Monday, December 5, 2011

The early years of development

Welcome to the second blog post for BlastZone 2! In the previous post, I talked about how the BlastZone 2 project started and now I will describe the first few years of its development.

About 3 months into the project's development, there was a game development competition at my college. At that point I had already made significant progress beyond the original BlastZone remake and created two new game modes; Mission mode and Enhanced survival mode. However, these modes were still in their infancy with only the most basic features implemented to make them playable. Even so, I figured that my game was going to win the contest no matter what since everyone else entering the contest only worked on their games for 2-3 weeks and they were all 2D games. Even though my game used 3D graphics, the models in the game were simple and boxy with sine-wave hills in the background. My game ended up coming in second place and I was really devastated considering the work I put into it so far. However, that feeling didn't last long and I used that game contest as motivation to redouble my efforts to make my game the best it could be.

BlastZone 2 after 3 months of development, entered into the game development competition

Over the next few months, my renewed determination really payed off; BlastZone 2 made huge strides of improvement and quickly got the attention of job recruiters. I got my first internship within a month of the game contest, and then a full time position in the games industry 2 months after that! When I started working on my game, a few people asked me if I was working to get into the games industry, but I always laughed at the question as I figured it was only a distant dream and I had no real chance at all. Little did I know that only 6 months after starting my game I got my first full time game industry job! The job was for doing casino and betting games, but I still had a blast doing it and was proud of what I had achieved. However, I didn't let it stop me from continuing work on BlastZone 2 during nights and weekends.

The fall semester of '06 was my senior project.  As soon as it was mentioned that there was an entrepreneurial track for it, I immediately thought of my game.  I sent in a proposal to my senior project professor and he approved it!  I was excited at first but then felt a little guilty since everyone else on the entrepreneurial track was starting a new project from scratch.  I decided to start two new support projects for BlastZone 2 for the senior project to make it more "legitimate"; A website and an online leaderboard.  I had an interesting opportunity for feedback about half way through the semester.  I presented BlastZone 2 in front of a group of students and several entrepreneurial advisors in the college program.  I got some good feedback from the session, but above all else they wanted multiplayer support in the game.  I never considered multiplayer up to that point, but if people really wanted it, I was going to do my best to deliver it.  The final senior project presentation and public showcase was only a few weeks away, but I worked really hard and just barely got local multiplayer in there in time.  During the public showcase it was great to see people having so much fun playing the game and they loved the multiplayer support!  Several people even said they wanted to buy the game on the spot which was great to hear.  In the end, the senior project experience was very positive, although the subprojects developed during it ended up being replaced later on during the game's development.

BlastZone 2 after 10 months of development, for the senior project and second game competition

Near the end of the same semester, there was another college game development competition that I entered. This time my game won by a large margin and I was so ecstatic! Attendies couldn't believe how far BlastZone 2 had come in just a few months and they were really interested to hear about how I did it. I was happy to share my enthusiasm for game development and hoped I would inspire others to start games of their own.  However, I didn't let this victory make me complacent.  I used the enthusiasm from the competition power me into expanding the scope of the game even further.

I hope you enjoyed reading about my experiences developing BlastZone 2 so far.  In the next entry, I will cover the later development stages including some drastic shifts that occurred during the project.  Also, for those who are interested, in future entries I will cover some of the technical details of how the game was developed and the kinds of choices made in its architecture and gameplay elements.

If you or anyone you know wants to make their own game or any other kind of personal project, make sure you stick with it and don't let failures early on discourage you from following your dreams.  Don't let your successes make you complacent in your work either.  Always strive to keep improving your skills and never give up!


  1. Great advice, Matt! Would definitely enjoy the technical details--hope to see them make a comeback in future entries. Congratulations on your early successes with the game and here's hoping there will be plenty of future ones for you to enjoy!

  2. Thanks a lot for your comment! I would be happy to include more technical details in future entries, great to see the interest! I will section off parts of future blog posts so those who are interested in the techno-babble can read about it while others can easily skip it.