I'm a software engineer who works on game development part time. I teach game development (on gamedev.stackexchange.com and lynda.com). I'm always working on something, and I'll post updates here. Let me know if there's a game development topic you want to know more about, I probably know the answer, or at least where to get one.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

A development tangent

Confession: For the last month or so I haven't been working on Age of Goblins. But don't worry! It's not dead or anything like that. I'm just taking some time to explore some other technologies and prototype a different game I've been thinking about. I got into game development to learn about the technologies and create fun things. Plus, I've had this idea for a game I thought might be a little easier to make good progress on in a short amount of time. After a few years of AoG, I needed the rush of new development :)

I've been working on the prototype with another has-a-full-time-job-and-does-game-dev-on-the-side guy, Seth Battin (of PBAction fame). Seth and I are both learning Unity3D while developing this prototype. Since we dove into the project without much knowledge of Unity, we're currently doing a bit of a refactor to apply what we learned about how Unity works. Seth is a bit busier than me so he doesn't have as much time as I do, but it's been great just having someone else to bounce ideas off and check my work (I'm sure he'll check something in eventually). It's also nice experience for learning to work with someone remotely, which I haven't done much of in my career.

The game we're making is a top down space game (3D rendered on a 2D plane of play). Players can build their own ships by snapping components together. For example, adding a bridge component and putting control thrusters on either side is enough to complete a small ship. Player space stations can be built in the same way. Ship and station components can be salvaged by trade, construction from raw materials or salvage (of existing wrecks or ones the player creates). See the "user story" below to see what the gameplay may be like:

The numbered lists show different outcomes available.

It's also multiplayer. I've never attempted a multiplayer game before (except "local" multiplayer), so it'll be an interesting experience. It also sounds like a super fun game to play with other people. Further grand plans include seamless landing on planets for resource collection/trade (space elevator delivery), somewhere from arcade to real-ish physics (needs playtesting) and space factories (for making ship components, not space). How much of that will get done? Who knows. It depends on how interested people are, how interested Seth and I are and who wants to give us a million dollars to make it.

Interestingly, the game is actually set in the same universe as AoG. I don't have all the details yet, so I'll just leave it at that. Well, just one hint, the working title of the game is AoG: New Korbly. There will be a story for the game, but it'll likely be a loose story line, with open ended play.

One thing I can say about Unity, after spending a few years building almost everything myself for Age of Goblins, it's been exciting to actually get to focus on making a game. Even after so long working on AoG, I'm still working on the engine. Let that be a lesson to all of you wanting to start making a game: Use a premade engine! Yes, I've learned a great deal about engine development in the last few years, but I have a lot more fun making games than engines.

Within the next few weeks I'll post a demo up here of the prototype. (It's crazy easy to publish to the web with Unity). Feedback welcome.


  1. Neat. A few months ago, I was seriously considering abandoning my own engine in favour of Unity, but decided against it simply because it was going to take me months to get back to the same place (again). I'm curious to see how Unity goes for this.

  2. After using it for about a month now, I'm almost-starting-to-kind-of-maybe consider switching AoG over to an engine (maybe Unity, maybe something else). But I know it would essentially be re-making the entire game. It would be a crazy amount of work and a tough decision. However, I do think in the long run the quality of AoG would be markedly improved. I'd really like to see where I could get with AoG in another year if I wasn't working on the engine so much. It's hard to chalk up a good portion of the last few years to "a learning experience" but that might be what happens. We'll see.

  3. I (very recently) switched away from creating an engine/sdk for my "game" to actually developing a game (with absolutely no focus on an sdk/engine), and let me tell you, it's quite thrilling to actually be doing *game* development again! It's a stark difference from the "how does this work in an extendable way" vs. get the fun part done and then move on to the next fun part.

    My point is, while I spent 2/3 years creating an "sdk/engine", I lost track of the fun of game development. So congrats on a having a side project, and don't forget the fun/thrill of game development rather than engine development.

    And for me it was worth it to mark those 2/3 years as "a learning experience" and move on to game development :: )

  4. Completely agree. The engine creation was great as it's really increased my knowledge of how game engines work, and I think it's what's allowed me to pickup a new game engine so quickly. I'm now doing a paid side project that's game development related, but takes enough of my time to keep me from doing my own game.

    Anyway, I'm glad you're enjoying your game development. Keep it up!