#52 - Development Updates, Small Victories, Puzzles & More!
Hey there! It’s time for another update.
We have several things to cover in this one, so let's get to it. A healthy portion of our time was dedicated to improving and polishing some of the mid-game sections, developing some smaller systems and mechanics that were pending, and on tweaks and optimizations to the back-end system. We’ve segmented the update to make it easier to cover each aspect below.
We achieved a small victory last month when we finished the central content of Blivek City, which is shaping up to be a charming and lively place to explore. It has taken a lot of work to get it to this point, especially getting all of the cutscenes and FMVs to a finished state. We think this added attention to detail is well worth it, as these set the tone of the story and the game world. The final form of the town will be brimming with life, sidequests, shops and secrets, evoking that cosy feeling our favorite JRPGs imprinted on us as youngsters.
We plan to revisit Blivek one last time once the bulk of the main and optional game content has been finished, so as to implement sidequests, mini-games and final secrets. Even now, though, Blivek feels like it's come to life, and it plays, looks and feels even better than we had imagined it.
We've previously let you in on certain types of puzzles that are found in the game, but now we want to showcase the cool puzzles and applications we've come up with specifically for the Wind Stone spell. This is Alicia’s first and most versatile spell, initially helping her snipe at enemies from afar and hit out-of-reach switches. A greater reward awaits those with the skill to solve some of the devious puzzles strewn among the game world, while also offering you a refreshing change of pace from platforming.
Earlier stages of development had prioritized other pieces of content, which required we postpone the development of these puzzles. While there are still several things for us to do in terms of game content, we reached the point where we need to dedicate some of our efforts to this aspect of the game. Although a majority of these puzzles won’t be required to finish the game itself, you can expect to find many between you and some valued treasure. Happy solving!
Polishing Mid-Game Areas
We have also been polishing and improving some of the mid-game areas of the game. Making a game of this size is a bit of a balancing act: rarely does a section of content get developed linearly, so we have to jump between developing different sections of content as the production requires, and each section comprises a myriad of tasks.
As we move forward, though, we have to simultaneously keep all sections of content at the same level of polish and quality, so it's tricky to call an area truly finished until the game is basically done. Before we can delve into developing and finishing the remaining sections of the game, we needed to give a little nip-tuck and polish to some mid-game areas, so we're spending some time getting those parts up to speed.
As you know, we’ve been working tirelessly on getting the game to the finish line since the campaign ended. Since then, the game's scope needed to be expanded thanks to your support, and its quality put to higher standards so as to rise up to your expectations for today's games. We previously talked about three reasons for the delay in production, and those reasons still hold up today to a considerable extent.
In the past, we have made the mistake of giving you a tentative release date and then missing it. We want to avoid repeating that situation again, so we decided it was best to not commit to a release window until we knew for sure we’d be able to meet it, and as much as we'd like to be at that point, we still aren't there. The thought that some of you feel disappointed weighs heavily on my mind; we're working as hard as possible to compensate this and deliver a game worthy of your patience.
A large part of the journey is behind us, yet there is still road to be traveled. I am endlessly grateful for your support and for continuing to believe in the game. We'll continue keeping you updated with our progress and milestones as we make our way to the finish line.
Other Development Updates
Runtime Optimizations - It’s important to us that the game runs silky-smooth on every platform, so we’ve continued doing optimizations to our C++ runtime and getting it up to speed with a few upgrades we did to our development tools, which Mathias and Lukas then pipeline to the desktop and console ports.
+1 Game Atmosphere - Sound brings an environment to life in the same way graphics do, so we’ve been creating and implementing a big list of atmosphere sounds that were pending, which show up in different parts of the game world. It's pretty relaxing to just hang around and take these sounds in as you enjoy the views.
UI Candy - We’ve built a couple of new UI sequences that play out on recurrent events (like getting new spells) so players can easily understand how things are used. UI work is one of the most time-consuming things in game development, so we’re happy to share our progress with you whenever we can.
NPC Handiness - We developed a system that allows NPCs to display small icons over them if they can trigger or advance a quest or sidequest. It was easier said than done, as we had to heavily build on the way the quest system works, but this will make it easier for you to advance through the game content instead of manually keeping track of things yourself via the Journal screen.
Economics at Work - One cool thing we’ve been doing in the past months is to balance out shops, item & accessory costs. We want there to be a nice, fair curve when it comes to time investment versus purchase benefit, so grinding for money will only be required for the rarest or most powerful accessories.
When it comes to equipment, HFA's library is divided into several tiers of accessories that compliment each other’s stats, which are designed to push Alicia towards a specific attribute type. For example, there's head + chest + limbs accessories that together increase your whipping speed, or give you lots of HP for a tanky character, or lots of defense, faster movement speed, and so on.
Around 70% of those accessories are found via enemy drops or through exploration, but you're also able to craft close to 100% of them in certain shops—however, the higher the tier of the accessory you want, the more expensive and elaborate it is to craft. It’s up to you how you want to come to possess those accessories, or you could try going through the whole game without getting any accessories at all. Good luck with that!
Livestreams & Discord
Lastly, just a quick reminder that there's a development livestream, for now happening every other Tuesday at 1pm CT over here:
We also run an active Discord server if you want to join the community, ask questions or stay in the loop about smaller updates and information: