourself! So if they try to disable melee when you’re on fire, you can overrule it, steal that card, set them on fire then disable melee! Evil.

 

Single Player

Two new single player characters now have their full set of challenges available! Were Wanda and Anti Hero now have 6 challenges each, so that’s more scores for you to beat. Anti Hero probably has a slightly harder set of challenges than Were Wanda, so get ready to test yourself.

 

Multiplayer

The observant amongst you would have noticed that Anti Hero has his challenges now, but no multiplayer level… well, that’s why we’re releasing his multiplayer level now! Take it to the streets in a true alleyway brawl, and enjoy the new level we’ve got  out for you.

Playlists

We’ve been playing a lot with the new playlist system, and had some great games with a lot of you using them. Assassins has been one of the most popular, so we’ve got a new version of that – Crazy Assassins! It’s assassins as you know and love it, but a lot crazier – ranged cooldown is set to 1, respawn is set to 1 and of course, health is still set to 1.

To go along with that, we’ve got a new playlist altogether – something we’re calling “What The ?!?”. If you thought assassins was frantic, wait til you play this. It’s classic overruled… but the game types change every 5 seconds! It gets fast, furious and hectic, and we absolutely love it.

 

That’s it for this update then guys – let us know what you think, Steam forums are always open for feedback. We’ll see you in game and on the forums!

Craig

And So It Starts….

Hey Guys,

I hope I find everyone in good health and high spirits. So it’s the new year, I’m not here to tell you about all the new years resolutions of Dlala or to tell you that we’re going to try to make this year better than the last. I’m here to tell you that we are already working and making this new year the best for Dlala. I have a big problem with things like new years resolution, you shouldn’t need an arbitrary (guaranteed) turning of the year to make you want to be better, to make you want to be the best you can be. It always reminds me of a great quote I read about ‘dreams':

“Dreams do not become a reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work”

I’m not trying to be a spoil spoilt and I think dreams have their place but personally just make sure you transform dreams into goals and then those goals into targets and then those targets into accomplishments.

Now for the first news of the new year…we have officially hired our 6th team member! I would like to give a big Dlala welcome to Mr Grant Allen. Grant is joining us as our 2D artist, you might recognise the name and that is because Grant has been working with us as a regular collaborator since we started. He has worked on our 2 released titles (Janksy and Overruled!) and he even worked on the very first prototype we built and didn’t release (Yes! We Have Bananas). We all love Grant and we are very lucky that the studio has got itself into a position where it can afford to bring on another full time member. This also means we finally have an in-house artist!! WOO.

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In terms of what is going on in the studio at the moment. We’re finishing up Overruled! on XB1 and PS4, we’ve been doing a little bit of outsourcing work to bring in some income, started pitching around the next game idea to potential partners  and we’ve been looking at moving into the first real Dlala office. This is all incredibly exciting for us and we look forward to taking you guys with us on the journey.

We’re hoping to start doing more regular video blogs, and those of you that know Grant will know he will no doubt feature WAY TOO MUCH in them.

Thanks guys and Happy New Year

Aj

NEW UPDATE! New campaign, leaderboards, new card and more achievements!

Hey Guys,

We’ve got another big update for you all, and it sure is a good one! It’s any wonder we’ve managed to get anything else done these last couple of weeks, we’ve been spending way too much time playing with the new stuff. But, we’ve had our fun, gotten really good at it and decided to share it with everyone else.

Update your Overruled! on Steam now, and you’ll have access to…

A new single player campaign! A new change ‘em up card! Single player leaderboards! More achievements!

Want to know more? Read on…

 

Sasol’s Pillage – The newest single player campaign

So, we’re hoping you’ve gotten pretty good at all the other campaigns by now, so we decided it was time to build another one and put it out there for you.

Our loveable piratey scamp Sasol has got six new campaign levels for you to push to the limit, with new challenges waiting for you. Some of these levels are deceptively difficult, so maxing out your score should keep you going for a while. Set in the beautiful and bountiful Satsuki Bay, you’ll need to use all your wits to pillage as many points as you can and fill your pockets with gold-trophies a’ plenty. Yarr!

New Change ‘em up card – Helpful

We figured that seeing as you were getting a new campaign, what about throwing a new card in to the mix? You’ll see the helpful card in the single player campaign, so you can learn to use it in there before jumping in to multiplayer and using it against your enemies.

Tired of seeing somebody else holding on to the exact card you what? Well, not any more with helpful! Play the helpful card and watch as it picks a random player and plays their card as well! Let’s say you’re holding on to the swag bag. For some reason, player two just won’t double the points. Well… now you can make them! Play helpful, double the points and laugh all the way to the winning line.

We’re absolutely loving the helpful card at Dlala, and it has certainly caused many an argument amongst us. We hope you find it… helpful!

Single Player leaderboards!

We keep hearing how good you guys are at the single player game, with most of you claiming scores that I’m not even sure are possible. So, we decided to put you all to the test, and now we’ve got official in-game leaderboards to let you prove it!

You’ll be battling it out on each level to see who has the highest score, and there’s an overall leaderboard for each campaign total. So, think you’re the best at Judge’s Justice level 5? Time to prove it! Don’t think anybody will top your total Indie campaign score? Show us – and everybody else – on the leaderboards!

You’ll be able to filter the leaderboards to show just your friends, to find out who’s really the best amongst you. Or, if you want to take it even further, why not check where you sit globally? That’s right – are you the best in the world? Time to find out!

Single player achievements!

So you’re super proud of all the gold trophies you’ve got in single player. We know, we know, we’re proud of you, too. And to prove it… have some achievements for it! If you manage to get gold on all the levels in a single campaign, then here, have an achievement. You’ve earnt it. So, if you haven’t already, update, jump in game and get your achievements for Indie’s Torment, Sasol’s Pillage, Bunny’s Test, Judge’s Justice and Troll’s Turmoil. They’re all sitting there for you on Steam, ready to unlock now.

So there we have it! Enjoy the update, have fun, and until next time…

See you at the top of the leaderboards!

Craig