Themes, Comics and more Subscriptions

First on the list of new features is themes. Each location in the game now has a different colour theme to make them more distinct. The Fast Food location is gaudy and bright, while the high-end Restaurant is more subtle and classy.

Even the housing areas have their own theme. If you don’t like your home’s default colours, you can change it. Go to the Mall and buy Cans Of Paint, then go home and select ‘Paint Home’ to choose which theme you want. You can also do the same for any freelance businesses you own.

Next is Comic Book collecting. Comic Books are now available to help achieve your Possessions Life Goal, just like the other collectibles. Own much-loved classics like Startling Arachnid-Man and The Attractive Quartet. The rest are for you to discover.

Also, all the Collectible containers (Stamp Book, Jewellery Case, etc) have been moved into their own Collector’s Store and removed from the Mall.

There’s also two new subscriptions. The first is Jesse’s Jokes, which gives you jokes and observations about life, work and money every week. It’s not really useful, but it’s cheap and I thought it fit in well with the rest of the game. The second subscription is Generous Giving. This sets up a monthly charity donation that takes money from your bank account and increases your happiness. It’s very useful if you have enough money but haven’t achieved your Happiness Life Goal yet.

There’s other content coming as well, including new traits, more random events and two more career paths. Thanks to a recent spike in supporters, we’ll also be adding two new music tracks in the next version.

One of the surprising things in our online poll was a sudden increase in the votes for a Commodities/Stock Market, which is now in second place! I always wanted to add it, but wasn’t sure if players would want such a feature. I’ll be gradually working towards that over the coming months.

Itch.io | Twitter | Website

By |August 25th, 2017|GameDev|1 Comment

Alpha 1.4 and Running Your Business

Alpha 1.4 is out and contains the new freelance/contractor business feature. I gave an introduction to this feature in the previous post here. Today, I’ll talk about some other changes surrounding this new feature.

The most recent transactions are now listed when you click on your main account balance. This is useful if you have multiple businesses and they start generating income/deducting expenses from your account. You can see where the money is going, whether it’s paying for wages or materials, etc.

Your own businesses can also be assigned a hotkey now, so you can quickly access it. Just click “Pin” on the business you want to hotkey, and select a number from the list. This is helpful if you want to check up on your business, accept any available jobs and assign workers to jobs. Then once you’re done, press the hotkey again to close the business window and get back to your life.

There’s a new subscription, the Businezz Biweekly which provides you with advanced tips on running a business.

Since you’re running a business, you also get tax deductions. For those that are unfamiliar with how it works, a tax deduction is a reduction in your taxable income mainly from expenses you incur from running the business. Any business expense is a tax deduction, so for example if you made $10000 from the business and spent $7000 on marketing, materials, etc then you would only be taxed on your $3000 profit. You can see your total business income and expenses on the income statement of each business.

You can also sell a business if you have had enough of being an entrepreneur. The final sale price is influenced by recent business profits, brand reputation and awareness, and a few other factors. Your business is considered a sole proprietorship, which means its profits or losses are added to your personal tax return each financial year (and you are taxed at your personal tax rate, not a business tax rate).

As mentioned last time, the base price for This Grand Life will be increasing after this weekend. So if you want it at the lower price, head over to Itch.io before Monday!

Remember you can still vote in the online poll for what you want to see next. More content is currently in the lead so I’ll be working on that for the next update.

picture polls

Here’s the full list of changes for Alpha 1.4:

New Features

  • Added Plumbing business and Plumber’s Toolkit possession
  • Added Graphic Design business and Calibrated Monitor possession
  • Added Catering business and Commercial Kitchen possession
  • Added different rarities for different freelance jobs
  • Added job openings taking into account owned possessions and not just worn clothing
  • Added brand reputation, awareness and marketing for freelance jobs
  • Added reputation hit when freelance work not completed on time
  • Implemented economy effect on freelance jobs available
  • Added Business button to profile dashboard
  • Added auto-cancelling marketing and quitting workers if you can’t afford them
  • Added existing names pool as potential employees names
  • Added business startup fees
  • Added Income Statements for each freelance business
  • Added materials requirements for each business
  • Added variation to employee wage negotiation skill
  • Added hotkeys assignable for Freelance Business
  • Added recent transactions to receivables/payables summary
  • Added Businezz Biweekly subscription
  • Added selling business functionality

