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WildFactor
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« on: November 14, 2014, 10:22:02 AM »



You are the villain ! build your mansion, raise yours monsters, and set up your traps to kill visitors.
But if you want to keep your reputation you have to follow the Horror movie Villain's Rules: kill your victim when they're alone, kill the virgin last, and do not hurt the dog !


Machiavillain is a horror mansion management game, inspired by Dungeon Keeper, Prison Architect and all the horror movie clichés !

We came up with the idea of using horror movies clichés as rules during a Ludum Dare jam, you can play it here.
 
More gameplay video, animated gif on our kickstarter page:
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/335326767/machiavillain-horror-mansion-management-game








Concept art research
Paris Games Week 2014 Post Mortem
Basic grunts: Zombis + gif
EGX Rezzed 2015 Post Mortem
 

« Last Edit: September 28, 2018, 11:39:22 PM by WildFactor » Logged

Savick
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« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2014, 12:24:54 PM »

I like the visual style.
I would like to see it in action, like gifs, when you can get around to that.
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WildFactor
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« Reply #2 on: November 16, 2014, 03:14:06 AM »

I like the visual style.
I would like to see it in action, like gifs, when you can get around to that.
Yes, we will do some nice animated gif soon Smiley
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WildFactor
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« Reply #3 on: November 17, 2014, 03:22:35 PM »

Here is a first gif, zombies cleaning up their mess :D




We'll record more gifs as soon as we have the gameplay video for PAX submission done !
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WildFactor
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« Reply #4 on: November 18, 2014, 03:05:33 PM »

Before moving on to where we are, we thought we'd share some "concept" art.

This is what the Ludum Dare version looked like (at the time the player just had to place and activate traps):


When we decided to develop the game as a simulation game, and allow the player to build their own mansion, we had to give up angled thin walls since it didn't tile well.

We tried a few other approachs:




Inspired by Ubisoft "Soldat Inconnu", but it felt too "serious" ?


We liked this one (kind of german expressionist-ish ?), but it would have quickly become unreadable so...


Getting there...


And final-ish look:
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AD1337
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« Reply #5 on: November 18, 2014, 04:25:08 PM »

Very interesting! I know you mentioned the game, but this looks a lot like Prison Architect with more personality and a better art style.
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Nicholas Lives
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« Reply #6 on: November 18, 2014, 06:10:54 PM »

Here is a first gif, zombies cleaning up their mess :D




We'll record more gifs as soon as we have the gameplay video for PAX submission done !

I love the way they lean when they walk. It's a nice touch, makes them seem lazy, like they're just dragging the weight of their heads around. Loving that art progress as well! Always fun to see how things change over time. I look forward to seein' more!
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WildFactor
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« Reply #7 on: November 24, 2014, 04:41:31 AM »

AD1337 > Thanks ! Prison Architect is definitly a huge influence.
PureBredGentleman > Thank you ! we also did some rough mockups of other POV, I'll post them as well if I can find them ^^;



A quick Post mortem on Paris Games Week today.
It's one of the biggest video game related event in France, 270 000 visitors this year.



Not sure if our experience will be of much help for non french dev, since our booth was part of a small "Made In France" area. The space was less expensive, and the group who organized this area included a lot in the fee: booth, computers, screens, 500 cards with a unique number on each (we used them to give away the game, see below), paintings on the side of the booth, and even sandwiches and beverage ! The staff was extremely nice, thanks again guys !

Costs:
Booth with 2 computers (one featuring Machiavillain prototype, the other Freaking Meatbags, our other game) & 4 exhibitor passes = 1800 euros (~2230$)
1250 flyers = 75 euros (we have a little under half left) (~93$)
Booth decorations for both games = 300 euros (including our failed attempt) (~372$)
4 days of extra help = 400 euros (~496$)
No travel/hotel fees since we live in the area
Total = 2575 euros (~3200$)



Most of the crowd wasn't specifically into indie games, and we were in a smaller less crowded hall than the two main, but we still had a steady flow of players.  It allowed us to test the game overall concept and humor, and we got a great response.

We met (mostly) french media interested in indie games, and got about 6 online reviews and 1 online video review.

We did a special build for the event: we chose to start the demo with an already built mansion  with a few unfinished rooms (instead of leaving it entirely to the player), have a first wave of victims, and then ask the player to build some furniture, and leave some time for them to finish the rooms before the next wave.
It tested well, but we're not sure if it was a good idea or not... On one hand it allows for a faster test (which is a good thing considering the players were standing, the screen were neck-hurting high, and Machiavillain is not multi-player which makes it difficult for someone in a group to spend too long a time on a solo game). On the other end, part of the fun and strategy is deciding what type of room you build. So we still have some thinking to do about how to make a simulation game convention-friendly.

