Back to work.

Michaël Samyn, August 1, 2012

My vacation is over. I want to get a second alpha release out of the door by the end of next week. Before the distraction of the Game Developers Conference in Cologne.

A lot of things have changed already. I want to hear some feedback now.

(Spoilers below!)

The mechanic for collecting phrases on the beach is different. Now it just happens automatically as phrases float in on the waves. And only after they have been collected do they appear in the sand. I liked the previous system with the phrases moving over the screen as you walk past and standing still to collect. But this appears to be completely unintuitive and subtle hints don’t suffice. So rather than ruining the experience by explaining the mechanic with hands and feet, I just removed it. It’s funny how the collection mechanic has gradually disappeared from the design.

The interface for speaking the phrases in the café has changed as well. Instead of clicking on the lines of a list with all collected phrases, the phrases are now tied to the fields of the chess board pattern on the table. So you speak the phrase that belongs to the field where you put down a chess piece. This makes the chess aspect a lot more prominent. I’m curious as to how people will respond to that.

I also want to tweak the networking system a bit and enable Apparitions and café exterior changes. Apparitions are items that appear on or next to the beach. There’s always only one. Some are small, others gigantic. Many refer to Marguerite Duras’ work and life. They are the places where you can collect chess pieces. The exterior of the café will also be different in every session. It starts small and becomes bigger in a few steps. And then it shrinks again. Here too, the buildings refer to Duras: there’s a café, a villa, a hotel, a casino and a colonial mansion.

I had originally considered finishing the visual aesthetics of the game first, so that I could spread screenshots and movies early. But after the results of the first alpha test, I’m eager to test the changes and additions. So I’m focusing on functionality for now.

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