My big game development project
If you just want to read about the actual game development, broken down by weeks, scroll down to the title “week 1”
As you probably know, game development is not something that I would really be learning in school, neither has been on the list of my main hobbies in the past few years.
However, if you take a look at the bigger picture, I have completed quite a few game-dev projects in the past and released a few games made by myself.
The reason why I’m mentioning all this is a reminder that I haven’t made anything game-related in the past few years, but have decided to create something big this year! I wrote a blog post about my game development history, which you can read here.
This blog post is all about this one game that I’m creating now and it will be updated every now and then with the progress that I’ve made.
Everything starts with an idea and so does the process of game development.
I had a vision of creating something big and innovative, to merge some genres that haven’t been mixed before. Since the beginning of this project, I had my vision way above my old Idle games (games where you just click and upgrade stuff).
I always enjoyed tower defense games and RPG style was close to me as well. Not saying that I haven’t played any other genres but RPG and tower defense (TD) games were my inspiration for this quite unique game idea. At least I guess it’s unique, maybe there is a game or two with similar ideas behind them but I mean, it’s not a basic genre.
As said, RPG and tower defense genres were combined and nights were spent for brainstormings and that idea came to my mind. It would be easiest if you imagine a tower defense game – you build towers to defeat enemies coming down the road.
That’s simple TD gameplay, but now add a character, which you play, just like in RPG, you move the character, the camera moves with you, you attack enemies, etc. That was implemented into this idea of the tower defense genre and that was the basic idea of the game. Of course, it developed and enhanced much more down the road, but that was the basic idea that made me wanna do something again (finally).
2. WHICH GAME ENGINE TO CHOOSE?
Firstly, for anyone who might not know, a game engine is a program that you use to create a game. In the same way as you use writing programs such as Word to write stuff, you use game engines to create games.
That was not a hard question for me, let me explain. I have made all the games that I made so far in Stency, which is an amazing game engine if you want to make a game without a lot of code knowledge. When I was 13 and wanted to create a simple game, that seemed like a perfect choice – at it really was! However, Stencyl is not the best at handling big projects – and let me remind you, this is a big project.
This is why I had different thoughts about this, I did research on different game engines but in the end, I just wanted to enjoy the game development and not worry about all the stuff that I wouldn’t know how to do using other programs. This is how and why I decided to go with Stencyl, but I’m making sure to backup my game every hour or two – I crossed version 50 when I got the basics down! This helps with the issue which I mentioned a few lines back (Stencyl not being good for big projects). If something goes wrong, I would just go back one version.
3. BEGGINING OF DEVELOPMENT
Beginnings can be really confusing. You should not spend to much time on graphics (yet) and you should focus on actually developing a game itself; fancy graphics should be made later on.
I have learned that when creating my previous games and I believe that was the first time where I actually stuck to that.
This is where the actual game development started and I think that the best idea from now on would be to separate game development to weeks, which will also give you a perspective of how long a game took to make.
WEEK 1 (10. – 16. February)
Using the method mentioning above, I focused on game development itself and not the way the game looks yet. I had all tower defense mechanics working in a week or so – yes, it was not the prettiest game in the world at this point but you were able to place down the tower (which was a square), which then shoot enemies (also squares). Those enemies were able to walk according to the path and were also able to die. Not to mention, the path was made from squares.
WEEK 2 (17. – 23. February)
As needed for further development, I sketched an archer, which is the first actual “tower” in the game. I made him shoot arrows and somehow did the bullet mechanics (in version from week one, everyone in the range got hurt, there were no bullets and no limitation on how many enemies at once a tower could target). I made a more complex spawner, which helped me to more efficiently create waves just by writing down the names of the enemies I would like to spawn in every wave. That will help me when creating levels to quickly set enemies that would spawn every round. Talking about rounds, I made round mechanism, round countdown and reward if you let enemies out sooner than needed. Enemies now also cost you lives if the came to an end, which is the whole point of tower defense games.
WEEK 3 (24. February – 1. March)
Not because that was needed at this point but just because I wanted to do it so badly, I sketched a simple road for the enemies, so there are no more squares! Then, there was an urge to replace the last square on the scene – enemies. Quick outline of a horse rider did the job, and even tho this is not how the end enemies would look like, I have a good feeling that this sketch will stay for a long time.
Besides new graphics, I felt like basic mechanism for the actual level is finished enough to move elsewhere – so I made a tower upgrading scene, which doesn’t reflect the actual power of the towers in levels, but it’s there!
WEEK 4 (2. – 8. March)
I continued to work on other scenes rather than finalizing the gameplay inside the levels. I did this because of two reasons. The first reason is that I simply wanted the game to be more playable, which obviously needs all the scenes to be at least created so you can move from one to another. The second reason is more of a serious one because I needed to get upgrade mechanics to be working inside the whole game if I want them to reflect the actual power inside a level. So this is what I’ve been doing – several more scenes with basic mechanics to each of them.
WEEK 5 (9. – 15. March)
Arche remains the only tower in the game, but everything is prepared for more towers to come – for example, on tower upgrade scene there is a page system already created, it just doesn’t let you change the page because there’s nothing more!
I have some big news this week! I decided to move back to the coding of the level again. That’s because I got an amazing idea on how to make gameplay more “active” than a classic tower defense game. With that said, I’ve added the player! That’s been in my mind since the beginning and now it’s finally in the game and working! To better understand what I did here: you control a player like in an RPG style of game, so you can move around with arrow keys and click space to attack. You are free to move on the path or off of it and you can hit enemies just like your towers would, but this is you – you control it, you move it, you attack! It seems quite fun.
And there’s still more! I’ve added home screen which leads you to different scenes – including level scene and tower upgrade scene which I already mentioned, but now I added scene with God upgrades (where you’ll be able to upgrade and choose your RPG character) and I’ve also added online leaderboard which works!! I’m sooooo excited about this because I’ve tried to do things like that in the past but that’s the first success of this kind! For the leaderboard, the next goal would be to automatically choose an event (most kills in 24 hours, etc.) and reward the best participants with in-game rewards. That seems like a doable part to me, the working leaderboard was the hardest part to put together!
WEEK 6 (30. March – 5. April)
Just some explanation: no, the last two weeks haven’t disappeared, but I did nothing in my game because of the Coronavirus, which I believe all of you know how crazy it was is. Well, it still is but it seems like this will took forever to end so I should continue with this. I’m still at home in quarantine so I have time. I decided to mark this as week 6, not week 8 which it would actually be, to keep counting only weeks I’ve been working on the game.
Alright, I opened my game again and I exactly knew where I left off fairly quickly. Upgrades on God and tower upgrade scenes now reflect actual power, attack speed and other statistics for both gods and towers, which I still only have one of each. I made a scene where you will be able to choose which level to enter and I’ve also added an exit button to a level so you can quit to the main scene at any time.
Next, I’ve made another major scene; the shop scene. We can finally spend months worth of gold and gems! I have designed a card pack which you can buy, open and which contains random tower cards – but let me remind you, we only have one tower for now so randomization doesn’t show that well yet, but it’s done!
Hmmm, what happens when you beat all the waves in a level? You should be transferred to a level completion scene where you get rewarded for all your hard work. In other words, to get coins with which you’re now able to buy card packs! That’s done now, even for bad scenarios, when you’re not as successful. With this, I’ve also implemented the scoring system for each level, which is then calculated to give you player EXP (player level – not god level, higher player level will unlock more things in the shop, etc.).