Author Archive: sprajt

Monthly Report #8 – August 2016

Feedback summary

It’s time to wrap-up and summarize all the comments and opinions on Sapu prototype. If you missed the main issues discovered earlier, you can check them out on previous report. In this article, I’ll provide some charts that present the overall statistics from the survey.

Statistics

Other than open-ended questions, we’ve made some “rate something” questions that can be statistically analyzed. As there were several extreme ratings, other than simple average rating I’ve provided the median of the results as well:
sapu stats 1
1. We want Sapu to be pretty difficult game. We didn’t really know how the first-time gameplay would look like, as we were pretty skilled from all of the internal testing (I wrote about it on June Report). Also, we didn’t include any mechanics-learning tutorial so we’ve lowered down enemies statistics a bit to compensate that. One thing that is interesting is that the answers varied between 1 (very easy) and 8… Does it indicate that we should provide different difficulty levels? Maybe…
2. This is the most important chart for us from the closed-ended questions perspective. The average of 5,89 rating is definitely the number that is not satisfying at all. But it doesn’t really surprise us, Sapu is not polished and it was the first iteration of the gameplay. We hope that this number will increase for the next version.
3. We’re happy that audio and graphics were rated pretty high, but we still work on improving those aspects including smoother animations, addition of shadows and creation of other scenes to avoid repetitiveness of environment.
4. Even though there was no tutorial, after few minutes players felt comfortable with mechanics. Still the tutorial is required as well as the UI that provides better information about Sapu’s skills etc. Another feature to be polished.

Also, we divided the enjoyment rating on the type of enemy included in prototype scene. As we can see on the charts below, Larissa brought noticeably more fun to the gameplay as she has different abilities and also the boss-music provided intensity of the fight. Good to know 🙂
Stats #2

Other issues discovered

Other than pure feedback findings, we discovered many flaws of the game that play-testers didn’t have chance to acknowledge. Summing up all these things together, we have hands full of work. Check out what we are working on right now…

Rebuilding process

This section contains rather few words what is being taken care of, but hell – these are some time-consuming tasks. Here are the main ones:

Changing environment to 3D

We’re changing the ground (and many environmental stuff) from the 2D sprites into 3D ground. This is a major slow down in the progress, but long-term will accelerate our efforts. There are many more convenient Unity Assets for creating scenes and environments in 3D. Also, this is huge step up to create nice lighting system with proper shadows – a super-important feature for such dark/horror-ish games as Sapu is.
shadows4
Unfortunately, this change causes delays as the scenes have to be rebuild, new physics have to be included and the whole pathfinding also needs tweaks here and there.

Refactoring states

Sapu now has so many states (i.e. running/fighting/spellcasting/getting hit etc.) that are nested to each other or can block other states. These states are strongly connected to animations. So as we want those to be smooth, it was required to fully refactor the whole system.

Awaited new features

Currently on hold as we’re working on the whole rebuilding described above, later this month we will start working on new features including:
● Smoothing gameplay animations and Sapu reaction time after player does something
● Adding melee attacks. At first, we thought that it would not be required but now we see cons of such approach. Now it is a constant “run away” battle. In specific situations, we want player to close the distance between him and enemy. Melee attacks and spells should make fighting a lot more fun.

If you don’t want to miss any big news about Sapu subscribe to our newsletter! Also check out our Facebook and Twitter accounts to get recent updates!

Followers

august followers

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.
images
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.

If you don’t want to miss any big news about Sapu subscribe to our newsletter! Also check out our Facebook and Twitter accounts to get recent updates!

Followers

Pretty silent month, pretty poor results.
July

Monthly Report #6 – June 2016

Prototype has been finished

This was crazy month with the progress we’ve made. All required tasks from last monthly report were done. Everyone put so much energy to meet deadlines. It was so encouraging watching the whole team’s activity this month. Hell, we just wanted to finally get the prototype in other hands. The most important issues of this month are listed below:

● The build weighs 750MB now. It is a satisfying result after seeing last month’s 2,7GB.
● Pathfinding has been finished – for prototype at least. It is still far away from final game performance.
● Graphics and sounds are done. The scene is very dark and we get some comments that it is too dark on screenshots. We are aware of that and we’re curious how the scene will look like on different monitors etc. For the final product enabling brightness settings etc. is a no-brainer.