Gameplay Changes

  • Renamed Beer to Carton Of Beer
  • Doubled happiness penalty from being fired from regular job
  • Added Diploma requirement for Library Assistant and Work Experience requirement for Librarian
  • Implemented business tax deductions
  • Wealth calculation includes business value

Bugfixes/Improvements

  • Reduced size of save files
  • Implemented click to zoom for freelance jobs
  • Moved Hours Spent button from profile dashboard into Statements
  • Fixed Tickets To CatCon not expiring after a month
  • Added Warranty to tooltip when purchasing breakable goods
  • Disable hiding work button
  • Reworked Tax Statement to include more income and deduction details
  • Added windowed full screen to option
  • Fixed Subscriptions adding money instead of taking it away
  • Changed actions on business panel arrangement from alphabetical to data order
  • Switching from main menu to game now instantaneous
  • Clicking on Home or Job on dashboard now travels there instead of camera zooming
  • Fixed crash when pressing load game button with no saved games

Itch.io | Twitter | Website

By |August 10th, 2017|GameDev|0 Comments

Freelancer and Contractor Work

The next big feature – freelancing and contracting! Start your own business, build your brand awareness and reputation, hire employees and organize jobs.

This is a mid-to-late game feature, as the initial capital required to start a business can be quite high. For example to start a plumbing business, you need to pay startup fees, buy a plumber’s toolkit and plumbing supplies, and also be qualified with the right education. Marketing is also expensive, and you’ll have a hard time getting any jobs without it. However once you’ve established your brand, the potential profit is great if you can manage your business properly.

When you first start a business, you will probably be doing all the jobs yourself. Employees are expensive and need to be paid every week, regardless of whether there is work available for them. As you complete jobs successfully and on time, your reputation will grow and you will get more job offers. Once you start getting too many job offers, it’s time to think about hiring workers. When your business is well established, you can hire a manager to take care of everything and let the business run itself!

Every potential employee has a diligence rating. An employee with a high diligence will complete jobs for you faster, but in general will want higher pay. This is not always true though, and it might be worthwhile to fire a low diligence worker and hire a high diligence one if they are demanding the same pay. Potential workers are taken from the pool of preset names, so if you are supporting us at The Supervisor tier or higher your name might show up in this list.

I still need to do testing and add more business types before releasing this update. There’s a large amount of new systems implemented to make it work, so it will definitely not be compatible with previous saved games. Also once the update goes live, I’ll be removing The Student supporter tier which will bring the base price for This Grand Life to $10.

Finally, I’ve set up an online poll. Please vote to give me an idea on what you want to see more!

picture polls

Itch.io | Twitter | Website

By |July 26th, 2017|GameDev|1 Comment

Alpha 1.3 Released and New Scenario

Alpha 1.3 of This Grand Life has been released. This version features an improved education system as discussed in the last post, and also a new scenario! Here’s a video summarising the changes:

The scenario is called “Sue Goes To University” and is about Sue Doku, a nerdy young adult about to start her Science degree at Stanford University. Speaking of which, Stanford is a new town you can play from the custom game menu. It’s similar to Tutorialville in that the town doesn’t contain all the locations that a proper city contains. The focus of the Stanford map is on the University itself.

The scenario also works as an extended tutorial for the education system. It goes through more features that you might not be aware of. There are also some special events that are only triggered when you play the scenario, like going Elf Spotting or attending CatCon.

Another change is the addition of preset goals on the custom game menu. You can click on the Preset Goals button and see a list of goals sorted by length of time taken. The shortest settings are a ‘Walk To The Bathroom’ while the longest ones are ‘Cross-Planetary Marathon’.

Of course you can still manually adjust your goals to whatever you like, although they will now default to ‘An Acceptable Life’ when you first start up the game.

Here is a full list of the changes in Alpha 1.3:

New Features

  • Added Sue Doku scenario
  • Added Stanford town map
  • Added Libarian and Library Assistant occupations
  • Added Library location
  • Added fluff Education courses (Elf Spotting 101, etc)
  • Added some more location background chats
  • Added custom resolution setting
  • Added low hygiene event
  • Added Bachelor Of Philosophy
  • Added preset ambitions to custom game setup
  • Added default goals to preset profiles
  • Added edge scroll and WASD scroll speeds to options page

Gameplay Changes

  • Added Fun increase when eating out at Fast Food/Restaurant
  • Changed working part-time wage penalty from 25% to 20%
  • Removed knowledge gain from town hall courses
  • Added Eat From Canteen to Trade School and University
  • Implemented partial knowledge gain towards goal for partially completed education
  • Major reduction in price of diplomas and degrees

