My Development Mantra: 3 Things a Day

Working on the same project every day is tough challenge. Finding the time to get in to the proper mindset of working on the project can vary from day to day – some days, I’m primed and ready to start banging out code; other times, I’ll get caught up testing a build and before I know it, it’s time to head out the door to work and I’ve nothing to show for my time, save for a few notes of stuff that looked out of place.

I’m not sure when I first came up with the concept, but my daily mantra for a long while has been “3 Things A Day”. In other words, 3 changes or improvements to the game, whatever they may be, to help move the project forward. It might be a bug fix, a text edit, or even something promotional related, like writing this blog post. That may sound like a fairly paltry or perhaps even unsubstantial number — but over the course time, it really does add up. 365 x 3 is 1095 improvements alone! Times 3 years now we’ve been working on the project, and that would be over 3,300 edits / improvements / updates / changes.

Of course, some days are better than others. I love getting into a code sprint where I have a run where I knock out 6-8 things in a single sitting. Sometimes, it’s hard to quantify exactly what it is: today, for example, I spent my morning watching videos of Ultimate VFX, a Unity Store collection of visual effects, with the goal of finding something that would we could try for Shaman’s Revive Ally command. I finally found one that I liked, so I would call it my first successful “addition” for the day. After that, I found that I had to update Unity in order to get the effects to work – so that was my second success. Third, I got the effect loading, and was able to export it as a prefab for furthe rtesting. Fourth, I started recreating the scene from the game, brought in the effect, and started tweaking the effect to fit the game. Then I ran out of time, came home, and started writing this post: my fifth thing of the day.

By that account, apparently I’m bucking the trend today! It’s not immediately obvious, but I’m in a better place for tomorrow, to further realize how this effect will work, and if its successful, I’ll bring it into the actual game build, and then ultimately tweak it from there as further possible items for my 3 Things A Day mantra.

In a perfect world, it would be innumerable updates per day. But that’s just unrealistic, plain and simple. For now, I’m sticking with a tangible number that I can strive towards. 3, oh 3, it’s the magic number.

All that to say, it’s a great feeling to have things keep moving forward. Progress is never readily apparent, but as time moves on, becomes all the more obvious.

January 2017 Progress Update

Alex here with a Derelict Zones development update. That’s right, Derelict Zones is alive and doing well!

Apologies for the radio silence since our last update, but we wanted to focus all our efforts on the design and development of Derelict Zones. We’ve reached a point where we’re ready to start showing some fresh glimpses of the game, and most importantly, getting the game into the hands of players.

We’ve had a couple of major developments in the game since our last public showing. The biggest change in terms of gameplay is the core player turn. Cards are now used to represent actions on each character’s turn – Move, Attack, Defend, etc. – and a player can play up to two cards on their turn. There’s also one-time use special cards that players have to carefully choose when to play. Turn order is based on each crew member’s and enemy’s speed scores, and this is displayed on screen for the player to take into consideration.

The second major development since our last public outing was developing proper 3D models for all game characters and objects in the main combat stages, which has led to vast improvements in the visual department. The 3D models are essentially the flat 2D game pieces we had in our original design, but extruded into 3D space to make them feel like proper cardboard cutouts. The lighting and shadows achieved by having the models in 3D makes a dramatic difference in making them feel like part of the scene, rather than sprites juxtaposed in 3D space.

Since May of last year, we’ve focused all our efforts into making a proper demo of the game, which takes its form as a chapter from early on in the game. We felt this made a good choice because it teaches the player core gameplay mechanics as well as introduce them to the story and characters. In other words, it’s a solid vertical slice we could present players that gives a complete experience of the game: from the intro cutscenes to stage combat to weapon upgrades.

While we continue to fine tune the demo, we’ve also been carving out some of the other levels of the game, applying techniques and lessons learned and from building out the demo. This in turn has helped further refine some of the games systems, which is a really nice side effect!

We’ll be announcing more information about some upcoming opportunities to play the game, so as they say, “Please be excited.”

Welcome to the Derelict Zones dev blog

Welcome to the Derelict Zones dev blog!

This site will primarily used to provide updates and news regarding Derelict Zones, a turn-based strategy game currently in development. Additionally, we’ll occasionally add sample graphical assets and Unity clips for reference.