Community Announcements - James

A super-mega-ultra-update is coming!

Hello everybody! First of all, thank you for your support and your beautiful reviews, comments, videos and everything! It’s really important to me, here in the Albedo Cave, to get your support!

Ok, this post will contain some spoilers. Actually, a lot. So, if you haven’t finished the game (we can call the Early Access version as First Part! as you know it finishes with a particular event… cliffhanger… BRRRRR!!!!), DO IT (if you are skilled enough, AH AH AH -Evil LOL) then read this absolutely interesting post!

Don’t worry if I seem a little crazy writing these words: since I’m working on Albedo, sometime (if ever) I forget to sleep, and, as it is good to be productive and creative, sometimes it makes you (me) a bit crazy. However!

In the next update (I think you will be able to play it for Halloweeeeeeen!) you will have two (2) new levels! Hope they’ll be as complete as possible!
About the first one: you know when you eat something VERY heavy, and you feel as something is climbing from your stomach through your throat? No? (Uhhhmmmm… Better if I change some of my food habits!) OK, don't worry. Anyway, try to imagine the way that this piece of heavy food can feel while climbing! All the efforts it has to face!
Ok, now you have a rough idea of the first new level!

About the second one:... ehmmm... the CAVE! and YES! a lot of things to kill! I’m making it very very VERY hard in hard-mode (Ivan gets killed in about 3 seconds -but he is an OLD guy and his reflexes are very slow)... I’m an old school guy, as you know. Video games must be difficult!!! And then…. Well, I can’t tell you anymore! TOOOOOO MAAAAANY SPOILERS! Luke and James of Merge Games would kill me! (No, they can’t! I have to finish the game!)

So, have a wonderful autumn weekend (you humans who lives outside of the Albedo Cave), and please continue to support me as much as you can, and HF!
Community Announcements - merge buzz
Check out this review by GameScouts:

"Albedo: Eyes from Outer Space is one of the most enjoyable Early Access titles I’ve played in a long time."
Community Announcements - James
Hi guyz, Z4G0 here; from the Albedo darkness, working on the new level (I won’t tell which one)!
This is a snapshot directly taken from Unity… I think that these screens have some poetry. Nerd poetry!
Anyway, take this:

Hover above for a preview!

It’s enjoyably difficult for me to consider finishing an environment in the game. EVERYTHING can ever be better. Details are never finished.
For example, take a look to this ‘evolution’ screen, referring to the third room of the game.
From the top left, you can see the very first version, about 1 and half years old. Mas o menos.

I liked it!
Then, a friend of mine told me ‘Nice. What the hell are these apples growing on the wall?’. They were NOT apples! They were eyeballs!!!
But, evidently, they didn’t seems like that.
So, I threw my friend out of the window (the western one) and I worked on the environment again.
Then: you can see that apples clearly became eyeballs.
My friend came back and saw it “Nice. What a cozy environment, with this warm light and these stairs so easy to reach!”. I threw him out the window (the southern one) and so I went back to work again!
After three or four flights of my friend through the window, the environment was similar to the one you can see now in the game.
An environment: You create it, you fill it full of assets needed for the game logic, you insert details, till you (think that you) finish the environment and you (almost) like it… then, one or two weeks later, you see it another time, and you see how poor it is, how many details you still can add. You discover another shader you can use, you set another spotlight which changes the whole appearence of the screen…
You never finish! Till you understand that you are extremely in delay with next environments! 24h a day aren’t enough, believe me or not. Life is tough!
…but when the going gets tough, the tough get going!
Anyway, thank you for reading me and supporting me playing my game!

This is Radio Z4G0 from the Albedo cave working on your favorite game!

