Sometimes, the solution to a thorny problem is right in front of you. Like, sitting there on the sofa in front of you. Recently, our tech team’s been struggling heroically with the daunting task of getting “Austen Translation” to run as a networked multi-player game. The systemic requirements are arcane and the documentation often less-than-helpful. When the issues were mentioned to a colleague at GDC, we were asked why Austen’s multiplayer wasn’t being built in hotseat mode instead. It was an epiphanous moment.
In hotseat mode (also known as “couch co-op” style) up to five human players can compete in real time. This, of course, is how the original paper versions of the game were play tested early in the process, and it reminded us of the fun of sitting in a room with your friends while everybody scrambled to marry the very few available bachelors. There is laughing and finger-pointing and all sorts of interesting emergent play behaviors -- like the tendency to help rivals who just helped you. The game really does seem to shine a bit brighter when the players are themselves scheming against and competing with those around them, just like their on-screen heroines.
In the end, hotseat turned out to be an all-around more effective and appropriate play style for this particular game. And we just needed a well-timed question to shake up our perspective.
We’ve been playing using a large-screen TV for the display and a Steam controller and the group experience has been pretty seamless. We debuted the new multi-player mode at the MassDigi “Made in Mass” Pax East party last week and the crowd seemed to really get into it. It seemed a much more raucous, much more social experience for the players than the more cerebral, intimate single-player mode. The photo below is courtesy of the MassDigi folks.
We’re especially excited by the success of the new multi-player model because it was our last significant technical pre-release challenge. So watch this space for the announcement of the official “Austen Translation” release date. And a big thank you to our programming team for their brilliant execution of the house-party multi-player idea. You guys rock!
Worthing and Moncrieff, LLC is an independent developer of video game stories founded in 2015.