Content Update for HB and DT
2 months ago
– Wed, Jan 29, 2020 at 01:05:46 AM
Hey everyone! Finally publishing another update again today. I tend to have a list of things I intend to place in each update, and end up waiting a bit overlong to give the update if they get delayed. Apologies for the wait!
Ok, some great things on this front.
Hiroki Kikuta finished track 3 a while back, and we've been sitting on it. It is a complex composition that gracefully describes a varied mixture of concepts and emotions at once, which is appropriate for the part of the story it fits into, which is -redacted spoiler-!
We also recently got an update on track 4, which was originally intended to be a core theme for the overworld. It sort of developed its own character over the two versions, and now it feels like it may be better to use this particular track as a regional theme for a certain overworld location.
We have the two tracks paired with gameplay B-roll. Note that the first scene is quite old, so while the tileset is an actual location intended to be in the final game, the mechanics and animations and such are years old at this point; the second scene is from the KS demo, and is more up to date.
For Dawnthorn, Shannon has two tracks to present.
We gave a sample of the continue theme for DT awhile ago, and Shannon recently sent us a finished version that we spoke back and forth a bit about. Shannon has also made the artistic choice to work by the hardware constraints of the NES system to give the Dawnthorn OST an extra layer of authenticity, by working within Famitracker. It is adding a bit of work for her, but the results are lovely. The latest iteration of the continue theme feels really special, so it felt appropriate to share it now:
We also have a new version of the dungeon track to share, now more or less complete and properly looped:
Steam Page for Dawnthorn
We are also happy to present the steam page for Dawnthorn, which is freshly up! If you want to do something that helps us a fair deal, hit the "wishlist" button, as that helps Steam recognize the page has interest, and Steam will show it to other users later. We are also going to be using Steam to publish our first alpha builds, so that was an important step for setting that system up.
Dawnthorn Systems work
Something which took up A LOT of time (a lot more than predicted) was writing the full dialogue tree for Dawnthorn, and designing the map of triggers and variables which stitches it all together and lets the game know what to say and do when. I had a lot of fun writing these parts, and I think the story has a lot of quirky character. It ended up with some interesting post-modern and deconstructivist elements, and a running thread about standards of proof, and how to act on insufficient knowledge and data, as well as some one-liner zingers that people of all ages and diverse backgrounds can reflect on.
It wasn't too bad actually implementing this system, as we laid the groundwork for it when constructing the engine for HB, but populating it with content and mapping it all took time. It still isn't fully done.
Everything is handled in a nifty node-editor system which Mark made within Unity, which streamlines the process. Here is an example of how an NPC is mapped out, and then encoded into the game engine:
Something else which I've spent a good chunk of time working on recently is tuning the Dawnthorn overworld for the roughly 10 states of player progress through the character development tree, since the entire overworld (along with the NPC dialogue system I just mentioned) will be in the first alpha build.
Rather than pontificating about that, here are some scenes from that process, to give things a bit of color:
What is next for Hazelnut?
Ok, so this is the obvious elephant on the update page. We honestly need to start showing more of the art and gamplay progress for Hazelnut soon, rather than simply the music tracks. Actually implementing Dawnthorn has taken a bit longer than projected, alongside the expected-unexpected episodes or setbacks to deal with here and there, so that is why the last updates have focused a lot more heavily on the work we have to show on that front. I have been quietly working on character and tileset art updates for Hazelnut in the background while I do this stuff, and that will probably be the next thing we see for HB. Since Kikuta-San is nearing being finished with his work, Shannon will have all the material she needs to start working on her own contributions for the Hazelnut OST- that is something else exciting to look forward to. I'd also like to start working on the backer content for Hazelnut soon; I know I've said that before... starting to sound like a broken record lol, but I am nervous about taking on too much more at once and getting spread even more thinly. I seem to produce the best work when I focus on only a couple elements at once and put full energy and intent into them.
