Short update – Artwork is getting done faster than in the past and of better quality than Book 1.
This year’s accomplishments:
- Screens of art that are “basically done” are at about 35
- Major Plot points are in place, but not the details
- Betrayed Alliance Book 1 – patched and polished
Longer update, well here we go:
Sept 3 2019 I publicly announced continued work on Betrayed Alliance. I don’t anticipate it will take as much time as book 1 to complete. I announced Book 1 way back on April 7 2007 and it was released Dec 24, 2013…a six-and-a-half-year development! Of course, that wasn’t consistent, intentional work. Months and sometimes years went by with no work to show for the time – work was very intermittent. It was when my first son was born, I got the sense that free time was something I would be kissing goodbye, so I wanted to finish what I started. I looked at the project and determined that it was near 1/3 complete, so I set out a 6-month timetable and set to work. And I got it done, albeit a bit buggy! With that I washed my hands of the project with no intention to come back.
I have to say Betrayed Alliance Book 2 (the next 1/3 of the game) is developing in a steadier and more fluid way than Book 1. Part of it is probably maturity and a more developed idea of what I’m doing. When I first started on Book 1, it was very loose. The story-line wasn’t deeply thought through. Stolen princess. Knight to the rescue was all the story I needed.
Betrayed Alliance Book 1 had about 56 backgrounds, in 6 years. Book 2 already has about 35, so the workflow is going better.
So what was the catalyst that made me restart? There were a couple of highly motivating factors. First, every so often I would get some feedback from people playing Book 1 and that would light a fire under me to finish the story. Second, I saw another SCI-like game gaining some attention and it looked gorgeous! I mean, I thought my artwork was pretty good, but this game just rocketed past in terms of quality. I’m talking about the Crimson Diamond by Julia Minamata. It looked like there was a lot of energy and excitement about an SCI game, and that made me think that people may actually want more of this kind of game (as long as the quality is there). By the way, you should check out her free demo on Steam:
There’s nothing to motivate like a little inspiration (and a dash of envy!), so I’ve redoubled my efforts to make my artwork better, and I think it’s paying off. The time I spend drawing the rooms is definitely more than I used to, but I think it shows quite a bit. That being said, Julia’s Crimson Diamond is still in a class of its own in my opinion.
But I think it was both of those factors that made me want to get back to work: feedback from Book 1 and inspiration from Julia.
So, I’d like book 2 to be complete by 2022, and I think with the production schedule I’m keeping that it is possible, even if a bit ambitious. As a solo-dev, there’s a lot of different work to do, and I’m planning on making some big changes, which will require me to learn new ways of doing things that would’ve been simple and easy in the past, but the trade-off will be important.
In addition to production, this past year I’ve been trying to get “out there” a bit more on social media. What’s the point of making a game if no one knows you’ve made it? Some of it was easy because I already followed a lot of the people in the adventure gaming world, but despite my general dislike of social media, I’ve endeavored to expand my social media footprint. And it’s been really great, to be honest! I’ve started following people and watching their streams, and I’ve gotten a lot of enjoyment out of it. And that’s really great, because I found it to be more about making friends and having fun than what I was dreading it might become, marketing – which I just am not fond of. I was also worried that spending time on Twitter would slow down my productivity as well, but I think it actually increased it because it’s fun to share artwork or animations and get feedback, which just makes me want to get more done.
An aspect of this has also been Youtube. I endeavored to put out at least one video a week as well. Part of this was me wanting to record my own game for play-testing purposes, which actually worked really well for me (although I’m sure it’s not that great a watch for others), and the other part was that I wanted to play through the other fan games that had never gotten any exposure and probably nobody knew even existed. There really weren’t that many however, and many of them aren’t even full games, but I wanted to play through these games as well as the classics to get some inspiration for what I was working on as well. The problem now is that I’ve played the small library of fan-made SCI games, and my YouTube consistency has begun to wane.
The last big effort that I accomplished in this last year was updating and polishing Book 1. If I was going to make Book 2, people were naturally going to want to play Book 1 first, and I knew that the experience needed to be the best possible. So I did my best to fix all the bugs I could find, and polish the game and user experience. I ended up with a 10-page document of fixes/additions. Here’s a truncated list:
- I drew a new Title Screen (Thank God!)
- I added a difficulty setting
- Updated the Menubar to show more info
- Drew new animations for death scenes and death icons
- Fixed a couple insidious save bugs
- Added addition side-character for more backstory
- Added more dialog possibilities / hints
- Added a couple sidequests
- Added a few artwork touch-ups
- A way to cheat at Sailboat Extreme (a highly requested feature!)
- Many bugs squashed and misspelling quashed
So that’s about it! It’s been a year full of work and lots of motivation. There was a month or so when the state of the world (pandemic) challenged my efforts (“why are you working on something like this at all? What does it matter?”) But I got over that with the mindset that quitting wouldn’t suddenly bring any additional meaning to my work, and would probably end up in personal dissatisfaction. I know motivation for projects wax and wane, but I’ve learned the systems necessary to keep at it. Sometimes motivation is earned by hard work, not by happenstance.