So...basically, I woke up this morning and turns out we have over 8,000 views on our game with a 3.96 rating on Newgrounds which is currently still climbing (please - climb!!). We are still on the front page, still in the featured section...We only posted the game a week ago!
Since The Tale of Doris and the Dragon certainly is not a casual, pick-up-and-play title, we had no idea what the reception was going to be like. We were expecting a few hundred views trickling through.
Clearly - we were mistaken.
The following was first posted on newgrounds earlier today in response to a few people having an issue with the audio:
The damned audio bug that a lot of people were complaining about has now been fixed plus one minor additional bug that had been reported by fans (ferryman bug now FIXED). Hopefully, there should be nothing more to sort out - as we really need to get on with Episode 2 and 3.
But PLEASE, feel free to let us know if you find any more bugs. If it's to do with the engine, then we need to correct this as soon as possible.
As I'm writing this, we are in the middle of an asset jam. The last push for sound and essential art assets. Our aim is to have a playable alpha at the end of this so that we can get into testing phase as soon as possible. We are fortunate enough to have very generous friends that are giving up their free time to help us complete this project too.
Earlier today, we visited some family and friends to show them the latest build of the Tale of Doris and the Dragon. Ben had been working hard on putting the pieces of the game together since the engine programming was nearly complete. They actually seemed to understand how to solve the puzzles! It looked like they were really getting into the story too! It's starting to make us more confident in our product, I think.
Now that we've put the musical sound track in, the production quality has just multiplied by a hundredfold. It feels like we've created a sound world that completely matches the landscape. Assad reckons the game is really trippy with the music - but I'll leave that to you to decide when you play it!
Much of the evening has been spent ironing out some of the sound effects and we've been doing ridiculous things like recording under a baby pink blanket to deaden the sound. We have pictures.
Pay no attention to the man under the blanket...
Myself and Ben have been spending most of the week sorting out the bare bones of the story of Doris - Episodes 2 and 3 since much of the 1st game is foreshadowing. I'm still happy with the story, though, much of it will probably evolve into something else later. It is still good that we have managed to stick pretty much to the original idea from the 1st game. It will definitely feel like we're building up to something.
I'm really hoping that the voice acting will be good enough for the quality of game that we are trying to produce with The Tale of Doris and the Dragon. Our connections in music have secured us a fantastic studio at "mates rates" so I'm excited that we'll be able to get amazing quality recordings out of the session. Once we release the game, I would personally love to get voice acting in place for Episodes 2 and 3. Since we are releasing Episode 1 for free, we probably won't have the funds to get into the studio with voice actors.
Check out these handsome fellas - 1st pre-production rehearsal selfie!
On a side note - Assad has been busy in the studio this week with a fantastic drummer and colleague of ours in a separate, but not entirely unrelated venture. Watch this space for more news on Facebook about his antics over the coming months. Movements are being made and plans are being hatched as we speak.
Anyway, it's quite late at night / morning. We're drinking chai tea and still working away. Ben is tapping constantly; forever chipping away at the heinous amount of game play programming that is still to be completed. Assad is processing all the foley audio content and I'm composing some of the soundtrack.
I'm just glad the bulk of the work is behind us now. Much of the game is already built, the puzzle elements are part of the dialogue writing process anyway so much of the work was done weeks ago using an ingenious method that Ben created for porting complicated non linear dialogue. It would have been a nightmare to program it in manually.
We brought in one of our friends, Alex, an incredible artist that we've known for a very long time to help us with a few of the scenes in the game when Ben was overwhelmed with art assets to complete. We loved his work so much that we plan on keeping him as part a big part of the art team for the rest of the trilogy.
I'd say that we are on track to releasing episode 1 as planned in March 2015, minus the voice acting. We will be offering the first episode free of charge, in the hope that you guys like it enough to check out episodes 2 and 3. As production of episode 1 is coming to a close, our sights are already set for the planning of the next 2 episodes. Lots of discussions have already been had, we are excited to keep working on this world that we have created.
At this stage, 90% of the animation has been done. The puzzles are being programmed in. The music, foley and sound effects have been completed. The title screen and introduction is yet to be done and the script needs a final touch up. I'm confident that you'll like this game - we are all in love with it.
I guess nothing is more intriguing than a story involving an elderly lady and customer support, admin assistant dragons. Even our bank manager was gushing when we told him that we were creating a graphic adventure! Looks like point and click nerds are hidden in unlikely places too!
If you want to be considered for the beta testing phase, feel free to sign up early!
This is our first official post about our upcoming release: The tale of Doris and the Dragon. Apart from some of the early artwork that has started emerging on the Facebook page, we have not really been too detailed in explaining what we've been up to! We hope to remedy that over the next few weeks.
