Tuesday, March 31, 2009


We remain holed up in our underground prison - left to toil away while friends, family members, and lo, even sunlight becomes a long distant memory. We had long since resigned ourselves to our fate, our only consolation being the enjoyment that will fill your hearts upon the game's arrival.

But - ! Could there be a way to speak to the outside world? A way our daily comings and goings could be broadcast to Earth civilization? Or at least shouted into the empty unfeeling vacuum that is the internet?

There is! All hail Watermelon's Twitter page!

Can't get enough of our updates? Want more?! Do you have a bizarre fear of Tuesday, thus rendering you incapable of checking the website when it updates? Do you actually venture outdoors occasionally and are (GASP!) sometimes not near a computer?!

Our Twitter page has the answer! Head on over to http://www.twitter.com/watermelongames and become a follower.

Yes. It is vaguely cultish.

What will you get?

-A daily (and possibly more!) update on the team's comings and goings.
-Early announcements
-Exclusive information
-And other goodies and fun stuff we haven't come up with yet.

Join us. Until next time Watermelon fans.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Around the World in Forty Builds

One of the cool things about working on Pier Solar is the increasingly global nature of the project. It was obvious at the beginning, with team members hailing from the US, Sweden, France and even the cold desolate landscape of Canada - where the polar bears roam free and some consider the CBC worth watching. As more members jumped on and the game finally began to take shape we began to realize how much our networked existence is beginning to change things.

None of us have ever met, and most of us have only heard each others' voices on rare occasions. Yet here we are, with an almost complete video game produced at cost, with no development house, no round table meetings, not even a hand shake between members.

Pier Solar, along with other indie titles, might be among the first wave of nation-neutral entertainment. Final Fantasy belongs to Japan. Fable belongs to Ireland. Mass Effect to Canada.

Us? We're international baby. Pier Solar could actually be a catalyst for world peace.

Maybe not.

Speaking of being international, I don't think the heartless slave drivers at Watermelon have formally thanked our small army of volunteer translators. Also hailing from everywhere, these guys have been working incredibly hard to bring you the game in as many languages as possible.

And truthfully? They're doing an INCREDIBLE job. They all have great turn around rates and always deal with the myriad of changes we dump on them with incredible professionalism.

That is of course, assuming that they're translating everything accurately. If any Japanese players notice that the game's plot seems to be about the joyful mass extermination of a major ethnicity drop us a line. It may be a localization bug.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Web Master talks Pier Solar

Hi there folks,
It's not often as the web and PR bloke that I get to speak about Pier Solar to its fans. Unlike the rest of the team, I'm not directly involved in development but I do have the perk of seeing inside game progress!

As an insider, I thought I'd give a bit of a fan based prospective of my experiences playing a recent build of the game.

The games initial opening sequences are something you rarely see in Sega Mega Drive / Genesis games in terms of movement. The logos, introduction and title screen sequences have fluid animation and effects that I personally only associate with very late SNES and post 16-bit games.

The game menu has many options and customisations to choose from and by the looks of it a lot of un-lockable items, I'm presently unaware of what these are or how they will be unlocked but it looks like playing hard will reward you with a lot of extra content!

The game itself has come on in leaps and bounds since the initial demo. The demo pales in comparison to what I'm playing on now. Just from walking around in the game, you can really see how the team took every bad word spoken of graphics and really turned it around! Some of the maps are huge! And have puzzles, chests and keys scattered all over the place this game isn't going to be a breeze to complete like the demo!

Battles have some massive sprites for a Mega Drive / Genesis, great monsters with very nice frame rates, magic, weather, some very interesting other graphical feats that I can't really speak about. Pushing hardware was definitely on Fonzie's cards when he was programming!

I'm going to leave my comments there and say I'm glad I pre-ordered before I became a member of the team! I'm extremely confident that this game will certainly make a big mark for itself in the retro community.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The NPC Uprising is at Hand!

Our mission continues this week and the final maps are being prepared with diligence and speed never before seen among mere mortals. We've still got a few to go, but thankfully the quality isn't being sacrificed to the great Crunch Gods and everything from user path to chest placement is being crafted with the utmost care.

We're also putting together some more subquests. The first round has been designed and is ready for scripting and design of the second round has begun. We've got your standard item fetch quests that are the bread and butter of role playing games, but others are much more involved - often revealing elements of the story you'll miss out on if you let the game lead you by the hand. Our advice? Have a little look around before you jump to the next section of the game - you'll be pleasantly surprised.

When you think of the story in an RPG (or any game really) you'd think the bulk of the writing difficulties come from crafting the actual... you know... story. Not so! It's the pesky NPC dialogue that populates towns and villages that is the real irritant of narrative design. Why? Usually you have one option when writing NPC scripts - and that's to make them completely utilitarian. Using them to give clues to hopelessly lost players, reducing your digital denizens to mere information conduits - their lives losing all meaning the moment their hints are internalized by the player, leaving them to wallow in seas of despair when the game's code no longer calls to them. We actually lost our entire first batch of NPCs to mass suicide. They formed a little pixelated Heaven's Gate cult and did themselves in during one of our play tests.

Keep that in mind the next time you heartless fiends pass by Old Woman #6 in the latest next gen RPG. She's been waiting for you her whole life! Talk to her! Let her feel loved and important at least once during her miserable existence.

You. Owe. Her.

Heedless of our NPCs' quality of life we've begun filling the game with their endless chatter, if only to give you the illusion that the towns you venture to are inhabited by delightful and interesting people and not slaves chained to a single line of script, forced to do nothing but address the fleeting interests of cold, unfeeling RPG fans.

You people make me sick! Get out!


Tuesday, March 3, 2009


Polishing continues in the world of Pier Solar, with the results visible below:

Our to do list is quickly diminishing with only a few assets still hanging on the wrong side of "complete". A few more maps, some sound effects, and NPC dialogue implementation is all that stands between us and capital-V-Victory! Oh, and scripting, gotta keep up with the scripting.

After that it's bug test city and our strongest members will be placed in a room with two items and two items only: a copy of Pier Solar and a large steel bat.

Assuming the tester emerges victorious we'll be ready to kick that sucker out the door. The tunnel is still long, but the light at the end just keeps getting brighter.