Yesterday GamingBolt published a Dev Diary on Resogun that I put together myself. You can read the whole thing HERE
, but I'll publish it in a couple of episodes on the forum as well, because I think it contains anecdotes that were never discussed before and maybe you feel like commenting.
In the beginning there were voxels. Everything started from the technology. At the time, our Creative Director Harri Tikkanen and the tech team came up with an idea: “Wouldn’t it be cool to build a game entirely out of voxels?”. So we started working on that concept, and from that three games emerged, all based on the idea of being built with voxels. One became Resogun (interestingly enough, that has been the name for the project since the start), one became the iOS project we are currently working on (with rather drastic changes, as voxels are not the main thing anymore), and one didn’t make it out of the prototype stage.
The name “Resogun” was chosen because we wanted to make a game that would bring to mind the 2D shooters of yesteryear. Those games had such an impact on everybody’s imagination because of their bitmap graphics, and since voxels are 3D pixels, we crafted the “Reso” prefix thinking about “resolution”. The “Gun” was more about attitude, as we knew it was a game about blowing stuff up.
Resogun started as platform agnostic. While in the prototype stage, we were running some code on PC and targeting different Sony platforms. As we proceeded, it became more and more clear that to fully express what we had in mind we would need a lot of raw power. Building all levels and enemies out of voxels turned out to be really expensive in terms of computational power, especially when you consider that there are no “fake physics” in Resogun.
Every cube behaves according to a specific set of physics rules, and each one of them enjoys its own lighting. When I talk about a “specific set” of physics rules I mean that we had to decide what was good for gameplay and readability and what was not. For example, it’s possible to blow up the entirety of a level, but that wouldn’t be very fun, since after a few explosions there would be very little standing up to work as a background. For the same reason we decided that if you destroy the bottom of a building, the rest of it doesn’t immediately collapse on itself.
For quite a long time the game didn’t feature the graphics you see in the final product. We went through several concepts: some were more retro, some much more colorful. The original prototype we used to pitch the game to Sony relied a lot on red and blue hues. Nailing the visual style was a long process, and we had several meetings with Sony XDev Europe, the publisher, before we hit the sweet spot of what Resogun is nowadays. There were some concerns regarding the “retro” aspect of it: we wanted it to bring to mind old games, but we didn’t want it to look old and unappealing, especially when we had this really amazing voxel technology that worked so well with lighting effects.
So, while hard at work on the way the game looks, the team was also down to the nitty gritty iterations of gameplay. Over the months things have changed quite a bit in all the key areas of the game. There have been builds featuring “options” (like Gradius or R-type), meaning some small drones circling around the ship and adding firepower to your ship. For a long time we only had one central tower where the player had to deposit both humans and green energy cubes to generate power ups.
In this version the humans run around a treadmill and build the weapons for you – that idea was abandoned because it made the gameplay gravitate too much around the same spot. Experiments with a weapon shop worked great, but the idea was abandoned because it slowed gameplay too much between phases. We were also planning a World Map to track players’ progresses – that was axed because it felt like an unnecessary layer between the player and the action.
The gameplay elements associated with humans have evolved over time as well: for instance we used to have “normal” humans, “special” humans, and even “expiring humans” – all that is pretty much gone now, with the possible exception of the Throwing Human button, born as part of a “refill-human-energy” mechanic and kept because it was just fun to use.
One of the most crucial choices we had to make involved the “twin-stickness” of Resogun: we experimented with the possibility to shoot at 360°, but it didn’t feel right because it turned the player into some sort of “moving turret” – move a bit, shoot in every direction, move again – so in the end we settled for left and right. If we had made the opposite choice back then, you’d be playing a very different game now.
The more the development advanced, the more we started to feel the need for a powerful hardware: to realize our vision any other platform wouldn’t cut it. The concept itself – a cylindrical world around which the player has to pick up humans and fend off aliens – can work pretty much on any hardware, but not when you throw into the mix voxels, physics, lighting, 1080p and 60fps. So the more we talked with Sony, the more we agreed that Resogun needed to be on PS4.