Red Barton – Road To Alpha is in front of you. By far the most important update so far, and a major milestone on our schedule! This is what Red Barton road to alpha looks like, and this is the short story of how it came to be – straight from the dev-team of Schism Worldwide
The time has come for reflecting on where we were at the beginning and where we are now. We will describe the effort that took us from an idea to a fully finished playable level in less than 3 months.
This might not sound like much of an achievement for the established game factories out there, but it’s quite a lot for an indie studio at the beginning of it’s journey. Needless to say – we achieved a lot with little time, considering that our core Red Barton team has only one “pure” developer Jakov Jerkovic.
This has been a gargantuan task, as we are technically working on two completely different games, PC / Mac version, and an iOS and Android port. That means two completely different approaches, hi-poly vs low poly models, speed optimizations and to make it actually work for all these platforms, with Android being a spectacular challenge due to the variety of devices and OS versions on the market.
Jakov is working in tandem with Igor Djordjevic, our CTO & a jack-of-all-trades, who is helping him out while juggling his daily obligations. This was particularly important regarding hundreds of daily decisions, small and large, that had to be made in order to balance the game between artist wishes and technical possibilities. Sounds familiar?
Ah, the joy of indie game development. The nature of our business truly is small & efficient 😉
The team also had to work around the clock to make Red Barton is both aesthetically pleasing and playable. All the years of accumulated team experience as gamers & gaming technology enthusiasts certainly came in handy.
Red Barton – The First Steps
It all began in March 2016 with concepts and sketches presented to us by game designer Kosta Zdravkovic. We immediately began prepping his assets so we could use them in Unity 3D, the game engine of our studio’s choice.
And as soon as the first 3D models started pouring in, we were able to put together some basic airplane mechanics – flying the first version of Red Barton into a line of non-textured gates with mounted but ‘dead’ turrets and objects. It looked very basic, but it worked, and our artists were able to make a first test flight.
A few days later, a new test build included some basic rendering improvements, like distance fog and color correction, still using partially textured level mock-up.
The First Elements
With textured models arriving, a new map was created. We made another mock-up 3D world to see the elements we had at the time. It was also a good moment to test some new rendering FX, which brought us to a new build, internally numbered v2.
The First Level
A month and a half into the project, the first version of a complete level was prepared for inclusion in the game. For our next important milestone we would have a level with static enemies, textures, trees and even some airborne units. Other than enemies shooting at us, we could now see what the populated areas look like, and of course – it was also great timing for another batch of rendering FX improvements.
Just a few days later, smoke and explosions were added for effect.
And very soon, enemies got the ability to see us – and they started shooting with high accuracy. Maybe even with TOO much accuracy. We had to dial it down eventually. There’s no feeling like having problems beating your own game. 🙂
So, a little over two months into the project, we were satisfied with our progress, but still thinking about going back to one of the major early ideas that was cast aside for a while – make the map more spherical, and instead of flying and shooting on a straight line, make it look and feel like flying over a small planet.
The decision was made to convert the current flat map to a spherical shape, quite an effort to do without destroying too many things, but after a few weeks of work, we had it up & running. And, lo and behold – after a major cleanup of the world, re-positioning of enemies and adjusting their attack rate and accuracy, we were ready to release a new build.
That of course meant also doing a lot of extra work on the visuals, improved models with moving and animated parts, and dealing with details like object world orientation, joints, elevation, etc.
Oh, and also – rockets.
At this point, it was time to meet the Boss of the level. It was also obvious that we needed to scale up the ground units to make objects better fit to each other after all these changes to the map. We did that for the latest build, included a change of controls in the boss arena, and along with our latest batch of FX improvements – this is what the Red Barton alpha looks like.
The Next Steps
Having all major components working, what’s left to do is implementing the smooth UX design, game proofing the level, tweaking damage/health balance and level elements before we go into making a next build.
Meanwhile, we are also working on code optimization of game logic and speed enhancements. So when the game is finished and you finally have it on your desktopm phone or tablet, it will not only look nice but also play smooth and easy!
Stay tuned for more updates!