Here’s the real update we promised!
Two reminders before we get started:
1) If your reward tier is eligible for Sneaky Ninja’s alpha and you haven’t received an email, please contact us! A couple people reported that it went to their spam filter, but they caught it in time before it was deleted. We can easily resend it but you have to let us know first!
2) If your reward tier is eligible for any of the community design streams and you want to participate in those, please also contact us! We want to get those started but we need to know when the best time for everyone is so we can have the maximum amount of people attend. We also have some people posting their ideas on the secret design forums, but we want more of you to be there too! Email us and we can grant you access!
Now with that out of the way, let’s get down to it!
Like we said before, we had been really busy getting Sneaky Ninja’s alpha out the door to our patient (thank you!) backers. In the process of getting that ready, 75% of our work has been technical and behind-the-scenes: optimizing the level loading and the game in general to work better for lower-end computers, making small tweaks to things like controls and player physics based on what we observed from outside players at local events, adding full controller support, and fixing tons and tons of bugs. A lot of that doesn’t make for good update material, so here’s the stuff that’s at least a little cool to look at!
(We could’ve made it loop more smoothly, but decided against it so we wouldn’t just sit here staring at it all day. Countless hours of dev time have been lost to this silent time killer.)
Ta-daaaa! Here’s what the main menu for the alpha looks like. Eventually we plan on having a full hub level and potentially even a world map which is where you’ll be accessing levels throughout the game, but for now it’s just a simple straightforward menu.
The alpha contains a tutorial, three regular levels, and then a bonus platforming challenge. So first, here’s a peek at…
Ninja 101 is designed to teach players the ropes of being a world-class stealth machine. Shoji has constructed an army of fearsome wooden signpost enemies to give you a safe place to learn while still having fear stricken into your heart — look how menacing they are!
The tutorial steps you through all the basics: enemy vision (which is made visible for learning purposes!), using the environment to your advantage for hiding and platforming, weapons, and magic. We’re still tweaking it, but hopefully players have a firm grasp of how the game works by the time they’ve finished Ninja 101.
One thing we’re committed to doing in Sneaky Ninja is giving the player as many options as possible to play the way they want to play. It’s always a fun challenge when a stealth game allows you to sneak by 100% of enemies without harming a single one, but it’s less fun when you have to look longingly at all the cool things you COULD be doing if you were playing more lethally. One example of this previously was the various stealth takedowns that would always kill your enemy, meaning you had to avoid using those if you wanted to go non-lethal.
As you see above, we’ve reworked the stealth takedown from bushes and ledges to include non-lethal options. Just like a standard stealth takedown from behind, pulling an enemy into a bush and holding down the Interact button will let you knock them out, leaving them unconscious and conveniently hidden inside the bush. A ledge takedown is a little different; whether the enemy dies or gets knocked out is based on the distance they fall. The distance shown in the GIF is very close to the farthest they can fall while only getting knocked out — you have to be careful and judge the distance wisely if you’re going non-lethal!
Here’s a new trick that makes players a lot more versatile while staying hidden: you can now aim and throw weapons while hanging from a ledge. This lets you pick off enemies from a safe position without having to reveal yourself, making the area ahead less dangerous. It only works for one-handed weapons, though, so no physics-defying archery here!
This is a small detail that actually has a big impact on gameplay: all of the ninja NPCs throughout a level (except for the ones in cages) will poof away if an enemy gets near them, or if you approach with enemies chasing you. This includes the ninjas controlling the checkpoints and the ninjas at the goal at the end — meaning you can’t just sprint passed enemies, alerting everyone in the area, and snagging the checkpoint right before you die to safely respawn in the same spot. Or running passed straight to the goal with an army on your tail. Now checkpoints and the goal are off-limits while being chased: your friends will poof away before your eyes until you escape your pursuers!
If you’re anything like us, the first thing you do in a platformer when you see a friendly character is try to jump on their head and see what happens. We’re proud to announce Sneaky Ninja’s biggest selling point yet: you can torture all of your NPC friends here too! We’ll be sure to give them sad eyes and funny noises too. This is what they get for abandoning you when you’re being chased — that’ll teach ‘em!
And finally, we now have a ranking system! This will grade you on your performance in the level, letting you know if you’re a sneaky superstar or a ninja school dropout. Your ninja will — of course! — do a little dance corresponding to the rank, from ecstatic all the way to downright embarrassed. Shown above are ranks A to F… can you get the legendary S rank on every level?
Right now your rank is based only on how many times you’ve been spotted and how many times you died/restarted — the maximum number allowed per rank changes based on the difficulty level you’re playing. We don’t take into account how long you took to beat the level, how lethal vs. non-lethal you were, or anything like that — we don’t want to influence people’s playstyles by making them feel like they’re supposed to pick one or the other, we only want to enforce sneaking!
But, for those of you who do want to know how well they did in other categories, we still keep track of that too! There’s a variety of random stats in addition to those, like your projectile accuracy and farthest projectile hit, how much magic you used, how many times you hid, and even how much time you spent walking, running, climbing, etc. Because who doesn’t like looking at a huge list of numbers?! We’ll keep adding more as we think of cool ones. Are there any stats that you’d like us to keep track of?
That’s not bad for an update, right? Everything here will be sent out to our alpha players in an update right after this post, so you can see it yourself firsthand!
Now that the alpha’s out and we don’t have any big events to prepare for in the near future AND the game’s in a decently polished state as it is, we’re gonna jump right into the next world and start working away on that. Hopefully we’ll have something totally new to show you soon!