Even though we’ve finished the prototype this month, no one from our tester-list played it yet. Why?

Level design errors

In the process of development, we focused so much on completing different tasks that we kinda missed the core of the actual gameplay that we wanted to achieve. After hours of testing, our skill increased so much that the level design went out of control. The game was too quick, too action-packed, too difficult – too “not what we wanted it to be”. We desired different mechanics than those which we’ve ended up with. We wanted the game to be difficult, but in an enjoyable fashion – not because it’s just simply difficult. So we decided to expand the gameplay a little bit and put another 2 weeks of development to achieve required type of enjoyment. By expanding the gameplay, I mean dealing with…

AI dullness

The behavior of spiders is too normal, too ordinary. We saw such mechanics in thousands of hack&slash games. This does not satisfy us. Sapu is not another hack&slash tutorial, remember? Currently spiders perform only standard melee attacks. We want them to at least jump on Sapu when in range, hell we want them to think and react! Ok I guess we want to slow down our horses too, cause right now there are only 3 of us in which only Sarseth do the programming. However, such (rather) simple task as spider jumping ability enables us to achieve a huge goal – player will have to calculate which skill to use in different situations. Sometimes even small adjustments change gameplay drastically, so we’ll see how it goes.

Deadlines

We postponed prototype premiere several times now. It sucks we know that. I think it’s just how it needs to be right now, with the lack of our experience with almost anything we create for Sapu. But you know what’s funny? Deadlines played a huge, positive role on development. We’ve put much more energy to meet our goals, we progressed much faster. It’s funny cause it’s not like publisher or boss is standing behind us saying scary things if we don’t meet deadlines. We put them on our own. Human brains are tricky bastards. I’m sure that, we would be far behind of where we’re at right now if those self-injected deadlines weren’t capitalized. So we’ll stick to them and will (probably) be late many more times 🙂

What’s next?

After releasing the prototype (next week? 🙂 ), we want to create another scene which will be a little bit brighter – mainly for screenshots (maybe it’s time to do some gifs?) purposes. In the meantime we’ll analyze results of our prototype surveys. We’ll get much needed opinions and comments and then we’ll adjust some things according to them.

Then we’ll move on to create sort of Vertical slice version of the game meaning that the main focus we’ll put on next Sapu skills and mobs behavior.

Check out our Facebook and Twitter accounts to get recent updates!

Followers

I’m giving up with website stats. Too many bots that mess up statistics. I don’t want to loose too much time making filters and all this crap. If you have any suggestions how we could measure website’s popularity, let us know! However, I’ll add a newsletter subscribers metric. This should be our most important metric… so I guess we have a lot to learn 🙂
followers-june

Monthly Report #5 – May 2016

We’re getting close to finish the prototype!

It was an intensive month where everyone put a lot of effort to finish our first playable demo. We made pretty big step forward in development since last report. Finally, I started to enjoy playing the game! 🙂 Earlier, for the most part I only saw flaws that needed to be took care of. Now, I feel that the game needs few major improvements(AI / lighting and shadows / More fun skills) and few tweaks here and there to be one of the big surprises in the gaming industry! Ekhm… ok, back to the earth. Check out the most important issues of this month:

All characters created and implemented

See this quick presentation of what characters will be included in a prototype!

Huge file size of build version

Unfortunately, during the whole process of development, we did a rookie mistake. We didn’t put much attention on our final build file size. I can’t express our amazement when we first saw that our build weighs over 4 GB (while all our files weigh approximately around 500MB) :O. Quick research showed that the problem was that we wasted too much pixel space on spritesheets. It was very convenient for us, but man it would be distaster in a long run.
build size
Luckily, we found the cause quickly enough. Qra is currently optimizing all the sprites.

