A Strip of Entertainment, Minerals and Artifacts! • Status Report – June 2021

The Eden Strip, Bunny Splash Casino's Setting and World-Building! The Star-Seeker Update for Townseek and Much More • Status Report for June 2021

Summer is approaching fast here in the northern hemisphere now that it’s June! As the weather begins to warm up, so has our work! And the highlights have been popping up even faster than the last two months! ☀️

That means it’s time for another well-rounded monthly status report! We’ll cover the headlines from this past month of May and what we’ve got headed for June! If you’ve missed our past month’s report for May, you can catch up with it here

Highlights from May and Early June!
Highlights from May and Early June!

This month, we want to give you a first look at Bunny Splash Casino’s main setting, The Eden Strip, and the attention we’re putting into the game’s world building. Alongside it, we’ve also been working on our Treasure Projects! We’ve been expanding Townseek with Minerals and Artifacts and were participating in GMTK Game Jam this week. And as usual, to finish it off, we’ve got our Whales of Culture recommendations! Seems like quite a handful, doesn’t it? Well then, let’s dive in! 🐳

Voyage Journal

As we mentioned last month, this time around on our Voyage Journal, we wanted to take the opportunity to introduce you to the main setting of Bunny Splash Casino, our adults-only management simulation game. Welcome to The Eden Strip! 🌆

The Eden Strip, as you might guess from its name and the game we are making, is our game’s red-light district. The zone is brimming with adult nightlife and businesses. From strip and nightclubs, massage parlours, to toy shops and a constant presence of adult-only media. Overall, we’ve aimed to have a casual, no-taboo setting to the game.

Work-In-Progress Key Art of The Eden Strip
Work-In-Progress Key Art of The Eden Strip

While the game will mostly take place inside the titular casino, we wanted to spruce-up it’s outdoors just as much. We want the casino and your actions as a player to feel part of a much larger setting! Some of our plans include having some visual novel scenes take place in different areas of the strip, and even partnering with other businesses for bonuses and perks!

Behind the scenes, we took heavy inspiration from De Wallen in Amsterdam, spiced in with key details from Las Vegas and Kabukicho in Tokyo to design our red-light district. Since these were locations at least one of us visited at some point, we felt they’d be good to base our setting on. We also took inspiration from other games, such as the Yakuza series.

Reference Collage for The Eden Strip
Reference Collage for The Eden Strip including pictures from De Wallen, Kabukicho, Las Vegas and Others

We hope you look forward to it! Speaking of looking forward to things, with this Status Report we’re also bringing activity back to Bunny Splash Casino’s Twitter and Discord! We’ve been teasing it for a while now, but felt now would be the perfect time to do it. We hope that you give us a follow there!

In a more development-wise update, Bunny Splash Casino has been progressing at a slower pace than we wanted for this first-half of the year. However, a lot of the time-consuming tasks are out of the way now. We hope that we can use this second-half to recover speed on development though, admittedly, at this point we’re still taking the project at our own pace. 🐇

In addition to Bunny Splash Casino, there’s also many other major milestones for Whales And Games that happened in the background this month. However, we can’t talk about them just yet! Some of these milestones are things that you folks who play our games have been asking for a great while, and we’re glad to finally be working towards them. We look forward to surprising you with them soon! 👀

Treasure Projects

As we’ve noted on our previous report’s Treasure Projects, our trading and exploration game Townseek has got fantastic reception! With all the feedback and comments requesting us to add more to this world, we couldn’t stay arms crossed and began working on a new expansion to the game! 👏

Mining Lapis Lazuli in the Forest Quarry, one of the new Mines from Townseek
Mining Lapis Lazuli in the Forest Quarry, one of the new Mines from Townseek – The Star-Seeker Update

With most of the work for this expansion already done, we’re pleased to announce that we’re working on The Star-Seeker Update for Townseek!

