Postmortem: Armourgeddon [01.21.14]
- Benjamin Roye
My name is Ben Roye and I am the Producer on Armourgeddon, a steam-punk-esque, shoot many robots, third-person action game. In this game, the player assumes the role of Amanda Morris, a Welklandish special forces unit dropped behind Schwartzweltian enemy lines to rid the world of the evil robot regime. The player has access to ten different weapons, each with their own unique super-attack. The game also contains an Arena mode where the player can work their way through 20 waves of enemies before finally unlocking an endless "Armourgeddon" wave.
I came onto Armourgeddon at the beginning of the Vertical Slice sprint. It was immediately apparent that there were a few issues with the project. The team lacked vision and there seemed to be some team dynamics issues because of it. I sat down with all of the team members and asked what had happened. Many team members felt that the game was going in different directions. I decided to address the issues by calling a meeting with all team members. I asked the team what game they really wanted to make. Everyone agreed that the soul of the game was frenetic combat with many on-screen enemies. We decided to refocus the game to highlight the game's combat.
In the process of refocusing the game to highlight combat, we made a few large design changes to compliment the combat. We changed the game from a very linear game with platforming elements to an open-world game that was more-or-less flat. Since the player now the ability to go back and forth between areas, we could continually respawn enemies; this gave players a chance to continue playing the game as much as they wanted before continuing on to complete objectives. We created three districts for players to explore: industrial, residential, and government. Each district has a distinct personality; the industrial district contains factories that pollute the sky, the residential area is cleaner, beautified area, and the government area climbs from waterside docks up to the top of a hill overlooking the city.
The game had performance problems that persisted throughout the project. Performance issues were caused by many on-screen enemies, highly detailed art, and occlusion calls. Throughout development, we had at least one team member working solely on performance at any given time. However, we had chosen to do an open-world game and we needed to keep pursuing our game vision. Going in, we knew that performance was going to keep being an issue until the end of the project.