AI/Pathfinding system

More you get, the more you want. Although the system is still not top-notch and has its flaws, as it finally got better, we felt that we want even more. We had interesting discussion on Orkabat’s (first ranged enemy) behavior and things that he can do. And trust me, when you unleash this creative mind, it can escalate quickly. This way we would not finish the game before 2023 😀

As of now we decided that Orkabat will perform basic attacks with some special movement (e.g. sliding left and right). But it is highly probable that we’ll add another skill that pushes Sapu away. It has the potential to be super fun so we’ll see how it goes.

I’m pretty sure that the whole AI “task” will follow to the release day as we will always want more, want it better etc. Maybe the fact that every creature will be fun to fight against is gonna be our trademark? We’ll see.

Transition to 3D sounds

How on earth we thought it is not necessary? 😀 3D sound system is basically fully implemented in Unity that allow you to hear certain object on left speaker if it is on the left side of your screen (and vice-versa on the right side). This month we implemented this system and modified sounds. Now we hear water near river (and not on the entire map :D), raven as it passes by and everything feels much more natural. Fortunately we didn’t have thousands of sounds to modify yet.

Additional teleport skill

Now, beside 4 basic spells that were implemented some time ago, we added a teleport one on Air element. This basic teleport is so much fun to use and also will help playtesters survive in this horrible world we’ll put them on 🙂

Other done tasks

● Basic AI + Larissa AI (with additional spells)
● In-game GUI
● Main menu (animation – we’ll try to implement it in mp4 format)
● 3D sound system + sound effects for almost anything required
● Sound management system tweaks
● Spell interruption (when sapu get hit)
● Pause menu with nice controls presentation
● Credits + Success/Game Over graphics

What’s left?

● Optimizing build size – currently about 2,7 GB
● AI improvements – this is the most important task, with current flaws/bugs the game is still not ready to be put in playtesters hands
● Spells fixes (one spell will be fixed, one most probably will have updated graphics)
● Implementing music changes while fighting with Larissa
● Settings customization for playtesters (i.e. volume and brightness)
● Final level design (+ balancing stats)
● Contact with playtesters + creating questionnaire
● Uploading demo

Our postponed prototype deadline is 12.06. Check out our Facebook and Twitter accounts to get recent updates how it goes!

Followers

I am pretty happy with this month’s stats. We were much more active on social media including all #screenshotsaturdays and provided additional content at a constant rate.

Website

Google Analytics stats:
WebsiteStats

Social Media

May-SocialMediaStats

Characters in prototype version!

Hey!

If you missed some of our screenshotsaturday on Facebook or Twitter this month you might missed our characters that will be included in our prototype version! So here you have a short presentation 🙂

Sapu

Sapu
The main character. If you’ll ever play this game, you’ll play as this young boy. In prototype version, Sapu has 4 basic skills for each element and one additional, a quick teleport that should protect him from many situations.

Larissa

Larissa
This is Larissa, a Spider Mother. She is the most dangerous creature in a prototype scene. Other than basic attacks She has three additional special skills:

Vomit – Larissa takes a big breath and hits you with poison that deals constant damage and slows you down
Spider Web – Larissa turns and fires a spider web that (if hit) blocks Sapu for a second or two.
Egg Plant – Larissa lays an egg, and a second after 3 small spiderlings come out just to kill Sapu.

Other than Larissa and her spiderlings, we’ll have medium sized spiders on the scene.

Orkabat

Orkabat
Orkabat – a ranged enemy. Orkabats other than shooting Sapu with their projectile spells, are also remarkable acrobats. They can slide to the left or right to evade any spells thrown at them. Also, if Sapu get near, they push him back with powerful wind and fly away to shoot him from distance. Sapu needs to be careful with those as well.

How to make a game: What game genre and style to choose?

When it comes to bigger projects in game development industry (mostly not mobile games), many beginner devs struggle with the choice of genre and the complexity of the game they want to make. It is certainly very important decision. Some genres take thousands hours to make, some are much easier. How a group of awesome folks that decided to create an Indie Studio should make a choice of their first game genre? How we approached Sapu? How to assess the complexity?

