Share this project

Done

Share this project

Done
Photo original
The authentic Octopus City simulation for Windows, OS X and Linux. A surreal adventure game about everything and nothing.
829 backers pledged $20,419 to help bring this project to life.

Recent updates

Photos

B02a0a4d12c45e48b0c1cbbf79906c7b original
1f9f5a1763fbd0aff69e610042d60121 original
4d13b1117f31ce17c3c1b0539d299c80 original
A53f2e77deba8197af263ed3fcfa8f07 original
Bd6f88fc48d55e7f68279674a1f911d4 original
0020d65e9a88e2a6e6a1e49c938b7efa original
A6e08f44de4b15377ae857daf5964557 original
5146a3751b7603ab18ee16ae95bde165 original
A8110dd5d9ad957e1529cb6da1b78c6c original

What's Eating Kaf Kafkaryan

11 likes

Konbanwa minasan,

In today's competitive market, great developments are happening every day at the underground headquarters of Ghost in a Bottle Petroleum. As firm believers in innovation, traditional family values, and the pursuit of gold, Octopus City Blues will be the first of many exciting projects to redefine the stagnant Octopus City Simulation (OCS) genre and bring it to the average consumer. The first step in our master plan is to introduce our product to the masses via Steam. We feel that our presence on a monopolistic marketplace will strengthen our brand, as it echoes our own monopoly in the OCS market. As our dedicated fans and supporters it is therefore your duty to help us achieve our corporate vision and get through the Greenlight process. Usually we tell kids like you to say NO to Octoblood, but today we'll make an exception. Vote YES for Octoblood and help us help you.

Vote for Octopus City Blues on Steam Greenlight

To celebrate this momentous occasion, we have put together a new trailer for our simulation. Check it out:


Bonus: The Design of Octopus City Blues

Warning: The following contains many spoilers for the demo. You can download it here if you haven't already.

Hello everyone, this is employee no. 208, one of the many professional Octosim designers working on everyone's favorite fever dream, and today I want to talk about the design of the demo and some of the things you can expect moving forward. One of the main ideas behind Octopus City Blues is to be as implicit and subtle as possible. Unlike some other products, we don't start the simulation by explicitly telling you how "your choices matter" or "Daisy will remember what you said", and we don't expose any of the multitude of hidden variables that shape your experience. Based on that, the very idea of talking about the design of the simulation is at odds with what we set out to do. However, I feel that it's been a while since the demo was released, and we have made a few design mistakes that obscures the true complexity of the demo experience. It's probably a good idea to talk about the demo in the context of the full version, to let you know what to expect and to help you understand why it's taking such a long time.

The diagram above shows the structure of the main scenario in the demo. You can click on it to view a bigger version. The design of OCB is a balancing act between having a lot of (hopefully meaningful) choices while keeping things simple enough and within our budget. There are multiple ways to break into the Professor's mansion for example, but once you're inside the different paths converge. With that said, the entry method you choose can have a big impact on the endings and scenes available later. Your choices matter, but branching is kept to a reasonable limit.

There are two main design problems we perceive with the current demo. The first one is that not all choices are equal. Using tentacle hormone on the sick tentacle outside the mansion is a very obvious and straightforward approach, to the point that most people don't realize there are other ways to get inside. The demo lacks a proper introduction and can be quite confusing for new players. We don't think players should be told what to do or be given too many hints, but in this case many players didn't even realize that gossip could be used like items. Gossip is the most important mechanic in the simulation, and most of the demo endings aren't reachable if you don't utilize it.

The second problem is related to the first one. The impact of your choices should be recognized, and you should feel that picking A over B can change things considerably. Like I said earlier, we wanted to be very implicit. The point isn't to play the demo enough times to get all the endings, but to give each player a somewhat unique experience even if they only tried it once. You shouldn't be told that "this choice will matter later" because it trivializes the other choices and takes you out of the experience, but you should still feel the weight of your choice. Stepping on beetles is certainly fun, but the Professor doesn't appreciate it, and several endings depend on his attitude towards Kaf. I wonder if most people realized the importance of that choice. If they haven't, then we should work harder to warn the player without directly saying "stepping on beetles will change the ending".

