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Dev Diaries #14 - Cat and Mouse

March 10th 2022 12:03am — Jordan Crawford, The Artistic One - @ZSG

I've debated just how much I wanted to share for a few days now. I've written and rewritten this devlog, unsure of how to balance transparency with hype and decided it would be best to just completely lay it on the line. For everyone's sake. I'm so incredibly sick of this game. I miss my life. I miss not feeling guilty if I decide to take a day off of Spectre. I miss sleep like you wouldn't imagine. I know not many people realize this, but Fred and I both have families. We have wives. Kids. Full-time careers. We never imagined Spectre would become what it is, but here we are and I think this is where most of my frustration stems. Nobody sees behind the scenes. Nobody sees us working all day, spending time with our families, and then scurrying back to our desks until 4am only to wake up again at 7am. Two [redacted] years of this. This game has spiked my anxiety, I've had a handful of severe depressive episodes. It's been absolute fucking hell at times, both mentally and physically. Before you get worried about release, you can calm your jets. It's coming. Over the last two years, we've hit these ebbs and flows a few times and realize that this is the new norm. When I get really low, I'll take a short break and return with new energy. A huge source of this stress (for me) came with the weight of expectations paired with the timeline we set out to achieve. The easiest way to address it was to pull back a bit and return to the way we started. Working on the game for just us. On our schedule. No more hyping up the enthuiasts (don't get me wrong, we appreciate you!!!), no more social media. Just go back to what we know best. Which we did. Now, I don't want anyone to take this as a sign that I'm in crisis or anything, I ultimately thought it would be best if I just completely opened up so that you, our community, had that context. I'll be in love with Spectre again in a week or so.

Now. The elephant in the room. March's announcement. In trying to keep the community as informed as possible without facing legal repercussions, we like to share (vaguely until we're allowed) any huge milestones for Spectre. We had met with a publisher several times and were given a timeline (they were understandably busy with some huge initiatives; projects I guarantee you've all seen but would have no idea it was tied to this publisher). In January (I believe) we had been Greenlit and expected to hear back by March. That didn't happen; and as a result, looked shitty on us. Whatever. We'll grin and bear it, but it becomes this balancing act. Given how we were burned this time, do we continue to share potential news and have it look shitty on us, or do we just not share anything anymore? There's no right answer because no matter what, we cannot satisfy everyone. Regardless, it was our decision to share, and I'll take the hit for that. With that out of the way, development. Without the static deadline, Fred and I have been able to get back to our creative freedom. I had mentioned it before, but when we had our 2021 deadline, we'd weigh the inclusion of new mechanics and gadgets based on how quickly we'd be able to get it into the game, straight up cutting shit if it would take too long to develop. At the end of the day, this watered down our vision, and the result wouldn't have been something that either of us are proud of. It wouldn't have been reflective of our capabilities. With the timeline pushed back, Fred and I have taken some time to learn new skills, a bit of modeling here, animation there. A dash of audio, material functions, lighting, etc. With that, we've been able to push the envelope on Spectre even further. We've got gadgets that we wouldn't have even considered now in the game (ahem, Spectre grappling hook confirmed).

We've added interactables to our maps (the elevator you had previously seen as well as areas only accessibly by hacking access panels for example), there are security rooms with surveillance in key areas of the maps, our UI has improved greatly, we've got the customizable and save-able loadouts and player configurations, lobby balancing, a fully fleshed out progression system, material-specific audio & physics, the ability to alternate between aiming sides, leaning while aiming (Reaper), a menu system that is sincerely AAA, advanced ziplining, the ability to go from hanging on a ledge to squeezing into a crawlspace (this sounds pretty basic, but it's fucking huge as well as our overall ledge mechanics), we're completely networked and on Steam and are wayyy beyond just a playable build. This is not, and has never been a CT clone, despite pulling obvious influence from the svm 'genre' if that's what you'd like to call it. We want to bring the same high-intensity cat-and-mouse gameplay into modern times, and I think we're doing a damn good job of it. The tradeoff of this has been significantly more time actually getting shit done and less time socializing/showing off on social media. On top of all this, we've been dealing with Legal & Accounting, getting incorporated, and all the work that comes hand in hand. Side note here - despite having strong interpersonal skills, I really don't like interacting with people. I despise social media and don't even really use it personally so learning how to do that and keeping it up has been preeetty draining for me. My focus this week was on this. Bringing you guys up to speed. I had a great chat with Fred about our recent discussion, and we've agreed to show you guys a little more. Keep you in the loop. Devlog more often. Again, we understand that you guys just want the game. We just want to get it done, but we'll be a little more open with our progress.

In other news, we've met with other publishers in the interim - all showing great interest in our game. I won't be repeating the mistake of sharing expected timelines and stuff though, so you'll have to wait. Work on Spectre continues whether you see it or not, buuuuuuuut we'll continue to share more.

Thank you ALL for your patience and understanding. We love you guys, thanks for hanging in there.

- Jord

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