Big AAA companies route

It is important to stress out that choosing game genre highly correlates with the innovation factor that we have to take into account. First of all, we can choose big AAA companies route. It is a route controlled by marketing departments that do tons of research of a market. They analyze what sells today, and what will sell tomorrow. Here, take a look at these awesome charts from Entertainment Software Association on which genres sell best:

Best selling genres in US Source: http://essentialfacts.theesa.com/Essential-Facts-2016.pdf

Best selling genres in US
Source: http://essentialfacts.theesa.com/Essential-Facts-2016.pdf

There are so many variables and statistics that we could benefit from in order to make the right choice. Based on the platform where we want to sell our games, we can make very reasonable selection of the key features and content. Isn’t it great? Yes it is… partly. Yes, we could also do the researches and analyze many things, but is it really important for us, Indie developers?

In my opinion the difference between us Indies, and big AAA companies is that they certainly look at such surveys but we should not take it so serious. Don’t get me wrong, it is very reasonable approach that gets them a lot of money, but we can’t compete with them on their rules on this competitive and challenging market.

Experimental route

Fortunately I feel like players, especially a little bit older ones, are not satisfied with such business approach presented by AAA companies. Their games are pretty much non-innovative and do not bring anything new to the table. Other than amazing graphics and fascinating stories, the gameplay doesn’t change much and repetitiveness from game to another is being felt.

Same maps setup Farcry Primal vs Farcry 4 Source  http://kotaku.com/turns-out-ubisoft-used-far-cry-4s-map-to-make-far-cry-p-1762497550

Same maps setup Farcry Primal vs Farcry 4
Source http://kotaku.com/turns-out-ubisoft-used-far-cry-4s-map-to-make-far-cry-p-1762497550

And that’s why some Indie Devs have been so successful. They brought that new, unexpected content to the market. They brought something extraordinary that no one ever saw. They brought unexplored experiences that many gamers looked for. That’s Indie chance, do something different. It is our gateway to stand out on the market and potentially be successful.

But why don’t big companies create such innovative games? Because such approach brings risk. You can hit the spot and be successful, but you can also develop a game that will be too weird for customers causing them not buying it at all. Current trend is that AAA companies hire small studios to create “indie”, innovative games. That lowers their costs and therefore is not that risky as it could be, if the whole big studio would go for such game.

Easy route

Other than being innovative or not, our folks main issue is the complexity of their first game. We can find many voices from other developers that suggest starting making games that are easy to develop i.e. platformers where you run to the right, jump and at best… shoot something. If you love this kind of games (or plan to just simply learn programming/game development processes) than I’d say go for it!

Factors indicating gamers decision Source: http://essentialfacts.theesa.com/Essential-Facts-2016.pdf

Factors indicating gamers decision
Source: http://essentialfacts.theesa.com/Essential-Facts-2016.pdf

From the chart above we can tell that cheap game with exceptional graphic and drawing attention story has very high chance to be successful. Unfortunately not many Indies have a luxury of having amazing graphics and storytelling 6th sense. Also, some devs just don’t want to do such stuff.

But I would consider it twice if the only reason why you choose certain game genre is because it’s easier to develop. Such decision needs to be carefully thought-out, cause it might be non-rewarding journey.

Balance is the key

As almost everything in our lives, balance is the key. You don’t want to be too conservative with the game and go with the easy route. Why? Because you won’t sell it. Simply, it won’t distinguish itself on market and won’t be that attractive for potential customers. But also you don’t want to overdo it and with too optimistic and too ambitious plans that will take forever to finish the game you dreamed of. I have to say that our initial plans were too optimistic and that’s why we decided to cut out some of the features. Of course, we won’t create a game that even us wouldn’t buy, but we need to be aware of our limitations.

Even such balanced decision causes many hours of work. Therefore I would strongly recommend to go with the prototype/ MVP route as it not only will ease the whole process of development (cause you focus on much smaller project) but also accelerates it.

Do what you love

Ultimately, the main factor that should help you choose whether to create RTS, RPG, Shooter or any other game and determine the complexity of the game should be the question: Do you love what you’re doing? We do.

