Archive for September, 2016

The Only Thing That is Constant is Change.

September 25, 2016 | By | Add a Comment

I don’t update this site often, and I always get a kick out of reading the last few posts, sometimes years old, and having a laugh at my sincere naivety. It also makes me cringe a little, to read about stuff that just never panned out for one reason or another. Oh well, such is life.

Take my post about being a “Born Again Indie”. All very true, no dispute there, but shortly after that, things changed yet again, and then again and god knows how many times after that. Opportunities arose, and distractions tugged at me from every direction. Shiny, interesting things that all demanded little pieces of my mind, to greater and lesser extents.

The game I mentioned in that post was a top down, 2D, Egyptian themed dungeon crawler, RPG. It was actually going quite well, and then I had some problems with the artist I had teamed up with, and the whole thing just sucked all the wind out my sails. I sulked for a bit, and then, despite myself, I dipped my toe back into iOS and mobile for a few months, finally releasing one of my shelved iOS games. And then the game got swallowed by the App Store, and I got sad about mobile again and went back to the drawing board.

Then, about 8 months ago, I was having coffee with my good friend, and we were talking about the games we’d like to make. We do this regularly. We sit and torture ourselves with fantastical ideas and fantasies of RPGs and Dungeon Crawlers, and we always say we need to make something, but circumstances are always against us.

This time was different. This time, we were both in a position to commit some real time to a long project. We kicked around ideas and we toyed with making a small, quick game, and even a mobile game. But we kept coming back to our favorite things. Playing D&D, RPGs and Dungeon Crawlers. So we started to define our ultimate dungeon crawler game, constrained by the limitations of our dev resources (just 2 of us). We came up with something we both got excited about. By the end of our coffee, we were totally into the idea and decided to proceed by making a fully playable, polished prototype, to prove out the game’s viability as a full project.

We chose Unity to make the game, and we spent the next 3 months on the prototype. Quite a long time for a prototype, but our mandate was for all the system created would be production ready and usable in the actual project. No cutting corners and no temp or bought code and art. We developed a custom toolset around the Unity editor, and I built a number of highly flexible systems and game mechanics, that allowed Damon to do his thing, and put all his energy into making art and building dungeons and enemies and puzzles.

We quickly realized that Unity was a fantastic choice, and our strategy for simplicity with massive flexibility, was the correct one. Things came together quickly and easily, and we were both having a blast. Once the prototype was ready, we enrolled a bunch of people in a play test. We set up a SurveyMonkey questionnaire for our testers to fill out, rating everything we could think of and offering the chance to give us real, honest feedback. The play test went very well and the data we got back was incredibly valuable. We got some excellent insight into some of our best and worse mistakes and assumptions. Based on the feedback we got, we decided to move ahead with the full project, and spent a few weeks making adjustments to the design and laying out story and detailed design for the entire game.

We kicked off the project officially at the beginning of August. We’re coming up to 2 months in and the project is going really, really well. We’re both still excited about the project, which for a couple of cynical old gits like us, is something new. We meet for coffee and plan and design and figure out problems. We’re heads down right now, building and testing and refining our tools and systems. In a month or so, I’ll be putting a website together for the game, and I’ll be doing some sort of regular game blog update thing. If you’re a real person, and not a bot or an Eastern European or Korean spammer, I hope you’ll join us and follow along. I’ll let you know when things kick off.

Meanwhile, here’s a couple of videos from the prototype.