So it has been a while, but we are finally here: project 3 is now 3Heroes and it is official.
Our other projects are going slow right now so we are focused on our last one: 3Heroes. This project has changed so much from its conception in the corner of a bar that only the name remains. A few days ago we were able to put together a little prototype and soon found ourselves just playing it again and again, so I guess it is time to get serious. Here you have an ugly logo as a gift from us.
Why this game?
The initial idea was to make something similar to an action JRPG. We are big fans of Japanese games and animation, after all we have grown watching everything they put on TV: Captain Tsubasa, Arale, Dragon Ball, and lots more. Soon reality came to say a few harsh truths:
- Your art sucks, see the logo (ouch!)
- You are a noob at this, know your place (ugh!)
- You cannot live from air (gurgle!)
- Your art really sucks, like, seriously dude (dead!)
So while this and lots of other things are true, we still want to make games and still want to make this game so we crafted a plan: 1 month for a few prototypes and if nothing sticks, cry and then suck it up and keep working. Also look for a job so we can eat 3 times a day (luxury, I love it!). While working on the prototypes one of them suddenly got really fun: I was working on the physics doing double jumps, wall jumps, hovers and stuff and made a little circuit to test it while Leire was focused on testing user satisfaction: turns out the player can feel satisfied because of jumping into a puddle of acid! Meaning there is people out there that study how every action and reaction in a game can make the player feel motivated. My wife’s job sometimes leave me in awe… You can play a very early version here but it’s not very fun, just a few blocks to jump on:
In the prototype you can change between the 3Heroes at any time just by pressing their button/key. Each hero has a speed and a different jumping ability, and combining the 3 of them you can finish the lap without dying. It was getting boring and there are a lot of games that use a similar mechanic to get through the game, but then something happened: I started to go faster.
By changing to a different character in the middle of the jump to improve speed, then using the double jump ability to reach a little higher to a stone I put there by chance, then quickly changing to the fast character and jumping again then hovering to the bottom and letting go just to save the day in the last second with a new double jump and then… And the next lap was faster. And the next faster again. And soon 2 hours passed and I was having a blast and still wanted more. And all this in a stage not prepared for speed so how would it be to run in one made for that?
I kept trying and found lots of different combinations to beat the stage, some of them were easy and evident while others required lots of trial and error and a high degree of precision. Leire worked on continuity: making the player feel the action was flowing instead of advancing chunk by chunk. I put even a little hidden shortcut to ensure my victory if it came to that (muhahaha!). In the end a few people tried it and everyone got to the finish line, but of course I still won which made me very happy even if I was the one who coded the prototype and had to cheat a little bit at the end ;^P. After that I declared myself a fan of a game that still does not exist but in our minds.
Would you like fries with that?
So now we have made the decision: the game has great potential, lets do it! We have found some great assets in the Unity Asset Store and will be using them for a test run. We are doing this in a 4 phases:
- We are going to use the demo assets as they are and focus on coding everything we need. This way we can iterate and test quickly while avoiding focusing on art. At the same time we can create the traps that will make your life miserable in every possible way. Also, this will give us some reference to make estimates so we can miss every.one.of.them. We will release this as a preview of something bigger to come aka phases 2 to 4,
- One the code is finished and the game is fun, it’s story time! We have a fun story seed and want to make it grow into an engaging story. Most of the responsibility here will go to my partner (and wife) Leire and I am sure she will make something great.
- Once the story is ready, we will create the environment around it and design the stages and challenges that the player will have to beat.
- Finally, while every piece is being put together the testing phase will begin and we will focus on what I call “The beauty and the-bug” (debug! haha got it? you can kill me now). We will make the game pretty while trying not to break it. And fixing bugs, yeah that too.
Of course there are still lots of things to think and test: the battle mechanics are not finished. I have tested a lot of things but didn’t like any of them. I don’t want this game to include battles as known in other games, I want to make something of a puzzle and disguise them as battles so I have still a lot of testing to do. I have a few ideas that Leire will have to validate but the hard thing is integrating them in the flow of the action without stopping the player movement.
Also there is dialogue: should we make the story a complete lineal one? or make the game shorter but with many endings depending on the player choices? The second one screams “disaster! incoherent story plot! eternal development times!” but we still want to think it over before scraping it. Then there are bosses of course. Big bad bosses and Not-So-Big bad bosses are a great opportunity for a fun battle with a little bit of eye-candy.
So this is everything that is going on. There is a lot of work to do and while we’d love to have a working demo for the Gamelab Barcelona 2014
reality says “shut up and work like the slave you are” chances are we won’t be that lucky. We are working on this every day so I’ll be sure to continue posting updates. With this phase 1 has begun and we left you with a little teaser of one of the assets we are using. The game starts like this…