Happy New Year! The CotS team had a productive pre-holiday season, and we’ve been hard at work since we got back. What have we been up to? Read on to find out!
First, over the holidays I hand-delivered the amigurumi backer rewards to our “Patron” backers - we’re all so, so thrilled with how these turned out. A huge shout-out to Liz at The Yarn Mouse for her awesome work making our characters.
Liz also did a fantastic write-up over on her blog of how she made them, including all those hats, full of concept art we made for her and and in-progress photos. Click the link to read!
I couldn’t resist, so here are a few photos of my own of the final result (Liz’s photos are much better):
Also over the holidays, we held our Omega Backer Pizza Party! From around the globe we gathered and feasted on fancy pizza in honor of our glorious supporters. I showed off the latest updates to the game, including our in-progress visual updates and attack effects, and we chatted about what’s coming next in the production pipeline (between bites and everyone talking about their Final Fantasy XIV characters - turns out almost all of us play).
I’m not a good photographer, but the pizza more or less looked like this:
The motto we’re taking with this game is, “Anything we do, we’re gonna do it right,” and that holds true for pizza as well as development.
As for game development, we ended the year on several high notes:
- We updated to Unity 5.5, netting a performance boost and the ability to use a shader that instantly upped our visual quality (feedback has been great, though there are some weird lighting issues to work out)
- We got about 20% of our visual effects into the game (and more since then)
- All the classes in the game are fully playable (we don’t have all the VFX/SFX in yet, though, so we're not quite ready to roll them out)
- We got our third environment set completed
- We got Steam Workshop support functioning for mods
And so on. We were pretty pumped!
Of course, that’s exactly the moment when everything is likely to shift under your feet, and shift it did! Coming into January, I suddenly had to scramble to figure out a new source for a big chunk of our environments, as well as contend with a few elements going over budget. Welcome to 2017!
Thankfully, some very talented friends of ours who had already done work on the game were available and willing to help, so after a brief tense period, environments are more or less back on track. The budget stuff is also doable, so while it may have been stressful, it’s nothing we can’t handle. (It’s almost like our Risks and Challenges section predicted what was coming!)
When I was working in AAA, I learned how having access to large coffers lets you buy an element of stability, or how possible it is to use industry clout to “make” things happen (usually resulting in overtime for many people). Obviously, that’s not possible as a small, independent developer, and I’m not willing to push overtime on someone due to our schedule issues. Instead, we’re dashing from task to task, trying to keep everything running as smoothly as possible.
Ultimately, there are a few ways to go about developing a game like ours, but they really boil down to trying to get the game done as fast as possible while using as little money as possible, or taking the time and raising/spending the money needed to “do it well.” I’ve chosen to do it “well,” since, as Miyamoto once said, “"A delayed game is eventually good, a bad game is bad forever.”
The other night, I met someone who’s been working in independent book publishing for several decades, and we started talking about this very topic. As soon as I mentioned having a choice between making the game “fast” or “doing it right,” he stopped me, pointed at my chest, and said, “You’re doing it right, right?”
I take that as a good sign.