Dev Blog #1

This week, we focused mainly on roughly defining what will be in the game’s free demo. It was hard to come up with something we’d like to do, and every game seems to do it differently. With some quick research and testing of various demos, we found that most of the games out there just use the first little section of the game as the freely playable portion.

It seems totally logical; the start of the game usually has the big story hooks — the things that make you really want to find out what’ll happen next. They’d jump straight into the gameplay, but in doing so, they’ll bombard you with various mechanics, and I don’t think it’d work for a game like ours. The way Unforgiven’s progression system works is much more gradual, and it’d feel like an underwhelming demo if only a few of the many mechanics were usable.

Another idea we had was to have the demo take place in the middle of the game, when all of the little tricks were usable from the get-go. It seemed like it’d be fun to have the whole arsenal immediately, but we soon realised it would just overwhelm the player with complex and unfamiliar mechanics to work with — and it would probably be very disorientating to start in the middle of the story.

So our conclusion was to have the demo take place before the events of the main story; a prelude to the first chapter. It won’t have significant story development, as we don’t want to make the demo a ‘prerequisite’ of sorts to playing the main game, but it should have the some minor references to the major plot points, and serve almost like a standalone snack before the main meal. It would gently guide the player through the core gameplay features, and essentially be a showcase of visuals, original music, and the overall quality of the game. We’d be setting a bar for what’s to come; an example of the standard that we’re striving towards.

We also decided that the cutscene at the end of the demo would also be shown at the very beginning of the main game. It’d be a neat animated scene to tie them together nicely.

Once we had that all set, I restarted the script on ‘Chapter Zero’ — the chapter of the story that’ll be used for the demo. We’ve had to develop some new characters, story developments and locations exclusively for the demo, and I think they turned out pretty well. Even if a player isn’t willing to buy the main game, I’d want to make the demo an engaging experience that’s worth their time.

In the meantime, Angus worked on the upper kingdom area, where a bulk of the demo will take place. We designed the layout together, and the actual pixel art is a work in progress. Elise finalised the concept design of Aiko, and started on picking out her colour scheme with us. Frank couldn’t join us this week, but there’s not much music work to be done at the moment anyway, as we need to have something to play with before he can get a feel for what music would fit.