The Fellowship of the Ark

The Fellowship of the Ark

Following the Charles’ biography lore blog, where we’ve put everything you wanted to know about the game’s main character (but were too afraid to ask), here we have a nice blog about the three unexpected friends that went on a grand adventure.

Charles

Charles is your introvert prototype. He doesn’t like socialising, is even less fond of big crowds of people, and gets very shy around strangers. Although, when there is a conversation topic revolving around scholarly stuff, especially those that are his domain, Charles gets very excited and quite talkative.

Following the Charles' biography lore blog, here we have a nice blog about the three unexpected friends that went on a grand adventure.
Our creative process of making new Charles

Also, did you know that Charles is actually a pretty famous hedgehog? The folk won’t remember him if you mention his name, but everyone knows who is the inventor of the shower; a byproduct of Charles’ artificial herbarium. Charles feels a strong sense of responsibility at being given the task to find the Ark, while also placing a large emphasis on his dedication to the truth. Which is more important to him (truth or duty) is up to the player to decide.

The moment when Charles receives a letter from His Highness, king Lav.

His relationship with Philippe and Andre, his journey’s companions, starts as cold and distant. However, after engaging in conversations with them more often, Charles becomes close friends with one or even both of them.

Philippe

A witty fox, many would say. Philippe is usually sarcastic and shrewd. A bit arrogant, too, and wants to show off that he is correct. He might not sit well with everyone, but he gets the job done. In case you’ve played D&D before, he would be charactarised as “lawful neutral”.

Philippe, the youngest and most ambitious member of the King’s inner circle.

Philippe volunteered to accompany Charles on his mission in attempt to steer his decisions in the correct direction. He believes that finding and proving the Ark’s existence will consolidate the Kingdom’s power structure for the next few decades. Some people don’t like his sarcasm and attitude, but most can agree with his sound arguments.

When he’s not busy checking up on his “contacts”, he enjoys a good philosophical discussion with Charles while smoking some of his favorite tobacco.

André

André , honor bound captain of the Royal Guard.

With such a rich background as André, many would simply embrace all the benefits of their status, but not this boar. Despite having rich parents and a profitable farmland, André decided to join the military. As one of the most loyal members of the Guard, the
King tasked him with keeping Charles safe during this potentially perilous mission.

He doesn’t really get into complex abstract arguments with Philippe and Charles but he has strong opinions on the royalty but he doesn’t like to discuss them because he believes he couldn’t defend them properly.

He believes the system is fair and his experience is that if you try hard you can succeed and that the people against the king are plotters and schemers and generally not honest folk. Nevertheless, he has fairly strong opinions on the Kingdom’s hierarchical system and his place in the world. As a result, he accepts Philippe’s superiority and obeys his orders without hardly any question. He loves eating and drinking and finds joy in the simple things in life.

Enjoyed this blog? Let us know what you thought on our FacebookTwitterDiscord, or on the blog itself, just below in the comments!

General Horse and the Guest Blog of Doom

You may be wondering why you are suddenly surrounded by photos of ugly old people and screenshots depicting a trashy video game.
Ah yes. The revenge of the guest blog.

You may be wondering why you are suddenly surrounded by photos of ugly old people in a place where you would expect pretty drawings of bunnies and hedgehogs. The answer is simple: It’s another guest blog!

You may be wondering why you are suddenly surrounded by photos of ugly old people and screenshots depicting a trashy video game.
Not CGI but real sets!

Hi, I’m Zvonimir and I work with Studio Spektar, an indie game company known for bringing you the true indie experience of games made by just a few people, weird art, inappropriate humor and everything going wrong all the time. Back in 2013, while larping, Sven and I met
Gamechuck’s own Aleksandar and together we started working on Viktor, a Steampunk Adventure.

It was a very silly point and click adventure about an unemployed street sweeper Viktor who decides to become an emperor of Austria-Hungary by overthrowing the current emperor:

https://steamcdn-a.akamaihd.net/steam/apps/550990/header.jpg?t=1569425421
https://store.steampowered.com/app/550990/Viktor_a_Steampunk_Adventure/

After three years of on and off work, we finished the game and launched it onto the unsuspecting public. After seeing the sales figures, Alex went on to found Gamechuck and become filthy rich (I hope), while Sven and I decided to keep making games in our spare
time.

