Cutie BoïngBoïng - Promotional teaser artwork

Cutie BoïngBoïng - Promotional teaser artwork

Allegory - unfinished movie project by STF

Allegory - unfinished movie project by STF

Original Cutie design and logo by Maclud

Original Cutie design and logo by Maclud

Development blog No1 - Nobody cares!

Blog | December 2014

Well, here we are, talking about this game at last.

In the beginning there was...

So, this is what happened - and please note that I am being forward with you here, because I like you, you’re taking the time to read all this, and for that, you’re a real champ’, thanks.

My dear friend Maclud has always been pretty into video games, art and 3D graphics. This guy introduced me to 3D Studio Max R2 back in high school [1] and I owe him quite a lot of my artistic mischief. The week I found out about this new Unity3D game engine, I was like a little girl who caught a glimpse of Santa on Christmas eve. I went to his place to show it to him and he loved it.

At that time, I was working on my super-duper animation film [2] and did not have any intention of getting into coding again. I had gotten a university diploma in Computer Science [3] and did not really plan on getting back on the horse.

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Allegory - unfinished movie project by STF

About one year later, Maclud had started a game about farting on people [4] and I was really impressed because, it actually looked like and honest to God third person game. My head went "Shit! What am I doing movies for?" for a second, and then, it passed again.

About another year later, my movie project crashed and burned [5] and Maclud offered the idea of making a game together.

I had an AWESOME idea for a game... that tuned out to be some of the hardest game mechanic to pull off, so we ended up after a few weeks of dev’ on my part, trying to do something simple.

Something simple

So first off, you’ll hear people say that to you: “Start with something simple”. And definitely, do that. But more than that, start by turning off your electronic devices.

We started coding Cutie BoïngBoïng the moment our idea was formed... not with a very compelling story, not with artwork, not with game mechanic, we started by coding.

If I have one thing to derive form this experience it’s: DON’T.

A game is a complex object. Even when you’re prototyping, the minimum is that you and your colleague should be working toward the same goal. Not having defined what the game actually was, Maclud went and designed a very nice looking prototype of a SuperMario Bros. clone, while I was coding an old-school physics-driven ball in a wooden labyrinth... this lead to quite a bit of tensions.

We indeed had a working prototype in a week or so, but... it was flavourless (which Maclud enjoyed and drove me into an intense depression).

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Original Cutie design and logo by Maclud

Pushing the envelope

After a few month of letting this project alone and thinking about other games, getting my hands into coding with Unity [6] I came to the understanding, that if I wanted a game that doesn’t depress me, I needed to focus on why I hated what we had just done so much and figure a way to get passed it (or to change the game in order for it to make more sense to me).

Truth is, I hated the game because of it’s laziness. Design was well executed but lazy, not original, not researched and we had both grown attached to it, not because it was good, but because we had gotten used to it. There was no story, there was no purpose. I got to the point were I called this "A weapon of mass destruction for the Human mind". It was meant to pass the time, both for us, and for the player, and I hated that!

So, I started to put intent into the design. I wrote a story, a nice little fable [7] and a bit of music [8] to create a mood. And then, I went and see what I could do with the simpler game mechanics we had in the prototype.

That done, I rebooted the whole project, because my prototype was absolutely not scalable and adding functions or performance improvement was utterly impossible with my early code - and I had gotten a lot better at C# over the months.

The parting of ways

And that’s where Maclud called it quits. The game had become something he was not comfortable investing time and sweat into. The game he wanted to do had vanished into oblivion. Not that he disliked what I had evolved it to, just that he did not recognize the idea of the game he would have like to pursue in it.

In a way, it was very difficult for me. I am not a graphic artist. I do a little 3DCG, I dabble in compositing special effects but I had no training whatsoever in actually making graphical shit - which was Maclud’s role in all this.

For a while, taking on that extra work terrified me. But one day, I just went online, found as much tutorial I could about graphic design, colours and how to use them, and Illustrator, and off I was.

The shape of things to come

I’ll talk a bit in detail about the design process of the Game in upcoming posts, for now, I’m going home to spend the holidays with my family.

The hardest thing, I should say, about this all process, is that I spent the best part of three bloody months coding the system, making it air-tight, fast, learning Cg and ShaderLab, and making the best tools to make the game a better one and ... nobody cared.

The moment I started putting online some of the artwork, then, it became real. To me - and probably because I’m keeping the art relatively simple - the graphics of this game are its Achilles heel. They are not the place where I’ve invested a lot of time and effort until now, but they are a lot more relatable than "Dude, check it out, I’ve implemented a Catmull-Rom curve system in Unity able to deal with an arbitrary number of control points"... since none of my friends actually code (or do maths at any level), well, this has been a long, sad and very lonely trip.

People are eager to play the game though, not ever caring about how hard it is to pull that kind of rabbit off the proverbial hat by oneself, but that’s something, I guess.

That’s why I blog, I guess. And that’s why I make that kind of pictures sometimes... to tease and communicate through the loneliness of the coder :)

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Cutie BoïngBoïng - Promotional teaser artwork

[1God, I’m so old

[2Yes, this project utterly failed since... stop reminding me!

[3this is a fancy way of saying that I should totally be a programmer

[4I swear to God

[5It will rise again at some point, if I get rich or find people willing to work on it with me, but, hey, I’m not a big dreamer

[6I’ll blog about the joy of Unity at some point

[7I won’t spoil the story here

[8That, I will spoil, during development months to come, I will share music and I’ll be expecting feedbacks!

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