I was browsing Reddit during some down-time earlier tonight, and I came across a game that was being promoted in the GameDev/Unity section called Vaccine. It's basically a Resident Evil clone, but takes the interesting idea of a randomly generated building wherein you must find a Vaccine to cure your teammate lying sick in bed.
Since I'm in the middle of making a ResidentEvil/DinoCrisis style experience myself, I thought this would be a good opportunity to see what another solo indie developer is doing, and see their interpretation of this sort of experience. Weirdly enough, the guy has used the exact same royalty-free music track as I have in my trailers for Dino Hazard, and he looks as obsessed with the PS1 low-poly/glitchy art-style as I am! Maybe he's seen Dino Hazard on indieDB once when it was in the top 10 games looked at for the week. Quite possible.
Regardless, it would be cool to think that someone got inspired to create a game, just because they saw my project on indieDB and thought "Hey, I've got a similar idea I think would work well...". If you are aware of me (you may even be reading this blog post!), then congratulations on releasing Vaccine on Steam (PC), Xbox One, and PS4. As a solo developer, you're another one of many sources of inspiration I rely on daily to push forward with my projects and ideas. Game Development has taken a bit of a back seat for me at the moment as I focus on the other piece of news I'll have to share soon (almost April!), but Vaccine is an indie title that has left me with a newfound interest in finishing Dino Hazard once more.
Put simply, without being arrogant or sound too full of myself, I think I can do better! I played Vaccine, and there were certain elements I thought were quite rough, or could have been handled better player controller wise. Also, because the game was developed using Unity, it gives me a good indication of what I can hope to achieve myself using the engine. As such, I see Vaccine as a direct competitor/rival for what I hope Dino Hazard will become. Granted, Vaccine is more of an arcade-style experience of points and randomly-generated dungeons whilst Dino Hazard is entirely narrative, but I think I can do better ;)
Vaccine however, serves as a good bar-of-quality to aim for in tackling my Dino Hazard project. It stands as something to aspire to be good as, and an example of what I should be aiming for as a solo developer (if I can produce better, then great!). It's a bit like that other game, Back In 1995, which was also a 3rd person tank-movement SilentHill/ResidentEvil type experience. When that came out, that was like a source of validation for me in seeing a complete game using the approach and graphical style that I wanted to adopt in my own personal projects.
So thanks to both of these games, I can see clearly that my vision for what Dino Hazard could become is something achievable. I was always worried with doubts and anxiety over "Will anyone even like this art style of PS1 wobbly geometry and stretching textures..." or "These tank-style movement controls will probably end up annoying people". Stuff like that. I can say with confidence now though, that I think my choices are good design-wise, and I'm heading in the right direction with what I have in mind for Dino Hazard.
Kooler World is a different story. I'm trying to capture the open world Mario 64, Toy Story 2, and Spyro The Dragon kind of experience there, which still has a place now with games like Yooka-Laylee proving they still have a loyal fan-base.
In any case, like Back In 1995 was a pivotal moment for me in coming to an epiphany regarding certain aspects of Dino Hazard, Vaccine is a second point during Dino Hazard's development, where the direction of my project is given some clarity, and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel once more. It's hard keeping your motivation going on a project that you're working on alone, even more-so when you have as many hobbies and other stuff going on professionally as I do. In one way it's my own fault for taking so much on, but it's also good for me because I'm growing and improving multiple disciplines all at once, which I hope gives me good utility in the future.
If you want to check out Vaccine to get an idea of what kind of experience visually I'll be trying to create as a Resi-clone, you can check it out on Steam here: http://store.steampowered.com/app/549950/
I realised after finishing writing this above, that I failed to mention what progress Dino Hazard has actually made. Silly me! Part of my switch to a PS1 style, was the overwhelming amount of work I would have had ahead of me in modeling, animating, and texturing characters and objects. The detail I was going into was quite deep, and even if I scaled back and produced something of the PS2 era like Resident Evil: Code Veronica or Resident Evil 4, I would be looking at well over a year easily.
Keeping it all grounded in a PS1 style (besides indulging in nostalgia) is to keep things at a production quality that I can produce assets fairly quickly, and get away with a few mistakes/un-polished spots here and there. It gives me a chance to focus more on the experience through design and gameplay than on making the game look perfect. Expectations of how polished a game should look, depends on what art-style you use. For something like Borderlands or Killer 7, you can get away with a lack of polish, because of the cartoony presentation it has. In the same way, if I have realistic lighting and high-poly models, those mistakes and areas that lack polish will be highlighted much more.
So I'm still dodging the question. Where is Dino Hazard's progress currently at, since I shared that second piece of gameplay footage showing the character movement and camera-switching system? Truth is, it's still more-or-less at that stage. I've said in a previous blog post, that I sometimes come across a problem, and then I swap projects or go off to learn that thing before returning back to the original problem? Well for me, that problem was inventory management. So I went off to complete a basic RPG tutorial from a book I'd bought using C# and Unity, and then once I'd learned that, I just got absorbed in other work that I never came back to implement that into Dino Hazard.
Then I didn't know how to make a basic shooting system that didn't get too accurate with raycasts (because I wanted an "area" of sorts in front of the player to be the hittable zone for enemies), but still had enough accuracy that you couldn't shoot through walls for instance or through stairs/fences/windows etc. That really pickled my brain for a while, and I just went to work more on Kooler World on my other projects. Like I said, seeing Vaccine now, gives me a lot of motivation to actually find a solution to that problem once and for all, and commit to finishing Dino Hazard's gameplay mechanic designs, regardless of the end result. I just need to see this one through to the end basically! Still a few tutorials and specific mechanics/cutscene-style stuff I need to read into a bit, but generally things are looking good!