Hello! In this post I would like to talk to you about our next project in development for Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4 “Woodle Tree 2: Deluxe”.
This is actually a remake of a game released in 2016 on Steam called “Woodle Tree 2: Worlds” (link)
The game was pretty successful at his time with over 20.000 copies sold, but we were not able to include all the concepts and mechanics we wanted due to time and budget limit.
Thanks to the great success of other games we’ve release in last years (like Suicide Guy and more) we now have the budget to be able to create even a greater title!
We started the development of this new version in June 2018, trying to adapt the whole game to Nintendo Switch. Since it’s an open world platformer, the effort has been huge considering the limited hardware and the fact that our target was to achieve 60 fps.
Here a glimps of the map of the whole game, comprehending over 9 levels + new different platforming areas:
The remake we’re trying to achieve will comprehend a total redesign with new levels, characters, new cutscenes, improved game mechanics and much more.
Hello my friend! In this post I would like to talk about the game development process we’ve acutally used during the last years for our games.
To start by, I would suggest you to read even the “Agile Game Development with Scrum” book by Clinton Keith: Amazon link
The process we’re acutally using is very similar even if it’s applied to a much smaller scale studio (of 5 people instead of 200).
What is Agile?
Agile is an approach for developing products using short and fast iterations.
The ideas is to make small features for the current project in small periods of time. In this way the results of each iteration are used to adjust the project plan: each iteration is like a short project in itself.
What is SCRUM?
SCURM is an iterative and incremental Agile process that produces demonstrable working software every few days: for example a build of the project that can actually be tested.
How Agile can be used for Indie Games?
I think Agile can be really useful for indie game studios if used wisely: Since the initial concept of a game does never perfectly reflect how the final game will be, I think a Waterfall Development process is useless in most cases.
We usually start with the Concept of the game and then start the Preproduction and Prototyping process for testing the main mechanics of the game.
While we’re still in the Production process, the Concept and Design core of the game can still be modified depending on the feedbacks of our testers that are testing the first prototypes. If something is not working well in a game mechanic, we’re still able to modify it without great effort from the Programmers.
This is just an example, but this process can be used to every phase of the development: for example while the Sound Designer is making the sound effects of a character and the Animator is making the animations for it, the Game Designer can test both and give feedback on how well the sound effects are linked to the animations.
Personally I think that Concept and Design can be modified through the entire development process of a game (even in the final Post Production stages) if this does not change too much the Deadline Release.
I think Agile can be even extended while working on multiple projects at the same time. We usually develop 2 or 3 games at the same time and Agile is really useful since some of the ideas, concepts and mechanics could pop up in the development of a game and can be used even on other projects.
This process can even be useful to avoid Dependencies of members of the team: for example if a programmer is waiting for the animations of the main character in order to finish the code for the run mechanic, he can meanwhile work on other mechanics or on another project.
It’s important to have a cohesive team, since the potential savings in cost for team is lost when time and effort is wasted through iteration delays and dependencies between team members.
One of the most interesting phrases from the Agile Game Development book referring to the best team Clinton worked with is:
“Much of the chemistry of that team is a mystery to me. There doesn’t seem to be a formula for how such teams can be created, but I’ve found that it’s quite easy to prevent such teams from forming” - Clinton Keith
Agile and Scrum are surely some of the things that really can help these kinds of team to form since it allows all the members of the team to communicate and have a larger view on the project.
In the end the game release and feedback from the public were great and it helped us to continue the development of the game.
We’re actually working on the Xbox One release and the new chapter console release.
Since the game went well we’re actually thinking of new levels and chapters that we would like to release in the future, so expect new content coming soon!
In this new chapter of “Suicide Guy” you’ll be challenged with even more insane puzzles, generated by the surreal dreams of the Guy. You’ll encounter the weirdest of the living beings as you go deeper and deeper into his subconscious. This time to wake him up you’ll need all your skills.
We would like to take a moment to thank every single gamer that helped us during our first years of game development.
Game development is really a tough job, but thanks to you and all our fans, we were able to continue to immerse ourselves in the development of our ideas and experimentation.
In particular we would like to thank Valve and all the Steam community supporting us:
And many more, thank you again!
We will continue to make games all thanks to you and to your amazing support.
Game Development for us started back in 2011 and since then we developed a lot of complete games and were even able to experiment with this incredible medium.
Here you can check all the games we were able to publish until now:
At first it was just an hobby for us and we weren’t even thinking about making this our full time job.
After a few years thanks to the success of this game we understood that this was becoming something special that people appreciated.
This lead to us with game experimentation: we were able to test new ideas both on Steam and Web brower games websites like Kongregate and Newgrounds.
Thanks to the success of our first title we decided to develop the sequel Woodle Tree 2 (released in 2016).
Even in this new title we tried to experiment with gameplay mechanics and interactions:
we included an open world mechanic, one of the first of its kind for a platformer game.
Another interesting thing we wanted to include are special moves thanks to the only weapon the protagonist has (a leaf).
Our last but not least game is Suicide Guy (released in 2017).
With this title the intention was to create almost a new genre in the gaming field starting from the first person puzzle games like Portal.
This game had an amazing impact on the Steam community and on youtubers with millions of players all around the globe.
Thanks to our community we are able to continue our work, our main objective is still to create unique games that can open the eyes of its players.
We’re currently working on Nintendo Switch, PS4 and Xbox One converting our first game Woodle Tree Adventures and later even our other games, but don’t worry since Steam is still our main development platform.
Stay tuned to see when these games are going to be released in the next months!
A brand new game is in development too, still unannounced. We’ll share the details with you soon!
Thank you again for the support you’ve shown to us :)
Here the 9 fundamental steps we used to create this new game!
The first concept we had for the game was back in 2011.
At first we were trying to find an original concept for our next game:
that’s when we had in mind the idea that the player had to kill himself in order to surpass every level.
Since the concept and the action in the game has a really strong impact on the player’s reaction, we decided to make the game in first person.
For the first alpha version we had in mind a total of 3 levels that would help the gamer to understand the mechanics, controls (how to activate an object etc.) during the whole game.
The gameplay can be considered as a parody of the most classic videogames in which you have to find a way to save the life of your character, while here you have to find a way to kill him.
We first developed an alpha version of the game (back in 2011) with 3 levels using Unity3D, you can play the browser demo here.
As you can see it was at an early stage compared to the final version, but the main ideas was there.
The browser version has been played a total of 100.000+ times during the first years.
We started the design of the levels first on paper and then modeling them in Maya.
As game engine we used Unity3D: it is a really suitable engine, except for the fact that it’s pretty difficult to optimize the levels to run at a smooth 60 frames per second as target.
The optimization took a while in certain levels where there is a high amount of detailsand objects.
The use of lods, compressed textures and new optimization techniques has been a must.
Since the main concept to pass the levels is to kill yourself, we wanted to create a motivation to it. Why would the character need to kill himself in everylevel to go to the next level?
That’s when we developed the idea of dreams inside of dreams, inspired by the movie “Inception”.
We first made the storyboard to make the story understandable by everyone, then used the cinematics to make a tangible story.
The character had to be characterized since it’s one of the few beings in the game, that’s when we had the idea to characterize him during the levels, thanks to the objects he imagines in his dreams, derived directly from his experiences in the real life.
We used Trello as project management tool and Source Tree as repository for the assets.
It’s perfect for organizing the workflow when you have a team of 3 or more people. In our case we were in 6 as you can see in the image below and we divided the work like this:
Fabio Ferrara (Game and concept development, Gameplay programming, 3D modeling, Soundtracks and Sound effects)
Yan Dawid (Camera programmer and Gameplay)
Giulia Airoldi (Concept art and texturing)
Fabio Masnari (Tester)
Andrea Masnari (Soundtrack composer and Sound Effects design)
Selcuk Yagci (Character modeler)
We’ll soon share the trello link when the game is finished.
We used Maya for modeling the environments, items and the characters, While Photoshop for texturing.
For skinning, rigging and animation we used the animation system integrated in Maya as well as lots of animation references from cartoons such as Looney Tunes, Adventures Time, Studio Ghibli movies and many more.
Cubase was the main software we used for composing the Sountracks and Audacity for the sound effects as well as a large variety of sound libraries.
We designed the levels so that the soundtrack is alwasy diegetic in the sense that it’s inside the narrative context of the action: It’s aways played by a radio that can be turned off and even used to pass certain kind of levels.
For the level creation, Unity3D has been really useful.
We created the design on paper and then the main structure of the level was modeled in Maya in a single .fbx file. All the elements and details were separate meshes and prefabs.
For the iteractive items, we set the positions in maya with red cubes, and then positioning the prefabs in Unity 3D.
We think this is the best and fastest possibile way to create the levels especially if you want to make future modifics during the development.
9) MARKETING (Before release)
We started marketing the game immediately after the first Alpha was made, with constant updates of images, gifs, soundtracks etc. on our social pages:
After the first days a lot of youtuber videos of the game went viral with over 1 million views, here some examples:
This helped the visibility of the game A LOT and infact Big youtuber starts started to playing it, even making more than just one video of it (Jacksepticeye and JuegaGerman) with over 3 million views:
In the end after the first month, this helped the game to sell over 10k copies, and millions gamers aware of the existence of the game.
The great thing for us is that the game is still selling constantly even after the first few days (with a 20% discount), while generally the sales drop after the first discount.
I would say that for us the youtubers views count was the determining factor that helped the game to be featured on the front Steam page in the most popular games
The first reviews from press started to came out after the first week of release (we sended press copy AFTER the game was out, but probably we should have sent them 1 week before) here some few: