So I suppose now is the time to give out a little information on the game itself. It’s called “Viral” and it is a kind of strategy/management game. At the beginning of each game the player spends points to develop a virus, and then chooses a major symptom. They are then taken to a 3D world, with the earth’s countries split up into about thirty different regions. They are able to view each region individually, where they will be shown the regions’ ability to fight an infectious virus via a collection of different criteria, including civil unrest, healthcare efficiency, and many others.
The player must then decide which region they have the best chance of launching their virus, with the intention being that they can spread their virus from the first country to the rest of the world, before the regions can respond to the threat and cure it. The player acquires points as they eliminate a certain number of the population (the number hasn’t been finalised yet, it’s a balancing issue) which they can then spend to upgrade their virus to meet different region’s ability to fight back. The game is won when the player has eliminated the world’s human population, or lost when the virus is eliminated globally.
Developing the game has been a lot of fun, but in coming to the end of the development cycle (almost) I think it’s a great time to put some commentary on the ups and downs of its development.
We decided straight from the off that we needed a good idea on which to cut our teeth. We wanted to make a fun, addictive, game, but we knew that being as it was our first time working together on a project such as this there would be plenty of problems when it came down to development pipelines and such.
Financially as well, we needed to get a game out of the door as soon as possible to start generating an income for ourselves. What all this was tantamount to was us choosing to throw ourselves into development with as much enthusiasm as possible, with me designing on the fly as Alex coded everything as I gave it to him. The problem that kept arising with this method of working, however, was that without me having a window of time to purely design before handing over to Alex, silly problems would arise that would cost us extra time.
For example, one of the regions attributes, when affected by the virus, was very obviously meant to provide a negative impact on the region and strengthen the virus’ influence. However whether through poor, rushed communication on my part, or just a straight mix up on Alex’s part, this particular attribute actually had the opposite effect. It wasn’t until long into development that we noticed the error, and while not disastrous it was something that could easily have been avoided.
Coming to the end of this cycle has been amazingly refreshing purely for the fact that this week has entailed very little work on “Viral” for me. Alex has been to focusing on porting it over, which has allowed me to flesh out in the smallest detail the mechanics for the next game. The war room at Noisy Badger HQ is covered in printouts of spread-sheets, going in depth on exactly which entities do what in the game, so when Alex needs to know something, it’s there awaiting him. This allows me to focus on art and asset creation, which will, in turn hopefully offer up a really good looking, visually engaging game.
This has been a good learning experience for me. Whilst what Alex does is as alien to me as what my cat must dream about, I’ve learnt to hone my designs around such coding rules as “object orientated programming”, which make the entire process smoother for us both.
For the game music, I got in touch with a very talented and helpful guy I lived next door to in my first year of uni, Mike Calvert. He very generously let Noisy Badger use a loop from his track “Humidity” as the background soundtrack for the game. Not only that, he was extremely helpful and willing to change any aspect of the track to suit our needs. I really look forward to working with him on future projects, and his portfolio (is it called a portfolio when its music?) can be found here:
I think that’s about it for this post, hope our readers had a good Christmas and New Year, and here’s to a fantastic 2011.