It's been a very long time since i last worked on this project. Now that Mr Boom's Firework Factory has been released, i decided to turn my attention to other projects, namely this one that has sat languishing on my hard drive for many years now since 2015. On deciding to restart this project, I had to take stock of the situation, not only technically about how outdated the code was and how badly written it was, but also on how to build from what i'd learned with Mr Boom's Firework Factory. It's safe to say now that this previous game was a critical success, but pretty much a commercial failure - this isn't to say that this will cause any issues for me, as I was extremely careful not to "bet the house" and only spent small amounts on the development and promotion that i could afford to spare or even lose.
On the flip side this meant that the community around the game was very small, not large enough to sustain it upon release. As such I decided that a change of approach was needed, if i was to recoup anything at all from such a huge and complicated project as The Seven Spells of Destruction, which is an open world role playing game inspired by the Fighting Fantasy novels of the 80's and 90's.
The Release Approach and Timeline
I decided that in the case of this game my approach would be to somewhat open up the alpha testing. For the next two years at least, I would have open and free alpha testing, with the game freely available via itch.io, and trusted close fans who had stuck with me throughout Mr Boom and retained an interest in this project would be given steam keys.
On the subject of steam, i would set up a steam page as early as humanly possible, pay for the steam direct fee, and build a page within weeks of announcing that the game was restarting. This steam would bootstrap a much larger fan base into spending multiple years gathering wishlist entries.
After two years, in August 2021, if development goes to plan, there should be enough features in the game at this point to flip the switch and move to a full-on steam early access model at a fixed price of approximately $12. This price has been selected as the price point other competitors in the open world genre are charging - this includes indies, with equal sized open world games, and also AAA studios selling their older back-catalog, e.g. Bethesda's Skyrim.
Within five years of this release date on early access, I plan to complete the game to a condition that it can be called 'done', and make it an actual non-early-access release.
It would be nice to pick up 3D artists along the way to help with content generation, but as with Mr Boom this isn't essential to my plan or schedule. As you can see, i'm currently using a lot of off the shelf art, and can do a lot with it, but i'm sure there are improvements that can be made!
The results so far...
I announced this plan a week ago today, and in the past 7 days, i have gained 30 alpha testers (it's easy to gain testers when the game is free!) who offer feedback regularly on my discord server. I have also produced a trailer (see below) which has been used to bootstrap the itch.io page, be included into the embryonic steam page, and used on woovit. The response has so far been far more successful than the initial similar one for Mr Boom.
I've also run an ad campaign on facebook to build a following there, in the past week I have gained 500 followers on that network, who are responding well to the Seven Spells Of Destruction videos.
Speaking of videos...
With the limited content at my disposal, i have created a simple trailer to promote the alpha, and have distributed this on various discords and websites:
As always, feedback on this entire plan, and on this rudimentary trailer is more than welcome, in fact mandatory! You will leave feedback... just kidding 😀
The plan going forward
The plan now is to fix bugs. A lot of bugs had to be fixed just to get this far, let's not even get started on how much of a pain in the ass it is to upgrade a large project from Unreal Engine 4.10 to Unreal Engine 4.22.3, with a whole load of editor modules and a lot of C++, which also included an update from Visual Studio 2015 to 2017, and threw a lot of modern C++ warnings and errors.
I've had to rejig the way the whole game displays, due to tone mapping, i've had weird bugs with the camera rotating as the player walks, I've had strange bugs where the player's sword and shield grow to the size of a car. Bumper sword's got nothing on that. I should have captured a video as it was possible just to walk through enemies and slaughter them due to the size of the sword's hit box and the speed of movement of the edge.
Please do let me know what you think of this plan, and if anyone wants to offer any kind of help, well you know where to find me. For those of you who want to actually try out the alpha, you can download it on itch.io.
Thanks for reading, everyone!