Weekly Update: New Project Hype!
Week of February 25, 2019
This is Nick, producer at Mutant Studios, here with big news! We’re on the new project grind with an exciting new direction. As much as we have enjoyed the attention from our sillier games like ‘I Can’t Believe It’s Not Gambling,’ we want to expand our horizons and make some grander titles. So we’re moving on from that and setting our sights on bigger fish… literally!
Our team is thrilled to announce our new project:
SHADOW OF THE LEVIATHAN
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Shadow of the Leviathan is a fishing game where you’ll have to wrangle in some truly fearsome monsters while you explore and uncover the secrets of the beasts. Prepare yourselves… we’re sending you fishing for kaiju!
WE’RE GONNA NEED A BIGGER BOAT
Anyone that knows me can vouch that I adore giant monsters in all forms of media. From Godzilla to Pacific Rim to Rampage, I’m all about it. And, of course, video games like Shadow of the Colossus and well... Rampage. Now that I think about it, about half of the games I’ve ever pitched are about giant monsters and giant robots in one way or another... Anyways, I also have a weakness for fishing in games like Animal Crossing or Stardew Valley. I’m sure there’s a lot of harvesting to be done in Stardew, but I honestly wouldn’t know. I just fish. So when Justin pitched a different fishing game, I put the two together and after riffing on the idea we’ve escalated it to this.
We’ll be talking mechanics and scale in the coming weeks, diving deeper into what things we’re looking to accomplish and what challenges we want you to experience, but for now we really just want to express how much fun we’re going to have with this and we want you along for the ride!
A NEW DIRECTION
This is a new direction for Mutant, bigger and better than ever before. Justin, our gameplay programmer and technical artist, is eager to raise the bar for our visuals, performance, and gameplay so we’ve set him loose on some hard tasks. As we work, some these posts will be checking in with him to get updates about technical things, the challenges he’s facing, and the solutions he’s crafted. Justin will basically be making sure the game is fun to play and easy on the eyes - simple enough!
As a personal note, this game is a huge undertaking with a lot of moving parts and I honestly would not have pitched it if I didn’t have faith that Justin could absolutely obliterate my expectations here. We’ve been working together for years and I have no doubts about his ability to take my ridiculous concepts and bring them to life.
As for me, I’ll be taking on the role of project lead, management, level design, and UI design - along with being more vocal on social media and Mutant platforms to communicate with our players. We want to grow as a studio and we’ve set a path for ourselves to be more transparent on our projects from week to week. This will include posts like this for updates, videos to show off demos and epic moments, and development livestreams down the line so you can ask us those burning questions in real time and get some real answers!
Jeff will be approaching a new side of this for us… consoles! It’s been in the works for a while, but we want to start branching out from just PC games. So he’ll be doing research and getting some of our other titles onto consoles in preparation for Shadow of the Leviathan’s completion. Look for news about that soon!
DIVING INTO THE DEEP END
So what the heck have we been doing to get ready for this project? Well... lots!
PRE-PRODUCTION (LAST TWO WEEKS)
Design document writing - it’s up to 22 pages so far, filled with tons of details about the controls, gameplay interactions, and other goals… and it’s just getting started. There are lots of notes that will be consolidated to it and it will likely quadruple in size over the coming days and weeks.
Discussions almost every day about class maps, saves, game modes, level design, controls, world building, and a million other things. We’re mapping out every inch of the experience from the start and leaving no stone unturned in the process.
Paper prototype testing was fairly successful for what we wanted it to do. I marched myself down to the arts n’ crafts store and built a little boat and an environment.
Part of the game’s exploration is going to include reading symbols and hints on the walls to guide the player to different solutions throughout the world. So I tested some symbols and layouts. The test also introduced a new mechanic for us, the working name for which is “pinging.” It will definitely get a more mystical name going into the full game. It’s going to be one of the ways you can interact with the world and the monsters so we tested to make sure it was interesting and satisfying. It’s a flexible solution to exploration that gives us a lot of options going forward. This stuff won’t quite make the cut for our first gameplay demo, which will focus entirely on the core of reeling in a giant monster, but it was important for us to lock it down early so we aren’t looking to band-aid anything down the road.
Our quick gameplay prototype was a little rough around the edges, but it gave us a good idea of where we want to get our controls and visuals, as well as the game feel. It also showed just how quickly Justin can make something look and feel epic.
Justin and Jeff have been collaborating on a class map so that our programming hits all the things we need it to. This will lead directly into a new and improved player controller, which we’ll be showing off right away on Twitter!
Research, camera testing, and environment assets. Justin’s been hard at work trying to bring the world to life as soon as possible. Since our game takes place on the water, we needed to be 100% sure that this was something we could accomplish in a timely manner and to our standard. This level of intensity isn’t a side of our skills we’ve really let shine here at Mutant before, so we wanted to make sure we weren’t rusty. Our water, weather, and other special effects are all starting to come together. Justin will be in next week’s update to talk about the different things he’s been trying and his goals for that side of the project.
(Here’s a tease of what we’ll be showing off next week)
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Design documentation has been moving along at a good pace, with more details being added daily and internal questions being discussed quickly to nail down everything. We’ve adopted a tagging system we liked on Gamasutra for internal management, so we’ll be much tighter on our design than ever before.
Level design for the first boss fight got a quick and dirty first pass. This included describing the spikes in intensity, some storyboarding on actions, drafting the challenges we’ll be presenting to you, and listing out the assets we’ll need for each part.
In the following weeks we’ll be locking in quite a bit:
Player controller and inputs
First leviathan design
Effects/Camera for the demo
Assets for the boat and obstacles
Level design for the first leviathan
Our goals are to have a really impressive demo ready by GDC (Game Developers Conference), which puts our internal deadline at March 15th. We, as a studio, want to put our best foot forward and really show off some epic gameplay. This is a big change from our previous projects in terms of scale and tone so it’s a chance for us to really express a different side of our studio. For me, I just want to make an epic experience that players find engaging and exciting. And make a game about giant monsters.
More Shadow of the Leviathan updates will be coming steadily as we work, so follow us on Twitter to get different development updates (almost) daily or subscribe to the Mutant Studios newsletter to get updates there.
We’ll also be reaching out for playtesters, general feedback, and doing other fun things on Twitter so be sure to follow us for all of that!
Mutant Studios: @MutantStudios
Thanks for joining us on this new adventure. We can’t wait to get it into your hands!