It’s been a while since our last devlog and a lot has happened since then. In this issue, we’d like to sum up all the things you might have missed and share our thoughts and plans.
Here are the highlights of what we’re going to cover:
- Festival open alpha tests
- Feedback summary (deep dive)
- Plans for the future
So it begins…
Festival open alpha tests
Digital Dragons Indie Showcase and later appeared on Steam Game Festival – Autumn Edition . It was a perfect opportunity for us to launch the first open alpha tests in the form of a Steam demo. We even managed to improve and update the demo based on your suggestions.
If you missed it, we’re sure there’ll be another opportunity in the future. Meanwhile, check out some of the great gameplay videos from the game:
Those are just some of your fantastic videos. We’re collecting and re-watching all of them here:
Big thanks to everyone involved in the latest alpha-tests on Steam and GOG. We are positively overwhelmed by the amount of feedback you have given us via the in-game surveys and on our forums. Shoutout to every single one of you who gratuitously spent a portion of your free time writing down your thoughts and impressions.
With almost 400 filled surveys it’s hard to answer each and every question, but after going through the feedback, we would like to answer a few of the most common concerns.
Balance & content
The content you’ve seen will most likely change in the final game or even in the early access. So if you feel like A is always better than B, some perks are OP, or even that some buildings are redundant right now – don’t be afraid, it won’t stay that way. Of course, buildings like the Lumber Camp or Stonemason won’t change that much and the 3 species are here to stay as well. However, production chains, products, or even needs are likely to be rebuilt from the ground up to match new systems and longer gameplay sessions. Speaking of which…
Single runs are too short
The current length of a single gameplay session is around 40 to 60 minutes. This is a product of the demo-like format. In the final game, we plan on extending it. A single run will still remain shorter than in most city builders, as we want it to last around 2 to 3 hours.
Our goal is to create a city builder where starting from scratch is exciting and each game brings unique opportunities and challenges. We are aware of how risky this move is and we will observe the impact of this decision at every step of production. Especially that some of you would prefer to just have a peaceful settlement where no Beaver is ever hungry and all species can live in harmony, without the Queen breathing down your neck. And this brings us to our next point.
But before we get to it: if you’re still reading, you deserve some reward!
Did you know that the Humans – a species least resistant to the corrupting effects of the environment – wear long reed capes that shield them from the Rain, especially when working the farm fields?
Post-result gameplay/Sandbox mode
Our goal for the pre-alpha tests was to see if even a basic mix of the city builder and rogue-lite genres could be a fun experience, and we mainly worked on that part of a game. We focused on the challenge of surviving in a harsh environment and keeping your villagers alive and well. Whatever happened after clicking “Let me play” on the result screen stayed “off the record” for us.
While we believe this gameplay formula has huge potential, there are some players who have enough struggles outside of the realm of games, especially in 2020. Not everyone has to enjoy the challenge and constant struggle of a rogue-lite colony sim – and this is fine. We can’t say anything specific yet, as we didn’t have enough time to come up with a solution to this, but we would love to have some kind of “chill mode” in the game. All the gardeners of the world – stay tuned! And those looking for a challenge…
The game is too easy/too hard
As we are working on Against The Storm exclusively after hours (for now), we had to learn to take shortcuts. One of the largest we took in the alpha test was to design a game for only one difficulty. We are sure many of you can imagine the consequences of that.
For newcomers, the game seems too hard or even unfair, while experienced players burn through each session (quite literally). This is a problem we don’t want to reduce to a simple menu popup with an “Easy, Medium, Lizard” choice, and we will tackle this head-on in the upcoming weeks while working on a new progression system.
The progression system you experienced in the alpha test won’t stay for long. It just lacks any zazz. We will be talking in length about some exciting new ideas in this area in one of our upcoming devlogs. Permission granted to get excited.
This one is a hard one. Knowing how much will change in the future, we were reluctant to invest too much time into a proper tutorial. However, this will have to change – the unusual mix of genres and unique mechanics will bar us from piggybacking too much on other games here. We are planning to smooth out the learning curve with a progression system, but it’s too early to say anything concrete right now, except – it will have to improve significantly.
Some people felt really overwhelmed by the initial information dump – especially with plumpy beavers quickly devouring whatever food was left in the storage.
The current roads and pathways are far from optimal in terms of visual design and the user experience of building/removing them. We already implemented improvements in both of these areas. Hope you will enjoy it!
The big furry monster is not that big actually, let alone scary
This last point is very close to our hearts. One of the systems we are most happy with is the forest exploration (you can learn more about it from the first devlog). We want you to be thrilled when clearing an opening to a glade – knowing that there will be something that will potentially turn the tables of your playthrough. Hopefully in a good way, but potentially also in a very bad one. We are convinced that there’s still room for improvement in this area.
Whatever you find on a glade is static for now – rewards such as 10 pieces of meat, some stone deposit, maybe even a building. You will either get what you want or not. While this can be somewhat exciting (loot chests! yay!), we didn’t manage to make it scary or challenging. In previous versions, we tried to put much more dangerous threats (and rewards) in the marked glades but it never felt justified and fair due to the static nature of the system. It’s just frustrating to see your 2-hour gameplay going to shreds because you got an unlucky popup. And if there are no meaningful risks, there can’t really be meaningful rewards – so we had to temper this system down for the alpha test.
That being said, we are more than happy to tell you that we will start working on another iteration of this system soon. We hope that it will bring much more life and meaningful decisions for exploration. We will try to write at least one dev blog about it as well!
Take a break, here’s some trivia:
Did you know that every caravan sent out to settle the wilds is always looking for ancient ruins? Colonies are built around hearths – strange relics of a long-forgotten civilization. These constructions are extraordinarily well suited for keeping the Holy Flame alive and thus helping the people survive.
Plans for the future
This part might be disappointedly short, but nevertheless informative. As you already know, we had two open alpha tests within a month and received plenty of feedback. We will now take some time to iterate the existing systems, add new features, and make sure the next time you get to play Against the Storm it will be even better. We are also on the lookout for funding, so we can start working full-time. Keep your fingers crossed.
Phew! That was a long one, but if you are reading this – that means you’ve managed to get through it. Hope you feel much more confident in the game now and look forward to the next test as much as we do <3. The last few weeks were quite a ride for us and we can’t wait for more. See you on Discord!
And if you feel like Against the Storm is your kind of game, please consider adding it to your Steam wishlist. It helps us a lot!
May the storm be gentle on you.
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