Jason here, taking a break from another 1000h week (that math works, right?), to bring you some Children of Zodiarcs news!
First, THANK YOU!
First of all, I said this in the comment thread of the Kickstarter campaign a couple days ago but I want to repeat it here for everyone: I really want to thank you all again for the truly amazing support we received since the beginning of this project. We are incredibly lucky to have been backed by such amazing people. Your encouraging words online and in person at shows have really carried us through, especially in these incredibly busy last few weeks. So there you have it, thank you so much for being so supportive.
Where are we at?
Over the course of the last months, a few people have expressed some concerns regarding when the game would be done in the comments and in private messages. So far, we have tried to keep you all updated on our progress, the current state of things at any given moment, and the work done. However, we have felt that it wasn’t always enough, without really knowing how to be more transparent and reassuring, without being able to provide the official release date.
(*For those of you who are interested in understanding the workings of an evolving first production, and would like to understand better why the game’s release window has changed since the Kickstarter campaign and why we have not announced an official launch date yet, scroll down to the end of this update (after the video)!
*tl;dr : Thanks to the Kickstarter campaign and Square Enix Collective, we received great opportunities to make the game bigger and better and to have it be distributed professionally by an amazing publisher. Taking these opportunities meant making some changes to our pre-Kickstarter production calendar, and having to coordinate with our publisher before making announcements.)
Our participation at PAX East a few weeks ago was enlightening in letting us understand what may be missing. Again this year, a lot of you have come by the booth to have a chat and try out the game. Everyone was super nice, friendly and had fun! But we noticed a pattern. A lot of you came up to us saying something like “So I came to see where the game is at!” And then we realized that although our updates and the details we try to give about our progress helped a lot of people feel that things were moving forward, it may have been hard to use that info to have an accurate perspective on what’s left to do. And we can totally understand that it may not be enough to know that development is happening, since we all know development can be happening… forever. So I’ll do my best today to try to remedy that right now.
- The narrative and textual content of the game is 99% done, and most of it is already in the game. It will be entirely finished by next week, when we will be able to go on to localization. And yes, I am happy to confirm that, as planned during the Kickstarter campaign, thanks to reaching that stretch goal, we are working on having English, French, Italian, German and Spanish versions!
- The game is feature complete! Our programmers Denis and Camille are all done adding new elements to the game and are now working on minor polish tasks.
- All 3D art is done, including all the characters and the levels. Michael has done a great job and I can’t wait for you to see his handiwork.
- All the menus and 2D character art are done.
- Character animations, music, sound fx, and special fx are progressing swimmingly and will be done in the next few weeks.
So… what’s left?
Right off the bat, let me say: There’s very little left to do! We are truly in our last sprint. As a matter of fact, we are finishing up our “polish” phase!!
For those not familiar, that means that pretty much everything is done, but we are making things run smoother and look prettier. We do still have a few assets still in the making, but they are getting finished as I write. *Ding!* Huh? What’s that? Ah! Another VFX is done. (See?) Once this is done the game will move on to testing and debugging.
And that’s where some of YOU come in! :D
YESSS! It is time! All backers who backed at the alpha and at the beta tiers will have access to Children of Zodiarcs’ beta version NEXT WEEK!
When you get your hands on it, we hope you will play it ruthlessly, and let us know about all the bugs you encounter. Your participation (especially in the first week following the beta release) will be so helpful to make the game even better. A few placeholders will still stand in for some visual and sound effects, as well as some animations in the beta, but it will be feature and system complete and mostly content complete! A first pass at balancing will have been completed, but we will be using all that delicious information you will be providing us by playing (if you so chose to anonymously share it with us) to do a second pass at it.
Keep your eyes peeled, I will most likely schedule a live stream of the beta once it’s released!
See you in London!
Now back onto the fun stuff! As you *MAY* have heard, we are going to be in London from March 29 to April 1st for EGX Rezzed in London with the rest of the Square Enix Collective crew. If you are in the area, we would LOVE to meet you! :D
We will bring a demo which includes a new map and a new character which we have only shown at PAX East so far. So if you want a sneak peek before the beta goes live, come and say hi!
Thanks again so many times for all your support. Talk to you again very soon in the next update!
Ok, real talk, what’s up with the release date?!
We understand it, at the end of the day, no matter how much we dissect what has been done, where we are at, how, when and why and all that, despite trying to give as precise a progress bar as we can, a lot of people are waiting for a concrete date!
We are sorry we have not been able to reveal it yet, and we understand the frustration of people who want to know. Unfortunately, announcing a release date is not something one can do lightly, a studio only gets one chance at it. But we are aware that if there are frustrations that arise from having to push back a release date, there are also frustrations generated from having to wait for it, and we appreciate the patience most of you have shown regarding this.
I explained some of the context of our production calendar update in April 2016, but since this current update is all about perspective and the big (and complete) picture, I want to take the time to do an overview of the evolution of our production calendar since the beginning up until now:
When we launched the Kickstarter campaign, I mentioned in the video that we were expecting to release Children of Zodiarcs in August 2016. This estimation was based on our then budget, plus our Kickstarter goal of $50,000 for some extra content and polish.
However, thanks to all of your generosity, we collected $200,000 more than that! Although not all projects elect to establish stretch goals, when we hit our target after a little less than 2 days, we realized we would get a bigger push than expected (although we were never expecting what happened until the very end!), and we didn’t want to simply sit on the extra money. It made sense for us to use this money to make the game even better than we hoped. And we did. To this day, Children of Zodiarcs went from containing (among other things):
- 4 playable characters to 8 playable characters
- About 30 different cards to about 110 different cards (majority of which will level up)
- No extra narrative content, no random encounters, and no hard mode to… well… extra narrative content, random encounters and a hard mode!
- About 8-10 hours of gameplay to about 20 hours.
So thanks to all these extra contributions, Children of Zodiarcs is now twice the size it was originally intended to be (and looks even better). Doubling the content of the game means spending more time on it. After the end of the campaign, we reorganized the production, hired new team members, and figured out that extra $200,000 would give us about and extra 6-8 months to work on the game and add all that content. So that’s why on April 20, 2016, I announced that we would delay the game`s launch window to early 2017.
With all that support, extra content and polish, another little miracle happened: we ended up signing with Square Enix Collective. This was a great opportunity we simply could not pass. This partnership means that we will get a great deal of very professional support with many ‘post-production’ aspects like Q&A and marketing, which means the funds we put aside to pay for these things could be reallocated to finalizing production.
Which brings us to now! So why then, might you ask, are we not announcing the release date right now, since it seems to be coming very soon? Well simply because we are currently preparing said announcement! :) Signing with a publisher also meant that during the whole time the negotiations are happening (which for us lasted for a little while), we simply can’t say much. And once it is done, we need to coordinate with our publisher to settle on dates and material for release and also for announcements. And I’m happy to say we are nearing the end of this process!
So there you have it. Yes, as indies working on our studio's first game, we have had to rescope and reevaluate our schedule. This being said, through the course of this project, it’s not so much misfires that have caused us to significantly change plans, but rather the surfacing of opportunities as we were establishing ourselves as a studio and coming up with material to demonstrate our potential. And I must say… I’m happy about that! Some of us have been in development hell, stuck on projects which stagnate and sometimes die and it’s not fun. But being able to make a small project reasonably grow with a few more months of ressources and know that we will have been able to offer a stronger product to those who trusted us from the very beginning is very exciting!
Nonetheless, we have heard the voices of those that these changes have made uncomfortable, and we will keep updating you as much as we can to alleviate the wait!