Scratching that itch

Hey there blog denizens!

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of itch.io, thé online marketplace for interesting indie games these days, but I never added ALL of my projects before. And it would have been weird to upload unfinished games to a webstore, but itch has evolved tremendously lately, offering support for limited betas and early access games. So now you can find all of my personal projects of note at hedgefield.itch.io.

But wait, there’s one more thing.

Last year I stopped blogging weekly about my indie escapades and created a once-in-a-while newsletter, but I noticed that I then also shared less little gamedev insights, something which the blog was perfect for. So I’m bringing that back. As I wrap up work on the first Orlova beta for an upcoming event, expect more work-in-progress posts. It’s time to turn this place back into a proper devblog.

Starting with the new title screen for Last Voyage of the Orlova.

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Week 113 – Snap back to reality

This is a weekly recap of what has been going on in my professional life. It’s to keep track of what I’m up to and to give you a peek at what it’s like being an independent creator. For illustrated depictions of these events, visit my daily comics page.

Last week I returned from vacation to find a bunch of things I had to do had accumulated. Eventually I spent most of my time on the final sprint for the Vrije Vogels game, culminating in me going to the Hubbub office at 5 pm on a friday to work out the last few bugs before the deadline. It was fun though, having everyone in the (virtual) office and punching out the last few things, improving things for a few hours and seeing it all come together. Especially marking off everything on the todo list was a satisfying way to start the weekend.

Inbetween I did some logo sketches for a client in the UK I had worked with previously, and I added a few things to the lighthouse keeper game, with the intent of showing it off at friday night’s PlayDev meetup. Eventually I couldn’t attend due to the aforementioned crunchtime, but working on it was nice, it’s been on the backburner for too long.

Over the weekend I finally finished The Witcher 3 with over 100 hours on the clock, and immediately moved on to MGS V, which I expect will eat my free time in a similar amount.

Next week: more interviews and working at the university.

Week 104 – One man game jam

This is a weekly recap of what has been going on in my professional life. It’s to keep track of what I’m up to and to give you a peek at what it’s like being an independent creator. For illustrated depictions of these events, visit my daily comics page.

Last week was a little different from my usual weeks, as I spent a week in a little room in the Vondelpark in Amsterdam to work on a new personal game project, courtesy of dutch radio. Come to think of it, it was also the two-year anniversary of me going independent, so I guess that was a fitting way to celebrate it!

You can read the details about the game here. The week was organised by dutch late-night radio show Opium op 4, which lets a creator use their office each week to build a passion project. This week was my turn, and I had a really good time.


Also just realized I posed like the caricature on my businesscard here. Weird!

I basically started from scratch on monday. I had an interesting backstory, and a vision in my mind of what the game would look like. So I started by researching the backstory: in 2013 the Lyubov Orlova, a decommissioned cruiseship, breaks off its towline in a storm and disappears onto the ocean. In 2014 its radio pings off the coast of the UK, but it is never found. I figured I’d make a game about that. The news articles about it have been in my Pocket for a while now, so this was a good opportunity to do something with it.

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I researched the timeline, all the owners and places it’s been, and more specific stuff like what the deck layout looks like and how cruise ship engines work.

After that I started on the prototype. I had something working pretty quickly, courtesy of Unity and its many prefabs. After that I struggled for a while to get an interaction system working. I started off coding it all myself, but quickly realized I’d better use something pre-made. I fiddled with Pixelcrusher’s Dialogue System for a good while before deciding to just import Adventure Creator. At that point it felt like I changed from Tony Stark banging on some metal in a cave to Tony Stark jumping into the Mark 45 Iron Man armor. Everything was at my fingertips.

To my surprise AC also integrated pretty well with Unity’s 2D Controller, which was essential, otherwise the character couldn’t walk up slopes anymore. Now I was ready to start on the narrative content. It was early thursday by then, and I was getting nervous, but I managed to put together a pretty cool vertical slice in the end, even though it sort of stops short of the actual gameplay, which is exploring the ship’s interior with your map and axe. But for a week of work it was pretty cool.

On friday I presented the demo on the air, and everyone loved it. The main guest of the show called me a singer-songwriter gamedesigner, which is exactly how I like to think of myself, telling interactive stories and focusing on the delivery and the experience.

At any rate, I had a great time, and you can read a more detailed (dutch) blog and listen to the show segments on their website.

Announcing The Last Voyage Of The Orlova

Today I’d like you to meet my next game, The Last Voyage Of The Orlova.

Orlova, for short, is a 2D sidescrolling exploration game about an Irish lighthouse keeper that comes across the ghost ship Lyubov Orlova. The MV Lyubov Orlova is a real (decommissioned) cruiseship that was lost in a storm in 2013, when it was being towed to a scrap yard. Since then, nobody has succesfully rediscovered the ship. In 2014 its radio blipped off the coast of the UK/Ireland, and later disappeared again. This game is an exploration of what could have happened if someone on the coast encountered the ship during that time.

In the game you control the lighthouse keeper as he discovers the ship off the coast of his island, and goes to explore it. Ultimately, he wants to get the ship away from the coast and from the shipping lanes he oversees with his lighthouse. Armed with a map and an axe, you can walk up and down all the decks of the ship in search of clues about the history of this ship. On the way you will encounter obstacles that need to be overcome, such as barricades to be chopped down, flooded compartments, and droves of rats blocking your progress.

The game will come out for PC/Mac/Linux somewhere this year. More info coming soon.