#45 - New Elite Backer Alpha, New Gameplay Video, Release Window Adjustments, Development Updates, PlayStation Experience & GIFs!
Hey there! It's been a long time coming for this update, and we've got a lot to share with you, including a new gameplay video and new alpha for the elite backers! But first:
Heart Forth, Alicia @ PlayStation Experience
We're happy to share that Sony has invited us to this year's PlayStation Experience, hosted in Anaheim on December 3 & 4! We'll be bringing a fresh new demo of Heart Forth, Alicia for attendees to dive into.
We'll be showcasing it at our little part of the show floor, in booth B1001. We love meeting fans, so drop by anytime! We will also have a few beautiful HFA posters to give away.
If you work for a press outlet and you'd like to take the demo for a spin, reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a meeting.
Still on the fence about attending? The Playstation Blog has posted all details about the event.
Just to pique you interest, this demo will let you choose between an action-heavy dungeon and a more narrative focused section. Both options showcase the game's visuals, cutscenes and gameplay, so don't miss out.
New Gameplay Video!
In the gameplay video above, Alicia explores and fights through an atmospheric and treacherous area in the Verillion Trail, East in the Valley of Ëliadin. This specific area is found early in the game, and although parts of it are meant for more experienced players, the game doesn't stop you from trying to reap the hidden rewards... if you survive!
This is actually the first video of uninterrupted gameplay we’ve released in a long while. If you haven't played any of the game's alphas or demos, it hopefully illustrates what it's like to play the game today.
It feels great to finally give you a peek into some of the improvements we've done to the game over the years. We'll continue releasing more of these in future updates.
New Alpha Build 6.0.2 ~ Elite Backer Tier
We’ve got a new alpha build ready for you to try! And it's available for download as we speak at the Backer's Club. Like all alphas, there’s some content you might've seen before, while all the new content specific to that build is found in the latter parts. The sharp-eyed among you will see that we've reorganised, expanded and polished all previous content.
There's also a hefty amount of new story for you to explore, laying the groundwork for Alicia's journey. There’s a ton of changes and improvements that have gone into this build, so we really hope you enjoy it!
Note that this is an alpha for Elite Backers ($150+) and upwards. Make sure to click on the “Unlock Content” button to reveal your downloads, where you'll be able to read all about the newest builds we've prepared for you.
If you still haven't claimed your Backer's Club account, enter your email here and you'll receive instructions. You can also make address changes in your profile page.
After our trip to PSX, we'll focus on getting the next two sections together for the next alpha. There's internal testing and gameplay adjustments to be made for those, but we'll keep you updated as we move forward with them.
Beyond work on the new Elite Alpha build, a demo for PSX and another one for IGF 2017, we’re currently at work hammering out any bugs and adjusting level design throughout the first half of the game. Once that process is finished, we’ll shift our scopes to the second half of the game as we continue to develop the last 3 big game areas. The music, environment & enemy graphics for these areas are 70% complete, but we still need to work on creating, building and coding the necessary rooms, puzzles and boss battles.
Next up in development is the final boss battle and the ending sequence. With that accomplished, our final efforts will go into fleshing out the secondary or optional content of the game, like hiding all the additional powerups and upgrades, populating Blivek City, creating interesting sidequests, and finally implementing the backer rewards.
Release Window Adjustment ~Mid-2017
Our last update on the release date target was last November, where we forecast we'd have a near-finished version of the game around this time. Despite our committed work, even as we draw closer to the finish line with each passing day, we are not at that stage yet.
The pace of certain development areas hasn't been as brisk as we had anticipated and hoped for. We'll go over the wherefores in detail in the paragraphs below, but we're instead aiming to have a near-finished game by mid-2017. Once we get closer to that date, we'll update you with a more precise release window. We've learned a lesson when it comes to projecting release dates, and we've cornered the three main reasons why we need to push things back:
One of them is the development of cutscenes or pre-rendered cinematics, which require a significant amount of time to get done. There’s so much that needs to come together for each of these story nodes to be fleshed out and be narratively effective, and if we skimp on even a tiny aspect, the cutscene in general takes a hit and can make it feel rushed or lackluster. Special effort and dedication must always go into each storytelling node to meet the necessary quality standards, deliver the right emotional tone, and to push the overall experience forward.
The second aspect that has required a lot of iteration and tweaking is making sure each bit of gameplay content is fun, creative, cohesive, tight and engaging. In very broad terms, this concerns game mechanics, dungeon/level design and enemy design. Translating elements from paper to actual gameplay is a process that needs experimentation before a final state can be reached, and some elements have required more time than others to get right. The sections yet to be developed still need their due attention, but at this point we’re happy with how most of this content operates in the game.
The third reason for a delay are some of our own development tools. We’ve optimized our workflow as much as we can, Lukas has made several external tools to make my life easier, but some aspects of said workflow are hardcoded into the middleware we use to make the game. This middleware is unfortunately close-sourced, so this means there’s some development limitations that we simply can’t change or overcome. This is by no means a problem when it comes to getting the game to the finish line; it’s just a timeline drawback that we have to manage as we move forward.
I know delays are never welcome. Making a game of this scale is a gigantic endeavor that has demanded many willing sacrifices, and though I do outsource part of the game’s content to ease the load, HFA's core vision is still being fleshed out by one person.
Games tend to be delayed for a number of reasons. In our specific case it's mainly because we don't want to cut corners. We need to take our time to get things done the way they've been envisioned. Having said that, we are forging ahead as fast as we can; I'm personally working 12+ hours a day including weekends to get things to where they need to be.
We’ll continue to keep you updated on our progress as we move forward, and I thank you humbly for your patience, for believing in our little passion project, and for joining us in this journey. We have a bright road ahead of us and the end is well within sight—it’s just a matter of getting there.
Weekly Development Livestreams: Tuesdays @ 1pm CST
Remember we livestream weekly development content every Tuesday at 1pm CST. To be notified when we go live, follow the channel and our twitter account:
HFA Discord Server
We also recently opened a discord server just for Heart Forth, Alicia. Click on the link below to chat with us or with your fellow backers!
Shout-out to Owlboy!
This shoutout is going to be a special one, and also an unconventional one because it's not really for another Kickstarter campaign, but for a game that's very recently been released.
Owlboy is a platform/metroidvania game that was in development for 9 years! (HFA's long lost brother, maybe?) It absolutely shows how much love went into it. I'm so proud of these guys for finally releasing their dream project, and we can't help appreciating the enormous labor of love that this game was. We wish them all the success in the world from our heart of hearts, they deserve all the good things coming to them!
Head to their Steam page below, enjoy their beautiful trailer, and if you like what you see consider supporting this team of super talented developers.