We have now reached the halfway point of our Tranzfuser programme and Here There Be Monsters is really starting to take shape. Over the last five weeks we have navigated through the muddy waters of progress and raging tides of development, and are now striding towards our target of a feature-filled, technically impressive demo for our deadline in September. Let’s take stock of a few things:
- Where we are in development
- Where we aim to be at the end of the programme
- How we’ve grown so far
Where We Are In Development
When we began just over a month ago, our game was formed up of a few packages and tutorials here and there: a basic ship model, an initial planet, and some basic water. We began by focusing on developing a minimum value product (MVP) which we could use to show our peers our initial thoughts. We developed this over the first three weeks, which in turn meant the early development of the AI system, planet generation, and ship controls (including firing and combat).
The completion of the MVP was our first self-imposed milestone; it meant we had something we could take to our mentors for feedback and adapt our game accordingly. Since then we have continued our work on the AI, implemented a simple weather system, developed the main theme and battle tracks for the game, overhauled the look and feel of the game multiple times to reflect our artistic vision, began developing the item/inventory system which will be used for trading, and created a save/load system for overall character management and content persistence.
We have initialised collaborations with various external talents including:
- A Concept Artist
- Character Artist
- 3D Modeller
- SFX Producer
All of which we have brought into our development process and subsequently detailed our vision to, which has allowed everyone to add to our projects development strength and diversity.
Considering the first five weeks as a whole, our big milestones have been the development of the MVP, completing planet generation, and implementing combat between ships. Finishing the MVP gave us and our mentors an early glimpse at the game we wanted to develop; a vertical slice of the finished demo if you will. Completing the procedural generation of the planet has allowed us to put a large portion of the game to bed; we now know that each player will get their own unique planet to explore and that the system we have built has a solid structural integrity for the demo. Implementing combat has allowed us to shape one of the key interactions of our game, the battles between the player and enemies such as ships and sea creatures.
While it has been important to achieve these key milestones on the way to completing the demo, we have several more we are aiming to have achieved in the next five weeks. There are three key milestones remaining before we feel like the demo we want to show has been completed:
- Development of a Legendary Leviathan
- Completion of the Trading/Inventory System
- Ship Customization
We are increasingly eager to implement leviathans as our area bosses for the game. We strongly feel this will be a crowning feature for the game and will be our ‘wow’ factor for players. Trading and inventory systems will become the backbone of the game. This system will eventually manage everything the player can acquire and allow them to interact with merchants at ports to buy and sell goods. We feel that the trading element will be the key to an individual player’s experience and providing motivation for the player to continue through use of a rewards-based system.
Considering player satisfaction, we intend to have a fully-fledged feature where the player can acquire new parts to add to their ship and switch them out with existing components. For example: the player may purchase a new mast from a port merchant, then enter the customisation mode where they can switch out their existing mast for the new one. Deciding to implement such a system was an easy choice for us as there are plenty of examples in existing triple A commercial games which demonstrate how allowing the player to choose their own look and feel of their character has great returns in terms of player gratification, as well as promoting continued and repeat play.
Early Thoughts on Commercial Plan
We have considered the following for our commercial plan:
- Player Feedback
- Release Schedule
- DLC/Future Plans for the game
We have got many people ready to playtest the game at around the 8 week mark (self-imposed deadline for playable demo). We will collect feedback and make changes to our game to reflect commercial demand if we believe it fits in HTBM. For platform, we are primarily developing for the PC, but are very interested in developing a console version further down the line on either/both Xbox and PlayStation to capitalise on any commercial success.
We have developed this game from the ground up with the intent on allowing additional features to be added at any stage. One of the key benefits to this is that we can adjust our release schedule and internal scope whenever necessary, thus we can adopt a semi-flexible release schedule that can be fine-tuned to be in keeping with our partner’s calendar.
In terms of future content/DLC we have many ideas for further extending the functionality and feel of the game, include new gameplay features as well as augmenting existing features such as adding to the existing trading and combat systems. We have built our system to accommodate for future changes with ease.
The Tranzfuser programme has been a game-changer for us in allowing us to focus our efforts on producing what is both an ambitious and exciting new video game. We are very much looking forwards to the remaining weeks of development and cannot wait to demonstrate our vision for Here There Be Monsters in September.