After a longer absence I wanted to give a short update on the status of No Place For Traitors - the lack of posts is due to us not 'producing' anymore. That is, our main job is communication at the moment. The prototype is done, and I sent it to 4 different publishers, waiting for their feedback. The feedback in general was good concerning the overall quality of the graphics and the technical aspects of the game. Constructive critic was sent in concerning the gameplay and the puzzle-design, although I have to emphasize that the prototype does not depict the actual puzzle-design of the game. And this is one of the first conclusions I got from these first feedbacks:
I was surprise to note that most of the publishers saw the prototype as a finished product. I draw that conclusion by the remarks some of them made ("The dialogues are written too casual - monks wouldn't talk like that") that I hardly can accept as a reason to reject a product. Texts and puzzledesign is changed easily, we even paid attention during the development of our engine to be able to change puzzles and text without much effort. When I say 'Prototype' I mean 'prototype' - this thing needs work in a lot of aspects, but it shows what we are capable of and what a finished product could look like and it gives an insight on the storyline and the special gameplay-elements of the product. So I was a little bit confused and taken aback by some of the feedback that rejected our product because of obviously easy to be changed features.
In the end I think (and in some cases after talking again with the publisher, I knew) that the reasons for not accepting our game are different ones: For one, there was a fear of some publishers concerning another game, released in 2008 called "The Abbey", which also has the setting of a medieval monastery with a murder being the center of the story - too close to our game, they said, "and we don't want to give the press any reasons to compare". The Abbey was an adventure with a high production-value but with problems concerning the puzzle-design and (at first) technical issues.
It is really sad, that one unsuccessful game can shut down a whole setting for a genre (it seems). I still think (although more than 2 persons think different) that a medieval ghost adventure like No Place For Traitors can be successful, if there are no obvious issues, of course. But I see quite some flaws in The Abbey, in both game development and publisher work, that No Place For Traitors would not have.
The second reason I perceive as being a major problem in finding a publisher are the costs - maybe I have to give up the idea of finding a GERMAN publisher (all the ones I contacted were german) as the mayority of them have not enough money to invest. BUT, I have to say, it is quite weird sometimes with some of these publishers. On the one hand they don't want a costy production of more then 150K €, on the other hand they want a full-grown title to be sold for 35€/piece with 10-12h gameplay and idealy an experienced studio with lots of published games (which Serious Monk isn't). I will be writing about the finances in detail in another post, but so much is obvious: With a team of two and three months of development we managed to realise a prototype, that (thanks to middleware and modern tools) would have taken a bigger team a lot more time to finish some years ago. What I want to say is this: We are most effective as a team, we have a high quality standart and are not expensive in production. I thought this, in combination with the prototype, would have balanced out our lack of published titles.
Well, I don't want to sound too disappointed, actually. I have to admit that nearly all the studios by one way or the other showed that they were overall impressed by the prototype. And, one of the most promising publishers seems still interested - and seems to really accept the prototype as a work-basis for a to-be-developed-product.
Also, the engine has been done! This means, prototyping or even self-publishing an adventure game with a shorter playing-time could be done easily (well, relatively).
Now, concerning the actual prototype: I would like, but cannot publish it, not even the trailer-video as I am atm using copyrighted music. So if anyone knows about some CreativeCommons medieval music (one a capella, and the other ones ambient, instrumental music suited for background), I would be thankful if you could comment or drop me a line.
So anyway, we are still full steam heading forward, stay tuned and thanks for all the comments and emails and support so far. Take care!
Yeehaw! What you see above is the Startscreen of the finished prototype and the first frame of our introduction-animation. The last days we have been really busy polishing the demo and now are proud to announce the final version of the prototype.
This means, that we now are more than ever on the lookout for publishers, because now we can present the game with a playable demo. So at the moment the programming and the designing has come to an end and we focus on contacting publishers.
I know, that some of you (at least I hope so) would like to play the prototype - BUT (besides not wanting to reveal all the secrets about "No Place For Traitors"), as we are using layout-music that is copyrighted we are not able to publish the game to public. Furthermore, the prototype exists only in German at the moment, although our engine already supports multi-language.
So this might be a good and a bad news: The good one is, that the prototype is up and running and we managed to achieve our goal in time and in budget. The bad news is, that this prototype can only be released to a few people and not yet to public.
What sounds quite impressive in the header, is just a small statement, that the first few people playing the prototype were able to finish the puzzles in about 45 minutes without bigger troubles. BUT we are nonetheless proud and excited about it: It was the first time we could see reactions of players and they were good.
We have already changed some gameplay-elements and improved some graphics and edited texts. There are still 2 or three smaller bugs to be taken care of and I will work some more on the character-sheet of our main-character. And, of course, there is still the production of the intro-movie, which will be a 1:30 minute long animated, rendered sequence introducing the story...
And another news: Florian Ebrecht has joined the team and will be doing the sounddesign for the prototype. All in all I hope we will be sending emails to publishers with the finished prototype in about 2 or 3 weeks.
Although it might not seems so, we have been really busy working on our prototype and I am quite happy to announce that we have now scripted all of the puzzles intended for the demo - up to now only in german, but with the scripting we have completed also the animations, most of the gfx and of course all the in-game realtime-models. (The image above is the loading - screen).
So we are now adding some effects, programming some necessary shaders and will be doing some first tests concerning the puzzles (which means, having friends play the prototype and look over their shoulder to see where they get stuck). Also, the guy for the sound-design, Daniel Migge, will soon be starting to collect and create the needed sounds.
So we are on good way and I hope not before long we are able to send the prototype to some publishers. Stay tuned!