Project Grove: Chapter I starts this month. We've recently signed up to a software called Monday to organise the crap out of stuff and project plan up to release date, planning included how we were going to reshape funding plans according to our June revelations. We calculated that we could get Chapter I released within 9 months, as the core architecture was already built.
So then we devised a list of major non-negotiables which we needed to address in order to make Project Grove a commercial success:
• L-P1N controls and movement: it’s too long-winded, complicated, and fiddly for players to grasp
- We need to make controlling L-P1N feel fun
- The controls must empower the players
• Narrative must be completed
- Script feels off and requires work
• Marketing strategy
- Our lack of presence and marketing is a weak point which we must address
- This is important, particularly if we conduct a kickstarter.
So, the first thing we focused on was point 1. L-P1N’s movement. We decided that for our core mechanic, there was still too many steps to take in order to complete it. We dramatically changed how the player controls L-P1N. Now there’s no manual push/pull placement, instead the player just directs L-P1N where to go with one click. To do this, we created L-P1N ‘hotspots’, which will not only help prevent players feeling lost, but also serve the purpose of clean and quick play.
It’s hard to describe the difference, but it just feels good. It fits.
After this was completed, we started designing and building the start to Zone 1 - which essentially is the whole of Chapter I. Man this felt good. We are all sick of demos. Tom, our lead designer, drew a couple of top down level maps which had some isometric drawings for certain sections. After this, the grey-boxed the crap out of it and gave it to harry to do more magic with.
Coming into late July, he started to build out the terrain and do some set-dressing. It’s looking good guys, it’s looking reaaaaaal good.
Funding wise, we sunk our teeth into a proposal for Greenshoots, which is a Creative England (government funding) and Microsoft Funding scheme for SME’s (to you laymen out there that means Small-Medium Enterprises), yes, we learnt that term this year. They require 1:1 match funding, meaning whatever we request we must offer the same costs back. This was tricky for us; we’ve been bootstrapping all this time. We made it though, by the skin of our teeth, and got some investment to match our proposal.
The application was long, but it was super useful to do. We’re apprehensive about progressing to the next stage of Greenshoots, the funding scheme seems to cater for games companies who have already established themselves in the industry - rather than for ‘start-ups’ like ours. That’s the common thing we’re finding, every god-damn funder wants you to have already created and shipped something with commercial success. We get that, we understand the logic. It still stings though - because we have so much to give, so much to shout about and we’re just ready to start developing this bad boy to production.
I think that’s one thing our government is missing, there’s no large funds available for new companies in the gaming industry (according to our indie dev friends, we should take a leaf out of Canda’s book). Producing games isn’t like an industry where you can just buy produce and ship it the next day. You have to invest in time, people and resources to ship our product. It’s a bloody hard sell.
Anyway, let’s move on.
Note to self: Do not start a funding rant on the company blog