We gave Steam keys to players who passed the second level of Freaking Meatbags (our other game) in exchange for just an inscription to our newsletter. We used the cards included with the booth with unique numbers to enter on our website, and got 60 subscriptions out of 67 cards given.  It was nice to see smiles on people faces not aware they'd be getting the game for free before their play session.
We even got kids coming back to ask us if it was for real Smiley



Decoration mistakes: we had to re-print the title boards because they were too heavy for double tape.
Advice : heavy plastic may be more resilient, but it's also quickly too heavy to  hang it. We ended up redoing everything in lighter foam board.  
On the other end, it is less resilient and the tree felt and broke so many branches we ended up with a  tree trunk XD

Our main mistake was to not ask if players who enjoyed the game wanted to join the mailing list or just leave a note pad for them to write their contact if they wanted.

Some stuff were stolen on the booths around us (a couple mouses, headphones, a mouse-pad) until the association secured everything with cable clamps.

Standing up for 10 hours straight can be hard, we ended up bringing our own chairs. We weren't able to sit for long because of the player flow but it helped. Beware, any unattended chair will end up with a tired visitor sitting on it Smiley

We also attended the same time the Game connection which is a professional event (developers, editors, and french as well as international press).
« Last Edit: November 24, 2014, 02:29:35 PM by WildFactor » Logged

Fenrir
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« Reply #8 on: November 24, 2014, 04:59:32 AM »

Thanks for the report, it's really interesting! And what's your overall feeling, does it worth it?

Apart from that just discovered the game and I love the concept!
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« Reply #9 on: November 24, 2014, 06:03:59 AM »

We liked this one (kind of german expressionist-ish ?), but it would have quickly become unreadable so...


This is striking. Can't remember seeing anything else quite like it.

I think you could probably make it readable, but it'd require a lot of work and some sacrifices. If it were me, I'd spend significant effort on exactly that.  Grin
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WildFactor
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« Reply #10 on: November 24, 2014, 02:25:52 PM »

Thanks for the report, it's really interesting! And what's your overall feeling, does it worth it?

Apart from that just discovered the game and I love the concept!

Thank you Fenrir !

Was it worth it:

- Direct return of investment: not a chance, since we give away one of the game and the other was not for sale yet.
If we imagine that 100% of the players who tested Freaking Meatbags bought it afterwards, it would be a ~500$ profit (but our game is a strategic game with long play session. We can't just stop the game after 10 minutes, so we have a limited amount of players each day)
But of course player test at least 10 other games during the event. Even if they like it, they have to remember our game name, not lose the flyer etc...
- Even the press coverage don't bring much immediate players, since most will need to see your game several time before making a purchase. An article, even on a big website, won't give you a huge boost.
Overall immediate ROI is not good.

What was positive:
- Huge motivation boost. People enjoyed Machiavillain a lot and it reassured us on the choices we've made.
- Get direct contact with the press. Something you can't get by just sending emails.
- Train us to speak to players and to press. We were able to refine our speech, because we reacted to the body language of people/when they smiled/when they got bored...


Dukope > thank you ! glad you liked it, since it's definitly still on our mind for our next game Smiley
 
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« Reply #11 on: December 16, 2014, 01:11:57 PM »

Base creature:

The player can give orders to various monsters, but most of them are attacking creatures and have a limited range of abilities (attack/special attack/hiding).
Zombies are the "basic grunt" who do most of the work.
We assigned a prop to each task, so the player can easily tell what the zombie is on its way to do, like a helmet for when they build walls/floor/furniture.


They can contaminate victims and make more zombies (I have to gif that), and they can hide (with a very clever disguise XD)


They butcher, clean and feed other creatures (automatically so far).


To do: work on new tasks,  plus eventually we'd like to add at least another one category with the same abilities but different bonus/malus... Maybe mummies, who would be lower maintenance (need less food) but would not be able to contaminate humans for instance.
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« Reply #12 on: December 30, 2014, 03:10:10 AM »

Update: holiday season + programmer busy finishing a prior game = slow progress, we're mostly brainstorming about non core-gameplay stuff, like the field:

The player starts with a sizeable ground to build their manor the way they want, but we'd like to add some random elements to the (until now) blank field to keep the beginning of the game a bit "fresh".

So far we're considering:

-cemetery: source of ghost/spirit energy


-regular forest/evil forest :  good to harvest evil wood to build traps... or maybe just to get twigs, because you know the visitors will find a way to trip on them XD
Forest could also randomly hide special monsters (Chupacabra, Wendigo, ...). They could be foe (steal your prey) and/or be convinced to join your party.


-road: the map may have 1 to 3 maybe ? More roads means victims will have an easy access to the mansion (I always feel a bit psycho when I write "victims" XD), but on the down side, so will monster hunters later in the game.


Anyway nothing is decided yet, suggestions are more than welcomed if you have any Smiley
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WildFactor
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« Reply #13 on: March 22, 2015, 07:15:21 AM »

Wow... it's been a while... we lost ourselves in development and convention prep and forgot to update our devlog :/
On the plus side, it means we have a lot to share ! Starting with a post mortem of Rezzed Smiley



EGX Rezzed Postmortem

EGX Rezzed 2015 was our first convention in another country !
We decided to go for a booth including 1 computer, a big screen and a printed banner to avoid travelling with everything, but you could also chose a booth without computer and banner for about half the price.

