How will GoaT be received by the audience and critics?

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KwisatzHaderach
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Wed Jun 04, 2014 12:58 pm

With the game making good progress and nearing its first playable demo at the gamescom this coming August, I started thinking about the initial reception both as a demo and as a final product. It got me thinking about the poeple who might not be as emotionally invested in the game as I am, who might not share a pre-release history, who judge this game "merely" by its content, not by its efforts.

I find it an interesting angle because by now, I am convinced I will love the game, no matter how it turns out to be, just because I have never been as close to the development process as with this one. Don't get me wrong here; I'm also convinced of Seith's skill as an animator/storydesinger/questdesigner/wrapper/coder/environmental artist/character artist/I'm sure I forgot many more :lol: ...

BUT, as we know, things with game developement aren't always easy and go the way they were intended. Features might break, bugs might be unkillable or certain game design aspects just aren't as fun as they sounded like on the drawing board or they turn out to be too hardcore/casual to appeal to a certain audience.

GoaT being Seith's first venture into the gaming industry I personally feel like he should be given ample room to make mistakes and learn from them (there must be something to improve on in GoaT 2 after all). Seeing the scope of the project and the the insanity of so few people working it, there is a fair chance that not everything will turn out perfect (if Seith not be a wizard. Which by david's description he might very well be :D ).

For this reason I want this speculation (discussion once some gameplay material is out) to openly consider all possibilities. How do you think the game will perform once exposed to the public? Will it score high, will it be praised as the second coming of the Rat Kingdom? Will it serve the masses or appeal to only a small audience? Will it live up to the increasing quality standarts of indie games? Will it feature UK kitchens?

What do you think?
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david
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Thu Jun 05, 2014 1:31 am

I have been wondering the same thing myself. Of course, we are all hoping that GOAT will be the greatest thing, ever ;)

Having played a very GOAT early version - the tunnel level - I can say for sure that the visuals and control/movement are AAA. Imho we are quite safe too with regard to the animation and characterization too - these are right in Seith's wheelhouse.

The quality of the other key items - core loop, gameplay, story, level design - remains unknown.

Getting the core loop and gamplay elements right are mainly dependant on creative thinking, decent programming and user testing. Seith is of course famous for his visuals, but he is also very adept on the technical side, having built user tools for Maya and CryEngine (which I believe have been used in Crytek). So programming GOAT in C# isn't really a huge step for Seith, and he also has help from Cyril (who is Cosmogenies here on the forum). Of course, he can get other programmers if he needs 'em. So hopefully, in addition to excellent visuals, we can get something really, truly satisfying together with GOAT's gameplay.

I think he'll go for a wider appeal, and GOAT will be more cute and less 'artistically dark' than I originally thought.

It would be FUN to see a reference somewhere to our regular kitchen forum spammers (they have been quiet lately though, I actually kind of miss deleting their posts). Perhaps a olde-style brand stamp on the stove or something? (respecting copyright of course, although they are evil spammers).

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Having been with GOAT since the start of the (heartstoppingly dramatic) IGG campaign, I know that I can't really be objective either though :D

btw Seith has expressed the possibility of GOAT 2, and more, several times... fingers crossed :mrgreen:

PS. There are a few links to what makes a good 'core loop' here... http://jerrymomoda.com/the-core-loop-ke ... aging-game
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evilkinggumby
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Mon Jun 09, 2014 10:06 am

KwisatzHaderach wrote: It got me thinking about the poeple who might not be as emotionally invested in the game as I am, who might not share a pre-release history, who judge this game "merely" by its content, not by its efforts.
Bah no one would possibly do THAT!

Actually that is an excellent point. Most folk that buy this after the initial kickstarter crowd, will be going into it based on buzz and exposure on various sites (or adverts on Steam/gog/SOE/Prodigy/Compuserve). They will likely know it's a smallish title by a new company, but really, that's about it. Seeing the AAA visuals in the screenshots, they'll likely grab it expecting a really huge high quality game.

The reality unfortunately will be shocking. Out of the box I think they'll be happy with the visuals (and seeing the demo, I am sure folk will also be psyched by the look and animation) and likely play it for a while. As David mentioned, I think the core loop of gameplay will be such they'll be ok with playing it for a few hours at least. But there are 2 possible pitfalls I see them running into.

1: Lack of depth (customization, gameplay, variety of moves,)
2: Overall short experience.

(this is the skeptic/paranoid part of me speculating, not a reflection of any truth or actual insider knowledge, so take this with a FEW grains of salt). I'm going to play devils advocate for a few...

1: Lack of Depth: This is something I wholly expect because Seith is doing this solo and just doesn't have the time/resources/sanity to pull off a game where you'll have a vast array of weapons/clothes/armor/items/abilities/attacks/defenses/ to play with. I know he used Demon Souls/Darksouls and Zelda games as a bit of inspiration, and each has a fair amount of depth. The Souls games have a massive world to explore and fight in, a variety of enemies and attack/defense styles to master, tons of weaponry and customizations to consider (from the players look and load out to custom upgrades to weapons and armor). Zelda, for as primitive as it was, had a fair amount as well.

