And welcome to the brand new blog of ours! We’re currently working on a game called Hexters and here you can pretty much see what’s happening behind the scenes; I know we haven’t been exactly noisy about it for the last 6 months after we blazed through the Steam Greenlight last summer.
So what is Hexters?
Check out the Hexter’s site for more accurate description of the game. In a nutshell Hexters is a city-building game not-so-far from a classic Settlers series. The name of the game itself is a wordplay on the name, but that’s pretty much where the similarities both start and end; what we’re doing is having a more unique twist on the genre which can be seen from the minimalistic look of the game alone:
Yeah, that’s not placeholder stuff you’re looking at but how the game really looks like. People seem rather enthralled by it and that of course makes us very excited! And yeah, the awesome Introversion’s Darwinia is the only similar looking game this far 🙂 Mind you, despite of the low-poly retro-aesthetics we got all the latest triple-AAA visual tricks along; the post-process alone is over 10 steps from anti-aliasing to depth-of-field and other kind of fancy stuff but I’ll let my mate Sampsa to post purely on that topic later on.
So, the game takes place in “cyberscape” and is supposed to happen inside of your computer. You’ll be working with bits, bytes, cycles and other rather low-level computer stuff but the actual knowledge of these is not required; it’s just a curiosity and a bonus for us accustomed working with these bloody things. As an example, you can refine 8 bits to bytes and every low-level programmer knows exactly
how magnets work about that conversion ratio.
I’ll be probably posting more about the game design itself later on, this is just a small fracture of it all to give you the general idea.
Now hold on, before bailing out after reading that heading. If there are any tags in Steam that makes me scream internally then they’re MMO, Sandbox and Early Access. Let’s forget the first one since it’s not relevant. Sandbox is something I suppose Minecraft brought along (even though it’s hardly the first game with no pre-defined goal) and I personally think is one of the hardest genres to do right. Why? Because a good sandbox actually does have a direction, and the fore-mentioned cubistic game giant is a good example of doing it right. Survival and exploring alone glued it together. All clones I got dusting in my Steam library start in “creative mode”, which is the worst possible thing you can do. It’s just lazy. And they all do it worse than the original, what more can you say?
Not a sandbox
Hexters will indeed have a “free play mode” but it is not a sand-box game per sé. There will be a large(ish) campaign to both introduce the game to player and to keep you guys interested. It also has a specific survival theme as the environment isn’t exactly empty and passive… but we’ll keeping a lid on that for a bit longer 🙂
Early Access is the abused cousin of the sandbox genre. Granted, there are massive success titles such as Introversion’s Prison Architect, Vlambeer’s Nuclear Throne et cetera, but to be honest I think we all know how many broken, never-to-be-finished and/or overpriced games there are in Steam Early Access. Refunds are one of the best things to make Early Access good and seems services such as gog.com is getting along with the trend.
So now after writing eloquently about the problems of EA we’re happy to announce we’re releasing Hexters for Steam Early Access (hopefully) before summer 2016. There is few simple requirements and points what we follow about putting a game in EA:
Early access is a launch
It’s a launch. It is. Really. Not being finished and cluttering “pre-alpha footage” nonsense everywhere doesn’t change the fact. One can’t simply unrelease a game from early access just to release it again after it’s finished.
Sort out the UI, mate
UI must be done and done well. This is one of the most prominent problem I often see in indie / early access titles, and is unforgivable. I got one certain sci-fi base building game in my Steam libraby which is still a mess after 2-3 years since most of the work has gone into writing graphic shaders instead of making the game work at least somewhat right.
“I’m not an idiot, I simply don’t have the time”
The game must not need a myriad meta knowledge such as pressing f1, reading readme or wiki to play. If it does, it’s back to the drawing board. The only exception to this comes every 10 or 20 years, such as the glorious Dwarf Fortress.
It’s a game, not a toy
Unless the game can keep you entertained for at least few hours straight, it’s doesn’t have enough content or gameplay enough for an EA game. This is the point most “sandbox” games miss.
Sounds good? And we’ve already tackled all of these at least partially already, so it’s getting along quite fine indeed!
And just in case you’ve somehow managed to miss our Greenlight trailer, here it is.