What shall we do with the drunken sailor?

by Mex

Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.

Allen Saunders

Ahoy there!

Last week we started introducing the navigation phase, discussing about crew management and ship compartments, and I’ve explained to you how each spot on your ship has a direct gameplay effect while sailing, such as speed, field of view, morale, etc…

So, we have taken a look to choices related to “numbers”, but today I’m going to introduce you to the events system of Nantucket and we are going to see how every little choice can affect your game in a deep way. I have recently had a “round table” with Johannes Kristmann (The Curious Expedition) and  Martin Nerurkar (Nowhere Prophet) about this topic and I invite you all to take a look to the video if you want to have a more general introduction about the topic:

Every little choice you make during the game is recorded by our events system in order to give you an immersive experience in what was the life on a whaling ship in XIX century. Did you put an alcoholic carpenter to fix your hold and a barrel of rum disappeared? Did you put a maimed sailor on the crow’s nest and he fell off  during a storm? Are you alone on the ship with a cabin boy and he decided he wants to become just like you? Hundreds of events will push you to make choices, some trivial, others with terrible consequences.


The system is based on reading every gameplay aspect of the game and filtering the events database according to their prerequisites. In this way, we can always trigger an event related to something you have done or you are doing. An example of this is the situation in which you have run out of water and you see a storm close to your route. If you decide to sail in it, an event will allow you to collect the rain water to fill your barrels.


As you can see it is a system that allows you to approach problems in a smart way. Our goal is not to reward/punish your choices, but to enrich your experience and make you shape your story and the captain you want to be.

That’s it for today, have a nice week end and see you next week!



Action stations!

by Mex

I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.

Douglas Adams

Ahoy there!

We are back! I hope you all had a good time during this summertime. We actually kept working on Nantucket, adding content and making few changes to existing features. Things are coming along nicely and I hope we will be able to give you more information about our release plan soon…soonish…

Now, back to our features presentation. Today I’m going to start a series of posts related to the navigation, a key aspect of our game. Every thing you are going to do (hunting whales, quests, chilling out…) you are going to do it by sailing the oceans with your ship. Before raising your anchor, you have to assign your men to their tasks, and this is the topic of today’s post.

You have picked your crew in a tavern, filled your hold with everything you will need in the weeks to come so, now, it’s time to assign every man to a task and set sail. The sailing interface will allow you to easily set a default compartment for each of your men, including yourself. The amount and type of compartments available on your ships depend on the size of your ship and the technology developed. Each compartment is related to a specific attribute, so they “work better” if you assign a man with a class related to the attribute used by the slot.

For example, it’s useless to have a harpooner behind the wheel or a carpenter healing patients in the sick bay.


What are the compartments and what do they do? Here is a list:

  • Forecastle: the forecastle is the part of a ship with the sailors’ living quarters. You can let them rest there to recover some health points.
  • Quarterdeck: the quarterdeck is a raised deck behind the main mast of a sailing ship where the navigator “drive” the ship. The man behind the wheel affect the sailing speed of your ship.
  • Hold: the hold is placed in the lowest part of the ship and it’s where all the barrels are kept. You can put a man there to fix the ship wearing during your travels.
  • Caboose: the caboose is the ship kitchen. By placing a man cooking  here, you can improve the crew morale.
  • Sick bay: the sick bay is a compartment used for medical purposes. A doctor can heal injured or ill men.
  • Try works: the try-works is where the try-pots are placed. Try-pots are furnaces of brick, iron and wood where whale oil is rendered from the blubber of whales.
  • Crow’s nest: the crow’s nest is a structure in the upper part of the main mast of a ship or a structure that is used as a lookout point. Placing a man here increases the ship field of view.
  • Captain’s cabin: the captain’s cabin is the captain’s living quarter, where ledgers are kept to maximize your hunting revenues.
  • Cannon: the cannon can be used to fight incoming pirate ships.


