I Dreamed a Dream of Devs Gone by...

Well we missed a week of updating last week, but I suppose there's a first time for everything.  And hey, if Ed McMillen can miss a week, can miss one, alright?

Our hard deadline for content freeze in Shibe Warz development was the last day of November, which was about two weeks ago.  But we drastically underestimated how long development on certain aspects and mechanics would take, and due to a few other previously unforeseen circumstances that arose for one of our programmers, Nick and myself had to double-up on our crunch and extend our development of Shibe Warz into Mid-January.  We're also reverting to a "soft deadline" approach (or as I like to call it, the "Duke Nukem Forever" approach) for Shibe Warz, as we're no longer going to lie to ourselves.  All of this is giving Nicholas enough time to handle the rest of the coding workload and get a few office builds out to us in order to begin QA testing.  We've already overwhelmingly rearranged the game's GUI to be more user-friendly and intuitive but there's still so much more work to do.

This is definitely the largest and most comprehensive learning experience for me/us to-date.  Except maybe TimeGem which was our very first project, and taught us what it even means to "make a video game," which was an arduous and mammoth process from standing still to taking that first step.  That first step was like a leap off a chasm, but with Shibe Warz we're definitely catching ourselves and learning how to glide.  It's giving me, personally, a lot of appreciation for graphics artists in general, more than I had before even when I was knee-deep in other earlier work and knew less than I know now.

But I must digress.  There is more work to be done.  Rest assured there will not be another lost week of dev blog updating (remember: Every Wednesday!).  Stay tuned for more updates on Shibe Warz and Verus as the days progress, and be sure to follow us on Twitter!

Thanks for reading, and keep playing!


It's been two weeks and I'm still eyeballs-deep in artwork for Shibe Warz as well as pre-pre-development for our next project that we're primed to start in January 2014.  So with this in mind, bear with me that this blog post will be brief and will include (FINALLY) some more much-needed screenshots of what I've been working on in the Art department.

Firstly, I'd just like to say that I've never had more respect for animators and, even further behind-the-scenes, animation riggers, than at this point in my life.  Animation is a huge deal, and a very huge burden if you're not familiar with the ins-and-outs of its technical mechanics.

This is a shot of my Blender window with the main (and regrettably, only) character in Shibe Warz with a weight-painted rig.  I'm currently highlighting and moving his left arm into a position for a single keyframe of an Idle animation.

This is a shot of my Blender window with the main (and regrettably, only) character in Shibe Warz with a weight-painted rig.  I'm currently highlighting and moving his left arm into a position for a single keyframe of an Idle animation.

I've fallen in love with every single aspect of video game art, and find myself wishing that I'd been dabbling in it for the past ten years (which I will probably forever refer to as my "lost decade").  I have several mountains of knowledge to gain with respect to Art in gaming (and Art in general), but what I've learned through hands-on experience has been exquisite and absolutely invaluable.  I highly suggest getting your feet wet and your hands dirty, and downloading the freeware Blender for starters.  There are tons and TONS of tutorials on YouTube and BlenderGuru.com for you to peruse at your leisure and learn the ins-and-outs of the Digital Art world.

I really do enjoy all aspects of game Art, but before Shibe Warz I never really took any time necessary to fully appreciate how much work goes into character modeling.  This character you see here was blocked in very roughly (and with an ultra-low poly-count) in Blender before being exported to the freeware program Sculptris.  In Sculptris, I was able to subdivide the polygons on this model several times, giving it tons more polygons and myself the ability to add a lot of detail to the body and musculature.  From there I exported it back into Blender and built the armor pieces from scratch around the body, exporting the UV's to the freeware (spot a pattern...?) GIMP and making the textures from scratch.

 What you see here is the finished Plate Armor set rigged to the original body and ready to be inserted into the game (complete with the Idle animation from the first image above).

Over the course of the past two months, I've probably stared at this main character and all of his equipment sets a grand total of 75% of my contributed dev-time.  I'm absolutely sick of looking at him, but I regret that a game developer's work is never done.

 I was fortunate enough to have found an artistic understudy who has taken the time to work at my house every Monday for the past two months.  He worked exclusively on the weaponry in the game in order to get his feet wet firstly with Blender and 3D modeling, and secondarily with game development in general.  The axe you see in this screenshot is his handywork.  You will also notice some artifacts present through the armor.  Those will be dealt with summarily, but I must continue to move onto other more pressing things at the moment.