HF! :)
Community Announcements - James
Cosmetics for Monsters

OK guys, here we are, present day with my dev diary. Someone of you are already playing the game while I’m working on new levels. But I can’t tell you too much about that, better to avoid spoilers!!!
So, I think that I will show you the evolution of the creature you will meet in the beginning of your adventure. It is a really lovely creature: one-big-eyed, an angry mouth in the middle, two funny claws which can be used to cut your feet, a couple of dinosaur’s legs with some pretty nails. And, obviously, a funny tail in the back. Ermm… well, not exactly a tail. A tentacle.
Ivan calls it Oculus Peculiaris Sauris Tentacolus.
I call it FUFFI.
In this picture, you can see the evolution of the sweet beast, from LONGY 1 (more than ten years ago, when I was a very young Z4G0… Z3G0) :D I produced it with a Cinema 4D , rendered it to be used in the LONGY 1’s 2D environment.
Please pay attention to the (absent) antialiasing, and the dark pixel on the border! I was a really young dev…
Anyway, after that, when I began moving to 3D, I used (mas o menos) the same model in 3D real time. Well, the crude 3D real time is not so beautiful, if you don’t pay attention to a lot of cosmetics. So, I did cosmetics for monsters.
Not enough. You know, when a monster goes to the beautician, it is never satisfied, it will always say “my tail is too short”, or “my jaws are too opaque”, “I want more mortal claws” and so on. The normal complaints that you hear when you go to the beautician.
So, I worked heavily on the different parts, also on their animations, to keep the creature cheerfully lively. Lots of cosmetics!
So, keep in mind when, in the game, when you get the desire to hit its poor big-eyed-head. It is only a little, sweet, funny pet with some tentacle and claws, at least!
Remember this when it goes to eat you!
OK… back to work for your favorite game! :D

Community Announcements - Duke
A quick note to say Albedo: Eyes from Outer Space has just launched into Early Access.

In conjunction with the release we have launched a new trailer. I hope everyone enjoys the 'Pulp Fiction' style of music........

Merge Games
Community Announcements - James
Beam us up, Scotty!!!! Albedo's ready to conquer the universe! (I hope)

Game Connection 2013, Paris. In early December, Ivan flew to France with the alpha version of Albedo installed on his laptop. He showed the game to a lot of people, and discovered that yes; Albedo was a good name, befitting the personality of the game.
Interest in the game was really strong.
Anyway, our interest was to keep our ‘indie’ nature as much as possible but at the same time, we wanted to find someone helping us to fulfil a very important role for the game: publishing.
As we don’t live in Wonderland, where easy-ways-to-do-things are possible, we knew absolutely that we needed someone to work on this with us.

At Game Connection, you have a meeting-app helping you organize a sort of speed-dating setup between developers/buyers/publishers/journalists and so on. Often, you can’t decide the schedule of your meetings. Well, the very first meeting for Ivan was with Merge Games!

Ivan met Luke and Joanne Keighran at the 9:00 a.m. of the first day of Game Connection. Showed them Albedo; they said WOW. Ivan, Joanne and Luke previously met, in the European Game Connection the previous year. The meeting was, once again, the first one of the agenda! It’s destiny…

Business is business; but not completely. It is very important when you work with someone to develop a business; to trust your partner completely. But, before you complete your business, you can’t know for certain if something bad will happen. So, we follow our instincts a lot, the money comes after, what’s important are the Good Vibrations!

Well. We picked up very good vibrations with Luke and Joanne! They evaluate the project (thanks Mr. James de Silva!!!) and found it interesting; we cut straight to the point and made a publishing agreement. They visited us in Bologna after some weeks, they tasted some very good tortellini (wonderful kind of pasta of Bologna) and wonderful Scottish whisky!

Merge Games is an independent publisher, spending a lot of time, attention and resources on every game. So, I can tell you, we really worked together well on the game, deciding a lot of things together.

So, the Albedo team was done!
It was springtime.... birds were singing on the trees… flowers growing in the fields… and me in my neon-lit-office developing ALBEDO! So romantic!

I was working 24.5 hours per day to complete the game. A game not for casual gamers, as enigmas are not easy, the game structure itself is not so easy. Yes, it’s quite linear, but I’ve put a lot of different genres in my game. There’s a lot of improvisation. As I said previously, the beautiful thing about being a one-man-dev-team is that you can plan things, and decide what to do very quickly. It is a very creative way to work.

