New Year, New Update
Welcome back! It's 2017 and we've been up to a lot of things behind the scenes. During the past few months, we've been working diligently on both Detective Butler 2 and Witch Doctor Kaneko. Let's start with talking about Kaneko first.
In order to get both games out in a timely manner, we've been focusing on Kaneko during the latter half of each month. Mostly dealing with programming as well as sprites and tile sets. I have to say that it's been a very fun experience learning how to code a platformer in C++. In the game, Kaneko has a wide array of spells to choose from, and I've been coding each spell one by one. There are around twenty spells in total, and we've fully completed the art and coding for at least half of them. So we're nearly done on that front.
What remains to be done with Kaneko is mostly in level design and construction of each puzzle. We also need background art and music, but those can wait until we have the programming finished. So in short, we have the primary mechanics coded in -- it's just up to creating each individual level and finishing up the unique spells. I've been planning on doing individual blog posts for each spell once they are fully realized in the game.
Regarding Detective Butler 2, I've been writing one chapter each week, so that we'll have a full "first draft" of the story by the end of February. Each chapter features its own standalone mystery, but it also links together with an overarching story, so the chapters themselves do take a lot of effort to write. They are coming out at around (at minimum) 8,000 words each, meaning they are, in a sense, short stories. Also remember that there are gameplay sections, so you won't just be reading. Exploring to find the right evidence and interrogating suspects does take time, and is all a part of the experience.
Once all the writing is finished I'll go and make the environments and implement them into the game. This process should be more efficient than writing one chapter and crafting its environment before moving onto the next one. The side effect is that we'll end up doing the writing for all of the chapters before releasing the game, meaning that we could theoretically release everything all at once. However, that goes against the whole reason we made the game client in the first place, so we'll instead be doing a weekly release of each chapter once all of them are ready. It's more fun keeping people in suspense and giving them time to digest a whole 1-2 hours of mystery solving each week, rather than throwing it at them all at once. At my current pace, both the scenes and writing will probably be done by the end of May.
Now, you may have noticed I haven't been updating as often as usual. Simply put, I would rather be working on content than spending time talking about it. Right now, we need to prioritize creating the actual game. It's definitely good to spend time marketing, but it's not very useful unless you actually finish making your product. What I will do, is instead of full-fledged blog posts, I will have a link to a changelog you can view to show what exactly I've added into each respective game. That way I can type in a small sentence explaining what I've accomplished that day, and you'll know exactly what is happening without waiting for a massive blog post.
You can view one massive changelog for the entirety of 2016 here. The page is essentially my own notes that I hand-recorded during the past year, so as you might be able to tell from the cryptic wording of each point, it was not necessarily intended for outside viewing. Rest assured that anything containing spoilers has been modified or removed entirely from the list.
There has been so much I've learned during the past year while working on these two games (and while finishing up school). But the most important thing I've learned, is that I still need to do a lot of learning. So I've refrained from rambling too much about game design in posts lately, strictly sticking to project updates. Because the truth is that you can talk as much as you want about game design theory, but in the end what matters is the finished product. I don't really want to act as thought I know what the best strategy is when I'm learning new and better techniques every day. I'm still developing my own game design philosophy, and the only way for me to figure out what works and what doesn't is to make games, and to finish them.
Here's my new year's resolution: finish those games! I'm dedicating this year to Goldbar Games. Few people have the opportunities to realize their dreams, so I will give it my best, and we will succeed one way or another. I could not have asked for a better team, and my goal this year is to see through these projects to the very end. So as Gilligan once famously said in the first episode: "to the success of the company!"
I have one final announcement: we intend to release Detective Butler 2's first chapter as a free demo very soon. We want people to be able to get a taste of what the rest of the game will look like, and provide feedback we can use to make the rest of the game better as we work on it. The initial chapter has been rigorously tested and highly polished, so it will be in good enough condition to release to the public. We are also preparing for an eventual Steam Greenlight campaign, to get both episodes of Detective Butler on Steam.
Thank you for being with us, and we hope that 2017 will be a fantastic year for everyone!