Hi there readers of Gamezebo! I’m Ben Furneaux, one of the developers at Wonderstruck working on our first project: Polycraft. We’re working with Gamezebo to bring you a series of developer diaries following the development of Polycraft. There’s going to be lots of behind-the-curtain insight into how we’re making Polycraft, exclusive information about upcoming releases, photos of people looking pensively at a whiteboards, blood, sweat, tears and polygons. Lots of polygons.

“What is Polycraft and why should I care about your game? I already have lots of them!”

Good question, although you haven’t played anything quite like Polycraft, I’ll explain why…

 

What is Polycraft?

Cue wavy dream sequence effect! You awake stranded on a mysterious island. You’re tasked with crafting a new life with a little help from the cute critters that pulled you out of the sea, whilst defending it from the nasty wildlings that inhabit the new land you’re now calling home.

You can play the Polycraft pre-alpha right now at: ga.me/polycraft

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Mechanically, Polycraft is a multiplayer strategy game with an arcade heart. Like a classic strategy game you can control units, create and upgrade buildings, craft and gather resources — but unlike a classic strategy game you control your character directly (we call him/her the Hero).

Hero control is super important to the way Polycraft feels. Everything in the world of Polycraft can be interacted with, and once you learn that, it’s pretty intuitive. Want to build something? Great, go to the Workshop! Want to chop a tree? Great, go over and chop it! We want anyone to be able to play Polycraft without needing to learn complicated controls, so we set a goal early on not to be overly reliant on large amounts of UI (user interface – menus, text, buttons) that strategy games traditionally rely on. We also really want to be able to tell people how to play Polycraft in one sentence, so Polycraft only uses the left mouse button.

 

We are Wonderstruck

Team Wonderstruck was formed in mid 2012. Our core development team is nine people strong and growing fast. Our backgrounds are varied, but the core team is formed of AAA game developers previously of Lionhead, Playstation and EA.

We’re really proud to have worked on some pretty cool games such as Black and White 2 and Fable. Our experience on these projects has positively influenced the design and development of Polycraft.

 

Prototyping: Our Grand Adventure

Polycraft wasn’t the first game we started working on after Wonderstruck was formed. We spent a few months prototyping character movement mechanics, weapons, enemy behaviours, level design and other fun stuff (including some puzzle games). In fact, the core of Polycraft started life as a steampunk inspired multiplayer dungeon crawler codenamed: Grand Adventure. The heart, lungs and kidneys of Grand Adventure still exist within Polycraft today, but the soul is all new.

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For us, prototyping is one of the most fun and important parts of game development. Perfecting a core ‘toy’ (the main point of interaction) to hang your entire game off is where we start. We’ll go in-depth on our prototyping process (and share some early stuff) in a future diary.

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Arms Wide Open Game Development

At Wonderstruck we believe in building strong communities and something we call ‘Arms Wide Open Game Development’ (AWOGD if you like acronyms). That means we’re sharing the journey of game development through developer diaries like these, feature previews, and tweeting about nearly everything. It also means giving our players a big virtual hug whenever they help us.

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It’s not just about sharing and hugs (though we do a lot of that). We actively encourage our players to get stuck in by submitting feedback and testing early features on our private preview channel.

Another important point of contact is our feed. It’s like a mini Polycraft flavoured Twitter that sits alongside the game and allows our players to have a direct dialogue with us, and us with them.

Asking our players to tell us what they think allows us to make Polycraft better and move faster because we can prioritise features on their value to our existing players. It’s is a bit of a no-brainer to us.

 

Pre-Alpha

If you’re not up on your Greek flavoured game development lingo, you’re probably wondering what pre-alpha means. Alpha is a stage of game development where the game is feature complete, but is lacking final art and probably has plenty of bugs.

Pre-alpha is (where Polycraft is now) is pretty early in game development land, but we think there’s more than enough to play and poke to get a taste of where we’re going.

You can play the Polycraft pre-alpha right now at: ga.me/polycraft

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What’s Next

If you got this far, well done! Have some Amber on us (insider Polycraft joke). Keep your eye on Gamezebo for our next developer diary in a few weeks.

And if you’ve not done it yet, check out Polycraft! ga.me/polycraft