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A '90s-inspired Metroidvania RPG about a young wizard on her journey to stop a Spirit from consuming her homeland.
Heart Forth, Alicia is a Metroidvania RPG about a young wizard pursued by a terror in the sky.
Heart Forth, Alicia is a Metroidvania RPG about a young wizard pursued by a terror in the sky.
7,472 backers pledged $232,365 to help bring this project to life.

#46 PSX2016 Report, Development Updates & Juicy GIFs!

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Hey there! We hope you've had a great year's start and that 2017 has many awesome things in store for you. It's about time for another update and there's a lot to cover. We've bolded the important bits for you.

General Development Report

The game is coming along nicely. Each area of development is its own battle, and while some areas are easier than others, some end up taking more time to get through than we anticipate. We're hard at work so come mid-2017 you'll have a clearer roadmap about our progress towards getting the main game to a near-finished state, as well as a tentative release timeline.

This past couple of weeks we’ve concentrated on alpha testing some newer sections of the game. For now these are internal tests, but once most bugs have been squashed, we’ll roll a new alpha out for the Elite Backer tier to try out. More info in the next update. 

Sometimes there's no choice but to go where life takes you
Sometimes there's no choice but to go where life takes you

Game Analytics

As a result of testing the game, the mid-game areas afforded an interesting balancing act. Some testers felt the difficulty was a bit too demanding, while others found the game offered a fair and enjoyable challenge. I obviously can't physically be there with each tester, so it's important to pinpoint issues like that in aggregate. 

In light of that, we decided to create a game analytics system to let us visualize all kinds of information from testers’ playthroughs. 

The idea here is to get a deep, granular sense of what specific rooms/enemies/situations present more of a challenge for players and balance the game accordingly. Lukas is finishing the backend and GUI work for the system, so we should have something up and running pretty soon! We’re excited to see the wealth of info we’ll get from this; we’ll make sure to share our results in the next update.

Testing the graphing tools with some preliminary values
Testing the graphing tools with some preliminary values

Other Development Updates

Work continues being poured into getting the first 60% of the game to a beta stage. Here's a list of things that have happened since the last update:

  • Jonathan’s been working on getting some cutscene-specific music done. I can only say you guys are going to love this OST!
  • Deryk and I have been working on creating missing assets to replace placeholder graphics. I've also been working on creating and replacing some placeholder sound effects.
  • After getting feedback from the alpha tests, I’ve worked on creating a few extra rooms to give the mid-game areas a bit more breathing room, as well as slow down the pacing a bit to allow players to get familiarized with new mechanics or new enemy behavior. 
  • Mathias and Lukas continue optimizing the C++ runtime, as well as working on the console/mac/linux ports.
Don't anger the Helmboars or they might get hurt!
Don't anger the Helmboars or they might get hurt!
  • The game now runs at a 16:9 aspect ratio instead of 15:9. When we went widescreen, we initially chose 15:9 to accommodate the 3DS' resolution, but seeing that we didn't reach the stretch goal and that the Nintendo Switch is coming out next month, we feel more inclined to set our sights on the Switch for an eventual port. The Wii U port is coming out as promised, so no changes there.
  • Dialog writing & revising. Dialog is a crucial part of storytelling, so it's important that each line advances the story in some way (new information, subtext, foreshadowing or confirmation), sounds natural to each character and strays away from the cliché. It takes a good deal of iteration to get the rhythm and wording to feel polished, but in the end I'm hoping it will make a difference when you experience the game.
  • FMV cutscenes. As you no doubt remember from the Kickstarter trailer or the GIFs that we've sprinkled throughout our updates, you'll know that HFA features pre-rendered cutscenes that seamlessly blend into the game, much like in FFVII. We held off on producing most of these until this point in development, and although developing these requires a lot of work and collaboration, the rewards in terms of storytelling and world-building justify the effort. Like the saying goes, an FMV is worth a thousand words!  
Some of the game's content editors
Some of the game's content editors

 