Every slot can be improved by researching better technologies inside the various shipwrights around the world, increasing their effects, but a good sailor knows how to take the best also from an outdated ship. Since upgrading your ship takes time (and money) you will have to understand your priorities and develop your ship (and crew) according to your necessities and style. It is not an easy task.

Once every man is placed, you are ready to set sail, but this is something we will look at the next week!

See you next time.



Summertime, and the livin’ is easy (sort of)

by Mex

And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.

Francis Scott Fitzgerald

Ahoy there!

Summertime, and the livin’ is easy. Yeah, maybe if you have an air conditioner. Here in Italy we are back to the Saharan climate experience and I’m just glad I live close to a wood, so there is a nice breeze at night letting me enjoy a cold beer without sweating it right back inside the glass.

As I’ve anticipated you in my previous post, today I’m not going to present you new features, but I’ll just take the chance to wish you a happy summer holiday on behalf of the entire team of Picaresque Studio. So, enjoy the sun and have fun, we will be back in two weeks with fresh news and more information about Nantucket.

Keep following us on our social pages, there are news to come soon. Good news.



Have some quest

by Mex

Not all those who wander are lost.

J.R.R. Tolkien

Ahoy there!

Here I am with my last post before holidays. I’m not going anywhere, but I guess lot of you will be doing something during these weeks. So, today we are going to speak about quests.

While speaking about the newspaper, I’ve already introduced minor quests, errands you can take in all the cities to make some money or increase your prestige as a captain. They are randomly generated and they are always available during the game, but they are just a part of the quests available in Nantucket. In fact, there are two further quests categories: Side quests and Main quests.


Side quests are four short story lines related to historical characters:

  • James Cook: famous explorer and cartographer
  • George Bass: explorer and naval surgeon
  • James Knight: explorer and director of the Hudson’s Bay Company
  • Kahekili II: warrior king of Hawaii

Each side story line includes different quests to be completed even if they are not fundamental to complete the game. Apart from pushing you around the world, looking for information about these characters, the completion of each side story line will unlock a unique object to be assigned to your crew during the navigation or combats, a quite powerful one. So, whether you are looking for new adventures or simply some powerful tool to “beat” the game, side quests are a good alternative to hunting whales during your time at sea.

Main quests are instead strictly related to the main story line, so the great hunt for Moby Dick, and they are fundamental to complete the game since your final goal is to kill the White Whale. I will not spoil the story, so I’ll just tell you that we tried to be faithful to Herman Melville’s masterpiece as much as possible, even if we have introduced new narrative elements to enrich the gaming experience. You will enjoy the story also if you didn’t read the book, maybe missing some cameo. Considering how many people die in Moby Dick, putting some of them in the game has been quite hard. Don’t worry, no men were resurrected during the development of this game.

Finally, like the side quests, also the main ones unlock unique objects to help you in your adventures.

That’s it. After this summer pause, I’m going to give you details about the navigation gameplay, so ship and crew management at sea. As usual tell your friends to follow us and keep in touch with us via social media.




Be safe or be dead

by Mex

A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.

William G.T. Shedd

Ahoy there!

This week is been a quiet one and, since I’ve also managed to survive my birthday party, I can say it was a good one. I hope you are enjoying your holidays or preparing for them.

In my previous post I’ve introduced you to the newspaper, concluding the presentation of all the buildings available in cities, so this week I’m going to complete the harbors discussion. In fact, cities are not the only harbors available in Nantucket and today we are going to present you the safe docks.


Safe docks are small harbors you can stop in during your travels in order to get vital resources for free. At the beginning of the game, there will be just two safe docks available: Galapagos and St. Helena, but you will be able to create as many safe docks as you want during the game. All you need is a good sailor with the right skill to find the right place to build it and some wood to build the actual dock.

Once created, you will be able to dock there when you want and get access to three different options (each one requiring specific skills from you or your crew to be available):

  • Hunt for food
  • Find water
  • Chop wood

The options are self explanatory and the success rate of each of them is strictly related to your crew attributes. As you can imagine, access these resources can make a difference between surviving and a terrible death at sea, especially if you are running out of money.

