Well folks, here we are! The demo version of The Stifling Dark is now live in Tabletop Simulator, just in time for Halloween. We made a huge push on Tuesday night to finish up our remaining items and were able to get the demo version published that same night. We made the official announcement on social media yesterday, so we’re hoping to get some new (and old) playtesters in there to try out all of the updates.
“How do I find it” you ask? Simple – either search “The Stifling Dark” in the Steam Workshop for Tabletop Simulator, or just click on this link. The demo is free to play, and we encourage you to share it with your friends and family. While the demo version is really meant for five players, you can make it work with 3 or 4 by having people play multiple Investigators. We’ll come out with official rules for 3 and 4 players prior to Kickstarting next year, don’t worry!
Oh – and if you need a few extra players (or you have a full crew but want to play with the developers) all you have to do is hit us up! We’d be more than happy to play with anyone that’s interested, we’re just an email away.
We’ll be revising the demo version as we make modifications to the core game, so make sure you keep an eye on the change notes in Steam in case there are any major updates! Now that we’ll actually have some free time outside of the demo version, we’ll also be working on replicating the custom rotation values we saw a few weeks back and will implement those once we get them working on the flashlights in our test version.
Coming out of the demo version, we’re turning our focus to developing the next map and Adversary. We already have quite a few details worked out on both of those fronts (and even have multiple ideas for maps and Adversaries beyond that), but we have yet to play a game with either of them. There are still some technicalities and minor details we need to work out with the Adversary, and we haven’t built the demo version of the map yet either.
Now that we’ve been through quite a bit of balancing and have a solid framework for our existing map and Adversary, we’re hoping it will make the development process that much faster for the subsequent maps and Adversaries. Obviously there’s still going to be a ton of playtesting and balancing we need to do, but rather than developing in a void we have some guardrails to bump up against this time.
Getting the demo published was a huge milestone for us, and we’re looking forward to many more milestones to come. Overall, I’d say it was a pretty successful week!
Surprising hopefully nobody, we spent the past two weeks continuing to refine our tutorial version and are almost ready to release it to the world. Keep an eye out for an announcement sometime soon, just in time for Halloween! Who doesn’t love a good horror board game on Halloween?
We have been hard at work creating artwork, updating card templates, and refining the tutorial rulebook. I should clarify that when I say we, I mean Ethan and Matt since I’ve been slacking off a bit lately (with good reason, trust me). The good news is that they haven’t run into many major issues while doing so, and they haven’t had any surprises come up either (aside from running into the occasional card that was five versions behind what we have in the design document).
As mentioned in an earlier post, some of the images in the tutorial version will be placeholders since we’re still working with our artists to get finalized versions of some artwork. The most notable placeholder pieces are for the Adversary and the board. Not to fear though, both of those projects are in flight and we’ve been in touch with both artists to ensure things are moving along smoothly.
Once the tutorial version is out there, we’ll be putting more of an emphasis on assembling a physical version of the game for playtesting purposes. As crazy as this sounds, we have yet to perform a complete physical playtest of the game thanks to coronavirus. Before you freak out, don’t worry – we have 3D printed components and paper/cardboard cards and boards that we have created, measured, and tested. We just haven’t actually used them in a physical game yet!
Reverting back to the digital world, we’ve implemented a number of “quality-of-life” improvements in TTS that our Gen Con playtesters mentioned a few months back. These improvements include things like naming cards and putting them in a deck so the Adversary can’t see them and adding some nifty TTS shortcuts to our TTS Player Aid, among other things.
We’re still working on replicating the custom rotation values that we mentioned in our last post, but we will roll that out as soon as we are able to figure it out. Even though we’ve spent hundreds of hours in TTS we’re still finding new things to improve the experience, so we’re all ears if you have a suggestion!
Lastly, we’re still keeping in close contact with our potential manufacturers to make sure we’re aligned on our vision for the game and are taking steps to cover off on all the big topics now rather than waiting until after the Kickstarter. The more we do now the less we have to do later!
