THIS YEAR WILL BE GREAT. RIGHT?
This blog post is not going to be about our wondrous achievements in 2020 (*cough* there were not many) but more focused on 2021 and what I hope to be working on throughout the year. There are five titles that have been floating around in various prototype stages for a while now the process of writing this article has really helped me to figure out which game will be coming next (and the one after that!). Alongside this blog, I have also made some sort of video diary so if you want to skip straight to that then, please do.
But first, how are things going with the currently released titles?
- UNDEAD BLACKOUT: REANIMATED EDITION All the additional work on this is pretty much done and the process of getting the game through Xbox certification has begun. I am sure there will be plenty of feedback from Microsoft before this is finished but basically hoping for this to be live on Xbox sometime in Q1 with Steam getting the updated version of the game around the same time.
- URBAN JOGGING has undergone a revamp and is currently being tested by Nintendo ahead of a Switch release, again sometime in Q1. The Itch.io version is available now but will be updated to the fully tested Switch version next month.
- OMVORM has been updated to the latest version of Unreal Engine (4.26.0) and had a couple of tweaks to some materials in the game, realised it was kind of hard to see the shapes sometime on the very bright lane so have lowered this brightness level down. The patch is now being processed by Nintendo
- GALACTIC DEFENCE SQUADRON has had a few bug fixes and has been updated to the latest version of Unreal Engine (4.26.0). The patch is now being processed by Nintendo
- BALLZOUT has also had a few bug fixes and has been updated to the latest version of Unreal Engine (4.26.0). The patch is now being processed by Nintendo
OK so that is all the current games, there will be further updates and additions throughout the year but the goal largely for 2020 was to get them all up to a decent level and released on Xbox/Switch where possible. Didn’t get them released this year but they are on the way in the cases of Undead Blackout and Urban Jogging at least!
What then of 2021? What does the future have in store in terms of new projects? Well, rather than be all secretive about it I much prefer to just be very open with the development process including before I have even decided what I am going to work on. I have a Google Drive folder that is FULL of ideas, some nice and simple while others are grand projects that would take me a decade to complete by myself. Here then are the first two games we are definitely going to work on and release this year, alongside three other prototypes that I would love to work on but we shall just see how it goes really.
Desert Strike meets Mass Destruction is the simple pitch for this one, both favourites of mine from back in the day. The game is extremely early on in development but progress so far has bee strong. The main idea though is to have ~10 missions involving various objectives but largely revolving around blowing the crap out of everything. I have been messing around with Unreal Engine’s Chaos engine (the physics engine that now powers Fortnite!) and feel that could make a tank game exceptionally good fun. The tech is still not entirely Production-ready so I could get quite far into making this and then encounter some horrendous bug that I cannot fix which is obviously not ideal. While the gameplay would be fairly realistic the tone would not be (you might have guessed that from the title), think more Hot Shots than Dunkirk, with some stupid characters and dialogue.
A game I have wanted to make for ages but it still mostly just lives in my head currently. Gameplay-wise it is barebones at the moment with just a car park, movement controls, and some spooky thunder and lightning on the go. This then would be my first attempt at a first-person horror game. Am I remotely good at creating a moody, fear-inducing atmosphere? Not sure. Can I do really good jump-scares? Also not sure. But this game could/should provide some answers to those questions. Plus I can find out if I even like making horror games. I certainly love playing them or watching horror films so I don’t think I won’t find any enjoyment in the creating of one.
The very basic story thus far is that you are on your first shift as the new Nightwatchman at a brand-new office complex built on the outskirts of London. On your walks around the building, you start to notice some spooky goings-on. Ghosts? Demons? Murderer person? Not sure yet. Probably ghosts. Getting this out in time for October should be doable and would, of course, be perfect for Halloween. One that I will get cracking with as soon as Danger Tank is mostly done.
SUNDAY LEAGUE HEROES
Sunday League Heroes is perhaps the most challenging game on this list. A proper football simulation but set at the amateur level of the game here in Britain. Calling on all my experience as an absolutely crap Sunday League footballer to provide an authentic experience of horrendously muddy six-yard boxes, unfit referees and games played in front of six random spectators and your mum. The early prototype came about fairly swiftly actually but as I was not really planning it properly so it is buggy as hell and barely functioned on Xbox/Switch. Starting from scratch would no doubt be the order of the day here.
I briefly showed off some footage of this in 2019 and got several likes and retweets (as in, loads for me) off the back of it which makes me think people quite liked the idea of an amateur-level based football game. I certainly love the idea of making one and the work that I have done so far has been challenging and rewarding. One element where I have completely and utterly hit a brick wall is with goalkeepers. Have not got a clue how to get them working as of yet and so I decided to put this on the back-burner until I am just loads better at Unreal and game development in general. Am I there now? Maybe, maybe not. But I think it is certainly time to give it another crack
SURVIVORS (working title)
Survivors is my post-apocalyptic survival game set in rural England. I want to make this because I just love the idea of making it but also because I seem to have a very specific type of survival game I want to play and no current game quite scratches that itch. Put simply this would be a zombie-survival game where there are no super-zombies. They are all just regular, but very dangerous dumbasses. Think DayZ’s shambling undead. But I do not want this to be multiplayer, it needs to be scary and lonely. You vs the elements vs a bunch of zombies. Importantly, I would absolutely build this in such a way that there would be the option to remove the zombies for those who don’t enjoy zombies but do enjoy survival games. The pure survival elements of managing the cold, growing food, and scavenging would all provide plenty of challenges in their own right.
The game as it stands is actually fairly advanced under the hood. There is a full day-night cycle as well as a year-long calendar that includes seasons and variable weather based on the time of year. The sun even rises/sets at different times. A basic inventory system is in place so you can collect food and water. The character stats are also mostly set up with hunger, thirst, tiredness, and warmth all being calculated. Stand outside in the midday sun in June and you will get thirsty quicker. Find shelter in the winter to keep yourself warm. All of these things already exist and are present in the game, I have no doubt they will need tweaking and updating but the building blocks are all there. It feels like a game that could end up being massive for just little old me which is why I am hesitant to fully commit to it at this stage but oh man do I want to make it.
VERY SECRET FPS
OK I know that I said I would be really open with what I am working on and that is absolutely true except in this one particular instance. Another prototype, a first-person shooter this time, but this is a game I am fairly sure I don’t quite have the technical skills to work full-time on just yet. However, I do think the idea is absolutely brilliant and if done well would make at least $50billion. For now I will keep my cards close to my chest and all I will say is that it is not a traditional FPS nor is it an online-shooter, something that I think is unique and so I don’t want to spill too many beans this early on. Suffice to say whatever else I work on, I will be plugging away at this in the background to see if there is a way to make it work.
There we have it then. Four and a half games in various, very early stages, but all games that plan to make at some point. The goal for this year then is to release Danger Tank and The Nightwatchman while hopefully making some good progress on some of the prototype games in the background. Will be intrigued to see how everything goes this year, 2020 was not amazing for progress but I certainly got all the existing projects in order so 2021 is the year where I really need to make some serious progress.
Now you can go through all of that again but while watching some footage!