Using Trello for Indie Game Bugs (Week 13 Update)
We submitted a demo build to the Steam Summer Festival last Friday. This new build is also available to our newsletter subscribers. For this post, I'd like to go over a transition we made in our bug tracking for the game as we were fast-approaching the Steam submission deadline. I also have some more character artwork from Zac Bolubasz (@_sneb_) and environments by Michelle Pineda (@pininkela) to share.
Showcase the game
Apply to GameScape (Deadline: March 31st, 2020)
- We submitted for this at the end of March. We expected to hear back during April, but we are currently in a holding pattern waiting to hear whether Artscape is still happening.
Steam Summer Festival (Demo Deadline: May 15th, 2020, Event: June 9th to June 15th)
- We submitted our application for RavenHeart Hospital and are working towards polishing up our demo build to submit for the festival. We are excited for this event as it can allow us to share our vision of the game with more players and gives us a chance to connect with more fans.
- More info here: https://partner.steamgames.com/doc/marketing/steamgamefestival
A rising concern with this goal is the COVID-19 outbreak and its consequences for large group gatherings and school closures. We are keeping a close eye on this developing situation and understand if some events end up postponing or canceling as a result.
Feedback from our players is important since we want to make the best game we can for our audience. We submitted a demo build for the Steam Summer Festival and then published the demo our newsletter followers.
Support User Generated Content
The latest demo of the game provides the option for adventurous players to create story packs and play them! Discord user CraftmasterMatt wrote up a detailed Cutscene Scripting Guide to help give interested players the means to write up stories with our characters or new characters.
With getting ready for submitting to Steam, we added in a lot of new features into the game and as a result introduce new bugs. We had been tracking bugs using a Slack channel and deleting messages when the bugs were finished. This system, while nice to start with, is something we have outgrown.
A bug can required some back and forth. It can require information about how to exactly reproduce the bug. It can require clarity on the intend behavior. It can also require prioritization relative to other bugs. Managing bugs in a Slack lacked the support for all of these operations easily and as more bugs of varying priorities came it, it became harder to track and overall bug picture.
So we moved all of our bugs over to Trello.
According to Wikipedia, "Trello is a web-based Kanban-style list-making application which is a subsidiary of Atlassian". With Trello, we find it is easy to make focused boards for particular issues we want to track, and use the flexible labeling system to provide a quick organization system for those issues. Another benefit of Trello is that each issue can have comment sections so that developers can go back and forth on a particular issue (we simulated this in Slack by creating "threads" per issue which became tedious to delete). Each issue also has its own History log so we can track how an issue evolved over time.
Trello - G1-Bugs board
Items on our board represent bugs. Bugs can have a labels associated with them to indicate their severity. Red means Blockers, which should be dealt with right away. Orange is for Major bugs, Yellow is for Moderate bugs, and Green is for minor bugs.
This board consists of a few different columns where bugs can live. Below I'll sort them in order of usage
- Open Bugs
- This column is where new bugs are reported, prioritized with an appropriate label and then assigned to a developer who will address it. This column is sorted by the priority for the bugs to highlight more game breaking bugs over minor ones.
- In Progress
- This column represents bugs that are being addressed currently. A bug from this column could come for the Open Bugs, Needs More Info, or Can't Repro columns once there is enough clarity on intended behavior around the bug.
- Claimed Fixed
- Once a bug has been addressed and should appear in a new build for the game, it is moved this column. The bug is then assigned to a developer to confirm that the bug is fixed in the next build.
- Fix Confirmed
- If all goes well, a bug is moved from Claimed Fix to this column once the bug has been verified as being fixed. All bugs in this column are fixed and not affecting the latest build of the game.
- Needs More Info
- Sometimes a bug's description doesn't provide enough information for a developer to actionably address the bug. The assigned developer should comment what clarity they need on the bug.
- Can't Repro
- Sometimes bugs are not easily reproducible. The assigned developer uses this column to gain clarity on how to reproduce the bug or if the bug has already been fixed.
