Halloween End to End

September 9, 2016

I reached a significant milestone on development of the upcoming Sleuthhounds Halloween adventure game: the completion of the first end to end play through of the entire game! Now it might seem a bit worrisome that development started in March, the game is due in October, and it’s already September, but I’m actually in a really good place for completing the game.

One of the tricky things with traditional adventure games, of which the Sleuthhounds games are, is that every player interaction in them has to be lovingly crafted by hand. This means that a lot of content – coding, drawing, animating, writing, recording, et cetera – has to be done before the game is in an even remotely playable state. During development, you find yourself working on scenes and sequences in the game in relative isolation from one another. It’s only when you reach a certain “critical mass” point that all those isolated pieces stop feeling isolated and rather feel like part of a cohesive whole.

The great thing about reaching the critical mass point on the game is it’s the point at which the game in and of itself becomes fun. I enjoy the whole process of developing games, but the games themselves don’t really become fun until this point is reached. Up to the critical mass point you’re constantly running into unimplemented areas of the game when playing it. Those unimplemented areas have a tendency to pull you out of the playing experience.

This is not to say that the game in its entirety is complete. In fact, when I played through the game from beginning to end I made a list of all the outstanding issues that I spotted. This includes things like replacing placeholder artwork with finished artwork, adding background animations in to give more life to scenes, correcting and streamlining dialog, and fixing the odd bug or two. The list I generated from the first play through has one hundred eleven items on it. Most of them are straightforward and I’ve already knocked off over a third of the items from the list.

[Inside the fortune teller's tent.]
Inside the fortune teller’s tent.

Among the larger ticket items I’ve been working on this week are the tasks related to completing the final artwork for scene backgrounds. It’s always nice bringing in the final backgrounds as it really enhances that feeling I mentioned earlier about the game being a cohesive whole. Take a peek at one such scene above.

Development on the Halloween game is going really well. All the bits and pieces are coming together now. The biggest issue is that I still don’t have a proper title for it. So I’m making that my goal for next week. By the time I next blog there will be a proper title for this game.

Unless I get distracted by another fun play through.