Tuesday, 22 December 2015

How it's made

Hello and welcome back to the third blog post about AI Vendetta!

It has been a couple of weeks since our last post, but today we are excited to let you know that a playable, alpha stage, build from our game AI Vendetta is available for anyone to play.
We felt that it is time for us to involve other people more into the process of developing this game and that is why you can now play the game in your browser using this link or the huge button below.

(Supports Internet Explorer and Firefox using the Unity WebPlayer.
If you need help with the plugin feel free to contact us!)

We have also been shaping up our social media presence a little bit and made some changes and additions to the blog. (Of course, the blog will still remain our main media outlet. :) )
From now on you can follow us on Blogger, Facebook, Youtube and Google+ as well as our individual members on Google+, Twitter and Indie Gamer. Additionally, we have added a small forum here on Blogger and you can also email us at CatbyteGames@gmail.com

The next part is going to be less focused on AI Vendetta and perhaps a bit dry, but we hope it is also very informative and useful for people that are developing (small) games or are interested in doing so.
So... before we move on, have some more screenshots! And don’t forget to play the game! From now on, we will also be placing screenshots and videos from the game on the “Media” page (accessible from menu bar above). If you have any feedback, comments or questions, feel free to comment on this post, on the forum, or send us an email.

Sneak preview from an upcoming level.

From design to finished level.

How it’s made!

And now to the main topic of this post. Last time we promised that we would share a little bit more in depth about how AI Vendetta came to be and the pipeline we use for developing it.
Personally, we believe that the process of developing a game is both very interesting and rewarding as we get to combine technology with art and creativity. However, it is also hard work that requires a lot of time and dedication.

To give you a better idea of where we currently stand with AI Vendetta, we made a small image [Image 1] that represents the several stages that make up the creation of a game. As you can see in the below image, every game goes through a Design phase, followed by a Production phase that, if everything goes well, results in a Testing and Polishing phase. The end result would be a full-fledged game that is entertaining, looks and feels consistent, and works well.
Of course, there are exceptions to this rule.

[Image 1] Typical phases a game will go through during its production.

As you can see, during the Design phase, the game idea is born and in most occurrences takes form as a Game Design Document (GDD). This is a document that describes most, if not all, player interactions and mechanics of the game, the game flow, and a little bit about the game story. However, the document is usually not conclusive about the game and a lot of things described in there will need to be validated, which can sometimes only be done by actually building them into a prototype. Additionally, level designs and story elements are most of the time left out of the GDD as they are too specific to be predetermined at that time. And of course, most of the time during the production of the game, changes and additions to the GDD will be made. A keyword to remember in game development is therefore: iteration.

The Production phase consists of two sub phases: the Alpha and Beta product.
During the first development cycle, you will typically be building a prototype or Minimum Viable Product (MVP) for the game. This is the stage where we are at with AI Vendetta right now; we created a first playable version of the game, containing all the core mechanics, a level demonstrating all of these, and some early stage art-work.

Usually when in the Alpha stage of the process, you don’t immediately move on to building a Beta product, instead, we want to see if the product is actually fun and if people would be willing to play it. That is why letting people play your game at this point is crucial, not only is this a great opportunity to get valuable feedback on what is fun/works well or not, but you also gain insight on what people like and if there is a target audience for your game. This can be compared to the LEAN method in software development [Image 2] and is exactly what we are doing right now.

[Image 2] The LEAN method cycle

Only after validating the product (which may take several prototyping cycles!) will we start on the Beta phase and ultimately on polishing the game for its release. During the Beta stage of the game, also known as full production, all the missing features, artwork, and music will be implemented and the complete game will be built. During this time more playtests, both internal, external, open and closed, will be held to gather more feedback and help refine the game. During the last phase, the game will be fine tuned and sanded down to its final version and be released: the Gold Master.

As mentioned before, the key thing to note is that game development benefits heavily from iteration. However, it may also make development feel slow and disencourage many. Apart from that, it is also very hard to plan for iteration. It is also important to note that each phase will take longer than the previous, which is why some games take years to develop, even with large teams of experienced and professional developers.

What can you expect from us in the next Blog?

We hope you found this post interesting and of course also hope that you will play our game.
Any feedback, comments, suggestions or questions you may have are always appreciated and we will do our best to answer them. And who knows, your ideas might end up in the game!

Our next blog will arrive around new year and will include the results of the open playtest. We will also be showing you the progress we made so far and what we plan to do with the game.

That’s all for now, thank you for reading! And of course, we wish everybody a merry christmas and happy holidays!

~CatByte Games

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