Pre-Release To-Do List

We have two great announcements. Firstly, if you haven't noticed, we updated the look of the website a few days ago. Secondly, the prototype for Detective Butler 2 is now officially bug-free! Let's go into some details about what remains to be added in.

  1. In-game download counter. With this, we'll be able to keep track of how often each time a chapter has been played. Mostly just useful for us, but this can get quite tricky to code if you don't know what you're doing.

  2. Chapter thumbnails. Each chapter will have an icon you can see just before playing it, which depicts a scene from the chapter. We still need to go through and pick some good thumbnails for the first few chapters, and implement reading them into the game from the server.

  3. Evidence room. Throughout each chapter you'll be able to search the area and collect evidence. In the Evidence Room, accessible from the main menu, you can view every single piece of evidence you've found so far, across all chapters. You'll even be able to find out which pieces of evidence you might have missed and can go back to find on a second playthrough!

  4. We need to add lots of sound effects to the game. I prefer saving this part for near the end of development, because we can never be sure how many we'll need or where they will go until all the features are finalized. So it's a bit of a waste of time to worry about that until you know exactly what you will need. Now we do.

  5. Similarly, I need to go through the first few chapters and make sure the character expressions are exactly what I want them to be. Early on it didn't matter so much because we were just testing functionality, and we knew that the facial expression changer worked as intended. Now that everything else is working properly we can go back and add the finer details.

  6. Again, I'll need to go back and make sure the tutorial sections are up to par. It's hard to remember because we've changed so much, but even a "decent" tutorial section could be upgraded to "really good" with just a second or third iteration of fine-tuning. The main thing, of course, is to make sure the tutorials make sense with the finalized gameplay mechanics.

  7. Like with the sound effects, I need to go and make sure the music plays correctly during the debate sections, which features a unique kind of musical system, where the intensity of the song changes depending on the flow of the debate. I decided to save this until we knew exactly how the debates were going to flow, and now we do.

  8. We'll need to draw a GUI background for the options screen, which again, I had no idea how many options we might have, so I saved that until the very end. It probably won't be anything too sophisticated, but something that looks nice and keeps all the options organized.

That's all that's left, aside from writing each chapter and making the trailer. In regards to the trailer, my process is first getting all the voice-over lines (done!) and then recording the gameplay and finally editing the clips together. Because I've had to construct the scenes for a few of the later chapters, the gameplay recording part has been kind of slow, and a few game-breaking bugs that were introduced didn't help.

There are a few features which I'm going to have to cut, due to time constraints and cost constraints. We don't really have the means to do these, but maybe at some point in the future we could implement them:

  1. Blinking sprites. Initially we had these, but it's just too much work to draw them for every possible sprite, and make them look good. So we're just not going to have them.

  2. More types of transitions. We might be able to create some neat effects as time goes on, but for right now it's pretty minimalistic with a simple fade in/out.

  3. A levelling or stat system. I know, every RPG-style game wants to have these, but we had a few ideas on how this stuff could work out for a detective game. The idea was that your interactions during invesigations could influence your stats during the debate, but the debate system was really streamlined so that stats didn't matter so much. Maybe next time.

  4. Quick-time events during battle. There are many ways in which we could complicate the debate system, but we're keeping it simple for now just to see the different ways in which we can make mysteries to go along with it. Maybe in the future we'll add more unique mechanics when we have a better grasp of how to utilize the system we've made.

  5. Various levels of difficulty. I mentioned this before, but we're probably going to have to go back and add the levels later on. It's hard enough coming up with one level of mystery, but to factor in the difficulty system is even harder. Also, we could factor the difficulty into the battle mechanics, and whether or not we eventually have a more complicated stat system could determine how exactly we would change the difficulty.

Keep in mind, this is still sort of an "early access" release, which means you get to see the game as soon as each chapter becomes available. We'll be able to implement more functionality for the re-release and clean up any more mistakes we find along the way, which hopefully our fanbase will be able to point out.

I have also been spending some time lately planning our next steps, reading up on various marketing strategies, legal requirements, and the like in prepration for the many things to come.