Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Kickstarter Post-Mortem

Hi everyone! Last month's Kickstarter was a resounding success due in no small part to our amazing community! In the spirit of self-improvement and to give everyone feedback on our experience, we decided to organize a little post-mortem of our Kickstarter adventure. It's our way of showing more of the inner workings that are going into making Highlands, and hopefully this will help other indie developers go through the challenges of a Kickstarter campaign.

How did we live through the kickstarter experience?
The Kickstarter experience is quite an ordeal. As a whole, we lived in a constant state of love/hate with it. Not only is it wholly invasive in everyone's life, but it's also incredibly rewarding. Allow me to clarify. On one side, when we got into the crowdfunding process, we had no idea how much work it was going to be. It's non-stop action. The back and forth with the community, the promotion and the constant checking and refreshing of the main page to see new stats and backers! It followed us everywhere and for a whole month we were on edge. At the same time, it is one of the most rewarding things we could've done! Every pledge we received was met with cheers and when we hit the goal, it was such a relief! When you get in a crowdfunding process, you have to adapt and learn new skills very quickly. It was, overall, a very positive learning experience for everyone involved on the team.

What did we do good?
The Kickstarter went through, so obviously we did something good. But what? On the whole, the preparation we put into it was satisfying for a first experience.  We have spent about 2 weeks of half-time research from a single team member, reading articles such as the one I'm posting and gathering various facts and best-practices on Kickstarter.  Then at the beginning of September when we decided to go for it, there was about 3 weeks of full preparation from the whole team.

The Kickstarter page and the image of the game were quite strong. We had many positive comments about our page, that it looked professionnal and had a good direction. We had a great message we wanted to send about the game, and with the help of the community we managed to narrow the description enough so that it was clear what players would be getting into. Speaking of players, we feel like we handled the community quite well, trying to answer everyone quickly and giving as much information and feedback as possible. Of course, you are all in a better position to judge that!

What did we do that wasn't so good?
Obviously, we can't do everything right. While the preparation time we had was satisfying, you can never have too much prep time. Seriously, be like batman, plan for the impossible. We also didn't expect the level of time and efforts it took us to run this successful campaign. We planned a lot of production time during the campaign but it took us so much efforts, we couldn't put more than 30-40% of our time into actual game production, at best. Of course, without funding, we simply couldn't go on with the game, so it was a good trade-off. In the research we did, we found out that there was a lull in the middle of the campaign, which we expected. But when faced with that downtime, we were actually panicking. Even if we knew that it would shoot back up, we had all hands on deck trying to reverse the direction.

What if we had to do it again?
There's plenty of things that we could've done better and that we'd do differently if we were to do it again. The marketing strategy would be one of those. While we had plenty of luck with the marketing we had, it could've been more thought-out. The reception we had from the media was great but if we planned it better? We're confident that it could have been glorious. One of the things that caused us pain was the pledges and stretch goals. The pledges were good, but the description wasn't as good as it could've been, same thing with the stretch goals. While we had good ideas for the goals, the money objective now seems too high. It looked logical at the time, but not so much now. Of course,  they say hindsight is 20/20 but it still is something that bears some thought. One last thing, we mentioned earlier that the message we tried to give of the game was good. It was, but looking back there was a lot that we needed to clarify mid-campaign.  The community feedback helped us a lot to refine our branding and better express our gameplay ideas and we could probably have planned it a little better.

And now, a word of advice!
We're an indie studio and we feel like the world of gaming could benefit from more indie games. Often, the step to take is a big one and that's why everyone at Burrito Studio has a little advice for every developer out there:

"Make sure your branding is rock-solid yet stay flexible and refine it on the way. " -BurritoJo

"Don't underestimate the workload!" -BurritoFrank

"Don't think Kickstarter will bring you views, you will bring views to Kickstarter" -BurritoLo

"Prepare yourself in advance, learn to use self-promotion tools, learn from others, more preparation." -BurritoAl

Thank you all again for all the love and support during the Kickstarter campaign.  We've been hard at work for more than three weeks now and we'll keep on working until the game is ready in all its glory. Beta is still on track for this December so stay tuned!  In the meantime, you are all awesome!

If you feel curious and want more insights on the Kickstarter experience, please feel free to comment and ask away!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Let Me Tell You a Story

Hi everyone!

I’m BurritoSim the 3rd story writer at Burrito Studio.  Today I’ll try to give you an insight about how random events will work in Highlands. They’ve not been advertised much to this date, but they’ll help a lot to give you a feel of where we want to go with Highlands’ narrative.

