Dev Diary #37: Game Opening and Tutorial Changes
Updated: Jul 15, 2020
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.
Caption: 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.
Caption: 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!
Caption: 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.
Caption: 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.
Caption: 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.
Caption: 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!