This update will allow you to buy a pickaxe. With it, you can seek the new mines spread around the map and collect all sorts of materials and artifacts! New minable shooting stars will also fall on the map, giving you stardust to power your ship’s turbo! And of course, there’s a new town, several new items, and a slew of quality-of-life changes! ⛏️

At this time we still don’t have any planned release window for this update. We’ve got a whole slew of assorted things to work on our end and at this time! And of course, we have to keep pushing Bunny Splash Casino!

Vushkaar, the new town for Townseek's Star-Seeker Update
Vushkaar and Mjolnette, the new viking town and merchant, from Townseek – The Star-Seeker Update

While you wait for the update, here are the headlines for this month’s Treasure Projects! Remember that all of the work and potential release dates that we have for these side-projects are extremely volatile!

  • As we’ve announced this week, we’re currently a part of the Indie Bundle for Palestine Aid which runs until tomorrow. You can get 1,020 different pieces with at least a 5$ contribution. You can read the full statement on our participation here.
  • For the bundle, we’ve submitted Vast Trivia of The Void, which also received its Ludum Dare results last month! While rank-wise it looks like the game wasn’t an improvement, we’ve actually got our best scores in Overall, Fun and Audio in a jam game yet!
  • We also want to continue showing and supporting the LGBTQIA+ community, especially those closest to us. Even if it’s a small gesture, we’ve made a dedicated Pride Month polite design which you can find at our Polite Designs page!
  • This weekend, from the 11th of June to the 13th of June, we will be participating in the GMTK Game Jam! We will be joined by our resident game jam composer Robin, and we anticipate yet another fantastic jam entry! 👏
  • While in previous years our participation in Art Fight has been a bit of a team effort, this year, Moski will be handling participation mostly on his own. You can join him in the fight on the 1st of July!
  • We plan to roll Community roles together with a revamp of #info-guidelines over at our Discord server next week! We’ll also be experimenting with regular community-hosted events this month. Join us if you haven’t already!
  • On more back-end changes, we’ve recently replaced our personal Google Drives with a dedicated Google Workspace! Our old storage was getting low on space, and this move will allow us to be more fluent in our work!
  • Like we mentioned last month, Jorge also had the opportunity to participate in a podcast with portuguese website Café Mais Geek and in an interview with Pixel Glitch! These are both in portuguese, but if you understand the language, you can catch up with them to know a bit more of our plans going forward!

Since we’re here and to close-off this month’s Treasure Projects with all the Townseek hype, allow us to show you the new character sheet for Cptn. Jawline!

Captain Jawline Character Sheet
Cptn. Jawline Character Sheet
Whales of Culture

This month’s Whales of Culture recommendations from both of us are quite special! 

While we’ve enjoyed playing some games this month, the recommendations this time around are all things to watch or listen! Somehow we’ve made our resident Mexican get hooked-up with an European music festival. Let’s see what’s on the mixer this time! 🎙️

BoJack Horseman
BoJack Horseman

Two weeks after I’ve finished watching the show, I’m still thinking about BoJack Horseman. What originally felt like just another adult comedy animated show, but with anthropomorphic animals, quickly gave way to one of the most unique, gripling and emotional TV shows that I know of. Over its six seasons, beyond its unique humour, the series covers topics of mental health; the ability of one to change; and the accountability of one’s actions. There’s really no way to fit all of what it made me feel into a single paragraph. Please, watch it.

I also want to feature The Mitchells Vs. The Machines, another fantastic animation work by the same studio that brought us Spider-Man: Into The Spiderverse. Not only does the movie combine pretty much every animation technique imaginable, it also brings together a lovable story featuring a wonderful misfit family. I think anyone in a creative area can relate in some way to Katie, and all of the tech-related jabs really hit well nowadays.

Eurovision 2021
Eurovision 2021

Guess who also watched The Mitchells Vs. The Machines? If you’re reading this blogpost, I’ll guarantee that you’ll love it. Born and raised to want to do something with art in a medium that didn’t exist when my parents were born, I related to the film’s themes about closing the generational culture gap through understanding and acceptance. A hilarious, emotional, action-packed ride that you shouldn’t miss.

