It’s been almost two months since we launched Tunnels & Trolls™ Adventures at Gen Con 50, and the pace hasn’t slowed. The MetaArcade team has been bustling with excitement about the future, so now seems as good a moment as any to take a step back and talk about the state of the game. Settle in—find a seat and grab your favorite drink—because I’m going to provide you with a look at where we’re at now, the exciting things we’re working on over the next few months, and what the future has in store for Tunnels & Trolls Adventures. With any luck (*rolls for Luck*), this will help you get a better feel for what’s on the way in the final months of 2017 and the start of 2018.
ADVENTURES IN 2017
First, a quick recap: you may recall that as 2017 began, we’d recently kicked off our “Sneak Peek” beta of Naked Doom—a very early version of the game with a simple black and white user interface. Shortly thereafter, we added Buffalo Castle and introduced the first prototype of our Adventure Creator at PAX South in San Antonio. The feedback we received was awesome, and encouraged us to work tirelessly through the rest of the year to release Version 1 of Tunnels & Trolls Adventures at Gen Con in August.
To say the least, we’ve been thrilled that we could go from sharing the prototype at conventions to beta testing the game with the community and ultimately to releasing our 1.0 product in under a year. And as always, we thank you for your support and feedback through the process; hearing from you has been one of our greatest joys in bringing this idea to life!
A FOCUS ON QUALITY
In our initial release back in August, we had five adventures for you plus a tutorial to get our new players started in the Tunnels & Trolls universe. In the weeks since, we’ve launched five more adventures: including the epic challenge of Michael Stackpole’s Overkill and our most recent addition, Mistywood. Along the way, we’ve learned a great deal about what you enjoy and where we could focus our efforts on improving the game; and with that in mind, I wanted to update you on what our team is currently working to deliver.
At present, our top priority is performance. Every game launch has its issues, and ours was no exception. While we were delighted to see the game meet the demands of a live environment, the community uncovered a handful of issues we had not encountered in our testing. In particular: the performance of the game on the wide range of Android devices proved to be below our standard—things like touch screen responsiveness, loading times for new adventures, and similar “quality of life” issues turned out to be an inhibitor for many of our players.
On top of performance issues, you also uncovered some peculiar bugs—the nastiest of which seems to happen when pausing and restarting adventures, which can lead to earning negative Adventure Points and gold in some rare instances.
The good news is that our current sprint is focused on fixing these very issues and generally “hardening” the product. This means making improvements that help it play smoothly and perform to our expectations, and is something we expect to deliver to all of you in November.
In addition to an improved game, our November plan also includes releasing the game in more territories. This is a big step for our little team, and while we don’t have the resources to add more languages right away, many of you have expressed that you’re ready and willing to play the game in English. With that in mind, we plan to make this a reality as soon as we deliver the updated game build. Our fans in Germany, France, Japan, and many more territories can expect to see the English version of Tunnels & Trolls Adventures in their iTunes App Store and Google Play come November!
THE HERO’S JOURNEY
Another bit of feedback we’ve received is about what we call “the hero’s journey;” in this case, concerns about the lack of clarity when getting started in Tunnels & Trolls Adventures. In many regards, we believe this comes down to one key point: the difficulty of Naked Doom.
In a lot of ways, Naked Doom is what got us to where we are today: it proves this style of narrative-driven gaming can be a lot of fun, provides plenty of entertaining ways to die, and is particularly enjoyable at conventions—where we can tally the deaths and laugh along with players as they meet their demise. Unfortunately, while the experience is fun to play on the road and in-person, it doesn’t translate quite as well for players discovering and playing the game on their own. This is something that was echoed in our metrics, which highlight the difficulty of the adventure:
One of our community members phrased it perfectly: “Naked Doom is good for new characters, not new players.” As much as we LOVE Naked Doom (believe me, we really like the adventure), this is an important problem to solve. So we’ve decided to introduce a brand-new starting adventure next week for players taking their first steps in Tunnels & Trolls Adventures.
Our goal is to maintain the things that make Naked Doom great while setting a better pace and tone for people just getting started in the game. This is what our next adventure, Kingmaker, will offer: an opportunity for players to learn the game and mechanics in a more appropriate setting. Based on another original Michael A. Stackpole adventure, we’ve adapted Kingmaker to provide a better starting experience for new players. Veteran players will find an engaging narrative with a pretty epic ending, and new adventurers will find a story that serves as both a tutorial and an opportunity for new characters to take their first steps into Trollworld.
Naked Doom will still be waiting to chew up your characters without any reservations, but we will no longer position it as the introductory adventure for players diving into the game for the first time. We like to think of Naked Doom as the “starter adventure for expert players,” so it’ll still be available for veterans looking to test their new characters, beat the bats, best the Balrog, and conquer the Khazan Killers!
Kingmaker will be available next Thursday, 10/19, and will be available to play without the need for hearts or gems!
ONWARD TO THE NEXT ADVENTURE
With all of that said, we know there are other features you want to know about which we won’t be covering in great depth here. We know you want new character classes, the addition of magic in the game, and (perhaps most importantly) a way to spend your hard-earned gold. Rest assured: these are things we’re working on. We’re a small indie team with only 7 full-time employees, so it’ll take us time to implement new systems that won’t explode the app. Know that we’ve heard you and have solutions in the works!
Above all else, we want to emphasize how important you are to our process; we wouldn’t be here without all your support, and want to thank everyone who has been joined us in the past year! 2018 will bring some awesome things that we can’t wait to share, including the opportunity to explore new settings and stories via the Adventure Creator. If you’re interested in being a part of the early testing of the Adventure Creator, be sure to follow and subscribe to our social channels (Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit), where we’ll keep you updated with the latest updates, announcements, and opportunities to work with the MetaArcade team. We’ll be looking for our most active and creative members to play an early role in the experience, so let us know that you’re interested in telling your own stories!
Thank you again for supporting us over the past year, and we look forward to continuing this journey with you now and through 2018!
-David Reid and the MetaArcade Team