Random Events

Since I started working on those random events, the concept behind them has evolved a lot. At first, the term designated mini-events that happen at the start of each turn. They were pretty sketchy, with no backstory and were only a way to bring a little randomness in the game. In parallel, we had the idea of integrating short encounters in which the player had to take a decision between two equally appealing options. Since they seemed much more interesting and could be a good support to drive the story onward, we decided to put the first idea in a closet to concentrate our efforts on the second.

This change of orientation was also fueled by a change in our map designing. We changed our initial idea of corridors fighting for independent outdoor sectors with unique features. In this kind of map, it was very easy to write interesting short encounters that could happen almost anywhere. To trigger these events, we thought that the player would have to put a character in a slot near a building that we called a hot spot. At first, we didn’t think much about the number, frequency or relative importance of the random events in the gameplay. We just began writing some of them and planned to do a lot more. But recently, we did a big brainstorm to decide what we wanted to do with these events and here is the result of our reflections.

The Two Categories

First of all, we decided to bring back our short random events, but with a different twist. We now call them bad news and they happen once in a while at the start of your turn. As their name implies, they are short random events that will present a setback to your war efforts, disrupt your current strategy and force you to reassess your short-term objectives. They are designed to give you the feeling that even with the best strategies, you can’t plan everything beforehand. But don’t worry, most of these events won’t be world-shattering… at least not much. J

But we also kept our short encounter events and called them hot spots events. They will happen when you send a character to investigate a special location in a sector you own. Most of the time, your character will experience a small event that can be qualified as positive, negative, or neutral, depending on its outcome. You won’t have to take any decision in these ones. But at times, your character will get a story event that will affect his capabilities and/or the progression of your war effort. Those events are much more elaborate in their design and will have a profound impact on your gameplay.

The Story Events

Basically, the story events will all have the same pattern: after a short description of the initial situation, you will have to choose between two or three options. Some of these choices will highlight ethical motivations, while the others will be much more straightforward in their approach. Depending on the option you choose, your character will have to deal with the consequences, positive or negative, of your decision. Those events will help strongly to make your characters unique. In them, your character will experience their own mini-story that will give them a little time under the spotlight. Even more, the decisions you make might change their progression path and give them an edge that will make them invaluable in your eyes.

The impact of the story events won’t be only for the character that will trigger them or for the gameplay, they will also give you a glimpse into Highlands back story. They can bring the spotlight on any of your characters, but you can also learn much about your favorite main characters in them. Also, their value doesn’t reside only in their randomness, they’re designed to support the main story and help to express the general emotions of the game.

In short, even if you only have a modicum of control over how they will play, the random events will help to shape your Highlands experience and might even incite you to play the game again!

If you have any suggestions or ideas about any of this, please tell us about it!

BurritoSim the 3rd

Friday, October 17, 2014

Dans les coulisses de M.Net!

Super soirée à MusiquePlus avec l'équipe de M.Net, merci beaucoup de votre accueil!

L'entrevue s'est déroulée dans l'émission du mercredi 15 octobre.  L'intégrale devrait être disponible en milieu de semaine prochaine sur le site de l'émission!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Lights, Camera, Action!

Much work has been done this week to animate the world and make it windy!  Gusts of wind blow through the land giving life to windmills, grass, trees & clouds.  Next will be to add some nifty sound FX!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Show Must Go On!

Preparing and launching a Kickstarter has been quite a ride for all the team!  We will make sure to write a post-mortem once it is over because we are learning a great lot.

Now the show must go on and we are back to a semi-functional schedule and full steam into production again!  Here is what our current dev sprint ending Oct 17 is about:

Docks, Elevators & Story

Those who played our private alpha or saw us at Comiccon played half of the first map with few story elements.  BurritoLo has just completed the assembly of the full map and the result is quite impressive!

The story draft for the first level is also set in stone by BurritoSim and getting integrated.

Still Better UI

BurritoFrank is always on the lookout for more intuitive ways to perform actions.  I won't delve too much into this topic because we still need to test it, but we are breaking down the user actions based on the recent feedback we had with alpha 4 and things look promising!

We are also at a polishing stage: finalizing UI assets & making sure that every input action gets a clear animated feedback as well as every ongoing effect on the map (fortifying sectors etc.)  That was one of the main concern of our testers: having a strong feel of reward when performing costly action or sense of progress when the action was ongoing.

We also solidified the concept of leveling & how different character classes learn different skills at different paces.