For something less traditional, I’d like to talk about Eurovision 2021. Being Mexican and what not, it’s natural I’ve never seen these yearly shows before, so I was stunned with what I witnessed. A lot of music there was very catchy, but more importantly, I felt that it was a strong display of union, with people from all across Europe, singing many genres and even in their native language at times. If I may quote The Greatest Showman, “a celebration of humanity”.

June and Beyond!
June and Beyond!

With the world of Bunny Splash Casino coming together, GMTK Jam, our back-end changes, and the upcoming Art Fight, it seems there’s a lot on the horizon for our summer! Don’t worry! We’ll make sure to make sure to have a nice break at some point and enjoy the summer breeze! 🙌

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As we start rolling out Community Roles, it’d be fantastic if you’d join us on our Discord community server! We’d love to know your thoughts on The Eden Strip and what we’ve got coming! Alternatively, you can always be up-to-date with our progress over at our Twitter or Instagram!

We hope you look forward to what we’ve got coming! We’re halfway through the year, and there’s still a whole ‘nother half of surprises coming up! Cheers! 🐳

United for Itch.io’s Indie Bundle for Palestinian Aid

Indie Bundle for Palestinian Aid

Supporting the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, and highlighting the touching work of game developer Rasheed Abueideh with Liyla and the Shadows of War, we are heartened to be a part of Itch.io’s Indie Bundle for Palestinian Aid, together with hundreds of other creators and games.

The bundle contains 1020 different pieces of content, from 864 creators, available with a starting donation of $5. The bundle runs until Friday, the 11th of June, and has recently hit its $500,000 funding goal.

Contributing to the cause, we have submitted Vast Trivia Of The Void to the bundle; in solidarity with our fellow developers and colleagues.

Games from Indie Bundle for Palestinian Aid

All the proceeds will go towards the United Nations Relief and Works Agency. The UNRWA provides food, mental, and physical health support for Palestines after the recent war-torn events in Palestine and Gaza.

We at Whales And Games condemn any and all war crimes and actions committed against Palestine and other countries. If you’d like to learn more and educate yourself regarding the recent events, you can find more information here.

A Shining Sparkle at the Abyss! Vast Trivia Of The Void’s Ludum Dare Results!

Vast Trivia Of The Void Ludum Dare Results

Another Ludum Dare season has come to an end and the show’s over! However, we still have our results to look at! How did our game, Vast Trivia Of The Void, perform this Ludum Dare? 🐳

Game jam results are always interesting to analyse. Should we be worried if we went down on stats? Do the ratings show actual improvement? What can we learn from the results we get at the end of the jam?

Before we do that though, we want to thank every single one of you! Whether you played our game, submitted questions for our trivia, or were one of the jammers that helped keep the  Ludum Dare experience running, you’re amazing! Thank you for making this a great experience for us all! 👏

Now then, let’s see what happened this time around! 👇

Ludum Dare Results for Vast Trivia Of The Void

Not bad at all! We got over 100 ratings on all the categories, which means that the results should accurately portray the average jammer’s opinion towards our game. In previous jams, we have made a Google Sheet with all the results we’ve got across Ludum Dare, so let’s add in this jam and compare how we stack up!

Rank Results for Vast Trivia Of The Void

Our highlights this time around were Graphics and Audio, and the Overall is pretty fantastic! The Theme rank was admittedly a complete disaster, making it the first time we’ve landed ourselves a sub-1000 rank. But to be honest, of all the categories, that’s the one we tend to concern ourselves the least  about. The most important thing for us is to have a game done at the end of the jam, even if the theme’s interpretation is a bit of a stretch!

But the important question is, how do the ratings themselves stack up against our previous entries? Did the lower ranks mean that we didn’t do as well as on previous jams?

Ratings Results for Vast Trivia Of The Void

Turns out that Vast Trivia Of The Void actually scored the highest rating of all our previous Ludum Dare games in four categories: Overall, Fun, Audio and Mood! Basically, when it comes to design, programming, music and sound, our team knocked it out of the park.

