This Break: Fuel?

Fret not Raeos, Nectira will rise from Celaemhiem and drive out the invading Yarku race!

It’s obviously been a slow season for development on Nectira (understatement).  Beyond making difficulty tweaks to the game, cleaning up a bunch of bugs and messing with Yarku Hive level design, not much has happened in the past 6 months (or longer).  The more-boring of the reasons is that my life is overwhelmingly busy as a furniture store owner.  We also moved and have been renovating a house since January.

The more exciting reason/s are two other game projects that have sort of propelled Nectira into a future development space.  I just wanted to write today to update what those projects are, and what future plans regarding Nectira are:


Rogue Pawn:  Over 3 days in April, my brother and I created a game jam game (a 3 day competition, to make a game following given criteria).  “Rogue Pawn” was our entry.  (play the jam version here).  It was obviously one of our better “jam games” to us, and from the feedback, high votes, 3rd place in the competition, and over 800 downloads so far, we decided to not just leave Rogue Pawn as a “jammie”.

We want to finish Rogue Pawn!  My hope is that doing so will give us a financial boost for me to justify taking the attention off the bread-winning furniture store, to a certain degree (hire employees so I can have some scheduled studio time?).  As my brother and I keep throwing what we can at Rogue Pawn, we optimistically hope to release it as a “small game” within the year.  We’ll see!


Pixel Planet:  I was initially hired to provide some art for a cross-platform, social, block-building game called Pixel Planet.  Since being hired, I’ve become more of a development partner.  The trick has been to balance art assets given to the main developer for Pixel Planet, with time spent working on Rogue Pawn.  I don’t want either to be stuck waiting for me.  There’s not a lot of content “out there” to show Pixel Planet off yet, but you can watch a Beta Tester’s Vlog here.


Whatever happens with these two projects, I hope they’ll be the stepping stones to reach making my passion a full-time deal!

On the other hand, I suppose I’m only letting myself expect a minimal boost in (financial) dev-fuel and in confidence; that maybe this is a valid profession for me.  I’ve been designing games since I was a teenager!  I love it!

Back to Nectira,  I hope to return fully-focused early next year, and finish it next year, whether or not I’ve farmed any fuel from these other two game projects.  I think about Nectira almost daily, always feeding the project with more ideas and tweaks I can apply to make it better.  I’m starting to think that maybe I was needing this break to finish it correctly. There has been a temptation the past couple of years to push out a sloppy finish… but there is nothing like Nectira to me.  When I come back to it, I can be ready to give it my best work again.  I’ve invested so much in this game… I kind of have a relationship with it where I want it to grow up and prosper, not just “be done”.  It’s taking a long time, but it’s become a part of my life, along for the ride through both of my sons being born, starting up a business, moving, and in the mix with about a dozen other projects (including the two above).

This time of year is happening to me!  That’s my short explanation as to why I’ve had to condense progress from September and October into one post.

I’ve been building the last large core-element of the game world:  Boss levels.  There’s so much that goes into this relatively-new part of the game, that it takes a lot of development to get it all synergistic and refined enough to show anything.

The “boss levels” in Nectira are called Yarku Spires.  They are organic floating towers, a menace to each island that Nectira will visit.  She will ultimately have to destroy each to redeem Raeos from the Yarku invaders, whom have made Raeos a desolate clean-slate for their colonization.

Each spire will be a series of “rooms” as Nectira travels up to fight the Yarku Prince at the top.  Each room will be filled with all sorts of dangerous growths and appendages that work like traps, destructible turrets and various creepy obstacles.

There’s a lot that will change, hopefully, but here is a screen shoot of a rough room build;  just throwing down some instances of each object in their current state:

CLICK/TAP picture to see it all big and crispy!

So far I’m pleasantly surprised by how much the available spire elements make these levels sort of a difficult, twitch-reflex-puzzle.  By scanning the next few steps and any obstacles ahead, you can skillfully cover some ground, inching your way to the end of each level, also against the tide of Yarku units and creeping toxic fog.  Eventually, you’ll be able to commandeer exposed patches of ground “fur”, where you can plant your own traps (or to-be-announced “helpers”) to help you fight back.  It’s gunna be so fun!

By my standards it’s ugly, broken, and missing 1/2 of the elements I want to have in there, but things are on track so far!

Here’s a short little video of me trying to beat the rough level above (I forgot I was recording, so excuse the sloppy test-play):

September – November is me trying to complete enough pieces of the spire levels to make something solid… a few dozen times, to eventually populate each spire with a mix of fun and challenging levels.  Maybe I’ll even get to dig into the first boss in November – December, but we’ll see…

I’ll definitely share the more-refined spire development in a few weeks.  Until then!

Here’s whats new, over the development time of August:

Nectira Color Combinations

I decided to have Nectira’s skin color correspond to her equipped gemstone, in a more drastic way.  After hours of tweaking colors, they are much more vivid and diverse now.  Previously, I had run her green skin through a hue filter, keeping it within a spectrum range surrounding green.  Now she’s all over the place, color-wise.

I also thought it would be fun to connect all of the gemstone elements to a color, and use those colors as Nectira’s accent color. This gives Nectira a quick collection of different appearance combinations, depending on which combination of gem/element she has equipped, and I’m really happy with the result!  Arden modified the palette-swapping process so that I could play trial-and-error with different colors of skin and accents.  Now there will be something like 121 different combinations of ways Nectira can look, based on 10 element colors, 12 gem colors, and her default coloration.

Note, gemstone icons are incorrect where they haven’t been added to the game yet (above), but we went ahead and added all of  the colors, so that when the other half of the gems are in the game, the colors will be in place already.  Speaking of more gems…


Agate Dash

Nectira can now pick up and use the Agate gemstone, which propels her forward, knocking enemies out of the way, dealing a bit of damage, and using the gemstone’s element (as usual).  The Agate gem has a quicker recharge time, which makes it more like an ability, and less like an ultimate super-power, at a lower cost.  My goal is to provide a wide range of play styles, and this gemstone certainly contributes to that!

As you can see from this potent combination example, it may be overpowered right now, but the game will see a ton of tweaks to balance everything, over time.


Diamond Cyclones

Previously, the Diamond gemstone created a random plant, carrying the gem’s element.  This was becoming less and less appealing the more I developed and tested levels and encounters that didn’t call for traps.  To make the diamond always-useful, I ditched the random trap power, replacing it with a tri-cyclone power.  Cyclones gain speed until they blow into a solid object, which usually dissipates them quickly, or yarku, which slow the cyclones down and pull the Yarku along, until they run out of “juice” (consumed by solid objects, or less-so by yarku).


I may return to make the cyclones a bit more appealing, aesthetically.  I had drawn the sprites with the depth of varying alpha values, to make it look less like a drifting icon, but lost the alpha values on the rushed import.


Different Resolutions

Arden spent a lot of time making the game playable from 3 different resolutions.  Previously, the game played in a full-screen 1024 x 768 resolution, only.  Now it can be stretched to 1.5 that size, and double that size.  The room pans around if it’s stretched larger than your current machine’s resolution.  It also took him a while to sort through all of the objects that were displaying based on 1024 x 768 resolution, and make them adaptable to display correctly at all 3 resolutions (GUI, menus, floating life-bars, etc. etc.).

The reason there aren’t more resolutions is that we want to keep the sprites “pixel-perfect”, instead of stretching them all, which would make the game look either fuzzy or distorted (depending on the resizing technique we won’t use).

2X (standard)




Heartland Map Parts

To make the Heartland Realm map match the levels that are in it, I updated the map objects, from the pine forest pieces, to the Heartland birch trees.