This is an example of what you can do with weaponry in Shibe Warz.  Each hand is able to hold onto a different weapon, and on your turn each of your characters can use one of their weapons' abilities on the battlefield.

The same goes for this picture.  A dagger in one hand (which confers X2 damage if attacking an enemy from the rear) and a crossbow in the other (which fires 3 times in one turn at up to 3 different enemies on the battlefield).  The armor he's wearing is leather armor, with moderate physical damage mitigation and light movement penalty.

 You can also mix-n-match helmets and boots between equipment sets.  The weapon you see in the character's left hand is the Wizard Staff, which confers huge bonuses to spells cast.

And finally, this is the preliminary animation still for the Longsword swing.

I hope this has been somewhat informative for you, and that it's something you can take away and get excited about for the upcoming turn-based tactical strategy game Shibe Warz, coming soon from us at Verus Games.  We're very passionate about video games, video game creation, and our players.  Stay tuned for more info from us and be sure to check out our other DevBlog articles below, and our Games section up-top to see how far we've come!

Thank you for reading, and we hope you have a good holiday if you're celebrating in any way.

~Anthony, Creative Lead

Never Give Up. Trust Your Instincts!


Here we are again.

Shibe Warz is coming along. There isn’t much to say on that front other than business as usual. Simply put, we have a schedule against which we churn out assets, and there is a set level of progress expected, a quantifiable amount of work needing doing, and we are doing it. It’s mind-boggling, but after such a short time, the pieces are falling into place and something resembling a game is emerging.

The team has done a great job so far, they’ve put in a ton of effort, blood, sweat, and tears. Well, ok, perhaps a little less on the blood I hope, and, having not heard of any mental breakdowns, I assume we are good on the tears. It isn’t easy to produce a product that is worth your time, so my hat goes off to the rest of the Verus team.

In fact, it might not be readily obvious how much work even goes into making a game, so in case you don’t know (and if you do feel free to skip the following statements), it’s a lot. For instance, you never know how many models and textures you need until you build your world and realize how empty it is. There are so many things which will come up that were not planned for. To try and capture a scene, setting the lighting, the ambiance is no easy task. As Andrew Hussie (author of Homestuck) said, “Creating entertainment is not really a lifestyle of madcap shenanigans. It is a very sober, often dull process that requires a huge amount of time and concentration. “ A short game you chew through in an hour could have taken a month to create from start to finish. That is a month of effort distilled and crystallized into a single experience. Now imagine creating a game that take days to finish.

So that’s why I am thankful for these guys. Their effort really is phenomenal.

But let me say this: everyone one of us will agree that it is worth it. I didn’t just lay all that out to start a pity party; you’ll find that greedy emotion is misplaced here. Ours is truly is a labor of love. We know that if you want something in life, you have to work towards it and never give up. We definitely won’t give up either, but it is important to keep an open, flexible mind when it comes to creation. The origin of creation usually comes from one idea, the “spark”, but in order to construct your creation, a bit of brainstorming usually has to be done.

Well, the thing about brainstorming is, usually just a few ideas come to fruition and the rest are discarded into the black and twisted depths of oblivion. This makes sense - after all, not every idea is possible, let alone good. This is what I call “brainstorming for the short game.” This is a very valuable skill and entirely necessary to reduce the scope of any project to the realm of feasible.

Yet, I urge you not to forget the short game’s counterpart, “brainstorming for the long game.” Brainstorming for the long game means that you keep ideas that are valuable even if you can’t enact them now. This includes ideas that had to be abandoned along the way. We’re just a young company, but already we have had to shelve some ideas even as they were being developed. It is important to maintain the ideas kicking around your head. Nourish them, entertain them, think about them. You never know when the day will come when you find that suddenly they are within reach and you have to act immediately.

The key to remember about the long game ideas is that they require a certain level of refinement. In many cases it is not even possible to refine the subject until you have more life experiences. Verus would not be what it is today if we all tried this 5 years ago, for instance. One of my favorite things to do is read early script versions for iconic movies. Back to the Future’s first draft script resembled nothing like the final product (for instance, the time machine was not a DeLorean, it was a refrigerator box). The first version of the script wasn’t even written until two years after Zemeckis has the idea. That is a long time to wait on your dream, but I think everyone agrees that it paid off.