For a more fair comparison, in our sheet we’ve added a new average that weighs only Fun, Graphics and Audio. We can associate these with the tangible skills of the team: Programming, Art and well, Audio. With that average being of 4.36, Vast Trivia seems to be our best constructed game for a Ludum Dare to date!

This is why it’s important to always take into consideration not only the ranking, but also the ratings! If we only look at the ranks we’ve got, it would seem that our performance was not as good as previous games. However, when we look at the game’s ratings in context, the improvement becomes clearer and measurable.

The lower ranks don’t mean a game performed worse, but rather that there were many more high quality games this time around!

Vast Trivia of The Void Board Screenshot

Nowadays, a lot more games that are created during Ludum Dare make it to commercial releases in the post-jam, regardless of the ranks and ratings they had during the event. Did you know that both Dorfomantik and Friday Night Funkin’ started as Ludum Dare entries? And look at the massive following they have nowadays! 

If you’re proud of the game you have and want to continue working on it, please do! Take the feedback from the comments you’ve got, and push your game even further! 💪

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All things considered, we had a great time seeing what you and the community have made this time around! Genuinely good stuff left and right! Seeing all of these inspiring submissions and community is always a treat!

Finally, we’d love to stay in contact! Some of you have already dropped by our Discord server to say hello, but everyone is welcome! But if Discord is not your thing, we have our Twitter profile as well! We’re really eager to show you more we’ve got in the plans for this year!

Thanks a lot for reading! Here’s to GMTK Game Jam this June, and towards the next Ludum Dare in October! ✨

Bunny Splash’s Trio and Incredible Jam Games! • Status Report – May 2021

Bunny Splash Casino Main Character Trio and Social Media Plans! Two New Jam Games and Monthly Recommendations • Status Report for May 2021

April’s out, and it’s time to make May shine! 🥳 Our anniversary month went great! As far as we can tell, ever since the foundation of our studio, we don’t recall having as good of a month as this past month has been! It certainly feels like we’ve just had the perfect kick-off into another amazing year!

If you’ve missed our announcement from last month’s anniversary blog post, going forward, we will be writing monthly status reports like these! They will be dedicated to going in-depth about our current plans and doings. 

Collage featuring highlights from April!
Highlights from April!

We have a lot of news to cover this month! Starting with Bunny Splash Casino progress, we’ve just finished the concept artwork for our trio of main characters. Additionally, we’ve released two completely new jam games as Treasure Projects. And finally, we cap it off with our new Whales Of Culture recommendations from this month! There’s a lot to get into so let’s dive into it! 🐳

Voyage Journal

Progress with Bunny Splash Casino, our adults-only management simulation game, continues underway! We’ve been working on the game’s core prototype these past weeks, and we’ve recently finished making some new experiments with the art direction that we want to give to our characters!

While we will still have to further test how this style will adapt to the in-game sprites and backgrounds; it’s really motivating to see these characters coming together in such a polished fashion.

As such, we would like to take the opportunity to introduce you to the first three characters from the game! This will be the trio of characters that will accompany you right from the start of the game! Here’s your first look at them! 🐇

Starting Character Trio Concept Art for Bunny Splash Casino
Starting Character Trio Concept Art for Bunny Splash Casino

From left to right these are Cheqmate, Dally and Jack!

  • Cheqmate, who you have been introduced to through previous posts, is the main character of Bunny Splash Casino! She’s your narrative point-of-view for the game and a playful and assertive former real-estate agent turned casino-owner by luck. She’s best-friends to Dally and Jack, which she invited on-board for the mission of getting the casino going! Her clothes are themed after the suit of hearts.
  • Dally is a quirky upbeat and party-animal woman. She immediately jumped aboard the casino idea when she was first asked to join. Formerly a retail worker, she’s full of energy and easy-going. She enjoys getting tipsy and will bring a whole lot of fun to the casino and its customers. Her clothes are themed after the suit of clubs.
  • Jack is an overly theatrical hunk of a man. While he originally wanted to be an adult film actor, life played its cards. Instead, he had to get through small acting gigs and one-time jobs in the Eden Strip. Despite his somewhat prince-charming looks, he’s known to exaggerate and overreact. Just like the other two, his clothes are themed after the suit of spades.
Bunny Splash Casino Twitter
Follow Bunny Splash Casino on Twitter!