Ceacilia with combat strength of 17 and various skills like "Rally The People".  Formerly this action was performed by dragging on the sector yellow flag.

Testing out interfaces that will replace the current UI placeholders for sector stats.

Healing & Skirmish

All our early prototypes from last spring had a way for your combatants not to commit to combat and rather perform a quick sortie with a deadly blow and come back to safety (at the expense of leadership points) and it was quite fun!  We are putting the Skimish back, as well as a more elaborate healing system that will most likely be based on food.

Back to Programming!

BurritoAl is back programming full-time, we also bought a nice sleeping bag for him and are looking to find a mini-fridge!

Follow our blog if you want to see our progression.  The Kickstarter really cranked the expectations a notch and it's really good encouragement for us.  If you have any question or topic you'd like explored more feel free to ask!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

First Teaser Video and Steam Greenlight Process

We are quite proud of our first teaser video for Highlands!

If you have a Steam account you can also help us getting Greenlighted by voting for us (must have bought at least one game on Steam to be able to vote):

Click here to visit our Steam Greenlight page!

Old Challenges and New Challenges

@BurritoAl discusses the list of remaining game-play development tasks (as of September 2014) for Highlands at http://forums.tigsource.com/index.php?topic=43081.msg1065152#msg1065152

Monday, September 22, 2014

It's the Final Countdown!

It's official, it's coming, mark your calendar because next Monday will be a big milestone for Burrito Studio.

Please join our Facebook event and spread the word!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Amazing time at Montreal Comiccon '14!

It has been a tremendous weekend at Montreal Comiccon!  It was our first showcase of the game on such a large scale and the public reaction was simply amazing.  Feedback from our playable demo really boosted our confidence in Highlands game mechanics and visual direction.  Most importantly, it has been an incredible opportunity to chat with a lot of gamers, meet colleagues and have fun!  A quick thanks to multijoueur.ca for helping with the setup and for promoting indie game dev locally.

Here are some pictures:

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Busy Week!

Quite a busy week at the studio!

Our beta 4 build is fresh out of the oven for private testing with lots of improvements and new stuff!  We invite those who already have beta keys to give us feedback (the game link has been updated to the new version at www.burritostudio.com).

We are also giving out some more keys so feel free to contact us at betatesting@burritostudio.com and try it out!

New features:
 - More intuitive UI: no more text on screen!
 - A brand new map to test!  This map contains advanced combat scenarios and also resources management (food and leadership).
 - When a character loses strength (hit points) in combat, he is no longer healed automatically.  A character can thus have a strength of 14/17, that will slowly replenish up to 17 at a rate of 1 point per turn.

The later system really adds a cool dynamic to combats and will be prone to evolve in the next versions.

BurritoJo is Maintaining a Daily Developer Log

If you want to have a personal take on the daily challenges of a game developer go follow BurritoJo's thread at http://forums.tigsource.com/index.php?topic=43081.

Comiccon Starts Upcoming Friday!

Feeling adventurous and attending Montreal Comiccon?  Come see us at artists booth 2640!

Kickstarter Kick-Off in Three Weeks!

The countdown has started!  Lots of events will happen around this big milestone so stay tuned.

Monday, September 8, 2014

We're doing a Kickstarter!

Highlands is officially making a Kickstarter this october!

Team Burrito need your help to achieve our goal of making the great game that we've always had in mind!

We've spent the week preparing our kickstarter campaign so stay tuned for the official launch. If anybody isn't familiar with crowdfunding, here is a link to get Kickstarted!

This thursday we shot the raw footage for our Kickstarter trailer.  Here's an exclusive look at the behind-the-scene-award-winning-oscar-nominated-film-extraordinaire!

BurritoJo setting up the audio recording.

A  cool picture about BurritoJo not remembering his text.

BurritoFrank thinking about the meaning of life. And also his next Oscar.

Little technical problems.

Monday, September 1, 2014

We'll be at ComicCon Montreal September 12-14!

Visit us at Comiccon Montreal in two weeks!

Come say hi! if you are attending Comiccon Montreal from September 12 to 14.

There will be a playable beta of Highlands, new gameplay video, new artworks never seen before and much more!

All our team members will be here to answer your questions and listen to your comments.

See you there!

Friday, August 22, 2014

So...What's Next?!

Hello there!

This week, BurritoMo and BurritoJo are taking over the blog to tell you what's coming up for Highlands!

