Ambition: A Minuet in Power

Created by Joy Manufacturing Co.

Latest Updates from Our Project:

Reworking Mechanics, and Romance Writing
1 day ago – Mon, May 20, 2019 at 07:41:31 PM

Mesdames et Messieurs,

Welcome back to another progress update on Ambition: A Minuet in Power! Right now, our team is mostly focused on revamping our existing systems in order to make the core of the game feel better. Our previous Kickstarter update covers the specific problems we've been working on in greater detail.

Let's dive in, shall we?

The main changes to the core mechanics have been focused on the credibility and peril systems, as well as changes to how the parties play out. Below, you can see an updated version of the Incidents Screen, where the player handles their conversations with the various characters they meet throughout the game. 

In the top left, next to the player's portrait, you can see the white credibility meter, and the red peril meter. These are the stats that we've included in the game, to better represent where the player's status at a given time.

In the dialogue box at the bottom of the screen, you can see some icons next to some of the dialogue choices. The white icon shows the player that a particular choice will involve a credibility check, and the red icon shows that a particular choice will add some peril to the player's peril meter. If that peril meter fills up, then something terrible will happen to the player. However, certain perilous options will have very useful rewards at the end of them, so choose wisely!

Below, is our current mock up of the party map. As you can see, there are four different conversations one could engage in at the party right now. While you won't know the contents of any of these conversations while going into them, by looking at who is involved in the conversation, you might get a good idea of what's going to be discussed.

Please keep in mind that none of these images are showing complete art assets or UI. The more final versions will be hammered out once we're satisfied with how these mechanics feel.

As for the actual story of the game, I've graphed out all of the different romance paths available in the game, and I'm now digging in on writing the moment to moment dialogue that the player will have with their paramours. It's been an interesting challenge to make sure that every character has a distinctive voice, while also making sure that they all feel like they belong in the setting. Hopefully, we'll be able to get you all a rundown of the romance options that will be available in the game soon!

Thanks for reading and have a great day!

All the best,

- Luther
Game Designer
Joy Manufacturing Co.

Beta Update: What's Going On?
2 months ago – Wed, Mar 13, 2019 at 06:27:23 PM

Mesdames et Messieurs,

I'd like to sincerely apologize for the lack of updates. It never feels good when a Kickstarter Campaign goes dark unexpectedly, but I can assure you that we're still at work on the game. Admittedly, we've had some set backs and I want to get at the main one right now. A core system in the game needs to be redesigned. This obviously takes time, but we feel it's necessary in order to give both our backers and our players the experience that we promised them. We care about this game, and we want to do it right.

In the spirit of transparency, I wanted to give you an update on what's been going on over here.

Game development is rarely a straight line, and we're a perfect example of that at the moment. We were originally very close to having a full beta launch, featuring the completed prologue of the game. However, we encountered a number of game play issues that we simply couldn't shake.

Parties Are Too Abstract

Our original, 'social dungeon crawl' party mechanic sounded very good on paper and even made sense in our original prototypes. However, during play testing it became very clear that parties are currently both the most complex, and the least interesting part of the game. They felt like 'grinding' in a role playing game. Mechanical tasks, that spaced out cool decisions and story moments. It felt like a simulation of walking through a party full of strangers, but didn't capture the fantasy correctly. Simulation and accuracy aren't always fun.

Right now, we're looking to cut down things that are less exciting and focus on the coolest parts of the game. The player will still schedule and attend parties held by the different factions, but we want those interactions to be more narratively focused.

Failure Isn't Clear Enough

At the moment, it’s genuinely nebulous as to how the player actually loses the game, or receives a 'bad ending' short of playing all the way through to the end and getting guillotined. This feels like a terrible way to present defeat, as it requires the player to keep going and going without having a clear idea if things are going poorly. It also means that the player never really feels 'endangered'. The stakes feel vague. Ambiguous can be satisfying, vague is always bad.

Currently, we plan on solving this by introducing a stat called 'peril'. Peril would be visible at all times to the player and simply put, if the player has too high of a peril stat, then something terrible happens. By having a definitive lose condition, the player is always aware of what constitutes failure. While this may sound negative at first, it also helps provide the player with clarity. Nothing is more frustrating in a game than doing badly, but not knowing why. With peril, the player will be able to see the danger increase and know that something is going wrong.

Not Enough Plotting

For a game about intrigue, and sometimes being a Disney villainess, the player doesn’t really feel like they’re machinating. Right now, they feel more like a professional socialite who machinates on the side, as a hobby. That isn't what we're going for, and I don't think that's what our backers were looking for either.

By keeping the player constantly aware of their mortality via the peril system, and by reducing parties to their most salient points, the player can stay focused on their romances and their machinations. We're enhancing this aspect simply by reducing the unnecessary distractions.

I hope this make things more clear, and the second we're close to that beta release, I will make sure that you all know as soon as possible. Thank you all so much for your patience and your feedback during our play test sessions. I can guarantee that we read all of it, and take it into account when we decide on what to do next. 

Thanks for reading and have a great day!

All the best,

- Luther
Game Designer
Joy Manufacturing Co.

