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Our New Free Game - Starship Murder
Hey, everybody! Kuba from My Next Games here.
Ufffff…. It took me longer than I anticipated but I finally got our new game out into the world! It’s called Tales From The Arcade: Starship Murder and it’s an experimental murder mystery roguelite in which the killer changes every time you play. You can now get it for free via Steam:
or if you prefer web browser visit Newgrounds:
Hope you guys enjoy it! :D
With this little announcement out of the way, let’s move on to this month’s update. Today I thought I would tell you the story of Starship Murder’s development. I decided to do so not only to show you the process behind a curtain but also as a record of how this thing came to be.
As I mentioned in a previous update, it all started with Hank: Straightjacket - a tiny little adventure game we made at the end of last year. We came out of that side project with high spirit. It was a lot of fun to quickly create something small that everyone can enjoy. As soon as Hank: Straightjacket was released, in our spare time, we started brainstorming ideas for another little game we could make. After a month we took a vote to decide which one we’re gonna pursue.
The vote landed on the picture above. The concept was simple: you click different points of the space station to repair it. After a few more discussions we added in the murder mystery angle. Expecting the people to follow a real time dialog while they keep an eye on the station sounded risky. It could have ended up overwhelming a player. We decided to go with it anyway :P. After all, we were making a tiny free indie game. The goal was to create something unique and learn from the experience.
With all that out of the way it was time for a dummy screenshot. It’s a method I use to better visualize the game to everyone on the team. As my art skills are pretty limited (I’m a programmer) what I usually do is mash tougher whatever i can find on the internet until it resembles what I’m trying to convey :D This is also where we moved away from the idea of the space station in favor of a starship. The journey that is implied with a spacecraft was a natural way of telling the player when the game would end and at the same time it maintained the atmosphere of isolation we were trying to invoke.
Then, finally came the day when we started the development. Initially we set ourselves a two week deadline for finishing the project. We started working and… we failed :(. This is how the game looked at that point.
There were two main problems that we were facing. First, was that the game didn’t feel like you were playing as an AI (It was more like: you're just a human looking at a couple of panels) Second, was that the location window which was de facto the main view of the game was too small and cramped up. Even though we passed the deadline we decided to continue with the development.
With every day passing I started to become more and more angry with myself and the project. It was supposed to be done quickly and now who knows how much time it will take us to solve the problems we encounter. It also didn't help that at this point all of our personal lives suddenly became much less stable (housing situation, costs of living you know the staff). We needed to finish this thing ASAP!
The soundtrack came through on the last day. Witek(Artis) introduced me to his brother - Rafał. He has been making music for years and besides the tracks he released on the internet he also had hundreds of unpublished ones. He sent me this album - Vintage Dust - that's been sitting in his drawer for a while. I unzipped the package, added the tracks to my playlist and launched the game to see if what I’ve received fits the mood. A few moments later I knew we had hit the jackpot.
The game was almost finished. There were still issues of balance and dialogues though. Unfortunately we needed to stop - our lives became too erratic to continue… I hated everything about Starship Murder at that point…
Two months later things started to stabilize again. I don’t like to leave things unfinished so I reached out to Matthew(Writer) to resume our efforts on the game. We sat down and spent another week working on it. He was writing and I was tweaking the overall pacing. As I was going through the game I realized that the break we took refreshed my perspective. This thing wasn’t even close to being that bad as I remembered it to be…
Fast forward to today, I’m actually quite happy with how Starship Murder came out at the end.
P.S Overall, if you summed up all the time we spend on development it would be around 6 weeks.