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The left is sort of a "loot pool" grid but the right is (i think) a rundown of all enemies in the game and.. that's a lot, even by today's standards. Add to that the items and weapons at your disposal:

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you have about 18 items not even looking at shield/weapon upgrades. This gives a lot of possibilities for experimentation and exploration, even in an old 8 bit game. Now I think it is possible to have a lot of varied items and stuff to use in the game, but by today's standards it'll likely be a fairly small pool (especially in terms of items drops from enemies and scattered around the world). After the 10th time you see that piece of fruit to heal you'll start to feel the 'sameness fatigue'.

As well even though the main character won't have much for attacking/fighting maneuvers, having just a few possible moves will feel 'quaint'. Unless there is a robust variety of methods to dispatch/avoid/deal with enemies I think many players will get frustrated or potentially bored. And for all the love for Tilo that may come, if the player doesn't get but a handful of hats and 1-2 weapons to hold, being able to customize the "look and style" of your mouse, well there will be a lot less reason for players to plug away or do a new game+ or replay it. As much as I loved 'Among the Sleep" i wouldn't really want to replay it since there are no real variants to the game to make it slightly "different". If every time you play this game, you are following the same paths, wearing the same outfits, and using one or two ways to get past enemies... yeah re-playability will take a dive and the game will be a 'hit it and quit it' type of thing that will fade from the public eye fairly quickly.

2: Short Experience

I don't think we've heard the overall gameplay length yet and this is totally unfounded, but I suspect the game will end up being anywhere from 3 hours to 7-8 if we're lucky. To build it into a longer experience means adding a lot of areas to explore, using a LOT of backtracking to avoid the need to create a ton of terrain, or some other tricks to pad out the gameplay. And I don't think Seith is looking to PAD the game, he has a very set story and flow he wants to keep. If the game is one that you can powerhouse through in a matter of hours (less than 1 day of gaming) then it will cut into the potential cost to buy the game (most folk won't warrant a high price for just a couple hours experience). It will also hasten how fast people move on to the next thing and this game falls into "oh yeah I think I played that... ".

It seems like most indie games have to sacrifice in some way to become a full rich game. Some use style and retro flair to go with far simpler graphics and sound, and so they can focus on content and storytelling and depth. Others shoot for slick visuals, but the overall gameplay end sup falling short and the game only lasts a few hours. Most that can pull off BOTH have a full team of very enthusiastic and talented developers, and even then it takes a few years to pull off.

I have every bit of faith in Seith to do his very best and put out a great game. But I make no reservations that there is a very good likelihood we'll see the game 'stunted' in some way because it's just him and a few step-in folk helping here and there. Being able to see the game grow and develop little by little, I have a much more patient and lenient view of those shortcomings, and despite it's warts, I'll love the game for what it is and see the potential for what the sequals can be.

But most people stumbling across this will likely feel underwhelmed in some way. "Wow it looks really great, but there is so few things to do and it isn't very long" and "I loved the style but the gameplay was really repetitive so by the end I was pretty glad to see it over".

There is still plenty of time and possibility to prove me wrong (and I'll be more than happy to be wrong on all accounts, really I will). Hopefully if Seith chooses to read this wall-o-text it is more of a cautionary warning than a doom-n-gloom de-motivational speech.
Last edited by evilkinggumby on Thu Jun 12, 2014 9:06 am, edited 1 time in total.
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david
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Wed Jun 11, 2014 6:12 am

KwisatzHaderach wrote:I'm also convinced of Seith's skill as an animator/storydesinger/questdesigner/wrapper/coder/environmental artist/character artist/I'm sure I forgot many more :lol: ...
evilkinggumby wrote:It seems like most indie games have to sacrifice in some way to become a full rich game. Some use style and retro flair to go with far simpler graphics and sound, and so they can focus on content and storytelling and depth. Others shoot for slick visuals, but the overall gameplay end sup falling short and the game only lasts a few hours. Most that can pull off BOTH have a full team of very enthusiastic and talented developers, and even then it takes a few years to pull off.
Yeah, I totally understand where you are both coming from. I know for sure that I have EXACTLY these concerns also.

The good news is that I can pretty much guarantee Seith has the same risks in view too. He'll be working his butt off.

Let us pray to all applicable deities for a successful outcome :idea:
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Seith
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Sun Jul 27, 2014 5:55 am

Those worries are all very legitimate. I can only put them into perspective. And that perspective is defined by my reasons to create "Ghost of a Tale" in the first place:

1) To enjoy the development adventure:

As you all know I'm working on GoaT out of passion. It's not just a job for which I get paid to produce value. I've had to learn many things and adapt to a business genre which I did not know before.

2) To end up with a good game:

I want GoaT to be a good game. Not pretending to be what it's not just to appeal to a wider audience. So I do what I think is "good" and make choices which are inherently defined (limited?) by my taste and skills.

3) Because I hope the game is successful enough that I can keep on doing this:

That's what counts at the end of the day, from a very practical point of view. To earn enough money so that I can keep on doing the things I love. Not many people are so lucky in life.


