NovaDawn Studios
The Exim Logo

November 2020 Update


With the project finally announced it’s time for us to start giving you some insight into the development!

We plan to start posting updates soon, but since we want to go more in depth with our process, we thought it might also be interesting for some if we delved into our decisions when it comes to less visible aspects of the game development process, like internal goals and PR strategy. (This will also probably be very boring for some people. Sorry if you’re those people).

Going forward, alongside posts that take an indepth look into specific aspects of development, we’ll also be making semi-regular general updates. Like this one! In the future we hope to have a graphic outlining our progress on the game as a whole, but for our first general update we’re still working out how to show our progress in a meaningful way.

Our development cycle works in sprints where we set a long list of goals that we plan to try and achieve during that sprint. Typically they work on a 2-month then 1-month alternating pattern. Right now we’re in our November to December sprint and have goals like getting our first trial up and running and completing all of the characters’ almost-final designs.

On the subject of character designs, we plan to start posting character profiles and reveals in the very near future. Previously, when it’s come to announcing characters for games, we’ve gone with a very straight forward approach, simply revealing their name, appearance and description, but with just over 20 characters we imagined stale and repetitive announcements would get boring very fast. We’ll still post and have these condensed profiles available on our website as and when they’re announced, but we also wanted to dive into the thoughts behind the designs and their evolution over time. 

With the game being very story focussed there will be some things that we’ll have to avoid talking about so as not to give anything away, but I still hope that with the character reveals we can give a glimpse into our process and how we make design and narrative decisions as a small indie studio. 

As much as we want this blog to garner interest for EXIM, we also want to provide resources and explanations for some of the things we learned whilst developing our game, so other small indies can potentially learn from our triumphs and our shortfalls.  

As well as avoiding some topics, there are other measures we’ve put in place to avoid spoilers for the game, after all, at it’s heart EXIM is a murder mystery game. We’re trying to make the story mean more than just plot twists, and make the journey as interesting as the reveal, but want to keep the story close to our chest to make it as exciting as it can be. 

To avoid any possible implications, we wanted to release characters in an order where we aren’t swayed by their importance to the story. We found when making a decision that no matter what order we chose we would always be unconsciously swayed by the knowledge we had about these characters. We mentioned Danganronpa as one of our inspirations, and for anyone who is familiar with the series, we have a similar setup. The victim and culprit of each chapter is picked from the pool of existing characters, and revealing somebody as a victim can sometimes be just as shocking as revealing a culprit. As a result, a character’s perceived importance could sway the audience’s opinion of them.

In the end we realised that we wanted a neutral schedule, one that isn’t dictated by the way the game plays out, and so decided to announce them alphabetically. So coming soon we’ll have some analysis on our first character, Annie!