Minor Updates:

  • When Nectira collects a gemstone, she displays a preview of her colors when using that gem.
  • Certain gem abilities can damage Yarku hives
  • Petal element has been changed from yellow to a red-orange, to diversify the color wheel.
  • Arden updated Nectira’s movement code a bit.
  • A handful of bugs and other tweaks.

Next month I’m going to push for getting the Yarku spires (“boss levels”) into the game; hopefully adding the first boss as well!

August 2017

As I’ve mentioned in my post accounting for the past year, my brother has sort of jump-started Nectira by picking up and running with the development of some of the more-system-based elements.  While I’ve had a hard time, after setting up my entrepreneurial pursuits this past year, to carve out nights of development like I used to be able to, his progress on “my game” has encouraged me to make what time I can:  recently, 2 – 3 hours, 3 nights a week, plus maybe a coffee shop session.

It turns out that little bit of time can put a big dent in a game project like Nectira.  I’ve got so many of the “bones” of this game built.  I get to fill the game with fun content now!

Here’s what that fun content looked like in July (or at least a couple weeks of it):

The new Ruby Gemstone plants an elemental bomb (element  is “Flame” here).

The new Amber Gemstone unleashes an elemental hornet swarm (“Spore” element shown).

New Music!  (will add link later).  I was (thankfully?) under the influence of Percocet when I composed this “Mob Battle” song.  I think the prescription for surgery recovery helped me channel energy from a dark dimension.  Haha.

Beyond the two gemstones and few other little things I worked on, my brother knocked out some goodies, which together have a big impact on the game, but nothing that is worth capturing in a GIF.  Here’s a list of his contributions from the last few weeks:

  • Replaced my subtitle images with the same font and text used, drawn by the system.  This greatly reduces the number of texture pages the game needs to use (which can fill up system memory quickly).
  • Displays background to animated Game Guide GIFs, which is an improvement over my black-out.  Did the same for smaller windows.
  • Added functionality to skip cut scenes and subtitles (which is very helpful since we’ve been play-testing so much!)
  • Updated how my Yarku Runt spawns work, to produce them in more-balanced numbers
  • Recorded the next bit of voice acting for Celaemus.

Aside from us both fixing and updating some minor things, that’s it for July’s progress.  I’m excited to keep going and have more to show for, next month!

This Past Year?

Yep, it’s been a year since I’ve done an update.  Ridiculous, I know.  I’m checking in to say that I’m accountable to my progress, and “back on track” now.  I’ll give a monthly update (covering July’s progress next), but first…


What happened this past year?

My “day job” last year at this time was at a furniture store; one which the owner decided to close down.  Since we had a lot of product to sell and I was the guy moving all of it from the warehouse to the store (and often into people’s homes),  I was working a lot of hours to help close that store.

Illustration by my former manager.

This store closing event was paired with the decision to push our experiences and resources into opening a similar store of our own in a closer town.  From September 3 to November 4, I was a full time store renovation specialist.

My wife and I opened our store in November 2016.  Initially bumping up my work hours from 40 to over 60, most weeks at first.  A lot has suffered in the process;  family time, music projects, having fun, and of course, this game project.  It’s been hard coping with and adapting to this change.

One major underlining goal for me, over the months, has been to get this business running smooth enough to where any “downtime” and hours I’m not working it or watching our kids can become “Nectira time”.  I’ve even been hoping as far to say that I’ll have more time than before, once I get to “point B” in this long process.

I’m not there yet, but I’ve carved out a few pockets recently, thanks to my brother helping jump-start Nectira again, to see things moving forward again.  I’ve also been working a bit less, thanks to adding “manager” to my “owner/operator” roles.


What have I done this year?

I’ve wanted to work on Nectira this whole time; resulting in lots of thinking about it and redesigning certain elements.  The game was becoming bloated with “good ideas”.  I want to finish this game in a few more months, not a few more years.  It’s also not the kind of game that can become much bigger, with how many elements are already in it.  I feel like I’ve whittled Nectira down to what’s purely good for it, and can now tackle it victoriously.