To be as quick as possible, while deciding things and implement them in the game, I created, in ALBEDO, a scripting language; something like SCUMM (someone out there remembers Monkey Island, right? :) )

Something like this:

So, I was able, for example, to get drunk, have crazy ideas, and implement it immediately!
Umm… honestly, I don’t get drunk often. I’m a geeky good fellow!

As I wanted to give Albedo a particular visual style, with a lot of colours, grunge and warm lights (Albedo actually means something like, reflection value of light off materials… coal is around 0, snow is nearly 1 on the albedo scale) I started work on a lot on shaders.

Question: WTF are shaders?!
Answer: Shaders, in poorly worded, are scripts, now written in a simple language (as HLSL of Direct X, GLSL of OPENGL, or the Unity one -Shaderlab and CG- which is a mix between DirectX one and OPENGL one) which explains to the graphical hardware, what to do; for example, post processing every pixel of the rendered image on screen. Very useful to create beautiful effects for textures, lighting and so on, pixel by pixel. Or, post processing the whole picture; for example, adding static like on an old TV (you’ll be able to see this shader in the credits of the game).

Ermmm… Anyway, I bought some shaders from the asset store! (the best ones in my opinion)
All the ugly ones are done by me! :P
NO! just KIDDING ! I wrote most of the best shaders!

I worked a lot on the GUI, trying to create something special. Again; not for casual user. I tried to create specific enigmas, where you must think to face a ‘normal’ enigma’s logic, but it isn’t. So you have to modify your perception of the enigma, your point of view, because just maybe, the solution is not only pure logic!

Will this be the correct direction? Or are all of you players going to send me to hell, filling comments with bad words because the game is difficult?
I think that You (and I, as I am a Steam user as well) will enjoy a challenge, well-mixed (I hope) in with the original game mechanics. I hope you will like the colourful darkness I tried to create, to give you an unforgettable experience.
[But ---> Important! I inserted options for EASY-MEDIUM-HARD mode… there are a lot of hints and tips, if you want them!]

For this, with Ivan and Luke we decided to go in Early Access, with 12 levels (of 20 planned for the final version). We want to hear from you, we need your advice, to make the game perfect for you and to make the game perfectly clear. So, help me to develop Albedo. I’m working hard on the next levels, so I’ll be listening.

OK. Here we are!
Tomorrow is Day One. In a few hours, Albedo: Eyes from Outer Space will be available on Early Access. I think that I’ll work a lot tonight… I’m so excited; it’ll be very hard to sleep!
I’m ready!

Scotty, One for beaming up to Steam!!!!

Community Announcements - James
Have you ever seen the hit TV series Gomorrah?

In the season 1 finale, the young boss is playing a video game, before he [SPOILER! CENSORED]...
The game he was playing was ALBEDO!

Check out the show's credits (6th credit from the bottom):

Community Announcements - James
And in the end, they came from Outer Space!!!

As I mentioned previously, I met Ivan Venturi some years ago. We began to work together on projects for disabilities (a visual-impaired simulator in XNA), then on children’s educational games on road safety. Then he proposed that I become the managing director of the Nicolas Eymerich, Inquisitor project.
So we began working together with other colleagues daily, and I began this routine:

while(1){ //BEGIN LOOP
- Arrive at office by bus: A 40 minute trip, from my house to the Ivan’s company.
- Start work: Programming, Data managing, Modelling and many other things: In Italy, most of the companies are little companies. So we (Italian devs) have the habit of doing a lot of things; not only coding, modelling, testing, animating, designing, texturing or [all-the-infinite-remaining-things]; but all of them. And we like it!
- Have lunch: Mainly “panino alla mortadella”. “panino” is not exactly a sandwich. It is a little bread divided in two parts, and inside it you can put salame, prosciutto, bresaola, coppa, cotto, squaccherone, stracchino, and a lot of other things. And, obviously, “mortadella”. It is the ‘salami’ thing produced mainly in our city (
- Drink Coffee: (You know Italian coffee: it is like a speed boost, very useful after lunch when your eyes begin to droop as you drift off for a little snooze) in Via del Pratello (near our office: a street full of Trattorie -Diners- and Osterie -Taverns).
- Return to Work: (Sometimes it is important to work) on programming and other wonderful things
- Go Home: Another 40 minute trip.