That’s it! Next time we are going to set sail and take a look to how you can manage your crew during your travels. Till then, keep following us on social media and have a nice week end.



Extra! Extra! Read all about the newspaper!

by Mex

If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you’re mis-informed.

Mark Twain

Ahoy there!

I don’t know where you live, but here in Italy these days have been terribly hot. I’ll try to write this latest post about Nantucket‘s features without sweating (and swearing) too much. Wait, some air. Gone.

This time I’m going to introduce you the last harbor’s area: the newspaper. “The sailor’s post” is a periodical published every month and available in the biggest cities around the world. It is divided into two main areas: news and jobs.


The News page contains information about current events around the world. Some of them are gameplay related (pirate activity) while others are just historical events to immerse you in a living world. We have tracked down 1800 real events, from really famous (Napoleon’s death, for example) to really weird.

About the second category, I want to mention the story of Col. Robert Gibbon Johnson. He is the man who proved tomatoes were edible. Yes, they thought they were poisonous and he has dedicated part of his life to prove they were all wrong. He did it. How? Eating them in front of a crowd week after week in front of 20.000 people. I don’t know if it’s weirder the fact Johnson wanted people to eat tomatoes that bad or that 20.000 people were going to the city square to see him to die. I guess they were just fucking bored without internet.


The Jobs page contains instead minor errands to deal with in order to improve the captain’s prestige and his bank account. The game features 4 different minor quests’ types:

  • Delivieries between cities
  • Discovery of new whaling areas
  • Hunt of legenadry creatures sinking ships
  • Rescue missions of ships lost at sea

These minor quests are just a part of the quests available in the game. Apart from the main story line, related to Moby Dick, there are different side story lines related to famous explorer of the time, but this is a topic for a next post. So, I’ll invite you all to keep following us and I’ll take a cold beer.

See you next time!



Shipwright (aka “Pimp my ship”)

by Mex

For my mind was made up to sail in no other than a Nantucket craft, because there was a fine, boisterous something about everything connected with that famous old island, which amazingly pleased me.

Herman Melville

Ahoy there!

After few busy weeks, we are back to our routine, working on the game at full sails and speaking about Nantucket‘s features. Today I’m going to present the Shipwright.


Every city has a shipwright, a place in which you can do different things, according to the city size. In the biggest cities you will have all the options available:

  • Repair your ship: your ship is gonna wear during your travel, so you need to keep fixing it. There are two ways to do it: pay someone at the shipwright or use wood during the navigation.
  • Buy a new ship: you are going to start with a very small ship and you will understand soon that a bigger ship is fundamental to chase bigger preys. The game features 9 different types of ships, divided into three categories: small, medium, large. Bigger ships mean more whaleboats to hunt whales, more crew and more hold, allowing you to have longer hunt travels to maximize your earnings.
  • Upgrade your ship: every ship has different compartments to use during the navigation. During the game you can upgrade these compartments in order to improve the effect given by the compartment.

Repairing and buy ships don’t need much to say, so I’m going to detail more the upgrading system. As I wrote above, upgrades are linked to compartments, ship’s rooms in which you can place your crew during the navigation in order to get an effect. Some of them are basic, others need a specific skill to be unlocked. For example, every ship has a crow’s nest, in which you can put a sailor to stand the lookout. By improving the crow’s nest you increase the ship’s field of view, a useful way to spot area of interests or danger sooner. An example of optional compartment is instead the try works, that allow you to convert blubber into oil during the navigation, increasing your cargo value and decreasing the space occupied in your hold.

