The cutting cutting room floor
So we’re getting very close to Alpha now. I’m implementing the level structure as we speak and the last few vital features are nearing completion. (Well, I’d probably call it beta, but seriously – how useless are these terms now, anyway? –Rohan)
It’s a great feeling, but one which also comes with some sadness as we reel in the scope of the project to accommodate a realistic time frame for release.
I, for example, am loathed to find that I will NOT be able to create a multi-mineral table for my tavern. I really wanted one which had a copper frame but an iron tabletop. How else will people know I’m a tactless moron?
But as we march on to the beating of our own wardrums, we’re able to play our game for longer and longer periods of time. We’ve had a few massive team playtesting sessions in the last couple of weeks, and it’s throwing into sharp relief those things we need to implement right away and those we feel we got wrong.
Of course, a milestone such as this comes with the need for plenty of additional playtesting from those not involved, so I expect to arm myself with plentiful amounts of Tic Tacs so as to keep my breath minty-fresh when breathing creepily close to players’ faces so I can watch them play.
My intimate QA style notwithstanding, we’re rounding out many a jagged edge and deciding on the final structure and presentation of the game.
But as this was always designed as a sandbox game, starting afresh in an open world and just doing your thing is meant to be the fun part. The structural stuff we’re doing now is kind of secondary.
So with it all working the way it should and only a few major hurdles left between us and a majestic town of ancient reckoning, full of wonder, ale, excitement, ale and ale, we’re happy to be able to look back at the last year and say it’s been worthwhile.
After all, it’s hard to prepare for the fact that, for the most part, whatever game you’re making, it won’t be fun for quite some time. All your theories, all your positing will either be proven true or false as all the systems start to work together and it all falls into place in that last crucial phase of development.
What you don’t want EVER is to have bet all your ideas on that last unification phase. The playtesting we’ve done at IGDA Sydney, GCAP in Melbourne and much more has driven so much of what the game is now.
So we’re oddly relaxed. We’re kind of ok with knowing that it’s all about to shape up into our first ever videogame’s final form. After all, we’ve seen people be able to have fun playing it at various stages and have a pretty good idea of what the Alpha is going to look like.
We wouldn’t be if we hadn’t playtested. We’d be mad to be confident without it.