Search Unity

Project in 6 weeks -- lessons about scope and such

Discussion in 'Made With Unity' started by BIGTIMEMASTER, May 28, 2019.

  1. BIGTIMEMASTER

    BIGTIMEMASTER

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2017
    Posts:
    2,115
    Not too long ago, some of you may remember @frosted and myself posted some WIP news about a rather large, medieval themed turn based strategy game... Well, as it turns out, that game was a little big for two guys to finish anytime soon. We took a break from it, did our own things for a little bit, then about 5 weeks ago I got a call asking if I wanted to make a similar game, but with one catch. We do it in one month. No matter what, no matter how awful or unfinished, we ship the thing in a month.

    "Okay, but only if you're for realsies," I said. And @frostred replied, "Dawg, I'm for realsies."

    We ended up adding two weeks to the production of the game because, to our surprise, the thing has ended up being pretty darn cool. The original intent was to more or less clone the old and gold game "Fantasy Wars," but along the way we kind of found our own theme and wanted to take a bit more risk and and deviate pretty heavily from the inspiration. We sort of fell in love with it and have been having a blast since.

    We are scheduled to have a playable alpha of sorts ready by this weekend. Anybody interested in play testing, please PM me or @frosted. Anybody who takes the time to play test and fill out a questionnaire will receive a free copy of the game at launch.

    About the game itself, it is a turn-based strategy game with two distinct types of gameplay : a narrative, linear campaign in which you must accrue an army to fight the The Great Deceivers Hellish Horde, facing semi-permadeath and tense, tactical battles. This mode is for those who like story, and to problem solve unique situations, but without the complexity of army management. You simply get what you get and have to make do.

    Second, we have a more traditional strategy campaign in which player upgrades and purchases new army units with gold earned from missions. This is for the more hardcore strategy fans who like to think ten moves in advance.

    About development, it's been a pretty busy month and a half with lots of 10-12 hour days but it's been a complete blast as well. It took us about half the time to kind of find our game, but once we did we just been going crazy with it. Biggest lesson learned so far is that we should have spent more time up front settling on a theme before putting as much time into production... but sometimes you just don't really know what you're looking for until you stumble on it. Taking on short, fast paced projects like this is a great way to make those mistakes and grow as a developer.

    Here's the good stuff :

    All screens are WIP:
    1.jpg 8.jpg 14.jpg 5.jpg
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2019
  2. TonyLi

    TonyLi

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2012
    Posts:
    9,352
    Looks great!
     
    angrypenguin and BIGTIMEMASTER like this.
  3. Joe-Censored

    Joe-Censored

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2013
    Posts:
    5,494
    Very impressive looking even if instead you said it took several months.
     
    angrypenguin and BIGTIMEMASTER like this.
  4. kdgalla

    kdgalla

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2013
    Posts:
    1,232
    Nice! Strategy games are not really my thing, but the screenshots look extremely polished for a 6-week game. After reading the back-story, I was expecting something a lot more crude and prototype-ish.
     
    BIGTIMEMASTER likes this.
  5. BIGTIMEMASTER

    BIGTIMEMASTER

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2017
    Posts:
    2,115
    Thanks guys. One thing that helped free up our minds to focus on visual polish a lot was having a strong template to work from. So as far as game design went, most the heavy lifting has already been done. That along with the fact that @frosted knows what the hell he is doing makes iterating on things very efficient.

    Also, keeping the tools you are working with bare-bones simple really helps. If we through rigging and animation into the mix we'd have like 4 characters and one level only, and it would just look like bad, wanna-be AAA. Having a lot of constraints kind of forces you to innovate and its fun to learn just how much you can do with very little. Like I've been learning that just simple changes to lighting can get a lot of mileage out of just a few super simple enviro assets.
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2019
    GarBenjamin likes this.
  6. BIGTIMEMASTER

    BIGTIMEMASTER

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2017
    Posts:
    2,115
    @kdgalla, I'm actually not a big strat gamer either (frosted is). That's part of the reason we added in a separate campaign type that takes out the complexity of strategy games and uses a simple narrative to focus gameplay just on tactical encounters. So you just think about the movements but not have to develop a "build." You'll earn new units through play, and if you lose them, you lose them. Kind of a semi-permadeath, linear campaign that is tough not just because of the enemies you face, but because you've got to maintain your army all the way through. (though you don't got to replay the entire thing from the start on failure, just individual missions. We aren't sadist.)
     
