11 min read

Witchmore direction discussion: let's go to (bullet) hell

What kind of game should I make? I'm considering pivoting Witchmore from a dungeon roguelike to a combat/arena game!
Witchmore direction discussion: let's go to (bullet) hell

Let's start the year off strong by solidifying the direction of my upcoming game Witchmore on this episode of Make the Game.

Listen on Anchor, watch on YouTube, or read the transcript below:

Automated Transcript

Yeah, why not? Let's talk about uh wish more a little bit. We're going to do this rough and tumble. I don't really have any notes prepared. No script. Nothing. Let's just uh let's discuss the project. You're listening to make the game with matt hackett. So, Which more is trying to check a lot of boxes for me.

I kind of want it to be. Probably too many things. I'm probably stretching the project a little thin. I wanted to scratch my hitch. I wanted to be a really big game. I want it to be pretty marketable. I wanted to kind of have a unique hook. I want it to be in a genre that is sort of, current and popular.

I want the numbers to add up, which is going to be hard for me because i've already spent months on it and it's probably way over budget already. I think something i want to talk about right off the bat is Um, i've been learning about Marking my game more especially like game design is practically the same thing as marketing and it takes a while for that to sink in, you know, but it's really true.

There's a relatively new term. I learned about to me, which is, um, An anchor. So, I read about this on how to market, Agame.com and put a link in the show notes and all that, of course. Um, But an anchor is basically. The game that you reference when you talk to people about, Your game.

I think it's one way of looking at is, and so, like, i was using for, which more. I was using animal crossing as my anchor game. I would say. Okay, so it starts and with animal crossing as a base, And it goes from there. The problem with that is the vision i have for which more isn't really close to animal crossing at all.

And animal crossing being an anchor game. Maybe anchored actually means the the features of people expect from the anger game. But like if i say animal crossing to someone, It means different things to them than it does to me. So, The parts of animal crossing that i'm going to have in my game.

Is the sort of open world sort of sandbox the ability to like, plant trees. And carve your space into the world. Customize your house, customize, your character. But there's lots of other parts. You came across saying, i don't plan on having like Uh, characters with lots of personality. Lots and lots of different designs on characters.

Uh, pages and pages of dialogue. New events every year, seasonal events. Hundreds and hundreds of. Uh, presence and fruits and shells and sticks and stuff. You can put in your house Some of those things, i will have and others, i won't. But basically what that means for me is that Animal crossing is kind of a poor anchor game because The players.

That here animal crossing are probably going to be expecting things and i'm not delivering. So i need to find a different game to describe the sandboxy parts of which more Which are really the parts. They're at the core of the game, is i really want it to be a game where you can walk around.

And if there's a little town there, you got your little house. And there's just this living breathing world, you can play around it. Something else i want which more to be Is a place to house, all of my random ideas that come up. Which is sort of a big ask.

I'm asking it to be. Very versatile and extensible and bendable. So let me explain what that means to me is i will get randomly the itch to make a new game. I think it happens to a lot of us happens to me really bad. And, You know, starting a new games, a lot of work.

Especially the way i like to do it is i usually start with Either a clean slate or something kind of bare bones. It's pretty rare. I will just take like a finished game. I've got And just put a new skin on it or something. So, Any new game idea.

I get Is, is a A lot more work, starting the new game. That it would be to say bake those features into which more So that's sort of what i'm trying to do is Sig at the urge to make like a Puzzle blocks game like a Tetris type, something like that, right?

I'm trying to make which more fertile enough ground to where i could. Scratch my blocks puzzle itch, inside of which more. Because which more is something that already exists. It's super simple sandbox. And so It would be receptible to something like some blocks gameplay which fit right in there and it would also make which more bigger and cooler is the thinking Is.

Look at this cool game that has all these mini games and stuff in it over time. But again, that's a big ask, it would be easier for me to make a simple game. That was just one thing instead of it being this kind of big thing that's designed to have a ton of different mini games.

Baked into it. So, before i got Mildly obsessed with, um, Bullet, hell arena games and made that vampire survivors video. My plan. Like written down prepared, ready to go. For which more was to start creating grottos. And so you've got this sandbox, overworld in wishmoor. And engravos are like these little dungeons that are kind of peppered around.

And you'll find like a hidden entrance and you expose the entrance sort of get a key and unlock the door something, and so you can go into that Grotto. And the grotto would be. Basically like a game of witchy or spelunky, right? Which more is an overhead game. You can get a weapon, you can run around in the world and so i was going to make a little rogue-like dungeon.

Which, I don't many times before totally doable, that's one of the reasons i wanted to do it. I love road bike games. Sounds like fun to me but It is a lot of work. You got to make the dungeon generator which i've done like in witchy in a wizard's lizard, but You know, it's non-trivial.

Uh, a lot of bugs pop up, you got to make sure there's a path to get through the level. You got to make a bunch of content, you got to make. Crates and chests and monsters that have interesting behaviors, that understand how to move around the dungeons and get past tiles and maybe even open doors and stuff.

So it's it's a big ask and i was prepared to do that. But it's also. Hard to market a game like that right now. There's so many roguelikes Like that dungeon exploration and whatnot. So, the bullet hell arena games. The reminding me of, you know, my history with, like, onslaught arena, and it was just lizard and the bar just feels lower.

I know. It's, it's sort of an illusion because those bullet hell to read a games. Have a lot of work. That you don't necessarily see in every screenshot but there's a lot of balance. There's a lot of content. There's a lot of things that matter to get right, but just not having to have this big old dungeon to generate and not having to have monsters with, you know, complicated behavior that know how to get around obstacles and stuff that removes.