That about wraps it up for the past two weeks, and I’m hoping we’ll have some exciting news to share before I’m back with the next bi-weekly update. Until then, we’ll be hard at work putting the finishing touches on the tutorial version and making sure everything is ready to roll. See what I did there?
Talk to you later,
We've been a bit light on the content lately since we're heads-down creating assets, so we decided to switch up the cadence on the weekly updates to make them bi-weekly for now. If we have a particularly eventful week we'll throw in a one-off post, and we'll return to weekly as we get closer to our launch date since there will be much more newsworthy things happening at that point.
And no, this does not count as a weekly update. Have no fear, we'll be back next week with a real recap and will proceed bi-weekly from there!
Our main focus this week was continuing to get our game ready for the tutorial version, so we spent the vast majority of our week in Photoshop updating cards and creating assets. We are making temporary artwork for cards, tokens, and maps to hold us over until we get the official artwork from our artists, and we’re also making sure all of our reference material is up to date.
Speaking of artwork, we received updated versions of our box art and initial previews of the Adversary artwork for The Butcher and the Cone Snail. We’re looking forward to finalizing the box art soon and will plan on sharing that once all the logistics are taken care of. The initial versions of the Adversary artwork looked good and we can’t wait to see the final product!
In other news, while we were playing some games in Tabletop Simulator we stumbled across a game that allowed players to freely rotate objects around a character (as opposed to being limited to 15-degree increments). This was the biggest downside of TTS for us and we didn’t think it was possible to get around that issue but now we’ve seen it and plan on trying to replicate it. There will be many hours of scripting and trial and error in our future!
On the manufacturing front, we’re working with potential manufacturers to get samples for some of our more unique components such as the flashlights. A lot of the components are pretty straightforward, but since the flashlights are such a huge part of our game we want to make sure the manufacturer we go with is able to produce them the way we’re expecting.
That’s about it for last week! I know this was a bit shorter than usual, but we really did spend the vast majority of the week updating assets and there’s no use in me boring you with details. I promise these will get more exciting once we get closer to the Kickstarter!
Have a good one!
This week, we turned the dial back on playtesting a bit in order to spend some time on the more strategic aspects of game design, namely discussions about Kickstarter, artists, and community engagement. We’re quickly approaching the end of the year, which means we’re just as quickly approaching our desired Kickstarter timeframe.
With that in mind, we had some good discussion around how we wanted to handle the Kickstarter. Did we want to sign on a pledge manager, or did we want to try to handle that ourselves? How soon should we do X? When should we make a post about Y? These and many other questions were discussed this week and will continue to be discussed in the weeks and months to come.
Our artist continued to impress us with his box designs, and we’re inching closer and closer to a final cover that we can’t wait to share. Our Adversary artwork will be starting soon as well, and we’re excited to see how that turns out. We’re planning on handling some of the smaller art components such as tokens and icons ourselves, thanks to our resident junior graphic designer Ethan.
Lastly, we finally spent a decent chunk of time discussing our community engagement strategy and how we wanted to get more involved in the community. We had done a lot of reading on this concept but had yet to take any action, and I’m pleased to say we started to get involved in the community this week. We’re starting small by providing feedback for other designers on various platforms like Reddit and Facebook and will progress from there.
Even though I mentioned that we spent less time playtesting this week, that doesn’t mean we didn’t playtest! We actually had one of our most intense games yet, with it coming down to a matter of a single turn. As mentioned last week, we made some changes to the way objectives work so that any number of Investigators could escape through either objective and were excited to test those changes out.
Unfortunately for the Investigators, we weren’t able to test that change since we lost three out of the four of them before we even got to the point of being able to escape. The silver lining is that we realized one of the Apparition’s actions was quite powerful when there were three Apparitions, so we’re adjusting that power accordingly.
We’re coming up on some pretty major milestones between the tutorial version and our artwork, so stay tuned to see those once they are revealed!
Take it easy,