JANUARY UPDATE: upcoming big announcement, pronoun customization, DLC, emotes, and MUCH MORE!
Hey, my dear backers!
January is here! It has been a month full of progress and stuff. So get ready for lots of information, ok? This is a BIG UPDATE. Here we go!
1. A BIG ANNOUNCEMENT (and some bad news)
OK, let's start with the bad news: the game won't be released during February. Instead, we have a big announcement that will be revealed around mid-February.
We are just about to finish the new logo, which will translate (FINALLY!) into the Steam Page. From there, we will try to hurry into the new Twitter account for the game (we're trying to claim @monsterprom -which is highly unused-, so @btflglitch will keep being a general place for all things Beautiful Glitch, while @monsterprom will focus on the game, better managed both by me and our great publishers. And most likely we will go back to talk about our Humble page.
If we get the Steam Page ready, then we will start studying how to put all what we have into the Steam Client. For the past 6 months or so we have had an alpha ready that mimicked (in an alpha stage, ofc) almost all the game experience. Some testers played it and the feedback was overall pretty fantastic (check the testing feedback on our August update).
So the beta is almost ready, but for safety reasons I want to be able of distribute it through the Steam client and not just an .exe to download.
Because of that, getting the Steam Page and doing our research on how to upload the game into the Steam Client is key for us to get that beta for you. It will be our first time, but we have the support from our publishers which did it a while ago with their main game.
Long story short, I think we can manage to get that beta ready by late-February; but I don't want to promise anything, since we have no idea how much the process to get the game ready for the Steam Client needs and standards might take.
Also, once the beta is ready, we'd love to contact with you all backers that pledged the tiers that included access to the beta to run some testing, if it's OK by you. There are A LOT of you, so we guess it should be easy to get 20 to 100 willing testers. It would be just taking some notes while playing. Stuff like giving 1 to 5 stars to the events you see, listing the love interests and minor NPCs from best to worst, explaining all that a bit, commenting what were the best jokes, etc.
Sorry for the delay on the release date. I know it will be frustrating for some of you, and I deeply apologize for it. There are many reasons for that. In the end, biggest reason is a good one: Monster Prom has achieved goals over and over, making us more comfortable with the idea of improving the final game. Getting +400% of our initial goal obviously changed our plans entirely (making May 2017 authomatically not a thing). Then we started conversations with publishers and those conversations gave us insights to improve the game, which already shifted again our plans to early 2018. Finally, some final super interesting conversations (more to be revealed on that big announcement) gave us even more confidence to improve the game. So our publisher has paid a forecast to decide best release date within some dates we deem "doable" and it's highly probable we lock a release date on the big announcement! And this time it will be fully public, so full commitment!
In the end, the constant delay is product of good things, basically us deciding to increase the scope of the game (always within our resources... so don't be scared of us making the classic indie mistake of going for a stupid huge scope). Also, this is our first fully owned by us project, so we learnt some stuff.
I will explain some of this stuff now...
2. LOTS OF TINY TASKS
Here's something I've learnt (as the one who manages the project) from Monster Prom: a gamedev process is tricky as hell in its last stages. What I mean? It is even frustrating the fact that since August or so we have an alpha that gives the player a perfect idea of the whole game. It was (if very simplistic) a take on the whole game's main experience.
So since then I've been more confident than not, knowing that we had around 70%-80% of the game done. Little I knew that it is the last bits of a game that take the most of the time. So right now LOTS of the aspects of the game are close to be 100% done, yet none of them is. So right now it feels more like tying up A LOT of loose ends. And don't get me wrong, some weeks faster, some weeks slower, we're doing it in a very successful way.
But it is like one of those tricky 3D wooden puzzles, and when I feel we're close to make it I then realize we're missing something from somewhere else.
Also there's always room for improvement, and that's risky as hell. We have a Trello with LOTS of tiny details to polish the game. We've listed them according to priority, and we're aware a good bunch of them will be included after release.
It is a lot of interesting small features. But keep in mind when I talk about lots of tiny tasks I don't mean the game's being delayed just because we're spending too much time on this. No, we're working on the core experience, but even if almost done, the last parts take their time. Lots of details that we hope will be appreciated by some once the game is out. Like... yesterday I wrote 13 different ending situations for one of the most secret endings. The programmer hates me and we need to talk to see if it can be included without being too much work for him...
In general, this month I've worked a lot with the big plotlines and item events, which are the most complex ones. And we need to resolve one of the most special types of event, which are basically interactive. That among other stuff.
So the result is we're done with BIG SCARY TASKS (or so I think!), but we have A TERRIBLE TON OF TINY TASKS.
Wish us luck!
