When Rob and I first set-up Xpod Games, we had many ideas about what we thought we could achieve, and how long it would take us to make a game. However with only weeks leading up to Eurogamer Expo, we realised that we may have bitten off more than we could chew, so what did we decided to next? make another game of course!
Genix is for all intensive purposes a pure labour of love, it uses a custom build engine to render vector based graphics (sourced from wavefront OBJ file's) to the screen. This feature was in-fact the the original inspiration behind the game, having played around with the idea of only reading the X and Z coordinates from an OBJ file, and the challenge of finding a way to draw thick wire-frame's in XNA 4.0 meant I had already been experimenting with the concept months before.
The next hurdle behind the project was to find a fun way to exploit this style of game. The first idea was to try a racing concept, although that one fell flat on it's face when we realised we couldn't add enough content for it to be engaging, secondly was the idea of a scrolling shooter, again though we had problems as if you didn't see a wall for a while, it'd be come easy to get lost in black oblivion. So we finally opted for a puzzle level style which we thought adds a level of challenge, yet allows us to add enough linearity to provide extra stuff like time trials, and save certain bits for when the player is ready.
As it goes, colour plays a massive role in making sure the player doesn't get confused too, with the constraint of limiting the use of raster graphics, and the lack of 3rd dimension, being able to tell the difference between things quickly becomes an eye strain. So to tackle this problem, we introduced a few important mechanics;
- Each level features a colourful floor graphic that is placed underneath the level, this adds a small level of depth, gives a sense of speed, and we found it made the game a lot easier to play for long periods of time because the perception of depth alleviated eye strain when at certain angles.
- Coloured doors were introduced with some accompanying keys to open them, along with the puzzle mechanic of each level, we believe this helps get people to explore a little more, and will serve a greater purpose in the full game when players get to pick-up items and boosters for their ship.
- We had the option to use vector graphics for everything, however we opted to use raster graphics for projectiles and explosions. This is done simply just to re-enforce contrast from the level so the player is able to easily identify that things are in the game.
Finally something that is really important to us is performance on lower spec computers, we believe that games should be for everyone, and not just the elite who can buy a brand new graphics card each iteration. For this reason we restrained the game to use XNA's Reach profile, this effectively means anyone who has a SM2 compatible graphics card will be able to play Genix. For instance we have had Genix running fast on a old Pentium 4 system that only boasts an ancient AGP Nvidia GeForce FX5200, and many net book's that have atom processors.
So with only 3 weeks left, Rob and I are preparing the Linux version of the game (which comes with it's own set of unusual problems), and also getting everything ready so the Xbox 360 version will be worth the lack of level editor.
All we can do now is encourage people to download the demo for Genix, we've made sure it's available from IndieDB, and for more information, we have set-up a page on our own website including links to other mirrors just in case. Thanks for reading, and I really hope you enjoy playing Genix as much as we loved making it.