Ventures of an indie game developer

Postmortem: Downwash

What went wrong


  

What went right


Simulator

Everybody in casual gaming hates simulators. So do I.


No specialcasing

During development I tweaked the game engine a lot, but in the end I didn’t have to make many hacks. This bodes well for the upcoming games. For me, the biggest part of making this game is developing my game engine.

Interactivity

The interactivity in the game is really poor. I had foreseen a much better experience when playing, but I was way too optimistic. From my first test levels it didn’t improve at all. That partly had to do with level modelling being a bit cumbersome in Maya. Maybe I have to make a level editor soon. Everyone else has one.


Bug free

Well, at least not that many boogs when doing this simple games. Especially the tooling improved this time around. And as I’m planning to make a few of simple games now, this should be good news.

Overall look

The overall graphics look like shit. There’s no design, so it all looks like kitsch a 10-year-old would proudly produce. But I didn’t want this game to look like kitsch produced in the kindergarten. I tried to make it work on the iPhone 3GS by reducing poly count and texture sizes, but eventually it just came out ugly on the fast platforms and slow on the ‘ol 3GS.


Portability

This time I made it for the PC, ported it over once to the iPad in the beginning then made all the development on PC before finally converting to iOS. I also release the game for free for Win/Mac. Apart from C++11 porting (which was quite hard and took me 20 hours of intensive work) the rest of the porting probably took less time. This is good news as I expect most consoles start allowing home-brew development soon.

Controls

The controls are not only the controls. The controls are also the avatar inertia, the feeling, the steering; indirect things that are not so easy to pinpoint. So while the controls are ok per se, they are also pretty bad. The helicopter inertia is way too big. It’s too difficult to steer. If people wanted to fly real helicopters, they’d go do that instead. So control-wise it’s alright, but steering-wise it’s a disaster.


Controls

The controls are alright.

Instancing

In my tooling, I just had game object classes, no instances. That is to say, each instance of a game object I created in a level was exactly the same. Each car. Each helicopter. Each turret was exactly the same. The only way to remove the most rudimentary similarities (like color) was to hard-hack. Not good. But in some upcoming games I’ll generate content I think. It’s more fun, and I can postpone fixing the tooling. Which is hard as the game engines’ resource pipeline is a mess to change.


Opens the door to the future

Now it’s time for me to shine. After a well-deserved break, I’ll produce several game titles in a pretty short amount of time. I’m hoping at least one or two of those will be good.

 To sum up: this game turned out pretty dull and sad, but I'm where I want to be with my engine. So I still feel like a winner. For the next game I must learn how to create great content!

About the author

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Gothenburg, Sweden