A Developer diary? If I showed you guys how my real diary looks like, you'd be really disappointed, because frankly it is quite boring to read. So when asked to write a short developer diary, my plans to save some time by copying it over from my real one failed miserably.
By the way, my name is Henrik Sebring and I am the Lead Game Designer for GCII. Now that means that I am the guy who writes the initial design document, follows through the project and makes sure the game is progressing according to the designs. Now however much I wanted it, not all ideas and designs are mine and not all my ideas are great. Developing a game is a team effort - we're thirty-one people working on the title and everyone contributes to the game not only with their expertise but also by great ideas.
Right now we're finishing up the game for the Beta testing - 5000 avid gamers are going to try out our game and report tons of bugs, ideas and comments. After working on the game for almost two years it is a daunting, yet exciting time. You guys will be able to tell us if you like the game or if you don't. Personally I strongly believe you're going to love it =).
It is now the week before the Beta - tomorrow we'll upload the beta build to all relevant sites and then... we're going to play in the beta, collect reports and most importantly do something about the issues you and we discover. The team spirit here is high, which is a good thing, since everyone has been working a lot of overtime to deliver a stable build for the Beta test. Whenever we find a nasty bug, a "showstopper" people get slightly disheartened but so far we've been able to quickly squash the bugs that we've found.
For the last week I've moved down to the "basement" together with our internal test crew to focus solely on gameplay balancing. We've played the game over and over again, trying to find "dominant strategies" and other imbalances. We've found quite a few... and we've dealt with them. I am assured that we'll discover a few more during the beta but we'll take care of them as well. During the balancing week I also discovered something else... our PR lady, Elin, wanted us to grab a few screenshots when we had our epic battles, and of course this led us to raise the screen resolution and to my surprise I could play the game smoothly on almost maximum setting! GCII looks incredibly beautiful but in the higher resolutions it becomes absolutely stunning (hey I might be biased but I guess I am entitled to be that =))
I just hope they allow me back "upstairs" now that we've made this balancing pass... it gets kind of lonely in the evenings and people tend to forget that they have someone in the basement, sitting in the darkness playing games only pausing to grab a coffee...
I almost forgot. This an exempt from yesterday's diary:
- Unit balancing (raw power & viron infantry strategies)
- Wrote four viron unit web descriptions and mailed them to translation
- Working together with Tabbs (programmer) for more small code fixes. Attack moves, APC (load/unload) and unit facing works much better now!
- Exported the MP maps with new player colors.
- Changing unit values & documenting them
- Playing MP games
Today is April 1st and when I arrived to the office this morning, I got myself a steaming hot cup of coffee (it doesn't taste like it though) and started up the game. I nearly choked when the "usual" menu background was replaced with one of the NSA soldiers dancing around to an old 60:ies song. It was a really cool April fools joke (made by one of the 3D artists), and I wouldn't be surprised if it will be hidden somewhere in the final game...
All features are in place and we're busy making all the small fixes and polishing that will make the game shine. I've just run a pass through all the units, checking their secondary modes making sure that their values are correct and that everything works. With secondary modes available on all units it really doubles the amount of units you have at your disposal. With a tactical game like GCII it is going to be important to learn how to use each unit in addition to take advantage of the battlefield terrain if you want to become a great commander.
The days are ticking away - quickly! Right now we're busy with scrubbing the bug database free of old bugs that have already been fixed but not marked as so. In less than one week we've squashed over 350 bugs. And as we are slowly crawling close and closer to our gold date a lot of things besides the game is being addressed. Press preview builds are being created, demo builds and of course the regular full build that we create each week. The downside is that creating a build takes really long time and involves several people... but then again if we skipped the builds you guys wouldn't be able to get a demo and the journalists would not have anything to write previews about... so we're experiencing very long days here at the office. Take-away pizza and hamburgers are really getting on my nerves - tonight I am going to get Chinese food no matter what.