I’ve always loved those behind the scenes videos that show the process of how a movie or video game is made. These documentaries usually cover both cover the creative and the technical challenges while it was being made. For example, I’ve always enjoyed the Star Wars bonus videos that talk about how George Lucas found the inspiration for the films, how difficult the original movie was to make and the large number of creative and technical changes it went through. It’s hard to imagine Star Wars with Luke Skywalker as a 65 year-old general or Han Solo as an alien with green skin and gills - but it could have happened. It’s also fascinating to learn about how the film crew had to film scenes in California that were supposed to have been filmed in Tunisia but couldn’t due a rainstorm. I had no idea how many challenges Star Wars had to overcome to become the beloved movie that it is today.
Video games generally go through a similar process of overcoming creative and technical challenges. However, as with films, these videos and stories aren’t generally shared until after the game has shipped or are never shared at all. Usually games are in a near-complete state by the time public testing begins. Devs spend years ‘in the dark’ working on these challenges and changes without needing to jump onto public forums to explain and answer for every step. By the time the game has seen the light of day, it’s already generally gone through many stages of iteration and is mostly complete.
Crowfall’s approach has been unusual in that the process of making the game has been very public. There has been no NDA and players have been testing many systems that are far from complete and it’s all out there for the public to see. We’ve experienced this game at a much earlier state than what most studios would allow. Backers have been free to not only see each stage of development, but have been encouraged to share feedback - and there’s been plenty! Since combat has been the first major system that’s being tested, it makes sense that most of the feedback has been on that subject.
In their recent video, J. Todd Coleman and Thomas Blair shared the current state of Crowfall development as 2015 comes to a close. In this video they cover many of the success the game has had over the past year but focused in on community combat feedback.
Todd states in the video that after two Hunger Dome playtests that combat isn’t quite where they want it to be yet. In January, backers will begin receiving invites in order to test some of the movement and combat changes based on this feedback. These changes are implemented in order to improve character responsiveness, movement, and camera functions. In addition, Todd states that there are “a ton” of other odds and ends that will be addressed as well.
Since combat is getting some additional changes, Pre-Alpha 2.0 “Siege Perilous” will likely be in March instead of February. However, this means that additional snap tests will be held sooner so players will be able to do more testing beforehand. While we don’t know much about what Pre-Alpha 2.0 will bring but we do know that it includes destruction (bring on the voxels!), I agree that combat should be dialed in first. Keep an eye out for some January streams and you’ll be able to see these changes along with those of us testing them.
By announcing new tests and moving the date of Pre-Alpha 2.0, we see the flip side of this transparency. Sometimes developers need change things up in order to respond to new or unexpected challenges. While most studios are able to make these adjustments in the dark, ArtCraft chooses to share this process, even if it means sharing the challenges along with the successes. We all get to see both the fun and the fumbles. History will ultimately decide if this type of transparency becomes the norm or if Crowfall will remain unique in this regard.
Again, I’m a huge fan of watching behind-the scenes documentaries and ArtCraft’s transparency makes it feel like I’m watching “The Making of Crowfall” in real-time. I guess we’ll see the next episode in January - stay tuned!