Both these problems stem from a difference between our expectations and how players actually behave. We wanted to make a vague and open experience that focuses on exploration and intuition, but we might have gone too far. Instead of demonstrating the complex web of choices and consequences many players only get the easiest ending and may assume that's all there is to it. In the future we will try to do more extensive beta testing and watch players try the simulation. We will also find ways to train the player to recognize alternatives and choices without explicitly stating it in a tutorial.

You can imagine how hard it can be to design branching systems like this, and that's not even accounting for all the dialogue we write for different gossip interactions. But we believe that it's worth it in the end if you could experience all of Octopus City Blues and then talk to a friend about it, only to find out that each of you had a very different experience. The choices made in the demo lead to different endings, but in the full version they will influence future quests and interactions. You can later visit the Professor's beetle fan club if you've convinced him to start one, and see the club growing and becoming more influential. Alternatively, the Professor might be dead and his mansion inaccessible for the rest of the simulation. In another playthrough he lives on and continues his reign of terror.

The moral of this story is to treat your beetles with respect. Suppress your reptilian brain and watch your step, or kill all of them if that's what you really want to do. Will you be a paragon of light or a disruptive renegade? The choice... is yours.

Cut-It Kaf

15 likes

>> octopus.bat --start
Welcome to the interactive Octopus City terminal. Please enter a command.
>> update
Reticulating Splines. Please wait...
...
...
ERROR. No public updates found.

>> sudo update
Enter your password: 123456
ERROR. User 'guest' unable to retrieve lock on file kafsmom.dat

>> login
Enter your username: admin
Enter your password: 123456
ERROR. Wrong password. You have used 1 of 3 attempts.
Enter your password: password
ERROR. Wrong password. You have used 2 of 3 attempts.
Enter your password: daisy
Access granted. Welcome, malevolent CEO.

>> update
Reticulating Splines. Please wait...
...
...
Retrieved one private project update. View update.txt to read it.

>> cat update.txt
Our plans for world-domination by mass marketing cephalopod-themed product placement are underway. Phase 2 of OPERATION BEEFWORM has started and we should have good news in the coming months. Currently we are working on project R-C4D3_G4M3S to meet the BEEFWORM milestone. You can find some screenshots on the //unkempt_tntcls server. End of executive report.
<EOF>

>> mount //unkempt_tntcls screenshots
>> cd screenshots/arcade/
>> imgviewer . --gallery

>> man 'Octopus City Blues'

Welcome to the Octopus City Blues super secret manual! Please select a topic:
1) Game making for dummies
2) Ranking of coolest insects by number of mandibles
3) OPERATION BEEFWORM
4) Tentacle count vs. competitors
5) Corporate culture and ethics
6) Systems
7) Redacted

>> Systems
Welcome to Systems manual! Please select a topic:
1) Gossip
2) Stress and guilt
3) Back-shaving
4) Tentacle climbing
5) Spin-dash (TM)

>> Gossip
The gossip system is the central mechanic of Octopus City Blues for interacting with Non-Playable Characters (NPCs). Gossip can be acquired through conversation or by observing NPCs and events, and it can be used like items. Gossip serves as a way to discuss various topics with NPCs and can add new responses to dialogue trees based on what Kaf knows.

Each gossip topic can have several versions with various truth values. In the full version you will be able to select the active version you want to share with people. This allows you to lie or tell the truth to different individuals, and to manipulate events in your favor. You should be really careful about what you share with NPCs, because it might anger them or lead to unfavorable outcomes. If someone trusts you with a secret and you go around telling everyone about it, it's very likely that the original person will find out and would react accordingly. With that said, sometimes it's advantageous to lie to people or anger them, so there are always different outcomes for the dedicated octofan to explore.