This feeling is also paired with me getting over the vanity of saying “I did this all by myself”.  I’m not sure I could, as my brother  (who is much more proficient with programming) has picked up and taken care of intimidating game systems and features, which I’ve been avoiding.  My perspective has changed on how “easy” it’ll be to finish, relatively, with some of his help and continued support.  (Thanks Bro!)


“Game Guide”

Content-wise, one major thing I’ve been focused on this past year is supporting the player in learning the game:  a handful of little animated GIFs and pop-up tips on how to play.  These run all throughout the first island, and really help the player get a hang of the the flow of the different level types, and how they work together.

Giving a game tester the game and not telling them how to play it had previously left them scratching their head.  Hopefully that’s fixed now, after countless hours of implementing how these messages are triggered and integrate seamlessly into a pre-built series of levels.


Spires, not Monuments

The tools Nectira has in her arsenal don’t thrive in the “dungeon delving” type environs that I had previously been working on (last post, a year ago).  I’ll save that type of game play for a future game project.  Nectira has all these tools for growing and wiping-out massive mobs of Yarku to play with!

I’ve scrapped all of the world “Monuments”, as boss levels, and replaced them with Yarku Spires, otherworldly floating towers that the bosses live in and use as a corruption headquarters.

The spires will be multi-floor towers to ascend, while Nectira confronts the Yarku traps and terrain for a change, while also playing her own strategic approaches to overrunning the spires, to take them down.  I’ll share artwork as more content is in-game.

Completing all of the levels on an island opens the path to defeat the Yarku Prince plaguing that area – as well as cooler stuff I’ll share later.


That’s most of what I can remember right now…  it’s time to start writing about what’s new this past month!


August 2016 Update

I’ll stay concise.  I want to get back to work! 😀

This month my goal was to make major progress on the first boss and surrounding story content.  As I briefly guessed last month, with my “month or three” before Alpha launch, I’ve only made it a short distance into this major milestone.

First Boss

First I designed Gynkatuul’Gakreare:



Then I converted the design into basic stills from multiple perspectives:


As I designed boss mechanics and worked on this fella’s art, I realized how nice it’d be to have to delve boss lairs before confronting the boss.  This would also later provide a home environment for each revived “guardian species” that Nectira unlocks.  I sketched out multiple screens and did a first-pass of game art for each room, doubling back and finishing a couple of them.  I’ll be spending another week or so making all the “Chogi Chasm” rooms look as good as the first two.  More props, debris and plant-life will be added later, from within the game builder, to further dress up these rooms.  Then I’ll fill them with Dark Chogi enemies and Gynkatuul:


I’m sure I’ll put more thought into these cave areas of the Chogi Chasm, to make the whole level more fun, and less of a winding grind.  I plan for the Dark Chogi/ Restored Chogi to have burrowing tunnels, to make it feel like a home for them, and present a strategic challenge in Nectira’s descent.  Once I finish all the level elements, I’ll get to play with finishing the boss animations and mechanics, sounds and musics (August?) and then the story elements that surround defeating said boss (September?).


Aside from some minor fixes to the game itself, that’s what I’ve knocked out this past month.  I’ve also put some thought into reiterating upon previous designs…


Using Your Enemies

Months in the future, Yarku will be more useful to Nectira than as relentless enemies which drop sap.  Hives will be more than Yarku production chambers which drop gemstones.  Bosses will likewise be more than beasts to slay, to simply reclaim a land.  All of these will carry a dose of “life force” to harness, and also have a purified form, which will do multiple things:

For one, Nectira will have to strategically position her enemies to make use of the unlocked surge of life released with their defeat.  Celaemus (through his vines at each vine level) can use this raw energy to grow ground-cover, chained together to the vine, and therefore develop Celaem Vines.  It’ll no longer be up to Nectira’s tail to bring healing and lay a foundation for traps.  This will do a lot of interesting things with level flow, which I’m opting to make more enjoyable as I add other elements not yet in the game.