3. THE BEST OF INTENTIONS
Another situation, hinted before, it is the way we try to raise to greatness (at least within our resources and capabilities). So sometimes we're tackling one of those remaining features and we planned them to be something simple. But then we start talking about it and we can't help but think how to make them excel in some way. We're always realistic trying to make it doable... yet it always means a bit more of time and work. Lemme show you some examples:
- Pronoun customization: we decided a while ago that we wanted the player to be able of choosing their own names and pronouns of preference. This means "he", "she" and "they". But then we realized that if we're going for neutral pronouns, we need to do 2 extra things: first thing is we need to find acceptable neutral versions for a lot of gendered words we include in the game ("king", "queen" and... "monarch" or "royalty"). Secondly, if we go for neutral pronouns, then we need to code all the verbs that follow %HESHE% to include a "plural version" ("likes" and "like") so it accommodates to the "they" option. That's... surely more work
- Emotes: we wanted to include "emotes" so players could communicate when playing online in the strange event they decide to play online without using any voice chat of some sort. So there we were... discussing what to do with the emotes, choosing which ones to include. And then we wanted to make them special somehow, so the feature shone by itself. Some ideas included 3-4 variations of each emote dealt randomly so using them for the first time is somewhat thrilling. Or making the emotes "2 part-emotes" so you choose 1 of the 4 "first emotes" and then each one has 2 potential continuations to make them funnier". So we don't know if we will keep them simple or we will add some of these ideas.
- Results screen: OK, so this was a suggestion by our publisher which makes LOTS OF SENSE. They suggested for us to include a results screen that gave players a glimpse of how big the game is and its high replayability. Something simple that basically told you how many events you've seen so far compared to the total number. A clear way of saying "you've only seen the tip of the iceberg". So I started designing such a screen and I decided it had to include numbers for the current run + a comparison between numbrs from the total of runs played so far in comparison with numbers from the whole game. Then, stupid me, I said to myself: what about also showing 1 or 2 "titles" like in the high school yearbooks? The main idea so far is to include a playable character with a title that can be related to an event that happened during the run, or totally random + and an NPC with a title that can be related to an event that happened during the run or a title related to some data from the game ("the char that has refused the most players so far" and stuff like that). In the end, it is a simple detail... yet if we do it, I will spend 1 or 2 days writing lots of titles that the programmer will have to connect with specific stuff within game.
4. WHAT'S HAPPENING ON JANUARY
Lots of things. It is hard to list, since -as said- now is mostly tons of tiny tasks.
For instance, on art:
- The ending credits illustrations have been finished
- The pop quiz stickers have been finished
- We added some new icons for UI
- We did some changes to the UI
- We did the first mock-ups for 2 new screens (results screen and "choose a date for prom" screen)
- We started working on a map version with different lighting to give some variety between different turns
- We prepared a special background for the WEEKEND turns (2 special turns that are more "interactive")
- We changed the icon of the SLAYER
- We made changes to the COVEN character model and we also prepared different version of them for specific events
- We made icons for the 2 other witches that are part of the COVEN
- We worked a lot on the new logo. We think we're super close to finish it!
Then there's A LOT of other tasks such as:
- New twitter account
- Changes to website
- Setting the Steam page up
- Starting our collaboration with a (very cool) PR firm
- Preparing the document so Monster Prom can start being translated into Chinese
- Discussing our reveal teaser
5. WHAT'S NEXT
Let's list some stuff that we're aiming to do during February
- Icons for some stuff (mostly online and game progress)
- The emotes
- A whole new minor NPC with its own secret ending
- A new item
- The events for this item+minor NPC
- 2 final BIG PLOTLINES (Miranda and Damien)
- Rewritting 2 item plotlines
- Reformatting interactive events
- Writing some continuation events
- Polishing more features
- Hopefully starting the VA
- We're discussing with a potential person to take care of the SFX
- Finishing the proofreading
- Working on the shop dialogues
- Working on some ending related features
- Finishing results screen
- Finishing "who to date" screen
- Wrapping up a new build
- Starting the Chinese translation
- Preparing the big announcement
- Preparing the reveal teaser
- Starting PR stuff with the awesome PR firm (revealing them on next update too)
Definitely NOT an easy month. Here we go!
6. DLC PLANS
Oh, and by the way, during January, on my free time, I started to brainstorm more about the DLC. I think I came up with a good way of implementing it as an extra mode (which you can get as a DLC, but free of charge for some of the backers as you might remember) that would hopefully add around +50% content.
