How things can quickly get out of hand…
Talking to Kris after both of our funding projects fell through on a crowd funding site (IndieGoGo.com), we decided to meet up and talk about making a game together. Originally we had planned to make a game called iSpy, a puzzler game where you have to race across the level in a certain time to stay alive, we even had a prototype working within a week of starting it. We decided to meet up after a week of development in a pub in London, after talking for a while about iSpy we joked about creating a zombie game, I mentioned a couple of ideas that I had and Kris did the same, the next day we had decided that the zombie game might have more appeal so we started to create “Aaarghmageddon”.
Aaarghmageddon is coming
After about two weeks of frantic development and artwork we had a prototype of the game. We kept adding in features like a scoreboard, zombie control and spending countless hours perfecting the AI of the game (It’s still a little buggy). But we felt it had something missing and we couldn’t place a name to what was wrong, we decided to let people play it online (You still can – http://www.aaarghmageddon.com) but as people played it they felt it was too repetitive and didn’t have much of a challenge. We decided to create a few levels for the game, but we realised that the game would pretty much be the same throughout (Click to send the zombies and watch the humans run). This is where a plan would have been helpful.
Planning, iPhone development and other goodies
After working on an iPhone App for several weeks, we met up to talk about Aaarghmageddon and what we should do to fix it, after many discussions and looking at other games similar to the idea, we settled on a course of action. But this time we focused on writing up a comprehensive Game Design Document (GDD), which in hindsight we should have done from the very beginning, it detailed everything the game could possibly have.
Once we had the GDD setup, we started working on a very basic prototype; we created several versions to make sure we had the right style we wanted. We even changed to another engine just because it suited the game style better. In the New Year of 2011 we plan on releasing a demo which shows the new Aaarghmageddon and all of its features.
What to did we learn from this?
In the end, if we had completed a comprehensive document of what the game should have, along with prototype it to breaking point, we would have realised our problems earlier on and worked to solve them. My advice to anyone starting out in the gaming industry is this: If you think you have an amazing idea, sit down and design out how it will play. Just think from the users point of view how the game will play out, make sure that it’s fun to play and has a very small learning curve. If you think it has that and you have a game design all set-up then start prototyping the game, choose an engine that lets you rapidly make it like Unity3D or NeoAxis (If you are making a 3D game) or XNA (If it’s a 2D game).