The defeat of each Yarku will also bring a critter, large or small, back into existence in Raeos, returning the life which the Yarku possessed back to it’s original owner.  I can picture Raeos’ equivalent of sparrows, crows, mice, rabbits and foxes ejecting from each poof of each defeated Yarku, in relative assortments and in many color variations.

In addition to that, as guardian species are introduced with each boss victory, Nectira will have more reasons to work Celaemus’ reach towards reviving strategically-placed guardian bushes, where she/Celaemus can use Yarku life-force to grow guardian species; critters purposed to fight back against the Yarku, at Nectira’s side on the battlefield.

Hives will release a blast of lesser critters too (resembling all of the to-be-spawned Yarku, developed inside), but also each unlock a Dynis, one of Nectira’s kin, whom has been saved and thus befriended by Nectira.  Nothing like a new face to impart a little tidbit of information and the gift of a super-powered gemstone!

Bosses, as previously designed, will give birth to the once-slain, great beast kings of Raeos!  (I’ll let you experience the depth of that for yourself in a few months.)


Thanks for reading up on what I’ve been working on.  Now back to development…


Okay, I’m into this update thing now!  Once Nectira is ready to stay more active and visible in her community, I hope to have the good habit of keeping frequent updates playable (via”Early Access”), and supplemented by me sharing the new fun stuff.  So now, a month or a few ahead of time, I’m jumping on this update format, at the beginning of each month.

Here’s what’s new in July:

Realm Overlay Window:

Previously, the map for each of the 10 realms was dotted with mysterious levels.  The only thing that hinted at difficulty or level type was the color of the available icons.  Now when Nectira is near a level area, a little window will appear, showing relevant information, like this:


Not only hives, but Celaem Vine Levels, Celaemean Gardens, and other special areas all have this info automatically provided now.  More level icons have been added to correlate to all the difficulty levels.

In the process of better defining difficulties, I’ve also settled on Yarku types (“threats”) which can spawn within each level.  All Yarku-spawning objects (eggs, Vine level spawns, Mobs, etc.) had to be updated to generate the correct Yarku.  Lots of “behind the scenes” re-coding had to be done to get all the Yarku stuff straight again.  This has tweaked the game balance a lot too, something I’m excited to toy with as I further develop the Yarku (more diversity beyond their mindless marching to come)!


Yarku Mobs

Yarku Mob instances used to hold only a number of Yarku with them, and each Yarku within was completely randomized every time a mob was encountered.  This had been bugging me.  So now, every Yarku Mob holds not only a variable for its population, but also the variables for each Yarku within:  which type of Yarku each is, the color hue of each’s fur (which determines max HP), and if each is alive (still) or not.

With all those variables available to me, and with the whole difficulty framework built into the hive levels which spawn mobs, I decided to add varieties of art to illustrate the makeup of each mob.


The strongest Yarku alive in a given mob determines the Yarku Mob’s sprite on the realm map.  Feels solid!


Yarku Mobs are generated by Yarku Hives as before, but now the spawning-hive determines the types of Yarku which are in the new mob.  Stronger hives can also spawn more Yarku, keeping Nectira on her toes with the gem wielding decisions, and personal upgrades.


Gem Collection

It’s now much more exciting to pick up gems, just for the fact that Nectira now seems to appreciate the reward.  “Sparkle-blast” effect to be added later.


Gem Cost is Visible

I don’t know how this one was over-sighted for so long, but you can now constantly visualize how much sap your gems will cost, from the battlefield, as well as from the gem equip screen. Since the amount of sap you possess is also visible, it’ll be easy to gauge your uses.  Additionally, possessing insufficient sap will turn the cost number red, instead of yellow.