Upgrades are not related to a single ship, so you are not going to start back again every time you buy a new one. They are technological advancement you need to research and they follow you till the end of the game. Since they require time (and money), the order in which you are going to develop them shapes the way you play (and vice versa), especially combining them with strengths and weaknesses of your ship. Maybe you prefer fast ship to dodge pirates and decrease your time to reach a destination or maybe you prefer a solid ship with a spacious hold. Or maybe you want both, so you can buy a ship with a big hold and spend all your time researching upgrades to speed it up.

There is no right way to do it, just your own way.

See you next time.



Steam Greenlight campaign post mortem

by Mex

Ahoy there!

The past two weeks have been quite frenetic for us, following our Greenlight campaign and organizing our trip in Barcelona to attend the Gamelab. If you have followed us in those days, you know that Nantucket got Greenlit in just seven days and our experience at Gamelab has been amazing!

I’ve spent a couple of days assimilating the information collected and I would like to share with you some thoughts and data about our Greenlight campaign, hoping they can help someone else.

I’ll put a link to our page here, so you can take a look before reading about our experience.

Preparing the materials

The first step to take is preparing all the materials needed to launch your campaign. Valve tells you that your Greenlight campaign requires at least a gameplay video, four screenshots, a description and a cover image, but there is no check from them before going from private to public. I have seen quite a lot of projects with just a couple of screenshots, a teaser trailer with little or none gameplay shown and a couple of lines describing the game. This is a suicide, this is how you get buried by no votes. Take your time, care about every detail and read the Greenlight FAQ, there are a lot of useful tips.

  • Cover image: well, it’s the first thing people will see and it’s useless to underline its importance. It has to invite people to click on it and give your game a chance. It’s true that Steam generates a queue of games to evaluate every time you enter the Greenlight page, but a lot of people (like myself) just jump on the recent submissions page to see what’s new. It’s easy to say “just do it cool”, but we did try to approach the visibility problem in a empiric way. So, we took a couple of screenshots of the recent submissions page in different days and we tried to find the right color palette to stand out, testing and tuning it different times.
  • Description: if you have read the Greenlight FAQ you  know everything you need. Just keep all the info organized and clear. We added some custom banners instead of the base headings. I think it’s nice, but definitely not something fundamental.
  • Screenshots: I’ve seen quite a lot of good Greenlight pages of good games. 8-12 screenshots looks like a good range.
  • Video: also this part is covered by the FAQ, but I just want to stress one point: keep it short and show gameplay. I usually give maximum 20 seconds to a video before deciding if the game is interesting or not. I guess other people too. So, just avoid long introductions, at least on the first video (starting when the Greenlight page is opened). I suggest to create a specific trailer for your game, it will be useful to promote your campaign to media.

Launching your Greenlight campaign

Preparing the materials is the easy part. I mean, Steam FAQ and hundreds of  Greenlit games are a good reference to understand what’s good and what’s not. Now it’s time to start a guessing game.

  • What’s the best time to launch a Greenlight campaign?

The answer is difficult and Valve doesn’t help you, so I’ll share how we thought about it. Your game is gonna be featured on the first page of the recent submissions for around 2 days before being pushed away by newest games. It’s a lot of views “for free” and you want to maximize it. So, our idea was: we launch the Greenlight campaign during the Summer Sale, when the amount of people on Steam is greater.

It’s easy to say “it works” after a successful campaign, but without having the chance to compare our stats with a similar game in another time frame it is difficult to be sure. There are more people online, this is a fact, but you don’t know if they are simply taking a look to the newest sales or not.

The second point to take into account in our case is that our Greenlight campaign was launched at the beginning of E3. A lot of people told us it was a bad choice, because people were too submerged by AAA titles announcements to care about about our project, but I think it was the right choice, simply because other developers waited the end of E3 to launch their campaign and this allowed us to be in the front page more than expected.

The easy part of the Greenlight campaign

As I wrote above, the first days are easy. You just keep pressing F5, looking at those numbers increasing. You replies to the first comments and “relax”.

