Autumn Sale + first-ever video interview

Autumn is in full swing around here, and this gives us a perfect time to start staying more inside and dust down our favorite games again. This time, however, we can only do so much in a digital space. To spice up any role-playing games with exciting characters, we’re hosting our Autumn Sale between 25 November and 1 December. During this period, most of our packs and bundles will be at a 25% discount. Combining this offer with any of the Pro bundles will reduce the overall price of the packages a lot, so if you’ve been on the fence about letting your creativity flow, this might be the perfect opportunity to unlock endless character streams in your games or projects!

During November, we teamed up with The Games Tavern for a month of giving back. They focused on raising money to help Operation Supply Drop, and we were happy to provide some character packs they could give away during streams or on Twitter when specific targets were reached.

Since we were already in contact, we also organized a short video-interview, so viewers can get to know me, and the project a bit better. This was the very first time I took part in such an interview, so if you are interested in the story behind ePic Character Generator, check out the following video. I hope you’ll like it.

GMTK Game Jam 2020 – Waste Waster

In the last couple of years, we never took part in game jams, as we always preferred spending our time on actual projects rather than throwing away 2 days of development in an experimental idea we might not take any forward. A lot of things have changed in the past though, as in 2020 I started focusing my efforts on a new project with a new team, so when I was asked by two of my colleagues if I wanted to participate in an upcoming jam I was a bit hesitant. For those who don’t know what a game jam is, it’s typically a 48-72 hours game-making marathon, where each team needs to create a game from scratch based on the theme that was given to them by the organizers. For the new game I’m working on, Unity is being used, and I figured it could be a good idea to dig a bit deeper into the engine and potentially learn new aspects of it. I also figured it could help to get the team together a bit more, as I’m working with a narrative designer and a new artist on the game, so getting them involved in the jam with quick design decisions and project turnaround could also be a good idea. So I figured the team I would join the jam with my colleagues tentatively; we’ll wait for the announcement of the theme on Friday evening at 21:00 local time, then if we can come up with a good idea in the next 2-3 hours we’ll make the game, otherwise, we’ll continue working on our own project over the weekend, as we normally do.

The jam we took part in was organized by Mark Brown, who runs the Game Maker’s Toolkit youtube channel. It’s a really good source for game design, so I’d recommend it to anyone to check out. This jam was the biggest online-only jam ever held, so without further ado, here’s the theme announcement video.

 

Since the theme was Out of control, and I always loved simulation and tycoon games, we ended up creating a game (which was actually a bit similar to an idea I was prototyping way back in 2015) where the main character is driven by a basic AI, and the only influence the player has over the character is to place powerups in specific points of the map. When a powerup is placed, the character will move towards it, so this gives indirect control over the character, otherwise, it always tries to move away from the enemies and will cut through them when cornered. Powerups stack up over time, but the monsters get tougher too.

Waste Waster Gameplay

If you are interested in how we created the game and what stages we went trough during development, you can check out the developer diary I recorded. Our youtube channel has also just been launched, so hit Subscribe if you want to get notified of new videos.

 

After the 48 hours period has ended we were left with 7 days to play and rate each other’s games. We got lots of feedback and rating and people seemed to love the idea. We got quite a few coverages by streamers playing games created during the jam too. Once the 7 days period ended we concluded with 92 ratings and made it into the top 100 most popular games of the jam. Mark then played the top 100 community-rated games and picked the top 20 he liked the most. You can watch his recap below.

 

We finished at an overall ranking at 973. out of the 5416 participants, which puts us in the top 20%, which is nice. The originality of our game was ranked 473, which is in the top 10%. Considering how unprepared we were to the jam and how much time we wasted on things we could’ve finished in a matter of minutes if we were more adept in using the engine, we were more than happy with the results.

If you want to check out the game you can give it a go here: https://overheadgames.itch.io/waste-waster

All the feedback and the final ratings can be found here: https://itch.io/jam/gmtk-2020/rate/695723

Monthly Wrap-up: April

April has gone by and we’ve been busy building things we hope you will all enjoy. We hope you and your families and safe and healthy amidst the current situation.

Thankfully in the games and software industry, things didn’t change much. First, we kicked off the month with our 6th Birthday Sale, in which many of you participated. We also sent out a free pack to all our newsletter subscribers as a thank you for all the support we got since we launched. We also got a new logo, which we hope you like too. 🙂

We published two updates to ePic Character Generator during the month, where we fixed various issues. We focused a bit more on the Android version this month. After the introduction of Android 10, we noticed that saving files to arbitrary locations (for example the Documents folder) is no longer supported. Since they completely reworked how file access can be done, we spent over 20 hours trying to get this single feature alone right. But we couldn’t. Since the software is written in c++, and applications for Android are run in a Java environment, there are certain layers that are needed to enable communication between these two languages. Unfortunately, the way the new Storage Access Framework works on Android 10 and above is meant to be used by Java applications only, and passing a filehandle back to the native application to read and write the files is something that can’t be properly done without implementing extreme workaround which will also stop working once Android 11 is released. So after wasting so many hours on this, we decided to revert to restricting users to only be able to save and load to the app’s internal directory. We understand that this solution is not ideal, but it’s still a better way than disabling saving on mobiles completely.

