Crossroads: Steam Early Access & Arcade Mode for events

Crossroads: Steam Early Access & Arcade Mode for events

When we started developing Ganbatte, we outlined a strategy geared towards an early access release on Steam in Introduction to Ganbatte. We believe that Ganbatte is a very good fit for early access. Some of the things that support this belief include:

  • Even in its current state, we have a compelling game experience that can be built upon and further enhanced.
  • Since Ganbatte is a multiplayer VR game, we seek to create and foster a community from the ground up. Early access allows us to be in close contact with that community, providing us a foundation to build upon.
  • We are so freaking excited about this project, we just want to share our work with as many people as possible, as soon as possible.

Last week, we got confirmation that we will be exhibiting our game at a national videogames tradeshow: Lisbon Games Week. This opportunity came by because of the wonderful non-profit program Indie Dome that allows indie developers to showcase their games.

A Method to our madness

We have some experience in organizing national community events around VR with more than 100 attendees. Logistics can get pretty crazy when you combine VR and indie. Last January, Thomas and I, did a private showcase of an HTC Vive prototype in London, on a budget. We experienced everything from disassembled desktop PC components in cabin luggage, to ordering big items from Amazon, renting a business space for the day, assembling, disassembling and preparing a shipment of the equipment. The sheer madness and the fact that we managed to pull that off still makes us smile.

Dazed Dexter animated gif
Dazed Dexter goes to Indie Dome at Lisbon Games Week

Tapping from our accumulated wisdom, we deemed necessary to dedicate some time to prepare for the event. The sooner, the better.

Being relatively early opens up possibilities to get budget-friendly solutions while lowering stress and building up our excitement for the event as a team.

Lisbon Games Week and Indie Dome provide a unique opportunity to “fly”(in our case drive) the whole team to a tradeshow and experience and learn about the process of showcasing our game at a public multi-day event. However, in order to showcase a representative version of our game, we need to add features and adapt Ganbatte in order for it to be event friendly. We call this adaptation the “Arcade Mode”, and we’re deviating from our production strategy geared towards Steam Early Access to accommodate it.

Having the production of Ganbatte so close to our hearts, it may come as a surprise that we are making a detour. Actually, I wouldn’t call it a detour! From our dearest version control jargon, the best term to define what we’ll be doing is a branch.

Arcade mode vs Steam early access build
Splitting our efforts in order to create an Arcade Mode build. (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Mitya Ilyinov)

The most important part of our preparation for the event, will be getting the Arcade Mode game built. We held a playtest event recently (The art of VR playtesting – Ganbatte’s first contact with external testers!), and we gathered lots of valuable insights to improve our game. However, we also learned that our game was already pretty much showcase worthy. This was great news for our branching strategy! We’re addressing the issues that the “Arcade mode” and the “Steam Early Access” branch have in common, and we’ll split as soon as possible.

Some considerations for our “Arcade Mode” version of the game are:

  • Lan/Offline play. Internet access at events is often a Russian Roulette, so if we can avoid relying on it, it will only bring us peace of mind.
  • Arcade Mode interface flow. Inspired by the way AAA studios make their special event builds, we want to streamline the experience for the tradeshow floor.
  • Event leaderboard. Because making this build is about creating the best experience we can for our guests/visitors.
Arcade Mode Game Flow of VR game Ganbatte
Arcade Mode Game Flow

Final Considerations

Dividing our efforts in order to create an “Arcade Mode” that will diverge quite significantly from the production build, is a considerable risk for a small team. However, the potential upsides are too good to ignore. We’re taking this extra time and focus to learn new skills about publicly showcasing of our game. And most importantly, we are taking the time to create the best quality experience we can for our audience. It feels good knowing that we respect them and we want to deliver a great experience. This is how we feel about our Early Access process as well, we want to give our players a really good time.

So, if you’ll be in sunny Lisbon from 16th to the 19th of November, and are curious to try out Ganbatte, drop by the Indie Dome at Lisbon Games Week.


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