Inflection Point


This week kicked off great. I managed to finally play a fully online game of Charge with someone I didn't personally know, even got up to the final turn without it breaking (it broke on the last turn). I was over the moon!

This playtest had validated so many hypotheses I had with Charge:

This isn't to say there weren't issues, there were hundreds, but they were all details, not necessarily deal breakers.

Actually.. there were two.

The game really really needs a singleplayer option.

See, I don't expect to have the reach of getting tens of thousands of concurrent players across the worlds timezones. So far Interloper has reached less than ten thousand players. I'm fine with those numbers personally, but it leaves a bit of a hole in a game that's primarily a multiplayer 1v1 game. The last thing I want is for the game to feel dead because nobody is playing it. So.. we need a singleplayer experience, or at least.. AI or Bots of some kind.

Concerned by this development I went back and re-scoped the entire game. I've got limited runway to complete the title (or at least.. to start earning money from it) and the minimum length of that runway is March 2024 (it extends quite a way beyond that under certain circumstances, but I like to plan for the worst). After spending Tuesday and Wednesday scoping, prototyping, feeling the edges of whats possible with Charge I came to the conclusion that the earliest it will be ready for launch is May 2025.

That's a long time to be working on a title without significant income

I was devastated to see this. The extra scope from singleplayer options, AI, testing and exceptions blew out the rather lean multiplayer game I had planned. I can absolutely forge ahead without singleplayer, or even cut back on scope some more, but I think this would be a pretty grave mistake, especially after what I've learned playtesting I've done so far.

The second dealbreaker is how complex the codebase is so far, and how difficult it has been to develop a multiplayer title on my own. Many things I thought would be simple to implement have become way more complex than I initially imagined. Even the basics of just sending a turn to the opponent is difficult (in part limited by the GameKit restriction on turn size being measured in bytes). Anytime something breaks with this, it leads to a headache inducing period of bugfixing that.. I'm not 100% sure I'm built to handle.

So, faced with this situation... I went back to the drawing board.

I'm not 100% sure on this just yet, but it looks like Exoloper (the mech game) will be my next title going forward. From what I've scoped out of that project so far it looks like launching early next year should be doable, maybe even later this year. There's a ton of efficiency built into that project, from its similarity to Interloper from a design perspective, to its not quite sequel status, to just being a singleplayer title to start with. Part of the scoping exercise was looking into the game's persistent campaign concept, and working on some "mood" concepts.

Charge is a game I love deeply. It's been the title I've wanted to make since before I got into the games industry in the first place, and so the decision to put it on the backburner is not something I take lightly. I'm not sure if the game needs a total rewrite, or if there's enough of a good game sitting there as is for a future launch.

Bit of a bittersweet week really. Started great and now I've gotta put that project to rest for the time being.

Charge Tasks completed:

Exoloper Tasks completed: