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Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Progress Report: Final Crunchdown [Part 4/5]

Hey all! 
We're cutting it pretty close with the monthly update deadline here, but that's because we wanted to come 'atcha with GREAT news.
And we did it: ALPHA is HERE!! 🎊

BGP's Free Version (a separate small adventure from the main game using the same mechanics) is coming out just ahead of the main game to get the hype train moving so people can try before they buy and streamers can get some content out before the big launch.
The free version is a new standalone demo featuring:
- 6 Hidden Alpha Ponies to Catch
- A Finale Back-to-Back Battle Against the Paragon Cartel
- Fun and Expressive Cutscenes
- A Postgame That Doubles Playtime Content
- An Extensive Custom Battle Simulator Mode with Unlockable Content Tied to Progression in the Demo
- An Updated & Animated Healing Center (The Crystal Stable)
- 2 New Fully Animated Pony Species
- Newly Animated Ultra Form Ponies
- A Prologue Story Leading Into the Main Game
- End Credits Leading You Into Following the Game's Development

All adding up to HOURS of fun content to get people interested and acquainted with the world of BGP.
It'll be available on the iOS app store, Android's Google Play, Amazon Apps, and for PCs there's All for free, no IAP or Microtransactions. With the PC one being Name Your Price.
We just want people to have fun, spread the word about BGP, and follow us on social media for more. Then anyone feeling generous can donate to help keep the team going.
Take a look at the introduction sequence:

With this being an Alpha, only things left to do are finalize artwork, fix bugs, balance gameplay, and make minor adjustments. A week's worth of work and it'll be ready to submit to stores!
Here's what it'll look like on mobile:
 Now, before we hand off early access to you guys we have to do a couple days worth of testing and crash fixes to make sure it's playable start to finish on all devices. That way feedback we get isn't mostly "game won't start" or "I spawn in the middle of a dark void instead of a house." (which ARE things we've dealt with this week 😆)
Expect another Backers Only post here when the Alpha demo is ready for mass playtesting.
So, in other big news: NEW EPISODIC RELEASE PLAN! 📈
After building out the hundreds of maps, placing the characters and battle encounters,
we realized we kinda went overboard on the scope if the intention was to come out Spring 2024. But instead of dropping 60% of the game, we want to have it come out over the year in chunks as free content updates.
The "main game" is coming in a month (or 2 if we're lucky enough to have time to polish) and will be split into 3 "Acts" or "Chapters"
These thirds will be released about 2 months apart each. Giving us 1 month's time to craft the scenarios, dialogue, and cutscenes then another month for artwork, game balance, playtesting with you guys, and bug fixing.

ACT 1 - 🐴🏙🌲🏘
The introduction to the story, a quick and dynamic tutorial, the first two Maven battles to earn badges in eiher order, a handful of Alpha ponies to catch, and nearly half the entire region to explore.
ACT 2 - 🏕🗻🏜🏄🏾
Exploring the East half of the region (including the sea), the remaining two Mavens, a special day/night cycle section of the map, and tons of new ponies.
ACT 3 - 🦄🏟🏛🎬
The dramatic and action-packed finale to the story featuring climactic showdowns, Legendary Alicorns, the Victory Island Battle Royale, secret dungeons, long side quests, and postgame content.
The first two acts will end on cliffhangers teasing the exciting changeups to come. Our hope is to have huge spikes of hype around these story continuations and reach new curious eyes as the game gets more popular over time.

We need to emphasize that this is FREE DLC and we aren't of the belief that we need to upcharge the later pieces of the adventure to stay funded. We think the boosts of attention throughout the year will be enough. So we can maintain the bang-for-your-buck factor and really make a name for ourselves with this game.
But that brings up an interesting topic... What do we even name this game? The free version that is.
If you don't mind: HELP US NAME THIS THING! 📝
We're having an internal debate about how to market this "Battle Gem Ponies Lite" concept. Namely, what to even call it. 
Conversations are going on about how to encourage people to play this before (or even after) paying $10 for the "main game" since its entirely new story content. We want to make it super clear its standalone, but also a teaser of what the bigger adventure has in store. A demo, but not in the typical "nothin to see here if you just wait for the final release" sort of way. 

 Here's a few good ones currently on the ol' Whiteboard. Battle Gem Ponies: 


(like a mobile demo but meets Apple's standards of not calling it a Demo)

Act 0

(assumes the rest of the content will be presented as Acts in more than just marketing)


(Prequel clarity, same as above but without implying all future Acts are separate games) 
(Name matches the price, easy for kids to spell) 
(Acronym BGPZ)

Side Story

(Emphasize its MORE content, even if you just buy the main game)


(Literally what it is. A story mode prologue. Kinda boring, not very catchy, but simplicity works) 
(Unappealing Acronym BGPP)


(Play on the word "Rival" and important undertone for this story where you lowkey play as the Rival from the main game off on a previous adventure) 
(Plus, the first thing you do is Arrive by train to this region) 
(Also, the game has finally "Arrived" after all these years) 
(The acronym is BGPA, with the A also representing "the beginning/first", and Alpha in general. An early test version of what comes later)

(Can you tell I like some of these ideas more than others? 😅)

As far as most people we asked went, it came down to 1st Place: "Prologue", close 2nd: "Arrival", and distant but vocal 3rd: "Zero".

But we urgently want your opinion on this. So please drop a comment if you read this far.

As a director and marketer I have to choose what's the most easy for most people to understand. And that's gonna be "Prologue". But the artist part of me wants to go with Arrival so bad because the wordplay works on SO. MANY. LEVELS!

But after sleeping on it, Zero really might be the happy middle ground between what sounds cool and what's clear to most people browsing games.
What do you all think?
Either way, the whole YotesMark team (who have been putting in frankly absurd hours this past month) would like to thank you again for all the YEARS of patience and life-changing donations. We're pouring our hearts, souls, and life savings into this and are nearly at the end.
The original budget has long since run dry and the team's core programmers are both still struggling to find steady income several months later in this past year's avalanche of tech layoffs. All while the cost of just being alive seems to have doubled since the Kickstarter was first planned. 
So every little bit of burden lifted by PayPal Donations and Patreon helps.
Thank you for following the development of Battle Gem Ponies.
- T.Y.

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