There was no shortage of creativity or ambition on display at this year’s PGF, with games of all shapes and sizes taking centre stage for the public to see and try for themselves. For some local developers, it was the first time they’ve ever put themselves out there while for others it was round two (or even three), bringing their games back to show the community how they’ve evolved over the past 12 months. The festival often serves as the perfect proving ground for obtaining feedback and ideas, and one title I was especially keen to check-in with was Grae Saunders’ procedurally-generated survival game, Little Bit Lost, which was on display again this year.
For those unfamiliar familiar with your game, can you give us an elevator pitch?
Little Bit Lost is a science experiment gone wrong that leaves you in a world much larger than you once knew. Ants, spiders, bees and much more now threaten your existence. Think of it as Honey I Shrunk the Kids the survival game.
How did you conceptualise the idea for the game?
Little Bit Lost came from thinking about different VR game ideas and interesting experiences. From there it evolved into a survival voxel game based on inspiration from other games I was playing at the time like 7 Days to Die and Ark.
Little Bit Lost was at PGF last year, so tell us about what’s changed since then?
Since last year, I have worked on a quite a few new things. The first of which is that there are now a few new creatures floating around (literally in some cases), which include the spider, the bee and a butterfly. On top of that are some special attacks like the spider’s jump attack and the bees sting which causes a status effect over time. I also have spent a fair amount of time building up the multiplayer code to allow for a shared experience in the future. And finally, I have taken the time to add some analytics to understand my players better.
What is your favourite feature of Little Bit Lost?
At the moment I think my favourite would be the realism of the creatures (like the spider) brought about by the IK (inverse kinematic) leg placement. There is nothing more terrifying than seeing one come at you by climbing up the side of a structure you have built. A close second would be the ant’s drag attack which always gets a good reaction from players.
What are some the challenges you’ve faced creating a game that’s procedurally generated?
Procedural generation can be quite a challenging area of game development, and for me, this has meant a lot of learning about optimisation and trying to claw back as much CPU time as possible to ensure a solid frame-rate while still having an interesting and believable world to explore.
You mentioned multiplayer is something you want to implement. How will that work?
From a personal aspect I play a lot of cooperative games with my wife, and for me, this is something I wanted from Little Bit Lost as well. At this stage I am targeting this as cooperative play over a local network but who knows how far I can take it in the future.
Given the game’s sandbox design, what are you doing to ensure it has lots of replayability?
One of the benefits of being procedurally generated is that the game can be played again and again using different seeds to ensure a different experience each time. I intend to have a very well developed progression tree to ensure a lengthy playthrough each time.
How was the reception at this year’s PGF? Did you receive any helpful feedback?
This year’s PGF fans were great. I got a lot of great feedback and had a chance to interact with a lot of fans of the game. There was a lot of excitement for features that I have on my to-do list, and I was able to discuss this in line with the player’s feedback. I am looking forward to a lot of new things coming in the next few months that will hopefully get a lot of people excited about Little Bit Lost.
You mentioned you were using analytics to help development. Can you tell us about that?
The use of analytics is something, I think, is critical to good game development in the modern world. It gives me an insight into how players play the game, which can help me to not over complicate things or make them too easy. I am looking at things like what kills a player and when so I can build the baseline experience to take the player on a longer and more immersive journey.
What are your plans for the game going forward?
Over the coming months, I am bringing on a friend of mine to help with the art direction. This will be a great partnership that will give me the time to resolve some issues with the code as well as develop some more significant features while my partner focuses on improving the art quality, adding more content and adding new ideas to the mix.
If you’d like to continue to follow the development of Little Bit Lost, check out the following resources: