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Hello everyone!

It’s been awhile since our last update, but I think we have something worth the wait.


A long time coming

If the picture doesn’t say it all, I will. Today, we launched the Luckless Seven Steam store page. Most PC gamers will be familiar with Steam, the largest digital game distributor there is. If you aren’t, well, that’s what it is! For many players, myself included, it is the place to buy and download games. I hope it goes without saying that our launch on Steam is a day that everyone on the team has looked forward to for a long time.



Launching on Steam means reaching a much larger audience than we’ve met before, and we wanted to make a good impression on the community of players that will join us for the next stages of development. So, for the past couple of months, we’ve been devoted to creating and improving promotional materials: the trailer, captioned screenshots, game descriptions, and more. Of utmost importance was refining our existing demo.


Screenshot featured prominently on our Steam store page

When working on the demo, we continued to emphasize teaching Ekosi. It’s at the core of Luckless Seven’s gameplay, and a proper education in it is essential to us. To that end, we’ve created a branching path in the AI Ekosi Tutorial. For players that elect it, the tutorial now provides more information than ever. For experienced players and those who prefer to learn by doing, we’ve added an option to disable the tutorial entirely.

Our handsome Ekosi instructor will now hold your hand through the basics of Ekosi--if you choose, of course.
Of course, there are other changes. Taking screenshots and re-recording gameplay for the trailer inspired us to revisit our graphics and make improvements to Luckless Seven’s visual world by recoloring objects, creating new ones, adjusting saturation, contrast, lighting, etc.  Additionally, we’ve made changes to correct a few problems with pathfinding. Finally, a few permanent changes to the Ekosi interface have made it more intuitive than ever before.

The Casino interior looks better now! But it's not the only location to receive some extra attention.
Ekosi battle board featuring Status text, new Replenishment Card icons, and Stacked Field coloring
You’ll be able to find all of these changes and more by downloading the current version of the game (0.664) directly from Steam. We’ll be hosting stable versions of the game on Steam, but newer versions will be downloadable at IndieDB as always.
If you have any thoughts to share about the current and new versions of the Luckless Seven demo, we encourage you to share them at our new Steam Forum. The Forum will provide a fantastic space to discuss your experiences with the game, any bugs you encounter, and your suggestions for the team.
We’re super excited about the launch on Steam, and we couldn’t have gotten this far without the generous support of our Kickstarter backers. Thank you! We look forward to continuing work on the game, and we’ll see you on Steam!

Until next time!
Tyler


Hello everyone!

I’m writing today to provide an update on our progress with Luckless Seven. This time, the theme is approaching new frontiers. As Mark and the gang set off to participate in Arithia’s Ekosi tournament, he’ll be departing his hometown of Patrida for the first time. For our team, that means getting out of our comfort zone and designing new, non-urban environments. For Mark, that means getting out of his comfort zone to meet new people from all walks of life.

If you’ve played through the demos so far, you know that our level design so far has established the urban/suburban (and largely interior) surroundings of Mark’s hometown: his home, Krista’s home, the hospital, casino, etc. As they set off for Neropolis, though, the Luckless Seven will be traversing Arithia’s grasslands.

Routes between cities showcase big changes in scenery.
Routes between cities showcase big changes in scenery

This environment is different in a lot of ways, starting with size. The trail that Mark and the gang will traverse on Day 4 and Day 5 is a much larger level than any we’ve designed yet. That poses a visual challenge. With so much space, how do you maintain visual interest? Grass is great--no, we really like our grass--but you need more than that. Jesse has done a great job thus far in populating the level with natural and manmade formations: large rocks, waving trees, bridges, and rest areas. The level looks great. 

Outdoor environments and wider spaces are the environmental focus of game's next chapter.
Outdoor environments and wider spaces are the environmental focus of game's next chapter.
Still, other challenges lie ahead, including directing player attention. How do you direct the player to the places and people we want them to interact with? It’s a challenge we’ll have to meet before releasing the demo for testing.

