This is Beidi, the visual artist of Lantern Studio, I do all the art in the game and I'm also in charge of checking emails, posting some updates etc. This time for LUNA’s updates, I decided to use first person writing, it just seems more personal and relaxed. ฅ( 'ㅅ' ฅ）
Most of the time I work at home in London and talk to my teammates via Skype every day about LUNA. In the morning with two of the guys (Fox and Guan) in China, then in the evening with our musician Qian in Canada. After I go to bed, people in China will be up and they will continue discussing stuff in the chat group until I get up again, to read the (usually 100+) messages left from their discussion. Lantern Studio is a team where there's always someone sleeping while others are awake. It’s sometimes difficult to get our best as a team. And I often envy the teams that can work side by side.
There was a time last year that I felt a bit depressed, maybe due to the solitary working environment, maybe the heavy workload and pressure. Especially when you see other great indie games get finished and launched, or when people ask "When will LUNA be finished? You seem to have been working on it forever?" But luckily by talking about these worries and stress to my teammates, no matter how hard the day has been I will still have the courage to wake up the next day, sitting in front of the computer by myself, and start to draw and write.
Then at some point by the end of last year, LUNA seems to have passed an important milestone, the whole progress was finally closer to the end than from the start. For the first time, I actually do believe we can not only finish it but finish it well (thank god the rest of the team usually is more optimistic than me). So this is where we are, we still got a lot to do but I am feeling optimistic too and I'd like to share some of these thoughts with you and thank you.
Current Progress Overview:
Okay, back on business, it has been a while but we had a lot done, so let’s see what we have accomplished in these past two months.
Almost every single level now has its basic functions working and mock-up graphics implemented. We've got just one left to be done due to it being half finished from the pre-reconstruction. And it is not an easy level to code because we put a trampoline in the game and we want the character to bounce on it. Sounds fun, right? But apparently, technically it’s quite difficult and it will be a tough cookie to bite.
The most important achievement last month was finishing the foundation of the biggest level, it will happen inside the clock tower which has three mini levels within itself. Now as we got the whole set of levels put up, we’re looking at at least 3-4 hours gameplay time. It will have a good story/emotion build up and enough puzzles to fulfill puzzle-loving fans' appetites.
We’re now back to working on some more cutscenes. As we don’t have any dialogue, the music and cinematics have to work hand in hand in order to deliver the right emotion. The storytelling is entirely relying on these parts. While I am working on the animatics, Qian will be writing the music along the side.
One good thing about a very small team is that you get to speak to people very closely and learn from them. Discussion of the direction of music can be very abstract: what exactly is “a little bit sad but still has hope within oneself, and needs to sound ancient but not modern” piece of music supposed to sound like? It really challenges my expression vocabulary when I communicate with Qian. But amazingly she usually gets it right even from the first demo test.
Getting out there
As LUNA is heading to the 2nd half of the development stage, we are planning to attend a couple of game exhibitions this year. INSOMNIA 62 in Birmingham/UK on March 31st - April 2nd and EGLX in Toronto/Canada on March 9th have both been put on the calendar, we will have another update with detailed time and location very shortly! We are also trying to submit LUNA to the Indie Prize London this year, hopefully, we will get ourselves more noticed!
Recently I read about an indie game’s update on Kickstarter which I followed from years back. The developer single-handedly created a marvelous game called: In the Shadows. I personally loved it. As one of their backers, I waited and finally got to see its launch last year. It’s beautiful, and it's got a charming atmosphere with some really cool gameplay puzzles! I thought it was gonna do really good, but to my big surprise, this game has got very little notice from the game world since its launch. So due to this unexpected reaction, the developer does not have enough income to complete its PS4 and Xbox version and has to go back to work to earn some extra cash.
I really felt for him and it also reminds me the tough, cold side of the indie games industry. It sometimes seems like you can be reached by the whole world via the vast internet effortlessly, but in reality, you will be noticed by no one if you don’t shout out loud enough. We do have strong faith in LUNA, however, we're also aware of our lack of budget on the marketing side, we’ve put everything into making this game, and I really hope when the time comes, there will be people out there waiting to play.
We got incredibly lucky to have a successful KS because of our backers, so we hope this luck can be with all of us throughout LUNA’s journey and share with other indie developers. I am thinking about being more active on our social network, sharing more images and fun stories behind the scenes with everyone. And dear backers, please do also help us retweet or share news about LUNA to anyone you think might interested. We really really cannot be appreciated this enough!
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Last but not least, next month's plan:
From next month we will start improving each individual level’s gameplay, testing and adjusting the details, replacing the mockup graphics and adding polished animation.