"I wish it was that easy"
Tēnā koutou katoa, toku Mereana ko ingoa/ Hello everybody, I’m Mereana. More commonly known as MJ both in and outside the studio. I’m the baby of BMG in terms of age, and my cat Peaches is the baby of BMG in terms of- well, being a fluffy baby.
We came as a package deal in my first year of working for BMG as I was remote, like Emily and Nina are currently. Peaches spent a lot of time distracting everybody during video calls and walking all over my keyboard. At the end of 2022, I moved halfway across the country into a house only five minutes walk away from BMG Headquarters, so sadly Peaches is no longer an active member of the development team 🙁
Now from the office, my time is mostly divided between programming, wrangling UI Assets in-engine and writing endless design documents attempting to keep track of how every system is supposed to work in Beyond These Stars. Simulation games, especially ones as concrete as Beyond These Stars, require a lot of careful consideration for the gameplay to make sense as well as be fun. Recently I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about travel and exploration in game, and how that should be affected by your relationship status with your constant companion, Kewa.
It’s always been very important to everyone at the studio that we made it clear both through narrative and gameplay that Kewa is (ideally) your friend and ally, rather than a creature or pet that the player is responsible for/has control over. This concept presented an interesting challenge when combined with the fact that Kewa is your only source of intergalactic transport in game- how do we maintain Kewa’s agency without railroading the player or making the act of exploration overly complicated or frustrating? Beyond These Stars is filled with design problems like these that can’t be solved by looking at Before We Leave, and a good chunk of my brain power goes to coming up with the solutions for them.
Ultimately, my somewhat esoteric collection of roles has ended up being what they are because I’m always thinking about you guys, the players- what you might be thinking, your goals, and how to avoid ever putting you in a position where playing our game stops feeling fun. Because that’s my priority, I’m really glad that we’ve decided to release the game in early access. I’m so excited to hear everyone’s thoughts on what we’ve come up with, even if those thoughts are “This is terrible and sucks” - although I sure hope they aren’t! I cannot wait for the opportunity to refine and overhaul the systems we’ve been building based on real feedback from people who want to love our game just as much as we do.
Writing out this dev blog has been a nice change of pace from my usual- I hope it’s been an interesting read! Kia pai tō ra/ have a great day, and I’ll catch you in the next one I write ;)