Dev Diary: Tumbleweed

Apparently its been a while.

Sorry to all those who've been waiting for updates on the game, its been a long few months which somehow went by far too fast.

So what was going on ?!

There have been two pretty huge changes in circumstances amongst the team which have had a pretty negative impact on the game. The first is that I got a real job. I was very fortunate that for the first 2 years of development on Starship Mechanic my family were keeping me alive so that I could work full time on the game. Earlier this year though, working from home and being dependent on family started to get to me. I was slowly going crazy, and found it difficult to find time to socialise with people outside of my immediate family. This was also impacting the game as I found it harder and harder to keep a good pace.

So around May/June I started advertising my soul to employers in exchange for some money and independence. I started my real job in late June, and moved into my own place a month later. It's taken me a while to settle down, but I'm committed to getting back on the development wagon.

The other big life change is that Fabrice, who I was offloading the 'keeping everyone updated' work onto because frankly he's so much better at it than me, has changed employer. The small fancy startup he was working for got bought by a much bigger company and so certain terms in his contract have changed. Unfortunately for us it's the ones that let him work on the game in his spare time. He's still negotiating with his new overlords, but for the time being we're going to have to assume that he will be leaving the team.

Is that why you're not at EGX/Rezzed/etc

Sort of but not really?

We really enjoy doing the convention circuit, meeting players and other indie devs and drinking unhealthy amounts of alcohol so it's a bit of a shame for us that we've chosen not to go for the foreseeable future.

Starship Mechanic is funded out of pocket by us, we don't have any external investement and we don't have much in game sales yet. Doing the convention circuit is cheaper than it could be, but it's still not cheap, and we didn't feel like the value we got to the game and to our public awareness was worth trying to scrape together all our pennies. The game, unfortunately, is just very difficult to demo well in 10-15 minutes. It needs a decent time commitment to demo properly, which isn't available when there are so many other games to see at an expo.

So uh, what about the game?

Just to reiterate, the game is still getting made. We don't have a huge amount to announce due to those aforementioned life issues, but there have been some things going on!

After the convention season earlier this year, about the same time we last updated you, we spent some time looking at our feedback to see what was and wasn't working for us. This includes a lot of small tweaks, like making the weapons system not show an enemy ship's load out until after that ship has been scanned in the scanner system.

The biggest change - somewhat inspired by games like factorio - is that we're going to look at how we can increase the mechanic's ability to automate his engineering bay. For whilst we may have slowed down development, nothing can stop us from stealing ideas from other, more successful games! What this will mean in the end is still very much in debate, but what's most important for us is that for everything you can do to increase your efficiency and automation you get another thing that needs to be maintained and can break.

We'll leave it here for now. As our team velocity has slowed down, I'm going to drop back to 1 update a month. I'm hoping this will also make it easier for me to commit to writing these. As my penance, I'm also going to start doing deep dives of a mechanic with each post, starting in a months time with the tool system.

Thanks for reading!