4 Hugues Ross - Blog: Making the first Halberd game
Hugues Ross


Making the first Halberd game

It's done! Earlier this week, I finished the last of the features I needed for Halberd's MVP. I'm going to sit down and make a game with it now, so I thought I'd bring you along for the ride. Please bear in mind that Halberd is still in a very rough state, I've done basically no polish or UX work with this version yet.

Why Make a Game Before Release?

Longtime readers have likely noticed that I do this all the time, but don't really explain why I take the time to make games before engine releases. In fact, I even denounced this practice during a retrospective last year (For the curious but lazy, check the section titled "Total Overkill"). So why am I doing it now?

There are a few good reasons why I feel a need to make a game before pushing my work to the internet and calling it a day:
  1. Making a game is a way to validate that the tool works, by forcing me to engage with all of its features. If there are any bugs or missing parts, I can fix them before release. It also lets me see which features need the most love and which are 'good enough' as-is.
  2. Having games made in an engine is also good for proving its capabilities. Anyone can make game development tools, but if no good games have ever been made with them then they'll be a tough sell for other devs.
  3. Finally, games can also serve as a useful reference for anyone who wants to try Halberd out. I don't think anyone will at this point in development, but when people do start using it they'll have something to help them.
Clearly, there are some real benefits to using your own tools before offering them to the world. But why not small demos like I did with DFGame?

In response to my previous post, I would argue that the circumstances around Halberd make points 2 and 3 legitimate in a way that they weren't for DFEngine. My stated goal with Halberd is to produce a game engine as a product for others to use, whereas my old mistakes were mainly for personal use. I've seen certain engines receive criticism in the past because the devs didn't use them to make their own games, so clearly this is a factor that some people care about.

Additionally, the large scope of Halberd makes it a real marathon of a project. I need to break it up with smaller game projects if I want to keep my sanity! Not all of my 'filler' will be made with Halberd, but it's still a convenient excuse to give the engine a workout.

About the Game

Right now, Halberd's limited featureset heavily restricts what I can and can't do. To get around that, I'm going to start things off with a very simple game about a knight slaying a dragon. It's a typical story that has been done to death, but that makes it easy to work with, perfect for a limited toolbox. We can try some more exciting things for future versions of the engine.

Due to the limitations, I'm also aiming for around 8-10 minutes of gameplay. That should be enough for the game to show off everything Halberd currently has to offer without overstaying its welcome.

Too Much Information?

With this mini-project, I'm going to do something different from my usual fare. Nowadays I mostly write posts when I have some specific 'theme' or aspect of a project that I want to cover, but that leaves out a lot of potentially interesting things. I never really write about anything outside of fairly dry programming topics, but I enjoy other aspects of development too.

I think it could be interesting to share my process in detail, so I'm going to try documenting everything I do and see how things turn out. Assuming it all goes how I want it to, you'll be able to see the game's assets take shape from start to finish, including any drafts and thrown-out ideas. It'll slow the pace of the project down, but I think the idea has enough merit to try just once.

You can expect a few weeks (hopefully no more than that) of posts talking about various parts of the game as I work on it. Following that, I'll probably return to my usual non-schedule.

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