Collection Alerts

Sometimes, even as the developer, I complete a Hive or Vine level and neglect to collect my prize.  Now there’s a bouncing, flashing indicator to inform/remind Nectira to grab the goods.  I’ll probably make it so you can turn this feature off later (or maybe just show it in the first few levels?).


Nectira Listens

One neat little part of the introduction has Celaemus speaking to Nectira.  She now listens, instead of standing blank-faced.


It’s a minor detail that turned a few seconds of my play-tests from irritating, to satisfied.  And on that note…


Looking Ahead:  Finding My Balance

Proactive or reactive?  I wish I had a better habit of engaging this challenge more frequently.

I’ve been sort of off-balance, developing in the reactive mode, which looks like this:  Play test for 30 minutes at the beginning of a week or month and fill up a page of bullet-points; things that bug me, things that are bugs, or things that would simply be nice to reiterate or improve upon (like matching sprites to dialogue art, above).  I feel like this where I’ve spent a lot of time developing in the last few months; a place of critique, improve, repeat… just “reacting” to what Nectira currently is, versus how I want it to be.

On the other hand, I see that when I have a goal of something big to push towards (i.e. the introduction sequence, or a new realm, or say 3 new traps, etc.), then I can focus a month on that, and fill in any extra time that particular month may have afterwards, adding polish.  I’ve decided to go about the rest of this project with a stronger-leaning towards “proactive mode”.

There are usually a ton of little things that can use improvements, but I want to actually get this game done too!  I’m planning on spending a couple months on polish near the end of the Alpha builds.  Releasing some updates to the game after it’s “done” isn’t out of the question either.  Also, I still plan on spending about 1/4 of my time (or one week per development of each monthly update) on this category of development too, which should be plenty.

The main thing I want to see is a major milestone, or list of minor milestones, accomplished each month; which I much prefer to a list of updated or added features.  Those I probably couldn’t recite if I didn’t have it logged somewhere, but there’s no denying fresh content.

All that to say, hopefully I’ll have a boss to sneak-peak next month, shortly followed by a limited Early Access.  (I realize I’ve built into this happening a long time ago too… and it may be yet another 1 or 3 months, but this time I’ll be ready, as soon as the boss and surrounding story is approximately finished).

More on Nectira’s “limited” Early Access (not yet a Steam Early Access game) as we get closer.
Thanks for checking out the latest!


Development History

For the sake of gauging how quickly I’ve been making progress with my nights-and-weekends development, I decided to consolidate my progress into a single list, with logged hours connected to each section (quarterly or monthly).  I’m hoping this’ll help me anticipate what the rest of development might look like, and/or brainstorm how to speed things up to meet some more desirable goals.

Thankfully, I tend to be thorough with tracking both time and tasks, which made this report easy compile.

I thought it’d be fun to share this list, offering a peek into the development story of Nectira, so far:


2013:  No Hours Logged

Summer – Winter: Learned basics of programming, dabbling in various “learning projects”.


2014  (550 hours logged)

1st Quarter:  48 hours logged in Feb 19 – March

  • Started Nectira around Zale’s (first son’s) birth.
  • Whipped out most of the basic elements. (including enemies, level flow, combat and traps; with 3 trap types, and three element types)

2nd Quarter:  171 hours logged

  • Hand-Crafted an over world map, with a few hand-crafted levels
  • more level content (procedural, regenerating trees and bushes)
  • Controller Support Added

3rd Quarter:  281 hours logged

  • Procedural generation of every level
  • Procedural generation of realms
  • Newly designed Yarku
  • Theme Song
  • 2 more traps
  • 2 more elements
  • 5 varieties of the new Yarku

4th Quarter:  50 hours logged

  • Greenlight Polish, Video and Campaign
  • Concept Art and Design Articles
  • Lots of holiday breaks (minor progress)


2015 (268 hours  logged: Jan – Sept)

January:  40 hrs logged

  • New Nectira design and implimentation
  • Yarku Hives
  • Yarku Eggs
  • Toxic Fog

