Welcome back! If you’re reading this, the first Demo for Horticular is out on Steam (or will be during the day). That’s right, it finally happened!
As the Demo speaks for itself, this will be a small entry on the process of cooking the demo. So, read this (obviously), then try the demo and tell me what you think!
Since last time, most work has been focused on wrapping up existing features and content. It doesn’t mean that development is done, but that the current experience should be able to stand on its own, albeit in a limited fashion.
On the polishing side, that means making sure all UI share the same level of quality; weeding out any bugs; making sure all text is decent; and adding tutorials (see the previous devlog).
With hundreds of items, letters, upgrades, etc., in the game, that’s a lot of flavor text to write, mostly from scratch! All in all, the game currently has about 700 text strings, and I went through all of them to increase readability and remove oddities.
Speaking of doing things from scratch. One of the menus in-game (the nectar trader) was only a placeholder, so just before the holidays, I envisioned and fully implemented that.
But all was not just polishing existing content. When you’re in development, it makes sense to deprioritize some features so you can move faster and test out ideas. However, these become essential once you want to get your product into people’s hands. A couple of examples this time were key-binding and native text input.
The key-binding feature allows players to set their own preferred keys to play Horticular with, just as you would expect from games.
The native text input was a technical change that captures text input from the operating system (OS) and, as such, uses OS typing settings, keyboard layout, and keyboard language. Without this, I would have had to manually add special character logic for different languages (e.g., adding diacritics) or limit players to only English characters.
Making the Demo
With the game prepared to be seen by the public, the fun of cutting out content and preparing a representative chunk began. After some playtesting, a good cut-off point for the demo story was decided. After which, I started pruning all other content around it to make a cohesive experience.
In the end, I got help from testers to try the Demo out and was able to take some actions on the feedback. Mostly quality of life changes and adding clarifications to some concepts that were still poorly explained.
And that’s it. Now go play the Horticular demo!