Emberlight 2019: In Retrospect
As we walk into a new decade, the experience of creating and launching a game has given us a lot of insight into how to move forward confident in our abilities as a studio. We’ve grown this past year with Emberlight and our wonderful community with well over a thousand folks that have given us a chance so far but there’s always room to improve. We strive for a 10 outta 10 with our future games, and it starts with self-critiques which we’ll breakdown in a three-parter leading into our new game in production.
We start our studio self-critique with what went right. These are strong building blocks for future projects, and help to overcome the obstacles we faced. And why not start the new decade on a positive note.
A major difficulty in development is knowing when to be finished. This seems like a trivial point, but game development is equal parts art and engineering. Emberlight taught us that while the design is organic, we need to hold to a core concept and build off of it.
We set the goal of August 13th of 2019 and ensured that we could meet that deadline with a quality game. While there is always room for improvement, we were very happy to see Emberlight evolve into the final result. We were able to turn an idea into something that hundreds enjoyed.
This seems like a “duh” thing, but we quickly found issues that got through our QA processes at launch. There’s no such thing as launching a game bug-free, and a launch overall is a risk versus reward scenario. High priority bugs are ideally cleaned up, while some known bugs may push through launch if they don’t greatly hinder gameplay.
We worked diligently and squashed most of the largest bugs within that first week after launch. At the same time, we synthesized requests from our community to make the game a better experience. Overall, this experience has given us QA ammunition for future projects to have a more bulletproof launch.
There’s nothing inherently special about pushing new content post-launch. Whether it’s free content in an update, or paid DLC, these updates enhance the base game. In our case, our October update acted as an intermediary to the eventual DM build and both updated functionality as well as added a new character class.
The updated camera helped with the isometric nature of Emberlight, while the forest and sewers added variety to the runs. Many of the changes were requested by the community as well as allowed us to transition towards new functionality for future updates more seamlessly. This process also gave us insight in both working with the community to refine the game post-launch, and pushing larger updates.
Our next article will focus on our self-critique on how we can improve for the next project. Stay tuned!