/ #Dev Diary 

AA Battery - Week 34

You’re probably thinking: “Wait WHAT?!? Where the hell did the other 33 weeks go?”

Yes, it’s scary how quickly time goes by! We have been continuing work on this game and the plan is still to finish it and publish it on Steam before the end of the year… to give you an idea of where we are… well that’s a bit complicated, but hopefully a weekly update like this will help going forward.

Where are we?

To give you an idea of where we are overall I need to refer to some ideas commonly used by triple-A game development studios which we heard in the audio book version of Blood, Sweat & Pixels

It sounds like most triple-A studios break game development down into 3 phases:

  • Pre-production: Build prototypes of the various bits of gameplay. Finishes off with a vertical slice - a polished slice that shows off everything that will be in the final game in as near as possible to it’s final form.
  • Production: This is the biggest phase where the remaining 90% of the game that wasn’t in the vertical slice is finished off and polished using the techniques and ideas developed during pre-production.
  • Post-production: Support, bug fixes and post-release feature patches are developed here.

So with that bit of terminology out of the way, I would say we are about 70-80% of the way through pre-production. Our entry for Github Game-Off 2017, was probably already very close to a vertical slice of our game, we’ve just been struggling the past 29 weeks to figure out what our final game is going to be. The concept we have now will have a bit more to it from a narrative side than we had in our final submission which will result in more levels than the current single level, a bit more variety in the gameplay and hopefully a bit of replayability.

We have a game design document that’s currently weighing in at a paltry 14 pages, but having finally figured out a rough idea of how the overall progression through the game will look this weekend I think we’ll now be able to expand it to cover everything in the game by the end of July. There are one or two things we still need to test in prototype, but after that we should be good to go for production.

Week 34 in review

26 June - 1 July, 2018

Overall I spent about 8.5 hours working on the game this week. The bulk of that went into watching 3 episodes of The Vietnam War on Netflix for research.

Then I spent a little bit of time finishing off the migration of this blog from Ghost to Hugo static site generator. This might not seem that important, but it will save me about $25 a month - money that I’ll instead spend on Unity development tools now. Specifically a monthly license for Unity Teams, which gives us cloud-based CI builds that will make it easy to put up regular development builds of the game for testers once we go into production.

Finally and probably most exciting, was coming up with the game flow design on Saturday:

Hard flow through the game

The blue post-its are the story hook at the start of the game, where the recruitment sergeant will ask the player why they became a soldier. Depending on the answer the player will then semi-randomly be posted to their first assignment based on the percentage chances along the arrows.

The yellow post-its represent levels, with the number of stars indicating the difficulty of the level. This particular diagram is showing the level flows for hard difficulty in which case players start on the hardest of the intro levels and depending on whether they win or lose they are advanced to levels of the same or greater difficulty until they reach one of the two end-game levels.


Matt Van Der Westhuizen

Back-end service developer at Ubisoft Blue Byte by day - wannabe game designer & developer by night.