I feel like I have written a few of these “what we are doing in the future” things now and by and large the hopes and dreams contained within have all failed to come to fruition. This is down to one thing – me. Yes that old stumbling block of ‘not actually doing any work, then sulking a bit cos I haven’t done any work’. But this time…this time might be different.
Previous goals have generally involved working on some massive, awesome new project but not this year. This year is all about getting our house in order. OK so there is, like, one tiny brand new project but that is experimental and not going to see the light of day until toward the end of the year.
The main plans for this year are far more to do with cleaning up existing projects, trying to build the 4MB brand, learning more and actually getting round to sorting out our mobile offering. Nothing big and sexy there but then there is nothing big and sexy about running a business. Unless your business is a Sumo Wrestler Brothel, in which case good luck to you.
I think it might be time for some kind of list. Presenting Mighty Plans For 2019;
Finish The Undead Blackout Rebuild
Yes it is still happening somehow. I think I have talked about this a few times already but might as well do it again. So Undead Blackout was a mess and I decided to remake the whole thing a while back. Well the good news is that we are nearly done. Yes I need to build nine more levels but that is the easy bit (lol).
The mechanics and general style of the game have all changed, hopefully for the better. It is a much more ‘arcade’ style experience and hopefully all the better for it. The levels have been completely redesigned and…basically everything in the game has been redone. It should play better, it should run better and it should fun better. Just need to finish the damn thing, which I am honestly hoping to do over the next couple of weeks.
Then (and only then) I will focus on getting it up and running on both Xbox One and Nintendo Switch. Of course I have been testing on both consoles throughout, but at this point it will be time to properly optimise for both platforms and get the game out into the console wilderness.
Get Urban Jogging and GDS Updated and Onto Switch
Two games that I have spent much less time on than Undead Blackout but which I think deserve just as much love are Galactic Defence Squadron and Urban Jogging. The plan then for 2019 is to give them a little spit and polish then relaunch them on mobile. Currently they are not available on iOS as I didn’t want to renew my Apple Developer subscription but that will get sorted out.
The main thing I need to sort out for mobile is the free/Premium model. Ad supported? In-app purchases? Limited functionality until you upgrade? Not sure yet. Something I very much need to figure out.
One thing I am definitely also keen on is to put both of these games onto Nintendo Switch. The process of getting games ready for Nintendo’s platform is just so simple thanks to Unreal Engine 4 so it seems like an obvious move to get them on the platform and charge a couple of quid each.
In terms of updates to the games themselves, Urban Jogging will be getting some optimisations but nothing massive overall. I might try and rework how I have set up the cars because quite frankly that is a total shitshow. Galactic Defence Squadron is going to get all new ships (possibly built with MagicaVoxel) and perhaps a new way of playing the game. This is all still to be decided but overall there won’t be any massive changes to this one as I quite like it already!
Finally go and learn C++ properly
My knowledge of C++ is more than “none” but I would hesitate to say I have reached the heady levels of “some” so it is clearly an area that needs work. The Undead Blackout rebuild does actually include some C++ elements so I am using it in some way, but certainly not enough to be impressive.
The beautiful thing about Unreal Engine is that BluePrints mean you really don’t have to use C++, you can make a perfectly good game without them. But the fact is that there are a few things that can be done better in C++ and I want to be able to do those.
I have a couple of Udemy courses that I have been messing around with but I need to go back and do them to completion and become a full-on C++ wizard. Then, to prove my wizardy, I plan to release a very small mobile game (some simple puzzle thing) built mostly with C++. I will never not use BluePrints for something as they are brilliant. But I will try and make a small game where the majority of the base classes are derived from C++. This is really just for me, I don’t expect this will suddenly make my games a million times better but it absolutely cannot hurt to know this.
Work on the Halloween project
Once all that is done my plan is to pick up on a project I started working on a little while ago. I had one of those moments where you have a good idea and decide to work on that instead of actually working on your current project. This is of course dumb. Luckily I stopped myself before I got too into it and got back on with Undead Blackout. But the project is just sleeping. It is not dead.
What is it then? Well, I have always enjoyed playing scary games so I naturally wondered if I could make one myself. This project aims to answer that question. It will be a first person jump-scare game, yes there are a billion of these on Steam but this project is more trying to figure out if I am any good at crafting scares or not.
Ideally I want this out for Halloween but we all know how time has a habit of just running away from you so it really does depend. All the above needs sorting out as quick as humanly possible, then we shall see.
Working title is Project Whitehouse but I am leaning toward The Nightwatchman as an actual tite. It will follow a nightwatchman (shockingly) working at a newly built office complex over the course of one evening. Turns out there are some ghosts and shit. The current prototype has me running around a car park in the the thunder and rain and it actually seems quite creepy. We shall see how it goes.
Well that is the question. I guess we shall see how everything is looking toward the end of the year. I think my ideal plan for 2020 is to work on one very small game every three months, while also working on a larger project.
This might seem dumb but I think it is how I work best. The small projects allow me to learn something quickly while the larger project can expand on these things. Potentially this will be done in combination with the Unreal Engine game jams throughout the year but we shall see.
Making a few quid from those games would be nice but to be honest, I just want the current crop of releases to be “done”. That is to say, all in good condition, all updated and on the various stores. Then we can properly move on and see what the future has in store for 4MB Interactive.
Tom Gilchrist - Founder/Creative Director
Founder of 4MB Interactive and chief game maker person, Tom taught himself Unreal Engine 4 while working in a normal day job and somehow still found time to grow a crap beard and let his hair become an unkempt mess.