February: 26 hrs logged

  • Hive levels added to realms
  • Update Map Generation (flow changed: hive, vine, repeat)
  • Upgrades menu and implementation

March:  35 hrs  logged

  • Celaem Vine Anthem 1
  • Corn Cannon Trap
  • Sun Element
  • Bambarricade Trap
  • “Policopis” Butterfly Critter

April:  20 hrs logged

  • Gems Change Necira’s Colors
  • Nectira color varieties added
  • Bubble Element
  • Sulfur Element

May:  50 hrs logged

  • Color Palette Swapping, in place of large texture files
  • Gem Use Added
  • Jade Special Ability
  • Diamond Special Ability
  • Rhodonite Special Ability
  • Stinging Sedge Trap
  • Flurry Element

June:  19 hrs logged

  • Start World Map Generation (10 Islands onto world map)

July:  36 hrs logged

  • Finish World Map Generation  (10 Islands onto world map)

August:  35 hrs logged

  • A Page of Fixes and Improvements
  • Moving between realms and world map
  • Hive Anthem
  • Title Screen art and implementation
  • Story/Boss Placeholders

September:  7 hrs logged (partial)

  • Options Updated
  • Page of adjustments/features/bugs.

4th Quarter: hours not logged

  • Save/Load implementation
  • Options and System transitions/ notifications
  • Extra Background (layers)
  • Forest background layers


January: 36 hrs logged

  • STEAM GREENLIT:  focus shifted from content to story and 1st realm progression
  • Story Script Writing
  • Yarku, Intro Frame
  • Nectira Empowered, Intro Frames

February:  15 hrs logged (partial)

  • Intro Music
  • Yarku Runt Enemy
  • Heartland Realm Generated as starting Realm

March:  20 hrs logged (partial)

  • Celaemheim (starting area)
  • Subtitle System
  • Intro Scripts and Voice Acting
  • Birch Trees added
  • Heartland BG Layers

April:  hours not logged

  • Celaemus Dialogue Art
  • Dark Chogi Monster
  • Seloryv Root/Sprout
  • Erkolial Tree and magic tree framework
  • The Celaemean Garden @ Heartland Realm
  • First few “Game Guides” (non-intrusive “tutorial-esque” pop-ups)

Mayhours not logged

  • Finish “Game Guides” (~15 total)

June:  ~26 hours logged so far



Now that I’m keeping a digital record of my monthly progress, I can easily start pasting those here, as monthly updates.  Maybe I’ll add a couple pics to each, as well.

*fun fact, of the partial hours I’ve logged up to this point, I’m up to about 915 hours, or almost 23 weeks, if Nectira were a full-time project.

I’ll get on the July update in a couple weeks!

I had planned on getting the Early Access program going this past month, with the first public alpha build of Nectira going live in September.

As I got closer and closer to hitting various “publish” buttons, I was feeling a bit trigger-shy.  After taking time to think it through, I realized my game had too many lapses for me to feel comfortable offering it to you.  I imagined people stepping into an experience that would have been short of expectation;  one not instantly satisfying the feeling of getting one’s money’s worth.  (I want the first Alpha release to easily feel worth the price you’ll pay for the full game).

In spite of hours of fun, glaring flaws had me switching gears, from polishing to production.  New features since then include:

  • Save/Load System,
  • An updated options menu,
  • Title screen,
  • Entirely re-balanced levels (to scale with the current progression of content)
  • Everything I previously had in mind to complete by September (3 island progression, difficulty scaling, new music and “cleaning up”)

If you are one of the few who were looking forward to a September alpha release, sorry for the wait.  Otherwise, if you’re someone who buys the game later, reading back, I hope you’ll agree that the game would have been much less enjoyable if anything was missing from what you’re now playing.


Looking Ahead:

Already, after having the extra few weeks to focus on progress rather than polish, I’m excited to share where the game has made it to.  To be safe, I now plan to spend all of October in development-mode, finally releasing a solid alpha build around the beginning of November.

My main goal this month is to develop the introduction to the game’s story.  It’s satisfying to see the world change as you progress through realms, but it’s missing a personal element, which the story is obviously meant to engage.  This goal will wrangle in the starting realm, which means:

  • a new realm type
  • a couple new corresponding trap types,
  • a boss
  • a few characters
  • some events and the like

Optimistic-goals will include:

  • 3 additional Yarku types, which will each work much differently than the current core-army units in the game.
  • I may also add a couple tracks to the musical score.

Expect the actual launch in November!

Pre-Alpha Polish Month

My goal this month is to see how far I can get with Nectira, before I offer it to the world, via Early Access.

Right now, the game is certainly enjoyable for a solid few hours.  Starting up the game again creates a whole new multi-hour experience, as most of the game’s elements are randomly generated; from the world map, stages and levels themselves, to the waves of Yarku, and combinations of both plant (traps) and gemstone (powers) make-up.  Although a lot of the content of the game is months from being inserted into the game world, there’s plenty there to enjoy now!

On the downside, there are a lot of unexpected results that may creep in over thousands of iterations of the generated game world.  I’m currently spending time making sure things come together in a unique, but appealing and more-progressive way, every time the game world starts anew.

Here are my plans this month, to get the game from “fun”, to “appealing and more-progressive”:

  • Islands Progression.  I’m finishing the chain of progression that takes you from the first island of the mostly-finished realm type (forest), to the third.  This 3-island-progression will include around 30 levels (from two types) and up to a few dozen of shorter “mob battles”.  All of the 30 levels will reward you with either a new gemstone, or a plant (corresponding to the level type), while the mobs will provide substantial “sap” (units used for upgrading Nectira in 16 different ways, or for spending on powers).  I’m removing my developer navigation shortcut-keys and actually working on transitioning the player from island to island more smoothly, while omitting story elements until full release.  Because I’m saving the story for you for later, a lot of elements such as transitions will rightfully feel “placeholder’y”, but at least they’ll be in place.


  • Difficulty Scale.  I originally built most of the randomized content that’s in the game to scale in difficulty over about 18 levels.  When I added the multiple islands feature to Nectira last month, my level structure changed drastically, leaving me with a complex difficulty scale to adjust my new structure to.  There will be 9 islands now:  an intro island with 10 levels, 3 easy islands with 6 levels each, 3 challenging islands with 10 levels, and 3 difficult islands with 14 levels (not 18 levels, but about 100, not counting up to a few hundred mob battles).  Eventually you’ll be able to play all the easy islands right after the intro island;  gathering sap for upgrades and gemstones all over Raeos; to be used all over the world (meanwhile traps will stay specific to each of the 4 realm types).  However, since only 1 realm will currently be available, I’ll have to craft a temporary-scale that’ll make the game less than stupid-hard, since you’ll be missing out on the other 2/3 of the upgrades and gemstones, before you’d actually be expected to progress from easy islands to challenging islands, or from the challenging islands to difficult islands, within each realm.


  • Cleaning Up.  I’ve been going over all of my game objects, scripts and events, trying to clean up any memory leaks, bugs and anything that may slow down or make the game feel more amateurishly-developed than it is!  I’ve also formed a half-page-long list of minor game elements I’ve decided to redesign and improve upon.


  • More Music.  Right now there’s a single battle “anthem”, and the theme song, which works nicely as realm map music (temporarily?).  The one anthem has the right feel, and it’s long enough to not feel repetitive, but I’d eventually like to have an hour worth of these anthems.  Hopefully I’ll have enough music studio time this month to double the music in the game.


  • More content.  I’m an optimist;  the kind who thinks he can finish a game in a year.  That being said, maybe I’ll have time this month to get more traps, elements, Yarku species types and realm wilderness makings in the game?


Thanks for reading!  Check back at the beginning of each month!