Friday, 7 October 2016

Now also available on Itch.io!

There's now another place to buy Survvialist - itch.io!  Naturally you'll get a Steam key if you buy it from there, but you also get a DRM-free download.

(Note - you do need Steam to play online co-op though, as I used their servers and API).


Monday, 12 September 2016

A bittersweet goodbye to XBLIG

Last weekend was the beginning of the end for XBox Live Indie Games, the platform that Survivalist first released on in February 2014.  From now on no-one will be able to release new games - or upload patches - on the platform.  In one year's time, September 2017, you won't be able to buy new games either, though what you have already bought will of course keep working.

I say "from now on" no-one will be able to release new games or upload patches, but actually we've been having considerable difficulty doing that for the last few months.  Due to a bug in Microsoft's server, every upload has had to be manually 'fixed' by an engineer, and these engineers are usually kept busy with tasks that are higher up on Microsoft's priority list, i.e. XBox One.

Back in June I released a patch for Survivalist, v56.  This had some fixes for bugs with the Online Co-op patch, released the previous month.  Unfortunately due to the server error and lack of support, v56 only just become available for download on XBLIG last Friday.  Here's what's in it:
  • Fix for crash on XBox when setting Player Limit to less than there are in the current party
  • Added option to set a 'Greeting' to be shown when people view your game from the 'Join Online Co-op Game' menu 
  • Added option to kick (and ban) players from online co-op games
  • Fixed buildings being placed in the wrong position by the cheat menu
  • Fixed clicking Farm on a well not working
  • Fixed crash when half-built buildings are set on fire
  • Fixed a couple more reported crashes
 Later, in July, when it seemed like nothing was happening with v56, I tried to upload another patch, called v59.  It passed peer review but has not been applied on the server and at this point I doubt it ever will be.  There are technical issues on those servers that I don't think even Microsoft's engineers understand.

For a list of what would have been in v59, see the news post on Steam.  It's really a shame, because I felt like was coming to the end of what I wanted to add to Survivalist anyway, so v59 would have been (almost) the definitive version.  Now that will never be available to XBLIG customers.

Anyway in spite of all that I feel some credit is due to the engineers - and their spokesperson Jessica - who have been working on fixing our uploads and just barely holding XBLIG together with bits of string as it stumbles over the finish line, with apparently very little support from Microsoft.

For myself, I'm still somewhat proud of the fact that I got online co-op working on XBox at all, though I'm afraid it was a bit rushed to meet the deadline and there are some issues with load times and framerate.

And for XBLIG itself, so long old friend!  I started developing Survivalist in August 2009 and for five years I only played it on my XBox 360. In that time XBLIG went from promising new experiment to abandoned failure, in Microsoft's eyes, but I kept working on it.  What an insane thing to do, in retrospect..!  In the end Survivalist was never a runaway success on XBox 360 but nor did it sink without a trace, and it got me enough fans and support to help me to pass Greenlight and release on Steam, which in fact has really changed my life.  I'm currently working on a sequel.

So yeah, XBLIG.  So long.  Farewell.  Goodbye.  Good riddance.  Rest in Peace.  Go home, you're drunk.  Exit, pursued by a zombie.

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Online co-op is live on Steam!

After many months of work I've finally made the online co-op patch live on the main branch on Steam!  You can read about it there.  It's currently also making it's way through the XBLIG peer review process so hopefully it'll be available on XBox 360 soon as well.

Here's the changelist, which also includes a few wishlist items people have mentioned to me and fixes for bugs that have been reported:
  • Added Online Co-op
  • Added Log Screen (F5)
  • Changed savegame interface to support more than 8 savegames
  • Added AI for characters following someone who is gathering supplies, or getting water from a well, to do the same
  • Added ability to import translations from TSV files
  • Added Alternate Action shortcut (middle mouse button) to inventory controls for things like Eat, Drink, etc
  • Fixed raiders bodies getting deleted immediately after they die
  • Fixed issue where characters in your community would dislike you for threatening looters
  • Fixed bug where 'There's too many of them out there' awardment was not awarded if you abandoned then re-occupied your bunker.
  • Fixed footstep sound not playing sometimes

Sunday, 27 September 2015

The XBox Version is Finally Up-to-Date

The Steam patch from several months ago has finally made it onto the XBox.  This includes:

- Spanish!
- Four new music tracks from Sounds of Circumstance
- The option to repair damaged buildings, or take over vacant ones (To use this, equip Toolbox and target the desired building).
- A bunch of minor bug fixes.

We also got some rather sad news from Microsoft - they are sunsetting XBLIG.  But at least they're giving everyone plenty of advance warning about it.  We will continue to be able to publish games, and release patches, until September 2016.  And you'll continue being able to buy them until September 2017.  After that you'll still be able to play the ones you've bought, but you won't be able to buy new ones.

So I'm still aiming to get online co-op into the XBox version before it sunsets.  Once I've got it working on Steam it shouldn't be too hard to port it over.

Sunday, 6 September 2015

What I'm currently up to

A couple of months ago it occurred to me that I hadn't updated this blog in a while.  The reason for that is I've been updating people on the project via Steam news posts as I think they get read by more people.

Of course, people who own the game on XBox 360 likely won't be reading about it on Steam and might be wondering what's going on.  The answer is that I released a new patch back in June, but it hasn't made it to XBLIG yet.  I figured I'd update this blog once it had.  In fact I've been trying for the last month or so to get it on XBLIG, but the service seems to have run into some problems that make it impossible for people to update games on it, or indeed add new ones.  Microsoft has been working on this, and we thought it was fixed recently, but now it's started happening again and my patch still hasn't made it through peer review.

So in summary, the patch is coming to XBLIG, it's just taking a long time.

In the meantime, I've also added an FAQ on the Steam forums about what I'm working on next.  Short answer: Online Co-op.  (Which I also hope to bring to XBox 360 once I've got it working on Steam.)  After that I'll start on a sequel.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Survivalist is One Year Old!

A year ago today I unleashed Survivalist on an unsuspecting world!  Well, the 20th of February is the date it launched on XBox Live Indie Games.  I hadn't done any kind of pre-launch publicity (which was stupid of me really, but I was too busy making the game), so no one was expecting it and I had very little idea what to expect.  Would people 'get' it?  Would it be seen as just another zombie game?  Would anyone notice it existed?  Thankfully it was generally well-received, although there were some launch issues to contend with.

Three weeks ago it launched on Steam, and in that short time it has sold approximately as many copies as it did in a year of being on XBLIG :)  All hail the mighty Gaben!  Still, I owe a lot to the XBLIG platform - every time I read about it seems like someone's saying something negative about it, but it actually put my game in front of a lot of players and gave me a "long tail" of sales even after I slipped off the new releases list.  Many of the people that bought Survivalist on XBLIG went on to vote for it and write positive comments on the Steam Greenlight page, which I'm sure was a massive help getting onto Steam.  Yet XBLIG itself is a completely open platform with no gatekeepers - you just have to pass peer review from other developers (which is more just a useful way to get feedback and testing rather than a barrier to entry).

So yeah, happy birthday Survivalist - and I hope XBLIG carries on long enough for me to be able to release some kind of a sequel on it.