Some more less-circular ideas for Tilt to Live 2 enemies. Again, no idea what (if any) of this will make it into the final game. We’re kind of hovering around the concept of giving the dots some war machines. The battering ram dots are an adaptation of the old big red throwing knives from Tilt to Live 1′s Gauntlet mode. The tank is probably a bit much for a Tilt to Live game, but I like his little general hat.
This was one of the first concept pieces I played with for Tilt to Live 2. None of this stuff is guaranteed to make it into the game, but you can see I’m messing with some alternate enemy types. As much as I enjoy the idea of a big freaky mega dot, it has to fit well with the flow of the game to make it into the final product.
Most of my concept work is just quick sketching thrown around on a big canvas, with some color or grayscale values thrown in occasionally to flesh things out. Nothing super-polished, just enough to make the idea tangible. I’m pretty determined to do more than just draw circles for this game, so we’ll see where that ambition takes us.
I believe that Guacamelee for PSN was made specifically for me. Samurai Jack’s artwork, Smash Brothers’ combat, Metroid’s exploration, and a Mexican theme. I. Loved. This. Game. Download it on your Playstation 3, or at least enjoy the soundtrack and dream about what could have been.
On the iOS space, Year Walk (universal app) is the most recent game to catch my attention. I know it’s been out a while… I’m usually late to these parties. As you can gather from the trailer, it’s a super-atmospheric, dark, exploratory, puzzle game. I’ll admit I had to look some puzzle solutions up, because the designers expected me to be much more clever and patient than I actually am. I think the highlight for me came after I reached the end, because that’s when I started digging through their companion app (which is like a mini encyclopedia for the game) to make sense of what just happened. It’s a neat structure, the whole two-app thing, but it sort of hides the story away outside of the game, and I don’t know if I’m in love with that. All things considered, it engages your brain muscles and gives you lots of neat stuff to look at. Well worth picking up.
These barren screens are early background concepts for a likely iPad version. The arena would be scaled between devices, so you can compete with your friends even if you don’t have the same iThing. Can you tell I was playing DmC when I came up with this Code Red concept? Code Red in Tilt to Live is hard mode, so I really like the idea of making it sort of a Limbo/Silent Hill Otherworld version of Classic Mode.
From a recent meeting: “You shatter the weapon orb and freeze time. Your bomb will detonate in 30 minutes, or for 99¢ it could explode right now!” Tilt to Live 2 is not planned to be a free to play game.
We’re in the weapon R&D phase as I write this, mocking up as many ideas as possible to see what sticks. I’d forgotten how fun Tilt to Live brainstorming sessions are. In a universe of abstract shapes and “burnicades”, almost any crazy thing you can think of fits.
“Post mortem” is a game industry thing, reflecting on a project for our own benefit (to learn from our mistakes and successes), and for anyone that might try to follow in our footsteps. Production for Outwitters has been suspended, but servers and season support will continue for as long as there are players to spend the wits. The forums will always be around to find active teammates and opponents.
This is being written by Adam, the artist half of OML, and doesn’t necessarily reflect Alex’s experiences making Outwitters. I’m responsible for artwork, and we collaborate on the business and game design decisions.
What Went Right
As the first prototypes for Outwitters were being assembled, we had never balanced a competitive multiplayer game. I had never done real character animation for games before. I hadn’t done digital painting since high school, and I didn’t have much in the way of level design experience.
In the roughly 1 year and 10 months we worked on this game I tried all of these things, scrapped the work, and redid it until it felt right (or we ran out of time). Looking at the project in terms of what I was capable of when we started versus what I can do now, Outwitters was an amazing learning experience. We really challenged ourselves and got outside of our comfort zone, and I think that paid off.
The stated goal of the project was to create a turn-based strategy game for everyone. It started as sort of a reaction to strategy games I thought were too complex to get into. I think Outwitters is easy enough to pick up, and we’ve had a fantastic fan community that’s really taken to it. But there is one caveat:
What Went Wrong
When you set out to make a “strategy game for everyone”, that includes people who don’t like strategy games. While working with some of our testers, we learned that these people don’t like them on a molecular level. They do not want to play your turn-based strategy game, no matter how cute your bears are. So catering game design decisions to them, like keeping teams the same except for one unit, was probably misguided.
A bigger problem, financially, was that Outwitters took a really long time to make.
After release, I remember Alex wondering at what point we would break even. How do we even calculate that? We wrote it off at first; we’re a small company with no office, so our games must only cost sound effects money and the occasional equipment purchase. Then it occurred to us that if we need this much in salary to feed our faces and X to run the company each month then, gasp, our time has value! It sounds crazy, but only now do we know what a month of game production costs us. And Outwitters cost many months to make.
The rationale behind our business model was something like “it’s multiplayer, so we need lots of people playing” and “freemium seems to be working well for other companies.” There was definitely a dash of “we can do it without getting all shady with ads and timers.” Not much thought was put into pricing, conversion rates, or how many users we’d need to break even; because that had never really been a problem for us before. We didn’t understand what made the freemium business model work. I’m glad that we learned something about the business side of game development, and we’re still very much alive, but it was an expensive lesson.
Having moved out of content production for Outwitters (no more new teams/map themes, but we’re still looking out for balance and bugs), I thought it’d be nice to at least show off some of the leftover race concepts. They’d have been redrawn for the actual game, but I’m still pretty fond of a lot of these designs. Maybe you’ll see some of them crop up in a future game. I’m especially proud of the ice pig.
Very early in production, but still excited to announce our next project: Tilt to Live 2: Redonkulous. Be sure to sign up for our mailing list for an email reminder when the game’s released, and stick with this blog to follow our journey back into the realm of arrow-on-dot violence.