  7. frosted

    frosted

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2014
    Posts:
    3,275
    Just wanted to thank you guys for kind words: @TonyLi, @Joe-Censored, @kdgalla - Thanks guys.

    It's been a hell of a grind trying to get all this ready to go in the time frame we set up.

    We're at about 5 weeks and 2 days of production and I'm... friggin tired man!

    Still, very pleased w/ the results we put out here in the timeframe. Think they're pretty good. Game is pretty fun so far!

    As mentioned above, we're looking for some playtesters this weekend (more likely monday) if anyone's interested.
     
    GarBenjamin likes this.
  8. BIGTIMEMASTER

    BIGTIMEMASTER

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2017
    Posts:
    2,115
    Hey guys,
    We are scheduled to send out our playtest build tomorrow. If you guys like strategy games that are easy to pick up but hard to master, and you also like funnies a la Monty Python, this is probably something you'll enjoy it like we do. Help us make it better and we'll give it you for free!

    We've been pulling our hair out cleaning up the last little bugs (and it is the little ones which give the most trouble, it seems). Been an emotional roller coaster taking all the crap we've made in production and getting it to all just work. Our GIT game could stand to be improved and I think that's where a lot of our troubles come from.

    But.... its very close. It really is a special feeling to get so close to publishing your first game -- and being proud of it too! We put a lot of hard work and a lot of love into this, so here's hoping some people will enjoy it like we do. Of course with minimal marketing it's not exactly destined for success in this market, but as long as a few people appreciate what we've done we'll both be perfectly content. The real value is in what we've learned. That's not something that you lose even if your efforts produce zero monetary returns.
    PromoCampaignScreen2.jpg
    PromoCampaignScreen.jpg
     
    Ryiah, Joe-Censored and TonyLi like this.
  9. aer0ace

    aer0ace

    Joined:
    May 11, 2012
    Posts:
    1,112
    @BIGTIMEMASTER Hey, this was totally awesome to read. Good luck on the project! I wish I had time to try out a build, but I wouldn't mind watching some gameplay videos. Ha. That's so "millenial" of me to say, but I think this is the time we live in now. I can see how watching gameplay can sometimes be more fun than playing, especially when you're just trying to relax from working at the 9-to-5 AND your own hobby projects!
     
    BIGTIMEMASTER likes this.
  10. BIGTIMEMASTER

    BIGTIMEMASTER

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2017
    Posts:
    2,115
    @aer0ace , heck i don't care how people enjoy it. If anybody gets something positive from it in any way that's enough to make my day.

    I do think it will be a game that's good to sit back and watch as there is a lot of humor in the writing. Though strategy games can be a bit demanding we've tried to keep the narrative campaign a bit more relaxing. We plan on having several difficulties so a player can find what suits them best.

    We just released our first playtest and got some great feedback. Still got another week and a half of final polish but once we release I think I'll make some playthrough videos myself to kind of show off the game and show how I think it's best enjoyed. Maybe an unlisted video just for developers where we can share some of the decisions we made, setbacks we faced, lessons learned, etc.
     
    Joe-Censored likes this.
  11. BIGTIMEMASTER

    BIGTIMEMASTER

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2017
    Posts:
    2,115
    Took a short break from all the tedious trigger setups and testing to do something fun. I took some in game screenshots, disable all the GUI, and then use some simple photoshop techniques to make some cool images from them.
    302e549e79df2248d95daedcc269c22d-jpg.jpg campaignScreen2.5.png View attachment 432919 3f1e38f0120d7516ef0413be4d9b59d7.jpg campaignscreen5.png

    We had the fantastic opportunity to watch some recorded footage of one of our playtesters first experience with the game. From this we've made a ton of improvements to presentation and accessibility in the last two days. The goal is for player to not have to figure out how the game works at all, only to have to devise their own strategies to best the game. As it were, our playtester was having too much trouble just figuring out the basic mechanics of the game -- no bueno!