Interesting, don’t you agree? NO. Not exactly, I know. But the thing is that, out of my routine, after dinner, by night mainly, I worked on LONGY 2, spending (the most part of) my free time creating (programming/designing/modelling/animating/FX/texturing/etc) my game, the sequel of StealthZzTHzZth and Longy 1!!!

So; the day was for the Inquisitor, the night for Longy!
Sometimes for sleep...

I spent a lot of time, about 2 hours a day, waiting and commuting by bus. Wasted time? NO! In our life sometime (often) we need to get slower. It’s a slowdown bonus!
So waiting for the bus was my slowdown bonus.
I designed my game waiting and commuting by bus! Just thinking and dreaming, watching out of the window as the parallax of the world (so many layers!) scrolls and the shader of rain deforms the window glass. I love this stuff!

Please Z4G0, be brief. Ok, ok, I will.

In March 2013, Ivan was preparing to go to Game Connection in San Francisco (Estados Unidos) for business. Ok, I’m a shy guy, don’t talk too much. So I didn’t talk with him about Longy 2. But a colleague of mine, Max Di Fraia (who gives me help with music of the game) said to Ivan, “Hey, don’t you know that Z4G0 is developing a game?”
So I showed Longy 2 to Ivan. And Ivan said something like “WOW” if I remember correctly; the Italian version of WTF, and in dialect version as well, and in the slang version, then again, in Italian version. I had the impression that he liked the game. Ivan is a Sci-Fi fan and he liked the retro, heavy colours and so on, of the game. He told me that the game looked like an old 60s Sci-Fi movie to him, something like “It came from Outer Space”, or “Plan 9 from Outer Space”. Something from Outer Space, definitely!

Outer space. Alea jacta est. The game was done!

Ivan went to San Francisco and showed the playable demo of the game, still named Longy to a lot of publishers, and obtaining good interest. But he discovered a point of weakness of the game. It was quite completely anonymous. Longy, you know, is a wonderful, incredible, beautiful name, an amazing sound to the ears! Anyway, still not the best title.
As a friend (Eclipse!) said “What about players telling you that is not a very “long” game?” and joking on the word ‘long’?

I lost my remaining few sleeping hours thinking on this! The title is extremely important, the first (or second) thing that the player knows of your game. Very important.
So, it was very important to find another name.

I worked deeply on shaders in Unity, a lot on lighting: bloom, glow, reflections, and similar things. If you see my game, you can see this. There’s a lot of work in this direction, a particular style. Very colourful, rather than ultra-realistic. The style I like. Or better, the way my personal graphics card (part of my brain) sees the world. Saturated colours everywhere!!! The ALBEDO!

ALBEDO is good in Italian, and in English as well. I like it a lot. Ivan says he likes it a lot, too. Ivan showed it to other colleagues, and they liked it a lot, too. They showed it to friends, they liked it. Friends told me, and I like it a lot too!

I put my alien creatures everywhere, and now in this game (they are CENTRAL to the game) Ivan asked me to put a subtitle after ALBEDO, for a 60s Sci-Fi style. Maybe “EYES FROM OUTER SPACE”, I thought.

Community Announcements - James
Turning to Unity3D

In the 60’s Stanley Kubrick dreamed that in 2001 the mankind would be conquering the space. Instead of this, in 2001, Longy 1 was published!

Life continued. In 2008 I began working in a company, producing an online videogame; Before, I finished high school and began University of Information Technology in Bologna, in 2004.
But I continued to have the strong will to develop my own videogames.
Anyway, if you live as a student in Bologna, which gives hospitality to almost 80000 students, (more than) half of them girls, you have a LOT of problems producing your own videogames. A lot of bad things like parties, concerts, things to do and so on. DISTRACTIONS! Terrible if you want to be an indie game developer.
But, luckily, I live near Bologna, not exactly in it, so I saved the future of my own videogames.