You can also apply to get a free booth in the Leftfield Collection (we tried but didn’t get one), it was in a slightly less crowded area than the Indie Room, but closer to the Press Lounge.



Our booth

Budget:


    1000£ for the single screen booth (incl. banner)
    + 50£ extra for a bigger screen
    0£ for hotel, we stayed at a friend’s appartment
    240£ for train tickets from Paris for 2
    70£ for subway/bus
    30£ for flyers and buttons (estimated amount, since they were from a previous order)
    + food expenses
 

Total: 1390£ / 2080 $


What went right :

- The game concept: gamers liked the overall concept (horror mansion sim), the art style, and enjoyed the humor of the game. The game design, though still at a very early alpha stage, was well received as well.

- Meeting players and seeing them play: It’s a good reminder that we may know how the game works, but it’s not always obvious for people who didn’t design it. We saw what players tended to do/look for and we’ll try using those reflexes to improve our GUI (which requires a loooot of work).

- Press: we met quite a few journalists, got a short article on Rock, Paper, Shotgun, and on several other websites, all very supportive.

- 30’’ screen: maybe not the best choice for playing, but very useful to showcase the game.

- Having a mailing list form: on our previous convention we gave flyers, but completely forgot to ask if players wanted to join our mailing list. This time we had a sheet ready !

What went wrong :

... the mailing list sheet: a hand written form is a good idea if you are skilled at decyphering writing. We have about 1 in 8 adresses I have to show to my pharmacist.

- The timer: we didn’t have an “end” to our demo, so we put an end screen at 10 minutes. Turns out it wasn’t enough, because management game takes time (if only to build something), plus the timer included the tutorial.
The second problem is that it created a quick turn over, and considering that having players attract more players, we never had a crowd. The obvious good thing about a crowd is that it gets people to notice your game, even if they don’t have a chance to try it, so you get more interest compared to the limited amount of players who can try the game each day.

- Banner: ours was kind of desaturated, which was obviously our mistake considering all others were fine (my best guess is wrong colorimetric profile ? we were in a rush and forgot to check it)

- Networking: we’re still more social caterpillar than butterfly, that’s something we’ll have to work on.
We also thought we’d use our evenings in London to catch up with our friends who live there, not realizing there were things happening after the convention, and ended up missing networking and just plain fun occasions. In retrospect, this is probably our main really avoidable mistake.

- Our english: is very, very french. It’s okay when talking in person, but not so much on camera Embarrassed


All in all Rezzed is a fantastic convention for indie games, and we’ll definitly want to go back with our lessons learned !

If you have any question, feel free to ask !
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« Reply #14 on: March 22, 2015, 10:26:52 AM »

Great post-mortem on the show. Always interesting to read these.

Tip on being French and speaking English: I always tell my French friends to fake an over-the-top French accent (or how they assume Americans would fake a french accent) and suddenly Americans will be like "Oh wow, you're French?" Sounds like a bad joke, but Americans understand fake accents much better than authentic ones... So if you're ever struggling to find the right words, start exaggerating your French accent...
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WildFactor
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« Reply #15 on: March 22, 2015, 11:56:35 AM »

Great post-mortem on the show. Always interesting to read these.

Tip on being French and speaking English: I always tell my French friends to fake an over-the-top French accent (or how they assume Americans would fake a french accent) and suddenly Americans will be like "Oh wow, you're French?" Sounds like a bad joke, but Americans understand fake accents much better than authentic ones... So if you're ever struggling to find the right words, start exaggerating your French accent...

We will try this next time (at least it sound fun Smiley
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« Reply #16 on: March 23, 2015, 12:02:04 AM »

ah this looks super fun and i loooooove the art style. i was totally a fan of dungeon keeper and still think there is a gaping void left after that terrible f2p abomination, and it looks like you guys have the humor and cleverness angle sorted.

also i wanted to mention that your booth here looks pretty slick  Hand Thumbs Up Right Hand Thumbs Up Right





i think ive shown games at like 11+ conventions and my booths are always hot garbage, so im impressed when indies make it look good
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« Reply #17 on: March 23, 2015, 12:36:47 AM »

Thanks again for the report!
And I totally understand the french accent problem, mine is maybe even worst... Smiley

So you're talking about a Kickstarter for next month, right? How the preparation going? And how do you manage do go on KS while being french (we still can't create KS campaigns from France...)?
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« Reply #18 on: March 23, 2015, 01:23:30 AM »

love the french accent tip. Thx oldblood.
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« Reply #19 on: March 23, 2015, 01:53:39 AM »

Nice write up, it's always good to see some cost transparency on these kinds of things! Your art and your booth looked great!
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