Now that we are approaching the 1 year mark on RoboArena’s development, it’s fun to look back and see just how far we’ve come. Yes, I know 1 year developing an iPhone game is an absurd amount of time by current standards. Most games are done and on the market in 2-4 months tops. There are a number of factors that have made the development of RoboArena go a bit slower than we’d have liked, but primarily it is our uncompromising demand for quality. However, we’d like to think that the slow and steady development has allowed the game to ‘mature’ over time and it’s let us put a lot of thought into every aspect of the game and polish it until it positively gleams.
Here’s a brief look back at the evolution of RoboArena:
1st Proof Of Concept
Since RoboArena is such a unique style that hasn’t been seen before on the App store, we had to make sure that at its core, RoboArena would be fun. The core concept had to be fun even without any graphics or polish. So our first proof of concept featured the most basic of programmer graphics and a little tank.
Needs More Cowbells
Turns out, the game was fun! Programming the little tank to move and then watching him go was actually quite amusing. Initially all we wanted was a very basic game with black walls like you see in the picture above. However, we decided that the game deserved more than that, so we started to build the framework to allow for custom tile sets.
By George, There’s A Game Here!
So, telling your little Robo to move around and then watching it obey you is fun and all… but that’s not really a game. So the next step in our development was to add a second player to the game. This was a second human controlled Robo so that the game could be played in pass-and-play mode with a friend. The idea was that you would both pre-program your moves in and attempt to anticipate where your opponent would be, then you’d both watch the outcome together. We spent many good hours at the office chasing each other around levels and trying to destroy each other.
UI? What UI?
The next step was implementing a user interface. Since this was our first video game as a team, this was an adventure into the unknown. The UI we developed looked pretty cool though and it worked for quite a while. It had a weapons drawer on the side that you could open to switch weapons, it showed your cash and health on the top, and the astute observer might notice that we had a secondary red firing button next to the larger blue one. We had some grand plans of allowing for special weapons to be purchased with in-game currency that would give players unique abilities… in the end though, we decided against it.
A Game Is Born!
At this point we decided on an industrial theme, some kind of factory where the robos would duke it out. I got to work on the tile set, and you can see some of the fruits of my labors below. Eventually this theme led us to develop the little back story of the Blue Robo saving the planet. We could have stopped here. This was a great game. It was a blast. At this point we had no plans for making a single player story mode for the game. At least… we didn’t have any plans until Chris put in the AI and we could finally play against 5 other computer players! Turns out, the game was practically BEGGING for more depth and story! So being the perfectionists we are… we took the game back to the drawing board to do more work on it.
Months pass. As our chief level designer, Jesse has been pretty much in charge of Story Mode. Initially he was all for it, but in the end he has started to curse the day the idea was born. Story Mode turns into a giant project in and of itself involving level designs, bad guys, unique game mechanics, new graphics, and tons of behind the scenes framework changes. But we persevered, play tested, tweaked, edited, play tested some more, argued over minute details, passionately debated almost every aspect of the game, and then finally when we were done… RoboArena was a game that was truly worth playing! Here’s a shot of level 7 and what the game looks like in its current state. Note we added the ‘prediction cam’ which was a true stroke of genius on our collective parts.
The Story Continues…
So now that takes us to where we are today. In truth, RoboArena has evolved from an initial simple game concept into a giant, fully featured, high quality 3-in-1 magnum opus. We’ve now got Story Mode fully functional and almost entirely complete. Single player Arena Mode is in the process of getting developed and we will have screenshots and videos for you shortly showing it off. And Multiplayer will follow shortly.
It’s been a wild ride, and we have learned a lot along the way! Our team is amazing. Chris takes every idea we throw at him and sculpts it into something amazing. Developing games is what we love to do. Who knows… if RoboArena turns out to be a hit, we could might even be able to turn this into a full time gig!
Hope you have enjoyed seeing the evolution of RoboArena so far! Onward and upward as the story continues to unfold…