Apart from that, we also started working on a very exciting and very frequently asked feature under the hood. To have a better understanding of what would be the best way to bring this new feature to you, we sent out a survey to our Pro members. Since they already have access to way more features than non-Pro users, and also they are our most dedicated supporters, we felt that they’d know best how to move forward with our idea. We received lots of great feedback and ideas which we’ll be able to use to launch this new feature. If you are a Pro member, we seriously suggest registering an account on our site to be able to receive specific communication from us, hear about new features we are working, and be able to communicate your needs and ideas so we can better steer the development of the software in a direction that would be the best for everyone. If you are a Pro member and haven’t yet completed our short survey, just launch the software and a message box would pop up offering the option to do so. We are working hard to take all your feedback in, and we hope to be able to launch the new feature by the end of the month.

We also received some questions asking what’s the best way to keep informed of all the stuff we are working on. The best way to keep updated is to be a subscriber of our newsletter, which we usually send once every 2-3 months. We also post monthly updates to our blog, share it on the project’s page, and on our developer hub. If you use Steam, make sure to follow us there too:
https://store.steampowered.com/developer/OverheadGames

You can also follow us on your favorite social media channel and keep in touch:
https://www.facebook.com/overheadgames/
https://www.twitter.com/overheadgames/

We are excited to see how you’ll like all the things we’ve been working on once they are rolled out.

Stay tuned!

Monthly Wrap-up: January

Among many other changes, we decided to start writing monthly wrap-ups, to look back on what has happened in the past month and summarize the most important bits of it. This is also exciting for us so we can actually see how many things we were able to achieve compared to what we planned, but hopefully it’d also provide some more insights on how we do things and what we are working on currently.

January has mostly been consumed by the process of transitioning to the new website. Our old one was created in 2013 at around the same time we launched our Indiegogo compaign for ePic Character Generator, mainly to provide a place to connect with people interested in what we were doing. The Forums were a good place to engage in conversation with us and the others, and it proved to be a very valuable tool for us, as we often got feedback which we were able to take into consideration when we needed to decide what to do next. Oftentimes we get bug reports which also help us tremendously in figuring out what’s working as intended and what’s not. A huge thanks to everyone who’s keeping a constant eye on the health of the software and letting us know whenever something bad happens!

After the release of the software the website operated as a shop, as it was the only place the generator was available. As we ported the software to Steam in 2015 we needed to add many extra functionalities to the site which helped new users get started quickly, like the FAQ page. We also created a Showcase section and started developing a Profile page, so users can easily manage their collections and exchange free packs to the ones they are interested in using the most.

The site worked okay for several years, but last year we started focusing on moving forward, and examined several factors in how we are presenting ourselves to the market. Our old site was based on Joomla, which was a quite popular CMS back in the days, but it grew old over the years, and we had a very hard time getting it to do what we wanted to do with it. We spent months on trying to get everything right on that, but in December, 2019 we realized we can no longer stick to keeping it, so we decided to transition to a new site based on WordPress, which is one of the most popular CMS today, with tons of plugins and addons available on the market.

We knew that migrating the site would not be an easy task, as this essentially meant that we’ll need to rebuild everything from scratch. Luckily we found plugins to be able to put together the existing functionality, as we needed to provide a way for users to register and log in, to be able to purchase packs, and to have a forum where discussions can carry on. As of now, we are quite happy with the results, but we also know that the site is far from finished. We still have plenty of areas we need to improve both visually and functionally. We also spent a significant amount of time on optimizing and caching, so load speeds would be more ideal, but this topic is also something that can continue on forever.

Although most of the time in January was spent on the website, we were also able to focus on the software a bit. We faced an issue on Google Play with devices using Android 10, as they are no longer able to download expansion files. We filed a bug report with Google and they are investigating the issue. We also received several feedback mostly from mobile users that linking accounts are rather difficult, so we improved how the linking flow works and today account linking both on Steam and Google Play are 95% automatic.

We were also able to spend some time on our next project. We know that finding the right setting for it was a crucial first step, so we did some research on what settings are trending, but the market is still not yet overwhelmed with different titles. We are pretty happy with the results, and we now have a basic introduction to the world it’s going to be placed in. We know this sounds exciting, but we can only reveal more details on it just a bit later.

In February we expect to flesh out most of the remaining issues with our website, as well as to deliver an update to ePic Character Generator and fix some of the known bugs.