Hello everyone, here’s news from the front.
Last month I told you about a bad news and two good ones, it’s time to explain everything.
I have been working on the goblin game for 4 years. This project I imagined quick to do is actually much longer than expected. I have regularly made assessments, reviewed my schedules. I asked myself the question of simplifying the concept or making another game, but I always chose to continue because the game is really the kind of games I wanted to do. For me, there is no point in being independent if it is not to do the project “of my dreams”, while remaining achievable. It is therefore consciously that I decided each time to continue, knowing that it would be difficult.
I might be tempted to be pessimistic in thinking that the game is “still not finished”, but I think that for a game made by one person, it is incredibly advanced and promising. The gameplay is much richer than originally imagined, and much closer to my original inspirations (Deus Ex, Thief). Most of the elements are functional, the story is really cool, the dialogues are fun, the experience is always improving. There have also been success like Steam Greenlight, and regular feedback shows that people are still interested.
In November, I planned the remaining work. I announced a long time ago that I already did 75%, but I was wrong. Some systems have shown their limitations and needed to be redone, and accumulated fatigue has reduced my work rate. I reworked the IA using Behavior Trees.
The level design of the dungeon was also much more complex than I imagined, especially with its unique metroid-vania structure. I do not want to spoil by showing the dungeon, so here is an image of one of the many dungeon areas:
I feel that I still have at least 1 year of work.
Continuing like this, the risk that the discouragement will eventually prevail before the end of the project is too important, not to mention the financial aspect. Let’s not forget that a lot of the people who go into independent video games give up before the end of their first project. I do not want it to happen, because I really want to finish this game, but also create all the other games I’ve already imagined!
Divide and conquer
There is too much work left to do, and too much to do at once.
I first tried to divide the remaining work in different ways. Either by focusing on the elements chronologically, or on gameplay elements, or on all the playable game to improve it gradually. The problem is that my game is an “immersive sim”. All the mechanics must work at a satisfactory level to really bring the desired experience to life.
I thought about releasing the game “by chapter”, especially by cutting the different days into episodes. The problem is that episode 1 represents 90% of the work, which is still too much to do at once. In addition, the organic and non-linear aspect of my game is not very compatible with this method.
I thought about what could be removed from the game to make it a “minimal” game. Again, the interest of the gameplay comes from the subtle mix of all components of the game. It is impossible to delete some elements without completely degrading the experience. I do not want to spoil the concept of the game.
Take a step back to take a big jump forward
The goblin is a role-playing game that mixes several gameplay elements: trapped dungeon exploration, stealth, cleaning dungeon, adventure (stories, quests, dialogues, etc.). When I started working on the game, I had a dozen other projects in mind, including a dungeon exploration game.
One approach to finishing the goblin might be to focus on subsets of what the goblin represents. For example, doing a trap dungeon game would complete all aspects of dungeons, traps, character controls, and so on.
I have always been reluctant to get into this project because I was afraid to turn away from my initial motivations. In 2016 I spent a week testing this concept, but I did not like it, especially since I had not quite grasped the experience that was trying to create through all my games. Since then, all the work on the goblin has paid off and I have a much better vision of what I want to do.
After this last assessment, and because of the great uncertainty of being able to finish the goblin before the end of 2019, I thought it was time to try again, this time with much more mature ideas, much richer gameplays. In December, I gave myself 2 weeks to make a prototype that focuses on the exploration of trapped dungeons, to see if it was feasible, and especially if it was interesting.
In just two weeks, I created more than 1 hour of playable game, 8 levels, and the playtests were very positive. According to some testers, the game was even better than the goblin one. So I validated the concept and since then I am working on this other game.
There are many advantages. The game is simpler, I am more efficient, I can polish the gameplay, the level design, and the amount of work is acceptable. I’m sure I’ll have a nice and finished game in a few months. This new project has also boosted my morale and creativity, and finishing it will also be a big relief, which will allow me to work on the goblin more serenely. I also improve every day my level design skills, which will be useful to improve the goblin’s dungeon. Finally, the elements of this game being a subset of the goblin, working on this game also allows me to work on the goblin! We can say that working on that project is also working on the goblin project!
The bad news is that the goblin will not be released in 2019. The two good news is that I’m working on an equally interesting game that will be released in the year, and that finish it increases significantly the chances to release the goblin and to improve it!
Doors, Traps, Treasures
The game does not have an official name yet. The player explores increasingly complex trapped dungeons to retrieve treasures. The traps are hidden, you have to be careful. The main feature is the emphasis on interactions and physics, which allows the player to imagine his own solutions to overcome the traps. You will also find the universe and humor imagined for the goblin game.
After doing several levels of prototypes I am now improving them and creating new ones. I will do very regular playtests, and I will create a presentation page in the coming months. I will keep you informed of the progress.
Feel free to give me your opinion on all that.
See you soon,