- While the Open Bugs column is helpful for highlighting what bugs we want to address for the upcoming release, the Backlog column is for bugs we are confident that we can hold off on addressing until an subsequent release.
- When a bug in the Can't Repro column cannot be reproduced or after more clarity have been provided and we realized that the bug is not something we ever plan on addressing, we move it to this column.
This is our first pass at using Trello to help us keep on top of the state of the game. We will continue to access the effectiveness of our bug labeling and column use and make changes as needed to help us address issues.
We worked this week with Michelle Pineda (@pininkela) to finish up another round of environment backgrounds. With more of these scenes happening outside of the hospital, we were able to take inspiration from various favorite downtown Baltimore locations to develop the looks of the environments.
The Crow's Nest Pub
The Crow's Nest is a cozy bar and restaurant serving mouth-watering appetizers like Korean BBQ Nachos and Pretzel Bites with hummus as well as a variety of brews on tap. They host live performances from local artists and have a trivia night that is fun for groups of friends.
Alleyway / Street
Inspired by Fell's Point and Canton architecture, this area is a mix of residential buildings and various shops and dining locations. Great for a quick bite to go in the morning or a late night out on the town.
RavenHeart Hospital Exterior / Emergency Entrance
Though empty now, this side of the hospital has seen its fair share of cases come in. This is but one of many views at the sprawling RavenHeart Hospital campus.
We have three playable characters for players to choose from as their doctor. Our idea with the doctors was say they are "triplets": they all are entering the hospital with the same training, they are all the same age, and they are all prime to become ace surgeons.
We would like to expand our game to have character creator for players to be able to customized their doctor's appearance, including skin tone, hair style and color, body build and facial structure, since we believe this kind of expression is important to players making the story their own.
An EMS Paramedic, Dante has a hot temper and tastes to match. He likes fast cars, and his flame-decal'd ambulance, The Inferno, is the cumulation of his passion. He likes spicy food and has a fascination with ghosts and cryptids. He has general distaste for authority, museums and country music (but maybe Big Tex can change that)
She is a veterinary surgeon assisted by her raven companion Edgar (his full name is Edgar Allen Crow). She appreciates nature with painting and gardening and takes breaks by enjoying her favorite brand of green tea, Red Dragon. Unlike Dante, she has an aversion to spicy foods. She dislikes horror movies and does not care much for poetry.
Austin “Big Tex” Dallas
Always a favorite with the kids, Big Tex is our pediatric surgeon. He packs Eli the Teddy Bear (fear not, his gun is not real). He puts a high emphasis on bedside manner and will be assisting players not just to heal patients physically but to also properly consult the patients and their families. You can find him performing sometimes at the Crow's Nest (especially on Karaoke Night). Big Tex isn't shy around a grill and knows his way around a fishing rod. He isn't the biggest fan of sports and in particular swimming. He hates dishonesty.
JT has been brainstorming new character concepts and specialties to fill out the rooster of characters that you can interact with. These new characters would have their own episodes and certain types of operations that pertain to their character.
Steam Summer Festival Review
With the new demo and apps submitted to Steam for review, we are now waiting to hear back from Steam's review team about whether there are any changes we need to make for the game and if we will appear in their Summer Festival.
This week is we are going to focus on cleaning up the game, addressing more bugs that are outstanding. I also want to dive into performance optimization for the game to get an early sense of what the bottlenecks are now that we have a vertical slice of the gameplay in place.
Story Pack Jam
With the Story Pack system in place for players to create their own content, I think it could be fun to have a mini game jam to get people together to create some new stories and see them in game.
We have been focused on getting a vertical slice of the game ready, with multiple character story paths, choices, operations with vitals and health recovery. As we look forward to creating more content this also includes considering other kinds of operation and procedures to introduce to the game.
I hope you enjoyed this week's edition of our studio's status update. Each week, we try to bring new and interesting updates about how our studio and game are developing that we think people will like and learn from.
If you have any questions, comments, feedback for me, you can email me, Zappy, at email@example.com.
If you've been a part of our playtests and would like to chat with other players or us directly, join our Discord server below.
If you are interested in playing our latest demo, you can click the button below!