Towns - Yesterday, now and "Tomorrow"

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Towns - Yesterday, now and "Tomorrow"

Postby burningpet » Mon Jul 29, 2013 11:19 pm

First, let me open with an apology. a rightly deserved apology.

We have been too quiet for too long, to the point where the notion of the game being dead was becoming the logical conclusion new and old players should have come to. we are very sorry for that and i think you guys deserved better.
before any one jumps into conclusions, let me emphasis that Towns is very much alive and kicking.

So, what happend: no way around it, as some of you have probably guessed, we got burnt out. we came to a point where we mindlessly worked like crazy on some features (Gods and Events) and in the middle of it all, the steam sale happend, not the summer sale, but the one before it. it drove around a large quantity of new players and with those new players, came the realization that our game is completely and utterly unfriendly to newcomers, to the point it tries to drive them away. that some of our base mechanics are not complete and that we need to stop everything and like a painter that takes a step back to look at his painting, we need to refresh our perspective. we have been playing and developing the game for so long now (two years and two months, this week) that we have lost track of what we wanted from the first place and just jumped from feature to feature, and while that brought up one of the features i am most proud of, the bury system, it also caused us to neglect some of the game's basic issues.

Now, i want to explain a bit what does it mean to get "slightly burnt out". it doesn't mean we completely put the game aside and just had fun doing nothing. on the contrary, being burnt out (perhaps exausted is a more proper word) is the most horrible feeling we had since working on towns. its a state where you wake up early in the morning and just mindlessly create stuff that later at the night you delete or roll back. its a state where you are completely power less to do anything valuable. this kind of state bring about huge amount of pressure, and can cause severe pains, both physically and mentally.

So, what we did was that at some point, we had to take a vacation from towns. the best vacation we could take was to start developing a new game. something fresh that would bring the joy of creation back. in the last few weeks we have been exploring several ideas and about last week we have found that one idea we want to take further, we have created a very simple framework and put it aside. let me be as clear as possible about this: We are not working on a new game right now, not until we are fully satisfied with Towns. but by having the clear vision of the future, it finally allowed us to breath a little fresh air and come back to looking at towns with a clearer perspective.

"Tomorrow":
What we are doing now, is completely setting aside the gods and events feature and come back to the roots.*
The things we started to work on and plan to work on the near future are:

Tutorials - proper ones.
Heroes - fully healing before returning to the dungeon. equipping and trading. rebalancing the dungeons and the monsters. have a way to influece which hero you want to attract (the dwarves and highlanders are easy, but we are thinking of items that attract certain heroes, so if you don't want to have barbarians, you wont have to)
AI - few improvements to the ai in several aspects. after crafting, situations when the citizen should run away. situations when the citizen should not go to some restricted places. reconsidering some pathfinding constraints.
Interface - we are pretty content with the panels and how they look, but not so much with how the mouse interact with the world in regards to the levels (the issue with trying to do something on the ground while the camera is on a higher level).

*Since the event system is fully in place, we will probably keep that in for the next patch, in some way. (we will probably just keep minor random events and the day/night / seasons cycle. no volcano disasters sadly :cry: , well, if anyone wanna risk a random volcano, we could keep that in as a mod)

Aside from those, we are now starting to play the game from start to finish several times and try to accumulate as much basic problems as we can so we could fix them before moving on.

When? - We really do not want to give false dates. we want to get a patch out as soon as possible, but we also want that patch to be somewhat meaningful, so it might take just a little bit more.

Last thing, Lets talk about numbers so far, since we know a lot have been asking us how towns did so far. we always wanted to keep the numbers to ourselves and we were pretty hesitant in sharing them, but now we came to a point where we just want to develop a good game, for a good community and be open about the whole process.

So so far Towns has sold more than 200k units and generated a gross revenue of more than 2M usd. and although we are pretty sure we can and will sell a lot more, we still see it as a huge success.
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Re: Towns - Yesterday, now and "Tomorrow"

Postby JackPS9 » Mon Jul 29, 2013 11:56 pm

not trying to be mean but the whole
"came the realization that our game is completely and utterly unfriendly to newcomers"
has been something even some of us that know the game have been saying.
Cause there is people since the release that are still on steam telling me not to buy Towns due to being unfinished and not friendly to new players.


also please tell me the events are going to be a option and not forced upon players.