We wanted something simpler. Something where we would have fun making the game and with minimal programming work. So I suggested we build a short ’90s style trashy FMV game, but with a bunch of original concepts and completely improvised acting. After half-listening, Sven took my suggestion with complete enthusiasm, but also a few caveats:

a) he had absolutely no idea what an “FMV” is, but he figured he’ll learn along the way.

b) the game needs to be bigger. Much bigger! Lots of encounters! Lots of planets! And no, it wouldn’t be just the two of us with puppets and silly voices, we are going to recruit a bunch of larpers to improvise with us.

Thus, the adventure began. We bought a large green sheet after realising my blue bed sheet is a bit sheety. We traveled across Croatia, from abandoned communist monuments to my grandma’s backyard.

We used all the costumes, masks, and props we could build, borrow, or dig out of our LARP equipment. We brought friends who were given a nice vacation and/or up-to their weight in alcohol to improvise silly voices, terrible accents, and vague goals that often went in a completely different direction.

You may be wondering why you are suddenly surrounded by photos of ugly old people and screenshots depicting a trashy video game.
These screenshots make you wonder why you’re following Trip the Ark Fantastic at all.

Of course, after a party comes a hangover. It took us literal years to assemble all the material with horrid mistakes, bad focus, wrong sounds, green-screen-unfriendly lighting, and a plethora of other issues. It is now stuck together in surprisingly coherent gameplay.

You may be wondering why you are suddenly surrounded by photos of ugly old people and screenshots depicting a trashy video game.
Green screen magic.

“But what the hell do you do in this game is this even game what is wrong with you”, I hear you ask. It’s a travel game with resource management. Think Oregon Trail, but everything that happens is a live action movie sequence.

You obtain and spend resources like food or fuel by interacting with people who LARP at the camera. Your choices decide how much you get or lose. There are many more random encounters than you can see in one or two playthroughs, so every new game is a different adventure.

And the audience? As is normal with this kind of game, the audience is small but dedicated. But it seems that people on Twitch love it.

There’s just something about a trash film full of improvised acting with russian-like accents that turns every streamer into a member of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Apparently, we unknowingly made a great party game to play in a room with friends.

If you have or are planning to have a trash movie party, I definitely recommend you bring this new piece of modern history.

Here’s the link again, have fun with this GOTY title:

https://store.steampowered.com/app/813480/General_Horse_and_the_Package_of_Doom/

Another week, another (humble) bundle!

Another week, another (humble) bundle!

Following a gargantuan charity bundle organized by Itch.io which raised over $8 million USD, we are giving a big shout-out to another fantastic bundle that we are part of, created by Humble. For a price of $28 USD (or more), you get $1,243 worth of awesome stuff.

Gamechuck is participating with All You Can Eat, an interactive comic where you take a role of a “hero” so lazy he decided to quit his job and just spend his life inside an All-you-can-eat diner – which is closing down.

Will our hero finally settle down and find a regular job? Of course not. His life mission is to save the diner!

There are several great story-driven games that can be found in the bundle, and one of them definitely is 11 Bit Studios’, This War of Mine.

In this side-scrolling game, civilians are trying to survive in a besieged city (inspired by the dreadful events in Sarajevo during the ’90s); struggling with lack of food, medicine, and constant danger from snipers and hostile scavengers. The game provides an experience of war seen from an entirely new angle, and the player will have to make life-and-death decisions.

Moving on from those grim realities that happened in our past, to a messed-up underwater metropolis. If you haven’t, Bioshock (remastered) is a game you definitely should play.

The atmosphere, the characters, the enemies, the Big Daddies, and Little Sisters. Also, there’s a lot of hacking (plumbing). Seriously, though, you should play it.

Similarly, the bundle offers System Shock: Enhanced Edition and System Shock 2.

If you’re more into adventures, Humble is offering Broken Age, a family friendly, hand-animated, puzzle-filled adventure game with an all-star cast, including Elijah Wood, Jack Black and Masasa Moyo.

The two protagonists are two teenagers in strangely similar situations, but radically different worlds. The player can freely switch between their stories, helping them take control of their own lives, and dealing with the unexpected adventures that follow.

In the vein of All You Can Eat, Framed Collection is a series of visual puzzles, requiring logic and imagination, where each panel move changes the current narrative, leading to all kinds of comedic blunders, untimely deaths—and when solved correctly—stylish heists, fast getaways and nail-biting escapades.

There are a bunch of other great games to be found in this Humble bundle. Make sure to check it out!

Itch.io Bundle shoutout!

