Archive for the ‘Ivory Skies’ Category

20161030_153942_resizedThis past weekend was another resounding expo success. Not only did our games show very well, but also our top secret “Castle Gateway” booth design was a huge hit.

Standing at an imposing 11 feet tall, our castle archway served as the entrance to our booth, making an impression on all who passed through. The free-standing wooden frame for the archway was my design, accompanied by a vinyl printed stone texture wrap designed by StarlightSkyes. Even on setup day as it was being assembled, word of our castle-booth spread through the expo like wildfire.

This was our first time showing MMMob, our very-early-prototype MMO simulator, to the world. While the game still has a long way to go, the reception was very positive to what we had to show so far.

Dehoarder 2 also continued to show well, and many are looking forward to the game’s release. The good news is, with GDEX behind me, I can now devote all of my game development energy into completing Dehoarder 2.

On Sunday afternoon, a T-Rex from the ARK spawned on the expo floor. It’s a good thing our entrance was made with stone! As a result, our booth made it through the incident with no damage.

Summer of Coding

posted by Duke
Jul 30

It has been way too long since I have given an update, especially on the heels of the Steam Greenlight approval, and for that I deeply apologize. My goal is to be giving these updates at least once a month, though last month’s update was completely missed. This lapse in posting is not due to inactivity. When my workload gets super-heavy like this, I tend to withdraw into my work to the exclusion of all else.

The bulk of my progress has been made on MMMob, my collaborative effort under the Ivory Skies studio name. We’re desperately trying to get something playable by GDEX in October. It’s coming along pretty well, and we should be willing to share some screenshots soon, after our artists finish taking a first pass at some models, sprites, and UI.

Some work has been done on Dehoarder 2, but not as much as I’d like. As soon as the pressure lifts from the Ivory Skies expo crunch (I hate that term and what it represents), I’ll be able to devote more time to it. To be honest, once the voting slowed down after the first couple of days of the Greenlight campaign, I thought it was going to take many more months before Dehoarder 2 was Greenlit, if it was ever Greenlit at all, which is how the commitment to the MMMob expo scope happened.

I try my best to not get into situations like this, but here it is, and I think it is the Egregore of Game Development testing me. All I need to do to pass is continue stepping up, while somehow retaining my sanity.

Ludum Dare 35

Ratings Well, for starters, I am pleased to announce that my Ludum Dare 35 entry, Werepenguin’s Escape placed #66 in the Humor category. I know a large part of that is due to the ragdoll effects in the game. I’ve been focusing on this category for the past two years, and I’m very happy to see that my efforts have paid off. My entry also fared pretty well in the Audio (#264) and Theme (#276) categories. Doing so well in audio was a bit of a surprise, however, that generated music IS damn catchy. It’s going through my head right now. That music was a gift from the muses to someone with only minimal musical talent.

Ivory Skies / MMMob

I’m hard at work with the Ivory Skies team trying to put together a playable demo of our game MMMob in time for GDEX in October. Lots of exciting stuff going on there, and we are finally getting some artwork integrated so there might be something pretty enough to show a screenshot of soon. A couple of months ago, we realized that the sea of the project was not as wide as we thought it was, however, now we are coming to the realization that the sea of the project is deeper than we thought it was. Still, everyone on the team is very excited, and from what I hear, others are getting very excited to have a chance to play this game.

System Building

My current main rig was last rebuilt from the motherboard up in March 2009. At the time I put some pretty beefy silicon stock into it such as a Core i7 920 and an ASUS P6T motherboard. Since then, this machine has seen several upgrades, but it is pretty much topped out now and is just now starting to have trouble keeping pace with the current generation of games. It is amazing and unprecedented for a machine to last me that long; in 20 years of system building I had never gone more than 3 years between rebuilds. But I think it is a sign of the times; I’ve said before that the gains realized from increasing tech speed are diminishing, so at this point I expect that my next system can last me just as long if built right.

Since I am rebuilding my system less than half as frequently as in the past, I can afford to push a bit steeper up the price/performance curve. So, premium parts are now on the table much more so than in the past. For a while I have been considering a system with very fast RAM and a PCIe SSD.

