Update 28: Production Status Updates, New Controller Support, Alpha Tester updates & more!
Hey guys! We didn’t get a chance to wish you a Happy New Year earlier. Better late than never, so the Heart Forth, Alicia team and I wish you the best for this exciting 2015 and hope that you can achieve all you’ve set out to do!
This update might be a bit long; we're compensating for the lower frequency of news posts as of late. We will make an effort to issue updates more often. Even if there are a lot of outsourcing people involved with the project, the core of the team is still small and there's always quite a lot of stuff to tackle. Regardless, we really wanted to come by and show you the things that've been worked on!
Our illustrations have been hard at work drawing beautiful pieces of work that will be used for the physical rewards, namely the Talebook, Posters, the printed game box & its booklet & digital wallpapers! Below you can see one of the beautiful landscapes that are being done:
We've been in talks with a manufacturer and it looks like we're ready to start working together. They're very nice guys that will also offer you guys customer support and ensure that you get your rewards as promised. It's still early to give you guys a date for delivery, but we'll keep you updated as we close a deal with them and start working on manufacturing these rewards!
We haven't yet specifically talked about enemies, so let's!
Fran, Miguel and I have continued to work on several enemy sprites and animations. We’ve thus far completed 17 of the 35 enemies remaining to be made (without including bosses, which are generally their own thing). Each enemy generally has an idle, walking, dying and a few attacking animations, all of which have been very painfully animated and sprited.
In terms of coding, a bigger number of these enemies are still yet to be implemented into the game, but because we’ve developed a very flexible but powerful system that lets us quickly give new enemies physics, easy collision & hit boxes, custom directional damage intersection, etc., coding them will be relatively faster than spriting them.
What's cool about some of these enemies' designs is that they're not just the hack-and-slash type: our intention is to present the player with enemies that are in themselves puzzles of sorts, and so that players must figure out new ways of using their skills and tools to defeat them in creative ways. Once players figure out a way to kill the enemy, they can be defeated quite quickly—it all depends on player skill. We think this will make the game a lot more fun!
Thanks to some sweet coding wizardry done by Looki, one of the two people working at MP2 games along with Mathias (the guys handling the Console & Mac/Linux ports), we’ve been able to implement full remappable controller support for the game, which is something that we had been wanting to do for a while now.
This means that if your OS recognizes your controller, the game will support it natively as well! If the controller is not from a common brand, you might need to take 10 seconds to remap its buttons it in-game, but we also added a neat profiling feature that’ll automatically recognize any controller that’s found in our database (you might even want to help us populate that database later on for some less common controllers!).
However, if you're more of a keyboard-type of player, don't worry! You'll also be able to remap the keyboard keys as you wish. The idea is to accommodate as many playing styles as reasonably possible.
Production Status Updates: Release Date Moved
In our last update we mentioned it was likely we'd be moving the game's release later in 2015. Given the content that still needs to be added to the game and the extra-polish that it requires, our current target is to launch between the Last Quarter of 2015 and the First Quarter of 2016. As I'm sure you can imagine, predicting release dates when far out is highly sensitive to the butterfly effect: small tweaks can lead to big changes in the schedule. As we get further along, our confidence about hitting a narrower window should increase until we can pin it down to a specific date. Until then, these target launch dates reflect our current best estimate.
We came to these numbers after sitting down and carefully revising and re-planning our timelines and schedules, taking into account the new project goals and conditions generated after the campaign. It’s important to me that you guys know why this change came about, so here’s an overview:
Firstly, it was thanks to your generous support that this project grew like we never imagined, including hitting almost all of our stretch goals. We’re committed to make the best of this opportunity. What's better, thanks to you I’m fortunate enough to have a great team of people to help me achieve this goal. That said, there are still some jobs that only I can carry out as the creator of the project:
Other than taking care of the game's programming, level design, room-building, story/dialogue/cutscene scripting, sound design and some of enemy/area spriting, I’m still the one person that can incorporate all the assets the team makes into the final game. Even with a 14~17 hour/day schedule, it still takes time for things to come together in a way that matches our targeted bar of quality.