Just because you're out on the road doesn't mean you won't find some opponents to battle!
Just because you're out on the road doesn't mean you won't find some opponents to battle!
On a narrative level, Mark is getting into new territory of his own. Having spent all of his life at home in Patrida, Mark’s travels to Neropolis will be a real adventure. On the trail, Mark will meet people who are different from him and his friends, characters of all ages, backgrounds, and dispositions towards Ekosi. In a story that will center on Mark’s open-ended coming of age, a diverse set of characters and opinions is important. It will help the player decide who Mark is and who he should be in relation to his favorite pastime and the world at large.

Some of your toughest opponents may be found out in the wilderness.
Some of your toughest opponents may be found out in the wilderness.
To that end, we’ve laid plans for some of the diverse characters who will populate the trail: older characters who only know Ekosi as parents or complete outsiders, Mark’s peers who will compete in the tournament, and youngsters who have only just encountered the game. We’re excited for these dialogues that will flesh out the player’s understanding of the social world of Arithia.

Veteran Ekosi players may provide unique challenges and rewards for Mark.
Veteran Ekosi players may provide unique challenges and rewards for Mark.
As we face new frontiers in design and storytelling, it’s important for you to let us know what you think! The feedback provided by our generous backers and playtesters is what guides us on the path ahead.

Until next time!

Tyler


Hello everyone!

We've said it before, and we say it again today: Day 1 of Luckless Seven is finished. I’m writing today to provide a recap of what we’ve been working towards, our accomplishments, and what’s next in the development of the game! 

So, what do we mean when we say that Day 1 is done? If you’ve been following our progress over the last months, you’re largely privy to the changes taking place to Luckless Seven’s opening sequence, the Ekosi tutorials, the writing, the start menu, and more. If you haven’t been tuned in, however, you’ve come back at a great time. Here’s what we’ve been up to. 
Opening sequence. Feedback from our own playtesting and last year’s Ohio Game Developer Expo (OGDE) suggested that we work on the very opening of the game. Some players felt confused about Mark, who he is, and what his goals are. Upon review, we agreed that the story’s introduction may have been too cryptic, so establishing more narrative context in the opening scene became an important mission for us. 
So, one of the desires shared by players was to gain more narrative context early in the game. Another group of players, however, expressed interest in experiencing Ekosi as quickly as possible. We saw the merit in both ideas, so we decided to launch the game with a battle that would communicate quickly and strongly who Mark was. But who would this first match be against? We didn’t want to overhaul the story and quest design that we were largely pleased with, so that meant finding an Ekosi opponent for Mark that was in his apartment. While Mark’s father and the Ekosi tutorial instructor were compelling options, we wanted something more exciting. 
We decided on a dream sequence, and the doors of opportunity swung open. As the game’s writer, I was eager to seize a great opportunity to investigate Mark’s unconscious feelings about his friends and family. How does Mark interpret his relationship with his parents? Who are his friends? What are his insecurities? And what better nightmare companion to embody Mark’s worries than this supernatural beast?

Has the supernatural invaded the world of Luckless Seven?

Teaching Ekosi. OGDE taught us a lot about the game and where we had to go with it, but the primary feedback we received was about Ekosi and our tutorials. In the expo setting, we found a wide sampling of video game players with different ages, backgrounds, and preferences. Feedback about Ekosi was diverse, but largely fell into two categories: some players felt lost and needed more information, while others felt burdened with text and handholding. 
Solving the binary conundrum stumped us for a while. How do you take care of two player groups on seemingly opposite sides of the spectrum? Ultimately, the Werewolf/Nightmare battle led the way to an answer. While we wanted the player to be thrust into the turn-based action immediately, we had to concede that the player needs some information before asking them to make decisions in Ekosi. To offer the absolute minimal information necessary in the least visually obstructive manner, we identified tooltips (written in Mark’s dream state) as a great solution. 
When we finished writing those, we thought, “Hey, these are pretty handy,” and we created a coherent set of tooltips for early gameplay. For those who didn’t need the tooltips, we made them toggleable. For those who needed more information, we drafted an Ekosi guide complete with basic rules and strategic advice.
Much of the original tutorial information has also been distilled into small tooltips that you can refer to during battle.