  • New development tools. During these past months we’ve also coded a few tools to soften out some development tasks. Some of these shine when developing cutscenes (e.g. camera & NPC movement scripting), or make it easier to implement branching dialog trees depending on what items or quests you have completed. I've also made a mob battle editor for the scripted encounters in different parts of the game world, as well as a fully functional in-game achievement system. Pretty happy to have these tools at our disposal.
  • We've reworked some of the level design for later areas and their rooms, including a couple of extended puzzle mechanics that will add a lot of depth to the later game and the optional puzzles. We’ll start building most of these rooms in the next stage of development. 
  • Tied to the above, we've also been working on getting some of the side game/optional content plotted out. We're building a library of sorts with dozens of puzzle designs that we'll translate into the game at a later point in development. Since most of these puzzles will be optional, we're giving ourselves the chance to make them seriously challenging. We believe these will be a delightful change of pace for the casual gamer, and a healthy challenge for the completionists among you.

PlayStation Experience Report!

Our booth at PSX2016!
Our booth at PSX2016!

 

In December we took the game to PSX2016. We got a chance to show a new demo to an army of PlayStation-loving folks out there. This crowd seemed especially pleased with the game, taking notice of the kinship between Heart Forth, Alicia and games like Xenogears, Castlevania SOTN, Zelda or FFT

It's an awesome feeling to see players engage with the game, even more so when people hold dear to their hearts the very same spark that inspired me to begin work on Heart Forth, Alicia almost 10 years ago.

Here are a few articles written about our visit to PSX:

Livestreams - Tuesdays @ 1pm CT

That’s it for now! We’ll go back into the cave to continue working on the game, but don’t forget to watch the development livestreams every Tuesday @ 1pm CT over here: 

https://www.twitch.tv/heartforthalicia

We also have a pretty active Discord server over here:

https://discord.gg/ekzANVS

Make sure to follow our Twitter account for day-to-day development tidbits, smaller news and livestream heads ups:

https://twitter.com/HFAgame

 

Jonathan Robertson, Irvin Yip, and 28 more people like this update.

Comments

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    1. Johan Ollars on March 22

      I don't care too much for my wii U key for this. would rather have it on switch.. fits my lifestyle alot more. hoping you will bring it to switch, perfect fit for the platform tbh

    2. Alonso Martin Creator on March 13

      @Will @Tom @Julian @Jorge We're prioritizing to release the game on all the promised platforms first, and once that's done we’ll start looking into other things like the Switch port. Since we're far away from having any formal plans for said port, we don’t want to offer you guys the option to swap Wii U keys for Switch ones unless we can guarantee it'll come to fruition.

      @Aesgaerius We’re planning on going into a bit more detail in the next update!

    3. Missing avatar

      Jorge Chavez Muñoz on March 13

      Really want to play this game on my WiiU and later double dip on Switch!

    4. Missing avatar

      Julian Rodriguez on March 7

      I'm hoping the same thing @Tom Buff is. Hopefully we can change our Wii U to Switch.

    5. Missing avatar

      zack_the_backer on March 3

      I am really looking forward to this, no matter when it will be released.

    6. Tom Buff
      Superbacker
      on February 22

      If it does come to switch can we change our survey responses to get that instead?

    7. Will O'Neill
      Superbacker
      on February 22

      Cool update! Does it really seem realistic to you guys that anyone will still be shipping Wii U titles by the time this game is finished?

      I'm getting that 2018 feelin'.

    8. Aesgaerius on February 22

      As someone who appreciates kickstarter not only for funding projects, but also to learn more of the development end, and being someone doing data science, I would love if on further updates you could tell us a bit more how you are measuring difficult (what is the Y axis in that plot?) and what kind of plots you have been using to drive insight to your team! Kuddos for the data analytics lens on this project!

    9. Rafael Masoni on February 22

      Are those Windows XP application windows?! D:

    10. James Closs on February 22

      Sweet, I'll be looking forward to that alpha build ^.^

    11. Corentin Billemont on February 22

      Great news! Thanks for all those updates, looking good!

    12. Michaeljack on February 22

      Thanks for the Update! Considering how wildly this game has overrun its projected delivery date you might consider releasing that Alpha build to all backers, just so we can all see how its getting along

    13. maneauleau on February 22

      Thanks for the update. Keep up the good work and take your time. It looks so promising as always