We've been receiving our share of constructive feedback and are taking all of it into account. First and foremost: thanks to all of our testers and supporters! It's been very fun and helpful to read you guys. Now, here are some of the things we are currently working on for the next release:
  • We fixed the humongous screen problem! You can now resize the webplayer to fit your monitor, hooray!
  • We're making improvements on the UI.  We are converting those pesky numbers in simple and comprehensive icons. 
  • We have a new team member! A writer just joined us to help with story and dialogs.
  • The grey and very boring battle screen is getting a very much needed facelift. (see the image below)
  • New songs! (More epicness... but also some atmospheric soundscapes, for those who felt like they were watching LoTR while figuring out how to end a turn.)
  • A font. A FONT!!!
  • And much more... :B 

Also, new things are coming:
  • We will be introducing a new aspect of resource management: food. Because after all, building a resistance with no pizza shop in sight can wither the morale of the soldiers pretty quickly.
  • Leadership points will be used to accomplish actions other than just hiring some drunkard in the tavern.

 We will release a new build soon so stay tuned!

New modular buildings by BurritoLo

If you haven't already, you can ask for a beta key by e-mailing us at betatesting@burritostudio.com ! We are still taking all of your feedback so fire away and see you next week!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Come Play the First Beta!


The first beta of Highlands is up! 

Join us in a unique adventure and come try the game!

Contact us at betatesting@burritostudio.com to receive a free access key to the tutorial. 
Your feedback is very important to us, tell us what you think!

Goal of the Game 


Highlands is a turn-based strategy game set high up in the clouds. You play the heirs of a powerful family. After being sent in exile by your foes who sneakily took over your flying citadel with an army of treacherous swarm bots, you need to regain what is rightfully yours, find powerful allies and rally the population on the way.


Strategic Warfare: you must wisely decide which sectors are going to be defended and held and which ones are going to be regretfully abandoned to the enemy in order to push new frontlines. Special buildings will help you in your quest by opening up new options and giving you the extra help you need to confront the enemy in battle.

Resources management: your army needs leadership, morale, food and other resources to get stronger and advance in the game.  As it marches on it will unlock new territories and production areas where individual characters will be able to use their skills and gather resources.

Combat: where the two armies finally meet!  A simple card-game style of gameplay where your characters will be put to the ultimate test by destroying the invaders' forces.

Concept art of the battlescreen.

If you want to try out Highlands, e-mail us at betatesting@burritostudio.com to obtain a key and access the game on our website. Help us to create a unique game you'll love and enjoy!

Our website: http://www.burritostudio.com/
Facebook page:https://www.facebook.com/burritostudio
Twitter account: https://twitter.com/BurritoStudio  or @BurritoStudio

 There's more to come, so make sure to like us on Facebook and subscribe to our Twitter account and receive weekly news and announcement!

Greetings from the Burrito team!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

It's Color Script Time!

 Good news everyone!
We're currently finishing the first floor of Highlands, and it's pretty exciting. We'll probably show some in-game screenshots in the next blogpost or so.

However, we have some pretty awesome concept sketches to show you today. We're working on the color script of the next levels in the game, and I think we captured something very interesting and moody. What do you guys think?

Art by BurritoLo and BurritoFrank

Art by BurritoFrank

Art by BurritoLo

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Behind the scene - PART ONE

It's the middle of the week, and we thought we'd do a little special post to show you guys some ''behind the scene'' pictures. Beware, very uninteresting content ahead.

Hermit crab in french. We give a name to every stretch of work.

The Boring Part: Working

BurritoLo and BurritoFrank drawing like it's their last day on earth.

...and BurritoElo forever alone in her corner. With BurritoMo's placeholder.

Our programmer, BurritoAl, typing like crazy. And our game designer, BurritoJo.

BurritoLo guiding BurritoMau with the Laser of Wisdom.

When Our Programmer (tries to) Illustrate His Ideas - SPECIAL EDITION

If you can guess what the last icon is, we give you a burrito. For free.
This is scary.

...I don't even...

Friday, August 1, 2014

This week's blogpost is chaotic.


This week we worked on various game assets and we thought we'd show you a little sneak peek of everything we've done.

Let's begin with some concept art and sketches for the enemies; the swarms.

Art by BurritoFrank

Art by BurritoElo

Art by BurritoElo

We also worked on various mockups for the map.
We decided to change the ''corridor'' concept to a more organic ''sector'' concept. The map is still evolving and we're currently trying to break the angles with various props.

Finally, we (finally) came up with a design for Leoric, one of the main characters!
We did dropped the fabulous hips, but he's still a delicate flower... oh well, that's why we love him!

Art by BurritoMo and BurritoElo

That's all for today. Have a good weekend y'all!