A Gathering of Dreamers

“A Gathering of Dreamers” has a double meaning in this post when you think about it.

It is SparkLine’s first ever (Side) Story DLC, and also what game conventions are. We game developers are mostly dreamers and said conventions are where we gather. At first I wrote about the DLC in addition to the conventions but it ended up being too long, so for now we’ll just talk about the latter.

What to Look For in Conventions

You might think “Looking for players” but there’s only a finite amount of players that can play at a time so we can rule that one. I can’t speak for everyone, but these are what we look for in cons:

  • Good Vibes
  • Meeting fellow gamedevs and friends that are otherwise hard to meet
  • Potential business partners are always welcome

For SparkLine, which is a rhythm game that people can experience in 3 minutes, it’s okay to playtest in conventions. Observe their movements, their expressions, their instincts. Make note of the times where they feel confused or do things not according to your intention. Many of the UX adjustments we pushed out in 1.3.1 were from the players’ playtesting experience.

This also implies that our beta tests were not thorough enough and I think that’s a fair assessment to make. It’s a different topic altogether to discuss about.

However, it is not so suitable to bring other game genres that take time to grasp (tactical, narrative, etc) for this purpose. You also risk having incomplete feedback as people don’t want to feel they are being rude.

MYDCF / Level Up KL 2023

This June, I submitted SparkLine for SEA Game Awards in a “nothing to lose” moment. If we got in, that’s good. If we don’t… that’s okay as well. I thought we didn’t get in… Well, until they emailed us. It was a pretty short notice and I was… more surprised than happy, haha.

As we had to prepare SparkLine 1.3.0 and Gamescom, I mulled over the risks of attending this. This event was up for 4 days which meant I had to be in KL for at least 6 days. But nonetheless, I decided to come anyway.

Meeting Hafiz from 7th Beat Games (our collab partner!) and EK, alongside the other devs were the highlight of the event. And overall, it’s not a bad one. I did enjoy my time there¬†but there were a lot of things that could be improved. Although some of them… are out of their hands.

These feedback are not things I’d speak about publicly, and I have already sent them to the relevant channels.

Gamescom Asia 2023

After Level Up, we had to prepare 1.3.0 and oh boy, we underestimated the amount of work we had to do.¬† We ended up releasing that update only two days before this event, which was really not ideal. In addition to this, there were bugs (some a bit major) and I didn’t have time to do anything about it until I’m back in Indonesia.

Would it have been better to polish up the game after the event and skip 1.3.1? Yeah probably.

The event was indeed really tiring… but in a good way! From the start of the event to the end, there’s almost always someone playing. Even at 8PM when the event should be closing, we still have people playing. I am happy to oblige, of course.

A major highlight of the event is getting 2nd Place on the Audience Choice awards! Thank you to all of you that played our game and voted us as the best one amongst the others.

Unlike last year, this time I didn’t take any wrong buses.

The Aftermath

Both events were certainly fun, and we met some really interesting people (in a good way). But with so much work done in a single month, unfortunately it took on me both physically and mentally. In short, I am currently feeling the dreaded burnout. It didn’t even clock on me until like 2 weeks after Gamescom (which would be last week).

As a result, some features we want to add may not make it in time for 1.4.0, while some other planned features might be scrapped. While the new UI is more consistent, it’s still not up to the “fogging estandards”. I know it sounds weird to change the UI again… But change it again we shall.

Moreover, I felt like we have been rushing things so far and at some point, the burnout would have come anyway. In 3 months we have added 17 songs, new features and fixing existing issues. Therefore, we’ll take a step back, take it easy and slow the pace of our updates. Therefore, it is likely that we’ll skip the December update and bring them to next January instead, which would be SparkLine’s half-year anniversary.

In the meantime, we are in progress of setting up a webpage for payments, which is crucial for some parts of the world that otherwise can’t pay through the game.

That’s all from me for now and hopefully I’ll be updating the blogs again in the coming week or so!