Gossip allows you to learn more about NPCs and the world, to find hints that will help you in quests, and to open new dialogue trees or scenarios. Your reputation with individual NPCs and factions is important, and gossip is one way to influence that. It is also a currency of sorts, and many NPCs would be happy to share juicy news with you if you're willing to pay the price.
<EOF>

>> main page
>> OPERATION BEEFWORM

SECURITY ERROR. UNAUTHORIZED ACCESS DETECTED!
CONSTRUCTING GUI TO TRACE YOUR IP ADDRESS. ADDRESS FOUND.
SENDING THE SPIDERBOTS. PREPARE YOURSELF FOR IMMEDIATE LIQUIDATION.
.... .... .... .... .... .... .... .... .... .... .... ....
T0NUT0JMT09EIElTIFRIRSBCRVNUIEJMT09ET0NUT0JMT09EIElTIFRIRSBCRVNUIEJMT09ET0NUT0JMT09EIElTIFRIRSBCRVNUIEJMT09ET0NUT0JMT09EIElTIFRIRSBCRVNUIEJMT09ET0NUT0JMT09EIElTIFRIRSBCRVNUIEJMT09ET0NUT0JMT09EIElTIFRIRSBCRVNUIEJMT09ET0NUT0JMT09EIElTIFRIRSBCRVNUIEJMT09ET0NUT0JMT09EIElTIFRIRSBCRVNUIEJMT09ET0NUT0JMT09EIElTIFRIRSBCRVNUIEJMT09E

Panic on the Centipede Express

15 likes

November 17th, 2014

My dearest Henrietta,

By the time you read this letter, I will no longer be the man you knew. When I accepted this dangerous mission, I knew there will be no turning back. I have come to terms with my imminent demise, but I keep thinking of our brief time together. I am teetering on the edge of sanity, wishing I had more time to tell you the things you wanted to hear, but I'm running out of time. I need to get the news out before the cyber bloodhounds of the Ghost in a Bottle Oligarchy find me.

My primary objective was to infiltrate the heavily fortified headquarters of this doomsday cult. Making my way to the buried alien spaceship below the Pyramid of Khafre was not an easy task. Circumventing their advanced security protocols was even harder. Gaining the trust of their enigmatic and malevolent CEO was almost impossible. But I've persevered. I have seen the darkest depths of the Bottle, I have read the Necronomicon, and I have embraced my inner tentacle to get the truth out.

By the time you read this, the surveys would have reached the wealthiest of the corrupt benefactors of this shady organization. It took a lot of work to get my hands on these sacred surveys, and I made sure to send them to their rightful owners. My hope is that, once the benefactors answer these surveys, Ghost in a Bottle will have to incorporate these answers in their simulation. This is guaranteed to reduce the authenticity of the simulation by no less than 20%, bringing us one step closer to a world without bottled ghosts.

The image above showcases a new tool being developed by the cult's mad scientists. It shows an editor of sorts used to sculpt and modify the scenes of their nefarious simulation. My research indicates that a more rudimentary editor was used earlier, but it wasn't tuned to the data format used by the simulation. Working with the previous editor was difficult because it was hard to see the various animated layers of the city or the proper placement of the simulated citizens. The new editor aims to solve these issues by reusing the engine code to provide a WYSIWYG interface. It is important to stop or at least delay the development of this new editor, or else the Ragnarok event promised by the organization, the release of the simulation itself, might arrive earlier than expected.

Another worrying new development is the growing number of staff being employed by the corporation. The newest addition to their tentacle art team is the so-called Sabrina Cámara. We don't know much about her yet, although a promotional website claims that she is an aspiring artist. Ghost in a Bottle has always tried to present itself as a legitimate business, so we should be careful when analyzing such propaganda. What we do know is that Sabrina will help out with character models and animation in the simulation. I have managed to smuggle one of the character sprites she worked on, and you can see how having more of these sprites could mean a more interactive and dynamic product.

We also know that the cult is preparing for a campaign of sorts in the coming months. The words "green" and "light" were heard. Apparently the company has learned a lot from the demo they released last month, and are trying to deal with some of the problems the users have reported. Some critics thought that the demo was too weird and confusing, and while Octopus City is indeed a bizarre and puzzling place, the corporate overlords at GiaB want to make it easier for people to get into the simulation, and are working on a new introduction and providing more cues for utilizing the various mechanics. They also want to reduce the amount of dialogue exposition to appeal to younger players who skip the opening cut-scenes in games like Call of Duty. You can see how reaching a wider audience makes this simulation even more dangerous than we've anticipated.

I am hiding in a small storage room. It's very cold and dark in here. I can barely see a thing, but I can hear the robot sentries sweeping this floor. It's only a matter of time now, but at least I can die knowing that people will learn the truth about this place. I wish I could tell you to run Henrietta. I wish I could help you somehow. The things I've seen in here... Ghost in a Bottle's plans for mankind... There's no place to run. There's no place to hide. The simulation is real, and it's coming for all of us.

