So much stuff to tell about! That is a good thing I think, that means the demo release is closer than ever.
Here is a link for if you haven’t wishlisted the game yet. You can use this same link to get onto Steam to install the demo when it releases. https://store.steampowered.com/app/1855160/Find_the_Gnome_2/
New ideas for existing problems
I am currently working on finishing up the last things that make the demo ‘good’. I came to find that this pressure had a very positive effect on me. Let me try to explain this.
There are all kind of things that I know aren’t perfect. Coming up with a good solution is hard. So in the past I have delayed to work on solving these issues until I came up with a simple but smart solution, or simply had more time to work on a ‘more complete’ solution.
However not fixing these things before the demo release will very likely result in people pointing these issues out. And even worse, the demo is there to make people want to wishlist the game & buy it later on. So a bad performance would hurt in the short term and long term.
So with the limited time, I have to try something. Preferable the simple solution I had already in mind but that weren’t ‘complete’ enough to my preference before.
Funny thing is, this deadline really helps coming up with even smarter solutions than I had previously come up with. That fit within the time boundaries of the demo release. And these solutions aren’t limited to ‘its fixed for the demo’, but these often are also really fixing the problem for the full version of Find the Gnome 2. This makes it that there are even less hurdles to take before I can release the full version. And that on its turn makes my mind a lot less stressed about the full version release because all the hurdles are magically disappearing.
The mind is a crazy machine. And I probably have ADHD (because thats a thing apparently: they work a lot better under a deadline)
So I got a SteamDeck last week. Ordered this thing like a year ago, and it finally was delivered at my home. I took the opportunity to install the Find the Gnome 2 full version on it (its a beta build, not completed yet). And showed it around to a few people.
However, the controls were lacking massively. It wasn’t play-able on the SteamDeck. I hoped the mouse emulation did work, and it did, but the total set of controls (mouse emulation, touch screen, gamepad contollers) didn’t work together at all. So imagine touching on the screen to catch a gnome, only for the screen to move around on touch and you missing the gnome. And if you hit a button of the gamepad controls, all kind of unhelpful movements where made.
This is one of the long standing issues with Find the Gnome. The control scheme isn’t that great, and I don’t have gamepad support. I know a lot of people play games similar to Find the Gnome and get really frustrated with the control schemes of these hide-and-seek games. So I had controller support and a good control scheme on my backlog for years.
So I set out and added the new Unity input system. Had to tune a lot of things to get it going with the different situations the game can present. But it turned out to be a very good and extensible platform to build upon. I have now a simulated mouse for when you pick up the controller. And you can switch now between mouse&keyboard, gamepad or touch. On the fly.
Still need to finetune a few settings. But it looks really promising currently.
Steam platform integration
While I was on it (getting the game to work better on the SteamDeck) I also continued on to integrate the Steam platform by adding the Steam API.
This API will enable more fluent startup of the game and the Steam overlay. Later on, I can extend the achievements from in-game to also be reflected on your Steam profile.
But for now, I mainly updated Steam to also include Cloud save support with Find the Gnome 2.
Another small touch I added, specific for the demo, is the inclusion of a wishlist action in the menus of the game. It isn’t as shiny als the old demo games from back in the days, that had these ending screens with elaborate collages of levels and things from the full version. My wishlist button suffices for now.
There are a few remaining parts to work on. These are the following:
- Tutorial section on start
- In-game feedback form
- Improved responsiveness for menu’s
- Basic game setting menu
- Credit menu
I don’t know if I get all these things completed before the demo is released. Most important is the tutorial part.
Interesting detail: From that list, 3 things are menu related. I really seem to struggle with all kind of menu systems. Have a hard time coming up with good solutions, and struggle to get myself to work on these things. I had this back in the day of the first Find the Gnome game. And other game projects. And now with Find the Gnome 2. Well, I just keep trying. Adding little improvements. Until its ‘good enough’.