I have two pieces of news today. The good news is that I have made the PAX demo available to preorder customers. If you log into your Humble account, you should have access to a Steam key for Escape Goat 2. (This key will eventually grant access to the final game.)
What’s in the demo?
It’s kind of a teaser with about 20-30 minutes of content. It has 15 stages, showing three different zones. Stage select and map access are disabled, so to play both branches you’ll need to play through twice. Saving is also disabled in this version, but since it’s a short experience I hope that won’t be a huge issue for you. The game hasn’t been tested on a wide variety of hardware yet, so let me know how it runs on your system.
That’s the second piece of news. It’s looking like….February 2014. I know that’s several months after the original date of September 2013 (almost two months ago now)–it was already an ambitious date to hit, and a few things came up which stalled development on EG2. Some of these were extremely fortunate in the long run, others not so much. So I present to you: the great List of Excuses of 2013.
1. In July, we focused on the PAX 10 build
We chose to focus on making a great demo experience at the expense of holding off on some of the late game features. Preparing the demo took about a full week, PAX itself was a week including drive time, and then there was at least a week of recovery after that. To be honest, I wasn’t at 100% stamina until maybe a month later. This provided a huge boost in terms of publicity and will help make the game a bigger hit, when it launches–but it did indeed delay launch by about a month.
2. In August, EG1 got Greenlit
I spent a lot of my post-PAX recovery time internally debating which game to focus on. After talking with my team, friends, and other trusted sources, I decided to put EG2 in the freezer while I prepared EG1 for its proper Steam launch. My hope was that Steamworks integration, testing, and storefront setup would only take two weeks. It ended up taking almost five… and once the launch happened, there were three weeks where I spent about four hours every morning on support, community interaction, and fixes. I eventually just had to cut it off and say that from here on out, I’m focused solely on EG2. I had to give up on solving 100% of the issues with the game, but I am happy with how the launch went and I think I responded well to the support tickets as they came up.
3. The dreaded map system I devised continued to torment me
Man, this thing. When I would show the game to new players, they were just not getting the concepts of using the map to warp to unfinished branches after reaching a dead end or locked door. Randy and I workshopped lots of solutions to this, and it is coming along, but boy did it take up a chunk of time. It will definitely add value to the final game experience, but its real value to me is a lesson in being careful about adding features that seem great on paper, but in context don’t directly enhance the core game experience.
4. Random illness and a day of jury duty
Probably another week delay here… at least I wasn’t selected to be on the jury.
I’ve made great progress in the last couple weeks–lots of new levels added, fixes made, and the map system seems to be working a lot better–but there’s lots left to be done. Here’s a rough idea:
- Level design–we have about 50 puzzles with maybe 20 in development. I can crank out 10 a day of these, with about a 50% attach rate, so that’s not a big issue.
- Music–the soundtrack is halfway done.
- Sound design–there are new gadgets that need sound effects, and some of the old EG1 sounds in use need to be upgraded to math the hi fi look of EG2.
- Ending and credits scenes.
- Special code for map, doors unlocking, stuff like that.
- Minor aesthetics and bug fixes, like the mouse spazzing out when it walks across moving floors.
- Story text.
If things go well, it can be done by the end of the year. That will leave January for playtesting and promotion, and February can be launch month.
Thank you for bearing with me during this development process. This is by far the most complex game I’ve made, and it will also be my finest work. I hope you find it worth the wait.