After two years, we were Greenlit; a glitch in the system perhaps. But it gave us new hope for the game - a fresh start. So we cracked open the source code and re-examined things. Looking at those key things above, I think we nailed everyone of them. But perhaps in doing so, we left some single player folks hanging a little too much. Our first order of business was to integrate the pieces of Steam we love - stats, achievements, leaderboards and other Steamworks features. With a user base that rivals the consoles, we knew we had an opportunity to get the game in front of more people.
Along with adding the Steam features we tweaked levels, fixed bugs, and removed some nagging issues. We even updated some graphical effects, added more PC centric features, and optimized when we could. While we had a long term plan with the game for adding content and features, we felt we wanted to get the game in the hands of players sooner to gather some feedback - so once again we released.
The Steamworks setup afforded us an interesting look into the game, with leaderboards separated by the number of players we saw our couch co-op game wasn’t being played all that much in co-op. In fact about 1 in 6 players had actually played two player co-op, and almost nobody has played three player co-op. Four player couch co-op? Not a single person yet.
The lack of online co-op hurts us for a PC game, the vocal couch co-op audience tends to be more console oriented. I’m sure there are a myriad of other factors that contribute to the lack of players on PC that are actually enjoying couch co-op play, but hopefully we can find a way to connect with that audience. I’m confident what we’ve built through our little space shooter is something that will reward every player.
For me the end product wasn't as important as the process of creating something, although having some concrete goals helped keep things on track. It was exciting to be able to make progress quickly, to have the flexibility to do things the way that we wanted, and to immediately see results. It was the most fun I've had writing code for a long time (probably since the last time we made a game).
I think game design is definitely the hardest part of creating a game. The tools and libraries available these days make implementation fairly straightforward (while still interesting). Figuring out what do to is much more difficult, and is of course is just about the only thing that matters in the end.
We'd like to thank Nick and Dave for taking the time to provide us with their thoughts on the game. SCHAR: Blue Shield Alliance is currently available on Steam for $4.99. They are also running a contest until March 29, 2015 where you can get your name in the game; details here.