The only marketing activity we did was spamming our Greenlight page on our social networks and our press release to our press list. Two important things about it:

  • Press list: you need it. Really. I will share ours with you. It’s not the best one, but it’s a starting point if you don’t have one. PressList
  • Press release: a press release about a game launching its Greenlight campaign it’s not interesting. This is why I suggested you to have a new gameplay trailer for the launch of the campaign. In our case, it was the first gameplay trailer available and this was the title of the press release: “First gameplay trailer for Nantucket”. So, we were promoting our gameplay trailer, linking everybody to our Greenlight page to see it.

We had some coverage, but the majority of our traffic was still Steam.

This was the situation at the end of our “front page time”:

End of front page

As you can see, the situation was good, especially the “Yes votes” percentage (in comparison with the average top 50 games).

The hard part of the Greenlight campaign

We were happy about the numbers and also the day after being kicked out the recent submissions’ front page was good enough:


That’s the moment the shit hit the fan. Our “yes vote” curve got flat.


We had two really hard days and the few votes we managed to gain were thanks to some posts in development forums such as TIGSource and Indievault (italian). Before those posts, we had like 10 visits (visits, not votes) in 3 hours.

At this point, I will add my official theory: 50 shades of green. I’ve noticed the traffic to our page died the moment we went under 50% of yes votes. Maybe it was a coincidence or maybe it’s one of the element considered by Valve to push a game more into the voters queues.

We were ready for the situation and we tried our move. We knew we needed some fresh air from outside, so we decided to promote our Greenlight campaign on Reddit, in the  Paradox games’ fans subreddit

The post was a huge success. We did follow up, delivering screenshots (yes…about sex on the ship) and more info and we had a lot of yes votes. Again, the 50 shades of green theory looks like something, because after passing the 50% mark thanks to Reddit, we kept the momentum also the day after, reaching the top 100 at the end of day 6 with with this numbers:

day06 - top100

Day 7 started huge, with a coverage by Rock, Paper, Shotgun.

We kept climbing the ranking really fast, till we got Greenlit!


As you can see, our curve in the last 2 days was impressive, and I guess that was a huge part of being Greenlit so fast. I have to say at that moment I would have preferred to have few more days of traffic, since in the end, Greenlight is a powerful way to reach your future players and we were reaching a lot of people.

I wrote at that moment, because now I can tell you that people keep coming on our page and we doubled the amount of followers in the 2 weeks after being Greenlit.

That’s it.

What’s good about Greenlight

  • Free marketing. It gives visibility to your game, helping you to reach future players. We have a lot of new followers on Twitter and Facebook.
  • Feedback. You receive some feedback, helping you to understand if you are going in the right direction or not.

What’s bad about Greenlight campaign

  • Clumsy. When you reach the point to hypothesize the 50 shades of green theory, you know there is something wrong. It’s not clear the process to be Greenlit. It’s the percentage? The amount of yes? Your curve? You don’t know. I understand it helps Valve to have some control space, but it’s definitely frustrating for developers.
  • Not friendly. I don’t understand why there is no chance to order the games by votes or percentage of yes. I mean, there is no way to look at good projects. Every game is the same. Do you think is fair? Try browsing Reddit just using the “new” tab, without having the chance to see other people votes or how many people commented. It’s not fair. It’s just not friendly.
  • Dying. Greenlight is dying. I mean, we looked at older post mortem before starting our campaign and the numbers were far higher. Steam users are increasing but the amount of people voting on Greenlight is decreasing fast. I like Greenlight and I don’t want Steam to become a mess like the App Store, where everybody can upload shit everywhere, but it has to change. There is no need to put it in the front page of Steam, just to make easy to browse interesting projects. maybe something else…I don’t know…what do you think? Ideas anyone?

Too long, didn’t read?

