The story of Silt

So a few weeks ago I made a game!

It's pretty good, if I say so myself. 

Go play/download it here 

If you're interested, here's the updates I made as it happened

Let's tell the story of it's creation first. Back when #7dfps was being discussed on Twitter, I had the idea. As I do when I get an idea for a game, I put it down on a Google Doc called "Terrible Game Ideas". Someday I should write a blog post about how great having such a list is. The idea sprang pretty much fully formed into my head back then. Let's see what I wrote, hey?

underwater FPS.

  • bubbles rise constantly, unless you hold the "hold breath" button.
  • go up/down too fast and you get the bends
  • get near the surface, and you get machinegunned from the boats circling above.
  • getting shot in the tank jets you away, makes you lose all your air
  • air gauge - breathe heavier, have less time alive.
  • harpoons. slow reload, little ammo. slow travelling
  • stealth.
  • multiplayer
  • shit.
  • little/no sound
  • clouds of silt kicked up from the surface

Not all of that made it in, but that that didn't are still good ideas that would fit into the game.

So. I was excited as anything for 7DFPS to start. I deliberately marked it off on my calendar and didn't make plans all week. When the weekend rolled round, I got cracking as soon as the clock ticked past 1am.

The game unfortunately needed netcode written, as well as some custom modelling done. I had not done either of these before. So I was unsure what I would manage to get done. So I dug around and started off getting this Photon Bootcamp Demo. I took it, and I just started ripping bits out, left right and center. Until I was left with the very least that still did networking. And the terrain. FUN FACT: The plants in Silt are the same as the plants in the Bootcamp scene, just recoloured. Same positions, same everything. This approach paid off pretty well -- I feel like I can now deal with netcode from scratch, and I managed to make a game without ever falling too deep down a rabbit hole of tech issues. A basic scene with all this stuff setup would still be totally useful -- I know there's a whole bunch of useless state being synced across with this build.

So Saturday I got some stuff done, Sunday I spent a lot of time fucking about avoiding working on it, but I remember thinking I'd have something basically feature complete by the end of Tuesday. Which I more or less did. All this week , I've been staying up til like 2 or 3 am, which it turns out makes you incredibly tired if you're also waking up in the morning to go to work. I hate caffeine, so I was being powered by orange juice. Sugar rushes ahoy. 

I think it was Sunday I first played it with someone else -- and even at that point a fun thing happened -- Alice tried to shoot me, missed, and from that I noticed she was coming at me, so I managed to shoot her. Simple, but neat, and nothing I had explicitly planned for. Which is ace!

Wednesday's first playtesting revealed a whole bunch of balance issues that make the game a different one to the one I wanted. Basically, as a result I slowed the whole thing right the fuck down -- halving movement speeds, doubling reload times on harpoons. So I fixed those up, and playested it with people from the net -- this time almost all the feedback I got was about howshonky the chat system (which I hadn't touched at all) was awful and required firing harpoons to send messages. Plus, people saying it was cool, which is always nice.

By Thursday I was basically too tired to work properly on it, so I coloured in the plants, fixed up a few bugs, and packaged it up and put it on the net. 

01 July 2012