Even though it might *technically* be August now, that’s no reason to skip the month that was. So let’s dig into the July 2019 8-Bit Adventures 2 Update! This time I get into the nitty gritty of what we’ve all been working on, peppered with an assortment of brand new GIFs from the start of the game!
*While almost everything's final, please note that a handful of effects/details are still being tweaked.
So…Where are we at?
Big question! Thankfully, my predictions came true, and this month I began playing through 8-Bit Adventures 2. Essentially, I comb through the game, examining every moment and polishing/fixing/tweaking/changing/adding – whatever needs to be done to get it ready for release!
While this is a great stage to be at, I’m sure you can imagine that this is a very big job for an elaborate RPG that’s likely somewhere in the 20+ hour range (I’ll keep you updated on playtime – I’m very curious to find out the exact number myself!).
At the time of writing, the first 30 minutes of 8-Bit Adventures 2 are polished and fully playable. That includes a dangerous trek through the desert, and an introduction to our new playable character Charlie in Pheopolis Castle.
Now, 30 minutes may not sound like much, but there were a few mitigating factors. Firstly, I still had to actually create the opening sequence of the game; those first 8 minutes required a lot of work, and I wanted to make sure it was as polished and exciting an introduction as it could possibly be. However, this took a significant portion of July. Secondly, the content that takes place in Pheopolis Castle is quite old (created in late 2015, before I'd even switched engines!), and so has needed a lot of work to bring it up to speed.
Unfortunately, it’s Winter here in Australia, and I ended up being unwell for a couple of weeks, which took quite a toll on my productivity. Also, a few other things (family/personal) also contributed to that toll, so it’s been quite challenging to get things done as quickly as I’d wanted.
Digging into the Details
Beyond all of that, Jerram (the artist) and I have been planning out the cinematic shots for the game’s ending cutscene, and boy – it’s a whopper! The challenge has been figuring out how to make it feasible while incorporating all of the important, emotional moments it needs to. When I first told him what I had in mind for this, he told me: “You’re crazy XD Crazy ambitious, I should say!” So that’s a good sign haha. But whether I'm crazy or not, he’s hard at work on it =P
Sufyan (the programmer) has also been working constantly to implement various new features. He's made it so that the game can now differentiate between Playstation and Xbox controllers (allowing us to display correct buttons in the opening tutorial), fixed some in-battle glitches, and (based on Jerram’s excellent concept) created a really cool looking ‘Game Over’ sequence that I can't wait to show off in future!
As for me, when you progress through a game step-by-step like this – just as a player would – it’s a very different experience than the task-focused work I’ve done up to this point (which was mostly a lot of loading in and out of thin slices of the game; dealing with thousands of individual pieces, rather than a collective whole). It reveals a lot of new insights into your game, and there are dozens of changes and tweaks I’ve made to streamline the experience.
After spending a lot of time in menus, or fighting dozens of battles in a row, you really get a good sense of what ends up being frustrating or unclear. For example, we’re reducing the number of pop-up windows that appear at the end of every battle (e.g. telling you how much Gold and EXP you earned, etc.). While in isolation they seemed perfectly fine, the number of times you had to press confirm became quite frustrating after only a few hours of constant testing haha.
So while there were a lot of challenges to deal with, the work I did in July has really laid the foundations for what’s to come. The further I get into the game, the less will need overhauling, so I’m hoping to really pick up the pace as we go!
We’re finally getting there everyone =D
The Great Wishlist Spike of July 2019!
One exciting piece of news I wanted to highlight is that July saw over 900 people add 8-Bit Adventures 2 to their Steam Wishlist! For comparison, June only had 78 new wishlisters, so this was an extraordinary leap, and bodes extremely well for the game’s future.
Unfortunately, I have absolutely no idea why so many new people discovered the game in July; it just suddenly…happened! Steam’s new machine-learning curator might have made an impact, but beyond that, I’m stumped haha.
But nonetheless, I wanted to thank every single person who has added 8-Bit Adventures 2 to their Steam Wishlist. Not only does it mean a lot personally (as it shows players taking an interest and putting their confidence in our work), but it will also be integral to getting the game noticed when it releases on the Steam storefront.
Wishlists play a very large role in Steam’s algorithms, so if you want to support an indie developer, adding their game to your own wishlist is one of the best things you can do!
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!
Just to reiterate from last month, I wrote a short article about Final Fantasy VII Remake and RPG Design, which made it as a Featured Post on the front page of Gamasutra! Using the Remake as a framework for discussion, I examine some of the ways developers can add value to their RPGs *beyond* the core narrative.
I don’t know how interesting it would be to most people, but I bring up 8-Bit Adventures 2 a handful of times, so I just wanted to mention it again in case anyone was curious: https://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/JoshuaHallaran/20190624/345339/Expanding_Midgar__Simple_Solutions_for_Satisfying_Postgame_Content.php
I know it's still not the progress that everyone's waiting for (myself included), but I hope this update was interesting - and that you enjoyed all the new GIFs!
I'd been planning and procrastinating the opening sequence since the project's conception in 2015, and so I'm relieved to say that I'm really happy with how it's finally turned out! My goal was to engage players with the gameplay and intrigue them with the story, right out of the gate - specifically in under 10 minutes. I can't wait to find out what you all think, and learn whether I hit the mark (in more ways than one haha!).
Thank you so much for your endless patience with me, and for reading these updates!
Even when they're late =P