Fixes/Improvements

  • LOTS of internal changes to allow more versatile scenarios
  • Added checks to prevent crashing when invalid xml
  • Internal changes to scenario triggers to allow branching storylines
  • Internal cleanup of start menu pages
  • Fixed end of week crash randomly happening
  • Changed Bartender avatar
  • Added some missing sound effects
  • Fixed wearing clothes from possessions panel removes table headings
  • Reformatted Apply For Job and Quit Job windows
  • Added more details to knowledge goal breakdown in weekly summary
  • Current studying now displays as a progress bar

Itch.io | Twitter | Website

By |July 10th, 2017|GameDev|0 Comments

Education Changes and the Knowledge Life Goal

I’m making some changes to the way education works to make it a more rewarding experience. Hopefully it will feel less like you are grinding towards a distant goal that’s still years away (like in real life). Here’s a summary video:

Courses at the Town Hall (Alcoholics Anonymous, First Aid, etc) will no longer contribute towards your Knowledge goal. I thought it didn’t really make sense to have someone who attends an Alcoholics recovery program gaining Knowledge, since someone without the Alcoholic trait would have no reason to attend.

Instead, there is now a new Library location. Here you can study interesting courses such as ‘Elf Spotting 101’, ‘Identifying Llama Droppings’ and more. They aren’t useful for your career, but they are cheaper and shorter to complete than a degree or diploma while still giving you Knowledge. If you only need a small amount of Knowledge to complete your Life Goal, these are a better alternative to the more serious courses.

Previously you only received Knowledge when you completed the entire course. Now it will be gained gradually while you study. There will still be a large boost to your Knowledge when you finish the course, but it won’t be as dramatic as before.

I’ve also added an Eat From Canteen action to the University and Trade School. Now you can eat while studying at the same place. However this change would have discouraged the player from attending the Burger Joint and Restaurant. To counteract this, eating from those places now also increases your Fun.

Itch.io | Twitter | Website

By |June 30th, 2017|Uncategorized|1 Comment

Changes to Supporter Tiers

I’ve made a few changes to the reward tiers to hopefully provide better value to supporters.

Firstly, I noticed some people were happy to support us at the Worker tier, but had no interest in getting their name in the credits. So I thought, what could I offer instead?

One of the unique things about This Grand Life is the city maps you play on, which are created from real cities. I go through a special process to create them and it took two months to figure out how to do it.

I thought I could offer an insight into this process, so I wrote a manual describing how to create the game’s maps using satellite data. You can even follow the instructions to create your own home town!

The manual will be available to all Worker tier supporters and above.

Secondly, after a request I have added a tier called ‘The Manager’. In addition to the other stuff, it also gives you a custom portrait in the game of you, your friend or your pet. You get a high resolution version for your personal use as well.

That’s it for now. I’m still working on changes to the Education system, which I’ll talk more about next time.

Itch.io | Twitter | Website

By |June 22nd, 2017|GameDev|0 Comments

Alpha 1.2 and Subscription Services

Alpha 1.2 of This Grand Life has been released. There are two new major features. The first is Collectibles, which was shown in the previous video. The second is Subscription Services, which is demonstrated in the following video:

Subscriptions provide useful information and services that help you achieve your life goals. For example, the Lively Livin’ sub gives you a weekly tip on how to play the game. On the other end of the scale is the Grand Groceries sub, which delivers fresh groceries to your door every 4 weeks. It’s more expensive than buying from the Shopping Mall, but it means you won’t have to travel there every month to buy your own. There are currently 5 subscriptions in total and I’m still working on a few more.

Each subscription costs money, and the price increases with inflation. So you have to think about whether keeping a subscription is worth it. The Collector’s Corner subscription is useless if you’re not interested in buying collectibles, or have completed all your collections.

I’ve also updated the weekly summary panel, and now you can click on each goal to see a breakdown of your progress towards achieving that goal.

