Expanding Outwards - October Kandria Update

2020.10.09 11:40:56

A new month, a new Kandria update! First of all, a new prototype version is now up for download. As always, you can get it here. A short list of major improvements:

  • Audio! There's now music and sound effects. It'll be placeholder stuff for a while, but at least the game won't be silent any longer.
  • A new level. The new level is larger, contains a proper platforming challenge, and several items to inspect to give you a bit of a preview of what the exploration will be like.
  • Mechanics changes. Climbing is now limited by stamina, and the behaviour for dashing, jumping, and general collision has been adjusted.
  • Ropes and water. Ropes allow unlimited climbing and water provides different physics.
  • Dialogue and quests. As mentioned, you can now inspect items, which will bring up a dialogue screen. This is integrated with a quest system that can track progress through tasks – there's no UI for that yet though, so you'll have to take my word for that one.
  • Feedback and diagnostics. There's now an integrated feedback system. You can hit F12 at any point and it'll pause the game and bring up a feedback form to allow you to submit a report. It'll also do that automatically if the game crashes. With F11 you can also bring up a diagnostics screen to debug performance issues.

There's more stuff that was done, but it's mostly bugfixes and improvements to the development tools and all that.

Most of the month however was not spent writing code, and instead evaluating and processing job applications. The long awaited team expansion is really finally happening, and I'm really excited for it! There'll be two new members, an artist, and a writer. I'll talk a bit about the application process and what I learned from it first, though.

Initially I thought I'd get a couple of applications at most, maybe ten per job offer. With that in mind I put up a simple page to announce the jobs asking people to email me, and linked to that on Twitter. I also asked a bunch of people from gamedev communities I'm a part of to help spread it…. and help that did. My offer tweet got over a hundred retweets, which is far more than I ever got on anything else. I know it's still not much by Twitter standards, but hell it was plenty.

I also got approached by the owner of https://remotegamejobs.com, who offered me free listings for the jobs on his site. That was a really nice gesture and I gladly accepted. This further boosted the exposure of the listing by a lot, so I'll definitely take up their service again in the future.

Applications started rolling in pretty quick after I posted on Twitter, and kept on coming in for the coming weeks. I got a total of 166 applications for both jobs. 46 of those were for the artist position, and the rest all for the writer position, which surprised me a bit. I guess writing is far more popular than I expected! The range of applications I got was also quite something. Some barely wrote anything in their emails, others wrote very in-depth personal letters that impressed me a lot. I also got a couple of applications from people that I guess only read the tweet and just DMed me instead of emailing me like I asked.

It was really interesting to see things from the position of a recruiter, rather than the more common position of being an applicant. I think I learned a lot about what to do and not to do when I have to apply for a position in the future. My most important point to take away was to take time writing the application email and really look into not only the job offer, but also the background of the company and the project, so that you can show that you understood it and are genuinely interested in being a part of the team. Looking for people that wrote personal letters and showed they looked at things already filtered out so many applicants, it was staggering.

Sorting through all of these applications, and especially figuring out how I felt about each of them took a long, long time. Way longer than I had anticipated and hoped it would. Finally deciding on who to interview, and ultimately, who to pick, also took a lot of deliberation. Still, I got two people that I'm happy with now and they're going to start soon. We've already worked out the contracts, so all that's left now is to wait for the official starting time!

The artist I can already announce, so I asked him to write a short introduction for himself:

Hey everyone! My name's Fred, a French artist residing in San Francisco. Been a lover of pixel art since I'm 10 and worked on a few projects before like Black Future 88 and Batbarian: Testament of the Primordials. I'm really excited to join the Kandria's art team and help develop this cool new universe!

You can find him on Twitter at @brobbeh, and he's now also on the official Discord. Fred will be starting on the 19th, so not much longer from now! The art he's done on BF88 and Batbarian is really slick and nice, so I'm really looking forward to what he can come up with for Kandria!

The writer will be starting on the 1st of November and has asked me to hold off on announcing him until then, so he'll have to stay a secret for now!

So, with all of this exciting stuff out of the way, let's take another look at the rough roadmap and where we stand by now. Everything on that list has been done with the exception of better combat. That's what I hope to figure out together with Fred. I'm sure his animation expertise will help a lot in making the combat more fluid and fun. Other than that, there's nothing on that roadmap that's in the way of the full production phase.

However, with that list being fairly coarse grained, I think it's worthwhile to draw up a new, more detailed roadmap for the future. This is the roadmap from now until the 1st of March 2021. That's a hard deadline, as that's the submission deadline to apply for the Pro Helvetia grant, which I want to apply for again. Getting the grant would extend my funds and ability to continue hiring my two new teammates significantly.

  • Write documentation for the existing systems to serve as introduction and reference for my new team members
  • Implement better tooling like a quest editor and an improved animation editor
  • Design better combat animations and a better combat system in general
  • Implement a couple of very simple enemy types
  • Design and write out the introduction and tutorial area of the game
  • Design and write out the base camp and first two quests
  • Flesh things out and polish them for a proper vertical slice

This should be doable until March. There's of course other, minor things to do and stuff that needs to be done for the application besides the vertical slice, but it is a good anchor point to set everything around. Currently I'm optimistic that we can get things done, but also quite anxious since I've never had a real team before, and this is now my full-time job, so there's a lot on the line. I'm worried that I'd fuck up the management and communication, or that my tools and development environment are too annoying and broken to efficiently work with. I've always been very nervous about things like that though, so I'm going to assume that's just me being overly concerned more likely than anything.

Anyway, things are moving faster and faster now, and I'm really excited to see where things are going from here. Next month we'll have the writer on the team as well, and hopefully already got some more art, animation, and prep-work done to go full steam ahead on production!

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Written by shinmera