Btw, if you backed at the 1000 USD or higher tier, we are also offering the chance for those backers to design a Dawnthorn enemey with us. A few of the users at that level have of course taken us up on that offer, but a couple of those backers still haven't gotten back to us about that yet. If you are one of those folks, be sure to get to us soon so we can get your ideas into DT!
As always, let us know what your feedback for all of this content is, and any concerns you may have!
Halloween Update: Second Blood
5 months ago
– Fri, Nov 01, 2019 at 02:19:37 AM
Ok another one a bit late in coming, but at least it is packed with various, oddly timely goodies!
Ok, our second Track from Hiroki Kikuta:
This one was a bit tricky to get right, as it is outside of Kikuta-San's typical sort of inclinations, and it is pretty crucial to the work, but we arrived at a pretty good result after some iterating! The base motif (the recognizable, singable melody) is planned to be written into a host of variations for each of the many dungeon tracks to come! As a bonus, you get to watch me forget how to play our own game!
Backer-Submitted enemy concepts for Dawnthorn
This one is half-enemy, half puzzle element! An animating gargoyle statue that drops down on the player's head wall-master style, pauses for a moment, then resumes flight; several variants create different effects upon landing, some more dangerous than others, and the enemy also synergizes well with the spear-item's push ability while in paused statue form!
These are definitely Halloween bunnies, and not easter bunnies! We'll let you find out why later!
This next one is still a little rough (in a process stage with Mark the Programmer), but we are calling him the "Fortune Goblin"!
There are still three people who have the right to help us design a Dawnthorn enemy (in addition to their Hazelnut one), so if you are such a person, and don't see your idea represented here, get back to us soon by message or email!
Level Design Progress
So the entire overworld for Dawnthorn is mostly "done"tm, and has all of its animations, collisions, enemy placements, and interior and warps in place. We are still implementing the NPC system though, and tuning the enemy variables. It is a bit tricky to properly plan, since Dawnthorn, like Hazelnut is a game where you experience the same world at a host of radically different power levels as a character controller, and each has to make sense, and appropriately challenge the player, while giving some meta-hints, such as enemy intensities to suggest where the player ought to be exploring at any given moment.
I hope to have a livestream up at some point in the future, featuring some of the tuning work on the overworld, which can also serve as a live QA. It should be a fun event. We will mention it in a future update when we have a date!
Here are a couple twitter excerpts from the beginning of that process:
Design a Collectible Tier
We are finally nearing the time when we are going to ask for backer responses for those who supported us at this tier! Stay tuned, because we will probably lay out the process of how to approach it and contact us in the next update!
Happy Halloween Everyone!
A small update to break the silence!
8 months ago
– Thu, Aug 08, 2019 at 02:33:00 AM
Hey everyone! We've been working on a host of things around the projects, and have sort of had our heads down, but I looked at the last update, and saw it was months ago. We've been planning on having a bigger update for a while, and had a list of things meant to be on it; but too much time has passed, and we do have most of those things to present, so I can show you a few now, and some more just a bit later!
We've been working with Kikuta-San on two tracks so far: The Boss track, and the Dungeon track for Hazelnut Bastille.
The Boss track is just about done. We don't have the final-final version, but here is one that is very close to final, dropped into the scene from the demo with the crab boss for context:
The Dungeon track is still being worked on. There has been one version so far, but we are targeting a certain sound and structure for that that I think it is critical for us to hit. We should have that one to share shortly as well!
Shannon is still working on a few things (juggling a couple major projects), but in the meantime, we can share a little sketch she made for the Dawnthorn Continue Sequence at least:
Dawnthorn Title Screen Art
I spent a bit of time working on a new title screen concept for Dawnthorn, as a prerequisite to loading Dawnthorn Builds to steam for Alpha-backers (you need a pretty robust art package to build a page). I think it turned out fairly well so far, let me know how you guys like it:
Here is the older one, for comparison:
And finally, some stuff that is sort of neat, that we didn't plan to share, but here it is because we need stuff to pad this overdue update out!
