Get Ready for a Long One
As mentioned last month, this blog post will go over some of the major scheduling changes which Mythlink will undergo along with some brief reasoning as to why. I will also be publishing this new roadmap to the Steam page so users from the platform can stay informed.
GOOD NEWS AND NEW STUFF
Before we get into what may come across as bad news, let's talk about some good news! Over the past couple of months I have been working on getting the full fledged battle system up and running. Previously, you were able to "fight" a standalone test dummy where I could see if abilities were triggering properly and so on. Once that was done enough, it was time for the moment of truth...what all of this has been building to, a complete multiplayer battle within the arena using two Mythlinks.
There were a ton of challenges to pulling this off. I didn't want to put in some sort of AI or bot which would have ultimately been either too rudimentary or taken too much time to implement so I had to jump right into the main event- playing online. I didn't have any experience working with networked code so I had a lot to learn and there was a ton of struggle at the beginning. After a couple weeks of learning and working my way through it, I was ready to test it out.
I called up one of my few friends who own a Vive and asked them to participate in the first actual Mythlink battle. I sent him the files with some instructions, we fired up our systems and...IT WORKED! There were some minor bugs and the entire process was far from perfect but for all intents and purposes it actually worked. I couldn't believe it. Fast forward two weeks of me rounding up and eliminating all the bugs I could find, which brought us to this past Wednesday where I am happy to announce we were able to do a full battle with no bugs or real problems. I would call it the first ever Mythlink battle (which I won, of course). Again, the polish isn't there and the overall player experience is rough, but darn it we got through an entire battle from start to finish without any hiccups.
Unfortunately and partially because I didn't expect things to work as quickly and as well as they did, I don't have any videos or gifs to show off of the battle and I'm not sure how flattering watching it from the outside in would be anyway. The point is the battle system is there and I dare say it resembles something of a game. This is a huge milestone for Mythlink as a whole and now I can start making the entire process flow, tweaking things as necessary, and most importantly, making sure its actually any good or fun.
Now let's move on to the scheduling changes. I recently had the opportunity to share Mythlink with the outside world. This is the first time I've actually done anything that could be taken as advertising for the game and it came in the form of discussing the project with a handful of current video game industry professionals.
I should start off by stating that the overall presentation of the game was excellent, my points were clear, entertaining, and I believe I did justice to the project as a whole. However, when it came to the critique of the actual game itself, the professionals were not gentle. They pretty heavily questioned the overall idea of the game, the scope and viability of my one man team, and the lack of both art direction and execution. None of these came as an overwhelming surprise to me besides the game idea itself, which I stick by entirely. I am well aware that this is an ambitious project and doing a networked multiplayer VR game is a huge challenge, especially for one person. I am also painfully, painfully aware of my lack of art skills and that the game is not very "sexy" because of that.
There isn't really a ton I can do about the art at this time. I know I need to hire an artist to help me and really get this game to the next level as a game's art and style will sell far more copies than trying to rely on gameplay alone. I do, however, refute the scope and viability of the game a bit. I may be in the position of an amatuer game developer, but I believe what I've developed already has proven what can be done. Sure, networking multiplayer is difficult, but didn't I just write a bit about how I just played a successful match over the world wide web? Hasn't most of the game been developed and published already? It may LOOK like a prototype game, but functionally it's far beyond the prototype stage.
The recommendation they made was something that I have brought up before so it may be worth exploring a bit more. Much like I have mentioned doing in previous blog posts, they suggested breaking up the game into smaller pieces and releasing as standalone projects. For example, taking out just the puzzle room and publishing that as it's own game. This would mean instead of waiting to polish the entire game through the last months of development, I would break out the puzzle room, make it worthy of a price tag, then publish that. Then, repeat for the other rooms.
Now we come to the new roadmap. I think what I'm going to do is break up Mythlink into the multiple rooms, then sell them individually as they come out polished and 100% done. Then, eventually the major project will come together into a complete package. How I'm thinking of doing this is breaking
Mythlink up into 4 games:
Puzzlelink Gymlink Speedlink Mythlink
Each of these individual games will be priced to 1/4 the price of Mythlink itself. For example, let's say Mythlink will be $20. Puzzlelink, Gymlink, and Speedlink will each be $5. Then, when Mythlink itself comes out, users will get a discount based on the rooms they always own (eg. if you already own Puzzlelink, Mythlink would be $15 instead of $20). Mythlink itself will then contain all of the rooms and other "link" games, as they are all required in order to appropriately level up and battle your mythlink. The first of these games I would work on is Puzzelink.
One thing I haven't decided on yet is whether or not to invest the time in developing the final demo that I had planned to release for Mythlink. This demo would contain the battle room and users would be able to use the placeholder mythlink and either fight against the dummy or play against others online (if they are lucky enough to be playing at the same time as someone else). Users would basically get to play what I spoke about previously in this blog post. I might converse with the friend I played with and ask him if he thinks it is worth it. I am leaning towards not releasing this demo, even though it is close to completion, because users would have difficulty finding a match. If I were to release this final demo, it would be before I begin work on Puzzlelink.
Now let's get to what may be the biggest downside of this entire ordeal. I was pretty disappointed and confused after giving such an excellent presentation and being so excited about my project but being faced with nothing but negativity and doubt afterward. I don't think I worked on Mythlink for two or three weeks after that as I was pretty demoralized. I think I have decided that I am going to slow down on the project a bit, since with the new roadmap structure my deadlines are essentially all shot anyway. I was working 6 days a week for several hours a day on the project in addition to my full time job. Although I enjoyed it some of the time, a lot of it was driven off of my passion for the idea and hitting deadlines. Things have changed enough that I don't see the point in entirely killing myself anymore and instead taking more time to actually PLAY video games and do my other hobbies.
I know this is dangerous territory I am treading and many projects get to this point and are never seen or heard of again. I may regroup my thoughts and get some firm dates and such in the future, but for now it's time to take it easy. I still really, really want to get Mythlink done since I've already sunk so much time into it and I have another game idea that I've always wanted to make, but I need to make sure that when Mythlink is ready to go it is, in fact, ready to go and doesn't instantly fade into obscurity while making no impact.