Writing. Ahh, writing: my subject. I’ll try to be brief! A year ago, we had virtually no story for Day 1. Then we made it, and we were happy with it. And then we stared at it for a year as we worked on the next two “days” of gameplay. No matter how much you like something, if you spend too much time with it, you start to see its flaws. While this can be a difficult lesson for friends that become roommates, it was a very important experience for us as we work to cultivate an interesting story. 
Looking back on the plot of Day 1, I found it hard to answer a lot of important questions about my writing. Why should we care about Mark? How does Mark feel about his family? If Mark is unhappy, why? My inability to answer was the result of multiple problems, but perhaps none greater than shallow characterization. 
And so resolving that problem has been my emphasis for the last months. In the new demo of the game, you’ll find a more passionate Mark burdened by a harshly critical mother. You’ll find a father looking to live vicariously through his son. You’ll find the seeds of sibling conflict and friendship jealousy. All of Luckless Seven’s story can’t be told on Day 1, but we’re glad we’ve made the effort to launch the game with more interesting characters and conflicts. 
Wisdom or vanity?

Start Menu. When I came onboard the project last year, our start menu’s camera held a distant shot of Mark standing alone outside. Since that time, however, the characters have grown in depth a lot. Rather than just being Mark’s coming of age story, we wanted to emphasize the importance of every Luckless Seven character, even in the start menu. So we did! The new menu shows all of the seven main characters, their personalities, and their relationships. We also think it’s just plain prettier.
A world of card games and adventure awaits!

Little Things. Finally, it wouldn’t be a blogpost without mentioning the little things that our team has been laboring away on to refine and perfect the user experience in Luckless Seven. Among them are the recent inclusion of new “talking” portraits which have immensely improved visual diversity during dialogue, a new fade-in effect that’s been applied to the Ekosi interface, and other quality-of-life improvements like zoom and autorun features. These changes may be small, but we think the constant little improvements add up to create a massively improved player experience.
It's only a dream... or is it?
With our latest alpha build, we've added many new portrait expressions for the main characters.

Needless to say, it’s been a productive time at Deckpoint Studio! But to what end? I’m sure it’s obvious, but all of these changes have been in service of polishing the game’s opening. We think we have a great game and story to share, and we think that the changes to Day 1 have brought it to match the quality of writing and design for Days 2 and 3. We’re extremely happy about what we’ve accomplished during this period in development, and we’re looking forward to beginning a new one as we turn our attention to Day 4 and beyond. Up next are new locations, characters, and quests in the Luckless Seven adventure. 
If you haven’t played in a while, give the new demo a download and let us know what you think. You can download Demo 0.660 at our IndieDB page.
The improvements we’ve been working on are a direct result of comments and suggestions from backers and generous playtesters like you. Your contribution is more than just welcome: it’s an essential part of development! 
As always, keep an eye on our IndieDB page for updated demos, as we’ll only be announcing major releases in our Kickstarter/blog posts. 
Until next time! 
Tyler

Hello everyone!

Today, I’m writing to share the news about changes we’re making to the beginning of Luckless Seven’s story and improvements to how we teach Ekosi.

If you’ve played any of the demos since the beginning of our Kickstarter campaign, you’ll know that Luckless Seven’s story mode sets in on our hero, Mark, sleeping well into the afternoon. Upon receiving a phone call from his old friend Krista, Mark wakes up and attends to his everyday life: a mandatory family outing and a work obligation.
Even Mark can't resist a few Ekosi matches.
Even Mark can't resist a few Ekosi matches.
Over the course of the Day 1, we become familiar with Mark and the friends and family that define his social life. We see Mark’s frustration with the obligations of his daily life. We see his rusty, somewhat uncomfortable relationships with old friends. We see a potentially contentious relationship between Mark and his parents. The scenes from Day 1 sow the seeds of character development for Mark and the whole cast of characters over the course of the game.
The library scene has gone through several different designs, but it's purpose was always to serve as an introduction to some of the main characters.
The library scene has gone through several different designs, but it's purpose was always to serve as an introduction to some of the main characters.
I think there’s a lot to be said for patience when it comes to character development, but after writing the opening of the game, I was eager for something catchier. I wanted something that could provide a snapshot of Mark and his relationships in the first ten minutes of gameplay. And we wanted it to be fun. To meet this ambitious goal, we went back to the drawing board.

