Artwork and Marketing Materials

Yesterday's work on updated marketing materials continued today, and it's starting to look near-done. I still have some gaps to fill, but I think most of the checkboxes Steam requires are just about checked.

First, however, I got a new illustration from Klaus. It's another DMC location, and I should be able to wire that in soon. I may have additional artwork to be done, but I think I'll likely cool down soon on new art as I write to catch up. That should keep me pretty busy, once I figure this Steam stuff out.

As for Steam, I've been revising some of the capsule/header art, and I think I've got that squared away. I created some new screenshots at 1360x768, since the format Steam uses is widescreen. And I started filling out the store page description with updated features.

One thing I'm considering is doing an infographic or two to help new customers understand what they're getting into. For example, this type of infographic should give them an idea of the current development status:

IMAGE( It's the Project Manager's Version of "The Price is Right!"

Obviously, this is just educated guessing. But the idea I'm hoping to get across (and quickly) is that NEO Scavenger is on the final stretch. If you buy NEO Scavenger now, you are largely seeing what the final game will be like. From here on in, it's mostly new content, bug fixes, and UI tweaks. Character skills are also a bit low, as I expect to at least balance their relative sizes/capacities, if I don't add new ones.

I also want to quickly get some frequently-asked questions out of the way, since it'll save me time answering in the forums:

IMAGE( Managing expectations, in color!

Again, this is just to get everyone's expectations in line with my own. We're mainly looking at new content from here on. Bells and whistles are not likely, and popular, big ticket items like multiplayer, companions, and Steam integration are not in the cards.

Modding is the one exception, here, as I'm going to at least try some tricks to make this work. I want to be careful not to promise it, but I also want it to be clear that it's more a practical limitation than a lack of desire.

I've also created an updated list of features. And I must say, NEO Scavenger has come quite a ways from 2012. For those curious, this is what I've come up with so far:

Current Features

  • Unique Setting - Near-future, post-apocalyptic Michigan with local cryptids and folklore. And something else beneath the surface...
  • Turn-Based Play - Take your time with each turn, and play at your own pace. Save and quit when you want, and resume later.
  • Permadeath - If you die, that's it. NEO Scavenger is balanced around a single difficulty level: permadeath. Your save will be deleted if you die. So choose every action carefully!
  • No Grinding - There is no XP in NEO Scavenger. No levelling-up. Instead, progress comes from learning how to play the game better, and using your strengths to your advantage.
  • Semi-Random - Much of the map is randomized each game, including the location of ruins, creatures, weather, and certain quest branches.
  • Sandbox or Story - Search for clues to your identity, what happened, and who's hunting you. Or simply test your mettle against man and nature alike. Play how you want!
  • Skills and Flaws - Choose skills and flaws each time you play. Different combos unlock different abilities and quest branches.
  • Crafting - Extensive crafting system which allows for substitutions of similar items. Make a rifle scope from half a pair of binoculars, or a noise trap from a pill bottle and pebbles.
  • Desperate Combat - Detailed combat with moves like "Tackle," "Lure," "Kick While Down," "Demand Surrender," and "Threaten."
  • Realistic Wounds - Creatures have complex wound simulation, with multiple wound locations, infection, bleeding, and pain management.
  • Realistic Metabolism - Hypothermia, fatigue, thirst, hunger, disease, intoxication, shelter...everything is tracked.
  • Realistic Inventory - Complex inventory system with slots for holding, wearing, containers, and more. Fit items in grid spaces, and manage encumbrance.
  • Hex-Based World Map - Navigate ruins, hills, forests, and plains in a hex-based map. Line-of-sight, elevation, and daylight matters.
  • Tracking - Creatures leave their tracks and spoor on the map, which can be followed by others. Players can also hide their tracks.
  • Hiding - Players can use hiding to avoid being seen while traveling the map, as well as during story encounters.
  • Hunting - Trap small game for food and fur, or track and kill larger prey on the map for butchering.
  • Hacking - Use hacking skills to unlock scavenged laptops, cellphones, smartphones, and tablets. Mine them for paydata, or snoop through personal files.
  • Foraging - Search for edible plants and water, and use special skills to identify what's safe to eat.
  • Haunting Soundtrack - Music composed by Josh Culler, specifically for NEO Scavenger, plays periodically, lending an atmosphere of loneliness and desperation.
  • Creature AI - Wandering creatures go about their own business, hunting, scavenging, and hoarding. Morale affects their choices, and some will gang-up and cause trouble.
  • Dynamic Weather - Temperature, rainfall, and night/day are based on real-world data for autumn in the area. If you live long enough, you may see snow fall.
  • Detroit - Take refuge from the wasteland in one of mankind's last bastions of safety. Buy supplies, get medical care, and seek clues in a cyberpunk-styled city.