Monthly Report #4 – April 2016

Hi everyone it’s been a long time since our latest post. April’s been such insane month for me privately, that I couldn’t even find any time to post our progress. Fortunately different real-life things that kept me offline straightened out and I can finally focus more on Sapu and this blog.

As you may know we expected to create a prototype level at the end of April but unfortunately we couldn’t manage to get it as smoothly as we wanted to. Our inexperience in some of the game-related development processes showed off, and of course in such situations Murphy ’s Law makes its presence felt. As we are still focused on this level, in this report I will share more information about how are things going right now and how far we are until first tester will get to play Sapu.

Why so long?

AI/Pathfinding system

Ok guys, pathfinding works just fine.

As I mentioned earlier our inexperience showed off. First of all, the whole pathfinding system is pretty complex monster. For example, just look of what various enemies need to be aware of in order to smartly chase player during game time e.g.:

● Their size, speed and position
● Other enemies’ size, speed and position
● Other objects’ size and position
● And of course… Player’s position

Enemies aware of their size.

Add to it all this algorithmic shit for 20+ enemies… Besides, other than my (and eventually players) requirements as for how the AI behavior should look like, Sarseth wants the system to be as much optimized as possible for now, so it won’t catch us later as very complex problem. I predicted that we will need a full month (part time of course) to implement a solid pathfinding system, but I guess I underestimated this monster. The task still goes on and fortunately it is starting to shape up.

Player movement changes (WASD -> Mouse)

Yep, movement again… We decided that it is going to be controlled only with mouse (LoL alike). Earlier we thought that it will be so cool to cast different spells in one direction and run in other at the same time… and then it failed our “fun test” and caused “legs problem” (changing Sapu’s animation based on cursor’s location was too much for us :D) as well. Therefore from now on, Sapu will have to stop for a second (or less) and turn into desired direction in order to cast a spell. Such setup not only eliminates “legs problem” because it will be the same animation, but also provides risk-management opportunity where player needs to decide whether in this particular situation it’s better to run or to fight… or to use specific spell that allows for both 😀.

Transition from 2D sprite enemies to 3D models

I think I mentioned about this transition in previous report, we considered 3D modeling learning curve as to be time consuming in order to create solid, nice looking models, animations and textures. But I’m sure that as Qra’s skills increase, it should be more and more efficient work and finally will accelerate production over animating 2D sprites.

Scheduling while working part time

Sometimes you work 20, sometimes 30… and sometimes 4 hours a week. I’ll put it this way – it sucks.

What’s done?

● Sapu model (and all his animations + texture)
● In-game GUI
● Spider model (+ all animations and spells for “Boss”)
● Sapu movement on mouse
● Majority of sound effect and Sound management system which allows me to customize different options (but it will be improved after finishing prototype version)
● Combat music (epic style – we’ll share it on soundcloud soon!)

What’s next?

Other than finishing pathfinding system:

● Implementation of Sapu model (and all his animations)
● In-game GUI implementation
● Level’s design (finishing it, testing and adjusting its difficulty correctly)
● Simplistic main menu + game instructions.
● (optional) If Qra will have time – creating better model for ranged enemy (earthworm alike)
● Sound effects for unimplemented stuff

I’d like to finish those tasks within this month so we can hand it to playtesters next month. Also We plan to show this prototype on some indie game conventions in July/September so it is important to have it as polished as possible.

Followers

In April we were pretty much non-active at all on Social Media. As I mentioned, April was too much for me. As for guys… well they had their hands full with their tasks as we really wanted to finish prototype at expected time. But lets be honest, do You think Sapu will be a great success and will generate satisfying amount of players around with such marketing? Me neither… Thus We won’t fail so much in this department anymore.

Website

Google Analytics stats:
Website - April stats

Social Media

April stats
Some materials from March gave us little boost in SM followers. For many, these are non-existing numbers. For us – its 50% more on Twitter! 😀

PS: Sarseth works with such music as in above videos on a daily basis… 😀

Monthly Report #3 – February 2016

Hello everyone what’s up? We didn’t write anything for a long time, but we are coming back with another Monthly Report – this time we’ll summarize February and provide some information about our plans for this month.

