Dev Blog - Post-Conference, Pre-Alpha

Posted on April 27, 2017

calltheblacksmith, devlog

EGX Rezzed 2017

It’s been a few weeks since EGX Rezzed 2017 wrapped up and it’s only now that I have had time to write down some thoughts. The show was great, it felt a lot busier in the indie zone than on previous years and there was the added bonus of having some time to chat to publishers, journalists and PR folk. Doing shows as a self-funded indie can be costly, but I genuinely felt I had got most of the value that I hoped for, by the end of the first day.

It was the first time that the game was being played by people outside of my inner circle of friends of family. That alone, initially was quite scary. But after a few play-throughs, the game was holding together fine and I was getting a lot of really valuable feedback. My trello board saw a lot of action in the first 6 hours, bugs that I noticed, improvements and some great ideas coming either from players or just by watching people play.

We had no show-stopping bugs, but we also didn’t really have an end-game. I had initially planned for a little pop-up at the end, that said something like “Thanks for playing! If you enjoyed the game please sign up…” with a box for people to add their email and join our mailing list. I didn’t get round to implementing this, so the orders just kinda dry up and the player is left with not a lot to do. This didn’t deter some players, who just continue to smelt ore and do small chores around their shop, perhaps prepping for orders that would never come. Tracking metrics showed that 74% of players made it through to the end with an average play time of 13 minutes and 27 seconds. I had intended to get around 10 minutes of gameplay in total, so that was a success.

Each evening after the show, I would be in my hotel coding away, balancing the game, fixing bugs and adding some key improvements in areas where I could tell people were getting stuck. I would then get in, compile it on the show machine just minutes before the doors opened. I don’t recommend this approach at all. Nothing bad happened, but those first few play-throughs of the morning had me anxious.

I now know what the game is all about

When you pitch your game to strangers every 5-10 minutes you start to really hone in on the what your game is and why it’s fun. On the second day of Rezzed, I had a very sudden ‘light bulb’ moment. I knew what my game was all about. I knew what I needed to focus on as the very key game mechanic and what needed to be the centre of every action the player performs.

The game is all about reputation. That’s it. Every great item you craft will have a positive affect on your reputation, all the items you craft using bad ingots results in unhappy customers. People will talk and your business will live or die depending on your reputation.

Coming to that realisation has seriously helped me find a clear path to finishing the game. Cutting some scope in areas that don’t have impacts on your reputation and adding a few other features that do have an impact.

Where’s my alpha!?

The last month I have been working through all the feedback from EGX Rezzed and building out some key features. Once all the key game mechanics are in, I will be sending out the first alpha build. I don’t have a timeline on that right now, but it’s something I want to do ASAP. My trello board has seen 34 tickets completed in the last 3 weeks, with 12 more to go. It’s close!