July Update: Betas, Bugs and New features
Well, I'm happy to report that we are in the home stretch now. This last month has been insane. Let me take a guess at some of your questions and post some screen shots (we will post a video this month but Sarah is swamped atm with bug fix confirmations and other stuff.)
How long have you been in beta?
We launched a soft beta about 6 weeks ago but have been officially in beta for a month.
How is beta going?
Awesome! Approximately 600 people signed up for testing. As of yesterday, we do not have any Blocker or Critical bugs currently in the game and our dev team is posting new builds at least once a week with dozens (if not hundreds) of fixes.
Have you tested all three difficulty modes?
Not yet. We started with Expert (hardest) and last week we opened up Journeyman (medium) and tonight we will open up Apprentice (easy).
Are you implementing new features as well?
Yes! One of the great things about the beta process is that we get a TON of great ideas. This is how we determine if they get in. We review each suggestion and discuss it with the team. Because we have a date that we are trying to hit, we make the following decision:
- Do it. Here we feel it's important enough to do for the game before release even tho we obviously feel there are bugs to get done as well.
- Do a subset. While we like the bigger idea, it touches too many moving parts. We identify the issues that would make the biggest impact and do a partial implementation.
- Do it later. We like the feature but it is not critical for release and we will add it after it ships and patch the game.
- Do it in the sequel. We like this feature but doing it now would be a hack and it would take too long to implement correctly.
- Shelve it. We like the idea but think it needs a lot more thought so we will think about it more.
Can you give us some examples?
Sure! Here is a small list of things that we have added...
- Retro mode is now more than just audio
- You can set Quick-Use keys (0-9) and bind them to an inventory or UI object for easy use
- More Inventory tabs to keep track of objects easier
- Tons and tons of additional sound effects
- Ability to quick-save a game
- Ability to store (or delete) as many games as you want
- More key binds
- Added another 5 steam-based and game-based achievements (50 total!)
- Rooms become lighter/darker depending on your UI torch (or room light sources)
- Interactive tutorial
I'm an NES/GBC fan. Tell me more about the retro game enhancements.
Two years ago, we contacted KEMCO, the company that took our game and ported it to the NES and GBC, to get permission to use the NES music. Last week, we decided to drop the original death screen into this build for fun. At the same time, our programmers surprised us with a few new features that made us grin. Here’s what they did:
- The options screen now has three checkboxes (Retro text, Retro music, Retro graphics). You can turn these on or off at any time.
- The text in the text box comes up one letter at a time, pulled by a moving quill - just like in the NES version.
- We've already mentioned the music- It's Hiroyuki Masuno's memorable soundtrack.
- For graphics, a special pixelated filter has been applied to the scene, rendering everything in the
room as if it is was made in 8-bit graphics. While the filter isn't currently applied to the inventory objects, it’s a ton of fun to walk thru the rooms and
watch 8 bit torches burn.
What's left on the list of things you need to do?
Well, outside of bug fixes, here is a short list:
- We are still tweaking animations
- We are still adding sfx and a few music bits
- Balancing game play (especially counters: torches, end game, curses, etc.)
Okay, the big question... when does the game ship?
Barring any unforeseen event, we will be shipping next month! We will announce the date next week after the testers have gotten a chance to beat on easy mode.
That's it for now. Some screenshots are below (although pixilated mode is a little hard to see). Again, we'll post a video when Sarah comes up for air. If you still want in on the beta and you pledged $30 or more, just go here. And, we're never to busy to answer your questions. Just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Zojoi Team