We considered several options, but we ultimately arrived at the idea of a dream sequence. While it would only necessitate minor narrative changes, such a scene had the potential to give insight into Mark’s subconscious feelings about the people in his life. And unlike some of the other ideas we bounced around, it could really be fun.

So, I got to writing. We wanted the dream to include several of Mark’s friends and family members, but what was the context? We knew when we had the answer: a dream-state Ekosi match!
If you die in the dream, do you die in real life?
If you die in the dream, do you die in real life?
Narratively, we adored the idea that Mark would dream about Ekosi--it’s just so in line with his passions. And, of course, we were excited to see what Mark’s unconscious ideas about his friends were. But then we considered the potential that this scene had for improving the Ekosi learning experience, and we think that’s pretty great too.

As mentioned in the previous update, player feedback since the Kickstarter has indicated two primary feelings towards the Ekosi learning experience. Players either felt overly coddled, or they felt like they had less information than they needed. So, we decided to loosen the reins on early-game Ekosi matches and provided a permanent guide for players to review rules and strategies.
We're always refining the guide to deliver quicker and easier ways for players to learn the game.
We're always refining the guide to deliver quicker and easier ways for players to learn the game.
The dream battle presented some interesting challenges and opportunities. We really wanted to drop the player into the game and let them learn on their own. However, we also knew that players weren’t going to have much success or fun without being given some minimal information to guide them. To satisfy both needs, we decided on tooltips.
Our new tooltip system should help players more intuitively learn basic game mechanics.
Our new tooltip system should help players more intuitively learn basic game mechanics.
For the dream sequence, we wrote them in Mark’s groggy, uncertain voice. But then we realized the powerful tool we had, and wrote a second, full set of tooltips written in coherent English. Now we have both: a funny, stripped-down set with the absolute basics, and a serious, full set of on-screen descriptions for developing players.
One of the most important changes we wanted to focus on after OGDE was refining the learning experience for Ekosi.
One of the most important changes we wanted to focus on after OGDE was refining the learning experience for Ekosi.
Those “standard” tooltips are toggleable after the first round of formal tutorials with the handsome, curiously familiar Ekosi instructor.

To try these changes out for yourself, you can download Demo 0.655 at our IndieDB page.

As always, we’re excited to share the development of the game. And it’s only better when you’re involved, so we welcome your feedback. Keep an eye on our IndieDB page for updated demos, as we’ll only be announcing major releases in our Kickstarter posts.

Until next time!

Tyler 



Hello everyone!

Today, I’m writing to share the news about a lot of positive changes we’re making to the every-session and early-game experience of playing Luckless Seven.

Let’s talk about the every-session experience of playing Luckless Seven. There are certain things that you’ll encounter every time you boot up the game. Interactive dialogue. Open world movement. Ekosi.

Ekosi’s a big one. It’s at the center of gameplay, so we want incorporate player feedback as much as possible in improving it. We learned two contrasting things from demoing the game at OGDE. On one hand, several players felt that the Ekosi tutorials at the beginning of the game were overbearing and too text-heavy. On the other hand, some players had trouble understanding the game and had questions after the tutorial was finished.

To address the concerns of both player groups, we’ve decided to make information--a lot of it--optional. We’re planning to reduce the Instructor’s dialogue in Day 1’s mandatory tutorials, so we've embedded a permanent guide in the Ekosi interface. We think this change will positively affect players who don’t need a wordy tutorial and those who can use a refresher now and then.


Several subtopics in our new Ekosi guide.

The "Card Types" topic, color coded for comprehension.
Another segment of the game you’ll encounter every time you play Luckless Seven is the start menu. It’s easy to overlook, but this is both your introduction to the game and every play session. So, we want to get it right! Functionally, the menu should allow players to start or resume a playthrough of Story Mode, jump into Arcade Mode for instant Ekosi action, or modify game settings.

