Now that we had an idea of the type of game we wanted to make, we just had to choose an engine and get cracking.
We very quickly decided on UE4 as our engine of choice, and Barry got to work pulling a rough 1st playable prototype together. After about 3 or 4 days of banging the 1 and 0 bongos like a legend, he had something that we could all play.
The 1st playable was fairly basic, but it had everything we needed to give our intended core gameplay a whirl. It had a few bullet based weapons; pistol, shotgun and assault rifle. It was 4 player on the same screen. It had a first pass level built by Dave. It used some default models, animations and audio effects from some of the existing UE4 projects. It had weapon pickups and most importantly, it had the full set of controls for movement, aiming, shooting and of course dying.
It was a pretty nervous time for us as a team, we had all been speaking about this great little game that we were going to make, but now we were at the point where there was no more need to talk about what it might play like. We could actually play it and see if we were right. This was where we would need to make a decision. Do we keep working on this or do we bin it and go back to the start with something new.
At this point we weren’t sure of the format we would use for the game modes, all we knew was that we wanted fast fire rounds. So, there was no real need to attempt to role play a planned game mode. We sat down and came up with a highly complicated and thoroughly well thought out playtest plan. We were going to basically run around the level, pick up weapons, and try to kill each other – you can’t teach this shit you know. So, it was time to load up the game, grab a gun, and shoot some guys in the chops!
We played the game for a little over an hour, swapping players in and out, and staying focused on our well defined playtest plan.
Hallefuckinlujah, even in this incredibly basic form, it was a lot of fun!
So, it seemed like we might be onto something. We were over the first hurdle. Over the next week or so, we came up with some more weapon ideas, added some more test levels and we implemented a basic game mode that would allow someone – never ever Steve, like NEVER – to actually win a game after scoring a certain number of kills.
The more weapons and levels that we added, the more fun we were having playing the game. The games were starting to get really competitive, the controls were tight, the weapons were dangerous, the rounds were fast, and the gameplay was frantic and fun. We were making some great progress. The only problem was, we couldn’t keep playing in a big pale blue box. We needed to come up with a setting and a visual style for the game.
It’s always the same in game development, you rarely get to stand atop the mountain you just managed to climb. There’s no time to take in the view and appreciate what you’ve just accomplished, because just as you go to pat yourself on the back, you notice another higher bastard mountain just off in the distance, and then you’re off again. So, we took a very brief moment to bask in our gameplay glory, then we were off to get ready to climb up Setting and Style Mountain.