Show Me Your Demo

Flowing beer. Dimmed lights. Passionate, driven people.

This was the scene as Austin and I worked our way through the room at a recent Seattle indie dev meetup at the headquarters of the indie studio 17-Bit. We had a great time at this event meeting other local indie developers and talking to them about their experiences and struggles. One of the best things though was playing all of the demos that were set up there. We got to try out some really cool stuff from Sportsball to Galak-Z.

All this fun made us realize – we really really need to create a playable demo for AOTW. Going to this event was great, but it would be so awesome to be able to show people our game in the moment and get instant feedback. And the thing about it is, we realized we’ve already got most of the gameplay in place to make this possible. However, there is still a lot that needs to be done to make this demo look good. So, for the last couple weeks we’ve been shifting our production focus on all fronts to focus on completing a quality, playable demo as soon as possible. We debated this approach a little bit because we want to be careful about crippling our long term plan by focusing too much on cosmetic things for a near term demo. However, I think that a demo is so hugely important from a marketing perspective that this is a strategic risk worth taking.

From an artistic and design perspective, we’ve created a specific list of art assets that will be needed for the demo, and our artist has been working through those. Until now, we’ve been using placeholder art from one of Austin’s previous projects. These are fine, but we want all new art for AOTW. This push to get new art assets in place has actually helped us begin to develop a good long term art production process. It has forced Wu-Gene to refine his process for creating 2-d sprites out of 3-d models, and it has forced Austin to re-design a lot of our thinking on unit types in order to make the art creation burden less overwhelming.

On the dev front, Rich is focusing primarily on getting a HUD system in place for our demo. He’s got some really fun ideas in the works for a HUD that immerses the player in the action yet is minimalist in its impact on the player’s field of view. This focus on the HUD does take Rich away from other things. However, the HUD is something that would need to be completed somewhat independently of other processes anyway, so I don’t think this will be too much of a diversion.

From a business perspective, I’ve been focused mostly on talking about the demo and looking important at meetings. However, I do have some really substantial demo work on the horizon for myself. Once all the pieces are in place and Austin has given me a refresher course on our Construct 2 engine, I’ll be doing the design for the demo level. We think that it makes sense to have the marketing guy design the demo level since demo levels are so oriented toward getting the word out and making a good first impression on players.

So, stay tuned for a kick-ass demo. However, you don’t have to wait until then for new content. We’ve also been building out our Media and Universe pages with content from the AOTW universe including character bios, environmental concept art, and of course — tanks!

Thanks for reading.