Refocus, Reduce, Refine.

“You’ve been hired for one last job, just when you thought there was nobody left in the galaxy willing to make you an offer.”

In other words, we’re back! Not that we were gone. But, a lot has changed. And by a lot, I mean almost everything.

Before we get to the part about how much is different, I want to talk for a minute about the things that we’ve accomplished. For one, despite hectic schedules and excessive holiday eating habits, we completed an internal demo level just before the New Year!

It had its fair share of bugs, and perhaps even more worrisome was the fact that it was my first ever attempt at level design. But, it was still our first baby together and it was great to see some tangible fruits of our efforts, like the jungle base attack happening below.

Base Assault

Base Assault

Minesweeper Action

Minesweeper Action

But, despite these first hints of tank awesomeness, we all realized somewhere in our post-holiday food hazes that something was going to have to change. In a refrain that I suspect is familiar to many more experienced game developers (and anyone that has ever finished anything ever), we had to make some cuts. In fact, more than just making cuts, we had to change our whole vision.

The thing is we liked our original plan – it was pretty cool, with a ton of story depth (over 400 pages). But, at the end of the day we had to face the fact that it was just too much for us to complete on our own within a semi-reasonable time frame.

So, we were faced with a choice: A) Quit or B) Don’t Quit.

We’ve come too far not to finish something now, so we all decided, that no matter what, the choice was B. At the end of the day, we want to get a game completed. Given this decision, we decided that it’s better to have a smaller, more focused, more polished game than a buggy, sprawling labyrinth. So, what does this mean on the planning front?

It means that, in a 3 hour Doritos fueled planning session, we made dramatic cuts across the board. We cut the script length by about 85% and also cut the number of planets, factions, unit types, and dev options related to our skill tree.

And this was painful, especially for Austin, given how much time he put into that script. But it also felt good, it felt like we were distilling what we had down to a small core that is super genuine, and actually achievable. The story will be less grandiose, but it will be centered on themes to which we can really speak. Moreover, thanks to some strategic reductions, we will be able to keep or repurpose almost all of the art assets that Wu-Gene has already created.

We even managed to benefit from an accidental space out – somehow, in planning out the next year, we simply forgot about the month of May. So, discovering that May existed at our subsequent meeting was quite a nice surprise – it will be great to have some automatic flex time built into our schedule.

So, it’s been a lot of change, but we’ve refocused our vision, reduced our scope, and will be relentlessly refining everything we do keep. No matter what, the lives of indie developers and mercenary tankers will remain difficult.

Nevertheless, we are excited to keep working towards a really polished, really fun final game. Stay tuned!