Bevontule Kickstarter Update #9: Bevontule Through the Years
Hey everyone! We’re sitting at around 50% funded with about a week left! Let’s not give up hope—this is totally within our grasp! Like us, if you’re interested in helping the game succeed and live up to be the best it can possibly be, here are a few things that would REALLY help us out!
- Obvious one, but even a pledge increase of a few dollars from every backer would put us way ahead! And you can get some pretty awesome add-ons too!
- The final 48 hour surge is incredibly important! Anyone who’s signed up to be reminded of the campaign will get an e-mail and depending on how funded we are at that point, this could literally be the make-or-break moment! We’ve put together a Thunderclap campaign—consider signing up! It’s practically effortless and will help promote the Kickstarter as loudly as possible as we get closer to the finish line!
- We’ve been fortunate enough to gain some visibility and amazingly positive responses on Youtube, Imgur and Reddit and the more people we can reach, the better! Consider spreading the word to any channels, forums or subreddits that you might be a part of! If you’re a streamer, feel free to download our demo and show it off to your followers!
- Like and comment on our Kickstarter page and updates—be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter as well!
We also wanted to give a HUGE shoutout and thanks to everyone that stopped by our Kickstarter Live stream yesterday! We were so incredibly humbled by the amount of feedback, support and positive feedback we received—the stream went on for nearly four hours and had about 40-45 concurrent viewers the entire time. Pretty awesome stuff, everyone! <3
For this update, we wanted to give a glimpse into the journey that we’ve undertaken as a small, two-man development team. This could be thought of as a "history" of Bevontule, focusing on some of the more important milestones and goals that we’ve reached throughout our almost 3-year development cycle. Without further ado!
It all started in early 2015—my partner Andy and I have had the idea for Bevontule for about 20 years or so: we met in grade school, obtained degrees in game development and eventually quit our full-time jobs in pursuit of this game.
This is literally the very first uh… ‘thing’ that was ever put into Bevontule. I’m not sure who should harbor more of the blame here: Andy for putting this together or me for thinking it was literally the greatest thing I’d ever seen. You be the judge!
So we didn’t actually take the ‘plunge’ until May of 2015—we’d both amassed enough savings to last us a year or so. ‘Six months’, we’d said—surely that’s all the time it will take to make a game, right? It’s so easy a caveman could do it™!
Our first order of business was to replace our humble little capsule with uh… this guy. We went to work immediately, wide-eyed and eager for the journey ahead! Environments, NPCs, character control—everything seemed to be coming together beautifully! Six months!? More like schmix schmonths!
We also found time to put together a little ‘cutscene’, simply to see what Unity was capable of. Little did we know at the time, but we had somehow pretty much found the very worst possible way to implement cutscenes.
Since we’re both programmers, Andy sort of became the ‘art guy.’ While he began designing areas, I jumped headfirst into programming our battle system! Briefly, our idea was to have a free-movement system unrestricted by the square grids often seen in tactical RPGs. We also wanted to implement a sort of ‘charge’ system a la Final Fantasy Tactics. I won’t lie, I pretty much thought I was invincible when this particular GIF was originally recorded. Neither of us had ever used the C# programming language, and while it was similar enough to other languages that we’d learned in college, I distinctly remember saying, and I quote: "Well, the battle system is pretty much done. C# is so easy!"
Our disparate tasks culminated in our first playable ‘area,’ the destroyed mining town of Molsha, replete with an improved battle interface, roaming enemies, hidden items and dialogue! At this point, we were controlling enemies manually as we didn’t have a proper AI at the time.
The combat UI is still ugly as sin at this point, but at least it was a nicer sin like gluttony! Also note the complete and utter lack of shadows. :|
(So I won’t lie, I messed up the date on this (and am too lazy to fix it), but this was closer to October).
This is footage from the very first playable demo we released! We’d managed to replace a few of our main characters, updated the combat UI, added rudimentary enemy AI, implemented a proper main menu interface (Equipment, Inventory and the like) and overall, increased the graphical quality!
We also exhibited Bevontule for the first time at OGDE (Ohio Game Developers Expo) and had our first taste of fame and stardom! OK, not really, but the reception was decent and so was the food!
Well, this was about six months in. As you can see, the game was clearly and completely finished by this point and 100% bug-free!
OK, so maybe our original estimate was a little ways off (about 500% off) but we were gaining valuable experience working with more of Unity’s cutscene tools—only to find that it would all be obsoleted by their Timeline component that would release in late 2017. More on that later!
Jumping forward about six months, here are a few clips from our 4th pre-alpha demo! Our 2nd demo was simply a more-involved battle demo and our 3rd demo was pretty much this, but with the old main character and a host of optimizations.
At this point, a LOT has changed! We have two brand-new areas, "The Atonian Steppe" and the village of "Cephaline"—we have a minimap, lots of new enemies, equipment, and skills. The AI is quite a bit more intelligent by this point and the battle interface has changed quite a bit as well. Remember when I said that the battle system was pretty much done? That was a lie.
Later in the year, we released our fifth demo, which saw a complete overhaul of our graphics, among other things! Gone forever were the muddy cliffsides, flat trees and yellow grass! We also attended a few more expos, and gave conference-goers the opportunity to try out this demo. And hey, wouldn’t you know it, nothing caught on fire!
At the beginning of 2017, we overhauled our graphics once again, opting to replace the cliffsides with actual rocks. This had a few benefits: performance-wise, rocks were way less expensive to render. It also helped to more clearly delineate where the player could and could not go, addressing a common point of feedback. Note the ‘sliding’ movement of our main character here—we’ll fix that in the next GIF…
…just kidding! We tried to fix it by moving towards a physics-based movement system and then this happened.
The good news: it gave us a really nice view of the terrain and helped to vindicate our decision to optimize our graphics. The bad news? Dude broke every bone in his body.
With the upcoming news that Valve was about to pull the plug on their vote-based submission process, Steam Greenlight, we began scrambling to put together a Greenlight page for Bevontule.
Not gonna lie, we took this super seriously at the time. It’s somewhat funny in retrospect, considering that they replaced it with a system wherein a developer only needed to pay $100 in order to submit their game to the Steam platform—no voting necessary. Either way, it was an interesting experience and provided plenty of valuable knowledge in terms of video-editing!
Over the Summer, we took another pass at the graphics and our minimap system. It was refreshing to get back to actual development—note also that the main character doesn’t slide anymore when he walks! Told you we’d fix it!
Around the same time, we decided to update our main menu and combat interfaces. We also implemented a proper "Skills" menu—while we had a fairly fleshed-out Skills system, it was finally time to give the player a way to unlock/learn/equip the many active and passive skills available to the characters.
Yeah, I really don’t know what the hell this was about. If anyone knows, feel free to drop me a message! (only half-kidding)
After over two years, we FINALLY replaced all of the placeholder models for our three main characters! If I had to choose a moment at which everything started to ‘click’ in a way that it previously had not, then this was it.
Up until this point, we were literally using a Unity demo character for Apolith (the big guy with the sword.) Yeahhhh.
That’s all for this update! If you missed the previous stream, or simply want more, remember that we are planning to stream again on Twitch this coming Monday, February 26th, at 8:00 PM EST. Hope to see you there!
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