The premise for this project is to deliver something top notch. Something that has the potential to amaze people. One aspect of that is story and gameplay. Another big part is the technology behind. I am a strong believer in early on adopting new technologies. This will incur the cost of having to deal with bugs, finding workarounds and digging through code yourself to fix something. But on the rewarding side you will be able to use features that might boost your game to completely new levels.
Ever since it came out I had switched to Unity 5 beta and since then I am always on the latest beta or patch (currently it’s 5.2b3, b4 is unusable), depending on what is newer. I typically send around 5 bug reports per week to Unity and due to being on beta get really good response times.
A big advantage I see in my Pro license is having access to the beta. This might surprise at first. Some might say now, what, you are paying to find bugs for them? That is only one side of the medal though. You also get all the features around 3 months earlier. 3 months! This can be a huge advantage for a me to be simply quicker out on the market.
Interesting side note: I shared my complete project with the Unity team this week which makes it much much easier to describe and reproduce bugs. I just could not afford to create repro projects. I don’t have the time for that as an indie. Technically I created a new user for them in my Visual Studio Online Git repo and activated BASIC auth and gave these credentials then to them (the BASIC auth ones, not the VSO user).
Visual Studio Online
When developing it’s mandatory to have source control (not just a zipped backup, don’t go down that path). You implement a feature, you create a commit, you push the commit to a repository that is NOT on your machine. Something breaks. You go back one commit. Life is good. That is the only viable working model.
Now you just need a place to store your sources. After quite some research and first using bitbucket I switched to Visual Studio Online (VSO). There you get a Git repository with no size restrictions for free. How awesome is that. It can be used in the handy Unity Cloud Build (UCB) with a trick (at time of writing), specifing your credentials in the URL (user:email@example.com). Unfortunately UCB has absolutely ridiculous plans right now and is unusable for indies I claim. Once your project is above 1GB you have to pay quite a lot. My project is already 30GB because I use many assets which would require me to buy the studio plan. No I won’t 😉 I had access in the beta and it rocks, I really believe that. But with these costs it’s cheaper to buy a second PC or build at night.
Adventure Creator (AC)
For quite a while I researched adventure frameworks. I even played with the thought to write my own. It’s definitely fun to do so. Drawback: engine development time. It will kill your project and time to market. Fortunately there exists a super awesome framework for Unity called Adventure Creator written by an extremly ehtusiastic and helpful developer (cheers, Chris). It’s simply a must have for this type of game. It is not complete but what it already offers is amazing and with C# you can extend it and put in the missing parts quite nicely.
My dream for The Eternals is to allow the player to switch to his preferred way of playing. It can be your beloved point & click 3D adventure. It can be your Tomb-Raider-like third person game or it can be your awesome immersive VR experience.
So far I have setup Point & Click and Third Person in AC. It was quite a challenge. I will write a whole separate blog on that.
Virtual Reality (VR)
VR is actually something I want to support really well. First of all I think this offers completely new possibilities to game designers and players. It also gives you a niche currently and a chance to have press speak about your game. I do have an Oculus DR2 and will start adapting for it as soon as I get a first demo ready.
At last some notes to the environment I use. It’s now Windows 10, 3770K i7 quadcore overclocked to 4.2Ghz, 8Gb Ram (so far never an issue), GTX580, multiple SSDs separate for project and GI cache. Two monitors and an old Macbook for testing iOS stuff (ok, it’s more for watching movies in parallel 😉 ). Several phones and tablets with Android, iOS and Windows OS (somehow came quite neatly together the last years).