Friday, 28 March 2014

Review at Indie Game Reviewer

Survivalist has had its second review, at!  The review is entitled "Survivalist for XBLIG is a Stunner" and they rated it: ★★★★½ (4.5/5)!

To have one good review might be dismissed as luck, but to get two is pretty fricking sweet :)

Adding to that, Tim Hurley at has put Survivalist in his XBLIG all-time best leaderboard, at number 10.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

The Second Patch has now been released!

The second patch has made it through the XBox Live Indie Games approval process.  Here are the main changes:

- Fixes for the crashes that have been reported
- Fixes for "The Architect" quest being impossible to complete
- Added health bars to buildings
- Tried to make the early tutorial quest where you give Alice water a bit clearer
- Tried to make the early tutorial quest where you shoot the road sign a bit less wordy and more concise
- Alice warns you when her blood sugar is getting high
- Increased insulin per dose further, so she should need one shot per day now
- Made the skill levels of the "roaming gangs of raiders" lower in the beginning (it's linked to the number of towns you explore) and also tweaked their numbers so there can bea few more of them per gang later in the game, but less earlier.
- Doubled the amount of respect/approval you get for trading with people
- Fixed bug where if Isham picked up a second toolbox he couldn't drop it
- Made it so enemies always ragdoll if you explicitly target their legs
- Fixed bug where you couldn't buy a backpack to increase your inventory size if your inventory was full
- Fixed some late-game dialog

Roll on the third patch!  I already know of a few more things I'll need to fix.  Top of the list I'm going to get rid of the vicious cycle of hyperglycemia I mentioned the previous post.  Hopefully after the third patch it'll be the end of the panicky post-release patching phase and I can start thinking more long-term.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Important note about Alice and Insulin

Something just came to light that I put in the game a long time ago, and then completely forgot about. When Alice's Blood Glucose level gets above 1 notch on the bar (which you can see on her inventory screen underneath Hunger, Thirst and Sleep Deprivation) she starts suffering from hyperglycemia, which means she gets hungry and thirsty more quickly and starts eating more. This makes her blood sugar go up, which makes her want to eat more, in a vicious cycle. I think this might explain a lot of the trouble people have been having with her.

As luck would have it the second patch, which I've just submitted for approval, will make her warn you a bit more when her blood sugar is high, and will also increase the amount of insulin per dose. So that should help.

There will need to be a third patch in which I'll need to make it much clearer what's happening, or rethink the hyperglycemia concept (I can't believe I thought to simulate that!). In the meantime, try not to let her Blood Glucose level get above 1 notch on the bar. (The bar will start pulsing white when it does - I did at least put that in).

(The notches on these bars represent days.  A day in the game is 30 minutes in real life.  Don't let Alice's Blood Glucose Level get above 1 notch.)

Interview & Patch Progress

This week I did an interview with Michael Zack of Press Start to Begin, in which I talk about video games and zombies and try to explain why I made one about the other (short answer: there weren't so many good ones around when I started!).

In other news I've been working on the second patch and I've now submitted it to the XBox Live Indie Games peer review approval process.  That means it might still be a few days, or even a week or more, before it's out - assuming it passes first time.  This patch will fix a few crashes that people have reported (much less frequent than the ones fixed by the first patch, thankfully), it will also fix The Architect quest which couldn't be completed, add health bars to buildings, and increase the amount of insulin per dose a bit more.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Make sure you have the latest version

When you run the game you should see a Microsoft screen giving you the option to press X to download the latest version or A to continue without doing so.  Be sure to press X and wait for it to download.

(I have to say that when I tried this, it got to 80% and then gave an error message "could not download..."  I had to actually delete the game and go to the indie games section and re-download it.  Then it worked.  So their update process may be a bit flaky?  Let me know if you had this experience too, although I can't do anything about a problem on Microsoft's end.  Anyway if the update process fails, just delete the game and re-download it.)

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Patch is out!

The first Survivalist patch is now out!  Here's the list of major changes:
  • The out of memory crash that you got after playing for a long time should now be fixed
  • Insulin lasts 50% longer and is cheaper.   You can also ask Clay Parker and Sam Deetz (the doctors) to give you clues as to where more insulin might be found.  Hopefully this will stop it being so frustrating.  
  • The file size is smaller.  Don't be scared by this -  it turns out there was an option do some compression that forgot to tick the first time round.
  • Fixes for a couple of other occasional crashes people reported.
  • Fix for the game not progressing if you killed Alice's zombie sister in the water tower before talking to Alice.
  • Moved a late-game quest called Alliance to a bit earlier - this improved some things I vaguely disliked about the way things played out later on, plus it makes some insulin available a bit earlier.
Based on what people told me about their struggles with finding enough insulin since I submitted the patch I did start to wonder if I was still being too harsh, and maybe I should have made it last twice as long as before.  If you are new to the game I'd like to hear from you - how did you find the insulin situation.  Is it well balanced now, or is it still too hard?  (Of course, it's not supposed to be too easy...)

I'm already planning a second patch, to fix a couple of rarer crash bugs people reported after I submitted the first patch, and to fix a quest called "The Architect" which could not be completed.  I think I'm also going to give buildings some kind of healthbar, so you can more easily see how many molotov cocktails it takes to burn them down.  And I'm going to try and clear up some possible sources of confusion in the early missions.

I have to wait a week before I'm allowed to submit a new patch, and if it's anything like the first it'll take a week in review, so it'll be two weeks before it's out.  In the meantime if you find any more bugs please report them to me.

One last thing - I've lowered the price to $2.99 USD.  I haven't decided yet if this will be a temporary or permanent state of affairs, but it seems like every review or video of the game that I've seen has mentioned the price as being unusually high for an XBox Live Indie Game.  People who've played the game always say that it's worth it due to the large amount of content - it'll take you 15-20 hours to play through all the quests, plus the game took me a long time to develop, a lot of work went into it.  Even so, there's a feeling that the higher price might put people off, as it's an indie game by an unknown developer and you don't really get a sense of how much content there is in the 8 minutes that we're allowed for a trial mode.  Besides which, there are still those occasional bugs I mentioned.  So I'm going to keep the price at this lower level at least until I'm sure there's no more bugs in it.

So if you're on the fence - get it while it's cheap!

Sunday, 2 March 2014


I've added some forums to the game's page on indiedb, they're also linked on the sidebar of this website.  You can exchange tips, report bugs, etc.