August 15, 2012

DBP 2011 to DBP 2012 a year in review.

by Niklas Hansson

So when a title is re-entered into DBP a year later, a sensible question is to ask “What happened ?” or “What went wrong ?”. So what did happen ? Why was it re-entered and what did we do for the last year ? Is it any different now ?

These are all valid Questions and I will try to answer them in this and perhaps coming posts (I don’t know if I can fit all into a single post so we’ll see). But first out what happened and why didn’t we release the project during the fall ? There is a couple of reasons but to understand them you have to understand how we entered DBP last year.

While preliminary work was done on the project from nearly the winter we had one big issue, we had no artist working on the project, leaving us with mostly coder style art (tons of love to my wife for actually putting together the models for me with just a basic 3dsmax course at her back). While what we had allowed us to perform our first focus test at may 18:th (yep less than a month left to deadline this is scary shit) we had big problems especially because to even get the art together for that test we needed help of an external artist.

We learned the hard way that getting a good artist is hard , because they are all hired. In the end an old friend from my Massive days said he would help me out, but only until dream build play as he had prior commitments after that. So he got on board around beginning of may. 1.5 month to deadline.. We opted to get the focus test up and running and done quickly so we could collect feedback and create better maps. So he made a couple of parts and we had a test, we just made a few changes to the code base to support triggers and objects moving along with platforms, and all crashed and went to hell.

We worked it out while Jonas continued working on the new art pieces, as you may imagine we was in quite a hurry. But to make a long story short what we sent into DBP last year represented around 2 months of hard work and a ton of testing, but it was not exactly like everything fell in place and became the game we wanted, it was more of a promise of a game.

So from here and forward the logical route would be to polish the game,extend it and then release it. However we were once again without an artist, at first this didn’t matter that much as there was a lot of things to fix, not all lights cast shadow in the DBP verision for example because we were afraid of running out of memory and had no time to fix it, reflection and ambient light was global for the entire level, model usage and lighting was sub par in a lot of areas. Looking at the trailer now feels kind of sad. However there where good moments like this one.

So we polished the levels fixed our script crash, polished the visual and lighting and made an official trailer and press release and then we hit the brick wall again we had definitely prettied the game up quite a bit. But the pieces we worked with was hard to build with and the focus tests of the game showed to much promise to throw it away with a quick release so we started looking for artists and showing off the game at lan parties. All to get more peoples impressions of it so we could make it better.

After a while I got in contact with a couple of ex students from The Game Assembly which for one reason or another at the moment didn’t work in the industry. It took quite a while to get going however and adding new people to the team. We didn’t start working towards the art that is in the new build until January 2012, and while last time we was happy with any art we can get this time the need for art direction was clear so we spent a lot of time making certain we were working in a coherent direction. After a few months we quickly realized that we wouldn’t be able to finalize the game before DBP this year,having one person almost full time with 10 years of industry experience vs two ex students was quite different in terms of productivity, so we decided to enter it again. At this time around march we still didn’t have any new maps due to not having enough models to build them.

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