Edit:
Anyways seeing how news normaly isnt posted on steam, I posted a think up to this thread for them to at least see for those that dont come here :)
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Re: Towns - Yesterday, now and "Tomorrow"

Postby wade69 » Tue Jul 30, 2013 1:09 am

jackps9 hey under the 14v they added in

Add: An option to disable god events

im happy with this aswell
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Re: Towns - Yesterday, now and "Tomorrow"

Postby wade69 » Tue Jul 30, 2013 1:11 am

burningpet thank you very much far the updates us as a community we need these updates ty
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Re: Towns - Yesterday, now and "Tomorrow"

Postby Badger » Tue Jul 30, 2013 2:15 am

I'm just happy to hear from you guys more than anything...
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Re: Towns - Yesterday, now and "Tomorrow"

Postby caprontos » Tue Jul 30, 2013 2:54 am

While I am good with this change mostly, keeping what is done for the events/gods system and just not adding them fully in to the game should be good.. maybe code out the gods part because they aren't practical unless they are fully fleshed out really (week 2 .. map is all lava isn't the best hahaha... even I did kinda enjoy it)...........

The events however... day/night cycle as you say is good for it for now probably (possibly add in some of the other working events.. idk).. and then leave the notes at the top (put a note by the things not fully implemented). and then all the extra code for gods/events just put them in a file that's not used by the game for modders or others who might want to see (or use for mods).... (maybe by the time you get back to events modders will have made a good assortment of events for you guys to take ideas from .. maybe.. everything will be on fire and destroyed but it will be fun.. right?....)..

My opinion on that anyways.

If you guys didn't find them.. These are some things we did make posts for you, maybe can use if you want thoughts.. (mostly just a bunch of ideas that were found over time in the suggestions forums.. all in a few posts rather then many posts)..

AI suggestion post:
http://www.townsgame.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=10246

Tutorial suggestion post:
http://www.townsgame.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=10594

General combat ideas (mainly the heroes probably for this):
http://www.townsgame.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=10597

New tags (a very long list.. though maybe not right for here might be useful for implementing things.. if you need ideas....) post:

http://www.townsgame.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=10258

*Been nice if more people posted thoughts but.. Maybe we covered most bases idk*

.. Anyway glad you guys are back. Everyone needs a break sometimes.
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Re: Towns - Yesterday, now and "Tomorrow"

Postby SoralTheSol » Tue Jul 30, 2013 4:54 am

It is nice to see that you guys are taking a look at the the game as it is and not what it could be. The events are nice and all, but several core systems just need worked on. Yes with a bit of thinking one can get around many of the problems but we really don't want to work around the problems, we want to play a game. Now there isn't any over reaching events in towns as of yet. It is a simple city builder/management game. But much of the difficulty we face in it is the very mechanics that drive the game.

If the AI was a little less derpy it would do wonders for game play.

If your townies worked via shortest travel distance instead of line of sight it would be amazing.

I am sure once you guys play through your game a few time you will understand the problems you are facing. Towns can be a great game, but adding more right now is not what you need. After playing on some of your maps and seeing how the Townies behave you should really look at what events are going to do to that. After all it is kinda hard to keep the gods please if your townies are not giving them the offers because they are too busy elsewear right?
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Re: Towns - Yesterday, now and "Tomorrow"

Postby Snowi » Tue Jul 30, 2013 10:51 am

burningpet wrote:Now, i want to explain a bit what does it mean to get "slightly burnt out". it doesn't mean we completely put the game aside and just had fun doing nothing. on the contrary, being burnt out (perhaps exausted is a more proper word) is the most horrible feeling we had since working on towns. its a state where you wake up early in the morning and just mindlessly create stuff that later at the night you delete or roll back. its a state where you are completely power less to do anything valuable. this kind of state bring about huge amount of pressure, and can cause severe pains, both physically and mentally.


This is a very common mistake "indie" game developers do.

