Friday 10 June 2011

Vertex Dispenser

TLDR version: released a game, get it on steam.

This game has haunted me since 2005.
My first attempt at it pretty much failed. Back then it was a fairly standard RTS with a few weird new ideas mixed in. I didn't much know what I was doing, and the code got into quite a mess.

A couple of years later, I came back to it. I'd started a few other games (but not finished them), and knew better new how to go about things. I cut out the unnecessary parts of the design, trimmed it down to the core idea that was interesting, and ended up with something fantastic. And then I made it, played it quite a bit, tweaked it, relea--

No, wait. I didn't release it, it wasn't quite ready. This was early 2007.
It was a couple of weeks away from being done, but I needed to focus more on my studies, so I left it for a bit. It's been a couple of weeks away from completion ever since.

Back then, it was multiplayer-only. This wasn't ideal; although the game isn't inaccessible, it does have some skill to it, and it's easier to learn if you can take things at your own pace. (Not everyone agrees with this - some people like to learn an RTS by going straight into the multiplayer and losing until they win. This isn't for everyone. You're welcome to use this approach here, but it's maybe a bit harder when the game isn't a repeat of something you've played before.)

So I added a single player mode. It wasn't very good, so I threw it away and added another one. It's a series of levels with different goals, a "campaign", a fairly standard structure for a single-player mode of an RTS game.
Of course, this meant I needed to make AI for it, so I did. It will beat you.

One time, when I hadn't worked on the game for several months, I came back to it with a lot of new ideas for abilities. So I added them.
Some of them didn't work out very well, so I took them away.
It grew.
And then it was done. Well, almost. A couple of weeks away. I tested it with a bunch of different people, kept finding new things to fix and improve. Submitted it to the IGF - it didn't get in, but I met some amazing people who encouraged me that it was worth keeping working on it.
I got stuck, didn't work on it for a while. Friends would ask me if I'd finished it yet - no I haven't. I thought it was basically done - yes it is. But not quite.

This year, I had reason to switch to working part-time, and move to a different country.
Instantly, the game jumped back out at me.
"You're part-time, you can choose your hours, if you just spend a couple of weeks working on me full-time, I'll actually be finished."
Yeah right.
It was mostly correct - what I needed to do was work full-time on it for a little while. But those weeks were actually months,; making games is hard, and the final polishing stage is the hardest. Now I've completely lost track of whatever else I was supposed to be doing. But the game is done and it's fantastic and I'm so excited to finally get it out so others can play it. I hope you like it.

TIGSource review
RockPaperShotgun Indie Forecast preview
DIYgamer interview

Steam store page