Development featured random thoughts
christopher godber  

The Pain and Pleasure of Rapid Game Development as told via communist spaces

I have now completed the first working version of Kill Stalins! – a quick, short and simple FPS game made with the GameGuru easy game making tool which you can buy off Steam. It started as an exercise in designing an environment for an art collaboration but it quickly became apparent that the engine, though accessible and a fun tool to play with, would not offer the options and flexibility I required for the proposed project – Communist Spaces.

Communist Spaces – Initial phase

Communist Spaces, now called Catastrophic Spaces, is a project I am working on with visual artist Becca Smith to create visualisations and a virtual environment for a panel art piece / board game which we will show soon at a art show in London. My initial thoughts were to create these environment in GameGuru as I could get up to speed with it rapidly, having been working on a game called Zero Theory for a while in my spare time, and I’d already gotten to grips with it’s intuitive landscaping system and interface.

However as this process progressed I realised, good as GameGuru is for developing FPS and even Role-playing games, it just didn’t have the depth and real power that you get with a more advanced game engine, so I decided to return once more to having a crack at Unreal Engine, a task I had taken on before, with varying degrees of success, the learning curve of UE being significantly higher.

Success becomes Disaster

A quick video of one of the UE communist spaces level is below, it took a while to get back into UE development, but you do notice how many more options are available with it, in comparison to GameGuru as a tool straight way. I made some nice progress and was confident that I would have the spaces ready for converting into some sort of playable form via a web app or similar, I was encountering some issues with textures when rendering to HTML5 but I figured I might be able to iron them out.

Ekkk, I was too cocky and too soon haha. A few weeks into the development and having already made 3 spaces which were more or less finished, including a trench warfare level I was very proud of at this point, something happened, not exactly sure what, wherever it be corruption or some sort of glitch or error, but my UE project refused to open, at all.

I had not made regular backups, and this is really a  “more the fool me” tale. Always make whatever backups you can. Still all was not lost, I had made significant inroads into my knowledge of UE and I’d got more and more into the aesthetics of the communist projects space, along with the help of Becca and looking at her work from the last few months.

Silver Lining

The silver lining to all this is that I decided in the mean time to revisit my GameGuru project, and finish it off – make it into more of a blaster with a sense of humour type thing hence the title of Kill Stalins! So the work there was not wasted.

And of course learning more about UE. I think all development is really is failing until you win, so in that sense I have won.

Communist Spaces is now Catastrophic spaces, and I’m building a website with 12 corresponding video pieces for the show which is in a week. So whilst the remit has changed, it shall remain an interesting piece with interactivity and an interesting aesthetic and idea behind it, so all good.

You can download Kill Stalins! here .

Silver Linings are nice, development is hard, the pain is real, but worth it.



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