A cute little look at the animation for the world warp system in Dawnthorn, 100% out of context (which makes everything funnier):
Some newer overworld enemies, again totally out of context in a dungeon test room, hehe:
The Current inventory as it appears in late game DT, with a full map:
The Current world map as it appears ingame:
We've been doing some work toward bringing the current work into the Switch platform, now that we have access to the devkits, and all of that is going well enough. One of our studio mates even took a past game we made for a jam and brought it quickly onto the Switch platform, to test the waters, and it actually went off pretty well without a hitch.
Tax season went very well for us, so our time spent panicing and switching accountants in February really paid off. Big Thanks to Alec Breeding and co.!
We are in a place with Dawnthorn where I think we will be able to share content videos somewhat more frequently, so look forward to lots of those!
And of course, the upcoming Alpha sessions for DT are on the radar!
Late Backing Success, Nintendo Switch work, Dawnthorn Boss work update
11 months ago
– Fri, May 24, 2019 at 03:21:21 AM
Ok, so I was sort of holding off on an update until we accumulated a few big and tangible things, but too much time passed, and we do have a collection of medium-scale stuff to report at least!
Late backing Success
On April 3rd, 2019, we launched our late backing program for Hazelnut, which gives folks who either missed the original kickstarter, or who needed to pay through a means like Paypal the opportunity to get involved, and at roughly the same reward and cost points. Despite being fairly casual about the campaign, things went quite well in the first 40 days, reaching all the way to 29,000 USD in extra backing, between new backers and backer extensions! We've just about hit our target amount for that campaign, which in our financial figuring was intended to offset some of the slightly underfunded liabilities for the campaign (we thought of the KS and the Paypal system as one unit as we were planning everything in August). Put another way, we've close to zeroed-out, and our known costs are nearly fully offset by funding now. We haven't hit too many financial surprises yet, so at this point our numbers continue to look pretty good.
I spent more time than I anticipated answering questions and doing customer service for the late backing, and it went a bit over time budgeted, but not terribly so.
There is a bit of a caveat to explain with this late funding, in that we can't treat the money the same way as the Kickstarter funding, and apply it as needed to costs incurred as we go. It must only be used for costs at the end of development, due to policies Paypal has about crowdfunding.
Nintendo of America Presentation
Based on where we are in development, we are at a point where we need to start integrating the constraints and special needs of the Nintendo Switch platform into our builds.
The hurdle that we had until recently is that devkits and information related to the Switch are very closely guarded by Nintendo. Nintendo's method of operating is centered around curation and quality control. Their philosophy, as best as I can work, is to offer the customer a very high level of care at every level of their experience, from their customer support, their conscientious first party content, and their selective certification for third party content. Nintendo is also famously tight-lipped about their process for approving third party developers.
Facing this big and intimidating unknown, and in a position where we must not delay integrating the Switch into our development now, I spent a very large amount of time on our presentation for approval for Switch development- admittedly more time than I expected and budgeted for it. We covered the Studio's history, our personal backgrounds, the development history of Hazelnut, our full development outline and projections, our demographic targets and studies, the relationship of the work with Nintendo's design and content philosophy, major selling points, the mechanics and player experience, quirks of implementation on the Switch, our finance and budgeting, our marketing techniques and projections, a guide to our current media, a collection of past gamespress and influencer coverage, Youtube material, and several other areas. It came out to 40 pages of text and another 50 pages of media, all indexed for easy perusal.
Nintendo liked the presentation, and we've been approved to access Switch development tools and material, as well as the devkits, which is exciting! We can't say a whole lot about it, as there is a deep NDA involved, and it would be easy to say too much without meaning to.
Something else that is interesting to note is that our survey is now at 93% reporting, so we have pretty reliable numbers for various things now.
