Blooming ideas, closing deadlines

Finland is currently deep, deep in snow and there’s no snow-queen to save us. But worry not, we at Brakesoft still love coffee and blogging.

In the previous Game Dev Coffee Chat, we discussed more about the early stages of our development process and how after the fruitful start, our progress started to decline. In this Game Dev Coffee Chat post, we’ll pick up right where we left off and share how we got past our first hindrance and what awaited us after that.

Summer time fun

After missing our summer deadline, we experienced some changes within our team. This left the project at a stand-by state for a few weeks, during which the overall progress was slow. In hindsight, perhaps we needed that break as we had been going full throttle for a while without us even noticing how tired we actually were. As weariness washed away and new team members joined in, we were once more ready to continue the development of Swift: Galaxy Trails.

During this time we noticed that some of the earlier concepts no longer worked. For instance, we had planned to have a round arena for boss fights, but after many tries realized that this wasn’t as easy to accomplish in a vertical screen mode. We had a choice to make. We could either pour more energy and hours trying to make the round arena to work, or we could put the idea on hold for a while and pursue other boss fight concepts. Ultimately, we chose to prioritize the overall progress of Swift: Galaxy Trails and decided to pursue other boss fight options.

It’s never easy letting go of an idea you deemed to be interesting. Much less, when the work has already begun and notable progress has been made. It can feel daunting and like you’re taking a step back instead of moving forward. However, sometimes ideas can be like tiny seeds and for them to bloom beautifully, plenty of time and care is needed.

From this we learned that sometimes, it’s beneficial to toss some ideas that may sound good but threaten to hinder everything else. Thus, don’t be afraid of letting go of work that has already been done. You never know what kind of a flower they may eventually become.

Crafting a hook

As we continued working, summer greenery soon turned into various hues of reds and browns. Autumn was upon us. And with autumn, we started researching different gameplay hooks. Eventually, we reached a conclusion that supports the story while also refining our unique selling point.

Quite early on during the development process we had already decided that the players could collect various mystical items and galactic orbs during their runs. However, instead of just using them as a part of store items, we wanted to offer players something else to do with them. Thus, we introduced a new gameplay element, crafting, where the players could combine the resources they have collected during their runs to create boosters and costumes.

Now, we had boss fights, crafting and an adventure waiting to be shared, all taking a place in a galaxy ready to be explored. We were confident in our vision. All that was left was to execute it.

A gifted musician joined our team during these autumn months. Soon, our still bare game gained some catchy tunes, elevating the entire feel of the game. Seeing how these seemingly simple things affected positively on the overall feel of the game lifted our spirit.

Somewhere along as the nights grew longer and colder, we finalized polishing the story. There were moments during which we at Brakesoft feared that the story might only end up as a text block as we lacked the proper skillset. Fortunately, a talented artist lent us her skills, illustrating the story and bringing Swift: Galaxy Trails to life.

As most indie devs know, development can be a never-ending cycle. There’s always some feature, which can be tweaked, or some new game-improving concept to be included. Throughout this whole project, we have found ourselves lost in this never-ending cycle of possibilities and what-ifs.  As the holiday season approached us, and the project threatened to bloat too big and complex for its own good, we needed to make some drastic decisions. We had to look at the game we originally had planned to release and reconsider our current assets. We re-defined the core gameplay elements and decided to focus on polishing them, instead of just cramming the game with fun, but unfinished features.

Where we’re now

Currently, we’re still actively working on Swift: Galaxy Trails. The story illustrations are now completely finished and the music side is fast following in suite, with only minor mixing tweaking remaining. The concept art has been completed, and for several weeks the focus has been on bringing these concept arts to life via blender. Most of the rigging has been completed, and the next major focus is importing our art assets to unity.

It had been almost one year since we started working on this project. One year of continuous learning, laughter and tears. We have encountered many obstacles and at times, it has felt like the project has been moving backwards. However, writing this mini blog series about our different development stages has made us realize how far we have come. Though the end goal is still some ways ahead, it’s still closer than the starting point.

And this can be applied to many things. As long as you keep working hard, the goal is closer to you than the starting point. After all, dedication and hard work are the true striving strengths that help us achieve our goals. Hence, we want to encourage each and every one to take a step towards your own goal. No matter how tiny the step is or how insignificant it may feel at that moment, tiny steps follow each other and soon you’ll be running.