First of all, as you may noticed on our Facebook page, we all agreed upon deadline of our major goal, which is to create a prototype (about 10-15 minutes gameplay long) by the end of April! I am happy with the progress we’ve got on the gameplay side and the fact that we’re getting closer to finally show the game to first playtesters!

Secondly, it is important to mention that we met earlier this month and decided to remove some features (mana and items) from our game in order to not overdo it with the amount of work ahead of us and limited man-power. Eventually, we want to bring this game to the market, so it was very difficult but reasonable decision. However, we also decided that we will create 3D models for every character/enemies as it (after initial slow-down for learning purposes) should be easier to create animations and match their quality to beautiful environment.

So yeah… On to the development process:

Main tasks

Improve gameplay experience

● Created the demo Scene, but it’s not 100% finished yet – we’ll be iterating and improving it as the gameplay will look better
● Finished Sapu movement mechanic (accelerations etc.) in order to “feel” the movement more natural
● Implemented a feature that pauses entire game for a tiny moment after hitting/killing an enemy (it is a nice feature for spells with more damage)
● Improved ranged enemy behavior (now they predict player’s position and aim more naturally with projectile spells + added some randomization)
● Created dark ambience like environment sound for prototype scene
● Based on some concept arts of how Sapu will look like, we agreed on “a boy with a hood” as a final (pre-prototype at least 🙂 ) Sapu appearance

Other tasks

Other than pure functions to improve gameplay we did some additional work including:
● Created 9 minutes of post-rock style music for calm scenes/menus etc. in collaboration with talented guitarist Damian-pok! Parts of this song have been used for our music so check it out!
● Created sound system that enables to easily add sounds with basic parameters
● Added some functions that accelerate level design

Followers

Well this was not a good month of marketing from my part. I had less time overall and even when had it, I wanted to focus more on the game content rather than strict marketing. Additionally, I think that the most effective marketing is to show screens, gifs and other content from the game so in my opinion it was a good decision.

Anyways, let’s dig into some numbers!

Website

As a positive part – bots are not bothering us! Atleast for now…
FebruaryWebsiteStats

Social Media

SocialStats-february
Twitter’s follow-for-follow methodology caused us to even loose some followers (it was 22 at highest) but it is not our policy as we want to gather true followers that will support us in our gamedev path!

Main tasks for next month

This month we’re continuing our road to create first prototype. The main tasks for March include:

● Improve AI of enemies (mainly pathfinding)

● Add the feature that slows down Sapu after getting hit

● Add missing spells that have influence on the movement of Sapu which should improve “gameplay fun” tremendously

● End all the gameplay sounds

● Create entire spider enemy (model and textures)

● Create early model for Sapu (it will be improved in April most probably)

● Finish the prototype scene (environment etc.)

That’s it. I am mostly concern on our art/SFX/3D-modelling part for this month as we don’t have much experience in it. Well, wish us good luck and stay tuned for another monthly report. Also, don’t miss this week’s #screenshotsaturday as we’ll show our first gif of prototyped scene!

Monthly Report #2 – January 2016

Hello everyone! How are things going? It’s time for another Monthly Report! Within this month we focused on two main topics: improving gameplay experience and finally show some in-game screenshots for the public. What do you think about them?

Even though improving gameplay was (and still is) our main goal, we like to automate processes that are repetitive. That’s why we did some things that are not particularly impressive from a player point of view, but accelerates our development processes.

Without further ado, let’s dig into report!

Main tasks

Improve Website’s design and create nice landing page

We wanted our website to be more attractive to the visitor and thus we focused on creating landing page that displays in-game images from Sapu as well as lists some major features of the game. How do you like it now?

We plan to improve it much more in a future, but for now we want to focus more on the game itself.

