Shelving a Comply or Die

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The lighthearted local multiplayer game about treachery and backstabbing, where trusting other players is a sure fire way to end up as vapors has been shelved.

History

I started Comply or Die just couple of months after I started thinking about starting for myself. It wasn’t called Comply or Die back then, I named the project Super Sucker Punch. My plan was to create an stealth party game with a multiple map and lots of different game modes and power ups. You’d be playing a spy trying to hunt down other spies in a crowd of identical looking characters.

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Early version of Comply or Die

I started creating simple AI, which already toke way longer than expected due to the AI movement system works within Unity. Making a AI controlled character move easily emulate-able and as inefficient as a human on a flat surface is really easy, doing the same on a ground with different heights and bridges is becomes a lot harder.

I continued developing that project and added new features, testing new level layouts, created a story, etc. After a while it became routine to continue working on this game. And the positive feedback from testers help greatly with this.


Shelving

But with the testers also came an issue, a rather big one. People didn’t understand the game, what was happening on screen, without a explanation. I gave the explanation during playtest sessions and when showing the game online when prompted. However I didn’t realize the fundamental flaw of what was happening, the game didn’t communicate what it was. To any new onlooker even the most intense gameplay session just looked like a bunch of characters moving randomly with maybe some character falling sometimes. This, of course, also made it near impossible to market the game and to teach the game without outside help.

Comply or die’s scope also had grew, as from where it was in the beginning. I had made a lot of graphical improvements, gameplay improvements and polish, but the game was in its core hard to communicate. It also didn’t help that I slowly got burned out on developing this game, as consciously or not I knew this fundamental issue yet couldn’t solve it. Because well, how can you show what’s going on on a single screen when the action is purposefully hidden?
So.. after long consideration, I shelved it.

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Comply or Die in the current state

I have learned a lot compared to when I started developing Comply or die, both about game development and my own ability, that’s why in hindsight I don’t mind shelving it. And who knows, maybe I will revive it in the future if I find some way of properly communicating the game. Everything is still there and most game modes are in a playable state.


Now what?

Well, as some of you might have noticed I’ve been working on a different game for roughly 2 months now, Bombs Away. Which has seen an far more positive reaction from playtesters with them being able to pick up the game without needing an explanation, even people without any gaming history seem to have little issue. And if all goes as planned, it will be done by the end of the year.

If you want to know more about Bombs Away and future projects or to be notified of any news around me, feel free to follow me on twitter (@GamesAndCompani), Facebook (GamesAndCompany) or Instagram (GamesAndCompany). I’ll try to keep it updated and post new stuff on Bombs Away and future projects. And if you want to be part of any future playtests and big news regarding Bombs Away and future projects keep an eye out on the before mentioned social media channels or subscribe to the mailinglist here.

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