I am happy to announce that Pocket Heroes will be available in the App Store this Thursday!
It’s been over a year since we first ‘revealed’ the game at E3, and we’ve been working on the game even longer than that, so it is pretty surreal to think that it will actually be available for everyone to play in just a few short days.
Since it has been such a long development cycle, by iOS standards, I thought it might be fun to take a look back at some of the development milestones and see how far the game has come over the last year. I’ve also got a series of blog posts planned for this week that will highlight each of our character classes and let you get to know them a little better before you start your adventure on Thursday.
A Look Back
The concept for Pocket Heroes really started with a question; “What if we made a game like Hero Quest for the iPhone.” From the very beginning we knew we wanted to make a party-based RPG that leveraged push notifications, so that a group of players could go on an adventure together no matter where they were. From this initial idea, we started working on a prototype that would let us test out the concept and determine if playing an RPG over push notifications was as great an experience as we hoped it would be.
The first step was to develop some basic technology that would allow us to display an RPG-like game. I started by developing a dead simple RPG concept using old Legend of Zelda sprites. This build did nothing more than allow you to move Link around a map and find secret tunnels, but it was already just a little bit fun. After I developed this front-end technology, Cody took a dive into building out a bare-bones server implementation that would allow us to send turns back and forth between two phones. I believe that we got this working about 1 week before we revealed the game at E3 2011, which you can see here.
What I love about this video is that we were so nervous to show off the game, especially since the AI wasn’t working because of a bug I had created at about 3:00 AM the night before. But, even though what we showed was incredibly early, the idea that we were building a turn-based coop RPG was enough to get people really excited about the game. I’m glad it did too, because we had no idea how much work was ahead of us at that point, and if we hadn’t had that great response from everyone online, I doubt we would have made it.
Time to do some work
After E3 we were riding high on the excitement around the announcement and really started to focus all our effort on the game. We started working with paper sprites and notebooks to flesh out the characters and where we thought they should travel in their adventures.
We got in touch with some contract artists who were able to build us some great tile maps and character sprites, and we got to work on the programming. At the time I remember thinking that we could probably get the game done by Christmas, obviously that was not the case.
Syncing ain’t easy, but it’s necessary
There were a couple things that slowed us down, one was the fact that RPGs have a LOT OF STUFF in them. Everything from item types, to enemy stats, inventory management, play balancing, the list of things that are expected to be part of an RPG is really pretty huge. That wouldn’t have been so bad if were just building a single player RPG or Rogue-like, what really tripped us up was the difficulty of syncing all of that data between 2 – 4 players. We basically had to code every feature twice, first to make it work locally and then to make it persist across the network and update the other player’s game-state in exactly the same way. This is obviously something that is tackled by a lot of games out there, but it was something we definitely underestimated in the beginning.
End of the Tunnel
In early spring we knew we were getting close and decided to put together a trailer for GDC to help remind people about the game.
As we got deeper and deeper into ‘Spring 2012′ we realized that we still weren’t where we had hoped to be. We had to make the decision to postpone our launch date, and continue working, to make Pocket Heroes the best game it could be. As many of you know, we had to make that decision a couple more times before we were done, but I’m proud of how the game has turned out, and I know that we made the right choice.
So that brings us to today, three days till launch. I can’t wait for all of you to give the game a try, and to hear your thoughts and feedback. We have a lot of content and feature updates planned for the coming month so let me know how you feel about the game and we will continue to improve it.
Check back later today for our first character profile post where we’ll take a look at the Paladin.
Thanks for reading!