Coming from a more "serious" software development business (I develop as technical consultant for SAP enterprise resource planning software) I can tell you: The only thing which prevents the above situation is following cheat sheet:

0. (invent the feature)
1. discuss the feature - which means: all pros, contras, maybes, dontknows ...plain everything. discuss it yourself, and grab a small group of dedicated users here and discuss it with them. If possible grab some people who dont know the game yet and ask them if they would play it with this feature, etc... the more different views you get, the less the risk to overlook something (see Design Thinking )
2. write everything down. Why? because this will help you to remember, why you are making the feature.
3. implement the stuff and stick to your list. If issues arise in this process, see 1./2.
4. check if your desired goal was reached, write down, if or if not. if not, write down why not - this will be your source when starting over with 1.
5. let people test the feature and give you feedback. Even if you are satisfied with your new "baby" there might be something you overlook completely. (this is called "software acceptance test" btw.). Important here: if you want to minimize the correction effort, let people test your stuff early. Remember the architect, who answered the question "why does it take you so long to design a building?" by "Here on the design board i need only an eraser to correct mistakes. Later one would need a jack-hammer"

...just my 2 spiderite on this topic.
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Re: Towns - Yesterday, now and "Tomorrow"

Postby YetiChow » Tue Jul 30, 2013 11:08 am

Well, when you guys do things you don't do them by halves... :lol:

I've always suported Towns because you guys had a solid vision, and I trusted that vision. Now, hearing that you've "taken the big step back", oddly enough, reinforces that trust - it shows that you guys are aware of how your vision interacts with the 'real world' :)

However, if I might make a suggestion: there are a LOT (as those figures show - wow, congrats guys! You did earn that success :D) of invested people in this game, and many people have taken up the 'gauntlet' of trying to fix their own problems through modding before giving up on the investment. I'd bet that a review of the recently released mods and WIP mods woudl give some insight into the other side of the game's issues - not just what they are (although, there are a couple of mods dealing with issues not often discussed in suggestions), but also ideas (and in many cases working solutions) to fix them.

At this point, the issues really seem to stem from features which are in 'limbo'. For example, multiproduction - everything would be easier in the higher population levels if you could get more than one bloody piece of meat from a whole cow :lol: That's why half a dozen mods, using various methods, have come up with ways to get mutiple pieces of meat from a single animal. That's one example, and I'm sure there are better ones (also, I may be a little biased considering I'm helping out on such a mod right now... :lol:), but my point is that there may be a wellspring of ideas amongst existing mods and the sprawling hypotheticals we hold in the modding thread.

I hope that you guys can beat down any remnants of the 'burnout', and get back into the full swing of creative work pronto :) I wouldn't be surprised if this "revolution" in your design brings further evolutions to the game - 'detours' still get you where you're going, and if you've lost track then a detour might be just what's needed to find the path again :)

The amazing thing is, no matter how "dead" the games seems the community has never really died. It's not just hardcore fanboy-ism (although I certainly could be accused of that :lol:), people who have been around Towns for a long time know that you guys always pull through on the important things. Now, your'e track record for communication might not be great (yeah, there's an understatement :lol:), but you're open and honest and quite frankly you accord us more than we deserve a lot of the time - certainly more than we'd get from other publishers.

So, TL;DR: it's great to hear that you're re-honing your vision and going back to sort out the core weaknesses of the game. It's a tipping point, but it doesn't have that ominous "everything has just changed" feeling - more like "ok, time to get serious".

As usual, this is about mroe than just game development - IMO it's also time for the community to review what we can bring to the table. We have people with ideas, we have people who have logged literally months worth of hours playing Towns - as a community, some of our resources would make AAA studios gape. Towns works so well because of the back-and-forth - from day one, the community has been an active part of making the game the best it can be. Now, if we keep doing that then I can see Towns bouncing to the next strength and the next strength after that, now that the decision has been made to deal with the 'in limbo' features (whether we get them, or get some kind of replacement, either way the gap will be filled) :D
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Re: Towns - Yesterday, now and "Tomorrow"

Postby madpainter » Tue Jul 30, 2013 12:57 pm

I know the burnout thing. It happens sometimes when you get sucked into a project, kinda like you think you can do better but somethings not clicking. So your getting frustrated, therefore finding things even harder, and round and round it goes.
Take the step back and regain your perspective.
Looking forward to the next update, and I'm glad to know its just work issues, not personal stuff.
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