The cinematic new start menu complete with all of its options.
Visually, we wanted to move towards something even more cinematic than our old start menu. We wanted something that was visually engaging, but more importantly something that communicated the characters and relationships within Luckless Seven’s ensemble cast. So, we’ve taken the time to give extra attention to and update the 3D models of all the main characters. With higher quality models and a new scene to survey, we think we’re pretty close to our vision.

Enjoy the view of the city with Jamie and Bertrand in our new start menu.
Since we’re on the subject of character, it wouldn’t be a Luckless Seven update without discussing new portraits. My job as the game’s writer is to create characters through story design and dialogue. And dialogue can do a lot, but the right portrait can do so much to express the emotions and thoughts of our characters. So it’s important that we have the right portraits for every moment. Accordingly, our amazing artist Emma is currently working to expand the range of portraits for our main cast members.

With Emma's exceptional talent, Maria can be upset in so many unique ways.

But she’s not just treading over old territory. In addition to creating main cast portraits, she’s working on entirely new portraits like the exciting one below.

An important new face or a far-too-late April Fool's Day prank? Find out when Day 1 is re-released!

You’ll get to see this character come to life when we’re finished revising Day 1 of gameplay. For now, you can look forward to the new start menu, the Ekosi guide, more portraits, and a handful of improvements to user experience. We’ve added two new cursors: a semi-transparent magnifying glass and a chat bubble mouse cursors that show if Mark is too far away to talk to a person or activate a door. Along with that change, we’ve introduced a feature that will initiate auto run when players click on door buttons that are too far away to enter.

To try these changes out for yourself, you can download Demo 0.654 at our IndieDB page: http://www.indiedb.com/games/luckless-seven/downloads.

As always, we welcome your feedback, fresh ideas, and general enthusiasm. They’ve brought the project this far, and we have no intention of stopping now. Keep an eye on our IndieDB page for updated demos, as we’ll only be announcing major releases in our Kickstarter posts.

Until next time!

Tyler

Hello everyone!
Today, we’re happy to announce the release of a new demo that allows you to take control of Day 3 in the Luckless Seven adventure!
The drama begins early on Day 3.

Managing relationships is tricky.
In Day 3, the story continues with the first tournament matches for Jamie, Jacob, Bertrand, and Mark. Upon arriving at the casino, Mark learns it will be a long day of balancing his own competitive goals with the constant drama of his friends’ reunion.
Day 3 offers upwards of 45 minutes of new gameplay--unless you rush past all of my dialogue, of course! New quests will introduce you to both the seedier and goofier characters orbiting around Arithia’s competitive gambling scene, but that’s not all you can expect.
Not everyone plays by the rules.
Musical rearrangements have been made to strike the exact moods we’re looking for in each area. As always, we’ve got new characters and portraits to flesh out the social world of Arithia. And, beyond that, we’ve added additional portraits of some of the Luckless Seven crew to better reflect their diverse personalities and moods.
Expect new opponents on Day 3.
This dawdling dad takes part in one of Day 3’s lighthearted side quests.
Bertrand’s wide array of negative emotions shines through in his new portraits.
Additionally, a number of user interface changes have been introduced to improve your experience in play. We’ve added a typewriter effect to text to make our dialogue system as smooth as possible. We’ve made small improvements to Mark’s pathfinding. There were also many bug fixes to make the world more coherent and the gameplay more refined.
You can download Demo 0.650 at our IndieDB page.
As always, we welcome your feedback. We’ll continue to refine Day 3 as we begin work on revisions to Day 1 and we turn our attention to Day 4. Keep an eye on our IndieDB page for updated demos, as we’ll only be announcing major releases (new days) in our Kickstarter posts.

