Gunmetal Gaiden

This isn’t an overly long post, but it is an important one, so I feel a tl;dr is in order. And here it is:

Two games. I’m making two games. I’m making one game, and then I’m making another game at the same time. Two games. Okay.

Oh and also go vote on this survey.

“Hey Kyle,” I said to myself, “You know how you’ve been feeling like you don’t have enough time to work on Gunmetal Arcadia? I have just the thing for that. Why don’t you try making two games at once?”

Okay, so maybe that’s not exactly how it went, and it’s a bit of a stretch to say I’ll actually be working on two games in unison, but in all seriousness, I’ve found a potential solution to my Gunmetal Arcadia production problems, and it involves working on another game that isn’t Gunmetal Arcadia. No, really.

As various non-Gunmetal responsibilities have piled up and stolen away more and more of my time, I’ve been pushing back some of the critical problems that need to be solved, things like random level generation and persistent changes to the world. It’s not that I don’t have any time at all, but rather that my development time has been segmented, and I haven’t felt like I’m in a good position to address any of these tasks due to their scope. Any one of them is just too large to deal with in fits and starts. My time would be better spent working on known, quantifiable tasks, namely content creation. But content creation in the absence of some of these critical features can only get me so far. That is, assuming my goals are the same as they’ve always been.

But suppose instead of Gunmetal Arcadia, I were working on a different game, one that were set in the same universe and used the same assets and shared the same core mechanics of movement and combat, but which had a linear level structure in the style of most NES action platformers. That game would be nearly feature-complete already. With the addition of more content, it could be close to shipping before too long.

That’s the motivation behind what I’ve been calling “Gunmetal Gaiden” (actual name to be determined, see the survey near the end of this post). This would be a separate, standalone prequel game, the Ground Zeroes to Gunmetal Arcadia‘s Phantom Pain.

Probably not final artwork. :V
Probably not final artwork. :V

From a production standpoint, this is an obvious win. This content has to get made at some point anyway, and I’m in a situation where building this content now fits my schedule better than other tasks, so if I fast-track it to meet the goals of this prequel game, I can conceivably make progress on that one without significantly impacting the schedule of the roguelike game. I don’t have specific release dates for either yet, but Gunmetal Arcadia has felt like it’s trending towards a Summer 2016 launch window, and I see no reason for that to change on account of this revised process.

This “Gaiden” game will be smaller in scope than Gunmetal Arcadia. I’ve been thinking about it in terms of the original NES Castlevania or Contra; I’ll probably aim for about half a dozen handcrafted levels, and it will be priced accordingly. I’ve been wanting an opportunity to gather data on releasing a game at a lower price point, and this is a perfect low-risk scenario. This game will launch somewhere under five dollars, likely as low as two or three. I don’t yet have a release date in mind; it feels reasonable that I could finish it by the end of the year, but I’m wary of shipping a game during the holiday rush, for obvious reasons. So we’ll see.

To be clear, this isn’t an early access version of Gunmetal Arcadia, nor is it a demo. These are separate, standalone products. They are companion pieces, complementary in nature but each a complete experience in its own right.

As I mentioned above, I don’t have a name for this thing yet, but I’ve been tossing around a few ideas. If you’d like to help me pick a name, I’ve put together a short survey (one multiple-choice question) where you can vote on a title. I’ve provided a few suggestions of my own, but you’re free to write in any others.

This blog post is verging on 100% overlap with Wednesday’s upcoming video, so I guess I might as well mention a couple more things. Next Thursday, August 20, I’m going to be making a small support update to You Have to Win the Game to finally add support for 32-bit Linux (and not at the expense of 64-bit distros this time) and to add an upsell blurb for Super Win to the title screen. This will coincide with a weeklong sale on Super Win and also with the launch of my Patreon campaign, which I feel like I’ve been talking about endlessly and never actually doing.

Finally, a few words on in-dev builds. I’m not really happy with the way these have turned out, so I’m changing things up a bit. I’m going to be scaling back the frequency of in-dev builds from once a week to probably either biweekly or monthly, depending on how often I have substantial new material to show. I don’t feel like these have been serving their purpose well, as recent week-on-week deltas have been superficial at best. By publishing these on a less frequent basis, I’m hoping to make them more meaningful. Each one should represent a significant change from the previous. I’m also going to be turning these into a Patreon reward. I haven’t decided yet whether they’ll become freely available after a period of time or whether they will remain patron-only content indefinitely, but in any case, patrons will have first access to this content.

So there. Two games. Huh.