It's been an exciting month at Fancy Fish Games. First Deity Quest got greenlit and successfully released on Steam three days ago, and now I Can't Escape: Darknesss is greenlit - thank you to all our fans who believed in us and voted on our games! Additionally, while I won't be able to do a full release this month like I had originally planned, all of the core features of ICED are done and, aside from some last minute tweaks and testing, I'm ready for ICED's first alpha test! The alpha test will be by sign up (feel free to e-mail me or comment here if you are interested).
- New event areas/rooms.
Since a large part of ICED is exploration, I wanted there to be more interesting areas to find. The added areas are not necessary to "escape," but they are still interesting and some provide safe zones from the darkness.
- Improved Generator
ICED is procedurally generated, which means that every time you start a new game, the layout changes. While this makes the game creepy (you never know exactly what to expect) and adds to replayability, it also means that if the generation algorithm isn't very smart, the pacing of the map will be off and the game might feel like random exploration instead of interesting exploration (this was one of the lessons I learned from Deity Quest). The balance between being lost and confused and stumbling upon interesting clues and items is a fine one, and so the generator has to be as finely tuned to make sure it plays smoothly. The old generator was sometimes adding long "empty" corridors between interesting event areas, causing the pacing to be off. I re-wrote the room placement algorithm of the generation code to pack things in better, and now there are only long corridors where we want them!
While each playthrough isn't particularly long, it's long enough that people may want to save and quit, then return to the game later. I recently added a save/load feature (which turned out to be more complex than I expected because of all the concurrent events/animation/state that needed to be saved). However, like in many rouge-likes, loading the save will delete it, so you won't be able to load an old save when you die *evil laugh*. I am considering adding an "easy" mode where you can save/load at any time and perhaps adding a map that shows areas you've already explored, but the "true" experience will certainly not have that :P.
At this point, the game is close to what I like to call "feature-complete," that amazing moment where the game appears to be "almost done" (but it's typically more of a half-way point). My plan for the rest of this month is to add some rudimentary menus/options for the alpha testers (along with some other testing and tweaks), and then send out the alpha copies. Again, if you're interested in helping test the game, we could still use some more testers, so feel free to contact me. The alpha test will be for Windows/English only, and the goal of it is to get crucial feedback and test the all important "pacing" of the game.
After the alpha test, I'll be tweaking and polishing the game based on feedback from the alpha (as well as adding some other minor features like controller support). I'll also be translating the game into other languages (this will be pretty easy as it doesn't have much text) and compiling it for Mac/Linux. The length of this phase depends on the feedback from the alpha, but I assume it will take a month or two. After that, it'll be on to the BETA test, one more round of polishing, and we should have plenty of time for a full release before Halloween this year!
Thanks again for all the support, and look forward to a gameplay trailer in the not-so-distant future!