This month, we plan to start using our social channels for Bunny Splash Casino to post news about it again! We look forward to posting work-in-progress regularly; and allow you to have a closer look at it as it starts taking shape! If you’re interested, you can follow Bunny Splash Casino’s Twitter and Discord pages, as long as you’re an adult of age of course! 😉

Other than that, we will also continue working on the game’s prototype and start getting a full game loop going! While our plans might always change, we hope to introduce you to the first full-look at the world in the next report! Look forward to it! 👀

Treasure Projects

In addition to the work we’ve done with Bunny Splash Casino, this month showcased exactly what we look to achieve with our Treasure Projects! This month was punctuated with the releases of both Townseek from our Global Game Jam post-jam and Vast Trivia Of The Void from Ludum Dare 48! That was two games back-to-back! 👏

Townseek Screenshot

Beyond the incredibly fun time that it was putting both of these games together, the reception that both games have been getting has completely caught-us off guard! Townseek got featured on Itch.io and it quickly rose to our 4th most played game in just two weeks. Likewise, Vast Trivia Of The Void is already up to 90-reviews in Ludum Dare 48! Wowie!

While it certainly is an amazing feeling to get two games with this much of a fantastic reception in a single month, as you might expect, it’s also very tiresome. While we’re very proud of both of the games that we’ve put out in such a short notice, we won’t be doing any game jams during this upcoming month. Instead, we’d like to prioritize working on Bunny Splash Casino for this month.

Townseek featured on itch.io
Townseek featured on the Itch.io Front Page

As such, the Treasure Projects we’ve got planned are in shorter quantity. Remember that all of the work and potential release dates that we have for these side-projects are extremely volatile!

  • Closing off the work that we’ve done with this Ludum Dare 48, you can look forward to our results and post-mortem on Vast Trivia Of The Void sometime in the coming weeks! Post-mortems detail our jam experience, our decision process and the lessons learned. Depending on how it goes, we might even do one for Townseek too!
  • While we’ll be skipping doing jams in May, we’re aiming to participate in Game Maker’s Toolkit Jam at the beginning of June! We’ve been looking forward to joining ever since they started, as we’re huge fans of Mark’s channel and videos. We’re glad to say we’ll be finally giving it a shot this year!
  • Last month we mentioned we wanted to introduce Community Roles to our Discord. Our goal is to motivate people to share more of their own content on our server! While we were not able to do it last month, we hope to retake that task again this month. We might even include some more server-tweaks alongside it!
  • While we update our Instagram regularly, we’ve always wanted to have a proper Art hub to gallery together the event and one-off artworks we make with our characters. This month, we’d like to create a proper art page here on the website!
  • If you understand the portuguese language, you can look forward to an interview we’ve got coming up this month with Pixel Glitch! Likewise, we will also be doing a a podcast with Café Mais Geek! We’ll be talking a bit about our fourth anniversary, things we’ve got planned for Bunny Splash Casino and beyond, and other casual questions!
Vast Trivia Of The Void Screenshot
Vast Trivia Of The Void

Overall, we will be keeping it chill this month with additional projects. That will allow us to work on even neater stuff with Bunny Splash Casino and to take care of smaller pending tasks! 🗄️

Whales of Culture

Finally, we’ve got our Whales of Culture recommendations from both of us for this month! 

While it certainly was harder to consume as much content with our busy schedule these past weeks, we’ve still got some recommendations for you! From sentai heroes to incompetent dads, here’s what we’ve got this month! 🍿

Chroma Squad Screenshot
Chroma Squad

This month I played through the super-fun adventure that is Chroma Squad! Made by the same developers that brought us Knights of Pen And Paper, the best way to describe the game is as an indie Power Rangers pixel-art strategical RPG! While it starts with a down-to-earth story about making an indie TV series and upgrading a humble studio, things escalate into absurd bliss. It goes over the top with robot kaiju fights, wacky villains and a really engaging story. It also helped that I named all the characters as Whaleverse characters, which only contributed more to the fun!