  • Start your communication on the web months before Greenlight otherwise it will be really hard to get visibility on media/press.
  • Prepare materials with care. It’s like pissing with a morning wood, you have one shot and you get you did it wrong too late, when you have piss everywhere.
  • Have a press list and get coverage. Your Greenlight page is not a news, but you can use your Greenlight page to deliver news.
  • Push everyone to the Greenlight page during the 1st week/10 days.
  • Reach your target audience and let them know you exist.
    • Find the right subreddits and forums to post about your project. If there isn’t one for you, you have done something wrong. If you don’t  know Reddit, maybe you have a life, but your project probably not.
  • Fifty shades of green is a thing.



Gamelab 2015 coverage

by Capt_Eatbones

Ahoy! Here’s your Capt. Eatbones speaking!

What an exciting 2 weeks have passed! Steam Greenlight campaign and Gamelab 2015 have been our only thoughts. While for Greenlight we’ve been in front of our monitors for 7 really dense days, for the Gamelab 2015 we moved, physically, to a wonderful city: Barcelona, Spain.

For those who hasn’t followed us on Twitter & Facebook we want to share with you our experience of the past week. So…let’s begin!

Day 0 – Road to Gamelab 2015

Every travel starts with a harbor, aehm, in this case an airport and a flight (actually, this is mine since Mex flight has not been documented ;P)

Me and Mex arrived the day before, to be sure to be ready for the next day at 8:30 am. Well, the first night hasn’t gone that smooth: we couldn’t plug in the laptop cable since the plug was not compatible! That happened at 11:30 pm so no chance to get a converter anywhere…and next day was going to be a holiday one! Great! & Panic!

Fortunately we succeeded to convert an Italian plug into a Spanish one (not really different except that the Spanish one has no “ground” pin). I suppose that, for us, every first experience pushes Muprhy’s Law to a “whale” new level ;D Here you have Mex, in our hostel room, right after the plug-almost-disaster solved.


Day 1 – Opening & a Really Hot situation

At 8:30 am we entered the Barceló Sants Hotel, on top of Barcelona train station, and applied to get our registration badge. The place is very nice and well organized. I’ve been to the Los Angeles Conference Center and I can say that it was at the same level. The Networking Room was the place where the Indie Hub has been all the time (and us in it), while the conferences took place in other Auditoriums. We got a shared Indie Table so very little space but each one of us had its proper banner right in front.

We met a lot of developers, already in the industry and several starting like us. We had the pleasure to be placed between two great games: The Guest and The Last Door. We made the acquaintance of Team Gotham (The Guest) and The Game Kitchen (The Last Door). While Team Gotham are still dealing with the publisher, they already got quite a successful start with the game on Greenlight. The Guest is a 3D graphic adventure recalling the mood of games like Silent Hill. On the other side, The Game Kitchen already got the attention of the public with the 1st season of The Last Door and at Gamelab they were introducing the 2nd season. Their game is a old-style graphic adventure dealing with a Victorian London and I consider it as a tribute to both Edgar Allan Poe  and H.P. Lovecraft.

Well, with these premises, we started preparing for the big fight since Nantucket was not there to merely watch! Arr!

For this event, we prepared a build of the game to be played and several videos to play in loop. We started with the video loop because there was still few people. When more visitors started to appear, we switched to the fun part: play our game! Easier said than done! After half a hour of play, the game started to slow down a lot. Mex laptop started to overheat and this caused us a serious performance drop, affecting our capabilities of showing correctly the game. In the morning, while we were facing the “Flames of Hell”, there was a speech by Jordan Mechner, widely know for being the creator of the Prince of Persia games and The Last Express:


In the afternoon we had a thermal shutdown: the upper left corner of the laptop was on fire! We had to keep it shut for a while to let it cool down. We had no choice but to leave before the end of the day to try to buy a laptop refrigerating base. Actually, we had to renounce to the speech of Chris Crawford (but we would have had another chance later on):


Day 2 – A Fresh New Start

After Day 1 “Hot Conditions” we arrived a little late to the Indie Hub but we did it with new hope and enthusiasm (as you can see from the picture below, we got a new double fan base for the laptop):


The 1st day had been great, even with the game slowing down. We started to get feedback from developers and gamers attending to the conferences and, of course, from our neighbors indie teams. Showing videos is fine but people wants to get in touch, hands-on on the game. Our game is a slow paced one so we had to guide people while playing, when possible, or showing them us playing while explaining how it works.

