Last weekend we were lucky enough to be invited to Day of the Devs, a free event in San Francisco hosted by Double Fine and iam8bit that lets fans play the best-of-the-best indie games from across the world! We were super humbled to be included with so many awesome games, meet awesome developers & fans, and get to playtest the starting village on Timber Hearth!
One of the nice things about showcasing a demo at these kind of events is that it forces us to make our game as presentable and playable as possible. This isn’t to say our build was in disrepair, but when there’s ten months of production in front of us, it’s easy for us to ignore the broken texture of the fire, or the missing button prompts to do X or Y, or that we always meant to replace a certain character model.
- Dialogue System: The old system was one of the oldest and jankiest systems in the game. Our new overhauled system allows the writer and designers to easily set conditionals, array multiple options, and control dialogue flow based off of what the player has already done or seen in the game.
- Input System: This was another old system that needed a thorough overhaul to incorporate multiple inputs and correct sequencing for the cleanest player experience. In the old system, the player could be viewing the map and unintentionally flying the ship at the same time!
- New Translation System: We're totally changing the way players interact with texts from the ancient race of the game, the Nomai, to something more diagetic and engaging. This new system had to be built from scratch.
- New Scene Integration/Sector Loading: To make the game run at a performant rate despite an entire solar system of physics simulation occurring every frame, we needed to figure out how to separate each planet into its own scene and each scene and each location into multiple sectors which determine what needs to be rendered for the player and what can run cheaply in the background.
Button Prompts! The button prompt and input systems went through a huge overhaul both through design and tech, and we're pleased with the way players can switch between tools and modes now. We still have some refinement to the final art, but this will make playing the game with a controller or mouse-and-keyboard much easier going forward.
We were very happy with the results of demoing at the event. Most of the changes we wanted to make afterwards had to do with pathing and clearing up level design. While one of our most core design tenets is Curiosity-fueled Exploration, the village, with its important tutorials, is the one place where we need to be crystal clear on what opportunities for learning the player has (and if she wants to ignore that opportunity, well, that’s on her).
A brief moment during production we had planets doubling themselves, wandering off orbit, and, well, causing more chaos to the solar system then we intended. That bug fixed, we move on to next month’s beauty!