It's been a weird week. Sprout went on Greenlight last weekend, which was a big deal because I've been trying to use it to get some awareness of the game going but also to start trying to get some playtesters trying the game out more and check on their feedback. Through the group on Steam i've been able to get some amazing feedback, and in that feedback one of the most frequently stated items hit home yet again: "what do I do?"
I made some real challenging decisions right from the start of making Sprout that I wanted people to feel 'lost' when they first started the game. It was really important to me that the feeling of actually discovering the game's control system and method of progression was something that players actually learned on their own, though no matter what I tried I couldn't quite nail down exactly how to make that happen.
Though I did get one or two players that came to me and said, literally, that they relished the ability to discover it for themselves, and truly got a lot out of that experience—the vast, immense majority of people were stuck right from the start, even to the point where they didnt know what mouse button to push to move. Not good.
I think a lot of my mentality came from playing games like Starseed Pilgrim, Terraria, Minecraft, Proteus, et al. Basically i've been thrown enough times into a game where there was little to zero direction on what you needed to do from those very first moments. I took it for granted that people would feel comfortable with that, but I think because of the nature of the game being, ultimately, focussed on the core mechanics i needed to come to a compromise to achieve that.
This weekend I think i achieved that compromise. Through a tutorial system involving an old hermit living on a distant planet, I essentially introduce characters to the core mechanics within the span of about 60-90 seconds. The old guy basically gets right to the nitty gritty and teaches you what you need to know to progress through the game. It was a real challenge to ensure that players wouldnt feel coddled in this process, but I think the final result is quite a natural explanation. Backing that is the fact that I'll be making this tutorial sequence optional -- once you play through it the first time, the tutorial switch turns off on the title screen (you can enable it again later if you hit your head on the toilet or something).
all in all im quite proud of the way it all works, and by using narrative and not just a simple screen that literally spells it all out to you, i feel like the experience still stays true to the exploration aspect of Sprout. Even with the tutorial off, this same old guy will come into play in the main story line and ending of the game as well.
1400+ Greenlight Votes?!
Reaching 1400 Votes on Steam Greenlight by this point has been a big boost to my confidence. My goal for the first week was 100 votes.. so to get 14 times that is a little insane. To be honest, my goal for the end of the month was 500 votes! So to me, this has been unreal. I'm really proud of what has been built so far, and every single session of development is getting me closer and closer to this vision of awesomeness I think the game can be. I think my next key (non development) goal is to really think about a proper Trailer video to show off what the game is about, especially the mood im going for. With that official, "proper" trailer I hope to be able to get some interest building not only for the game itself, but also for the Steam Greenlight page. If you haven't yet checked out Sprout on Greenlight, have a look at: Steamcommunity.com
I could talk about this for days, but ill leave it at that.
Hugs, and huge thanks to all the people who have supported Sprout by sharing it to your facebook & twitter pages, as well as infinite love baskets to the amazing people who gave Sprout a YES vote on greenlight. And from the very bottom of my heart a giant sized cookie of passionate embrace goes to the incredible gamers who have been helping me test the game, pointing out flaws, giving me positive vibes and generally helping make sure this game is killer.