We’ve performed a lot of preparatory work until we’ve got convinced that we were ready to start the development of a game. We had to constantly fix tiny and big issues during that process, and while we did our best to make it better, we couldn’t afford to spend more time on that than was suitable to make our first game.
Briefly about Vidloonnya team and the game Protect to be alive:
We are the team of enthusiasts united to build a game studio called Vidloonnya. The name has a deep sense for us and translated as echo or reflection. We had a long way to unveil the game concept and the idea we actively develop today.
We have been developing our first premium class game called Protect to be alive. Protect to be alive is an environmental puzzle game with elements of micromanagement and action. The story happens in the invented futuristic sci-fi world with outer creatures. They are pursued by the appeared virus and have to adventure from one world to another to survive. The puzzles are solved by the combination of creatures and their abilities. As an example, we have a basic set of creatures and one can scream, another transport and another one can stamp.
This is short gif which unveils the work has been already done for short time of active development:
This article shares our knowledge we have got since the beginning of our journey.
Restarting from scratch again:
The encountered limitations forced us to reduce a scope and to change a concept while working on the prototype. In the first variant, a gamer could not control any NPC, and it took a lot of time to understand and proof that the concept was not satisfying. There is detailed post-mortem describing why this approach didn’t work for us: Protect to be alive: post-mortem
We’ve made a difficult decision to change the game concept to provide a good control on the game unit. We also changed the concept so that the controlled hero had to make others follow him. This is named mob-control approach. The new concept inspired us to think wider since we’ve clearly got more freedom to invent.
We have found great examples of existing games as #Pikmin and others, which became our lighthouses and determined the desired level we’d like to achieve.
Then we realised that it was easier to change the game engine than to continue working with the initial one which we used to make the first prototype. The decision to change an engine provided the new possibilities, but returned us to the beginning again.
We would like to share technical details of that decisions in the further articles hopefully proofed by great results which can be useful for you.
From emotions to the balance:
I believe you know the strong emotions that you feel when you invent a new game, especially the first game in your life. You want to make something new what has never done before. You don’t want to repeat and improve the existing ideas. You think emotionally and believe that your idea is a winner. But…
I love that we are not studio of one person, though I personally believe there are genius men who could create impressive and interesting game alone. My initial idea was to gather professionals of the game industry who have experience in #gamedev, and each of them could strengthen the team. Each one with unique professional abilities. Each one loving our common game. Each one ready for enthusiastic commitment to do maximum possible for the best result.
…We’ve got into the same trap as well. We didn’t want to even try something that was popular. We wanted to make an experimental game. I would even say too experimental. We tried to find alternatives or similar implementations, but they didn’t exist. The worst thing was it didn’t work.
We were thinking that it was just a matter of look & feel or the missing features, but it was not. The problem was of poor game design, and we had changed that.
We have definitely improved the concept, and we are proud that we kept the spirit of what we had invented. The spirit which we can project on the name: Protect to be alive.
Today we are confident and we move forward.
We started to draw:
The new concept and idea were written down and confirmed by the team members. An artist got a clear picture, and we’ve agreed about style and setting. We had started to make sketches.
The initial idea was to make a vertical setting of levels. Each level was divided into zones and player had to move from one to another to finish the level and move up to the next one. We followed this idea and have finished all stages of prototyping the main controls.
Next not less important phase was to sketch game personages and game objects. That proved to be the most difficult phase due to the different views, but nevertheless, we’ve settled the game setting and game style.
We are still trying to find our characters, so we are drawing them again and again. But a couple of first draws already became our favourites, and we are trying to make the best out of them.