Be that as it may, general development has definitely been quickened by working with a team, but working with a team also created a few new jobs for me to handle. Coordinating every person, writing design documents & references for them, giving feedback and so forth also takes time, and given that there are around 10 people to work with (including spriters, coders, illustrators, musicians, designers, the console porting processes, manufacturers, accountants, lawyers, etc.), I inevitably have to reserve an amount of time per week for team management so that we can continue moving forward effectively.
I’ve hired someone to help me out with production tasks, but there’s only so much this person can take off my plate. Regardless, it’s not big news that indie developers often have to wear many hats, so believe me when I say I’m more than happy carrying out these responsibilities as it means the game will be done how it needs to be.
I know most of you are eager to get your hands on the game as soon as possible, but there's nothing that would sadden me most than having to sacrifice quality, content or gameplay of this project in order to meet an arbitrary deadline made prior to knowing how much the game would grow. I hope you can see that letting us work on HFA for a few more months will let us avoid these compromises, and I will absolutely keep you updated as we adjust our plans and schedules in the future.
The Revamped Introduction
As for the revamping of the introduction also mentioned in the last update, I’m happy to say that most of it is finished! There are still some minor details to polish, but most of the hard work is done. We had to readjust our development schedules because this revision took more time than we'd anticipated, particularly because I decided to go ahead and create a full dungeon for it, but it definitely was worth the time. Here's why:
First and foremost, this segment is sufficiently stand-alone to let new players get into HFA and give them a good idea of what the rest of the game will contain. Additionally, it also gives us a good gameplay segment to take to venues.
This also means in the near future we'll be able to cut out a fragment out of this and package it into the private demo that some of you guys pledged for! Given the big amount of people to accommodate for the private demo, we're still researching into the most reliable and safest platform to distribute access to the private demo. Once we're set on that and once we've come up with a release date for the demo, we'll send out an update to give you some news about that!
So what does the revamped introduction have?
- A good slice of gameplay which includes:
- a village to explore
- a fully-fledged dungeon that comes with a good deal of puzzles
- a "mini boss” battle that consists of enemy waves
- a fully multi-patterned boss called Sceadu!
- a good bit of the game’s plot and exposition
- a few carefully hand-crafted cutscenes that will set the mood for the story,
- several amazing music tracks from the OST, composed by the incredibly talented Jonathan Geer!
There's another great benefit to having reworked the introduction: because it made no sense to work on content that would have to be disposed of after a demo build was finished, I was only willing to commit several weeks of dev time to something that could also make it to the final game. We're pretty sure that, with this new and polished introduction, the full version of Heart Forth, Alicia will inevitably pull players into the game and its world & story. It's not often you get to kill—or rather feed three birds with one scone!
Alpha Tester & Private Demo News
This leads into an exciting milestone we've reached for the Alpha Access group ($150 & upwards)! We're finishing packing together a build that we'll soon be able to send out to you guys. We're also in the process of building an online system through which you'll be able to get access to this and future alpha builds. Once we've got the system up and running, we'll send out an e-mail with a key to your Kickstarter or PayPal e-mails for you to generate a username/password. Soon after that, you'll be able to use your credentials to log in for alpha access.
We'll send out a private campaign update that will contain more details about what's in the build and what you can expect from it once we're ready to start with this process, so stay tuned!
As for the Private Demo group ($50 and above backers), we still have to do some tailoring, polishing and bug-fixing before we're able to roll out the demo your way. Once that's ready & once we've settled on the safest and most effective platform for distribution, we'll be sure to let you know the details via update.
Even though this post is already long enough as it is, we wanted to give a few shoutouts to some really worthy projects kickstarting right now. Other than looking amazing, the following are two games with a fantastic attention to pixel art and pixel animation which, you might agree with us, is a complete joy to stare at!
The game will feature a collaborative soundtrack by Alex Mauer (VEGAVOX, Serious Sam: Random Encounter), Manami Matsumae (Mega Man), The Protomen, Virt (Shovel Knight) and many more!