In the end, some people will say "GoaT" is one of the nicest games they ever played. They'll find it engrossing and be captivated by its world, however small compared to other AAA juggernauts. Some other will say it's a piece of shit; all art and no gameplay. Most of the reactions will fall in-between, with a slight bias (I hope) towards the positive.

The truth is, if GoaT is seen as a bad game there will be no point in saying "oh but it's mostly done by one guy!". Because it really doesn't matter. I have no control over how the game will be perceived in the end. All I can do is apply my standards with honesty and make sure that I'm not insulting the player's intelligence. All the while enjoying the experience as much as possible.

And by the Green Flame that's what I'll do!
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evilkinggumby
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Sun Jul 27, 2014 11:18 pm

I always love to see things from a different perspective. So based on your 3 defining details, what do you think so far? How are you enjoying the development experience (both learning about the software, game design, project management, collaborating with some others for help, and overall creation on a day to day basis for months on end? )

And then the other 2: Do you think you are making a good game so far? I am actually surprised you used the word "good" and not "great" or "phenominal" or "fantastic". :) But I am a writer, words mean more to me..hehehe

And lastly: Are you still of the mindset that it will be successful? How successful do you think it'll need to be in order to solidify the idea you'll go make more? :) In a way I guess you already know how many copies you've sold based on the Indiegogo contributions. What would be a good number above that you'd hope to sell? (ballpark?) Thousands? Millions?

All these details would really give me an idea of your perspective. or what best defines your experience with the game. I'll be honest, I don't actually expect you to answer these things, they're more of what is going through my head and what I try and discuss internally and deduce on my own.

I am glad that it seems you are diligent, determined and having at least enough fun to keep going and push on towards Gamerscon and that looming alpha demo. :)

In the end I will quote what you said on the indie gogo page about your intent with the game:
But my goal is to craft a small yet beautiful game with environments that look a bit like movie sets and characters that have a sense of stylization in their design, while retaining a certain simplicity and immediacy as far as gameplay is involved.
Still to this day you hold true to this, and I respect that a lot.

The only thing (which I think you mentioned in the subsequent paragraph) that we have no seen hide nor hair of is the inclusion of hockey *lol*

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Seith
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Mon Jul 28, 2014 1:41 am

I am enjoying the experience a lot. I might have said that before but I'm literally accomplishing a kid's dream. And as a professional it is thoroughly enjoyable to be able to blaze my own trail. After an entire career spent lending my skills to projects behind which I could not fully stand it is widely refreshing (as well as exhausting) to create according to my conception of what is good.

And yes, I use the adjective "good" simply because I think it does not belong to me to qualify what I do as "great" or "phenomenal". This irks me a lot when I hear marketing people flaunting those words so much that they lose their meaning. To me, there's objectively "good" or "bad" based on several criteria; anything beyond that is purely a matter of opinion. And a person trying to present their own work as amazing strikes me as being in very poor taste. Then again it's just my opinion... :)

By the way this should not be construed as me being super modest or not realizing the quality of my work; it's just a kind of etiquette.

I do believe the game will be successful of course. How successful? I have no idea. And I see little value in trying to figure it out since it will merely be a consequence of the work I'm producing at the moment, allied with circumstances I have little to no control over.

Alas I must confirm Hockey will not make an appearance in the game. This was totally misleading advertisement. Sue me! X)
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Tue Aug 19, 2014 5:31 am

I just spent five days showing and explaining the game's demo to the gamescom audience.

And believe me, everyone plays it:
Children, teenagers, adults ;
Males, females, androgyn-cosplayers ;
Mothers, Metal worshipers, kawaï girls ;
IndieGoGo backers, passing-by walkers, indie enthousiastics;
Dark Souls Speedrunners, casual gamers, angryBirds-focused players;
and so on !

Every types of them could finish (with a little guidance) the demo (which I found a little hard!) spending 15-20 min of their precious time.
They smile, laugh, fear when hiding. The game feel is directly readable on people faces.

And my biggest lesson was:
EVERY GAMER IS DIFFERENT
So many times we were surprised; stealth games could have so many emerging gameplay !
It was really amazing.
Some people were stucked, but into very different places, also the very first room (trying escaping the jail instead of using the door).

I also liked how Tilo was loved and adopted at first sight, and also by Metal worshipers.
Without any game-related content, the character is enjoyed.
Believe me, I was Tilo from time to time in gamescom, and I really feel like a rockstar !!

You do a so great job Seith, congratulations !
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evilkinggumby
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Tue Aug 19, 2014 8:43 am

ha you got to wear the Tilo outfit? very very cool. I am so psyched so many different people enjoyed the demo and took interest in it. That kind of universal appeal will work out well when it finally releases. :)

SO was the demo stations constantly being used? ever get a line?
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cosmogonies
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Tue Aug 19, 2014 2:03 pm

Yes, despite a location a little aside of the "indie mega booth", we were almost everytime played.
We had some people coming to meet us especially, and others coming back the other days to play more.
We also had a group of people sat, waiting, and who played, everyone of them, the demo from start to end, spending almost 2h in our booth !
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