Our newest video game title features an elderly lady named Doris who finds herself in Purgatory after passing away on earth. She must overcome many trials, tribulations and treacherous terrain in order to be reunited once more with her beloved husband in life, Albert.
Much of the story revolves around her and the way she interacts with this strange environment that she finds herself in. Despite all the weirdness and emptiness of limbo, unlikely friendships are forged along the way.
This game has been in production since early January and Ben has been working hard to get everything programmed in and has taken on most of the art duties. Assad is kindly providing a fully bespoke sound track for the game and we are looking forward to making it available to download as an OST once all three games are released.
We are currently looking at a tentative release date of Spring 2015, which isn't actually too long from now! If everything goes to plan, we may actually be able to get this to you guys earlier.
To keep up to date with everything to do with Doris and the Dragon, please sign up to our mailing list! No spamming - we promise!
The game is officially released following a great reception on Steam Greenlight and App store releases
The Tale of Doris and the Dragon, the debut title from indie developers Arrogant Pixel, has officially launched today (8th September 2016) on PC via Steam, after a hugely successful Steam greenlight campaign.
Released earlier this month on both iOS and Android, following strong praise and support from the gaming community, PC gamers can now join Doris on her adventures in life after death. A point-and-click episodic adventure game, players will guide the lead character Doris on her journey through purgatory.
We've had some fantastic reviews and articles come out over the past few weeks following the release of the iOS and Android versions of the game. Ben was interviewed by the online tech magazine editor, Thomas McMullan from Alphr.com:
“I'm a big fan of Terry Pratchett and a big fan of the old Discworld games, so that was the feel I was going for with the humour,” Ben Simpson says. “But I don't think many games have taken on the British comedy mantel and have done it justice. I'm really looking forward to see what we can produce.”
We were also very pleased with a 7/10 rating from PocketGamer.com who also thought that The Tale of Doris and the Dragon Episode 1 deserved the PocketGamer Bronze Award!
The Tale of Doris and the Dragon was also reviewed by ten real consumers in the PocketGamer App Army segment. These reviews were so important to us since it gave us a real indication of how the game was likely to be received on Steam.
The App Army is Pocket Gamer's very own community of mobile game experts. Each week, they are furnished with a bunch of free codes and early access to the hottest upcoming games so they can provide their thoughts. It was great to receive comments like this:
"What a funny little game this is - one of the best I've played in a while. It's got lovely voice acting" Kainen Ryan
“The Tale of Doris and the Dragon combines the classic story-telling and humour of Terry Pratchett with traditional elements of point-and-click adventure games” said Ben Simpson, founder of Arrogant Pixel. “We’ve spent the last year crafting an experience with sharp wit, cutting one-liners and pop culture references that is truly a love letter to classic graphic adventure games”
To be completely honest, it has been a completely crazy and amazing journey up to this point. I can't tell you how much hard work and stressful times there were but I wouldn't have had it any other way.
If you do check out The Tale of Doris and the Dragon, we are forever grateful and you can feel good for supporting a small indie team with big dreams! Thank you everyone for all your support and we are confident that Episodes 2 and 3 will be much bigger and better.
Don't forget to keep up with us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook where we post almost daily!
The game will also be making the jump from mobile to PC with a planned release for 8th September. Following a hugely successful Steam Greenlight campaign earlier this month, the game was approved by the community in only 18 days, thus ensuring the game reaches a wider audience and fans of Doris can continue their adventures at home.
Ben Simpson, Founder and Lead Designer at Arrogant Pixel, said: “We’re thrilled that our hard work, passion and determination has seen The Tale of Doris and The Dragon receive an early launch on both iOS and Android. We’re incredibly proud of our debut title and to see Doris coming to life and fans now having access to the game is truly amazing. We can’t wait to see the reaction from gamers and we’re looking forward to the Steam launch in September.”
We've been working hard to get Steam integration added in time for release which means PC and Mac users will be able to receive achievements, Doris themed trading cards and badges! We are very excited about this as well. Can't wait to show you what we've been working on recently.
It has been the most crazy, hectic few months of our lives. For Ben, especially, it's been a long project starting last year and finally, it is coming together. We hope it's all been worth it! We've been documenting our small team working hard on this title on Instagram and Twitter. Every day we do this, we get better and faster. We are confident that the following episodes in this trilogy will be even more polished and refined.
You can also keep up with the team with their regular podcasts on Soundcloud:
It has been an incredibly stressful few weeks for the team here at Arrogant Pixel. I think that as a group I can say, it has been a really tense experience waiting for the Steam Greenlight to come through.
Luckily though, after only 18 days, we woke up to the best news ever! Last Thursday was the day that we got accepted on Steam!
