This journey is almost at an end. For the past weeks I’ve continued refining the game content, changing some things and also experimenting with some non-traditional point and click mechanics.
After making the final cosmetic changes, the first thing I did was to ask some people to test the game.
I was glad to see the game was received well, and they liked the mechanics and story, although they gave me some really useful info.
Another thing I noticed is that some of them caught the “twist” of the story very early (too early), so that made me rethink a few things about the way the story is presented.
So, after fixing some bugs and issues they had, I decided to “shuffle” things around. Now, conversations that happened earlier in the game, happen in the middle or end of the game, for example. This was very easy to do for this game, since all the different sections are their own “scenes” and all I have to do is change the way the scenes are loaded.
Another thing I added was a couple of “boss battles.” Hidden object games don’t usually have boss-battles, but in my case I want to make a hybrid, so I decided a boss battle would be a good idea.
However, I had to keep in mind that my demographic may not be expert gamers, so I couldn’t make “difficult” boss battles, and also, I had to make them using the same point and click mechanics and other constraints. For example, timed clicking on a boss’ body part is acceptable, but dodging lasers is not, since the game always plays from a fixed position.
Being a “solo developer” means you also have to take care of other things unrelated to the actual game development. That means I had to prepare my own store page, screenshots, trailer, store description, press kit, and similar things. You can hire people to do your store media, but things like trailers can be quite expensive sometimes. Luckily, I worked in media production for a long time, and even if I am not an expert trailer creator, I have a good notion of what makes a good trailer, as well as good screenshots.
Making the screenshots was tricky. For my other games, like Enola or The Nightmare from Beyond, I could make “custom screenshots,” meaning that I could build a scene, place characters, lights, and then find the best angle for the camera. However, doing this for Aisling’s Quest might be confusing or even considered “false advertising” because my target audience is different, and they may not know the difference between a “custom built cinematic style screenshot” and a regular screenshot. For that reason, I had to make my screenshots with a “what you see is what you get” mentality, and thus I had to find scenes of the game that were meaningful in one way or another.
So, what’s next?
Well, I’ve set my deadline on the March 21. By that day, the game should be ready for final submission to any store so it can be ready for release on the April 10.
Right now, its Steam page is already up, but since my main target is the casual market, I will also make it available on other places, like the Windows Store, or the Mac App Store. As soon as it launches on PC, I will begin porting the game to PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita.
You can check out "The Dreamlands: Aisling's Quest" right now on Steam.