Happy new year! Time for an end of the year recap. Well… it’s been a year and a half since the last big update for Tourney came out, but I realised that I haven’t really done a post mortem on what went right and what went wrong with the game. So I thought I could do a little one now!
Given there has been plenty of time for the game to gather some feedback, I thought I could start there. I collated as many of the reviews as I could and popped them into a word cloud:
Pretty positive for the most part. “Good fun little game” I can see in there, also some other positive words like “comedy” and “style” which is nice.
At time of writing, the game has a 68% approval rating on steam. Having more than half of players enjoy the game is fantastic! But I wanted to dig into the reviews a little more to get more of an idea about the criticisms.
Some people wanted more of just a tycoon game that focused on the task of management and the challenge of spinning plates: e.g. salaries, costs, price points, visitor happiness, required growth etc. However there is another main idea in the game which is "get your team to win". In other words you also have a few knights that you can micromanage in the tournaments, level up, buy equipment for and so on. So the reaction to having to balance management with this idea of progressing your knights was a little mixed. Some thought it was a neat idea, but many didn't.
This "build the tournament, and then win it" idea had been at the core of how the game was put together - so this then limited a lot of other decisions and mechanics. Since there had to be a set time limit so that there could be a set number of participants with a winner. So because fixed time was the key constraint, the other spinning plates of cost management and construction could only go so far. It also created situations where you might realise you could not achieve an objective too late to do anything about it.
From the feedback I think it’s clear that maybe the execution of some of the ideas was not done well enough. For example the player was meant to feel attachment to their team, but given the number of people that mentioned it, I’m not sure this was successful. Similarly the systems around making sure the visitors were happy didn’t provide as much engagement as it could. The event minigames created some confusion as well. Some things were not spelled out, which a few players liked as a challenge, many others found it more of a frustration.
A key negative word I could see in the word cloud is “short”. A lot of the reviews mentioned that there are only a few hours of gameplay, really.
This mainly comes down to the resources I had available. Both time and money. I did run a successful kickstarter campaign. It was amazing to get successfully funded that way, but it came in at just above my goal, meaning I had the bare minimum to complete the project. I did try to get extra funds via publishers, but unfortunately wasn’t able to.
So having funding from the kickstarter was something of a mixed blessing. Mainly that the campaign made promises on delivery dates. Since I had already built many of the assets in order to run the kickstarter, the art direction was pretty much locked in, the problem there was that creating the 3d assets was very time consuming. I was just a one man team, (with as much help from contractors as I could manage with the funding), so I was only able to produce a limited amount of content in that timeframe. As a result I had to be realistic about how much I could achieve. Even then I still missed the deadline by several months! Perhaps if I had initially gone with a simpler art direction, this could have allowed for more content.
The game was eventually launched on the 4th of November 2021.
It was a very stressful few months up to launch, given that I did have that deadline. I had to complete development on the game; put together the physical rewards; market it and everything else that goes along with a release. There was also a lot of post-launch patching needed to fix bugs (which indicates I should have also spent a lot more time testing)
All this happened whilst the pandemic was still in full swing! If I am honest - the process did lead to me feeling pretty burned out. Maybe that’s why it’s taken me a bit of time to revisit.
All that being said...
The game was great fun to make. Despite the stress of delivery I really enjoyed the process. I picked up a lot of skills and learned many things along the way. I think that the main idea I had of combining a tycoon style sim with a competitive team game was achieved in the way that I had imagined,and I am happy with how it turned out. However the way this was implemented was not perfect and meant that some gameplay elements were lacking.
So there it is. Looking ahead to the new year, I have a minor update for Tourney planned for the new year just to fix and tidy up a couple of things. I have also been prototyping some ideas on how a sequel might look. How I can fix some of the issues and approach the idea in a new way? Who knows... Maybe I can take what I have learned here and create a new version of this game which is bigger, better and most importantly: more fun!
Otherwise: If you have any feedback then do reach out to me on socials, I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.
Thanks for reading!