Here we are at the first weekly devlog! My aim with these is to give a round up of progress this week, how the game is getting along and any other wee bits that might be of interest. If there’s anything you’d like to hear more about I would welcome the feedback, but for now…
The mechanical model for the game is now 100% feature complete and out of alpha! We’re now entering the realm of strimming the weeds and tightening the belts in beta testing. I’ve had a couple of questions about the beta – I’m going for a closed beta to keep things moving quickly for the May release. My first beta tester was my lovely mum who had a go last night! I’ve been learning a lot of valuable informaton about what works and what doesn’t and I can confidently say It Is A Fun Game now, which is a huge relief. I want to take the opportunity to give a wee shout out to my best friend in the world Sadie, who basically alpha tested the game singlehandedly and who has tweaked so many rules and mechanics that she’s getting a writing credit. What a babe.
One of the things I’ve been aiming for with this game is a false sense of security followed by sudden realisations of looming dangers, and every player has reported that even after multiple games. Right now I’m working on making the games instructions human readable so that the stress only comes from the gameplay – as it stands I’m expecting playtesters to read my mystery glyphs, flow charts and tables. While that’s funny for me I don’t think it’s sustainable for the future (lol)
The game is a collection of found documents, and that means I need A LOT of variation in the physical materials represented in the game. I’ve been putting paper in the oven, running sheets of paper up and down the close floor, scanning in interesting textures from loads of old books and many other vaguely silly things. One of my first big production purchases was a dot matrix printer and I have fallen head over heels in love with it, even if my flatmates want to smash it to bits with a hammer. Collectors edition and feelies backers will be getting materials direct from the printer. I spent half a day learning about ancient printer drivers and modes so I can use the inbuilt fonts from the printer itself, and boy oh boy do they look cool!!
I’m very interested in what materials people would use after the bomb. I think one of the major failures of the fallout series is the conceit that hundreds of years after the end of civilisation, nobody has run a brush about the place or given a fence a lick of paint. I think that no matter how horrible things get, people will want to make the best of their situation. In the setting of Dead Air, how would people replace the complex international production chain for printed materials? I’m experimenting with different things at the moment, including a very rough recycled paper I’m making in a big tub in the cupboard. I’ll post some examples in an upcoming update once I’m happy with them!
Finally on the subject of materials, here’s a wee sneak peek at the production guidance pamphlet. I’ve switched the format to an A5 trifold to give me a bit more space! Let me know what you think of it.
I visited the National Museum of Flight over on the East Coast. They have one of the surviving Vulcan bombers out on display and I took a few pictures.
The Vulcan was designed as part of the V bomber programme to furnish the UK with their own “strategic nuclear force”. In reality this means the Vulcan was designed specifically to act as a MAD deterrent – telling the soviets that we would murder millions of civilians for the sake of it if they ever launched. The original specification for range is 2,800 km – Moscow is 2,400 km from RAF Waddington in what I am sure is just a coincidence. A number of Vulcans were originally painted in Anti-Flash White in the borderline ludicrous notion that the crew would survive the blast. Where would they land? If you only drop nuclear weapons as a reprisal, surely your runways are vaporised by the time you get home?
Of course, these machines never dropped the bombs in anger, and the world which these lunatics tried to create for us (and which Dead Air apes) never came to pass. They gradually fell to bits and sociopaths will tell you they did their job just by existing as a threat. One particular point of interest is their use in the honestly incredible Black Buck operations during the Falklands War, which is a topic way too complex to go into here but well worth a read into. A few ended up in preservation, including the one at the National Museum. The museum is great and worth a visit, if nothing else just to see this lump of hateful metal fading away on the tarmac.
Thanks for reading! Next week’s update should include some more playtesting detail, some more sneak peek pages and just general updates. I hope this has been interesting and useful to you! Stay tuned, and stay safe out there,
One final note…
Here’s a game which looks VERY cool and should appeal to Dead Air listeners –
VOID 1680AM is a solo playlist building game about making connections with callers in the ether. It is dripping with US radio atmosphere and I am really, REALLY excited for the launch on the 8th of this month. Have a look!