Toby Fox shares another lengthy Deltarune status update
Posted on September 15, 2020 by Brian(@NE_Brian) in News, Switch eShop
Toby Fox gave a brief Deltarune development update in last week’s issue of Famitsu. With Undertale’s fifth anniversary being held today, Fox has provided another status update, and it’s quite lengthy.
Here’s the full rundown:
If you’re reading this, you must have been sticking around for about five years.*
I want to express my gratitude for everyone that has supported and encouraged me over this time.
I’ve said it many many times before, but I didn’t expect the simple game I made to receive so much attention. Because of that, many interesting things have happened, and now I can even spend my time making another game.
It seems both of us received a lot of happiness from this occurrence.
If it’s okay, I would like to keep striving to do things that make both of us happy.
Let me know what you think about that.
* Since the UNDERTALE demo released in 2013, the game has really existed for 7 years. It’s already been more than 25% of my life…
I will make another.
I am making a game called “DELTARUNE.” It is the second game in the UNDERTALE series.
The game will be released in many “Chapters,” the first of which I released two years ago on Halloween. Since that time, I’ve been working hard to figure out the rest of the game.
However, it’s a game that’s much harder to make than UNDERTALE.
- Graphics are more complicated and several times more involved
- Systems are more complicated
- Exposes the weak points of my creative and artistic ability
- Plot is much harder to tie together (more characters, more important locations)
- Significantly more content than UT in 1 playthrough (especially cutscenes)
- I have only made one game ever
Unlike UNDERTALE, this is the type of game that would normally have many designers working on each aspect of the game.
A story writer, a composer, an audio director, a map designer, a battle designer, a minigame designer, and an overall director. Instead, all of those roles end up handled by me.
The good news is that a few months ago, I completed a significant milestone regarding the game’s design. I completed readable outlines for every chapter in the game, including first-pass dialogue for almost all the cutscenes, examples of the music, etc.
Although certain details are still hazy, the flow of the game and all major events and battles that take place are now clear.
In summary, I largely spent the past two years writing, composing, designing, and drawing. However, that’s not the whole story.
We had actually attempted to develop the game since the time too. Development started around March 2019 and a 99% work was spent on investigating engines alternate to GameMaker, which I used for Chapter 1.
Without getting into the details, I decided a few months ago to go back to GameMaker after all. It still felt like the best fit for the project. So using Chapter 1 as a base, we’ve started creating Chapter 2 since May 2020.
A lot of progress has been made since that time. I believe we can complete this chapter, content-wise, before the end of the year (not accounting for translation, bugtesting, and porting).
I feel very confident. And the strange thing is, even though we ended up using the original engine, I don’t regret the lost time, either. Not only was I still busy designing the game, but during that long period, I was able to think of many ideas that make the game’s story and characters better.
I’m glad that I’m making the DELTARUNE that I have now and that we are making healthy progress.
DELTARUNE STATUS ESTIMATE
Since there’s a lot to read, I’ll try to put the status of the game in numbered estimates
CHAPTER 2 (04.15.20 – 08.13.20)
Phase 1: Design
Main Design 100% (dialogue, etc.)
Initial Setup: 100% (stuff involved setting up people to make the game, adding debug tools, documentation, etc.)
Phase 2: Implementation (05.01.20 ~ 08.13.20)
Cutscenes: 80% (90% are started, needs 2nd pass)
Bullet Patterns: 70% (enemies are mostly completed, bosses are about 40% done, needs 2nd pass)
Non-Bullet Battle Elements: 30% (Some ACTs are done and enemies are fightable, but interactive ACTs need to be completed and polished and the bosses aren’t programmed outside of bullet patterns)
Maps: ??% most are started or placeholder, most need 2nd pass. NPC interactions are completed in all spots where written.
Phase 3: Finishing
(Honestly, a lot of stuff FEELS like 80% to me, but the truth is that what’s there is quite rough now. Polish ends up taking a lot of time, so the real actual time value may be around 50% done…? We’ll see what happens. It’ll be a lesson for everybody.)
PROGRESS CHAPTERS 3+
Phase 1: Design
Story and General Game Progression (First-pass) 100%
Cutscene Dialogue (First-pass, lacking cutscene instructions) 95%
Map Design (textual) 70% (varies per chapter, earlier chapters totally completed)
Map Design (drawn) 0% (this takes a lot of wrist energy so I don’t do it until we start programming)
Enemy Design (conceptual) 90% (all bosses are known)
Enemy Design (bullets/visual) 80% (varies per chapter, earlier chapters totally completed)
Music (Concept) 95%
Music (Completed) 50%
BG concept (First-pass) 75%
Important Character, Bosses (First-pass) 100%
Sprite Art 20%?
Other Content Creation 0%
Release Readiness 0%
(These numbers can be somewhat deceptive though. My true design style is to reach the moment where we have to make something, then suddenly think of something different at the last minute. This is always how it’s been with me and my work. It feels like no matter how much I plan, everything comes down to what I think of at the last second…)
TEAM AND DISABILITY
You may have noticed from my phrasing, but yes, there is a team helping me create the game. Other than me, there are about three active team members working day-to-day, with a few other people pitching in from time to time.
Their roles of the main members are overall content implementation and organization, bullet pattern implementation (part-time), and art (Temmie). Other than designing, I still have the role of system programmer.
I’m extremely grateful to have a team helping me carry out my design especially because of my disabilities, which have also made development more difficult.
