And We Are Back!
And we are back!
It's been a good while since we released the last update — about four months to be precise. It wasn't exactly vacations (we still have our very demanding jobs) but it was enough time to recharge our batteries from the colossal task that was writing the Lord of the Rings-esque Build 0.5.
This very festive DevLog is our official announcement that we are back to work on Minotaur Hotel, and back to preparing the delicious content which, we hope, will bring you joy!
Except... In truth we started writing a while ago. We kept quiet so we could work without any sort of pressure on us. If you check our previous DevLogs you'll see we like giving regular updates on what's happening — which is generally a best practice — but it has the side effect of raising expectations/"hype". Working without any of that was freeing, in a way, and allowed us to explore some parts of the game that had been neglected so far.
Without further ado, let's talk about what we've been working on!
Hanging Out With the Staff!
As we mentioned back when 0.5 released, we wanted to put some work on the game's side stories for a bit. For the purposes of this DevLog you can consider that they come in two flavors: "hangout scenes" and "milestone chapters."
You can already see what the hangout scenes in the game, by choosing to talk with Robert and by giving Luke time off.
"Milestone chapters", meanwhile, are triggered when all of a character's hangout scenes are explored. They are longer, closer in length to their introduction chapters, and advance their character arc in significant ways. They can also unlock particularly rewarding R&D projects — let's just say those might be some of your favorites, someday.
I think it was extremely healthy for us to wait a while before tackling them. We got a lot of great feedback about them on our survey — mainly the notion that they "ended just as they were getting good." This was a very clear green light for us that we could put a little more "creative juice" on them, which made writing them a little more engaging. So it's safe to say that you can expect the next hangout scenes to be a bit longer than Robert's and Luke's (which, mind you, will probably get a bit of rewriting someday.)
Currently we are working on four fronts: Kota's, Khenbish's and Wolf's hangout scenes and Luke's "milestone chapter". Keep in mind we are multiple writers, so it's not out of our ordinary for each writer to be working on one or more front. Our plan is publishing these pieces of content more or less as they are finished — which means the next updates will be shorter but more frequent.
Now, with all of that in mind, we can give you a clear picture of what we have in store for the next build.
Build 0.6 of Minotaur Hotel will contain an expansion of side content for one of the hotel's staff members. 0.6 will be the first of a string of shorter updates. Each one will expand only one character.
I won't reveal which character will be the first one. We do have a very good idea of who it's gonna be, but I'd say it's a bit premature. We will announce when all of the content for said character is written and ready to be edited.
When will it come out? Again, we're not telling that until we know for sure and it's all certain, but what I can say is that it should come out by February at the latest.
Now, I'm sure a lot of people would prefer if we just went straight to Chapter 19 to keep advancing Asterion's story. That's a very valid position. That said, I'd like you to think of this brief period of focusing on the side content as a sort of investment that will pay off in the future. You see, while we're more or less rested from 0.5 we still have a bit of "main content hangover". Writing the chapters is a very intensive process, with lots of complicated variations we need to map out and write content for. The side content, in comparison, is a lot easier and carefree, and it's done a lot to refuel us with good ideas for Asterion's story.
On top of that, I'd like you to keep in mind that the game was designed with a certain "pacing" in mind, a balance between main and side content. By focusing a bit on the side content for now we are actually changing the balance a bit, making the experience a little bit juicier overall.
What this means is that, going forward, the main story chapters will have less downtime and will advance the relationship between Asterion and the Hotel's master a lot quicker. The side content will be the "downtime" to the main story, you can say. So, again, doing this part of the game now will pay dividends down the road.
The writers have been busy, and the same goes for nanoff. For a while now he's brought up that he's not fully satisfied with Kota's in-game sprites. Those were some of the first pieces of art he did for the game back in 2019 and his skills as an artist have improved significantly since then. So, we decided that redoing his sprites would be justified, and we went ahead and called Eddio, developer of Killigan's Treasure, to help out. It was similar to what we did some months ago when we asked him to design an upcoming character, "Black", and for GigaSaddle's help to design Themba.
Here are the results of Eddio's work:
With that concept art nanoff set out to work. He showed some preliminary versions on Twitter a while ago to gather some feedback and, as usual, we received a lot of great pointers. The left shows Kota's original sprites, the middle are the preliminary versions and the ones on the right are what we settled on after receiving feedback.
And here's a showcase of him in some of his outfits and expressions.
In comparison to the preliminary version, the final designs changed his nose (bringing it back to the original Eastern dragon style), his horns (the old shape did give him a more regal air, so we decided to bring it back!) and his color (it was a little bit too dark, and we actually discovered that some people with colorblindness were having a tough time distinguishing his features.)
