We've got an unexpected and exciting announcement: We're announcing another project - a top-down 2D sandbox title, made using the Godot engine.
If you've been around for any length of time, you've probably got questions - so let's dive right in.
What is this Untitled Sandbox Project?
As stated before - this game is a top-down 2D sandbox game, similar to things like Minecraft or Valheim, or Terraria to an extent. Right now, it's fairly early in development - however, despite that, there's a lot more to see than what we've had to show with Blamite thus far - at least in terms of anything resembling gameplay.
However, you're probably wondering: why? What made us decide to switch gears from Blamite and start on yet another different project?
Well, first and foremost - we want to be clear that Blamite isn't going anywhere. It's not cancelled, nor is it being shelved to collect dust forever. We're still excited and intend to continue working on Blamite going forward.
As for why it is we decided to temporarily focus on this instead, there's a couple big reasons:
You've likely noticed that we don't exactly pull in a ton of funds, which makes sense since we don't have anything to sell just yet. This was one of the starting points of conversation for a project like this: what is a project that I, as one person, can feasibly create in a relatively short span of time?
The best case scenario would be that I can focus on it (and Blamite) much more if a project such as this were able to bring in enough revenue to take the place of my full-time job, or perhaps even enough to have some form of paid team members to help those projects move along at a more constant pace.
At worst, however - it's still going to be a great benefit in many ways. It gives me some real experience in both developing a game, getting a real sense of what things I might want to consider including in Blamite - but also just understanding what it's like to ship and support a product. It also is a real project I can put on my portfolio, which may help me get into a better paying job than the relatively low-level work I've been able to get thus far - which in turn would also provide more funding to Elaztek, allowing Blamite and other projects to receive some actual funding and help them move along a bit quicker.
One of the benefits of creating a game like this (and in an existing engine) is that, of course, it'll lead to a much shorter development time. Blamite is making good progress, but it's nowhere near game-ready as of yet. Along with that, I've managed to become fairly decent at texture work when it comes to pixel art - which, combined with everything else, means that I could feasibly create this project, as one person, perhaps even within the span of a number of months, maybe a year tops.
The clearest illustration you can see of this is in what we've got done thus far. What you see is really just a week and a half's worth of work on my part - and during weekdays, I've only got a couple hours to put in.
This same line of thinking on our part previously led us to (briefly) consider another project - one that you'll find and see some leftovers from in the first build of this project: Stripper Run. If you want all the details and backstory on that, check the spoiler below.
Stripper Run was conceived as a half-joke when I and some others were discussing possible ideas for a small-scale game, at which point someone jokingly suggested Stripper Run: an endless runner where you play as a stripper. This got as far as some basic movement and a basic document outlining some planned features and environments for the project.
It was planned to be mobile-first (though a PC release would've happened too), and the goal was to avoid obstacles and reach a certain distance within a particular level theme in order to unlock the next theme. From there, you could "free-play" cleared themes to just see how far you could get. It would've had gems as a virtual currency (though these could be earned in-game too, because we hate when you have to buy stuff), and in-game advertisements were being considered for the free mobile version, while allowing them to be removed with a one-time purchase. PC would've been paid from the start, but wouldn't have had any advertisements.
From that description, you might get a sense of why we didn't go forward with this. It was too money-grubby, too soulless in a sense. It didn't feel right to have our debut title be some endless runner that - while sure, has a funny gimmick - would've been something you play for a minute or two here or there at best in most cases.
Along with that, there's another key issue - I'm not a mobile gamer, nor do I even touch these types of games. How could I make a compelling game in a genre that I don't have any passion for?
I couldn't, and as such, the project was canned. The only public evidence that it ever existed was this video on my personal YouTube channel, from when Stripper Run was being developed in Unity. It was later switched to Godot due to some technical issues I had with getting pixel-art UI to scale well, which you can check below if you're interested:
What the UI was supposed to look like (how it displayed in the Unity editor):
How it looked in-game:
Meanwhile, replicating the same thing in Godot took virtually no effort and just worked as you would expect.
In future builds, these holdovers will be removed - but we figured it'd be fun to leave them in for this first pre-alpha build.
Why Godot? What about Blamite?
While we've gone into it earlier, we'll expand on it a little bit further: right now, Blamite just isn't ready for game development. It's made good progress, but it's got a long way to go. With one of the goals of this project being a short development time, using Blamite for this just isn't feasible.
But as also stated before: this does not mean that we're ditching Blamite and that we'll be using Godot going forward. Our intent is for this to be a once-off, and for all games beyond this first title to be made using Blamite. We do plan to continue to support the Sandbox project for many years to come, but for any future games, we plan to stick with Blamite.
We could've also used Unity, but due to their recent licensing changes and violations of trust (which yes, have been largely rolled back now, but the trust issue remains), and due to genuine technical issues we had trying to get pixel art GUI to display properly at all, we find Godot more preferable. It's free, open source, and we don't owe them any royalty fees - and it just so happens to work better in our case.
When can I play it?
That's the cool part - as you might've worked out from us mentioning a pre-alpha build earlier, you can play our first build right now, for free!
These development builds we share will always remain free, but keep in mind that in the future, once we reach what we'd consider to be an alpha stage, we will start requiring purchases. That being said, we also plan to have a pricing model similar to what Minecraft had - where if you bought it during Alpha or Beta, you'd end up getting a discount. As such, once we reach Alpha, if you choose to buy it at that point, you'll own the game - and you'll get all future updates from then onward.
Similarly, we also do plan to allow legacy versions to be played, also much like Minecraft - so if you buy the game at a later date, you'll still be able to go back in time and play those old Alpha or Beta builds if you'd like.
For now, though, these initial builds will be free - and they'll remain free even once we reach Alpha. To check out all available builds (both this first one and future ones we publish), check out this page. If you'd like to keep up with our development progress, we've made the Sandbox stratagem page public viewing - just like with Blamite. You can check that out here: https://elaztek.com/stratagem/projects/5-sandbox/
To wrap up, we'll share some screenshots we've taken during this first development period - from the start of the project to now. Enjoy! If there's anything you'd like to see in the final game, be sure to let us know on our Discord or here on the website!