One surprise is that the percentage of users requesting Switch copies for their rewards is QUITE high... approaching 90%. Going into the campaign, we knew that the Switch community would be the biggest block of interest in the work, but I didn't expect 90%. Seeing those numbers has led us to change how we think about the work; previously, we thought of it as a PC build that would be ported for Switch and PS4. But now I think we have to think of it as a Nintendo Switch game with a PC release and a PS4 port. Some things are the same either way- we are still using the same Unity build, and all the builds are going back to a parent build, but it is a shift in how we think about things.
Mark is working on refactoring the code base to prepare it for the console builds... basic stuff like how input and menus are handled, how ticks and the event manager function. Now that we know what the Switch's constraint profile looks like, we can finally start on that. It is sort of a moment where some coding tech debt is catching up to us, which is one thing that has contributed to not so much outward content to see recently.
This section unfortunately echoes, the past few updates.
Still not much to report here; we expected to present the first Hiroki Kikuta track by now,but HK had to spend a bit more time working on “Indivisible” than expected during May (Be sure to check that out, it is looking amazing!), so is only just now starting Hazelnut work. Shannon is in a similar place, but we hope to get a few tracks done together shortly. Crossing fingers! If we do get these in, we might preview them in a mini-update.
Dawnthorn Boss work
The biggest area that I've been focused on content-wise is getting the boss material finished for Dawnthorn. We have a pretty full roster there, with 11 main boss encounters, and 6 or so minibosses. I got into a good groove with that work, and decided that it would be good for development pacing for me to do all of these bosses and minibosses at once, over 25 days or so. I know most folks don't like to see too much of the boss material before playing the game, so here is just one (please forgive the "prototypey" presentation):
We've prototyped just a couple (I've been working separately from Mark for a bit, as we focus on individual tasks), but it shouldn't be too much work to hopefully get them all working and integrated soon!
Hopefully we will start getting to the point of wrapping up Dawnthorn content, so we can start showing more Hazelnut Content updates! There is still a fair bit to do with DT, but we are getting there!
Late Backing is up, with Paypal Support; Everyone may now use the Survey System
about 1 year ago
– Thu, Apr 04, 2019 at 02:20:30 AM
Late backing and Preorder Store is up at:
As always, our support email is:
Surveys going out
The April 1st “Smoketest” of the system went over quietly, and revealed no issues.
240 Users (5%) were selected randomly, and 154 reported after 2 days, for a rate of around 64%. It will probably take weeks or months to get to 90% reporting. Only one of those users asked a question, and it did not seem to point to an underlying issue. We feel these results are good enough to go ahead with the full launch now. All users should receive notification of the survey, and can use it immediately.
Most users will have paid exactly the amount that their tier and associated shipping costs. These users don't need to do anything else involving money or payments. The system is setup to handle Addons, so they will go through an interface that shows them credits and payment information, but at the end it will show no additional charges, and result in no charges.
What to do if you want Addons, or Pre-paid for them
Some users pre-paid for extra items during the Kickstarter. A common thing was to pay the 50 USD and shipping for additional physical copies. For these users, the system will notice that the user overpaid for their tier, and will credit them the additional money. The user then is given the opportunity to apply the credit toward the Addons they want.
Other users may have paid exactly what their tier costs, but they would like to take the opportunity to purchase Addons now. These users will pay the balance of the extra cost via either Paypal or Stripe.
The system is setup in a way where it should only show you Addons which make sense given what tier you chose. For instance, someone at a very high tier doesn't see most of them, because they already have the majority, but such a person still has the choice to buy additional copies, digital and physical.
Late Backing, Paypal, and Pre-order store
People who did not, or could not support the Kickstarter now have an opportunity to do so through a system that is called the “Pre-order store”. A common problem in some countries is not having access to a credit-card or debit card with credit-like features, which is a requirement for Kickstarter. These users generally prefer Paypal.
We wanted to offer a Paypal option during the campaign, but the complexity of setting it up and having the necessary legal paperwork to do it properly took much longer to complete, so we combined it with the Addon and survey system; we are there now: we can officially offer a Paypal option for payments.
