Hey there Backers! We couldn't let this favorite day of ours go by without giving an update on our progress, so we've popped our heads in with some various tidbits.
First we would like to address the elephant in the room. We are sure all of you would much rather be PLAYING Ray's the Dead this Halloween, rather than reading an update about it. At the start of this year, we were really hoping this would be reality but unfortunately couldn't make it happen.
We know all of you are on the same page as us in wanting to make sure the game is as great as it can be. Our dedication to quality, our small team and ambitious goals are a large part of what has made development take longer than anticipated. We are very grateful that you, our community have been so patient and understanding. We are still committed to making the best game we can despite the fact that there is so much pressure to finish and release.
That said, we need to finish Ray's the Dead as soon as possible, and without cutting any corners. With that in mind, we have spent a lot of time evaluating what more remains, and what we can do to expedite development.
The conclusion is we will be getting additional funding from our publisher to hire a few more contractors to help us out. We haven't fully nailed down exactly who we will be hiring, but at the moment its looking like we will have additional help with the following:
- An additional character artist
- An additional level artist
- A particle effect artist
- UI contractors will reappear to give full implementation of the UI
- An additional coder
- A producer
We have already hired a producer to help us out with sorting out this process. Justin Fischer worked with Matt and Chris at Disney Interactive. You can read his thoughts on game development at his blog, Breaking the Wheel. He will be helping us get our task management sorted out, and take other various weights off of our shoulders. We also plan to have him on hand to help us with much of the logistics involved with release when we get to that point.
The primary goal with all of this is to take as much of the burden off of the shoulders of Matt, Chris, and Shawn to allow the core team to focus on the most important aspects of the game while keeping overall production running smoothly.
So while we don't yet have the news that you have all been waiting for, we wanted to reiterate that we are, as we always have been, 100% fully dedicated to finishing the game as quickly as we can, without compromising any quality. We still don't want to throw around any release dates, but at least wanted to make clear that we won't be releasing before the end of the year. Thanks for your continued understanding!
As a side note, if any of you have any of the skills we are looking for above, or know anyone that does, please get in touch!
While everything mentioned above has been taking a fair amount of time, we have been making development progress in a few key areas. Combat and Movement continue to be the primary focus of our efforts, and some big progress has been made of late.
Some improvements involve helping make more clear what is going on at all times. One example of this is having Ray's aiming beam serve as a very clear indicator of where your zombie will and will not go when you send it. Previously, the beam would just stretch across the screen with no regard for where a zombie could actually traverse. Now the beam smoothly moves along the surface of the traversal area, cutting off if it runs into anything solid. In doing so, it becomes much more clear where your zombie will end up when you send him out to do your bidding.
Also we have a new method of highlighting objects in the environment that you can interact with. The highlight that appears around interactive objects and characters goes a long way toward helping the player parce the environment.
The aspect of the game that has been receiving the majority of our attention at the moment has been the enemy AI. We have long held a vision that the combat in Ray's the Dead plays out more like the rapid and strategic solving of puzzles rather than mindless button mashing. While the pieces have been in place for a while, we hadn't fully followed through on this vision.
Recently, all enemies right down to the most basic have been made far more challenging and intricate. You can no longer blindly send your zombies around and easily claim victory. Each enemy has a series of behaviors that require your attention, and you must react accordingly with the right timing, zombie type etc. This isn't too complex in the early stages, but as different enemy types team up and you have more zombie types at your disposal, things can really get crazy.
Here is a simple example of early stage enemy combat. You will fight enemies with a melee weapon, and they are VERY deadly! If you send a zombie at one while they are focused on you, well... it won't go well.
However, if you show some restraint and wait, your enemy will lose its patience and taunt you. This gives you an opening to send your zombies in without the chance for retaliation.
We are happy with the direction things are going and continuing to iterate. The mechanics of Ray's the Dead are far more involved than we ever imagined but we are striving to make it a fun and challenging experience that is introduced in a natural and non-intrusive way.
Ray's the Dead has been making a variety of public appearances. It appeared at PAX West in early September. Our publisher Adult Swim had quite the impressive showing there!
Ray also popped up at Fantastic Arcade in Austin, TX. Our friend Kirk, who created one of the original songs for the game, admires his handy work.
Ray's the Dead also appeared at IndieCade in Mid October. We didn't grab any photos of that though!
Starting tomorrow, November 1st, Ray will be on display at Unite 2016. For the next three days our very own Code Master Shawn will be on hand to show off the game. If any of you attend please say hi!
ALSO, we are happy to announce that the game will be playable at PSX in Anaheim CA in December! We met several of you last year, and hope to see you there again this year!
I don't normally get personal here, but I wanted to let all of you know about some life that has been happening.
In April of 2015 my mother, Ellen Hutchison, was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer. We knew from the start that this was a battle that couldn't be won, but she fought hard nonetheless. The average life span of those diagnosed with this incurable disease is 11 months. My mother fought it off for 17 months. On October 6th, she passed away.
She was always our biggest fan and did everything she could to help support our development. She insisted on constant updates from me on how the game was progressing. She even agreed to hand make the Ray Stuffies that were part of our Kickstarter Campaign. Even though I tried to talk her out of making them, she insisted. Here is a photo of her working on the Ray Plushies while receiving chemo treatment.
I very badly wanted her to be around to see the games release, and regret that we couldn't make it happen. Despite this, I know she is still rooting for us. I miss her dearly.
I thought it appropriate to mention this in a Kickstarter Update for a few reasons. One, she was very involved in our development and I wanted those of you who were kind enough to purchase a Ray Plush to know that you now hold a very sentimental memento from the project. They are exceptionally rare and special. Hell, none of the team even have one!
Second, these are the kind of events that have a big impact on a projects development. All three of us have had a lot of LIFE take place, good and bad, during the development of Ray's the Dead. My mother passed this month, and my father also passed way from cancer about 3 years ago. In far more positive events, both Shawn and Matt welcomed their first born children into the world.
As a result, there is a heck of a lot of LIFE in the story of Ray's the Dead. Everything we have all been through over the course of development is making its way into the game in various ways, and the game is better off for it.
That's it for this update. Thanks for reading.