Why make a spiritual successor to Nitronic Rush?
Since we built Nitronic Rush in the student environment of DigiPen, that game is actually owned by them. In many ways though, Nitronic Rush was a prototype for us where we were constantly experimenting. With Distance, we're designing the experience around the best parts of the original game right from the beginning. We want to take the ideas we weren't able to do before and combine them with new features like multiplayer and a more developed world, to create something unique and innovative in the racing genre.
Are you using any of the existing assets or codebase from the original game, or did you start over from scratch?
We're building everything from the ground-up, including code, art, audio, and everything in between. Oddly enough, it works well from our perspective because we're now able to implement tons of features that weren't possible in Nitronic Rush's engine.
What is the single biggest difference between Distance and Nitronic Rush? What lessons did you learn working on the original game?
It's hard to pick one thing that I would say is the biggest difference, but our biggest focus is redefining the world in which the game takes place. We're keeping many of the same mechanics from the original game, but using them in a new context with multiplayer modes and redesigned tracks. On top of that, we're pushing for the world in Distance to be a lot more mysterious than the original game, giving elements of the world purpose and function. Working on Nitronic Rush taught us a lot in terms of managing scope, team dynamics, and the importance of developing proper tools for the game at the beginning. For example, multiplayer wasn't really possible in Nitronic Rush due to technical limitations we inadvertently introduced right at the beginning of the project. In Distance we did tons of research before getting too far with a pre-made engine to ensure there wouldn't be major technical problems with multiplayer down the road.
What has it been like to move from school into full-fledged indie development? Have there been any surprises as you've made that switch?
Most of the biggest surprises for us have been in our day-to-day development. At DigiPen we'd be bouncing between several classes a day, working on our games in any slice of time we had available. While the convenience of having dozens of like-minded people to easily bounce ideas off is something we miss, it's much easier now to start focused on a task and continue on it throughout the day. This combined with the fact that we're using a pre-made engine has led to us making an incredible amount of progress so far.