There comes a time when we feel that we want to accomplish something with more substance. That time came for me late in 2015 when I realized that I’ve spent several years in the game development industry working on casual games. I’ve done projects on mobile since the 1st generation iPhone and experienced porting to the 1st generation iPad’s. I’ve experienced the rise and fall of Facebook games and seen how the mobile casual games industry grew into the congested marketplaces they are now. Needless to say, the mobile formula for game development and production has been pretty much the same for the past several years, while independent games on different platforms got more exciting with its varied content and artistic exploration.
This was of course, an awesome opportunity and for most game developers, probably a dream come true.
Thankfully, the company I work for, Sudden Interactive, gave me an opportunity to work on a new project where I could pitch what I wanted to do, assemble my own team, and manage the creative direction of the project. This was of course, an awesome opportunity and for most game developers, probably a dream come true. Although, I couldn’t just embark on a Triple A journey and expect the studio to support me with a Triple A budget. So I proposed to work on an assumption that the project and team will be treated as an indie studio, coming up with a hit indie idea. This meant a lot for me, as I could finally take a look at a different market aside from mobile: Steam on PC and Mac!
I took a closer look at what the indie market has been up to recently, and scoped out a couple of interesting tidbits. Players are actually buying games because of an interesting story! Sounds like a no-brainer, I know, but really, if you’ve been working in the casual industry long enough, this would merit a facepalm (I’m looking at you, father of Match-3s and Endless Runners).
Stories in games were something that I could definitely draw from, since most of the games I played in the past were heavily story-driven. I grew up with my gaming roots set in fantasy worlds of D&D, spending countless hours reading through the lore behind Dune, Shadowrun, Wing Commander, Ultima, Magic: the Gathering, all those Sierra and LucasArts games, the list can go on and on. Because of all those influences, I had a habit of building up my own stories, my own worlds and characters, which was somewhat of a prerequisite for being a table-top role-player (a DM for D&D, or GM for most other table-top games). After more than 15 years of documenting stories, characters, and game mechanics, I’ve finally come to a point where I can convert these into a digital game. Like I said, awesome opportunity.
Coming up with a digital game that was worth more than 15 years in the making isn’t going to be easy though. After pitching the idea and game concept to our company, we all knew that the project was a risky move for the company given the following conditions:
- Since we’re backing on a lot of story and world-building, it’ll take some pre-production time to come up with concepts and enough materials to back up a “world setting”.
- The initial project estimates would carry over towards a year of development.
- It HAD to be a 3D multiplayer game. Because… well, why not? And that meant a big 3D team, and the best programmers available. (probably another blog post about this)
Seems quite a lot to handle for an original IP, right?
Well, there were a lot of things that went amazingly well during the initial planning of the game. Everyone in the room was convinced that we can pull it off, but it had to go through several design considerations and some technical workaround. In my next post, I will be sharing some bits of our design on how we were able to estimate a 3D multiplayer game as a structured, data-driven, 1 year-long project.
So the company agreed to it, I built up my team, calling them from various walks of life (ala Oceans 11), and we set forth on our epic indie journey. This is a good place to quote Art Williams, as I told my team: “I’m not telling you it’s going to be easy, I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it.”