Finally, the last piece fell into place that made a full system upgrade worthwhile: NVIDIA’s announcement of the impending release of the GeForce GTX 1080. With this, I have planned and built what hopefully will be my next 6-8 year system:


  • Core Specs:
  • Intel Core i7 6700k
  • ASUS Maximus VIII Formula motherboard
  • G.SKILL Ripjaws V Series 64GB DDR4-3333 RAM
  • Intel 750 Series 1.2TB PCIe 3.0 SSD
  • Dual NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 8GB GPU (to be released)

Already, even without the GPUs, just using the integrated graphics, this machine is burning up the charts on everything BUT 3D, and is staying cool and quiet while doing it:

Benchmark XMP Disabled XMP Enabled
Passmark 8.0 – CPU Mark 11,522 12,071
Passmark 8.0 – 2D Graphics Mark 959 1,005
Passmark 8.0 – Memory Mark 3,163 3,769
Passmark 8.0 – Disk Mark 12,168 13,418

The big surprise here is the blazing score in 2D graphics – the Passmark in-app comparison charts showed this rig as coming close to or surpassing a typical GTX 980 rig in every 2D subscore, even without its dedicated GPUs. This chart also shows the importance of getting high-quality, high-speed RAM AND enabling XMP in the BIOS. Going with DDR4-3333 speed memory over the minimum DDR4-2133 speed memory gave me a nice boost in performance not just in memory benchmarks but across the board, though only after configuring the BIOS to allow the system to take advantage of the faster speed memory. For me, a 5-10% boost in performance means a few more months in the rig’s useful life, so I think it is worth it.

If reality were not a factor, the only part that I would swap out is the CPU – it would have been nice to have an LGA1151-compatible 8 core CPU by now, though it would be easy/cheap enough to swap out once the Kaby Lake/Cannonlake processors are released if the gains warrant. I just couldn’t see going with anything other than an LGA1151 setup.

Overall, though, it’s an exciting time to build a system, especially if your main rig has not been rebuilt from the motherboard up in 7 years. Once complete, I expect that this rig will be fast enough to:

  • Leave skid marks on the carpet.
  • Retroactively fix the frame rate of game sessions I’ve played over the last few months. (Not just make the games run faster now. But make them run faster in the past when I was playing them on my old rig.)
  • Commune with the Speed Force.
  • Emulate a Tardis.

I’ll post additional benchmarks once the GTX 1080s are installed.

Mar 27

When I launched the Dehoarder 2 Steam Greenlight campaign, I had outlined three possible outcomes:

  1. The game makes a huge spash and passes through Greenlight almost immediately.
  2. The game takes a huge dump and gathers a huge percentage of No votes, project dies.
  3. The game gets a good receiption, but just does not get enough views and votes before falling off the first pages of Greenlight. The project sits in Greenlight for a good while until enough votes trickle in.

I was really hoping for outcome #1, but based on my past experiences and my research, I knew that outcome #3 was more likely. That is exactly what is happening. It is also the hardest outcome to deal with. Though at least I didn’t end up with outcome #2.

It looks like Dehoarder 2 will probably get Greenlit… eventually… If I can find about 1,000 or so more people to view the page and vote along the yes/no/unvoted percentages I’ve been seeing so far.

In the meantime I am left with a dilemma – do I continue actively working on the game, and risk that Greenlight success is months or even over a year away? Or do I switch to a purely marketing focus on Dehoarder 2, and begin laying groundwork for the next project, knowing that at any time I may have to put that aside to finish Dehoarder 2 when it does get Greenlit? Or do I do some mix of the two? So far the mix seems most sane.

As far as that next project… It’s actually one that I started quite some time ago, but got away from me in terms of complexity and effort required. This next project will actually be developed under the label Ivory Skies, and will be a collaboration that includes developer Mike Arps from Upways Games, artist Patrick Jesson, and artist/secret marketing weapon StarlightSkies (who is not to be confused with my wife Gill). Our game is something that we just don’t see enough of on Steam: A simulation/builder with a unique and long-overdue theme.

So far we have the groundwork laid for the simulation engine, with moddability built in right from the start. We have some basic terrain and character rendering, and some really sweet scenario-level scripting capabilities. We’re all really excited about the project, and are looking forward to a joint booth presentation of what we have so far at GDEX in October.