Here at Siege Sloth we have just had our first chance to show off the progress that we have made on our new game Evergreen. The process of getting to a point where we could show off the game was an interesting one, and I’d like to take this time to list some of the hurdles that we came up against in the hopes that it might serve as a warning to others to not make the same mistakes that we did.
We were invited to GammaCon just as we had settled on the idea of making Evergreen, at that time we had a working prototype of the game in 2d that we were looking to try and emulate in full 3d, as well as adding in a custom physics system for the tree branches, and an animated 3d background for the game… in short we made the rookie mistake of biting off more than we could chew and in the end we had to cut the physics system which we had already invested a lot of time into.
The next problem we came across was caused by putting marketing on the backburner until a few days before we were set to show the game off. At the time we had good reasons to do this as we had still not agreed on the final name or put much time into creating marketing assets, we came to regret this decision as the timeframe for ordering things like shirts and business cards online came and went and we were stuck trying to get all the promo materials on a budget at the last minute, and it was only through sheer luck and a few late nights that everything managed to come together.
The last issue that we had was a lack of user testing, which is to say that we did no real user testing. Again this comes down to the timeframe issues but this was possibly the single thing that made showing the game off the hardest. Our UI made perfect sense to us (aka the people who designed and programmed it) and the single sheet that we had explaining the controls to new players fell woefully short of what was needed, when people bothered to read it at all. This meant that every time someone sat down to play with game we had to give a short intro into how to play the game, which worked the first half dozen times, but giving that talk once every 10 minutes as well as just chatting with the players left the whole team feeling drained by the end of the day.
These were the big issues that we came up against, and a lot of them came down to just not having enough time to prepare. Though with all of this being said if I asked the team to do it all again we would all definitely say yes as it was one of the most uplifting experiences that you can encounter while knee deep in game development.
As I was standing by our table just before the doors opened I knew that out build had fallen short of what we wanted in a lot of ways, and I was feeling almost embarrassed to show it off. But we found that as people started playing it and laughing and enjoying themselves that feeling turned to one of accomplishment and myself and the team were able to get a lot out of the experience from both a technical/design standpoint as well as now feeling justified in our ambitious design choices.
Now we’re back to the everyday of development, discussing changes to the game based on what we saw, and all looking forward to showing off our game at PAX in a few months time.