In the meanwhile, my vision of videogames changed. I added one dimension to my dreams. 3D entered in my life and I began thinking to a new game, Longy-based, in 3D.
Not a precise idea. Not a draft idea, really. Better to say a direction. I thought “The game will be in a 3D world. So I have to build a 3D world. And to build a 3D world, I have to build a 3D-world builder!”
So I began the “EdiTable” project!

As you probably know, if someone of you develop games or like the idea of doing it sooner or later in life, to develop editors or tools for the game, sometime is more fun than developing the game. It is a wonderful sensation to create something that will enhance your life, simplifying complex phases. You feel that the world gets better. And so it is! Game editors make the world better! All of mankind agrees, I’m sure.

EdiTable was a 3D-world editor, as I say, where you can import 3D-objects, meshes, textures and so on; put it in the scene, assign behaviours parameters and a lot of other beautiful things and so on. EdiTable had the possibility to let user edit the editor itself (hence the name) scripting and customizing almost all things: from the description of the type of objects and relative binding, to the output file format specification... from create own GUI skins to add or edit the different ways to import the objects in scene, like single objects, groups, spline, path etc…

Not only this; my 3D-world builder had to also be a super-mega-ultra-engine, with lighting ******* PLEASE ZAGO COMPLETA QUI ***!!!
It was based on BlitzBasic for rendering, but the most part of the features had to be absolutely great, the absolute dream of every developer! Maybe all the indie devs of the world would adopt my engine!

In 2010 (about. maybe) I met Ivan Venturi, an old Italian videogame producer. Not because he’s old (YES Ivan, you’re an OLD GUY!!!!), just because he was one of the first Italian videogame developer, publishing his first videogame in 1987 and co-founding the first Italian videogame company, Simulmondo, very famous in Italian videogame history.
As in this period the main business of Ivan was serious gaming and similar, we developed a couple of videogames, an edutainment game on road safety and a disability simulator. In the meanwhile Ivan had begun also to produce the Nicolas Eymerich Inquisitor saga. So, after a couple of years, when the project entered an advanced stage of production, he asked me to become the managing director of the game. So I entered deeply in the project.

Not only. I fell deeply in Unity3D. Full immersion.

Well. Do you remember I talked about ‘EdiTable’, my 3D-world builder and blitz-basic-based engine? Ok. Try to compare characteristics I wrote of EdiTable, with Unity3D 2.0 characteristics.
You’ll discover that Unity3D had all these characteristics. Not only. About 20-30 times more. And it do this things 20-30 way better... Exporting the project for Mac, iOS, Android.
My pride was destroyed! My will became cheese. My dreams turned to trash. The world of engine builders would never been mine. A tragedy.

So, with the death of my ambitions in my heart, but with the bravery of Duke Nukem, I decided to abandon the EdiTable project. And I completely surrendered to will of Unity3D!

(And, BTW, if you dev guys want to develop your own engine, let me give you some advice: if you want to do it for educational purposes, yeah, it’s great! but if you want to do also a games, don’t do it, go to the seaside, maybe the Caribbean, and try to forget your dreams - somewhere in the world, someone has already done what you are thinking about, better than you, and before you - so develop games, not engines. If you’re not making games, developing editors & tools is GREAT!!!)

Well. At the end of the day, after all these misfortunes, I did three things.
FIRST: I began working to my new videogame. LONGY 2.
SECOND: I began developing it in Unity3D!
THREE: I don’t remember...

OK guyz, rest your eyes, stop reading my blog and go look at the trees or flowers or horizons or nature and all that stuff. I have to return to my code. I have a list of bugs to fix and more polishing to do before Early Access version, long about 2 kilometres (you know, in Italy we use Kilometres, not Miles).
So, back putting my nose in Unity3D editor. See ya!
Community Announcements - merge buzz
In the second of this teaser trailer series you can see the beautifully crafted outside world after John T. Longy has successfully escaped the confines of the lab, only now to be caught between two different alien factions as the second landing wave begins.

Want to see more? Subscribe to our channel to check out the rest of the series coming soon!

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