DevLog #9 – Narrowing and refining scope for the better

Hello everyone!

It has been a while since last devlog and the release of our tech demo. I’ve been busy with some writing projects and I also enjoyed a nice summer break. Now that I have been working back on the game for a few weeks, it feels the perfect time to write devlogs again to share about recent progress, and there is much to say! We also show a few screenshots at the end of this post 🙂

After the tech demo release, we took some time to step back and think about the future of the game. Although we implemented many core systems in the demo, some crucial intended aspects were still missing, such as the story progression mechanics. The demo wasn’t a perfectly accurate vertical cut of the whole game, but it helped estimate the amount of work required to complete the game and one thing appeared clear: the project was slowly drifting towards scope creep. We are a very small team of passionate people and our goal is to eventually release a complete and fun gaming experience. Our current plans were too ambitious and we had to revise them to avoid endless development.

Game concept overhaul

The game we envisioned at the start, inspired by great games we like to play, had many pillars, such as bullet fighting, exploring hand-crafted environments, leveling up, puzzle solving, an engaging plot and we were even planning to add community management features at some point. With our limited resources, we chose to narrow the scope and focus on a couple of these, which led to drastically rethink the core gameplay loop.

We worked a lot to get 3D maps with a top-down 2D pixelart look (we wrote several devlogs about it). Since we are proud of the result, we want to build upon that aspect. We think combat in these maps can be challenging and interesting. That’s why we decided to retain the fast-paced action fighting and the 3D multi-heights terrain. We also keep some kind of leveling up and getting better gear. With the drop of the puzzles and the plot, we felt the game would benefit from the roguelite genre. Our process for creating levels is already partly automatic so we can extend it to have procedural generation. We thus took this direction, which leads to the following simple gameplay loop:

  • Fight and kill monsters to survive and get (more) resources.
  • Use those resources wisely to get better gear and fight (more) monsters.

This probably looks familiar to people used to games such as Enter the Gungeon, The Binding of Isaac or even FTL and many more. However, our levels are not flat. At each room, the player composes with the monsters but also the 3D map. It can help you hide from enemies or on the contrary get you trapped. We believe this spices up the fighting and gives it a unique twist. We also plan to add our own ideas about how we deal with randomness.

New pitch, new prototype

Our new game concept is much more refined and precise. We can pitch it with only one sentence as follows:

A fast-paced action shooter and resource management roguelike where you fight your way through procedurally generated multi-heights sky islands!

Not only is this clearer for the potential audience to know what the game is about, but it is also more reasonable to develop with our limited resources. We actually built a prototype these last few weeks and have all the core systems working. We are now busy adding content (mostly items, enemies and biomes) to release another demo and get more feedback from you. We are very happy with the current state of the game and we can’t wait to share it with you. Here are a few screenshots below, please tell us in the comments what you think!

The hud where the adventure will start
One procedurally generated multi-heights island. It looks quite empty for now, but we will change that in the future!
Some monster fighting
The main menu for stats and gear
The quick menu with resources counts and the map

More devlogs soon

To build our prototype, we had to make several gameplay choices to best fit our vision. We also added some new features and removed a lot of old ones. We will talk more about all this in future devlogs—and about how we generate islands. For now, thanks for reading and see you next time!