Backlog of Week 1 to 6 Development

A backlog on Week 1 to 6 Pre-production, exploring features and reviewing feedback:

Week 1:

     The impulse to create this core game came from a sudden shower idea of merging 2 game mechanics, 1 from my own previous prototype, and 1 from a friend's. The original idea was to invent a new Match 3 variant that's really catered to gear inventory. User input turns out to be clunky and very little reward payout/happy incident factor.
     Spent 2 days hacking out a modular system of this new core game in Unity. Usability feels much easier, reward payout is now higher because of 1 touch chain effects. Happy incident factor from rerolled same color tiles.

Week 2:

     With a nice core interaction done, it's time to wrap it with some battle mechanics. Created encounter module, with basic HP and an enemy behavior based on turns and enemy item procs. A proper user goal now in the core game, which is to defeat enemy with inventory procs.
     Also created more visual feedback of item procs and damage notifications.

Week 3:

     Worked on an inventory edit module, with user interactions like re-positioning items. Also worked on an equipment upgrade/evolving module, a progression feature made much simpler with just 1 premium currency.
    Encounter system is merely a list of enemies for now.

Week 4:

     Brought the prototype for a couple friends to test. The core game usability is surprisingly easy to get. However, I could see none of them are motivated in the Encounter module, the whole habit loop seems broken.
     Personally, I felt that the current meta systems is good enough to launch, but there really are no sense of immersion and investment. 1 of the main problems for Synchronicles for me, was the progression design and habit loop, so I sought to look for better solutions on that.

Week 5:

     Pretty much wasted on year end break and game catching up, with some freelances as well. HOWEVER, a new idea popped up for habit loop and progression system. Inspired by Reigns, I came up with the idea of a Tinder like scenario adventure, along with actual positioning on a World Map. Both features will help with immersion as well IMO, but this will ramp up the art demands.

Week 6:

     Hacked up a scenario module, with encounters to battle being in some scenarios. Art wise, also explored a .SVG vector conversion plugin in Unity, which pushes art asset sizes really lower. Decide to run with this plugin and adopt an art direction revolving around this tech.
     Scenarios feel barebone now, with nothing designed in mind. Will need to handcraft a variety of quests/scenarios, and supplement with proper art to test whether this will really get players in the hook.

New Project!

Been in freelancing hell for the past 2 quarters, finally~ time to work on the next mobile project.

Project Name: Packventurers *Not final

Macro Brief: A Tinder like open world adventure with tile-matching inventory battles.

Dev Method: Cerny Method 

Current Dev Progress: 

  • Week 6 (Mid Jan 2017)
  • Still in Pre-production phase
  • First Playable Progress
    • Tested core game with a few friends, looking good in terms of usability, hook.
    • Tinder adventure system partially done, not tested yet with quests creations, map movement.
    • Art direction not finalized, technology tested (.SVG to mesh vector pieces)
  • Macro GDD
    • Character/Movesets/Exotic mechanics documented
    • Rough level count/structure, needs charting out
    • Macro chart not finalized

Next Dev Milestone:

  • Week 8 (End Jan 2017)
  • First Playable
    • Flesh out quests variety with Tinder system adventure
      • Quest length and investigation.
    • Inventory progress linked to quests
    • Art direction
  • Macro GDD
    • Level structure/count, and chart laid out

I hope to launch at Q2 2017, ideally 2 months Pre-production, 4 months Production. With lessons learnt from Synchronicles, I am executing this project in a much more thought out manner. 

 




 

Dev Update

Summary for 2016 Q2

  • Experimented with multiple prototypes, testing with a weekly swap and review system.
  • Spent the first 4 weeks working on 4 different prototypes core game each week.
  • An ATB RPG, a 2D platformer, a top down shooter, and a word game.
  • Spent the next 4 weeks designing and building their meta.
  • Stopped on the word game and platformer, both are too hardcore for mobile.
  • Spent 2 weeks each on ATB RPG and Top down shooter.
  • After evaluation on development capabilities, the top down shooter seems a more achievable project, aiming for barebones.

This development method keeps things fresh, though at the expense of a full quarter, and still with zero income 3 quarters into it, the road ahead on the mobile platform looks uncertain for Panko. Can we develop a fun title? Can we market it? Can we sustain?

What's the studio branding? What should Panko be known for? I'd been thinking hard on these. Am still thinking...  

Pre-mortem Evaluation

Just pushed out 24th November build earlier and tested it, and I thought I should post a pre-mortem just to reflect, before the final hurdle.

It's been near a year since the conception of the game ( the first post on the dev blog is Dec 5th 2014, after an impulse attempt to start it. ) Here's a rough timeline:

Dec 2014 - Concept Mocks
Jan 2015 - Alpha prototype
Feb 2015 - Job commitments
Mar 2015 - Prototyping on spare time  
Apr 2015 - Purchased Spine software for art assets
May 2015 - Art preproduction  
Jun 2015 - FX tests
July 2015 - Job commitments ( project's last push )
Aug 2015 - Job contract ended. Full time project commitment
Sep 2015 - Assets grinding
Oct 2015 - Assembling assets and building launch.
Nov 2015 - Vacation @ Japan. Back for last push.

Looking back, there are weeks I regretted mucking around, self-doubts aplenty. Ideally speaking, I should just spend 6 weeks to pull it off. Even now, I look at today's build and I'm still don't think I can pull the rest of it off. It is so easy to call it quits now, and I am no stranger in pulling plugs for the past few years...but not this time.

Finish up the following and we are good to launch!
- Units animations
- Skills FX
- Environment rendering
- Stage Data
- Advertising/Marketing ( Facebook pages/Press kits/Review emails )

2nd Batch Update

Able to focus on Synchronicles full steam now, End October goal seems more likely than ever ( even though there's still a mountain load to clear :P ).
Been finding the seed for UI ( Watch the video on Hearthstone's UI thought process ), gonna test a seed revolving 'Split-Flap Display', '3D/Physicality' and 'Retro Time Travel'.

2nd Batch of units

Test layout for unit card ( imagine the gears at the sides and bottom spinning along.

Juicy FX

Started a vertical dev trial on juicy, final skill FX, since most feedback mentioned a lack of punch and satisfaction in actions.
Made within Unity using Shuriken particle systems, TrailRenderers, old school animated mesh UVs, LeanTweens + cameraShake.

Sync charge FX ( plays once per sync, positioned on syncing unit. )

Slash FX ( static position, either mob/user facing )

 Thrust FX ( positioned on unit's weapon point ).

Thrust FX ( positioned on unit's weapon point ).

1st 4 units

With new art guidelines set, it's time to walk the walk.

The test:
- Short production period, at least 1 unit rendered/animated ready per day.

Total time spent for rendering 4 units:
- 5hours x 2days ( average 2.5hours each )
With further touch ups, probably another hour each, i should have enough time to setup animations in Unit after chopping them up.