"every time I look at the game it’s gotten prettier to look at and better to play"

Hello again! We’ve cycled through everyone at the company doing Dev Blogs, and so it’s come back to me, Sam, your friendly neighbourhood Creative Director.

Lots has been happening since I was last here, because with 11 of us working on the game in some capacity there’s always lots happening! Just in the last few weeks, off the top of my head:

A village scene showing the new elevator
A nice, solid elevator. At least, from a coding point of view. Not rickety at all.
  • Elevators are working! Elevators in Before We Leave were many layers of hacks and refactors and redesigns layered on top of each other in a teetering pile, so this time around we wanted to make them much more solid. That did mean though that they kept getting put off as there were other more important systems to build - so it feels great to get to the point where we can start giving some attention to things like this.
  • Just about every time I look at the game it’s gotten prettier to look at and better to play - new building models, better peep models, polishing features that used to be just “good enough for now,” and many many bugfixes.
  • We’ve decided on the graphical style and basic layout for the main game UI elements. A huge amount of design and analysis has gone into this to get something that will display as much useful information as possible without being overwhelming!
  • We’re putting systems together to allow for a much more analytical game balance. Last time the game balance was just whatever I thought made sense (then lots of tweaking with player feedback). This time we want to find a balance between a carefully structured tightly wound web of resources and buildings and a relaxing amount of slack, so having systems and processes in place to help us manage that is vital.
  • We’re putting into place the systems we will need to run our playtesting - private Alphas and Betas and the like. NDAs, feedback systems, plans for what to test and who to look for etc. Very exciting! We’ll be announcing more about this fairly soon, so keep your eyes peeled.
  • Work on the tutorial has begun! Timing when to create the tutorial is tricky - too early and the systems you’re teaching are going to change too much, too late and the game has become too locked in to change if it needs tweaking to make the tutorial feel right.
  • And we’re just finishing off planning out our next phase of development, trying to take account of all the things we need to get done in the next couple of months then estimating how long it will actually take.

Whew that’s a lot of things! But the thing is, I’m not the primary person working on any of those things. As Creative Director I help with all of them, whether giving my thoughts or helping get things done or signing things off as complete (enough, for now). On Before We Leave, everything listed above was either done by me or didn’t happen (at least until the last few months of development when Isaac and then Emily came along), so this time it’s quite a different beast!

In my heart I’m still a programmer, and some days I do miss just sitting by myself coding on the game (although I do still do that a bunch). But seeing this list of all the things that are happening because other people are working on this project with me is amazing and I wouldn’t change it for anything!