Today, we wanna give a shout-out to the Itch.io huge 1400+ games bundle (including Gamechucks own debut All You Can Eat) for only 5$. If you already played it (and its free spiritual sequel vApe Escape), don’t worry, the bundle has you covered with many great story-driven titles such as:

Night in the Woods – a story-driven adventure about returning to a small town you grew up in… If you are following Trip the Ark Fantastic because you like animals walking around in a side-scrolling manner and having meaningful dialogues, this is gonna be right up your alley!

Night in the Woods - Wikipedia

Oxenfree – another side-scrolling adventure about a group of teens unravelling a mystery while vacationing on an island. Short but with many endings and some cool replay value, not to mention several innovative game mechanics like using a radio and interrupting other peoples dialogues.

OXENFREE: LAUNCH TRAILER - YouTube

They also added Celeste, another story-driven side-scroller but unlike the previous two titles this one actually is a platformer and requires some platforming skills, but since we’re no strangers to difficult action games, we love it anyway!

Celeste on Steam

Then there’s “Dr. Langeskov, The Tiger And The Terribly Cursed Emerald: A Whirlwind Heist” – if it’s not already obvious from the title (why wouldn’t it be?), this game is a spiritual sequel to the Stanley Parable and offers a short but great (bizarre) story-driven experience.

Dr. Langeskov, The Tiger, and The Terribly Cursed Emerald: A ...

Apart from these heavy-hitters, there’s also a ton of other stuff, like for example a cute pen-and-paper roleplaying game with mice called Mouseritter. Maybe we’ll try out some internal Trip the Ark Fantastic PnP roleplaying in this system at some point, who knows!

Anyway, all that and over a thousand more titles, just for 5$, which go to charity anyway? A great bargain, we’d say!

By the way, if you want to discuss cool games we like, be sure to join our Discord! We’re all there and love talking to fellow story-driven-gamer folks!

Communities we use to talk about our games

Communities we use to talk about our games

Communities we use to talk about our games

Making a completely new game in an unknown franchise made by a relatively unknown developer without a publisher is a rather difficult task nowadays, primarily because you have to do everything. Including the marketing part, which is something game developers don’t necessarily like, but hey, who’s gonna hear for the game you’re making, and pouring all the blood, sweat, tears, and time in?

That’s where the communities come in, and in this text, we are going to share some of the communities we use to talk about Trip the Ark Fantastic, Speed Limit, and our other projects, and why.

Below, you will find some of the best communities and forums for your adventure, RPG, Pixel-Art, and any type of genre title you may be developing.

Continue reading “Communities we use to talk about our games”

Our favourite TV shows

Our favourite TV shows

The quarantine may have been lifted in some countries, and you (yes, you) might still be stuck at home thinking what to do next. Not in that situation? Worry not, because what we have in store in this blog article, is for everyone, because… TV shows can be watched at any time, anywhere, even when you’re commuting to work while staying as far as you can from that guy with a runny nose who keeps leaning onto you.

If you’re still reading all those books we have recommended before, keep reading! Those TV shows, well, probably won’t go away anywhere (even though some TV shows do tend to disappear from some streaming services).

Continue reading “Our favourite TV shows”

How we make music (Part Two – Examples and a Music Tool!)

How we make music for Trip the Ark Fantastic

How we make music (Part Two – Examples and a Music Tool!)

Hi again, this is Fenton (composer) and we will be delving into part 2 of our music blog for Trip the Ark Fantastic.

Last time we talked about how the music will be an adaptive score and take the form of an instrumental opera, following the player and reacting to their location, decisions, and situations in the game.

We will follow this up by looking more in-depth at the challenges of making a Romantic style score adaptive, as well as giving you a taste of how this will work with an early build of the music tool that we will use for the game.

Continue reading “How we make music (Part Two – Examples and a Music Tool!)”

Version control for Trip the Ark Fantastic code

I am CI and so can you

Hello, this is Piet Bronders and I’m here with some technobabble to discuss part of our technological pipeline. You might know me from such previous blog-posts as “Our FOSS pipeline – Backgrounds from draft to import” and Open source game appreciation month: Godot engine.

Both posts that were more on the development/technological side and, to no one’s surprise, they let me come out of my dank coding basement to entertain you, folks, once again.

