October 5, 2020

Prophecy: A Post-mortem

Prophecy is a small ambient puzzle game and prologue to the other four games within the Shattered Worlds bundle.

Prophecy: A Post-mortem

Introduction

Prophecy is a small ambient puzzle game and prologue to the other four games within the Shattered Worlds bundle.

It was made in three months outside of my day job, so it's quite an achievement getting a game released in that period.

I'm especially pleased with how it's turned out.

You can buy it from itch.io!

General Process

At the start of this, I did have a process which I'd generally stuck to, this involved having the core design done in a week or so and then having the next 7 weeks dedicated to making the game itself.

This mostly worked... For the first week, then things took longer than I'd expected to and the scope of the design document changed a few times. It was all for the better though, there were some initial design decisions which I'd changed because the feel of the game had fundamentally changed.

At the start of this, I wanted something pretty light-hearted, more of a soft ambience, something a bit more immature. But as the weeks went on and the design document got even more fleshed out along with the game, I realised that I would enjoy it more if it was darker and more ominous.

It's a style I find I'm attracted to when it comes to any kind of media, be it light novels, games, anime etc I just enjoy a darker gritty style most of the time.

What went good

Had a solid design going into making the game

This is one of the things that I'd struggled with when doing my previous games, which I feel is the reason they've come out not 100%. Before this a lot of my game design was Note down core mechanic on paper, determine if it's 3D or 2D and start hacking something together. There was no formal document with the design fleshed out or anything, it was just all cobbled together with little regard for how it should look, feel, sound and everything in between.

On Prophecy though, I dedicated a week to going through and producing a design document, getting thoughts down on, deliberating over them and working how they'd fit into the game and the wider bundle. It's during this week that the idea of having this as a precursor to the other four games came about.

Started taking a TDD approach to game dev

I'm a software developer by trade (with +5 years experience) and even though I do it most of the time in work, I'd never taken a Test Driven Development approach to my game development projects. A lot of it I feel was that I picked up some bad habits when I first started coding and though they've changed in work, they hadn't outside of it.

Not doing TDD in my previous projects was I'm sure why some of my projects came out broken for the most part, because wrapping things in tests would have caught most of the more obvious coding flaws. But I'd found going into this with a TDD mindset worked well in getting the earlier design problems ironed out and caught some places where I'd had to change how I was implementing something.

Pushed the boundaries of my comfort zone

One of the things I struggled with when it came to making games was audio, more specifically voice acting. I've always hated how my voice sounds when it comes out of my mouth, so it was a big thing for me to do the voice stuff for Prophecy.

What went bad

Felt there could have been a bit more playability to it

At various points of development, I felt something was missing from the game like there should have been another mechanic to link in with the core rotation ones. Maybe something like a second puzzle-based mechanic, currently it feels pretty samey...

The TDD approach was pretty sporadic and not as complete as I'd liked.

Even though I made use of TDD for the core mechanics when it came to things like the management systems and the outlier ones I didn't wrap them in tests. Which did cause some issues later on in development, especially with how they'd all integrated.

I'm bad at marketing

This is both with my games and myself, the marketing I did for Prophecy was more or less posting a bit to Instagram and Twitter, no emailing journalists etc. Just a bit of social media posting, which as you'd expect, does not get sales.

My plan for the next project is once it's gotten to a good point I'll start emailing people about it and build up some connections etc.

Conclusion

In conclusion, this project has gone much better than I'd expected it to. There are certainly issues mainly around my marketing or the lack of it, but overall I'm pleased with how the game has turned out and where the overarching project is going now.

I mean, it is a very pretty game!

Anyhow, feel free to support me by hopping over to the Support Me Page!