Monthly Report #7 – July 2016

First reactions to prototype version of Sapu

Oh man this was emotional moment, when we finally got to see first reactions to the game. Sapu introduced himself to few of our play-testers. It took us 1,5 year to create this short prototype. After such pretty long time, we were not exactly sure if the players will like it or not. Today, we’re very pleased that the overall impressions are pretty good. But we want more.
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I’ll cover the whole results in more details in another post, when we’ll get the results from all of our playtesters. But here are the major topics that appeared:

Atmosphere

Through the bridge
Almost everyone praised how good the atmosphere is. The audiovisual effects were rated very high. During the short gameplay, players felt anxious and uncertain what will come for them next. That’s what we’ve wanted to achieve so we’re very happy about it. We want Sapu to be a great game for (lonely :)) evenings and nights, when player can immerse into unknown and strange world and explore it. The prototype also showed us that no one had any issues with darkness (we didn’t include brightness settings) as it was with screenshots.

Gameplay intensity and enemy diversity

Fight with Orkabats
Even though the prototype has only 3 types of enemies, their behavior is so different that the players found it interesting to learn them and choose right tactics/combos for each of the type. This feature (of different types of enemies that need to be dealt with differently) might be our huge advantage over other action RPG titles.

“Where to go now?” and lack of tutorial

We didn’t implement any of minimap/path helper features yet, and it was sometimes painful for players. It was also a great lesson for us that when player is wandering around looking for a right path, he gets bored pretty quickly. Also, we did not create entire tutorial of every spell that Sapu had (and how it works) and everyone had to die at the beginning to learn mechanics. It is a tricky part with such short demo. We didn’t want to create entire level just to teach player mechanics and it was a mistake.

UI flaws

The game is not polished. UI was done a little bit in a hurry. And it was felt. We need to do a better job to display all viable information (spell cooldowns, hp bars etc). Also, we’re not sure about displaying damage numbers as it can mess up immersive experience.

What’s next?

We’re already started creating first of the next two scenes which with addition to current one (the prototype) will combine into more official demo. I’ll call it demo #2. So as of now, the plan is to:

1. Create it – much more improved and polished than the first one.
2. Get it to closed tests to gather further opinions.
3. Do further adjustments.
4. Show it on some game conventions/conferences – this will be sort of final test if the game will sell.

The deadline for second demo is not estimated yet as we’re still not sure about its final content. But it is safe to say that this will take us another few months. Why? We got to see recorded gameplays of playtesters and we saw many flaws of the game that need to be addressed for demo #2. So with addition of new features, we have pretty big list of necessary tasks including:

● Addition of AI navigation and improvement of the overall pathfinding process. This is a huge task (estimated as of 2-3 months of work for Sarseth). The whole issue is a material for another post.
● Creation of another 2-3 enemies with their own abilities/behavior
● Addition of new Sapu spells
● Smoothness improvements of the game. Currently the animations and the whole gameplay are a little bit too sluggish/too robotic. We want it to look and feel more natural.
● Sound system enhancement
● Better lighting system with nice shadows etc.
● Addition/Adjustment of features mentioned during first prototype tests

And so on… Demo #2 is another stage of creating a vertical slice version of the game. Such version will be put on some crowdfunding campaign as we want to provide the most enjoyable experience as we can.

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Pretty silent month, pretty poor results.
July

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