Interviews + Progress Report

Hey everyone, Kent here with your regularly scheduled Saturday update. It was a good week for The Novelist, despite being cut a bit short by a family visit. First off, here are a few interviews:

  • Paper Droids: I really enjoyed doing this one. Tracy asked great questions, and you’ll probably learn some new stuff about the game in this interview.
  • Weeaboos with Controllers: Check this one out to learn about the consequences for being caught during stealth gameplay, as well as some general thoughts about the AAA and indie scenes.

As for the game itself, I got a bunch done this week and am really happy with where the game is now. I still don’t have an exact release date, but I feel like I’ve turned the corner and know what the end product is going to look like and how I’ll get to the finish line.

As a recap, I sent out an alpha build to friends and family on August 2nd, and they sent me some great feedback about the flow and core loop. There were a number of things that left players confused about how to progress in the game, and some features were so buried that they were giving a really skewed perception of what the game was about and what kind of stories the player could tell. It’s always disheartening as a designer when you’ve put a lot of work into features, and you know that what your players are asking for is already in the game if only they could find it. But that’s also your fault as a designer: if players can’t find a feature, it doesn’t count as a feature. It basically doesn’t exist.

There’s a silver lining when this happens, though. While you might get super bummed that people are missing things that would make the game much more enjoyable, the fact that the features at least exist in the first place gives you confidence that you’re close to having something special. Training players on existing features and making them more visible is a much better problem to have than needing to invent new features from scratch late in a project.

So I made a bunch of changes to the writing and the chapter flow and sent out an updated build last week, and the response was way better than to the alpha build. There were still a few comprehension issues, though, so I worked this week to update the build again with additional tweaks to the flow. I sent that build out to friends on Wednesday night, and the response has been super positive.

It’s not 100% perfect yet, but of course the game isn’t finished either. I’ve already made 3 or 4 changes in the last two days that have only improved things more, and at this point I’m getting really excited about finishing the game. As I said, I can see the finish line and am really confident about what the finished product will look like. I actually spent yesterday putting in some polish features, and the game is to the point where the small things are starting making a big difference. More sound effects in the house, characters talking to themselves as they go about their days, Dan’s typewriter actually making typewriter sounds while he works … they’re all little touches, but together they’re really bringing the game to life.

Anyway, that’s where the game is right now. As soon as I publish this post I’m gonna dive in and start working on more cool new stuff. I can’t wait for you guys to play the game!