We found that the first few days of Steam were really important in driving traffic to the page. There were a few articles online suggesting that there is a real drop in voting activity after the first 24 hours. This was absolutely true for us.
This meant that after the initial launch of the campaign, we really needed to continue promotion on the game and whip as many votes as possible. We concentrated most of our efforts on Twitter,Instagram and IndieDB to drum up as many clicks to the page as we could.
We had Saf come up with a simple, animated Steam icon which ended up looking really eye-catching:
As I said before, it was a stressful and tense couple of weeks since we had no idea when the campaign was going to go through. We turned our attention to the app releases while we waited. During that time, we began submitting builds to iOS and Android app stores for approvals since we were aware this could also take some time.
Registering our company and getting compulsory documentation filed was a very long and boring struggle but something that we got through together, as a team, out of sheer determination. Here is a quick photo of the 'almost finished' build on the ipad:
We were offered some group promotion opportunities on Steam which we turned down and opted to take on all the marketing for the game ourselves. I'm sure that this route has helped other Indie developers to get through the process very quickly but since we are also launching on app stores, it was not a viable option for us.
We don't believe that we would have been Greenlit any sooner if we had taken any group promotion offers. I imagine that we may have been tempted if we hadn't already been preparing for this for a while. They offer a lot of page views and the possibility of getting Greenlit sooner but clearly, this is not guaranteed at all and we would have to give up over 1000 free copies of the game or pay them on top.
If we had taken the group promotion offers, we felt that we would not get a realistic idea of how many of the voters would actually purchase the game. Not a good deal when everyone in your company is relying on the game to make some money in order to continue to do this!
By not going for this route, we had a good idea of the interest and built a strong following behind the game. We ended up with a great take-up rate for voters and overwhelmingly positive feedback! We were sitting at 69% of the way to the top 100 and before we knew it, it had happened - we had been accepted!
Thankfully, we've been getting some press jumping on board the Doris hype train with some really awesome write ups! We even had our first print article on page 31 of the Irish Sun next to Mystic Meg:
It is important to me and the rest of the company that "The Tale of Doris and the Dragon - Episode 1" is appreciated for the quality of the writing and the work rather relying on flashy graphics and addictive clicker mechanics to sell it. Doris isn't a typical indie game release.
A lot of hard work went into the BETA version and now even more work has gone into make the game release ready. You can find out more about how stressed we've been lately by listening to our latest podcast:
That's all for now. We'll be posting more about our voice over process with Ryan, our audio guy hopefully this week.
Thank you everyone for all your support so far. It really means so much to us and we are excited to finally get this game out there! Don't forget to follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook where we post almost daily!
I'm Ben Simpson, the founder and lead designer / programmer at Arrogant Pixel. This is the first in the series of technical posts in the run up to the official release of our new game coming soon to app stores this autumn.
For those of you who have been following The Tale of Doris and Dragon since the BETA release last year, there are several major changes that we have made in order to release the game officially this year.
We are launching a Greenlight campaign [link coming soon] and uploading to app stores for approvals this week!
The first big decision that we made was to change the software that we were using to build the game. I was using GameMaker Studio at the time of BETA release and coding in GML. I decided to move from GameMaker Studio to Unity because the team had increased in size and I wanted to have a more modular system.
It was a pretty hard pill to swallow as it meant that the entire first game had to be rebuilt in the new engine. I thought it would be a good test to see how much time it would take me to put the game together in the new software. Still, it wasn't a quick and easy thing to do by myself considering I had only used Unity for only a small number of projects.
Generally, GameMaker is very good for rapid prototyping but we found that with projects such as GlitchBoy (sadly, no longer in production), it was actually slowing us down; the team down relying on one person (me!! ) to hard code the game from scratch. After a while, it was clear that there had to be a better way of working as a team. We abandoned the project in order to concentrate our efforts on Doris. I still see myself using Game Maker for certain smaller, maybe two-man projects but judging by the size of Episode 1, the next two episodes definitely need this new software in order for the builds to be as bug-free as possible on release.
A photo posted by Arrogant Pixel (@arrogant.pixel) on
Changing over to Unity also gave us access to post-processing effects that we didn't have before. This meant that we could really put the polish on the graphics to make the game more presentable than ever and play around with the settings in real-time, like photoshop. I found that, if you are trying to do complicated things in Game Maker, my code would become "spaghettified". A lot of objects would be dependent on other objects. It doesn't make it a modular system that can be easily understood. With Unity, the stuff I write becomes more like an asset that I can use in other games because the system is so modular. Unity itself is heavily class based so it encourages good coding practices. It is really important that your programming bolts together easily without interfering with anything else.