As you can see, we're throwing in an additional, much needed casual outfit for Kota. All he wears for most of the game is either his kimono or barman outfit, depending on whether you pick him as your first guest or not, so this should add a little more variety to his scenes. It's a little different from Eddio's concept art but, as usual, we did our research and this jinbei is a little more accurate to Kota's original time period, social class and modern clothing habits.
Now, I know some people will prefer the old designs. I really get that. After all, they might have spent two years with us and can feel a strong attachment to how Kota looks. Still, we think that this redesign is an objective improvement over the original and we are hoping that when you see these new sprites in-game you'll like them too! You'll also like the new version of the CG from his introduction chapter.
Now, as a matter of full disclosure I'll say that some people asked on Twitter for a way to toggle the old sprites back. Usually we are in favor of giving the player a lot of choices but we are leaning on not doing that. We think it's best to rip the bandage out quickly instead of prolonging it. Again, I think everyone will grow to like the new design when they see it in-game!
Hinterlands Expansion Pack
As we discussed in the Hinterlands Postmortem, there was about a handful of things we wanted to add to it that were cut to save time. Those were all non-essential things that added some rich details and, oftentimes, employed some experimental narrative techniques. In game design terms you could say they are the equivalent of the extra hard bonus levels meant for the hardcore crowd. If you found "the shed" in the Hinterlands you'll know what I'm talking about.
We are quite aware not everyone was into the Hinterlands content. Speaking frankly, we knew it was a gamble and that not everyone would find it interesting, and that's a very valid position to have. Still, encouraged by the very positive response to it from a lot of people I decided it would be worth it adding back those finishing touches. So, a little further down the road, you can expect us to publish the Hinterlands Expansion Pack.
It's too early to discuss a lot in detail, but currently this is the map of the planned content:
- 2 new locations on the map: "The Whorehouse" and "The Cemetery". After all, no visit to an old, decaying town is complete without checking out its "whorehouse" and spooky cemetery! Both of those places only appear on the map if certain conditions are met, so they shouldn't pollute the investigation during the early game.
- 3 "contextual events". Those are special scenes that only occur if previously-existing locations are visited under specific circumstances. They are:
- "The Cave": Can be accessed by exploring The Pond in the same circumstances that unlock The Shed.
- "Return to the Colonel's Estate": As the name implies, this scene involves P and Storm returning to talk with the widow after laying the old bones to rest.
- "The Parade": During the last day of the Hinterlands, September 7th, you'll be able to enjoy a cool little parade in the Plaza.
I think this will be a nice treat to everyone who liked the Hinterlands' mystery. But I'm also aware this won't be everyone's cup of tea — so feel free to ignore this specific update when it comes out. There's nothing wrong with that.
Build 0.6 will contain the side content for one of the hotel's guests. For the next few months we will be releasing shorter updates following that format. It's hard saying precisely, but 0.6 should come out by February at the latest. It will also include the new Kota sprites. Later down the road we will also publish an expansion to the Hinterlands.
As usual, we're creating a thread for 0.6 discussion in the forum, which will hopefully be getting some activity sometime soon.
Now, with all of that said, allow me to be a bit sappy.
We've been working on Minotaur Hotel for two years now. It all began with a very simplified version of Asterion's story, which became more ambitious as our team came together to create this work of love. For all this time we've been working to create something heartfelt, handmade and honest.
People didn't get it at first, back when the story only went up to Asterion being halfway healed, but Minotaur Hotel is a work of joy. It's about climbing your way out of the most grievous depths and finding companionship in all its forms.
We love this story, and we are so overjoyed to see all the love and affection you guys have expressed about the game and its characters. Everyday we work knowing, without a shadow of a doubt, that we are writing the story we want for the perfect audience that is in synch with us. You are all amazing, and we are honored to have you as our readers.
We know things have been tough and will continue like that for a while longer, but we will pull through together. So, from the bottom of our hearts, we wish you happy holidays and a great New Year.
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I absolutely adore this game to no end and has been a comfort to replay as well. A spark of light in rough moments. Characters and writing that feel so genuine. Also the added bonus of getting a friend of mine into the game as well. Looking forward to all future updates and seeing this exquisite gem get more content.
not the biggest fan of kota's new redesign, but hes still kota
I have really enjoyed Minotaur Hotel!!
So, Thank you Creative Team, for all your work up to date!! I have appreciated it and look forward to a beneficial and productive New Year with you all!
HAPPY NEW YEAR AND HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!
I have run version 5 from the beginning and I have to say that I saw no difference whatsoever, no new-look Kota and no tidying up of the non sequitur ending. It just fizzled out. It's all rather disappointing, given the amount of work that you say that you have put into it. My rank at the end was Golden Dragon, whatever that may mean.