I don't think I'd ever have expected to have this much going on in NEO Scavenger. Especially considering it was originally meant to be a game designed for Flash game portals. I guess that's either a win for adaptability, or a loss for scope creep :)

Anyway, I'm feeling a bit better about what I have to offer. The list of "Nos" and "Unlikelies" in the above graphic was a downer, but seeing that bullet point list lifted my spirits a bit. Not too shabby!

Finally, I wanted potential customers to understand who I am, and the way I run things. You guys already know that from seeing me chat on this dev log and in the forums. But Steam customers don't know me from a "money-grubbing, lazy dev." So I wanted to show them how committed I am to this project.

So, at the top of the store page, there's a message explaining what they can expect from me if they buy this "Early Access" game:

Hey folks! Please try the free demo, to see if NEO Scavenger meets your expectations!

NEO Scavenger is in development. As such, there may be game balance issues, bugs, and missing content. However, NEO Scavenger should provide a playable and fun experience. And playing the demo is the best way to determine if NEO Scavenger is a game for you.

What to Expect from Me

Dedicated Development - NEO Scavenger development is my livelihood, and my full-time job. I take weekends and holidays off.
Regular Developer Updates - I update my dev log each weekday with what work I did.
Frequent Game Updates - NEO Scavenger is updated frequently with new content, fixes, and features.
Receptive to Feedback - I take player feedback very seriously, fixing reported bugs when I can, and adding suggested ideas when they seem like a good fit. E.g. Blue Bottle Games forums, Desura, Something Awful, RPGCodex, NEOGaf.

I'm hoping that makes it pretty clear that I'm not some fly-by-night operation, and that this game will be finished.

Of course, I might reread this tomorrow and shudder. So I'll have to see how I feel about it after a night's rest.

Have a good one, all!


Nickboom's picture

Hey Dan its been a fun ride watching Neoscavenger going from a single gun and unlimited night vision goggles with a city always on lock down. To a fire arm filled batteries needed city with nice locations game. Since it seems like your going to finish up on neoscavenger pretty soon what is the next game your going to work on? Neoscavenger two? or something else.

Official Trained Dogman

Bober077's picture

Sorry for not the right place for this post, but modding must have in your game! Why? Because when you'll end your updates it will die (sorry for the truth). Only thing that can keep the interest for this game is dlc or modding (I prefer the second). Your game haven't got multiplayer - thats a big minus (For all you guys - I like this game the way it is). You can't make as many encounters and items as peope will want because there is simply no limits. For example we stil have only one pair of boots for a long time (Yes it isn't nececerary but this is it). So if you want to have your game live for some time you should allow people to make their imagination help themself to make their journey more special.

mcfroogle's picture

Just wondered if you've seen how The Binding of Issac. i believe thats a Flash project and has steam achievements.

Liking the look of the development images. will really help people know what they're investing in.

dcfedor's picture

@Nickboom, thanks. I've enjoyed the ride, too! It's hard to remember a long time ago, when there was no saving, no resolution options, and combat was just "player barely scratches dogman, dogman mortally wounds player." And the only encounter anyone talked about was hidden lake :)

What will be next? It's hard to say. I have a huge list of game ideas I want to make someday. However, one strong possibility is another game in the NEO Scavenger universe, except re-coded in HaxeFlixel. Getting out of Flash will allow me to access local files and DLLs, which means modding and save games are much easier to setup.

@Bober077, you don't have to convince me. I already believe you :) Modding is very important to me, too. The problem is technical, though, not preference.

NEO Scavenger is built on Flash, and Flash is not allowed to access the hard drive like other engines. Adobe has restricted what Flash can do for security reasons. There might be a way I can load a .zip file with mod content, but I don't want to promise it in case it can't be done.

Believe me, if I can find a way to support modding, I will add it!

@mcfroogle, I did poke around Steam a bit, and found a few other Flash games. As far as I can tell, there are only a few options for using the Steam API from Flash.

One is to convert everything to AIR, which some Linux users will dislike.

Another option is to write some custom application, which is what I think Binding of Isaac uses, though I'm not certain how this works. It seems like they'd have to use "fscommand" to call another EXE from Flash, which calls the Steam API. However, this method does not support sending parameters to the EXE, so I'm unsure how they have 84 achievements without 84 EXEs.

Finally, there is also a Steam web API, which Flash might be able to call directly. Flash is good with URL-based stuff. However, getting user credentials might be a security risk, assuming I can even access things like achievements and cloud via this method.

Overall, it's a high-risk feature. I'm just being cautious, since I don't want to promise in case I can't deliver.

Dan Fedor - Founder, Blue Bottle Games