As the main developer of ‘Trip the Ark Fantastic’, I am constantly bugged by all members of the development team for updates on the game and tasked with supplying them with the latest builds and bug fixes. Evidently, I can’t be bothered to manually export the game every time I fix a bug or add a feature, therefore it would be a blessing to have someone or something take this menial task of my hands…

Such a system is, of course, well-known (and admired) by software engineers everywhere. The acronym “CI/CD“, which stands for Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery, is a broad term for any technology that allows for automatically exporting and building your software, including games, and deploying them to a platform of your choice. However, before delving too deep ( I aim to make this blog-post at least a little bit layman-friendly) there is the concept of “version control“.

Version Control – Git

Different programmers working on the same code is a recipe for disaster. Programmers add features that other coders have already implemented in their own version of the code and merging both code-bases is a horrendous affair. But… what if there was a big outside entity that kept track of everyone’s progress and took care not to accept work of someone who is writing bad code or code that is too incompatible with the rest? This is exactly the purpose of version control!

Version control for Trip the Ark Fantastic
The current, at time of writing, GIT “master” branch for the Godot Engine

There’s more to the story than this, but I’m keeping it deliberately low-level as not to bloat this article with the technical nitty-gritty.

Evidently, most programmers use some sort of version control algorithm to keep track of the changes in their code-base, and GIT has, over time, become the de-facto industry standard. Each programmer has its own version of the source code and periodically (whenever he/she is done with a feature or bug fix) “commits” a change to the master branch. A branch is, as the same would suggest, a constantly growing sequence of coding commits on which the programmers build their empire.

At Gamechuck we use Gitlab to host our game code and GitExtensions to easily manage our software’s branches on our laptops and desktops.

CI/CD – Gitlab Runners

Now, each of these “commits” can be important and fix an essential bug or add some super-requested feature. Therefore, it is imperative that the latest version of the game is always available for download and deployed on whatever aggregate platform is wanted.

In our case, we use godot-ci, a CI/CD template that can be used to (you guessed it) automatically export Godot games!

In layman’s terms this template is run on Gitlab’s server each time when a programmer of the Ark team commits some changes to the master branch and it “emulates/fakes” a Linux computer that has Godot installed on it. It’s rather well-documented and we love it.

Here’s someone explaining it much better than I could ever dream of:

There’s an entire series on this, I highly recommend it if you are using Godot and want to start using CI/CD!

That takes care of the CI-bit, but there’s isn’t any delivery yet! In the case of “Trip the Ark Fantastic”, we haven’t released yet, so you might have to wait just a little while longer…

But for our Global Jam Game “Subsonic“, we set it up to directly deploy our game automatically to https://itch.io/ which reduces the programmer’s burden accordingly!

Well… that will be all… I hope I haven’t lost anyone halfway through my explanation and for those adventurous ones among you to attempt CI themselves, I say: The initial hurdle is more than worth it!

That’s all folks! Make sure to follow us on our TwitterFacebookDiscord, and while you’re at it sign up to our newsletter!

GameDev Industry is Suffering From Stockholm Syndrome – But Trade Unions Can Help!

GameDev Industry is Suffering From Stockholm Syndrome - But Trade Unions Can Help!

GameDev Industry is Suffering From Stockholm Syndrome – But Trade Unions Can Help!

Hi from Gamechuck. This article was written as a result of our internal discussions and includes thoughts from Lucija (who is drafting the collective agreement in our company), Alex (the managing director), and Jan (our elected union representative).

As this dev blog is set on the backdrop of Labour day (1st of May), we’re taking the topical opportunity to write about a thing that interests us personally, and that’s trade unions.

As you probably heard, this is becoming a thing in the game development industry, with large op-eds like this one popping up here and there every now and then.

GameDev Industry is Suffering From Stockholm Syndrome - A blog about a trade union in game dev industry.
Game developers need to unionize – polygon.com

Things suck

Last year we visited many industry events and were happy to see working conditions becoming more and more of a topic there as well as in media. Just last year Reboot Develop in Dubrovnik hosted a wonderful lecture “Game Creators and the Quest for Worker Rights” from Kate Edwards, the CEO of Geogrify and the former Executive Director of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA).

GameDev Industry is Suffering From Stockholm Syndrome - A blog about a trade union in game dev industry.
Ex-IGDA head Kate Edwards now convinced game devs need unions – gamesindustry.biz

Even if a conference has no worker-themed talks, you never fail to hear at least a few “personal horror stories” from keynote speakers from their experiences working with the big leagues. It’s always a similar story – how the CEO or board of this or that company made a series of bad decisions that the workforce couldn’t do anything about or had no say in.

Continue reading “GameDev Industry is Suffering From Stockholm Syndrome – But Trade Unions Can Help!”