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THEM – A brief overview of it’s development

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Development on THEM is done, and the game has been submitted to Apple for approval! This actually all happened this past Saturday at about 10pm (Central). It’s taken me this long to post it on my blog because I took a nice vacation since then. :)

I just want to briefly talk about the development and time that went into creating THEM and bringing my idea to life:

June 2009 – The idea for THEM originally invaded my mind in 2009. This was just after I had completed a course at Red River College in Winnipeg, Manitoba. (That’s in Canada :) ) The course was titled “Digital Multimedia Technology” and covered various aspects of design including graphic design, website development, 3d computer graphics, video design, motion graphics, etc. I highly favored 3d as it just seemed to click for me and I had a passion for it. It’s hard to explain, but if I’m ever doing a job that doesn’t include 3d or doesn’t allow me to use 3d, it’s just not enjoyable…..at all. This passion for 3d directly led me into the idea of THEM. I have always wanted to create a video game and be the designer behind it, but it had never come together before. After college was done, that was my chance to see what I could do. Originally I was going to be designing an anaglyph 3d game where the player would use the “depth” created by this effect during gameplay. This is the reason that THEM is black and white. I had tested anaglyph 3d using various colors and graphics and discovered that black and white is best suited for 3d. This is because with black and white, there is no color distortion and the graphics seem to really “pop off” the screen. However, I soon came to the conclusion that anaglyph 3d wasn’t the best for the mobile platform. You see, by using a touch interface I found that fingers would distort the 3d effect and finger smudges (Which can’t be avoided) absolutely destroyed the effect. As a result I quickly decided to abandon the anaglyph 3d effect.

August 2009 - I had been experimenting with developing for the iPhone during the course of the summer and had started on my first game….Circle. Now, Circle has never been released, n’or will it be, but it was a way of getting used to programming in Objective-C and to get used to working with the Apple platform. Since I was working over the summer, I didn’t really have much free time to develop or work on a game and so THEM was put on hold and nothing was really done on the game for the entire summer. At the end of August I returned to Red River College to complete a third year in “Advanced Computer Graphics”. This is an advanced third year course to the first two years I had already finished.

September 2009 – November 2009 - Nothing progressed on THEM during these months as I was dedicated to college and finishing well. We worked within ZBrush, Maya, Fusion, etc. in order to complete complex assignments that took months to finish. A single project would literally soak up 12+ hours per day and two straight months of time. (This is working 7 days a week I might add) Plus, we would have multiple projects on the go at the same time. You do the math! However, I wasn’t exactly happy with just doing 18 hour days with a couple hours of sleep. I wanted more! So in October I began the paperwork to start my own company. On November 24th, the final paperwork for Glacier Games was done. I now had my own company! I re-devoted myself to THEM and pledged that I would work on college assignments until 12am and then start work at Glacier Games from 12am – 1:30am. Then I would sleep and wake up at 5am to get ready for college. Yep….some say that’s devotion, but I just call it crazy. I didn’t really sleep for almost an entire year!

December 2009 - Little did my instructors know, but by the time Christmas break rolled around, I was working way more at Glacier Games than I was working on assignment. I was picking up contracts and working with clients the entire time I was going to college. Thankfully I managed to balance work and college, at the same time, and pull through. Christmas break at college was two full weeks I believe. Time to catch my breath? Na… I accepted new contracts through Glacier Games and started work on THEM. It was during Christmas break that I pulled the trigger on Unity, a 3d game engine. I had played with Unity a bit before I bought it, but I was basically purchasing it blind. I am so glad that I purchased it! Within the two weeks that I had off for Christmas, I had a full working prototype of THEM. Nothing too amazing, but a working “something” at least. Now, again, little did my instructors know, but I was considering dropping out of college. :O I wanted to continue work on THEM and figured I had a good couple months left and then I would be able to release it. However, with college, I wouldn’t be able to work on THEM at all. I spent two weeks thinking about this dilemma and finally came to the conclusion to stay in college.

February 2010 - Nothing was being done on THEM at all. I was still doing contract work for various clients, but college was taking up a lot of my time. It was also in February that I was contacted to develop a video game for a client. This video game would require me to do full-time work on it and hire several artists. Again, I had a decision to either stick with college or drop out and work full time at Glacier Games. I chose to stay.

March 2010 - By this time I had several job offers from various places. I was considering moving to Great Britain to accept a job offer that I had gotten. Since I’m a dual citizen I could begin work immediately in Britain without any paperwork. (Bonus for companies!) However, after considerable thought and prayer, I declined. See the theme here?!?

June 2010 – Having completed college, and learning a lot during my time there, I could now work full-time at Glacier Games. Immediately after college was done, I began accepting more contract work. However, I soon learned that the jobs I was accepting were not allowing me to finish THEM! My decision was to not accept any new client projects and to put on hold some projects as well.

July 2010 – October 2010 - Over the course of three months I tirelessly worked on THEM. I still had some client work to do as I needed money to survive, but for the most part, 12 hours per day were being devoted to THEM! Developing a game by yourself is such a  challenge and I won’t get into that just yet. Needless to say, I wasn’t exactly sleeping. The original plan for THEM was much larger than the “final” version that I sent to Apple. I wanted so much more content than what is in there now, but I didn’t have the time to implement it all. The beauty of of the mobile platform is that I can update THEM as many times as I want. This will allow me to develop THEM to the point where I will finally be happy with it… ;) ….months after release. And all of this extra content will be free to all users. Over the course of development the opportunity to be presented in the Unity Creative Magazine. In the September-October issue of the magazine, THEM was presented. The reception from that article was amazing. I was being emailed and messaged from people all over who were excited about the game and looking forward to it’s release! Then in late September I was contacted by the website AppVader about a feature on their website. I accepted, of course, and have received a ton of positive feedback from that as well! (This week an exclusive in-game trailer will be released on AppVader.com so stay tuned!)

With THEM being “In Review” at Apple, I anxiously await it’s release. I know there will be bugs and glitches in the game when it launches. I tried my hardest to catch them all with a select group of testers, but I can’t catch them all. In fact, I actually know of a couple in the 1.0.0 version of  THEM! Of course, those will all be patched immediately upon release, but it irks me none the less. :)

I hope that you’ve gained a little insight into the time that it took to start and finish this game. In fact, it’s taken so long that it’s extremely hard to let go! And that leads into my next blog post later this week. How do you release something that you’ve spent “forever” on? How do you release a finished product?

As always, if you want more information about THEM and Glacier Games, follow us on Twitter or Facebook!

  • Mike Yesterday

    little did they know but everybody does freelance. little did they know most people get jobs for credibility. little did they know but honestly who cares?

  • Anonymous

    That’s true! :) I just thought it would interesting to mention it seeing as I was doing so much outside of college; outside of all the assignments.

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