And that’s what good, refined ideas do - they pay off. I’m not talking financially, either (though that certainly can be the case), I mean they pay off with the satisfaction of having made your dream a reality. A strong sense of pride and accomplishment, but especially satisfaction, accompanies attaining your dreams. Even if you don’t do it all at once, as long as you work towards it, you are doing something that matters. When you rest your head on your pillow at the end of the day and recognize the work you did, the steps you walked to get closer to your goal, then you will sleep soundly.

So the next time you have a million dollar idea, never doubt it or yourself. Acknowledge the steps you can take to reach your goal, chart your path to success, put your head down and go for it. After all, YOU had that idea for a reason, and only YOU are the one with the vision, and YOU are the only one capable of showing it to the world.


What are you waiting for?


Of Words and Warz

Hey guys, it’s Mike here, and I want to talk to you about something near and dear to my heart: writing! Of course, as the primary writer for Verus, it makes sense that I’d talk to you about something like this, but trust me when I say: even if you are bored to tears by the idea of writing, you may still glean some kind of use out of the rest of my post! But, I don’t want to bore you all completely, so I promise to only dedicate half of the post to writing. The rest will be about our latest project, Shibe Warz.


Know Thy Audience

This phrase is absolutely paramount for any kind of writing you may do. The basic premise is this: you can write a Shakespearean masterpiece, you can write the most eloquent piece of prose the world has ever seen, but in the wrong hands, your message at best can be lost and at worst be misinterpreted. I’m sure you’ve all heard about the workforce’s lack of good communication. And if you haven’t, well, it’s true - writing is not something that comes naturally to everyone, but fortunately for all of us, it IS a skill that can be developed, even without thinking too hard about it.

So, how do you do it? Well, first, let’s start with you. There is one person you know the most and it is yourself. You know all of your secrets, past, desires, and thoughts. But, for now, let’s keep it simple -- your desires. You have goals that you want to accomplish, whether it be asking that cute girl out, or getting that promotion you so rightfully deserve, or even just getting some chicken nuggets. Either way, you have a lot of wants floating around in your head, and you probably have at least some inkling of a plan to go out and accomplish them.

Great, so you have your desires mastered. Now here is the kicker: the person or people you are writing to have their own thoughts and desires. And they have their own plans to accomplish it. So when they open your email or read your little message you wrote on the refrigerator, the whole experience is colored by one thing in their mind: “how does this affect me? What am I supposed to take away from this?” You have to imagine yourself in the shoes of the person you are writing to. If you can imagine what they want, you can imagine how to reach that person! It’s that simple, even though it can be very challenging to actually do so. But like anything in life you want to be good at, though, you have to just keep at it. Remember the best writers are made of people who write all the time. It’s something I try to remember, too.


Shibe Warz Update

Well that’s enough meta-writing for one post, now for what you really want, the update on Shibe Warz. Before you get all excited, like I know you do, let me disappoint you. There will be no tasty screenshots of our progress this post.

I’ll let that bad news sink in.

Now, if you are still reading, here is what I CAN give you. We’ve recently added two new recruits to our game squad, and things couldn’t be going better! With more people, like a microcosm of human civilization, we are beginning to see specialization appearing! It’s very exciting. We’ve added Zurek to art assets to assist Anthony, and we’ve added Chris to music development. They are both as enthusiastic as the rest of us about creating quality games to bring to you, which is exciting.

We’ve grown to the point that we need a little more organization in our ranks, with more rigid timetables. Gone are the days of “he says she says” development. Our project coordinator Nick has recently taken on the role of organizing the whole of the business of Verus, and that means more responsibility in getting deliverables in. Yet, it’s business as usual here at Verus, because everyone knows what their roles are, and we all work fluently towards the common goal of bringing you a quality product. As for me? Well I am currently deeply involved in another of our projects that I won’t reveal here (sorry, friends, you’ll have to wait on that one), but I can say that I’ll be doing additional work for Shibe Warz, to sort of fill in the cracks of what needs to be done.

It’s exciting (there’s that word again) for such a unique, good group of people to get together, all with the same vision in mind, and yet varied enough in their ideas to yield amazing results. Yes, I am making many promises and stating several provocative facts. Because they are facts. And this will be a game you cannot miss.

Shibe Warz.