    Getting video record of your playtesters is really valuable!
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2019
  12. kdgalla

    kdgalla

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2013
    Posts:
    1,232
    Second one down looks like a Bruegel painting or something.
     
    BIGTIMEMASTER likes this.
  13. BIGTIMEMASTER

    BIGTIMEMASTER

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2017
    Posts:
    2,115
    had never heard the name. Looked it up... fantastic inspiration! The next game's gotta look like one of his paintings.
     
  14. BIGTIMEMASTER

    BIGTIMEMASTER

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2017
    Posts:
    2,115
    Final Week!

    Redeem Yer Eternal Soul in The Defiled City of Debauchery....


    Hold Fast ye Faith, Men of God, for Here March the Legions of Hell!

    Back! Back! Ye Infernal Beast!


    ....but before Ye May Redeem Thyself, Ye Must Prove Yer Mettle in the Weald of Eternal Nightmare...
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2019
    Lurking-Ninja likes this.
  15. BIGTIMEMASTER

    BIGTIMEMASTER

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2017
    Posts:
    2,115
    Gameplay demo.

    The first wave of Hellspawn be Faithless Men Turned and Bent to the Great Deceivers Will
     
    Lurking-Ninja and frosted like this.
  16. hippocoder

    hippocoder

    Digital Ape Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2010
    Posts:
    25,214
    Sweet :D
     
    BIGTIMEMASTER likes this.
  17. frosted

    frosted

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2014
    Posts:
    3,275
    I just saw the redesigned final level for the first time in that video... lol... good stuff @BIGTIMEMASTER
     
  18. BIGTIMEMASTER

    BIGTIMEMASTER

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2017
    Posts:
    2,115
    Dawg, go to sleep!


    @frosted



    p.s. i made it horde defense just for you
     
    frosted likes this.
  19. GarBenjamin

    GarBenjamin

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2013
    Posts:
    7,421
    Awesome job on the game itself and the new approach to focus on a very short dev time. Good luck!! :)
     
    frosted and BIGTIMEMASTER like this.
  20. BIGTIMEMASTER

    BIGTIMEMASTER

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2017
    Posts:
    2,115
    Small update.... we've been putting 100% of our effort into making the game, and hadn't done any research to selling on steam. Just found out, after making our account and making the $100 deposit, gotta wait 30 days before being able to publish!

    Hahaha. Well, we are gonna use this time to further playtest/refine and also optimize the game better. Anybody care to play test? Just send us a PM. You'll get a free copy of the game at launch. It's a pretty fun game -- I should know I've played it about a thousand times already...the thing I like most is that every play through is a little bit different. The way Nick's designed the AI really hits the sweet spot of predictability and randomness, so you can never find the perfect strategy, just good ones. Gives nice replay-ability.
     
  21. BIGTIMEMASTER

    BIGTIMEMASTER

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2017
    Posts:
    2,115
    Added a few more enviro goodies. Some farm stuff. Little piggies. I cannot express how much joy I had making these tiny piggies. They might be my most favorite thing in the game.

    Also begun optimizing more. Characters are the main thing. Reducing most of them by 3/4 total tris. Just chopping out edge loops and rebaking. I made them way too dense to begin with, not realizing how little geo you really need for a game with this perspective. A few thousand tri's will do for when the camera is at min zoom. We really outta use LOD's cause at high zoom a few hundred tris would do, but even with extra time I don't think I'll be able to manage that. Got more sound work and marketing stuffs to take care of.

    Also working on a quick video tutorial. Nobody likes clicking through tutorials, and we don't have a super robust early game to slowly acclimatize new player like you'd expect from AAA game. So a quick 2 minute primer to show basic mechanics and one practical example of unit teamwork should go a long way to ameliorating any initial confusions. And I think this is a good test for the developer. Can you explain how to play your game in very simple language and in just a few minutes? It's harder than you think!



     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2019 at 7:45 AM
    kittik and Deckard_89 like this.