Yours truly,

Gregor S.

There Will Be Octoblood

10 likes

Ghost in a Bottle Entertainment is proud to present Kaf's Illustrated Guide to Dung Beetles, the world's premier educational shareware for children of all ages! You can grab your own copy for FREE over at itch.io:

Download the Demo

We would like to thank our diligent beta testers for their help with this release. We would love to know your thoughts about the demo, so please let us know if you run into any problems or if you have suggestions to improve the simulation.

While we are happy with the demo, there are several problems that we want to address in the full version. It is difficult to properly present Octopus City Blues through a short and limited demo, because the simulation will be open-ended and you will have access to a large area of the city from the beginning. We want the full version to have more NPC schedules and more interesting characters and interactions in general. We also know that the exits of some areas are a bit confusing, and that it can be a little hard to know what to do. This will be alleviated in the full version which starts differently and has a small quest at the beginning that teaches the basic mechanics without being an explicit tutorial.

However, we feel that the demo can still give you a general idea of what to expect in the final version. It has multiple story paths and endings based on your choices. There are several ways to approach the problems you face, and interacting with the people of the city is very important. You will also get a glimpse of the story and the way main quests and dream segments work. We want each playthrough to feel unique and we would like to encourage players to explore and to try different approaches.

We have struggled with several problems throughout the year. Our initial estimations were based on our progress leading up to the Kickstarter campaign, which was very promising. After the Kickstarter, we ran into various bumps that slowed us down. Certain estimations were too optimistic and not detailed enough, the art creation process didn't scale well on larger scenes, and we had some issues in real life.

With that said, we never lost our motivation, and progress has been steady even when it was slow. Game development is difficult in general, especially with a small team working on an ambitious project. It's hard to put an estimate on a writer's block, a bug that keeps coming back, or a scene with a problematic perspective. That's not to say you can't estimate these hurdles, but you need time, experience, and a good process.

Last time we talked about some of the steps we've taken to improve our process. This includes reusing art, simplifying designs, better communication, and building tools to automate repetitive tasks. We can already see an improvement overall, and we are optimistic about the future. But at the same time, we want to make sure that we will release something that we are proud of. This is why the release date will be pushed back to 2015. We won't give a date yet, but we don't expect a release before next summer.

We will keep you updated as usual. Thank you for your continued support and patience, and we hope you enjoy the demo that we have prepared.

Until next time,

Your Friendly Bottled Ghost

From Octopus City with Love

15 likes

So let's get this out of the way.

The demo is out for backers at the beta tester tier. Grab it at the forum while it's hot:

http://ghostinabottle.com/forums

The demo is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. If you haven't registered for a forum account, then please do so with the same email you've used on Kickstarter (or PayPal). It might take up to a day to approve your registration.

For everyone else, we're going to release the demo publicly in a week or two, based on the results of beta testing. We are really excited about sharing the demo with you, and while it doesn't quite capture our grand vision for the simulation, it's a very important step forward.

I'm going to write a longer update when the demo is ready for a public release. But I'd like to apologize for the amount of time this demo took, and for my very optimistic estimations in general. Releasing this demo was a learning experience, where very small "1 hour" tasks would take up days and last minute changes would introduce showstopping bugs. We are a small team with other obligations, but we love Octopus City Blues and are doing our best to both finish it as soon as possible, while maintaining the level of quality worthy of the world's first Octopus City Simulation. This means that our initial estimations to have the full version out by the end of this year were way off, and we are definitely looking at a 2015 release date now.

We have taken a lot of steps to improve our process, speed things up, and learn from our mistakes. We are utilizing reusable tiles more frequently to finish scenes faster, we have made changes to our original plans to simplify the project and adapt to our progress rate, and we are considering other improvements such as better tools or hiring additional staff members. What we won't do is rush the release in a way that results in a poorer product. Over a year ago we've set out to do something really exciting with your help, and that hasn't changed at all. While we are very proud of the demo, and we hope that you'll like it too, we would like to do much more to make the citizens of Octopus City proud.

The next update will have the public demo, more details about the problems we've faced and the lessons we've learned, and a more concrete plan for the future, including details about the Kickstarter rewards.