Open Development - Issue #1

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Uh oh *|HTML:FNAME|*! Welcome to our first issue!

Hello you,

We are Flying Oak games! This weekly newsletter is going to be our journal during the development of our next game, and we want you to be part of this new adventure! 🎢

Through this newsletter, we want to share with you all of our daily life, without any filters. We want to show you how a game is made from the very start, before a game is even an idea.

We are going to show you how we work, to show all our prototypes, and to describe all our decisions, as well as our budget breakdown.

And most of all, we would like you to be part of this. 🙌

You can expect polls, early builds, alphas & betas, and some cool feedback loops.

We love to get players comments, and this newsletter is going to be the tool that will bring us together. ❤️

We hope that you will enjoy your stay and following our adventures toward an (hopefully) awesome new game.

Who are we?

If you are a new follower and/or aren't familiar with our projects, we are Florian & Thomas! Here's our faces.

We've been making games together for about 4 years now. We love pizza 🍕 and are serial game-jam'ers (that's how we met!).

Our flagship game is the futuristic twin-stick shooter RPG NeuroVoider, which is available on Steam and which we ported ourselves to Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PS Vita, and Xbox One.

More recently, we released a small transitional project called Boo! Greedy Kid, which is available on Steam. It previously was a game jam project that we finished to completion.

Why doing an open development and what to expect?

Our principal motivation is that we love to share our ongoing work!

Over the past few months, we tried to stick to traditional communication plans and it ended in a lot of frustration for us because we had to stop talking about what we were working on. We didn't like working that way.

Moreover, we already did an open development with NeuroVoider, and we really enjoyed it. Not to mention that the game wouldn't be as good as it is now without the constant feedback we had from the community while developing it.

Hence, we decided to stop following the industry trend and to do what we love to do and what we are comfortable with: an open development with the community!

But compared to NeuroVoider, we want to push it to the next level! We want you to know what we are working on week after week, right from the start of our new project. As we proceed, we will show you our prototypes and ideas, we will most probably throw polls, and we will ultimately run alphas and betas with a feedback system integrated in the game itself so that we can all chat about issues and cool stuff.

You are also very welcome to come chat with us or post pizza pics on our Discord server (we'll feature them in this newsletter). 🍕

Ultimately, we will reward any subscriber of this newsletter with exclusive in-game content, quite possibly free DLC, soundtrack, or skins. Since we're at the early stage of our new project, it's still complicated to detail a precise list of these rewards, but we're dedicated to fulfill them and we will describe them more precisely as we go.

What have we been up to this week?

First thing first: what kind of game are we doing? You have been a lot to ask us this question over the week.

That may sound surprising, but we don't know yet! When we said that we wanted to describe our process from the start, we really meant it. We're starting from a blank page!

But let's be honest, given our previous games, there's a very high chance that we end up doing a twin-stick shooter.

Before we begin, it is important to highlight what we learned from making NeuroVoider. While the game ended up being profitable, it took a very long time (more than a year!) to break even, and we believe that we could have mitigated this critical period if we knew the following: we didn't scope the game well. It was a game too big for both of us. We are super proud of the result, but there were too many ambitions and too many systems we wanted to fit in the game. As a result, we couldn't fit essential features (such as a permanent progression system) and we finished the project burnt out.

With that in mind, we want our next project to be better scoped so that we can deliver its full experience without any compromise (and also having less risks, NeuroVoider was too much of a "all-in" experience).

Okay, let's stop the chitchat for now and begin!

How do we work from a blank page? The most important element to us is the gameplay. We want it to be the central element of the game and other elements like the setting, plot, or graphics, will come after the gameplay is settled.

This may sound weird, but there are basically two schools of game design: story first, and gameplay first. It's not quite true but if we had to put a slider there, we would be on the gameplay side. This doesn't mean that we are going to make a game without a plot, but that we are going to work on the gameplay first, and then think about a cool setting to build on top of it.

In our quest for a cool gameplay, here's a few elements we want to try out:

  • Being able to dash (yeah, that's our signature move)
  • Having a permanent close combat weapon (like a sword, or a whip)
  • Being able to break through projectiles (or possibly be able to throw them back at enemies)
  • Having a minimalist graphics design (in order to be able to produce a lot of content despite the production time being shorter)

We don't know if any of these elements would be cool or if any of them will end up in the game, but there's only one way to figure this out: prototyping!

We will be spending the next few weeks experimenting with these ideas. That's what we call the pre-production phase. We would like this phase to be at most 1 month long (ideally, 2 weeks would be cool). Once we're set on the gameplay, we'll start scoping the game, think about a plot, and a name!

But let's head straight into the prototyping phase...

During this first week, we prototyped the ideas we wanted to test. To speed things up, we reused assets from NeuroVoider (and this doesn't mean that we are going to do a new NeuroVoider game).

We also did some tech research with bullet patterns (something that was lacking in NeuroVoider), so we coded a versatile bullet engine that could be reused through multiple projects.

We also started a graphics style research. Florian spent his time building a cool color palette and doing some minimalist design integration tests.

Note that these researches don't mean anything for now. We're not yet in the setting and plot phase, so everything you see before that point may very well don't make it at all in the final game.

And that's about it for this first week into our new game! Now that we have all these elements to play with, we will start building a bigger prototype that combine all of these elements in order to check if they match.

See you next week with something bigger and closer to an actual game!

How is our budget doing?

Every week, we will update our production budget based on our initial budget and our ongoing revenues.

Our next game budget will be counted in "months of subsistence" instead of money. We believe that it is a more understandable way to explain how budgets are constructed and consumed.

Our initial budget for our next game is 12 months.

This means that both of us can spend 12 months full-time without any revenues before going bankrupt.

Does this mean that this game will be finished within 12 months? That's what we're shooting for, but it could evolve as we proceed. If you'd like to compare, NeuroVoider has been a 24 months project while initially being scheduled to fit within 18 months of production (we ended up working for 6 additional months to add contents and porting the game to 4 different platforms). The scope of the game may very change over time, especially if we manage to secure more fund or sign with a publisher.

This only covers both of us, and we'll most likely need to pay a sound designer and a composer on top of that. Which means that we need more than this initial budget to really complete the game. That sounds risky but fear not, we still have revenues from our previous games which are going to add up to this and will extend our subsistence every months.

Our current expectation is that this budget will grow beyond 18 months (and we're pretty sure about that because we have on-going contracts that are 100% predictable in revenues).

Note that, for now, our next game has no publisher, and our goal is ultimately to get one for a more stable situation and a better production value, as well as marketing support.

NeuroVoider will release on PS Vita!

We also had a surprise announcement this week.

NeuroVoider is coming to PS Vita on March 14th in Europe and on March 20th in North America!

We worked hard to get this port out, so we hope that the PS Vita community will appreciate our game.

The weekly Twitch stream

Every Wednesdays (afternoon Pacific time / evening European time), Thomas shows one of our preferred games and chat with you about why we love this game!

Follow Thomas on Twitch »

This week game was: INTO THE BREACH (Steam page »)

Watch the replay »
Browse through all replays »

Join our Discrod server!

Come chat with us about pizza, give us your feedback, or be a silent observer.

Join our server »

Follow us on Twitter!

Witness our day-to-day work and struggles, possibly including GIFs of cats.

Follow Florian »
Follow Thomas »
Follow Flying Oak Games »

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