A lot of work from the plate. So, I find that arena bullet hell. Gameplay, really attractive for those reasons. So, Those pieces being on my table. What makes the most sense to me is to arrange them in such a way? Where i can take the robot dungeons off of my plate.

And i can replace that with. The arena board. Hell. Gameplay, you'd get in a game like Um, Magic survival or, uh, our vampire survivors. Or potato 10, 20 minutes till dawn. It's a bunch of great games, they have that sort of gameplay. And so that's the direction i'm leaning.

But i also don't want to borrow too heavily. Like, i'm not a And the kind of developer who gets really inspired when i play a game but i have no real interest in just copying it directly you know like i don't want to actually know what the specific numbers are behind the scenes.

I don't want to clone something too close. I kind of want to take the the spirit, which to me is like A really big power-ups that overlap and Just zombie hordes. Basically is hordes of monsters that walk towards you and then just how do you make that interesting? How like a filter that through my own taste and my own ability and grew up with a game that way instead of, you know, hey, this is by take on vampire survivors and you know, it looks feels smells like vampire survivors like That is interest me as much.

And i guess, i could touch two on the, you know, as pitching an idea a few episodes ago about, maybe i will. Make a game that's just survivors, right? Like Um, i read a bullet hell game which survivors or something like that. Where it really is that gameplay where you're you're always in an arena or you're in some menu upgrading and whatnot.

Um, I think there's a lot of Um, a lot of reasons to like that project and i think it's smart in a lot of ways. But, I also. Don't think it drives terribly well, with Um, which more itself because i think the the vision i have if when i simulate the year in my mind, I would start working on the survivors game on earnest and january or something.

I think that would be most of my year. I mean, realistically maybe i could launch an early access within a few months. Maybe even it's done a few months, i don't know. You know how game dev is it's always two or three times longer, you think it'll take But i don't think i would get back to which more until mid-year realistically june or something.

Plus, i wouldn't want to burn myself out. But the idea of integrating the arena bullet held gameplay into which more doesn't really make those compromises, in fact, it's it boosts switch more development. I think i will be able to get it on just steam maybe first quarter next year or something.

So, the question that brings up to me is If animal crossing is not the anchor game, then what is Should i make the anchor game? Basically, you know, one of the bullet hell arena. Type games. Where, you know, hey, it's for fans of, you know, vampire survivors likes. But the twist, as it has all this cool sandbox stuff and you get your own house and you have this meta game, you can kind of, you know, go back and forth between, right.

You go, you play your really fun bullet, hell arena. You get some power ups, you take that into sandbox. Area, you know, you could now you get some power up from the arena, you can take into the forest and open a door or you win something. Lets you buy some cool new item for your house.

That's kind of where i'm picturing. Because that sounds pretty cool. It does sound like taking the idea of a bullet, hell arena and doing more with it. It's sort of a sort of a twist. But it's also kind of a mashup. Where it's, you know, take the simple bits from Animal crossing.

And then merge them to kind of create this, you know. Two loop situation. One loop as you go and you're playing the bullet. Hell arena. You get a loop as you come back into the sandbox and you craft stuff and you unlock stuff and you get better weapons and you bring that into the arena, you just kind of go back and forth.

That sounds pretty cool to me and i think that'll help me market the game too. Because as i get closer to actually having a steam page and stuff, you have, you know, you got to start writing sentences and you got to have several Several sentences for the description. You gotta have a big old chunk of text for.

The game summary and whatnot. And you really like you need to make it sound exciting, but you also need to make it sound, really simple? I understandable and you need to know. I'd steam the reality is you have to know what kind of audience you're going for. And you know, talking about animal crossing the most a while ago is just the wrong.

Strategy. It was never going to deliver on that stuff. The dialogue alone, and i don't want it to live in this murky. You know. Kind of a game for no one space where it's like, it's not really for people who like sandbox games and it's not really for people who, like, bold, hell arena games because Kind of joggers you between them.

So i think it's a hard line that i plan on walking here. But there is something that tells me. It's a good mashup. I should go do some research. I know you can do that on like vg insights. As you can find if there's genre overlap. I think that's like that's kind of the next level for me.

I need to actually do that. Maybe i will in a report back, i think to me is a player, right? And that's something i try to Such a hard balance, right? Because you want your game to be marketable, you want it to be something. You could actually sell to other people, but you're good.

Starting point is with your own. Like what do i like? What do i want to play? And that's such a hard balance, because, you know, a lot of times that venn diagram is just such little overlap where it's like, well, this is tiny little marketing slice that i actually enjoy.

But my gut tells me that A game where you're playing. Read a board hell gameplay. And it's all intense, and you're dodging a lot, getting tons of power-ups and just stuff, flying all the screen, and then you balance that With like a dip things are calmer now, you're in your witch house, you pet your cat, you brew a potion, You get a basket of apples.

I don't know. And, you know, Paint a wall. Buy a painting at a shop hanging on your wall. And then when you're ready to go, boom, go right back in the gameplay, you know, you're having a great time. Again. I think that's a good mix. I could see that i kind of want to play that.

But that's the next step, i think is, i've already got the sandbox. I've got the crafting. I've got the village. I've got villagers. I've got Sacrifices and incantations and curses and all that cool stuff. And i've got a grotto entry points. So in the overworld, you can go into these Grodos.

And none of them are complete, is the problem. So i need to probably boil it down to one grotto or you go and you play your bullet. Hell, i read a game. I need to come back out into the same sandbox and there you go. Remember to repeat. So that's next up for, which for is.

I got to tie those pieces together. Um, as always, i value your thoughts, feel free to Tell me what you're thinking and i think pretty soon. I'll have the steam page up and then also a playable demo. So if you're interested in that, join the discord and i'll see you there.

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