Winkeltje – A year of progress from Prototype to Early Access February 14, 2019
Winkeltje has been in development for over a year now, and I thought it would be a good idea to look back to where we came from and how we got to where we are now.
We started working on our first prototype of Winkeltje (aptly named “Shopkeeper” at the time) in October 2017. We played with different different systems and mechanics for about a month or so, until we decided to write up a Game Design Document and get started on the full version. Here is a video of what that looked like:
As you can see, the core mechanics of placing furniture & items, customers coming in and buying stuff and crafting were in there. The biggest change from that prototype is the crafting system which went from fully customizable crafts (as seen in the video), to minigames to a simple progress bar.
Here is what Winkeltje looks like roughly a year later:
Let us look at a couple of features and how they changed from the prototype to the Early Access version:
The Shop Builder as it was originally prototyped:
The Early Access version has gone through a lot of changes. The UI has changed multiple times, and the UX has probably seen about 10 iterations to get it to the current point.
Placing Furniture, back when it was still grid based:
The Radial Menu has gone through a lot of iterations. We initially chose this because it would require little work to get to work with a controller. Over the year this has gotten a lot of changes, we had to try out a lot of different things to see what worked and what didn’t.
One thing we learned from our previous game, Fragments of Him, was the need and desire to quickly iterate on patches. We have spent a lot of time on improving our workflow and pipeline for Winkeltje. Below you see an overview of 2 of the major systems we use to smooth out our production.
Winkeltje uses an automated our build process by using Jenkins.
Whenever anyone makes a change to the project, we have Jenkins create the game and run through a suite of automated tests ( ~170 ). If all of the tests are completed successfully, a new build is created and uploaded to our ‘unstable’ Steam branch, making it immediately playable for those who want to play the very latest builds. While we can’t catch all bugs, at the very minimum we will know that the game doesn’t crash when booted up and that most of our core features work. Our Perforce commit messages of that build are then posted on a Discord channel.
We decided to heavily leverage our Discord for the closed alpha, and will continue to do so during Steam Early Access and after it launches. We have written a small bot that allows us to quickly give someone a steam key, which automatically assigns them the correct user role and provides access to the alpha tester channels. One of those channels is the one mentioned earlier, where the change logs of every build are posted.
This kind of integration allows us to rapidly iterate on feedback and bugs as they come up. Our fastest time from reported bug to having the fix up on steam is under 10 minutes. Our users seem to enjoy the direct interaction with us, and being able to fix things quickly seems to be much appreciated as well. It also gives us a great platform for discussion and suggestions.
With Fragments of him we used a google spreadsheet to track almost everything about the production. Our tasks, bugs, production overview (scenes, characters, hundreds of animations), trailer storyboards, and much much more. With a different type of game comes a different usage of spreadsheets. With Winkeltje we manage most of the game data in a Google Sheet. This allows anyone in the development team to quickly make changes and have them be reflected in the game. We also support community translations that we import from a semi-public spreadsheet where it becomes pretty easy to support a language if people would like to help with that.
Once someone makes a change online, the developer will be able to download the latest version of that sheet inside Unity. We heavily leverage editor scripts for this part.
If the changes are as expected, it will be committed and become part of the next build. This process allows anyone to very quickly make balance changes and lets the person in the spreadsheet make use of all the power of formulas and diagrams. Adding new content to the game is now as easy as making sure the model is in-game and adding a new row to the sheet.
I will now use this time to tell you to go wishlist the game on Steam! For real, it would help us out a lot.
Queer Games Bundle launches on Steam today! August 7, 2018
Starting today you will find a Queer Games Bundle on Steam. This bundle contains 7 games from 6 developers. As you might have guessed, Fragments of Him is one of them. To celebrate this bundle’s launch you can get your hands on it at a hefty discount of 50% until August 21st after which it will still be a good deal at 15% off.
Games included are:
- Gone Home & Tacoma from Fullbright Company
- Your Royal Gayness from Lizard Hazard Games
- Ladykiller in a Bind from Love Conquers All Games
- 2064: Read Only Memories from MidBoss
- Diaries of a Spaceport Janitor from SundeaMonth
- Fragments of Him from Sassybot
Get the bundle on Steam via this link: https://store.steampowered.com/bundle/8037/Queer_Games_Bundle/
Fragments of Him is out now for PS4! September 26, 2017
We are very happy to announce that Fragments of Him is now available on PlayStation 4 today! The game will be available for a lot of countries so if you are curious about whether it’s available in yours, read the list below. If you want to experience the story of Will, Sarah, Harry, and Mary then you can now do so on Steam, Xbox One, and finally also PlayStation 4 for the price of $9.99 / €9.99 / £7.99 (or your regional equivalent).
PlayStation 4 release in countries by region
United Arab Emirates
United States of America
PS4: Day 1 patch September 24, 2017
UPDATE: The patch should be up as well in the US region as well as patch 1.01 and contains the same fixes.
Patch 1.02 is now live for the EU, US will follow as soon as it has gone through certification. Those who already have the game will be hit with a 5GB patch, you can safely cancel this unless you want to obtain the final trophy. Those who will get the game on Tuesday should get patch 1.02 as the version they download initially.
– Renamed trophy set to “Fragments of Him”
– Fixed issue where the final achievement “Resolution” would not trigger
Fragments of Him PS4 Release Date! September 5, 2017
News of late
Updates on Sassybot developments have been scarce over the last year. This is caused by contract work that only allows us to work on Sassybot for 1 day a week. With this fraction of time available to us we managed to port Fragments of Him to PS4 and prepare for release in two major regions. Despite our constrained efforts we are happy to bring the story of Will, Sarah, Harry, and Mary to a whole new audience this year.
Soon, our contract will come to an end and we will be able to spend all of our time on a new project. What this is exactly is too soon to disclose but we expect to make major strides in the months to come. If you are interested in what Fragments of Him is all about and you want to support us, please consider getting Fragments of Him on Steam, Xbox One, or PS4.
Elwin and I are very excited about getting back to full-time development and will keep you informed on future developments.