This update is covering a variety of things, from new distribution methods, to analytics plans, and the roadmap of things I'm working on from here.
First off... Distribution!
This has been a large focus of production for the last couple of weeks. Coming up to our Eternal Ember alpha release, I have been working on exactly how I am going to send out the game.
What I have come up with is a launcher based system using the "Coffee Auto Patcher System". This is an extremely cool asset that allows me to ship updates to you guys, and all you have to do is download the latest files, not the entire game, again and again. As of this morning, this is confirmed as working, so when I decide the time is right for Alpha Release, I can start giving out launcher keys.
Right now, the launcher and the update screen are both pretty plain. So far they are just mechanical, no need for aesthetic focus. This is going to be one of the key focii that I look at over the coming weeks.
Before distribution, I want to implement a series of Analytic mechanics to let me know how people are doing at the game. This will mean less at first Alpha Release, as there will not be much in the way of narrative or progression, simply mechanics. However, as I try to begin guiding the player through the game, information is essential. This will include factors like 'how many times did you die before level 10', 'where did you die', 'how much gold did you have when you achieved level 5'. These allow me to scale and balance the game to become challenging, but not too challenging.
Related to this, I will also be creating and implementing a system for feedback from you guys. This will consist mainly of a menu that will allow you to submit personal feedback. How you would like me to extend the game. A note on this, I will take all of the feedback on board, but I will only act on the feedback which I feel will make the game better. Even if I dont act on your feedback, it will still help me get to where the community sentiment lies.
If you have been following the production of this game, you will remember that a while ago, I spent a bunch of time on a dynamic inventory system. I am sad to say....it's gone. I deleted it. This was no thoughtless action however. I had been clinging to the inventory system due to how hard I had worked on it, and this was preventing me from seeing how much it was harming gameplay. Thus, it has been removed to give me greater control over the players experience, essentially making it better for everyone.
How does this relate to Runes?
Well, I still wanted the player to influence their style of gameplay. With an inventory system, this would have been been done using weapon and armour choice, but without this, I have implemented a rune grammar system. I will expand on this more in the future, especially as it develops further, but the simple version is:
There are 3 categories of runes; Use, Grammer, Essence.
There are multiple types of rune within each category. The main runes I use for testing are
Voll - Use - 'Death' - Damage Rune
Ra - Grammar - 'By' - Amplification Rune
Ignis - Essence - 'Fire' - ... Fire / Burning.
By combining these runes, the player creates a damaging rune that sets enemies on fire. The 'Ra' runes amplifies this effect, increasing both damage and burn time. Should 'Ignis' be replaced by 'Sliss' / 'Ice', the enemy would be frozen instead, whilst still taking damage.
Currently planned, there will be a total of 30 runes, or 10 of each category. This may increase, or decrease in the future, depending on test results. While its cool that every rune has its own effect, this means that they must all be programmed seperately, including interactions. This increases labour almost exponentially for each rune added.
Where from here?
My main focus' for production from this point are Level Design and Distribution Aesthetic. As mentioned earlier, the launcher and update windows are both pretty ugly, so im going to be working to bring those up to scratch. If some extra funds can be secured, I am going to work to source a concept artist to do some sketches for this, to help introduce the player to the feel of a game before they actually play.
Level Design is the logical next step from all of this. I have spent a lot on the mechanics area of this game, and I don't regret this. A game with cool levels and bad mechanics is a bad game. But the time has come for Level Design to become more of a focus. I will thus be refining the 'feel' of the game, and working to integrate this. This will definitely be a challenge, as I am, in essence, not an artistic person. I should be up for it though :)
Finally, I will be working to make and integrate the rest of the runes, as well as sorting systems. I am very excited to work on this, but it is intensive and wearying none the less.
Thank you all for your continued support,
CEO Dracon Interactive