I didn’t really watch a lot of stuff this month, though I did have the opportunity to watch BNA: Brand New Animal. For folks that know Studio Trigger‘s work, this is another one season wonder. The plot revolves around a city where exiled human-animal hybrids go to live in the face of human discrimination. While I certainly wish there were more episodes to it, BNA does have its good amount of slice-of-life moments, an interesting developing mystery about Michiru (the human protagonist that suddenly became a beastman) and fantastic Studio Trigger animation work!

Bob's Burgers
Bob’s Burgers

I played Horace earlier this month. It has a great story with some funny nods to gaming history. It also has great gameplay (though very difficult at times). The pacing is a bit odd at times, but the bittersweet story of a robot that would do anything for his family and to play some more videogames will make you eager to find out what happens next, over and over. While there are better and more “mainstream” platformers out there, I can’t deny that this game has a lot of heart.

Also, I would like to recommend watching Bob’s Burgers. So many TV animated series are about incompetent dads or dysfunctional families. Yet, Bob’s Burgers thrives by giving the audience a lovable, wholesome family of relatable misfits, who would go to great lengths to support each other. The sitcom situations they encounter on each episode are hilarious. Things tend to go into unexpected developments, and usually wrap up with heart-warming lessons about family or accepting oneself.

May and Beyond!
May and Beyond!

And that rounds up this month’s worth of news! May will certainly be a calmer month compared to how hectic April was. However, we also need to have some chiller months so we can focus on our commercial games too!

We’re really stoked to continue working on Bunny Splash Casino and more that we’ve got scheduled ahead! In case we don’t see you in any other blog post we do this month, then we will catch you up ahead in next month’s report! 👋

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If you enjoyed what you’ve read and the games we do, we would love it if you could join our Discord community server! If you’re less keen on talking, you can always keep tabs on our progress through our Twitter or Instagram! Either option giving us a follow helps us to grow as well! 💛

As the pandemic starts loosening up, we hope that you’re able to start engaging in some community activities again. Even then, remember to stay safe, healthy, and take care of yourself! See you next time! Cheers! 🐳

Our team is ready to splash again at Ludum Dare 48!

The team having a whale of a time during Ludum Dare 48!

Are you ready for another round of Ludum Dare bliss yet? Twitching for some jamming? ‘Cause we sure are! Hyped up and full of energy, our team at Whales And Games is ready to participate again in Ludum Dare 48! 🐳

This time around, our team will feature the usual all-star Jorge doing his programming magic using Unity with his brand-new favourite IDE, Rider! Then there’s Moski at the art department using Clip Studio Paint – or Aseprite if we go pixelart! And last but not least, Zak will be cranking up the tunes and sounds with FL Studio! For team collaboration, we will be using GitLab, good-fashioned Google Docs, and trusty and reliable Itch.io!

S Some of our most notable previous participations include Petty Puny Planet from Ludum Dare 38, Jazzy Beats from Ludum Dare 40, Super Sellout from Ludum Dare 43 and, most recently, Woofice Chair from the last edition! We keep coming back since we continue having a great time here, experimenting with new game genres and having a wonderful time trying out everyone else’s games in this incredible voyage!

This week has been extra special for us because we just recently released Townseek on monday, an expansion to our Global Game Jam 2021 game from earlier this year. The reception was fantastic, and here we are again, mere days later readying up another game for next monday! That’s one hectic week! 👏

If you’re also participating, it’ll be a pleasure to display our game along yours once again! Do your best and have a blast! There’s no wrong way to do a jam game, so experiment and go wild!

With all said and done, lets have some fun on this challenging weekend! We’re looking forward to playing all those innovative experiences, first time experiments and wacky creations! Let’s go make some games! 🐳