Until next time,
-Tyler

Hello all,
We’re writing to provide an update regarding the expected release date for Luckless Seven. We were excited to release the game in Q2 2016, and we know that you were too.
Based on the feedback we’ve received since our Kickstarter, both from backers and attendees of OGDE, we’ve decided that we wanted to devote additional time and resources to remaking the beginning segments of the game. We believe that we can make the introduction area an amazing experience, but for that we need to spend additional time redesigning some systems and quest structures.
We’ve recognized that this would make the pace of our production not on track for the expected date. We want to be as transparent as possible about our expectations for release, so today we are announcing a new anticipated release date of Summer 2017. The changes we make could potentially get completed sooner, but we want to make sure we give ourselves enough time to implement it correctly. We are still working on the project full time and will be until its release.
New characters to battle!
We plan to release a game with a full, rewarding story and world. And to do that, we want to release a Luckless Seven with an average campaign length of six hours. We believe in this goal, so we’re working hard to create the new content that will make up the game we’re aspiring towards. But we’ve been working on other things too, and these other things have impacted the pace at which we’re able to finish new segments of gameplay.
New portraits of the main characters to better convey their feelings and thoughts.
So, what have we been working on? A lot of my work has been dedicated to improving the user experience for our players. We’ve worked on changes to make music and scene transitions smoother. We’ve added UI components to the battle board to better display different game states. We’ve implemented a new camera-zoom feature that will allow players to zoom out and appreciate large, open environments or zoom in to get closer to the characters. (We’re really excited about this feature.) We’re now taking a look at what we’ve written already and have a plan to release changes in response to some of the awesome feedback we’ve received.
Now zoom in and out to better view the surroundings.

New marker to better convey when new cards will and will not be dealt.
We think these changes are critical to refining the experience of Luckless Seven. We think they’ll improve gameplay from start to finish. However, they do take time to troubleshoot and implement, and they have impacted our release timeline.
Here’s what you can expect from us: the fully-realized Luckless Seven that we want to release in 2017. Between now and release, you can continue to expect consistent, transparent communication from us on our website, the Kickstarter page, and IndieDB. In fact, there’s a lot of exciting news coming up a lot sooner than 2017. We’re keeping a few things under wraps for now, but we expect to announce the release of a new demo that will include “Day 3” of gameplay. Other announcements will follow!
The story progresses!

Tournament matches await!
We don’t take pleasure in announcing a setback like this, but we are happy to announce that we’re maintaining the pursuit of our goal: the release of the best possible Luckless Seven. It matters to us, and we think you deserve it too.
If you wish to withdraw your support of Luckless Seven due to the delay, you can request a refund by sending us a message on Kickstarter or sending us an email at jesse@deckpointstudio.com.
For us, it’s back to work! You’ll hear from us again when Day 3 is ready to go. If you have any questions, you can e-mail the above address or post in the Comments sections below.
Until next time,

Jesse

Hello, everyone!

Today, we’re happy to announce the release of a new demo that opens up new areas and allows you to experience Day 2 of Mark’s adventure. 

Full cast of main characters from Luckless Seven
In Day 2, Mark’s story continues with his first step into the competitive Ekosi world. After committing to join Krista and company on the competitive tour, Mark is finally reunited with the full Luckless Seven crew. After a tumultuous reunion, the group departs for the casino, where Mark prepares himself for the tournament.

New areas to explore
Day 2 offers approximately 45 minutes of new gameplay, depending on your skill and luck. You’ll get to see plenty of new dialogue that fleshes out the main cast. You can explore new environments, battle new opponents, and make meaningful story choices.

New characters and quests
We’re very excited about Day 2 because it introduces several design standards that will continue throughout the entirety of Luckless Seven. We’re progressing towards larger, more open environments. We’re introducing Casino and Card Shop interiors, which will become familiar settings as the player journeys across Arithia. Day 2’s design balances competitive, Ekosi-intensive quests with more dialogue-rich ones, a balance we plan to maintain throughout the game.

Goodbye Old Bertrand!
In addition to setting a course for many of Luckless Seven’s design standards, Day 2 also introduces a few smaller tricks. We’ve implemented a “follower” system that allows the player to spend one-on-one quest time with various characters and learn who they are. The new demo set up the ability for players to select between story days for testing purposes. Finally, we’re revealing an updated Bertrand, who recently received a makeover.


Hello New Bertrand!

You can download Demo 0.641 at our IndieDB page.


Day 2 Released!
As always, we welcome your feedback. We’ll continue to refine Day 2 as we begin work on Day 3 and beyond. Keep an eye on our IndieDB page for updated demos, as we’ll only be announcing major releases (new days) in our Kickstarter posts.


Until next time!

Tyler

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