Dev Blog

BrackenSack: a Dashkin™ Game

Tag: brackensack

BrackenSack Early Access Launch

Posted on December 22, 2017  in Art Updates

Well here we are. I’m writing this on the eve of launching the very first full Brackenwood game and I am pretty excited.


The two of us have spent the past 12 months working hard in weekly sprints. As well as talking constantly every day over Discord, each week invariably begins with a video call and screenshare where Kirk and I do a retrospective analysis of the previous week’s achievements/failures and then plan the week ahead. It’s also in these meetings where we raise new ideas, discard shitty ones and lock in any good ones. Whether we stick to the current plan, or decide to switch things up or adjust the schedule, I’m proud to say that the communication, planning and decision making has been fully documented and absolutely consistent. I like to think I’m very well-organised in my work but Kirk’s organisational skills are god tier. That’s why tomorrow, we’re releasing a game we’re proud of and I’m not here writing some delay apology/excuse.


Tomorrow, as per my usual weekend schedule, I’ll be live streaming on Twitch. We’ll be asking our viewers to register their interest for game codes. From there Kirk will be sending them out to the lucky chosen players. Once you have a code, you’ll be able to install the game and play immediately with options for solo practice, multiplayer against bots, set up your own server for your friends to join directly, or play on our dedicated servers in USA, Europe and Australia.


For us, the hard work starts after tomorrow, because this Early Access launch will be followed by a few months of fortnightly updates, including bug fixes, improvements, new levels and character progression. Kirk has also set up telemetry tracking everything that happens on the servers. If any alarms go off he’ll be alerted.


What’s kind of cool is that we’ve managed to get this far with me working full time (I’m an assistant director on Bob’s Burgers) during the week, then doing around 35-40 hours of game work on top. There are times when I feel a little burned out but the second half of this project has seen cool new feature added after cool new feature and it’s just amazing to watch it come together. I can also look back on the mountain of art I’ve created in the past 12 months, not to mention the new software and skills I’ve learned along the way, including Photoshop, Maya, ZBrush, Substance Painter, UE4 materials and lighting. I mean holy shit I can even write HTML and CSS now! Whaaaat??


OK I gotta go do some more illustrations, ball animation and marketing. See you tomorrow!


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Tag: brackensack

The Problem with Fatsack

Posted on November 30, 2017  in Art Updates

Bitey is an opportunist, stealing food, dominating smaller creatures and treating them as playthings. It’s not that he’s really a bully; he simply has no sense of empathy because he has grown up alone and wild. Some of the most entertaining moments in his story are when he is punished for this behaviour – Bitey of Brackenwood, Prowlies at the River, LittleFoot, Waterlollies all have this karmic thread ending in satisfying retribution. To most of us it’s a little sad watching him be cruel to little creatures.


So in BrackenSack we have a problem. You play as Dashkin, beating the shit out of a poor innocent creature who is obviously alive and making efforts to escape. But there’s no consequences. Without payback it’s just cruelty.


I wrestled with some story ideas and justifications for using a live creature as a ball. There’s one where I thought maybe fatsack creatures require hard impacts to reproduce. With such impact they release spores into the air which are inhaled by female fatsacks, leading to fertilisation! Genius huh?


Well as much as I like that idea (it may even be the justification for a mini-game in the single player) I finally settled on this origin story:

The Origin of the Ball

Originally it was played with waterlollies which break after a few heavy impacts. The game rules were simple – hit the ball until it breaks. Whoever breaks the ball is rewarded with a refreshing explosion of water. Game over.

The Viccans love the spectacle of Dashkin games; they were thoroughly delighted by the acrobatic skill and speed of play. In order to prolong games, they crafted a new, more durable game ball for the Dashkin and called it a BrackenSack. With a durable ball, the game rules evolved to include goals, generally hollows in trees or simple woven hoops. This added ball control and accuracy to an already thrilling game. Taking it even further, the Viccans even imbued the occasional ball with a wild, unpredictable magical force, causing it to wobble through the air, altering its trajectory and requiring an extra level of skill to control.


Pretty sure I know what you’re thinking, and the answer is yes – I want BrackenSack to have various ball types for different game modes – including waterlollies. SPLOOOOSH FX. I like animating water.


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