In this sense, the Pre-order store is also our late-backing and Paypal alternative.
Paypal, Stripe payment
We have two options available for payments for Addons, late-backers, and “Pre-orders”. Stripe is the system which Kickstarter also uses to process payments. We've set the system to plan to charge these payments around the time Dawnthorn (the 8bit-sister game we are working on alongside Hazelnut) should have been released for our HB backers.
We believe you should not be charged until that moment, but we don't yet have confirmation on that.
From the Smoketest, users selecting Paypal seem to be charged immediately, and we have already received these payments.
What is available for Addons, late-backers and Pre-orders
Here is the list of what is offered:
- Name in credits, 5 USD
- Digital Copy of Hazelnut, 15 USD
- OST, 5 USD
- Sheet music, 5 USD
- Artbook, 5 USD
- Alpha, Beta, Second copy, 35 USD
- Physical copy, 50 USD
- Deluxe Package (identical with 100 USD tier), 100 USD
The logic behind offering these specific items, is that we have to carefully serve three audiences at once, in a way that doesn't confuse any of them, and is fair to four unique users.
There is the backer who wants an Addon: this user should have access to Addons at logical cost that don't duplicate things they already paid for.
There is the later backer: this user should have access to the same sorts of things offered during the Kickstarter, while not having to pay extra for them.
The Pre-order person is similar.
Also important is that the normal Kickstarter backer not be disadvantaged by a superior deal offered afterward.
Since the Pre-order and Addons system also share items, we had to set it up in a way where there wasn't confusion between an upgrade item and a standalone. For this reason, we made choices like bundling the Alpha, Beta, and a Single Copy together. This way, a person who got that item isn't advantaged over a normal backer in having access to the game without having purchased a digital copy, yet the same item still functions as a logical Addon to a 15 or 20 USD backer, and a standalone.
It was a small challenge figuring out a fair way to do this, and I scrapped several systems before arriving at this setup... the problem most of them had was that I felt they would confuse a normal user with too many options and result in hundreds of tickets and mistakes.
This system seems both fair and straightforward to me.
So at this point, the system has no revealed issues. But that doesn't mean it doesn't have any! If you hit something unexpected, and you've carefully re-read everything several times, go ahead and send me an email at:
You can also ask a question right here in this update topic, if it is something that applies to lots of people.
Keep in mind it is me personally answering these, so if I have to spend a week answering 1200 questions, that is lost dev time of course, but if absolutely necessary, I am here to answer them, and will answer every one as always.
Some users will have some advanced thing they did with their order (man, I don't even want to say what some of these users did, to give others ideas about how to make our job impossible, hehe), but if you are such a person, go ahead and send me an email that explains your special situation. If the interface doesn't look like it is setup to handle your case (it handles around 98%+ of the cases, so think carefully!), go ahead and send me an email that describes your special situation, and I will enter a manual note for your account based on the info.
If you are such a person, THIS is the time to tell me about your case, even if you did in the past, since this is when I am recording the special notes! I estimate there are about 10-20 of you guys.
How long will this stuff be up?
You've got quite a while on the surveys. Pretty much until Dawnthorn ships really. Even after you enter your info, you can change it, as it isn't really going to hurt anything.
Especially important to note is that you can change your address up until we ship Hazelnut copies, so don't sweat it if you move! There are 5000 of you, so it is only natural some will move.
We will have the Addons and Pre-order stuff up for at least a month, to give late backers the same shot to get on board. Some of the Addons will probably disappear over time, like the Alpha-Beta item, so if you are someone who pre-paid for Addons, better to get your survey and order done early to have the largest number of choices; but that said, most of the things that make sense for actual KS backers to get as Addons will be around a while probably.
Here are a couple gratuitous Dawnthorn videos... content update coming soon!
Let me know if you guys run into any issues!
This has been an awesome group so far... keep it up!