Staxel: Kid-tested, parent-tested, parent-approved, kid-approved.

Post-PAX Aus roundup!

Staxel: Kid-tested, parent-tested, parent-approved, kid-approved.

Whoa! PAX Aus! It was a thing! It’s a week later and my feet still hurt! What’s the deal with that? Despite that, it’s back to work for me and the rest of the Staxel team (who were still at work during PAX anyway). We had a huge amount of awesome player feedback, and, let me tell you, it’s certainly informing our work on what’s shaping up to be one awesome game, if I do say so myself! With that in mind, I’d like to give you all some insight into the development process by listing a few things that we’re improving in Staxel due to player feedback. Disclaimer: it’s all ideas at this point!

1. Reworked item dropping and pickups!

This sounds pretty mundane, but it’s something that almost everyone at PAX ran into: apparently setting the B button on the Xbox controller as “Drop Item” is a terrible idea. Fellow devs, never do it! In light of that, we’re also looking at reworking the way that the player picks up items. Formerly, you had to look at an item on the ground and press a button (left trigger, in our rushed PAX control scheme), which… isn’t super intuitive. We had lots of feedback on that one, and one group of playtesters even took turns hitting the drop button to throw out all 425 admin-mode inventory items!

(The game didn’t crash, which was encouraging!)

2. The user interface!

Our current UI has been in the game for “too long,” according to Liam, who I’m in a Skype call with as I’m writing this. I’d say it’s been around for approximately 8 dog years, which is equivalent to 16 cat years, which is… pretty close to just over 1 human year. Anyway, point is, it’s pretty outdated, and luckily enough, we’re working really hard on giving it both a redesign and a facelift. For example, here’s what our character creator looks like now:

Our initial, ugly, implementation

And here’s what Conor’s work-in-progress mockups are looking like!

Wow! So pretty! Such customization!

As you can see, we’re going for a naturalistic vibe with our our interface, which we hope reflects the fun and friendly nature of the game. We’re always open to feedback, of course, so if you’ve got thoughts on that, please pop on over to our forums and let us know what you think!

3. More support for social activities!

In Staxel, you can already cook, go on picnics, hunt bugs, catch fish, and explore for secrets on the island, alone and with friends. But at PAX, the players wanted more. They wanted something extreme. They wanted… Staxel 2?!

Actually, no, they wanted beacons. And we’re happy to put those in the game! We’re thinking that each player will have a small number of beacons that recharge over time, so you can let your friends know exactly where you are on the island, no matter how far away you are. Because, hey, we don’t want to get in the way of you having fun with your friends. That’s a major part of our game design: letting you have fun, unobstructed!

There were plenty more points that players brought up at PAX, and most of them are things that we’ve either considered already or, even better, we’re working on already! It’s super exciting to know that we’re on the same path as the players with regards to game design and expectations, and it tells us that we’re doing just fine when it comes to getting this game ready for everyone to play.

Soon? Maybe. Who knows? We know. You wanna know? You’ll have to wait! Mwa ha ha!

By the way: there’s a secret hidden in our reveal trailer. Did you find it? We’ll be letting you know about the second part of that before the year ends. Look out for it!

Happy travels, friends!

Damon, narrative designer on Staxel