Dev Diary Part 1: Overview

It’s been quite a while since the last update so time to catch up a bit. I’ve been working on a new game the past year and it’s pretty massive. The reason why I’m writing this is to reveal the process and thinking behind this ginormous project and give some insight and hopefully interesting read for aspiring game devs and others who might be interested. In this first post I’m going to explain what I’ve been working on in very high level and dive into more specific topics later on as separate posts.

You ask what kind of game is it? In short I could say a first-person shooter inspired by the 90s with modern mechanics and some RPG elements. Inspiration has been taken from 90s shooters (Doom, Duke 3D, Quake), Max Payne and even Dark Souls. The game features a gritty payback storyline in the spirit of the 80s and 90s action movies, satisfying combat mechanics with over-the-top violence, rich interaction with the world (player can use a number of complicated things and lift and toss smaller objects around), high replayability and player leveling, stunning retroesque “pre-3D card-era” visuals and a killer soundtrack of “new retro wave” beats. Sure, this list of things might sound rather ambitious for a single person and it is, but I’m taking it slowly with a “as long as I still have fun, I’m going to keep working on it” kind of attitude.

I’m aware that there are a number of other games currently in development (and already released) that try to capture the feel of the 90s shooters with fast-paced combat and other things that are typical for the games of that era, but for me it’s more of a tool to be able to create content quickly by myself that still looks kind of cool instead of being the major point of the game. I’m not really trying to build a game from 1996 but one that looks like it but feels modern. I figured using this kind of style is the only realistic way for me to pull this off before I die.

I’m using Unity again since I’ve been using it for a long time now and I start to know it pretty well, so it was a natural choice. I was considering using an engine like Unreal 4 that already pretty much has all the features I need to build the game and I could only concentrate on the content. However, I quickly decided not to use it since I wanted to learn as much as possible by writing almost everything by myself from the ground up. Of course I’m using things like the built-in navigation system with navmesh generation and agents, but I’m writing all the AI code with behaviors and states myself.

Currently I’m in a spot where the majority of the more important systems are “done” (in a state where they work well enough now, but there’s tons of room for improvement still) and I’ve started working on the content side more. I’ve planned out to have a very specific theme for each location of the game and the player can travel between these locations freely after the introduction period using the map software (think a very simplified Google Maps circa 1992) on their Palm-like PDA. The locations will have a number of secret and locked out paths that will open up later upon player exploration and story progression. It’s a bit like the openable paths in Bloodborne or the sealed out doors in Metroid games.

Anyway, this concludes the first post and I’ll be writing up more stuff later on. Some work-in-progress screenshots below of one of the locations, “Streets ‘n Alleys”.

(click image to show the larger version)

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Short video showing the combat in motion: