State of the Game and what to expect from this Blog

So yeah, in case you haven’t noticed (and you haven’t because I have no followers yet, so you currently don’t exist) it’s been a year since I made a post. Is it because I stopped working on Vectricon? Not at all. I’ve been working very hard on it, there just hasn’t been much to say.

Imagine running 10 miles worth then you turn around to find you only traveled 10 feet. That’s what the past year feels like to me. I put in a shit-ton of work and ended up very little to show for it, at least until now. Why is that? Well, here’s what I did get out of it – experience. I have never made a game before and I’m not a programmer. Even though I had a clear vision for the game from the start, I had to teach myself how to make it. So on top of being the sole artist, CG modeller and game-design-dude, I also had to learn how to use Unreal Engine 4. So now we’re a year later and I’m much more familiar with the engine and other tools. I’ve learned a lot. The best part is that even though it may seem like the game is overly ambitious for a noob game designer, I haven’t lost a shred of confidence that I can actually finish this thing.

Now I’ll tell you, my currently non-existent friends, what I did get done.

The First-Person Player character is about 60-70% done-ish, at least from a programming perspective. He can run; jump; pick up items such as health, weapons and upgrades; flip switches and open doors; He can also switch between different types of weapons and fire them or lob even a grenade. There’s one particular upgrade which will be available fairly on in the game that allows you to run faster, jump higher and survive any fall no matter how high it is. With it you could jump off of a skyscraper that’s half a mile high (Vectricon City is a big place) and land without dying or even injuring yourself. It’s in the game, it works and it’s fun! As you’re falling a wind sound will fade in and when you reach a certain velocity threshold, the player will scream as he falls. It’s great but I will talk more about sound design in an upcoming post. I’ll eventually have to rewrite most of the Player Character’s functionality, mostly by making everything run more efficiently, but it’s in there and it works.

Vehicles!! I have several working vehicles of various types in the game. You can move the first person character up to a vehicle, press the interact button and now you’re controlling a vehicle from a third person perspective. I have a few wheel-based cars you can drive around in, pretty basic so far but they feel pretty realistic. I also have a flying pod-like vehicle you can fly around in and fire its weapons. To give you an idea of what this flying pod is, think of the Cobra Flight Pods from G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero. Same Idea. It’s basically a weaponized Jet-pack. Then there are the Jets. Jets have two modes: Hover mode and Jet mode. Hover mode is mostly for vertical take-off and landing, but you can also fire the weapons in this mode. Jet mode is exactly what it sounds like. They’re fast and highly maneuverable. There will be more vehicle types in the finished game, but for right now this is what I have implemented.

Enemy Robots. While I do have some enemies with some rudimentary AI in the game that can wander around and attack the player, my main goal for the next few months will be focusing on making it better. The enemies should go into an attack state when they spot you and have some sort of memory when they lose sight of you and search your last known location. They should also be able to run away and hide when they feel overwhelmed, depending on the inherent aggressiveness of the particular enemy.

I have a basic mock-up of the overworld and it’s going to be huge. There are some skyscrapers that you can jump off of (Trust me, it’s fun!). I have done many other things as well, many character models and props are all in various states of incompleteness.

One of the main problems I had this past year is that I’ve been trying to do everything at once: Graphics, sound, A.I., CG models, etc. It was too much to juggle all at once and progress suffered as a result. So I’m shifting focus. Make the game playable and fun, then make the game look pretty. OK, I’m lying. I’ll still probably be doing everything at once, but now my goals are much more clear than they were a year ago. Great gameplay is more important than great graphics.

As for this blog, I’m making a promise to myself to update it on a semi-regular basis. Coming soon I will go deeper into what type of game Vectricon will be, what the influences are both in terms of gameplay and graphical style, and how this game with a retro-1980s aesthetic will differ from other games with a similar ’80s look. I will also upload tons of screenshots and concept artwork, along with actual footage of the game. So look forward to that in the coming weeks. I may also post my thoughts on other videogame-related topics from time to time, just whatever comes to mind that I want to talk about.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach me at vectricon@gmail.com

-Steve

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