Note: This article was not written by Elia Pales, but by Tommy Scott, the President of Magique Productions, Ltd and the one-man developer behind Asteroid Challenge. The article also has a few exclusive, never-before-seen screenshots for the title. Thanks for reading!
Hello, everyone. I’m Tommy Scott, the president of Magique Productions, Ltd. I’ve been a licensed Nintendo Wii U developer now for about 10 months. I’ve been working on my first to-be-released Wii U title, Asteroid Challenge, since the end of April and progress is going very well. The game is currently in the alpha stage, but progress is far enough along that I feel that now is a good time to present the game to the public a little more formally and give some insight into the development process.
Asteroid Challenge draws inspiration from classic arcade games such as asteroids, space duel, centipede, and others. The basic concept is to shoot your way through waves of asteroids, enemy ships, and other obstacles while collecting power-ups, special weapons, and achievements. The main features of the game are summarized below.
- 1080p 60fps HD game play
- 3 retro graphics modes
- single player, single ship mode
- single player, linked ship mode
- two player, individual ship mode
- two player, linked ship mode
- 70 levels consisting of 7 sectors of 10 levels each
- Boss battles on the final level of each sector
- Online leader board with categories for difficulty, number of players, and ship mode
- Power-ups and Special Weapons
Some example power-ups and special weapons include*:
- Shield Energy
- Sonic Wave
- Energy Beam
- Two-Way Laser
- Missile Volley
* – Note that the final features may change before the game is released.
Retro graphics Mode 1: Pixelated
Retro Graphics Mode 2: Pixelated on Analog TV
Retro Graphics Mode 3: Pixelated on B&W Analog TV
Making Games on a Low Budget
I’m primarily a programmer and designer and I don’t have the kind of budget required to hire an entire team of 3D artists to hand-craft every detail of my game. That may be possible in the future, but not right now. So, why not put the game on Kickstarter and raise the money there? For personal reasons of my own, I’m not a fan of the Kickstarter method for raising money for these sorts of projects. I believe in doing it the best I can on the resources I have available and then using the sales from smaller games to fund future projects. I don’t believe the burden for funding my game should rest on the gamer. If they like what I’ve done then they can show their support by purchasing the game when it’s released, which will help improve future projects.
Being primarily a programmer and designer, I still need lots of 3D assets, sound, and music for my game. So, how exactly do I find those resources and what do I do with them? I’m particularly fond of the concept of kitbashing and I apply that methodology to game development. For those not familiar with the term kitbashing, it specifically refers to taking lots of separate commercially available plastic model kits and putting various pieces together to make a new model. This is a technique used extensively in the original Star Wars movies to build the various star ships. Applying this technique to game development, it simply means taking various commercially available components and putting them together in new and interesting ways. I primarily get my content from the Unity Asset Store, including sound effects and even some code. I’m reminded of the following quote when it comes to this topic:
“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.”
In terms of kitbashing, connecting together different 3rd party assets, code, music, and sound effects is where a great deal of the creativity comes into play. I search for the best pieces I can find that are similar in style and I discover ways to modify them and put them together to make a cohesive whole. Often, the discovery of a cool 3D asset can lead to a completely new game play element. Combining multiple 3rd party assets into a single game element can make the game truly unique.
Building reusable components is something else I exploit under a low budget. A great deal of the code from my Frontier Guard game is identical or very similar to what is used in Asteroid Challenge. This has allowed me to build up a playable game fairly quickly and even to debug and improve the other game while developing this one.
In addition to purchased assets from the Unity Asset Store, I also make great use of various free music and sound effect sources on the internet. Asteroid Challenge is benefiting from the use of mostly free music.
There are times though when I just can’t find what I need through any of my sources and I have to resort to commissioning freelance work. I have a long-time relationship with a 2D artist who is helping to do a new game logo, title screen, and play field border graphics for Asteroid Challenge. In addition, I’ve engaged a 3D artist to create a custom model for one of the game sectors. Additional work may be needed before the game is released, but I’m trying to keep it to a minimum.
Is this just another budget game with no depth?
Originally, my plan was to make a very basic kind of spiritual successor to the classic Asteroids game and knock the game out in about a month. The purpose was to get something done and in the Nintendo eShop to help provide some funding for current and future games such as Frontier Guard. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on your perspective, I quickly found out that everything in me rejects the quick and dirty budget title. I just can’t settle for substandard work or a product that lacks the features it needs to be successful. I just don’t want to play a game like that and when I’m developing a game, I’m constantly playing it as well. If it isn’t measuring up to what I myself want from a title then I find myself increasing the scope and polishing it until it gets there.
So, the answer is no, this isn’t just another budget title with no depth. However, it also isn’t an epic blockbuster title that is designed to be the ultimate game in its genre either. Asteroid Challenge is designed to be fun and have a high replay value. Hopefully, it won’t be something you burn through in 30 minutes, leaving you feeling like it was an incomplete experience. I want it to be challenging to get to the finale and then make you want to play it again with different options and different goals.
Asteroid Challenge does not have an official release date at this time. I hesitate to give a tentative date because as things progress, I may feel the need to add more content or to re-work and polish existing content. All those things take more time. I’m still unsure of how much time I’ll need to hook up the online leader board, create the eManual, make a proper master submission, etc. That being said, I’m trying my best to hit a late Q3 2015 release. But don’t hold me to that.
To follow the game’s progress more closely, you can go to IndieDB.com at the following link: