Hey guys and/or girls and/or sentient ants!
First of all, a progress update: I’ve begun finishing the enemy AI and soundwork while Tangleworm works on a couple final animations for the enemy. I don’t know how long it will take altogether, but hopefully I can show you guys a working enemy AI soon!
Cariboo is off on some newfangled school trip, so he’ll be absent for a couple days. Not that he does a whole lot ;D
We might be getting a new face in the next couple days, but more news on that if and when it happens.
NOW, onto the topic for tonight’s musing: My insecurities…
Way back when, while we were still working on Grief, we came up with a simple concept: A horror game set inside an empty skyscraper. Simple enough, and we had no real ambition regarding the project. Come Grief’s end, we suddenly found ourselves in a position to realize that concept, regardless of how daunting the idea of creating a horror game was.
We discussed it over a couple days, and ultimately decided that out of the few game concepts we had, this was the one we wanted to pursue. We knew it was going to be difficult, and we decided early on that we wanted to make this a rather lengthy game, longer than Grief (which was about an hour long). We thought we had covered all the bases, and understood exactly what we were going to have to put into this game to get it to come to life. Good GOD, did we ever underestimate.
At the time of writing we are now… 4 1/2 months into development of Ascension. Four and a half. As a refresher, Grief was two months of work. We’ve already DOUBLED our longest development time, and we’re not even into demo phase. This is going to be a long haul. The thing is, we have this nasty tendency of making our projects larger than we originally intended for them to be. Ascension was originally estimated to clock in at around 2-3 hours. Not bad, but not super long either. Right now, if things go as planned, Ascension is going to turn out to be around 5-6 hours, not including side quests. Holy shit. That’s retail-release numbers right there. I won’t go into the details of WHY the game is so much larger now, but suffice to say the individual floors are a lot larger than they were before. And that’s a good thing.
Another issue I personally have been struggling with is the creation of horror itself within the game. Horror is not an easy genre; most games that try it fail miserably. What were we thinking, you ask? I haven’t a clue, my dear. Do I think we’re going to pull it off? Yes, but I didn’t originally. Let me explain.
One thing I’ve forgotten about this game is the fact that it isn’t done. Yes, silly me. But what I mean by this is that I was playing the game a couple weeks ago with a deadpan expression, thinking to myself, “Well shit, this game isn’t scary. Did we fail?” No, you idiot, because you haven’t MADE the damn game scary yet. While this sounds ridiculous, it’s how I was thinking, and I was swiftly losing interest in a project I thought was doomed before we even hit the demo period.
The demo period itself is what saved me, though. I originally planned to spend a couple weeks in demo period, taking up complaints and fixing them for the final product. That’s not what I want anymore. My goal for the demo period is to get the game as good as it can possibly be before I continue with the full product. If that means spending two months testing, so be it. I didn’t spend 1/3 of a year on a game just to ruin it by speeding things along.
Right now I’m working on some scripted events; things that are going to creep you out or just plain make you shit your pants. At least, that’s the hope. In practice, who knows how things will turn out? Most likely, our initial testers are going to play the demo and go “Meh, that’s it?” and we’ll work from there, doing our best to make the game scarier and more difficult. We have no deadline, no release date to match, no funds that will run out if we don’t sell our game. We’re free to spend as much time as we want working on this game, schooling and personal life notwithstanding, of course. In my eyes, we literally cannot fail.
In order to make this idea work, however, we need testers. Lots and lots of testers. Testers who are willing to play the game and be scared or not scared, and to tell us what they think is wrong with the experience. I’m going to go ahead and make this next bit really obvious for those who live by the TL;DR:
IF YOU WANT TO BETA TEST FOR ASCENSION AND ARE RELIABLE, GIVE ME AN EMAIL AT:
If you somehow managed to miss that, there’s nothing I can do for you. If you’re interested in testing the game, drop us an email and we’ll give you some details. The more the merrier!
Anyways, that’s enough of my long-winded blog post. I’m going to advertise for beta testers in the next blog post as well (providing I remember) so with any luck we’ll get enough pre-demo testers to make the demo period smooth and scary.
Until next time,