Once we had the houseparty multiplayer version of Austen up and running, it prompted us to take another look at the way we were structuring feedback to our players. Originally, after each “chapter” of the game the player was given some information about how they were doing with their bachelor. Which was fine. But the addition of multi-player meant that there were new, more useful and engaging functions for these information rounds. They weren’t working hard enough for us.
Among the changes; a new info round right before chapter four where everyone gets to see who the current first-place couple is. We thought this might allow for more “focused-fire” in the final round and encourage some more energetic leader-focused inter-player interaction (fancy dev talk for ganging up on the person in first place). In a similar vein, the “good listener” round was retooled to be available only to the human player in last place. It was renamed “the last-ditch effort.” Running “good listener" for every player was unworkably repetitive when there were five human players, we found, and this allowed the trailing player a chance to gain a +2 overall bonus, hopefully balancing the playing field a bit and fostering closer competition.
We’re continuing to tinker and polish in advance of Tuesday’s release. Tuesday! We’re so excited! Thanks for joining us.
But in a good way! We were really excited (and a bit relieved) to announce the official launch date for “Austen Translation.” The game will release May 1, 2018 on the Steam platform. We’ll be launching with a celebratory sale, so if you’re interested in picking up a copy, it will be only $5 for the first week.
It’s been a long, passionate and involving eighteen months and we’re really excited to have had you all along with us for this crazy development ride. Now we’re working on the final spit and polish stuff, with a little rebalancing and hunting down of misc. typos and weird programming glitches. Wish us luck over the next two weeks as we button up the last few thousand details in preparation for the official launch!
Sometimes, the solution to a thorny problem is right in front of you. Like, sitting there on the sofa in front of you. Recently, our tech team’s been struggling heroically with the daunting task of getting “Austen Translation” to run as a networked multi-player game. The systemic requirements are arcane and the documentation often less-than-helpful. When the issues were mentioned to a colleague at GDC, we were asked why Austen’s multiplayer wasn’t being built in hotseat mode instead. It was an epiphanous moment.
In hotseat mode (also known as “couch co-op” style) up to five human players can compete in real time. This, of course, is how the original paper versions of the game were play tested early in the process, and it reminded us of the fun of sitting in a room with your friends while everybody scrambled to marry the very few available bachelors. There is laughing and finger-pointing and all sorts of interesting emergent play behaviors -- like the tendency to help rivals who just helped you. The game really does seem to shine a bit brighter when the players are themselves scheming against and competing with those around them, just like their on-screen heroines.
In the end, hotseat turned out to be an all-around more effective and appropriate play style for this particular game. And we just needed a well-timed question to shake up our perspective.
We’ve been playing using a large-screen TV for the display and a Steam controller and the group experience has been pretty seamless. We debuted the new multi-player mode at the MassDigi “Made in Mass” Pax East party last week and the crowd seemed to really get into it. It seemed a much more raucous, much more social experience for the players than the more cerebral, intimate single-player mode. The photo below is courtesy of the MassDigi folks.
We’re especially excited by the success of the new multi-player model because it was our last significant technical pre-release challenge. So watch this space for the announcement of the official “Austen Translation” release date. And a big thank you to our programming team for their brilliant execution of the house-party multi-player idea. You guys rock!
Worthing and Moncrieff, LLC is an independent developer of video game stories founded in 2015.