State of Design

A regular, brief update on development that unlike other updates covers specifically (and occasionally, exclusively) about changes in overarching planning such as design direction, monetization, and major road-map changes following lessons learned, new considerations, and course corrections.

Backtracking Bridges Yet To Be Mapped

I’m writing this post as an announcement to not just the team but also for future reference.

When I began conceiving the concept that would become this game, right before Skull Jockey was a thing, I in my ambitious creativity envisioned creating an at-length public demo which would be released in narrative-progressing sections that would help generate interest and crowd-sourced financial backing for the main title itself. As of writing this, the IndieDB pages still features proposals that all say something to the effect of this: “Residual Blood will be a demo released in sections that will give players an idea of the gameplay and the narrative to be expected in the main title. The main title will take place in a different specific setting (different world same universe) but will have not just the gameplay of Residual Blood but also have a narrative connected not directly but circumstantially, contextually, and thematically.”

Recently, at the recommendation of a newly recruited team member and our art team lead, I watched 30 Things I Hate About Your Game Pitch. I watched the video and while doing so considered recent and past bumps the team and I have encountered along the way. There have been a few issues recently (which I won’t mention at the moment) that had me leaping back to the drawing board regarding my ambitions for the project.

As a consequence of the considerations and reflections from watching that video, I have decided that Residual Blood will be the main title for Skull Jockey’s debut game. The “episodic” public demo will not be the condensed experience and story of R. Blood, but will begin with R. Blood’s prologue and end just as the game’s story starts picking up the pace–a more traditional, familiar type of demo rather than a direction too new and risky for a feature that isn’t too common or prominent in an indie market over-saturated with Early Access titles on Steam. [I write this well aware of the possibility that when brought to Steam, Residual Blood may have to be listed as Early Access given the nature of its demo.]

No longer will it be the standalone demo for a much larger, more ambitious game, but a game that the team and myself will concentrate on to ensure it is the best experience we can provide. What would have been the “main title” will be pushed to a “sequel if there is a sequel” status in consideration for a few main reasons. These main reasons are what is feasible in terms of resources now and later, providing the best player experience by giving R. Blood the development love and care it deserves, and most importantly not scaring away publishers and critical voices in the public with an excessively ambitious project that is more than a team can realistically chew. I’d rather we not end up in a Star-Citizen-esque situation where not just feature-creep but overwhelming scope results in an excess of money being invested in what ultimately ends up as vaporware, a sub-par player experience that does not match the money invested, or something that is completed way after what would’ve been a reasonable release window.

I’ll discuss this change in direction with the team at the team’s next meeting. The plans for the former main title, meanwhile, will not be erased but pushed to being sequel material.

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