I hope everyone’s been doing okay this past month, and that you and your loved ones have stayed safe and healthy in these difficult times. I’m sorry this update’s a little late, but I’ve got some exciting news to share about an opportunity for us and a new demo for all of you. So let’s dive right in!
Steam Game Festival
8-Bit Adventures 2 will be participating in Steam’s upcoming online festival! Here’s what Valve themselves say about the event:
The Steam Game Festival is an event that shines a spotlight on games set to be released within the next year. From June 9th - 14th, check out upcoming releases, try them out with time-limited demos or short playable experiences, connect with the developers behind the games, and add games to your wishlist for a reminder when they release!
Basically, it’s a great way to fill that E3-shaped hole in your schedule by actually *playing* upcoming games, rather than just watching them! This type of digital event is still a bit of a new frontier for the game industry, but as someone who lives in Australia (and wouldn’t ever get to attend the big physical events) I’m really interested to see how this goes. It’s also a good excuse for me to update the game’s Steam page, so I’m in the process of changing the descriptions and replacing old screenshots with nice, shiny new ones.
So what’s the 8-Bit Adventures 2 demo going to include? Well, RPGs are a little hard to demo, as they’re designed to be more of a slow burn, where you settle into the world/character/mechanics. So to try and convey as much as possible, I’ve divided this demo into 3 separate “levels” – the Prologue, a Dungeon, and a Town. These can be selected from a menu at the start of the demo, so you can jump into whichever section you want! Although I do recommend playing them in that order =P
The Prologue is the opening sequence of 8-Bit Adventures 2. It’s a short, dangerous trek through a desert at sunset, which eases you into the basic controls and mechanics, making it a great place to start your journey!
Next up, the Dungeon should be very familiar to players of the First Look Demo from 2017, as it once again features the Processor. However, a lot of changes have been made since then, and so I hope returning players will enjoy seeing how far we’ve come! For anyone who’s never played it, the Processor is a gritty, industrial-era town currently under the occupation of an army of clockwork soldiers. Steam-powered tanks roll through the streets and your journey from the open City to the carefully-guarded Foundry will be a perilous one.
Finally, the Town provides a more peaceful slice of 8-Bit Adventures 2, allowing the player to relax, explore, and talk to the weird and wonderful people which inhabit Stonecrest. I’m still working on it, but I’m considering transplanting an optional boss from a different town into this one, just as a fun bonus for the demo. Finally, if you try to leave, you’ll get a scene which shows an overview of the World Map that awaits in the full game.
All up, I’d say there’s around 1½ to 2 hours of content in this demo, so I hope you enjoy it when it launches with the Steam Festival on June 9th. I’ve really wanted to get something playable out for a while now for all of you; it’s not the full game, I know, but I hope it helps to make the wait a little easier =)
Ye Olde First Look Demo
This new demo means that the First Look Demo will be taken down very soon. I’m planning to still archive it on my website: www.8bitadventures2.com but it will no longer be accessible via Steam (because I have to use the same Demo page to upload this new one). I apologise for any inconvenience this causes.
I’m sure some of you are probably wondering about your save file from the First Look Demo, which the game told you to hang onto. Back when I put it together in 2017, I thought I’d set everything up correctly; that save file would activate a trigger in the full game before starting normally from the opening sequence, and the player would receive a small bonus in their inventory as a thank you for being a long time fan. Unfortunately, I apparently didn’t set it up well enough. As the game has changed so much since that 2017 demo, that save file messes with all kinds of things and just doesn’t work properly. So, naturally, I don’t want anyone to start the game with it. As recently as March I thought I could still get it working, but after further testing, it doesn’t seem to be possible (although if I have any ideas, I’ll keep trying).
So I’ve been trying to think of a different way to reward long time fans, but I haven’t been able to figure out the right approach yet. I’m really, really sorry about this; I know some of you have been holding onto that save file for years, and I wanted to reward you because it really does mean a lot to see that. If anyone has any ideas of what they’d like to see in that regard, please do let me know!
I guess this is kind’ve like my own version of Banjo Kazooie’s Stop-n-Swop…never thought I’d have to say that =P
Progress in April
In terms of progress, a lot was achieved in April. I can now say that Act 1 of the game (if you break 8-Bit Adventures 2 up into the standard 3-Act structure) takes roughly 7 hours to complete, particularly if you’re exploring and chatting up NPCs. This Act includes 5 towns, 7 dungeons (+ the prologue), 11 boss fights, and a bunch of stuff in-between. So hopefully that gives you an idea of the pace of the game – there’s a lot of content, and not really any wasted time or filler.
With all the data from these first 7 hours, I also completed implementing and balancing the Augment system – which allows players to equip various special bonuses and passive abilities. It’s always been functional, but a system like that needs a lot of testing and planning (and also needed to be made distinct from Accessories and other equipment), and that’s the hurdle we’ve crossed.
Augments include passive effects like increasing your stats by a percentage, making healing items more effective, boosting the critical hit rate, protecting allies from damage, adding status ailments to your normal attacks, counter attacking, blocking certain ailments entirely, automatically adding buffs to the party (either at the start of battle or in an emergency on low HP), and so on.
Each character has a total of 5 Augment slots that unlock as they level up, meaning 35 slots accessible across the whole 7 character party. There are 69 Augments available in the game; so all up, you can equip half of that total. I’m really curious to see what interesting combinations players will come up with – I’ve found a few fun ones that I didn’t expect myself!
I’ve also been really happy with how useful characters’ various Abilities have proved during testing. For example, there’s a dungeon with explosive enemies which are protected by their fellow foes. So before you can damage the explosive enemy, you need to defeat its allies (and you don’t always have much time before it blows up!). However, while those allies block *damage*, they don’t block status ailments. So if you use one of Charlie’s recently acquired Abilities to inflict the Berserk status, it prevents the explosive enemy from blowing up, giving the player time to defeat the other monsters without the risk of major damage. I believe that kind of utility is one of the most satisfying things about a JRPG move-set.
In fact, I think Naoki Hamaguchi said it best in a recent interview about Final Fantasy VII Remake:
If you only give the player one method of doing something, they don’t really get the impression that they’re playing, right? They’re just doing what they’re told. Having multiple options available, and multiple things that a player can do, is very important. It means that when they pick the right one, they feel clever and skilful as a result.
That feedback cycle is very important. RPG combat provides lots of opportunities to make decisions - from the different abilities, to how they use them on different enemies. When you make the right one, it makes you feel good - I think that’s always important to think about when designing battles.
Honestly, that perfectly sums up what I’ve tried to achieve with 8-Bit Adventures 2, and what I’m hoping will make the combat feel satisfying and fun to RPG newcomers and veterans alike.
That’s All Folks!
To make sure you don't miss any news, I recommend following @CriticalGamesAU on Twitter, as that's the best way I've found to keep up-to-date on news! Every monthly update is also posted here on the website, and on the Steam Store page.
And don't forget to visit the Critical Games Creator Page: https://store.steampowered.com/curator/33038547 Follow that page or wishlist the game to be notified when 8-Bit Adventures 2 is finally released!
I sincerely hope everyone stays safe and healthy in the months to come. It’s been difficult watching the news and seeing all the awful stuff that’s been happening around the world, but you’ve all been in my thoughts. I hope the demo is something to look forward to, and I’m really excited for you all to go hands-on (and to get your feedback!).
As always, thank you all so much for your understanding and patience with me. I hope 8-Bit Adventures 2 can add at least a small bright spot in 2020 =) Please do your best to stay safe and healthy and I’ll see you at the start of June!
Oh, and May the 4th be with you! ;)