The latest version is available from Itch.io. Here’s the full list of changes:

New Features

  • Implemented auction house at Town Hall
  • Added 5 different collectibles
  • Added Social Services Manager occupation to Town Hall
  • Added second gameplay track and implemented song switching
  • Added 50% off clothing coupon
  • Added Subscriptions to Weekly Summary
  • Added Lively Livin’, Grand Groceries, Collector’s Corner, Ester’s Estates, TV PlusPlus subscriptions

Gameplay Changes

  • Auction now only starts once player submits starting bid
  • Real estate prices now change with economic growth, rent prices change with inflation
  • Reduced Groundskeeper hygiene decay by half
  • Removed spending time required to go to real estate auction
  • Increased health recovery from exercising
  • Increased fun from watching sports game
  • Significantly increased base time taken for education courses
  • Major readjustment of experience requirements for some jobs
  • Lots of rebalanced health and hygiene actions
  • Becoming tutor now requires a bachelor of science

Fixes/Improvements

  • Removed Fine Jewellery from Shopping Mall
  • Added sound effects for auction
  • Added experience provided by each occupation to tooltip
  • Changed tutorial Shopping Mall to MallWart
  • Updated logo
  • Fixed missing Security Uniform from Clothing Store
  • Hide extra space on business panel when tip not being shown
  • Clicking on profile buttons while window already open now closes it
  • Reworked weekly summary to include breakdown of each goal
  • Updated second tutorial with new weekly summary details
  • Doubled speed of location text
  • Trait needs now editable from xml
  • Fixed graduating from shopaholic and alcoholic courses not removing needs effect
  • Fixed life goal sticking when going to start scenario and then going to start custom game straight after
  • Added short description for cities on city select screen
  • Made InfoNet searching case-insensitive
  • Cleaned up InfoNet navigation
  • Added Education courses provided by locations to InfoNet and search
  • Fixed missing Diploma Of Security Mgmt from Trade School
  • Decreased main menu/resuming loading time by ~66%
  • Fixed study action not disappearing straight away when completing education
  • Fixed property taxes amount charged in cents
  • Removed jobs with no openings from Apply For Job page
  • Added button to location panel to view all possible jobs

Itch.io | Twitter | Website

By |June 14th, 2017|GameDev|0 Comments

Buying Collectibles At Auction

A new feature in the next version (1.2) of This Grand Life will be collectibles. I’ve made a video update demonstrating this feature:

To start a collection, firstly you have to purchase a container from the Shopping Mall. For example to start collecting Stamps, you need a Stamp Collecting Book. I found requiring purchasing a container was the best way to do it, as it allows the player to completely ignore collectibles if they’re not interested in it.

Once you have something to store collectibles, you can attend auctions at the Town Hall to start bidding on them.

If you win the auction, the item gets added to your collection. You can only have one of each collectible, even though there may be multiples of the same item up for auction. Each item has a different rarity and prices that reflect their rarity.

In total there are currently about $50k worth of collectible items, ranging from Doll, Coin, Stamp, Video Game and Jewellery Collections. They all contribute towards your possessions life goal, so they provide an alternative to buying Fridges and TVs in working towards that goal.

Itch.io | Twitter | Website

By |June 2nd, 2017|GameDev|0 Comments

This Grand Life – Alpha Access Available Now

This Grand Life is entering alpha development. I’ve created a Let’s Play style video to demonstrate how to get started with a custom game:

Purchasing the game will give you access to all future versions up to release, as well as a Steam key if we get on Steam. You can do so from Itch.io:

If you want to try it out, there is a demo which includes the current tutorials you can download from Itch.io
or IndieDB.

And finally, remember to vote on Steam Greenlight to help get the game onto Steam.

Itch.io | Twitter | Website

By |May 19th, 2017|GameDev|0 Comments

Going Forward in This Grand Life

It looks like we’re not going to meet the Kickstarter goal, I guess I went into this without a big enough fan base. I’d still like to say a big THANK YOU to those of you who have shown support for the project.

I’m still going to finish This Grand Life, but with a different timeline and priorities. I’ll be ditching the scenarios, which would have required the most custom art assets that the Kickstarter was to partially fund. Instead, my efforts will go towards adding features to the custom game mode that require a minimum amount of new art. As an example, one of these new features I’m currently working on is an auction system and the ability to invest in real estate.

Once I’ve updated the current tutorial and made the custom game playable from start to finish, I’ll be entering Alpha development. The game will then be purchasable from Itch.io. Alpha will be about adding more content, features and improving the core game. More in-game music will also be added if we get enough funding during this stage.

So that’s the plan. I feel like I have something special here, and I hope you’ll join in the development journey with me! For regular updates, you can follow me on Twitter and for major updates, sign up to the newsletter.

Itch.io | Twitter | Website

By |April 26th, 2017|GameDev|0 Comments