We are live at N4G’s indie month. Take a look at our trailer!
Lately we have been looking for ways to make our game a little more “juicy”. While I think juice is important for a game I don’t like when it’s too much and the game starts to feel messy. But I do like it when juice or other aesthetics effects strengthens game mechanics making it easier to understand what is going on in the game.
During one iteration we did a quick prototype where we changed the graphics in rooms cold enough for the player to regain energy. Adding some creepy shadows making the room look a little different ended up working better than expected.
Not only did it make the game visually better it also helps explain the mechanics of the game because the player doesn’t only have to relate to different shades of blue. Now they will know that a creepy room is a place where they can regain energy.
While it does require a lot more work for our graphic artists it’s still something we will do as it improves the game in several ways.
As you might have noticed we haven’t released Spooked yet! Shame on us! But we do have some good reasons for it.
The release of two games this fall
Most of our team members are also working for ASIO, developing educational games. This fall ASIO released two games: ENKI, a web-based MMO and N.E.F. Nevronus, a small game highlighting the misconceptions and myths around epileptical attacks.
The release of these games took up a lot our time and in the end we had to face reality; if we released Spooked this fall the game would be unpolished.
Terrible months to release!
October, November and Desember are months when a lot of large publishers release their games. Often, these publishers have higher marketing budgets than smaller companies such as us. Getting noticed is difficult during these months, so it would be a challenge for Spooked to get the attention we feel it deserves.
The new release will take place the first quarter in 2015.
Our campaign on Epocu is over and we have reached our main goals. We would like to share our experiences, and we hope you find it useful!
Our first step was to look at the other campaigns and how they structured their page. We noted how they tried to visually distinguish themselves from the rest of the games. We observed many colorful pictures and in-game banners. To set us apart, we drew a black and white concept art styled banner.
Then we worked on the text, trying to explain the game in the best possible way, with as little text as possible. I think this might just be our preference, but we like it straight to the point.
Make your friends support it
As a new company we don’t have any fans, nor have anyone really heard of us or even follow us. Thus we decided to aim for a low number of supporters to make sure we reached the success mark. We first and foremost attempted to achieve this by telling our friends to support us. But even then we could see that the number didn’t really increase as much as we wanted.
After posting about our Epocu campaign on our Facebook pages, our friends would like our Facebook posts, but few people would actually follow the link and do the steps in order to show their support for the game. That is a weakness with Epocu that need some work. People don’t understand how to support the game. They asked why nothing was posted on Facebook right away. Still, we did see supporters ticking in. It didn’t take long to reach the 100% mark of 25 supporters!
What is important?
You have two indicators to know how the campaign is progressing. The most important one is called the social reach number, which indicates how many you potentially reach when the campaign is over. If someone chose to support our game with a tweet when the campaign is over, the social reach number increases with the number of followers that the tweet can reach.
The other indicator is the percentage of supporters you have, but that feels more like eye candy than anything else. Spooked achieved 200% of the supporters needed. While this looks good, the social reach number is still low compared to some other games on Epocu. The number of supporters required for the campaign to be successful seems unnecessary, apart from measuring your own success. You can pick a low number, and the potential for social reach is just as high.
Although, other Norwegian companies worked very hard to get the number of supporters they set for their projects. Maybe we would work harder to achieve the same if we set a higher number ourselves.
When the campaign ends
When your campaign ends and is successful, all your supporters will have their support pushed out on the media they were choosing. They are indeed able to write their own support message, but we experienced that most people didn’t do this. Instead they went for the one we wrote:
We regret not paying more attention to the default support text, because this is what the supporter’s friends will read. It should make people want to check out Spooked! We feel our text fails at doing that.
We started this as an experiment and an exercise for the company. We are a new company, and we are trying to pursue a visual branding to be proud of. The campaign helped us in that regard. We had to do a lot of design work, we had to work on text, and we had to front ourselves in public. This campaign made us many experiences riches. That is why we think it has been a success!
You can still show us support and help us reach more people by liking us on Facebook!
We would like to thank everyone who supported us either by following us on Facebook or through Epocu. Also, a big thank you to Epocu for opening doors that were closed before this campaign!
It’s been a while since we last came with a Spooked update. We do acutally have good reasons for it. Here is our excu… I mean reasons:
- Most of the team have been working on the release of Enki, a brand new web-based learning MMO for kids. We hope that schools in Norway will see the potential of this game.
- Due to reason nr.1 the graphic artists have been busy polishing, the coder fixing the last bugs and the level designer fixing the last tweaks on the levels. This means we are a little behind on the in-game graphics for Spooked.
In this post we want to tell you about our decisions regarding the amount of levels and how we build them. It’s a bit scary showing placeholders and debug info, but we decided that we wanted to show you what happens behind the scenes. We also have some news regarding our Epocu campaign.
When you make games you often have to ask yourself some difficult questions. For us one of these was:
“How do we create many new and fun levels with the time and money we have?”
The answer was pretty clear: “We can’t!”
We know that we would end up with many underdeveloped levels and a much higher chance for bugs to slip trough. Combined with our philosophy that we don’t want to create something that we wouldn’t buy or play ourselves we decided to go for four levels. This enables us to create a polished game that we feel is worth the money people (hopefully) will pay for it.
Working with placeholders
When we create a level we start of with a lot of empty objects with differnt colors. They aren’t pretty to look at, but they allow us to work on gameplay and mechanics even if the graphic artists are busy with something else.
Here are some examples from the prototype:
We still work by the same method; get placeholders and the functionality of the game up and running. In many ways Spooked is already done, and over the next months we will tweak the gameplay, making sure the graphics have the visual standard we want, adding juice effects and so forth. Below you can see a screenshoot a recent Spooked build.
As you can see we lack graphics and we display a lot of debug text. Just as the placeholder graphics it doesn’t look pretty but it does let us develop the game without having to wait for a certain piece of graphic or animation. And it makes it a lot easier to see what goes wrong so we can report bugs.
Our goal is to remove as many bottlenecks as we can so that everyone can continue their work without having to wait for assets, sounds or animations.
The Epocu campaign
For us Epocu started out as a marketing training ground. Now we can say it’s been a huge success for us. We have reached far past our goal and are now up to 176% with a social reach of 37.293!
But it doesn’t stop there. Early in October we got contacted by a potential publisher wanting to release the game with us. We haven’t decided if we should go for it or not, but regardless it’s fun to see that people like what they see and that they think we have potential.
More updates on that later in September!