New graphics and animations - but not too many
It was important to us that the title remain a pixel art game. We had a few difficulties with consistency and quality of artistic content prior to taking on Saf (DarkLitria) and at the end of the day, it did receive some good feedback. I don't consider myself to be the best artist in the world but when you are working on a game largely by yourself, stuff just needs to get done. I had to do it myself. I'm just glad that people didn't hate it.
Right now, it feels really good to hand over most of the art to Saf as it was the thing that I felt that I struggled with and I trust her to do a great job. She's a fantastic artist and animator and it's great to be working with her. Whether you think I'm a good artist / animator or not, it takes up a lot more of my time than it should. I'd rather concentrate on writing the dialogue, building the game and organising the business.
New music and sound effects
To be honest, when we released the BETA, I just got fed up of polishing and wanted to be done with it. I wasn't really expecting the game to do that well. Although Assad had worked hard on the music, I felt the foley and sound design overall had not had enough time dedicated to it.
We've spent a lot of time since re-recording new sound effects and really thinking about how we were going to improve what we had originally. Ryan had a lot of equipment, knowledge and experience to help us achieve really high quality recordings and believable sounds.
By devoting more time to rebuilding the game, it gave Assad an opportunity to create a new track for Episode 1.
Releasing the BETA game last year gave me a chance to reflect on the feedback and think about what I wanted to improve dialogue wise. There were lots of elements of the BETA release that I think felt unfinished. Some comments also confirmed my fears that Norb didn't appear enough as a character in Episode 1.
I also re-structured some of the conversations between Doris and Norb that I thought were too long or awkward. I had also used some British colloquialisms that did not translate well...or people just didn't get my joke.
It was important to me that the characters came across how I imagine them in my head. Which leads me onto my final point...
I think the most obvious and startling change that most people that played the BETA will find is the fully-voice acted dialogue. We took great care to include every single interaction. However, we do not have triple A budgets. Luckily, we have a very talented friend in Jamie Wood who was willing to give up his free time to help us. By himself, he is just a power house of an actor. I learned so much just by watching him work and it helped me with my own performance.
A photo posted by Arrogant Pixel (@arrogant.pixel) on
I guess you're all wondering who ended up voice acting Doris? It was me. It wasn't my choice really and had lots of reservations about committing to the voice. I've been told many times that I am a very good mimic so it was a kind of "what-the-hell" sort of moment and I just went for it. I don't know if people will be able to tell but...I think I make quite a sweet old lady. I'd love to know if you think it sounds odd though.
Jamie ended up taking on most of the characters because the man can seriously act. His training and experience really made a difference in this case - it brought something really special to the game. His performance of Norb the dragon will melt your hearts, I'm sure of it. We love Norb.
Anyway...this concludes my blog post and I'll leave you with our release trailer. You can always reach me directly via the forum or twitter. I'll try and answer your questions as best as I can.
Until next time, folks.
Feel free to e-mail us questions or get in contact for press enquiries.
PRESS CONTACT: firstname.lastname@example.org
ONLINE PRESS KIT: www.dorisandthedragon.com/press
TO KEEP UP TO DATE WITH ALL THINGS DORIS, sign up to our mailing list!
A photo posted by Arrogant Pixel (@arrogant.pixel) on
Fast forward to today and the team has grown to include two more members; Ryan Callard, a new director who has completely taken care of all of our voice acting and Dark Litria (Safiyah Khan) as our main concept artist and animator for Episodes 2 and 3. After receiving all your amazing feedback, we're so nearly ready to show you the game that we were trying to create from the very beginning.
In order to establish a definitive style for the trilogy, we felt it necessary to go back and finish Episode 1 before starting to produce Episode 2. This included recording voice acting, adding more dialogue and new animations where it made sense, loads more polish - so far, we are really proud of what we have achieved. Stay tuned for the next blogs for a detailed break down of what to expect from the official release of Episode 1.
Episode 2 is always in our minds, especially as production on Episode 1 is finally drawing to a close. Ben has been toying with selecting the best software to plan and write the dialogue. This week, we've adopted a great productivity tool called Slack in order to bug each other 24/7 and make sure we're not......slacking...? Sorry, bad joke.
With the new team and new game release on the horizon, you will be hearing from us and we will be updating the website more regularly. If you want more content and sneak peeks then you can always follow us on Instagram or Twitter where we post almost daily!
We'll leave you with the gorgeous new cover art for the release of the new game:
A photo posted by Arrogant Pixel (@arrogant.pixel) on
You can now follow our progress with The Tale of Doris and the Dragon on Instagram! We are back with a vengeance and will be updating the website soon. For now, enjoy some of our latest posts on Instagram.
We can't wait to tell you what we've been up to. It's been a very busy year since the last BETA release. Enjoy some more awesome art by DarkLitria