Hey hey, after last week's impromptu post we're back with a proper devlog!
There's a lot of things to talk about this time, the most obvious being the release of the Defaction demo!
As you most likely noticed, we weren't able to keep our goal of releasing it on June 29th and had to delay the release until the 3rd of July.
As we already mentioned, the reason why we had to do this were a couple of game-breaking bugs that we discovered in the night we meant to release the game.
Aside from one, most of them were close to being edge cases but we still didn't feel comfortable releasing a game that could potentially end up in a situation where the player couldn't progress anymore.
And on the bright side, delaying the release a few days let us squeeze in some last minute playtesting which improved a few other aspects of the game further.
Just over a week after release we're close to 200 downloads and much to our relief, the response has been pretty positive so far!
So thank you all for playing the game and commenting!
Now, to talk a bit about the future development of Defaction (and BL+ in general).
Right now we plan to release Defaction in chapters and we aim to release the first of five chapters around Spring 2019. That's still more than half a year away but there are a few reasons why we can't finish it sooner.
The biggest one is that we have some other things we need to take care of first before we can fully focus on Defaction again.
We have returned to work on //TODO: today in order to finish the second half of the game within the next two months. This has been long overdue and we're excited to go back to the project to finally finish it!
After that PECTIN will be busy with another project for most of the year while eZombo will do some preparatory work for Defaction. While the story is mostly planned out, it still needs to be refined here and there in addition to a bunch of functionality that needs to be implemented for the full game as well as revisions of the current systems and mechanics to make everything more flexible.
We will then resume production the production Chapter 1 of Defaction early next year. After that, development should be a lot faster since it's mainly about producing content. After the first chapter is released we should ideally manage to finish a new chapter every 2 to 3 months.
We are also thinking about doing a crowd-funding campaign early next year so we can work full time on Defaction.
But that's all still pretty far in the future and plans often change, nonetheless this is what our current plans are!
Also, keep an eye out for a little surprise at the end of this month! As you might know, the Yaoi Jam is already well under way and we couldn't help but want to join it again... (*/ω＼*)
And now to some of the things we worked on over the last two weeks.
Dev - eZombo
The last week or so before the demo release is kind of a blur at this point so I think I'll just go into detail about the last few things I worked on... which happened to be bugs.
Debugging is kind of a double edged sword because on one hand it can feel really nice to squash a bug that's breaking your game, but on the other hand there are few things I dread more about game development than spending two hours trying to find out why something isn't working as intended only to find out it's because of some minor typo/logic mistake/oversight/etc.
Unless the code is technically working, error messages are (usually) your friend but as you can guess, the bugs that we ran into before the demo release fall into the category where there aren't even error messages because the bugs didn't cause a crash.
Instead they led to various ways the game could softlock.
There are some light spoilers ahead so if you haven't played the demo yet, you better wait to read this until you have!
In order to unlock the search for hints, Coral needs to take the faction quiz to realize that the tour isn't quite going as planned and some anonymous third party is trying to sabotage it. And the bug that initially led to the delay prevented the player from clicking on the link to the faction quiz after a certain number of messages had been posted in the messenger afterwards.
I honestly have no idea what the cause of this was and we only circumvented the softlock by forcing the player to take the quiz before deciding for a side and capping the maximum number of messages that are displayed in the messenger. My guess is that there is something about the way hyperlinks work in Ren'Py that I don't know about but at least at the time I didn't have the luxury of spending a lot of time on figuring out a "proper" solution for the problem. Eventually I'll probably have to get back to this but for now we deemed the fix good enough.
After this, there were a couple other minor bugs that led to similar results but they were less likely to happen. One bug for example, would have happened if the player checked a hint without completing the corresponding part of the quiz and going to the next hint. This would have made it impossible to completely solve the quiz and trigger the end of the game because there was no way to get back to the quiz from the earlier hint. The browser history currently doesn't work on sub-sites and originally the hint letters disappeared after Coral checked them once.
I probably wouldn't even have discovered this particular bug if I hadn't spent the last weekend before release extensively going through the game trying to make sure that everything works. And even then there is no guarantee that I actually found everything.
This is also why playtesting is really important. As you develop a game you probably play through it more often than any player ever will but because of this, you stop paying attention to certain things. You know how things are supposed to work and you also know where the rough edges of your game are, hence usually avoiding them.
I probably saw more things that weren't working as intended, watching my brother play the game for 10 minutes than I did in the hours I spent working on it earlier that day.
So having other people play the game (and watching them play) is super important to find all the things you'd miss by yourself. So even when you don't have the opportunity to have an actual QA department go over your game, just letting people uninvolved in the development play it can be super valuable.
Well, and I guess that's about everything I have to say this week!
Art - PECTIN
By the end of the Defaction demo work phase I finished background art and additional stuff that is shown atop the backgrounds like NPC characters and the black notes Remis left behind.
In a past devlog I've already written about how I made the Foyer background (the hall with the trophy cases). And I came to notice that my work-flow stayed almost the same, but for one thing. I shifted to emphasising the lighting situation at the end of my work on them.
So the background art would go like this:
1. Finding reference images and designing the background
2. Felix does the 3D blockouts with a basic lighting
3. I take the renders, and sketch over them to define details, like where to place smaller objects
4. I edit the value (darkness/brightness) of existing objects
5. I paint over everything and edit more in the process
6. Finishing touches: I add more light and details
(7. In a seperate file with copies of the backgrounds, I sketch and paint NPCs, etc., and save them as seperate images)
I think what I did was naturally simplifying the process to be quicker, I guess. :3
There's another topic I REALLY want to tell you a bit about: the general artstyle of Defaction and why it's so...colourless in comparison to our past work. //TODO: today is almost the opposite of Defaction, considering how they look. Todo is cute, Defaction not so much. Todo is all colourful, Defaction is almost completely black and white. This time with Defaction we tried to be really picky with colours. If you've played the demo you might have noticed that the entire game isn't completely black and white. There're parts that are deliberately colourful. For the fun of discovering these I don't want to tell too much about what it means in the great context of it all. The main story will pick this up nicely in the future.
But the dark and bright values of important things are all deliberate as well. I'll show ya some pictures with my designs:
Yeah, so if you're the type to enjoy looking for meanings in colour and such I really hope Defaction tickles this curiosity. :3
And that's it for this weeks devlog!✧
We really appreciate all the support we got over the time of everyone who's interested in our work! And we're just at the beginning of our journey as an indie developer team. With a crowdfunding for Defaction in sight we're a little nervous but also excited what we're going to make in the future. Especially when real-life comes knocking to ask for rent.
Thus, every nice word about Defaction and our other games, every "like", every "share", every follower we get are gestures we're sincerely grateful for. And they very much help us in the long run.
Finally, thank you for reading and thank you again for your support!
PECTIN + eZombo
The core team of BL+