Summer turns to Autumn (well, Winter turns to Spring for me in the Southern Hemisphere!), and with it comes the 8-Bit Adventures 2 August update! I’ve made a bunch of new GIFs showcasing some of what I’ve been working on, so I’ll try and keep my commentary to a minimum this time! Will I succeed? Read on to find out…
…But if you look at your scroll bar, the answer is clearly no =P
*Please note, some of the below GIFs had to be slightly compressed, or their framerate edited, to fit into other websites' size limits.*
A Rough Start...But Good News!
August has been full of great progress, but I had a bit of a rough start to the month! The day after I wrote the July update, my dog tripped me over while we were crossing the road, causing me to face-plant on the asphalt XD Unfortunately, both of my hands (particularly my palms) were injured, and this really slowed me down for a couple of weeks. Thankfully, though, the rest of August went pretty smoothly!
As you may remember, I’m currently playing through 8-Bit Adventures 2 minute by minute, tweaking/testing/balancing/polishing every detail to get it ready for all of you! It took me the whole of July to reach the 30 minute mark, and now at the end of August I’m sitting at 2 hours in. That may sound really worrying, but as I said last month, these early sections of the game are by far the most unpolished and were somewhat unfinished (as they were created relatively early in development, before most of the graphics were completed).
The great news is that the last half an hour of that 2 hour progression has only taken me three days to fully test – as opposed to the previous hour and a half which basically took 2 months. I’m finally getting to the point of the game where, back in 2017, I’d started to develop a syntax – a language and a logic for constructing environments, cutscenes, and recurring events (e.g. shops or map transitions) in this engine. So there’s now more and more consistency in the content I’m testing, which makes this whole process a much quicker and smoother experience than it was prior to this point. If this continues, as I expect it will, then we should be in a great place by the end of September.
Honestly, testing the game like this been a really good experience! Everything’s pretty much just as I hoped it would be. Battles feel snappy, responsive, and look great, cutscenes are concise and entertaining, everything feels very neatly paced (areas have enough time to breath, but you’re constantly doing something/going somewhere new), environments are fleshed out just enough without being intimidating or overbearing, and I’m still chuckling at some of the silly NPC dialogue I wrote a couple of years ago =P Obviously this is just my (extremely biased!) opinion, but I’m really proud of what we’ve made – and more than a little relieved ;)
One of the challenges in this early portion of 8-Bit Adventures 2 has been figuring out the right approach to difficulty. The player only controls a single character during the first dungeon, and in a Conditional Turn-Based Battle System (to borrow Final Fantasy X’s terminology) that singular party member can either receive too many advantages or be swamped by enemies, if the game’s turn order system isn’t designed correctly.
As it’s the start of the game, I’ve kept things fairly simple so that players who are inexperienced with turn-based combat can ease themselves in. In these first couple of hours, you can technically progress by simply mashing the attack button. However, this is definitely not optimal, and players doing this will likely take more damage and so use up more of their healing items. So even though this early stage of the game is quite easy, playing smart and making the most of your abilities still has its benefits for more advanced players!
One thing I don’t believe I’ve mentioned before is that your old pal Save Point has gained some new, handy features inside dungeons! In addition to telling you when danger’s approaching, he can also provide some general tips to help you prepare for upcoming boss fights. These tips are 100% optional, and they’re intended to reduce the need for obnoxious trial and error.
For example, say there’s a fire boss coming up, and your best attacker has a fire sword which will, consequently, heal the boss whenever you hit it. Well, Save Point might be able to warn you of that fact ahead of time; and so rather than forcing you to reset and equip a different sword (because you now know that the boss is a fire elemental), you could preemptively strategise, and go into that battle a little more prepared - no restarts required! I’ve played several RPGs which can catch the player off-guard in frustrating ways, so I’m hoping an optional hints system will help to alleviate this – for players who want the advice!
Additionally, Save Point can also revive all of the monsters inside a dungeon. Because enemies are no longer random encounters and physically roam the world, I didn’t want to make them respawn every time you left the room (that can quickly become time consuming and frustrating). But some players might be hunting a rare item, or wish to grind, and so I wanted a way for enemies to be re-fought. If the player leaves a dungeon, all of the enemies will be restored automatically, but what if you want to remain inside the dungeon? Well, just ask Save Point and he’ll revive every beastie you’ve slain!
While I don’t imagine this will be a commonly used feature, I feel it’s important to give players as many options as possible. In the very first RPG I ever developed, I made grinding impossible (you could only fight each enemy once – after that, they’d permanently disappear) as I didn’t want players to waste their time on it. However, I found that some players disliked this, as they either needed an extra boost to get past a challenging boss, or they simply enjoyed the act of grinding and feeling overpowered. Their feedback taught me an important lesson, and so I wanted to avoid this pitfall in 8-Bit Adventures 2 by offering players the choice.
Game Over Screen
And finally, as promised in last month’s update, I wanted to show off the Game Over screen effect that Sufyan (the programmer) has made for the game, with Jerram’s (the artist’s) excellent concept and visual design. Can anyone guess which NES game inspired the Game Over screen design?
But death isn't the end! You can immediately retry any battle (without any penalties), so there's no need to give up if you find yourself staring at this screen. Hopefully you won’t be seeing it too much though! ;)
That's All Folks!
To make sure you don’t miss any news in future, I recommend following @CriticalGamesAU on Twitter, as that’s the best way I’ve found to keep up-to-date!
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 really wanted to thank everyone who's commented on these updates in the last few months (or written to me on Twitter or Facebook). Every single message has been so kind and supportive, and they never fail to put a smile on my face haha! I don't know what I did to deserve you all, but I am so incredibly fortunate to have such amazing fans and I sincerely appreciate each of you taking the time to write =D
Thank you so much for reading this update, and for being endlessly patient with me. I'm sure you're all getting a little concerned about release as the year draws closer to its end. All I can say for sure is that everything's going really well, and I'm trying my absolute hardest to hit that 2019 release!
To be completely candid with you guys, I don't doubt for a moment that the game will be finished before the end of this year; it'll just be a matter of finding the right time to release it. And because development's taken so much longer than I anticipated, that's where things get complicated! But we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. For now, let's get this done!