The 2nd day started great. More people arrived to our table and now we had no heating problems so the game was running smoothly. We wrote down a lot of feedback and also bugs during these days. We had a meeting with Dan Raigorodsky, leader of another indie team, Electroplasmatic Games. They are a very young team made of people who recently started developing their games.

Almost near to lunch time Mex got a picture with Mr. Goichi Suda, responsible of title like Lollipop Chainsaw and Shadow of the Damned:


During the afternoon we noticed a slow down in “visits”. We understand why by having a look at the conference program flyer…Two Bigs of the industry were going to start talking. The first one has been Mr. Shinji Mikami, best know for creating the survival horror series Resident Evil, who received the Gamelab 2015 Honor Prize:


Closing Day 2 there was the 2nd Big of the industry: an interview with Toru Iwatani, creator of the popular game Pac-Man:


Day 3 – Closing & A Great Experience

The last day of the Gamelab has been really exciting. It has been, perhaps, the day with more people playing our game. The great thing of these events is what can happen during the play. Nantucket is heavily based on events. Now, I know lots of them but I’ve got the chance to discover several I never had seen before and some surprised me a lot, like this one:


While I was playing and showing the game in the Networking Room (where the Indie Hub was based), Mex was playing to “the little Paparazzi” trying to get picture of VIPs attending to the conferences. I must say that he seems to be quite convincing ;D Thanks to his “paparazzi” skills we got the chance to take a picture with two Very Important People, at least for us!

Mr. Chris Crawford’s book “The Art of Computer Game Design” has been my first game design book and a great one. Actually, I surely seemed like an adolescent young man while trying to tell how important he has been for my career:


Another great success, in taking pictures, has been meeting in person Mr. Jordan Mechner. I played lots of times the first Prince of Persia on my father’s 286 and envied friends who could play the 2nd on Amiga. Mex loved especially a relatively more recent game, The Last Express:


Well, the day continued with us meeting with the other Italian team exhibiting in the Indie Hub: Tiny Colossus. The team is made by Ciro Cortinisio and Ennio Pirolo who presented Fatal Error, their most recent production. They’ve been very friendly and, of course, they made us feel a little bit closer to home. We decided to spend our last dinner in Barcelona with them, eating pizza and sharing experiences.

Even though our last moments in Barcelona have been spent with Italians, we left the Gamelab 2015 with a picture of our most recent fellows developers: The Game Kitchen team who have been a very nice companion during our days there. I want to personally thank Matéo, Carlos y Enrique for their availability and kindness (in the picture, in order from the left to the right):


Day 4 – Leaving With More Enthusiasm Than When Arrived

I personally think that this kind of events are important to be lived. Not only on the “business” side but, perhaps, more on the “personal” side. The mood is great, you get to know new people and, especially, you understand that you’re not the only one who loves what is doing. This is a great lesson for everyone. Also is a great lesson of humility, something everyone has never to forget, even the greatest.

As I started with a picture of a flight, I will leave you with the other one: the way back home. See you soon here with more news about us and, of course, about Nantucket!



Of GUI and Tooltips

by DanieleBubb

I’m starting a series of articles on the technical side of things, to show what’s the solution taken for common problems in game development, trying to improve them and share it with fellow developers.

Nantucket is made with Unity, it has been awesome so far, after more than a year in development we feel quite comfortable using both the engine and the editor. But there are situations where we preferred to implement the solution ourselves instead of using built-in libraries or getting asset store packages. The whole UI library is an example of this.

Possible UI Solutions

At time of starting the development of it (mid 2014) there was no uGUI, so the only feasible built-in solution was the legacy OnGUI. We scrapped it right away because was not flexible enough to handle overlapping interfaces and different resolutions.

