I'm a game developer for a game company in Iceland called Gogogic, I'm a member of the Icelandic Gaming Industry and I'm the ModDB manager of Forgotten Hope 2 mod. I also make sure FH2 has pretty pictures on release days as well as some minor artwork stuff. I'm a big fan of modding in general wether it is fancy artwork or creative thinking within the limited box some mods are faced with their chosen game engines.
Mister McBusy, that's me I suppose. I've been all kinds of busy the past month; work, FH2, health, social, requests, practically everything but my little big project Indie Game, Spitfires 3. That's almost true, I have had some time to work on those two goals I set my self. To learn how to use the Unity Game Engine, and to write the Game Design Document for Spitfires 3.
Unity Game Engine
Using the Unity Game Engine is a blast and has been going really well. Of all the game engines out there, it is by far the most simplest yet most capable engine I've tried out so far. With a help from a few websites here and there, I managed to learn and build a very rough prototype in only two evenings!
*wroooooooooooooommmm* *dakka dakka dakka dakka dakka!!*
Just recently Unity made a new version available with lots of cool upgrades as well as held their 4th annual Unite Conference with Unity's CEO David Helgason announcing some pretty cool features and Jesse Schell giving the keynote, both of which can be seen here!
Game Design Document
While forming the general idea of the game was relatively easy, writing the ideas out of my head and onto a digital piece of paper is relatively hard. It's also relatively difficult to brainstorm alone, not being able to bounce ideas back and forth between someone else. It's important to at least partially involve someone else into the design process of the project.
As the GDD grows in size and pages, it becomes more and more clearer to me that the size of the project is quite a bit bigger than what I had originally planned, but instead of removing features and downsizing the project, I've decided to split its development into two phases.
Phase 1: The Gears
Phase 1 focuses on the core mechanics of the game, the aircraft flying, shooting, bombing, destroying targets & achieving objectives. A simple game mode (which I'll go into details on later), two aircrafts to choose from, basically setting the stage for Phase 2.
Phase 2: The Stories
In Phase 2 I want to deliver more content, including a progressive campaign, some special missions and side stories, more aircraft's, more targets, more mission variety etc. Upon finishing The Stories, I will consider the project finished and most likely move on to other stuff. There are some ideas of a Phase 3, focusing on Multiplayer but I guess, time can only tell.
My first game I ever made in Flash, Spitfires, is 5 years old today. Horrific today but oh so proud of it at the time. With a bit more actionscript experience under the belt, I decided to improve on it resulting in a WIP Spitfires 2.
So! Two weeks ago I started drowning my head with ideas for this project I mentioned in my previous post. Spending evenings going through mods and game engines to find both what I want to do and how I'd want to do it.
The idea for the mod would have to be somewhat simple in design. The development process should have a designated end point in which the mod is ready for release and no further additions made on it, exceptions for bug fixing, if there should be any ( there always are ).
I'd require the game engine to be easy and simple enough for me to do most of the work by my self, and I'd prefer it to have some sort of an editor and to have good documents on how to use it. There's an old Icelandic saying: "Í upphafi skal endinn skoða" or, translated to English: "In the beginning one should consider the end". With that in mind, I figure, when it comes to publishing, I want to be able to reach as many people as I can, releasing on a game that is either popular or recent.
I've checked C&C engines and Starcraft for RTS kind of mod. I've looked a bit into Source and Unreal for some sort of an FPS kind of mod, Torchlight for an adventure hack n' slash, the list goes on. After spending a week of evenings on studying in which direction I should go/could go, writing ideas and rewriting, asking for opinions and deciding, I have the idea and the engine to go with it.
The Idea: Spitfires 3.
The more I thought about it, the more I liked it. An original game I created my self a long time ago. I'm already familiar with the design of it, the concept, the game design. Fun, Arcadish, Simple casual game you can grab and play for a couple of minutes.
The Engine: Unity 3d.
During one of those evenings of studying mods and games, I ended up on the game engine section at ModDB which reminded me of Unity's existence. I had been fortunate enough to meet and talk with David Helgason, the CEO of Unity, around last Christmas when he did a presentation at an IGI evening so I'm somewhat familiar with the engine. In fact, I think this could be the perfect engine for this project. It's easy to learn and simple enough to use, it has a giant community and support and there's a free version of it I could work with. What's better is it also supports playing it's games through a web browser. I just expanded my player base to about 1.73 billion people.
The Change: From a mod to a Indie.
It's no longer a mod, as there's no game to modify. This project just turned into an Indie game. But with those two things settled, Spitfires 3 on Unity 3d, I have 2 new objectives. To learn how to use the Unity engine, and to write the Game Design Document for it.
There's no time like the present.
Slowly I've been trying to get the FH2 ModDB Page up to date. I've noticed some really cool stuff how other mods within the community have their ModDB page set up, custom CSS, fancy images and backgrounds. Inspiring!
We just released 2.3 patch yesterday. The release is fantastic and mostly everyone seem to be happy with the new maps and SP support, what I'd consider the two highlights of this release. Sadly though everything went all but smooth on ModDB. Patch and Full version still isn't uploaded ( more of a user trouble than technical ) trouble with news ( lack of preparation on my part ). But we live and learn.
Part of me wants to launch a new mod, something small, something with a starting point, middle and an end. The whole process of finding the initial idea, creating the GDD for it and developing on that, "marketing" and publishing it. I want to document the whole process and to learn more on the whole ModDB system from first hand experience, documenting the whole developing process in this blog, for others to read on it, laugh of my mistakes and perhaps, hopefully, learn something from it.
So I guess the start would be to find out what exactly it is that I want to do, and what game/engine I want to use for it. All good projects have to start with something and I think I'll start this one with lunch!