It's been a very busy week, and things are only getting more hectic! But the game is in a good state, and things are falling into place. I'm equal parts excited and anxious for the release on the 25th! In this update I talk about last-minute design changes, bug fixing, and the Play-by-Play festival.
One of the last major changes to the game before launch came about due to the feedback from a few of the bug testers, and from yet more playtesting. The 'Tea' puzzle, which is of course a very important part of the voyage, was confusing due to the way the text was displayed.
Hovering over the tea cup would change the text from a description of the tea to a command to drink the tea. However, the change was fairly subtle and the text was a long way from the cup - and therefore the pointer - that the player was looking at.
I found two ways to improve this, without requiring a lot of work. The first was to change the locatation of the text. Instead of being at the very top (and consequently the furthest distance from the cup) I moved it down so that it was a central element of the puzzle. A thin connector line also helped create the link between the cup and the text.
The second change was to split the two phrases into two different positions, with each appearing and disappearing appropriately. This was a much bigger visual change than the previous version and so was easier to spot, and also had the advantage of making the two phrases feel more distinct.
A quick playtest showed that both of these changes worked well!
A Sneak Peek
With only one week until launch, the excitement around 39 Days to Mars is starting to build. A few lucky people have gotten their hands on a preview build, and the reactions are positive!
If you're curious about the game, here are a few impressions of the first part of 39 Days to Mars. If you want to avoid story or puzzle spoilers, I'd suggest waiting a week until you can get your hands on it yourself!
And if you speak German:
I'm excited to see what other previews come out over the next week!
Play by Play
This week I'm in Wellington to catch up with some of the New Zealand game development folks, and participate in the Play by Play Awards Ceremony - where 39 Days to Mars has been shortlisted as a finalist!
In addition, 39 Days to Mars is playable as part of the showcase exhibit, right on the waterfront at the Wellington Museum. If you're lucky enough to be in town, head along and check it out.
You can see the other games that are playable, and shortlisted for the awards, here.
(As a side note, I found the time to design and print a new batch of game cards, ready to hand out. They're shiny, sepia, and they look like this:)
As always, there's a seemingly-never-ending list of little things that go wrong in the game. I try to organise these by severity, and have been working my way through and fixing everything I can.
I thought it would be interesting to shomw you what I've been working on, so here's a little slice of the bug list to give you an idea of what sort of issues crop up during this stage of development. They also give a nice little insight into the world of 39 Days to Mars.
- When starting the game from the Brazilian-Portugeuse version of Steam on a copy of Windows that was also in Brazilian Portugeuse, all of the text in the game disappeared.
- When standing on the ship's ladder (but before entering the ship) and re-loading the game from the main menu, nothing exploded!
- Albert makes a "zombie-dance" pose when facing left and standing on the top rung of a ladder (or sometimes even when not standing on a ladder).
- When leaving the fishing rod puzzle on high performance computers, several copies of the music play at the same time and create an echo effect.
- and several dozen other bugs that would be too boring or technical to post here.
When 39 Days to Mars launches on the 25th, it will release simultaneously on Steam and Itch.io! If you've been one of the voices asking for a DRM-free version, or if you'd like to choose how much of what you pay goes to the developer, this is for you.
It will launch at the same price point and with the same launch discount.
Are you as excited as I am about the launch of 39 Days to Mars? Come and discuss it with us on discord!
There's a discord channel for 39 Days to Mars, which you can join by clicking here:
Come and chat about 39 Days to Mars in real-time. I'm usually around to answer questions and chat about the game, and when I remember, I also post about what I'm working on.
In the one remaining week (eek!) I'll be fixing the last of the bugs, and getting ready for launch!
As always, leave your comments or questions below, and don't forget to add 39 Days to Mars to your steam wishlist!