6 min read

Our Simple Plan for 2024: 🛥️ Ship, ⛴️ Ship, 🚢 Ship!

This one shows you how two of our games - Gumshoe Prototype & Null State - have progressed through the end of 2023. It also talks a little about our plan to ship 4 games in 2024!

Happy New Year 2024!

Hey there! Lucas here, and I'm so pleased you've come to visit us again. How about a recap?

In September 2022, my daughter was born; just one month earlier, I had made it through a major surgery to remove an ultra-rare lung tumor. Those are the kinds of life-changing events which make you rethink everything you've been doing up to that point! After talking things over with my wife, she agreed to let me take a big risk and try building up a team to make some games.

Throughout 2023, I've brought the Triple Eye team together: I found our programmers early in the year, then our artists halfway through; finally, our writers joined in winter -- and the team was complete!

The plan for 2024 is simple: we are going to launch 4 games in the next ~15 months (yes, I know that there are only 12 months in a year - cut me some slack!).

Since you're here reading this, though, I'm not worried – because I'm happy to have your support.

Doesn't it usually take a while to make and market games, though?

Yeah, traditional wisdom in the industry says every step of creating a game takes a minimum amount of time, so that most games are expected to take (from concept to release) at least 2 years to ship to players.

And it's true: it DOES take a while to make & market a game, usually.

Alright, then -- what's changed?

Part of what will make us successful is that Valve has made self-publishing games on Steam easier than ever; I feel like not many people realize how Valve has tried to organize the Steam marketplace to the benefit of folks selling their games there.

Additionally, thanks to the hard work of Derek Lieu as well as the folks at GameDiscover.Co & How To Market A Game, there has never been a more clear map available to guide folks down the path to success.

And of course, the biggest aspect of our success in 2024 is the ascendancy of the influencer as a communications partner; there are a lot of talented people out there playing games for the entertainment of others, and they're always looking for cool new stuff to show people. As long as what we're making is interesting enough for them to play (and keep playing), it'll probably be interesting enough for folks to buy.

That seems really straightforward. Why doesn't everyone succeed, then?

Most people making games don't have the Triple Eye team supporting them. 💪

In the end, all of these pieces - the Steam fests, the influencers, & the marketing tips - only come together if there's a really good game to form around. I believe our team can (and will!) create games that people will want to play -- and they won't need 2+ years to do it!

With all that said... How about we take a look at some of the progress we made on Gumshoe Prototype & Null State this December?

Gumshoe Prototype Updates

Second Pass on In-Game Art

Athena (X / Bluesky) was hard at work on identifying the visual themes and structures we'll use in all of the scenes. She started with one of the most visually-complex and active scenes: a dark alley, where anything can happen if you're not careful.

Since the alley is such a potentially dangerous place, its highlights are all in red – the color we're associating with threats of violence.

I love the light and accent work here - especially the reflections in the puddles at the bottom of the sample - and I'm excited to show you the results during actual gameplay!

Storytelling With Interstitials - Your Actions Have Consequences!

Alasdair (homepage) spent the first half of the month getting Chatterbox in place (a tool which lets you use Yarn script in GameMaker Studio games).

This lets us do some interesting things after a scene has ended: based on how you play out the encounter, the story will unfold differently. Depending on the manner & order you face each Scene/Encounter in each Episode/Act, you'll get a different storyline leading up to a dramatic & surprising ending; there's no way to know what will happen each time you play!

For now, this is just a technical preview; once Athena gets the scenes in place, and our writer puts pen to paper in some Yarn scripts, we'll come back and update these interstitial screens to be a bit more... arresting.

Each Encounter has its own Win Conditions

Once Alasdair made the storytelling interesting, he started working on making the gameplay interesting as well!

We're moving past the "Crazy Eights" game mechanic of emptying your hand to win an encounter; it was easy to implement to get us rolling, however after playing multiple matches with the same goal (clear your hand), it was obvious that the rules were limiting.

To that end, we've added Scene/Encounter goals. The example here shows a goal where we must get the Money value over 4 AND keep the Threat value under 6. We already have 2 points of Wit that has been played - which does not advance us towards our goal (though it will likely affect how the story plays out in the follow-up interstitial!).

We'll avoid making these goals TOO complex, and - after some UX rework later in production - I expect the goals for each Scene/Encounter will remain very legible & understandable during gameplay.

Null State Updates

Multi-Language Support, Plus New Font

We are an international team, with members working from 4 different continents (and 3 different islands!), so it's important to me that we localize Null State (and all of our games, really) into the languages where our team members live.

Robin (Hobfield Games) got language selection working in December – now it's up to me to find some talented localization specialists and get them on board (if you're reading this: you know who you are!).

In the process of adding multi-language support, we had to switch to a new font (or else work on adding all of the accented characters to the original font we were using). After some side-by-side comparisons, we decided to roll with Adapa by Herald: it has the retro-hardware look we need to keep Null State feeling authentically aged!

Clarified Movement in Networks

After our first external consultation with an expert in cyberpunk tabletop & video games, we got some feedback on the readability of certain actions during gameplay.

Robin fixed that up, presenting the player with information on their movement through a network. Now, the player will be given the option to weigh their chances at a successful, silent sleaze past network security before taking the risk.

Of course, for anyone who's played XCom, you know that 72% chance of success actually means 99% chance of failure. ;)

In-Game Credits

I'm very happy to say we have each person who has worked on Null State - past and present - now listed in-game, along with the appropriate license information for any CC/FOSS used.

We'll be doing some more work before release to add more personal touches here, as well as at least one very cool easter egg for the enterprising amongst you!

Side Panel Rework

Billy (also Hobfield Games) completely redid the mechanisms behind the side panel (which you use to connect with people & networks), allowing us to communicate relevant information to the player at a glance. Although gameplay didn't change much with this rework, it was necessary for us to integrate other features in the coming months.

For now, I'm happy to see that Sid both has something to tell us, and something to sell us. Very cool!

(up next) Cool cool cool...  cool... so... When Can I Play Them??

On that front, I expect I'll have some news for you by the end of January... so keep your inbox open for the next Triple Eye newsletter!

Thanks again for being with us over the last 6 months. It means so much to me when I hear from you.

Until the next time: what secrets do you think are hidden in Gumshoe Prototype's Room #11?