Coming Up for Air

Hello, there! It’s been a while!

For the past few months I’ve done a blog post every Saturday, but the last two Saturdays have cruised right on by without an update. Why? Because I’ve been working around the clock trying to finish the game. The last few weekends I decided to just put my head down and keep working on the game instead of doing blog posts. I don’t even know what the blog posts would have said, other than, “Hey guys, I’m … uh … working on the videogame.”

But last night I wrapped up a brand new build and sent it out to the playtesting group, so I’m taking today off. In the past month I’ve had exactly one day off, for a family visit, so things like blog posts and email correspondence and press requests have fallen by the wayside. I look forward to taking a deep breath and catching up on all of that stuff soon.

So what’s the state of the game? If you remember from my prior blog post about the alpha build, I sent an alpha playtest out to friends and family in early August, and it wasn’t up to my quality standard. I got some great feedback from some very smart developers and built a one-chapter demo of an updated core loop w/ lots of new features. I iterated on that a few times, and once I was confident in that direction I started propagating those changes throughout the entire game.

That’s the build I sent out last night. The entire game has been updated with the new core loop, which includes new types of memories, more diverse writing, tons and tons and tons of low-level feature refinements, and updated artwork and animations from my friends at CGBot. The game is playable front to back with the new style, and almost all of the content is implemented. My friend Tynan Wales (mentioned here) was a huge part of getting this build done. He did all of the posed scenes and chapter wrap-up dioramas for the entire game, which make a massive difference. Thanks, man!

The next step is to record all-new VO for the game, which I’m doing this weekend in LA. That’s a really exciting prospect, as even the small amount of temporary VO I have in the game now adds a ton of flavor and depth to the characters. The Novelist is a text-heavy game, but hearing the characters provide voiceover for their writing really brings it all to life.

Other than some final animation polish, VO is the last big chunk of content that needs to go into the game, and that will happen very quickly; the pipeline and functionality are already in the game, so adding the VO is literally just copy/pasting new .wav files over the temp ones.

There are, of course, small bugs to squash and little polishy bits to do. And once the playtest data starts rolling in I’m sure there will be other things to fix or change. But the game is, in large part, done. I’m still not ready to announce a date, as I want to see more playtest feedback and get more opinions on the game before deciding exactly what I need to do to finish it, but I’m working as hard as I can to wrap it up soon.

I know the press coverage has gone dark for a while, which was a byproduct of focusing 100% on the game to the exclusion of everything else, but I’ve got plans for sharing much more information about the game soon. I’ll definitely posts some new screenshots, and I’ve also been thinking about doing a commentary video that shows off one chapter of the game so that you can get an idea of what it’s like to play moment to moment.

There probably won’t be a blog post this weekend, as I’ll be in the middle of a marathon VO recording session, but I’ll try to keep you guys up to date more frequently than I have lately. Thanks, as always, for your continued support.