Devlog #31: Some good news, some bad news
Welcome to the thirty-first devlog!
It’s been two months since the last devlog. That’s a long time, especially considering all other devlogs were at most one week apart.
What happened? Has there been any progress? Is the project abandoned?
Of course not!
The project is alive and well, and is slowly getting more traffic and turning into a professional early access game. But I’m afraid progress will also slow down for the next 4-5 months. Why? Well, read on, read on!
Playtesting, playtesting, playtesting
In the last devlog, I mentioned I wanted to take a break during the holidays, and that I wanted to playtest more to make sure the idea was solid.
Well, I did exactly that.
My last few playtests went surprisingly well, which I am very happy with!
I could just start the game, no explanation or help needed, and people understood what happened and had loads of fun playing the 10+ levels the game currently has.
However, the game surely isn’t perfect. I encountered a few major bugs (that almost made the game unplayable), and many minor issues that detracted from the fun.
Example: one of the levels, the only way to deliver a package is by walking over narrow wooden planks. This is fun and doable with two players, but with four … you really need more space. So I’m looking at solutions like “scale the planks according to player count”. Minor things, but they can make or break a level and thus the game experience.
The past few weeks, I’ve been fixing most of these issues. Some of them will probably require a significant change in the game concept (or code), so they might take some more time.
I have decided to finish my bachelor’s degree. (Not at all because I would otherwise have quite a large student debt. Not at all.)
A few years ago, I finished roughly 90% of my degree, only to quit right before the finish line. I had serious health issues, outside of my control, and just couldn’t finish my degree at the time.
(For those of you wondering: my degree is in Applied Mathematics, but I tried to use as much of my “free space” as possible on Informatics subjects.)
But now I’m back! Since the start of February, until (probably) the end of summer, I will be busy finishing my degree.
This means I had a difficult choice to make regarding this project.
- Should I put the project on hold until I’m done? (And once I’m done, I can return to full-time development again.)
- Or should I continue working on the project, but very slowly?
I decided to go with the first one. I think the quality of the game will suffer immensely if I try to develop it in the few hours of spare time I have. I need more focus than that. I need to be more “immersed” in the project, otherwise my creativity and development joy will suffer, and it will show in the project.
Of course, fixing the issues that came up during playtesting should be doable. I’ll also make a solid plan for the future of the game during this time period. Just don’t expect big updates until summer. Sorry about that :(
Waiting for Godot?
I use the Godot Engine for this game. It’s a really nice engine, I know it well, but … it’s currently not where I want it to be.
I am trying to turn Package Party into a complete, professional game. So far, I’ve been struggling with performance every step of the way. The current version of Godot doesn’t even have basic optimizations such as occlusion culling.
But there is a solution! That solution is called “Godot 4.0”, which should release somewhere around the summer (maybe a tad bit later)!
It has almost all the features I need. So another reason for temporarily pausing development is because I’m basically … waiting for Godot. (Bad pun, I know.)
(Example: see that red FPS counter near the center of the screen? It almost always showed 30 FPS. These screenshots were taken from a playtest on a very old iMac, but even then I think such a simple game should have better performance. Once all content has been added, I don't want to be surprised and find my game just cannot run on half of the hardware.)
Additionally, I am a bit overwhelmed by everything that surrounds game development.
Developing a game is hard enough as it is, but I have ten years of experience which makes me somewhat confident I can pull it off.
But everything around it is even harder! And I don’t have experience with that!
Think about: marketing, getting the word out, how to present your game, acquiring the right licenses, et cetera
This was yet another reason to pause development on Package Party: this game deserves a much better marketing job than I’m currently doing, so I want to practice.
I intend to create a handful of extremely small and simple games, so I can focus on the marketing side of things. Hopefully, in 6 months’ time, I have learned enough to propel Package Party to success! (And if not, I at least have a larger portfolio and some more name/brand recognition.)
In fact, I’m already doing exactly that. Here are the first two games:
Into My Arms
Into My Arms: Cute cooperative puzzles about love and faith
Art Hockey: Multiplayer drawing sport. (It's essentially air hockey, but now you can only defend/attack your goal by drawing, and there are loads of weird and exciting powerups. And it's for 1-4 players.)
More are on their way, but as I said: they are really small and simple. Don't expect Package Party proportions :p
Package Party is certainly not dead! I’ve seen people have loads of fun with the current state of the game, and I intend to make it much much better!
But I have to finish my degree first, otherwise I am out of money (and out of time). So progress will essentially be paused for the next 4-5 months.
If you play the game in the meantime, you can still leave feedback and let me know what you think! I’m writing it all down, and I can fix most things easily.
Once summer is over, Package Party development should be in full swing again.
Hope to see you then,
Get Package Party
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