The World Next Door @ GDC

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Hey everyone! Marlowe here. In case we haven’t met, I’m the Content & Community Manager for The World Next Door! Basically what that means is that I make memes and respond to your tweets and comments online (<3)

I wanted to give you all an update on what we’ve been up to! Since we last spoke, we completed a pre-alpha demo of the game, attended GDC, got some press, and ate a lot of sushi. There’s a ton that we’re able to share now about the game and our experiences -- so in the wise words of Horace…

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We had a little bit of a crunch period leading up to GDC. We hate crunch as much as the next studio, but we started work on The World Next Door during the holiday season, and GDC sure wasn’t changing its dates to accommodate us! We all agreed that it was super important to have something playable, functional, and fun for the GDC crowd and all our friends in attendance, so we really kicked it into high gear with development.

  This was our mock GDC setup that was up at our office for a while. We roped a lot of people into playtesting the build with us.&nbsp;

This was our mock GDC setup that was up at our office for a while. We roped a lot of people into playtesting the build with us. 

  The 3 Intel Nuc computers we loaded the demo onto. We felt it appropriate to name them after our 3 mains. True to character, the Horace computer was a bit of a troublemaker...

The 3 Intel Nuc computers we loaded the demo onto. We felt it appropriate to name them after our 3 mains. True to character, the Horace computer was a bit of a troublemaker...

Leading up to GDC we were in a cycle of pushing builds, implementing art, playtesting, iteration, and pushing more builds. We’d done a lot of work up to this point, but it was really in the last 2 weeks that all the pieces started coming together. The placeholder art was replaced with the real deal, the dialogue was added, and the mechanics felt better and better every time.

 We got the dialogue from Alex and in game art from Justin (both of SleepNinja games) implemented alongside Lord Gris's character art!

We got the dialogue from Alex and in game art from Justin (both of SleepNinja games) implemented alongside Lord Gris's character art!

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With the Pre-alpha build done,  we packed everything up and made the trip from PDX to SF!

We landed on Monday, and certainly didn’t let the change in scenery stop us from pushing more builds. (Hotel rooms are just like offices but with beds instead of desks, right?)

 
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 Chris and Ankit from Crystal Fish were putting in a lot of good hours polishing the code.

Chris and Ankit from Crystal Fish were putting in a lot of good hours polishing the code.

 
 
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 Ankit trying to code via telepathy.

Ankit trying to code via telepathy.

 

On Monday we also visited VIZ to shoot some promo videos! The VIZ offices made me very jealous of everyone that worked there. This place was like manga and anime heaven. All the desks were covered in cool merch, there was a library in the back of all of VIZ’s published manga, and anime playing constantly in the break room. After hanging at their space all week, I’m now trying to convince everyone at our coworking space in Portland to turn one of our walls into a Death Note Mural (cross your fingers for me.)

 
 Will and Corey in front of the aforementioned Death Note Wall

Will and Corey in front of the aforementioned Death Note Wall

 Lord Gris on point for upcoming promo videos with VIZ!

Lord Gris on point for upcoming promo videos with VIZ!

 

We spent most of Tuesday here at the VIZ offices too, and invited press and industry friends to come try out The World Next Door!

This was the first time anyone outside of Portland community has played the game! We were really looking forward to some feedback and to hear what people’s first impressions of the game would be. Since GDC, some press we invited wrote up their takes on The World Next Door! You can read the Polygon, Gameinformer, and Venturebeat articles to get an in-depth view of the demo we showed off!

 Believe it.

Believe it.

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And if a day full of meetings weren’t enough, we also decided to go and host a HUGE party on Tuesday! We worked with VIZ on hosting The Anime Party to show off The World Next door to the public! We had 3000 RSVPs, VIZ swag bags, a pop-up gallery of Lord Gris’s art, stations set up with The World Next Door, demos of the Hiveswap game, and any TV that wasn’t in use was looping anime all night. We basically took a sports bar and made it a very *not* sports bar for a night.

 
 Before.

Before.

 After!

After!

 
 
 

It was so much fun to hang out with old and new friends and show off the demo we had been working so hard on! A big thanks to everyone who attended. We appreciate your enthusiasm -- especially with the big line to get inside the venue... not to mention the rain! You are all champs, seriously. Y’all made it a great night.

  This is what people were saying to me after the party. It was a lot of work to pull it off - but super fun!

This is what people were saying to me after the party. It was a lot of work to pull it off - but super fun!

After we recovered from The Anime Party, we set up our station at the Intel booth on Wednesday! We were located on the expo floor, and got to spend 4 hours playing the game with more people! We even had some people return from The Anime Party from the night before! Big ups to you for making the effort to scour a very busy and very packed expo floor to come play our game with us! I think Corey handed out approximately 1 million TWND postcards to passerbys that day. Guy deserves a medal.

 It was so great to have all our audio and music in the demo too! Thanks to Andrew and Skewsound for working so hard!

It was so great to have all our audio and music in the demo too! Thanks to Andrew and Skewsound for working so hard!

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On Thursday evening we kept the party rolling at the BYO indie party. This was hosted by Gamejolt and Portland Indie Game Squad (a PDX nonprofit run by a lot of the same people from Rose City Games! If you want to read about how the entire TWND team met through PIGSquad, check out our previous blog post!)

At this party, there was table space for indie devs to set up their game for an hour, and then switch out with a new dev and game! Right when the party kicked off, we set up our newly minted VS mode for The World Next Door and played basically until Corey’s laptop died.

 
 Only the best mood lighting for indie devs.

Only the best mood lighting for indie devs.

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And finally-- Friday! We took it a little easy on our last day in town to recover from all the meetings, parties, events, and harrowing Lyft rides. A bunch of us went to Japan Town to eat and shop and buy exorbitant amounts of snacks for the plane ride home that evening.

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Now that we’re back home, we’re transitioning into a much more comfortably paced sprint to our Alpha milestone! We’re gonna be finishing the script, finalizing new characters, iterating on the battle systems, and taking all the feedback we got from y’all at GDC! If you were there and got to play the demo with us -- thanks so much for being one of the first people to play our game! It means a lot to finally be able to share it with everyone.

Keep your eyes peeled for more announcements and content on our Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook. I’ll be sharing some fun stuff with you guys on those channels very soon!

And hopefully I can get that Death Note mural in our office.

‘Til next time,
-Marlowe