Awards Shows and a Playtesting Session in New York City!
4 months ago – Wed, Jan 30, 2019 at 12:41:56 AM

Mesdames et Messieurs,

As some of you may know, Ambition was nominated for the best style award at the Bit Awards!

We are extremely proud to be nominated, but that's not the only good news! In addition to being at the award show in New York City on Friday, February 1st, we'll also be presenting at the Winter Play: NYC Game Expo! 

If you're in the New York area on Saturday, February 2nd, come by the Winter Play: NYC Game Expo on Saturday, February 2nd. Come out, play an early build of Ambition, and over 100 other games!

We'd especially love to meet some of our fans, and get your feedback on the game as it stands so far.

Interested? You can buy tickets here.

Thanks for reading our quick update and have a great day!

All the best,

- Luther
Game Designer
Joy Manufacturing Co.

Where Have We Been?
6 months ago – Wed, Dec 05, 2018 at 11:47:04 PM

Mesdames et Messieurs,  

Normally our updates happen around the end of the month, but with the winter holidays approaching, it can become quite difficult to make time for well... anything. With that in mind, I wanted to give you all an update on our progress now, while it was still feasible.

While we're still working towards a beta launch for the game, one of our other focuses has been finding a publisher for Ambition. Over the last few months I've heard some misconceptions on what game publishers do, so I felt that this would be a great place to clear that up.

If you already know how that all works, please feel free to skip to the bottom to see a new location, new characters, and a question/informal poll for our fans!

 Companies that work on video games can generally fit into a one of three categories:

  • Developer - A company whose main focus is making video games, from code to art, design, writing and sound.
  • Tools Creator - A company whose main focus is making software that makes the act of creating a video game easier. These tools are generally sold to developers.
  • Publisher - A company whose main focus is promoting video games made by developers. This is everything from general marketing, to press relations, trade shows, and even talking with popular streamers to see if they'll play the developer's game at launch. Sometimes publishers even handle things like getting the game translated into multiple languages, or ported onto other platforms like the Playstation 4, Nintendo Switch, etc... 

While there are examples of companies that fit into multiple categories (like Epic Games, who are actually all three), most companies will stick with one specialty and try to do that as best as they can. 

Right now, with Ambition, we're looking for a publisher because we want the launch of Ambition to be as strong as humanly possible. While our team has expertise in a variety of things necessary for making games, we don't have much experience in regard to promoting games. You could make the best game in the world, but if nobody knows about it, they'll never buy it. While there are examples of games suddenly exploding in popularity due to word-of-mouth, those examples are rare. It's better to hedge your bets and come up with a proper strategy to promote your game.

Of course, publishers don't work for free, so when a developer links up with a publisher, the publisher receives a percentage of all sales revenue from the game. The more copies of the game that are sold, the more money the publisher makes.

Now, finding a publisher that has the time and expertise necessary to help you promote your game is harder than you would think. It can take months for both parties to feel each other out, to make sure that among all the possible options, this is the group they really want to work with. Developers want a publisher that truly understands what their game is about, and how to get it in front of people who will really care about it. Publishers want a developer who is making something they feel that people can really get excited about. As you can imagine, this process has been taking up quite a bit of my time.

Hopefully that makes things a little more clear, and gives some insight as to what we're doing on that end.

Not only do we have some new character art and background art for you to see, we've got a bit of an informal poll. 

When we present characters on a background, we can either have the characters on a fully in-focus background or a slightly out-of focus-background. While the in-focus background is more detailed, we're worried about the details of the characters being lost when side-by-side with our elaborate backgrounds. Of the two images below: which do you like better? Post your thoughts in the comments below!

Unblurred Background

Blurred Background

As for who these characters are, and where they are? Well, you'll find out who they are soon enough, but I can tell you that they are at the lovely 'Guinguette Paradis', a tax free bar/cabaret on the edge of Paris known for cheap drink, music, dancing, and entertainers. It's a favorite of people who want to unwind, have a drink outdoors, and don't have a problem with the rowdier forms of entertainment.

Thanks for reading our update, and have a great day!

All the best, 

 - Luther
 Game Designer
 Joy Manufacturing Co.

A Very Special Concert
6 months ago – Fri, Nov 16, 2018 at 06:13:12 PM

Mesdames et Messieurs,


A few weeks ago, we had the pleasure of having an excerpt of some of Ambition: A Minuet In Power's score performed live by a quartet from the Royal College of Music at a chamber music concert in London.

The concert was focused on game music that could be performed by a string quartet, and our themes for the Bourgeoisie faction certainly qualified! While, unfortunately, none of us got attend the concert ourselves due to our work schedule (being an indie developer is extremely glamorous, as you can tell), we still have these photos and recordings of the event.

The Bourgeoisie pieces in Ambition are some tricky writing, and the pictured musicians only had a week or so to practice and prepare, which only makes their performances more impressive. Eventually, the game's recordings are planned to be recorded in the controlled environment of the studio, but something about a live performance in front of an audience brings us closer to the authentic experience of hearing this this style of music, flaws and all, in it's original performance context.

You can listen to the recording of the music from the concert here.

Thanks for reading our update, and have a great day!  

All the best,  

- Luther
Game Designer
Joy Manufacturing Co.