Although I have long suffered from wrist and hand pain, about five months ago my wrist was the worst it’s ever been. I could not play the piano, use the mouse, and barely could use the keyboard. I navigated everything through voice to text.
Through weightlifting, exercise, and various equipment I have been able to somewhat increase the stamina of my wrist to an extent. Various solutions have included trackball mice for each hand, using voice to text whenever possible, using a foot pedal to click the mouse, etc.
Now I can use the mouse and keyboard for a certain amount each day provided I take frequent breaks. I wish I could work without stopping. Once the world situation improves I would really like to take physical therapy again and/or investigate surgery to repair my wrist.
Once we finish Chapter 2, I would like to use it as the base to create future chapters from. After gaining experience from this chapter, I think making future chapters will be easier.
Part of me wonders if we could make the game faster if we increased the size of the team and did something insane like create multiple chapters in parallel. However, another part of me understands that, adding more people doesn’t guarantee that the game will be created faster if it’s not done properly. I’m already just barely avoiding becoming a bottleneck on development even with a team of this size, due to my physical limitations.
To that end, I am interested in making a list of people that could potentially help me make the game. I’m not 100% sure if I’m going to ask anyone to help, but I think if I could find just 1 person that works well with me, it’s worth asking.
Chapter 2 is proceeding at a good pace, so if we do take anyone on, it will probably only be for Chapter 3 onward. So please understand that anything you send in may not have an immediate result.
PEOPLE I AM LOOKING FOR
Feel free to send in your portfolio if you have the following qualifications:
- Worked in the game industry before
- Worked under NDA before
- Have professional references
- A degree of creativity while also being okay with just following directions
- Fluent in English
PEOPLE I MIGHT ACTUALLY USE
MUSIC TRANSCRIPTION / BASIC ARRANGEMENT (PART-TIME): I usually start making songs by playing the piano and singing. An important step after this is to take this basic outline and transcribe it into melodies and chords. Though there are not too many remaining songs to transcribe, it would still help my wrist to have someone else start this process for me. Although I know many musicians, I’m sheepish to ask for help to them, because the main role is actually just to help me compose my own music…
- good at transcription
- can stand listening to me sing
- optional: can use an old version of Fruity Loops
BULLET PATTERN PROGRAMMING (PART TIME): I’m looking for someone to help me program bullet patterns into the game. These people will work from text and visual designs to create fun battles that match the feeling of the game. I already have one person helping with this, but I think a second person would help a lot. You have to be able to use Gamemaker Studio 2 to manipulate objects on the screen / okay with using pre-existing scripts to accomplish this.
- sense of fun and understanding of player perspective and gameplay balance. This aspect is 400000000000000000x more important than programming ability
- Able to make patterns based off of visual/text instructions
- fine working with a poorly made battle system
- able to sprite bullets
- good visual/timing sense
MINIGAME PROGRAMMING (PART TIME): There are a few minigames and small interactive events in the game, which appear in and outside of battles. These could take any kind of form… who knows what I’m thinking! Have you made a game before?
- same sense of humor as me
- some level of spriting ability is useful
- you have to have made a game that is fun
- ability to work together with me
UNLIKELY TO HIRE BUT SEND ME YOUR INFORMATION JUST IN CASE
CUTSCENE PROGRAMMING (PART TIME): Besides the battles, the largest amount of content in the game is definitely the cut scenes. You will have to understand Gamemaker Studio 2, but the majority of the work is simply using a scripting system that I created to make characters move around the screen. The most important quality you can have here is not programming ability but the ability to efficiently use the system in order to create scenes with a good sense of humor, timing, and emotion.
I’d strongly prefer to hire someone I know to do this because it involves the story. So I most likely won’t hire anyone else.
- can take text instructions and impart a proper sense of timing, humor, and weight to them
- fine working with a custom scripting system (or smart enough to make something better that makes the game easier to make)
ART (PART TIME): Sprite art – Temmie has already drawn a massive amount of art for the game, and continues to do so. And I actually already have a few other artists that have helped me that I’m more than happy to keep working with if things become more overwhelming. So currently I actually don’t need any more artists.
However, personally, I’d really like to build up a portfolio of available pixel artists and even concept artists. It’s not as if this is the only game I will make during my life. Anyone chosen for this game needs to be able to match the style of the game, but I’m interested in seeing people with different styles as well. Knowing that I have different options can open my mind up to different creative pathways.
- can take bad looking sketches and turn them into art that looks good (magic)
- don’t mind if your work gets completely drawn over or thrown out
- anyone that can draw cute or cool poses is good
- interested in seeing people that have an art style outside of the scope of the game
WRIST (FULL TIME): someone needs to transform into a new wrist for me
- doesn’t hurt
- musical sense
That’s everyone I’m looking for. The only other kind of person I might hire would be a single JACK-OF-ALL-TRADES type that can do any sort of things such as cutscenes, bullets, or even system programming, with a good degree of visual flair. (But if you can do those sorts of things, aren’t you busy making your own game already!?)
Anyway, I’ll show you the e-mail now. Just make sure you read these rules first:
- Don’t send in e-mails about anything else!
- Don’t send to other team members, Fangamer, etc. about helping out!
Got it? Then please send your information to this e-mail address:
Since Fangamer will be sorting through the e-mails for me, we’ll stop taking e-mails at the end of September so they don’t get overwhelmed. Ultimately, I’m only looking for one or two people, and to make a list of the rest of the potentially helpful people in the world.
That’s all! Happy five years!!