This is what I thought of (NOT FOR SURE) so far:
- 2-3 new love interests
- 4-8 new minor NPCs
- 10-20 new secret endings
- 8-12 new items
- New challenges and pop quiz questions
- 100-200 new events
- An extra outfit for the 6 original love interests
So far, my fav picks for new love interests are chars that I've tried to somehow include in the base game, so they come as some kind of hint. One of them is actually a minor NPC: The Coven (a group of 3 witches). In the DLC, their leader would become a love interest. The other 2 are characters that appear directly and indirectly (working on that in a way that makes sense) as item related secret endings (one of them is the one we're working on during February). Basically an eldritch horror girl (it has a nice twist I need to check with some people to be sure it is not offensive to anyone, since it'd be related indirectly to gender identity) and a computer disguised as a person. Basically they are 2 genderless beings that identify as a girl and as a boy. But the computer is more about its transition is more about from non-sentient to sentient being (I'm not even sure if using the pronouns "IT" or "HE", while the eldritch horror is more about the transition from ancient dark deity of chaos to girl, and it'd probably include a big plotline fully centered on gender identity.
On the DLC I'd make a change on the items (that I wish I had made for the base game), tying them to secret endings and characters.
And some ideas (NOT FOR SURE) for the minor NPCs (we'd use just a few of these ones):
- Inanimate object (just that, an inanimate object, like Plank on Ed, Edd n Eddy)
- Fellow Student (clearly an adult person police undercover as a student)
- Parasitic couple (a monster and a parasite who are a very cheesy couple)
- Clichéd Coven adversary (Dmitri, a tormented villain who's always changing sides)
- Princess Muscles (a jacked simple-minded lovable princess that enfuriates Miranda because how she ignores proper Princess behavior)
- Happy Disney-like sidekick (a trusted friend and advisor of Miranda, who's secretly plotting her assassination)
- Bellanda (one of Miranda's older sisters under the "battle princess" trope)
- An actual cult
Some undeveloped stupid crazy ideas:
- An actual k-pop band (somehow related to Liam)
- The ghosts of all past parties
- Another demon, son/daughter of the rivals of Damien's dads.
And some undeveloped ideas for potential secret endings:
- Scott tries to be a hipster
- Damien tries to punch the sun
- Vera on a family-related big plotline
- A big plotline either about VR or singularity
- A super heartfelt Polly ending with some backstory
- Scott and Miranda: lemonade moguls
- Prankmasterz destroy the world
- Yaoi muses
- Date the monster slayer?
- The treasure map!
Obviously I'm sharing this in a SUPER EARLY STAGE. This could completely change. Remember that DLC should only cover 2 new love interests, and the rest is us loving this game and this universe, wanting to make it bigger. But it'll ultiimately depend on results, resources and availability of our super talented collaborators.
Oh, and I'm working on an even less clear content that I call "Monster Prom: Holiday Season", which would be 3 smaller versions of the game, each one done by a different artist with a really different art style around a different scenario:
- Summer Camp
- Winter Holidays
- International Trip (this is the one I'm the least sure about)
But this is just me daydreaming on what we could do in case the game works.
7. A FANART CONTEST and A SPANISH CONVENTION
Oh, yeah, small thing: new weekend (Feb 9th to 11th) we will be attending a Spanish Convention (Japan Weekend Madrid).
Some interesting stuff:
- We will be obviously showcasing the game. Most likely our old builds, since the new one will be ready at best for the week after that weekend.
- I will give 2 talks. One of them super off-topic (they wanted something light for Sunday) about some crazy stories on making an indie game and 2017 conventions (which included stuff like partying with the actual Steven Universe, Zach Callison, or getting stuck in Korea for an extra day due to missing my plane back to Spain). But the important one is the Satudrday one, which Spanish title roughly translates into "10 steps to create characters to fall in love with", which focuses heavily on creative direction and narrative design on Monster Prom. This is somewhat important because this will most likely end up in the MONSTER BIBLE, the PDF document/sort-of-book that will include stuff about Monster Prom's universe and developement. I'm sure I won't get many attendants, since we're not a big thing (even less in our own country) nor the convention is focused on videogames; but I'll try to test the content of the talk and discuss it with some of the attendants.
- We're holding a fanart contest until this Thursday-Friday. Prizes include 50--100€ in drawing material (amount depends on participation). It's mostly focused on Spanish artists and artists attending the Japan Weekend Madrid event; but anyone can participate! So please, give it a try! ;)
- I'm including a WIP of a fanart. This one is not for the contest. This one we comissioned it. To make it for the lack of 3x3 awesome fanart prints lately. It's from LeraPI, a super talented artist. She's also a NSFW artist, so please know that the link includes NSFW content too.
Woah! This one has been a very stuffed update, huh? I've been writing this during the span of 4-5 days. That's the reason is coming a bit late. But we're on a very critical (and stressing but wonderful) moment, so I wanted to share it with you all!
Once again: thanks for all your support (and your patience!)