Improve gameplay experience

For pretty complex mechanics that we wan’t to achieve, we know that it will take a little more time. Here is the list what we did in January in that department:

Added lightning system, well not in 100%. This was a pain in the ass to be honest. Although Unity has pretty nice lighting/shader system implemented already, it is applicable more for 3D games. Fortunately, we managed to implement a basic, yet satisfying system and the lights are looking pretty great. However we want to enhance this system to display multiple lights at the same time. But it is not that important at the current state and the task will be continued later. We have also experimented with the option to correlate the range of light with mana/energy, but it didn’t pass our “enjoyment test” : )

● Improved player movement, also not in 100%. We’re still making tweaks here and there to balance the line between action and “immersion”. In other words, we want to create really fun to play action, but not in an arcade style with no realistic movement.

Complete environment for 3 scenes

Scenes are not 100% completed, but we are happy with the available assets that we got for them. Creating levels/scenes is much faster than creating those assets.

Other tasks

As I highlighted earlier, we did some things that will accelerate our development. Here are some “less important” tasks that we did in January:

● Majority of functionalities of a very well-constructed “PathWalking system” implemented. This script allows us to navigate objects (NPCs, mobs) along required path. It is such a nice system that (some day : ) ) Sarseth will present a sort of tutorial how to do that.

● Quick system that adds new entities with all required settings implemented

● 2 sounds files added including a whole 3 minutes long environment sound

● 2 “environmental NPCs” added

● An easy way to do in-game screenshots implemented

Followers

Website

I’m not sure if that is interesting screen, but we have some issues with those f***ing bots that generate fake traffic into our website and thus distorts traffic stats. I have included some filters to it so we can still analyze our website’s traffic, but please note that the ORANGE line is correct. The blue line adds all these scumbag bots traffic. Summarizing: 255 Sessions and 445 Pageviews. Also, an average of session increased by almost 30 seconds (since last month) which is a pretty good sign! Thank you!
January Website

Social Media

January Social Media

Main tasks for next month

Improving gameplay experience and build foundations for demo

● Create environment for demo level (which will be also in a full version game as a scene)

● Finish Sapu movement

● Experiment with a feature that pauses the game for a tiny moment after killing an enemy (this is super interesting, I wonder how it will look/feel like)

● Start improving AI of enemies
o Ranged enemy behavior
o Pathfinding

● Choose a final look of Sapu based on concept arts

● Start creating nice animations of Sapu (this may be delayed for march –we’ll see)

● Create music which will be also used for demo scene (at least 10 minutes of well-polished material)

I expect that within this month we’ll create a huge foundation for the much-awaited, fun to play demo. Wish us good luck!

Sapu and the Minimum Viable Product

Recently, I learned the term Minimum Viable Product. It is highly recommended approach for creating a new product, when you should focus on creating simple product, as fast as you can, and then show it to your potential customers. In such way you get feedback about it at the early stage of development, which might be very important (and sometimes refreshing). Then you can easily iterate and improve this product according to this feedback. When I read about it for the first time, I was amazed how so simple approach can be that much effective for Sapu. For over half a year we were slowly building our game, creating inventory system or other features that are not really “fun to play”. We had incredible gameplay in mind, but yet to be implemented.

Applying MVP to Sapu

In addition to the fact that our brand/game is pretty much still non-existent on the web and we are still waiting for our first true, long-term followers, applying MVP seems to be a no-brainer. Thus we transferred this approach to our little game development world. We focused solely on creating satisfying gameplay just to build short “production demo” as soon as possible and let some friends and other players play it to give us their opinion what they like about the game and what could be improved. Make no mistake, this demo will be far away from finished game, it will contain only few main features (and not top-notch polished SFX) of the game, but I’m sure it will help us tremendously to create the best gameplay experience we can.

Sapu gameplay?

When some friends asked me a month ago when they’ll be able test our game or see some gameplay, I responded that it is a long process and at the current state, Sapu is not ready for any exposure. But hey! The inventory system is implemented! YAAY… Well no, not really.

Now, if someone would asked me the same question, I still would respond that the game is not “playable” yet, but we are working hard to create such minimum viable product, that he’ll be able to test the game soon. And it really feels so much better!

Learn from mistakes

I’m sure we missed many opportunities during the whole development process by doing not important stuff at such early stages, but it’s a learning process and I love it. I am happy that we started this blog not only from marketing perspective, but it also allowed us to better evaluate our work and take the right course of action.