We haven't released the update yet, as we're still working on the new content it'll have.
Kota's new sprites are coming with the next update. As for the main story, we'll get to making Chapter 19 after we're done with adding more side content.
I have not played this game in a long while due to having things to pursue. And I need to know if I download the latest version if it has all the up grades from the beginning or do I need to upload each version?
You can get the latest version (0.5.1) and start right away.
We did a pretty extensive code revamp last year so if you have any saves previous to 0.4.1, I recommend not to load them and to start from a new save and use the skip button to get to where you were. You will experience so many bugs the game will be basically unplayable.
I also highly recommend keeping a save file handy at the start of chapter 14 (and this goes to everyone reading). The next couple updates will be adding lots of side content that can be accessed from the daily agenda, such as hangout scenes and R&D projects, so if your only save is from the end of 0.5, you won't have free days to see that content until we put out chapter 19.
Thank you soooo much. You gave me a great Christmas gift by telling me that!!! And also, Nanoff......I am a super big fan of yours. Your stories outside of Minotaur Hotel is out of this world and love all the fun twist you put in. Can't wait to play MH with all the new additions, it's right up there with the rest.. WOOHOO!
Thank you dude, I hope we continue to deliver! Have a happy new year as well!
Kota's redesign looks amazing, but I also agree to liking to old sprite as well. A solution to please everyone would be to keep the redesign, but in scenes where Kota is fully relaxed he unties his braids and lets his hair down similar to his old design's hair. His horns make him look regal, but his wild, unbound hair makes him lookout outright majestic.
I love reading all the care you all have for this project and all the efforts you put on it. It makes me want to play even with more enthusiasm! Thank you for that.
It is becoming (or has already become) a great and well made game!
Lol, he looks good though!
Wow. Kota's new look is refined but kept the essence of the original design really well.
Looking forward to the new updates - have a happy new year!
Loving the new icons, and I'm glad to hear that you all will be adding more details and backstories to the characters! It really helps with making the game feel like a fully fleshed out world!
Happy holidays/ merry Christmas and happy new year!!
I love both of Kota's looks but I'm digging his new look and I can't wait to see it in game. As a reader, I like the idea of making small releases rather than large releases since I could spend all day reading through all the content you put out until I finished it. Purely selfish reason on my end. As a creator, it does sound like a good way to pace yourselves and not overwhelm your creative process. It's definitely worth being patient to see the next chapter of Asterion's story.
What you're describing with having the hang out scenes pacing out the main story sounds like a good way to make the hotel feel more alive as we can see other characters doing their own thing as the plot happens. I already like how the individual days post chapter 13 gives the world a sense of time passing. Even if they may only lightly or not at all touch upon the events of the ongoing plot, the intros and outros to the days gives the impression of the guest going about their business at the hotel. The hanging out enhances that feel when in between the intros/outros to the day on top of getting to learn about our favorite characters that are not Asterion. And of course, if players didn't want to hang out with anyone and get to more minotauring, they do have the option to just not hang out or do anything for the day.
A question I have with implementing new options to hang out with different characters is: will all the content that you're currently planning for each character fit within the available days that are currently in the game? Since there wouldn't be any more chapters, ergo, no additional days to plan past chapter 17/18. I assume we'll have to load up past saves to access new hang out options.
I'm always down to hang out with Pedro and Oscar in the Hinterlands with more possible investigation options. I really dig the Hinterland section so getting to explore more of the mysteries to that tragic land and having more banter with Pedro and Oscar is very welcomed.
So much to look forward to and that's even before we get to the fallout from the events of chapter 18! The whole team has done fabulous work making this game so memorable. I first found Minotaur Hotel 0.1 in October 2019 which I can only assume I found through Nanoff's FA page. I remember being so engrossed in the mystery that was presented about the magical hotel, the minotaur's story, the villainous snake and what happens next as the new master of the hotel. That's all I played and only until May of this year was I able to revisit this project. (Heavy depression and my job kept me from a lot; and that's before covid happened.) In all that time, I kept thinking about Minotaur Hotel every once and in a while, wondering about the mystery about the minotaur's hotel. I'm so happy that I was able to revisit and engage with such a wonderful media that has spoken to me and help me through this rough year. Thank you all for such awesome work and I hope all of you and fellow fans have a happy holiday and great new year.
Can't wait to have more things to explore, and the side quests are aways amazing in every game.
Also, the hype? Already feeling it
I'm glad you guys are getting some valuable work done! The last build was amazing, so I understand that you would like to scale it down in scope for the next few updates. I'm looking forward to learning more about the various guests!