One Head, Many Hats
Hi guys, Timbo here again. Hope you enjoyed last weeks DD from one of the team members of Mad Mallard. Hopefully we can get a few more out of them, but they are pretty busy trying to get the game finalized. I'm pretty excited about that project. I've had an opportunity to play it recently, and it's a lot of fun!
Anyway, so let's talk a little more about Zombie Gauntlet Live. As you know, we're an indie studio...which means keeping teams as small as possible for as long as possible. For instance, on ZGL, I am the only regular team member. I'm basically doing all the design, programming, art, etc... That's a lot of hats to wear. Good thing I've got a big head!
How do I get all that done you might ask? Am I a spectacular game designer as well as programmer AND artist? uhhh...no. I can squeak by when I need to (ALL of the art, programming and design on Astro Fighter Alpha was done by me) but I still am a game designer at heart.
What really helps me along is the Asset Store. The Unity Game Engine powers Zombie Gauntlet (as well as SqueezeShapes! and Astro Fighter) and they have quite an extensive asset store. Just about anything you can think of is on the asset store.
But isn't that cheating? You might ask. To use someone else's asset in your game? Hell no! That's what I say. You see, game development takes a long time, and anything that speeds up that process is worth it. Even huge companies do it. After I left EA and went to work at Nival Interactive, we got a contract from EA to create art assets for the next installment of Medal of Honor. (A very weird turn around that was!) And as Brian Fargo says "If we need a gas station, we buy the gas station off the Asset Store and make it look post-apocalyptic..." If it's good enough for the developers on Wasteland 2, it's good enough for me!
Like I said, game development takes a long time, and doubly so when you're working on your own. The current big goal in ZGL is to get a demo movie done so we can send our proposal to Microsoft and Sony in hopes that they will send us some development kits out of the goodness of their hearts. What that means for me is level design...lots of it. So I've been knee deep in designing what will end up being the first level of ZGL for the last few weeks. Here's what it looks like:
Looks pretty tan and yellow and flat color you say? Yes it does, and here's why: Gameplay is super important (as you know, since that's what the game is about)...and texturing and lighting and all that stuff takes a long time. Well, your first idea of what was fun in the level may not be quite as fun as you thought, or your space may need to be adjusted, or whatever. It's a lot easier to do that tweaking when the level is in a more primitive state than it is in a better looking state (cause you'll have to re-do all that texturing and lighting that you spent all your time doing. So we keep it as ugly as we can while we work on the gameplay stuff.
So the next steps on this level is to get the zombie spawner code set up and working properly...hopefully won't take as long as blocking out the level did. (Minecraft didn't help) Then we will start to have something cool looking!
That's it for now. Next week we will be talking some about Mad Mallard again if I can get someone on the team to stop working long enough to talk about the game and their experiences on it. In the meantime, here's a better looking screenshot from ZGL!