Congrats! I’m super pumped for Hisato!
IGF Submission Complete!
So we don't bury the lede: Yesterday we submitted to the International Games Festival! This is a huge milestone for us, because it marks the first time we are putting a build out there into the ether. Though you may have seen screenshots, gifs, or development, it never felt cohesive enough to let someone else touch it freely. That all changed yesterday!
IGF gave us a hard deadline, and because of that the pace of development went from glacial to ice stream. In preparation for submission, we pushed hard to make sure that the game was playable from beginning to end. Up until this point, the game has been a collection of features instead of a cohesive experience. The last few weeks were a flurry of activity. It feels really good to finally be able to start a new game and try to defend the gates until winter. What did we do to get here?
Finish Boss Fights
Boss fights were just normal encounters up until this point. No special sprites. Regular move selection. Enemies that could be encountered during normal days. In this area, bosses received a lot of love and now feel like an important part of the game. AJ Booker whipped up some special music. We scripted a neat sequence to emulate them stepping out of the shadows and into the light, taunting the player. We gave them strategies. To end the battle, you must take their life. This is a marked difference between normal encounters, in which you simply send strangers away. In a boss battle, these are enemies who are so determined to steal the village food stores, they will fight to the death. In turn, Hisato also can be killed by the enemy, ending the game.
Add Game Over
What a great segue way into the next feature: a proper game over screen! Now it is possible to lose the game. In doing so, Hisato leaves the gate unattended and the village is left to its own devices. In this game, death is final.
Add the Ending
After game over, or if the player defeats the final boss, we now have gobs and gobs of stats to encourage you for your next run! Though the main gameplay that you might see from videos or gifs is related to the gatekeeping of the village, underneath this layer is a village simulation. Permitting strangers to enter the village has many ramifications: adding a mouth to feed, changing the mood of the village, and potentially to help increase production of goods. When all is said and done, the game ending provides a way to measure how you fared during the course of the game. We decided to just throw walls of stats out there, things someone playing may not have realized we were tracking. How many fish were caught during the course of the game? How many people did you turn away? How many thieves snuck into the village? And, of course, the main measure of progress: How long can the village survive? The idea is that the game ends with a brutal winter's storm, and you had to have stored enough food for the village to survive as long as possible.
Fix Game Restart
So now that you know how you did, you want to try and help the village survive longer, right? Here we had to do a lot of little stuff to try and make sure you can play and replay the game as many times as possible. Before we had a lot of funny bugs with the second play through. We knocked out a lot those for this build.
Okay, so the IGF build has been submitted. Step one is complete! We have a game that you can play from start to finish, but it's missing some depth and nuance. Where do we go from here?
Balance, Balance, Balance!
Right now, the game can be pretty easy in some modes and impossibly hard in others. The way food production works, most of the struggle is up front. Once you let in enough people, you're off to the races and can stop worrying about it for the most part. Now it's time for us to play the game over and over again and tweak the living daylights out of the numbers behind the scene. There's a lot to tweak too. Hisato and enemy stats, how quickly food is produced, how often thieves and bandits try to enter the village; there's a multitude of ways to play with the game difficulty.
Polish the Rough Edges
In our rush to get the game built for IGF, we focused on getting the features of the game to be good enough. Now we need to move the needle towards great. A lot of the writing is temporary. The game ending stats are there, but could use a nicer layout. Resolution of turns could use some "juice" to give it more impact. Expect to see some before and after shots! It is resolution season, after all.
Because nobody likes bugs.
See you space cowboy,