We evaluated the idea to purchase nGUI, but at that time was too expensive for us for what we needed.

We haven’t tested the new uGUI yet, but at this point of development is too much work of refactoring to switch.

So we went for building our solution from the ground up, so we could implement a library that contains only what we needed and is easily extendable.

Collider Manager

Each in-game component that interacts with the player has a Collider2D, in order to be detected by mouse movements.

The Collider Manager provides a series of functions which give information about colliders, their position, and their Z order. It’s used mainly to understand which objects are pointed by the mouse pointer, both GUI components and game objects.

To handle Z order, the Collider Manager has a list of Layers ordered by priority. That’s all we need to handle overlapping user interfaces and detect whether the player is interacting with the map or with the interface.


In this picture, there are three Layers ordered from high to low priority: UIClickable, UIBackground, MapCity. Using the Collider Manager, is possible to detect whether the mouse is pointing to the ship slot and show the tooltip, or decide to accept the click on a city and handle cases like: the city is covered by the interface background, if the user clicks where the city is, the Collider Manager understands that the user is clicking on the interface and not on the city.


The first big choice we had is to implement the whole interface in world space coordinates. This let us design the UIs in the Unity scene together with the other scene objects, and it was great for us, because we had the possibility to see how the UI fit in the screen, and how it’s placed relative to the other objects, even in edit mode, reducing a lot the turnaround times.

But using world space coordinates has its drawbacks:

  1. Aspect ratio is fixed. In case the player uses one different from 16:9, there are black bars on the sides
  2. The interface is designed for FullHD resolutions. For different resolutions there could be a lot of aliasing in text and sprites due to texture filtering

Everything in the GUI is a GUI Component, a simple script that provide functions to change the state (i.e. edit text, change color, change sprite) and it handles mouse events that happen on the component itself.

All the GUI state and behaviours are handled by the GUI Manager, which has 2 main tasks:

  1. Dispatches mouse events like Mouse Over, Click, Drag & Drop to the GUI component
  2. Updates the info to show in each component, but only when needed to avoid performance issues

We use built-in TextMesh components for UI texts, they are good enough for our purposes, but we didn’t find a good solution to avoid aliasing. We might consider using another solution for text in the future.


As you may have seen in some gameplay footage, we use tooltips a lot in Nantucket. We think is the best way to provide the player all the information he needs at the moment, without letting him confused and doing the best to help him to take the right decision.

Every object with a Collider2D component in the scene can be a target for tooltips, all it needs is to have a TooltipComponent attached. The TooltipComponent provides a text to the Tooltip Manager, which in order shows a tooltip with that text when the player moves the mouse over the object.


The text content in the tooltip varies a lot in terms of size, and the target object can be in any position in the screen. So we added a database of different versions of Tooltip Objects, which varies in: text lines number, arrow direction, arrow position.

There is a central Tooltip Manager which handles all the tooltip functionality, its main loop is:

  1. Pick an object pointed by the mouse with a Tooltip Component, using the Collider Manager
  2. Wait a delay while the mouse always points to that object
  3. Select a Tooltip Object from the database depending on: Text lines, Component position, Tooltip preferred direction. The tooltip object will be placed just outside of the collider of the target object, so the object won’t be obscured by the tooltip
  4. Show the tooltip
  5. Hide the tooltip when the mouse doesn’t point to that object anymore


The Tooltip Manager makes sure that the tooltip object is always on screen so, for example, if the object is on the far right, the tooltip will go on the left even if the preferred direction is on the other side.

The tooltip object database handles until 6 lines of text for now, but we already have tooltip texts longer than that, so we added a special tooltip objects which is a big flat rectangle that encloses all the text. Before the game ships we may implement a solution to have modular tooltips, in order to handle all the text sizes.

That’s all, I’d like to hear voice in the comments, any feedback or question is welcome.