These last few months have been pretty intense for SMYS, we started the year with a graphics update for the game while preparing the february’s Steam Next Fest, then using all the feedback we received we had to prepare the game for Early Access, it’s been a wild ride to say the least !
Graphics Update -
There have been multiple graphics updates for the game since the start of its development, and I think we’re now pretty close to our final look. We left the vector style we were sticking to for a more hand-drawn organic style with outlines.
Preparing for the festival -
This graphics update was not planned as we were already preparing for the Steam Next Fest, and the demo trailer was already done, which led to the Steam page having different graphics in the trailer and on the screenshots. This difference already being misleading we decided to go for description headers featuring elements that were not even yet in the game : Yumyums. Those are a big part of SMYS’ lore that is not yet public as we’re focusing on gameplay first, but anyway the Steam page was kinda weird entering the festival, which fortunately no one noticed.
Hours of testing and feedback from the demo kept us busy to the very last minute before the festival and we did not have enough time to fix everything before it started. Minor issues were encountered by players during the festival so I think we did a decent job.
I also set up a dedicated page for the game so everything about it was regrouped in one place, you can check it out here.
Steam Next Fest - February 2023 -
Let’s get the numbers out right of the gate : SMYS started the festival with around 250 wishlists, and ended with close to 1100 wishlists. Considering the difficulty it is to market a game without online multiplayer I think it’s a great result.
The main feedback we got from the festival was not having enough tutorials and not being able to understand how to play right away, even though I added short tutorials before each picking phase and a panel with all the controls before the festival. The thing is the quick tutorials were easily skippable and the controls panel was only available in the pause menu. I even saw people playing without ever using a bonus or not rotating a bloc for 20+ minutes which told us right away there was an issue.
The overall readability was clearly bad and as developers having already played hundreds of hours we miserably failed to understand how hard it was to jump into the game as a first time player. We did test the game with first time players before the festival, but as we were doing stuff they could see things were possible and they did not really have to understand them by themselves, they could ask while playing.
So on the second day of the festival a new race began : making a dedicated tutorials panel for a mid-festival update and improve readability as much as possible. It was hard, but I made it in time, unfortunately most players we got during the festival were from the first 3 days, which prevented the game to get enough feedback with the new panel available to know how big of a difference it made.
Festival Feedback -
Apart from the tutorials and readability, we were pleasantly surprised with the feedback we received. Every suggestion we received was on point and made it to our to-do-list or has been added to the game already. It really helped us getting the game more stable and easy to pick up.
SMYS releasing in Early Access -
We decided to release SMYS in Early Access after the festival because we realized how hard it was to balance the game with so many different players trying it. We can’t go blind and balance the game without proper feedback from the community as we are adding new content.
The game is planned to release in Early Access on May 3rd with :
- Building Phases : Meadawn and Jungle Night
- Picking Phases : Canons, Trampolines and Thorn Fields
- Game Modes : Local Multiplayer and Time Attack
- Bonuses : Bomb, Upside Down, Rotation Locker and Weight Overload
Here is the roadmap for Early Access as we advance towards 1.0 release :
As you can see Online Multiplayer is at the very end of the list, BUT, as we noticed a lot of players asking for it, I already started working on it and it might actually make it to the game faster than planned. If you have a decent internet connection Steam Remote is available for the game right now.
The game will launch with a 9.99$ price tag and the price will increase when exiting Early Access. It is really important to us that early supporters get a price reduction as it is what allows us to work on the game without having to spend time on other projects to get fundings. To be clear, whatever the fundings we receive from Early Access sales the game will make it to 1.0, the only difference is the time it will take.
Since the last devlog, 3 new assets were published on the Unity Assetstore : Voxel Meadow, Voxel Mountain Forest, and Voxel Desert. These 3 assets will be part of a bundle that is currently sitting in the review queue of the store and that I hope to release late May / early June.
Voxel Meadow released on December 16th 2022, it is the first pack meant to replace Voxel Nature.
Voxel Mountain Forest released on February 18th 2023, it is the second pack meant to replace Voxel Nature.
Voxel Desert released on April 7th 2023, a desert environment pack with cactuses, rocks and dead trees.