Today we will first have an in-depth look at how well Unity fits into our design philosophy, and then discuss the main ideas behind Rochard‘s funny one-liners and its cartoony aesthetics.
What advantages/disadvantages does the Unity engine have compared to other engines your team has worked with in the past?
The strong point of Unity is the speed of the iteration cycle when developing the game. Some of the previous engines required us to shutdown the editor for compiling scripts, but in Unity the changes are immediately applied to the engine. This keeps the flow of development going instead of interrupting your work. Extending the editor was also really easy, and we ended up doing quite a lot of tools and small scripts to get rid of some of the laborious repetitive work.
Another feature is the use of so-called prefabs, which stands for “prefabricated game objects”. This allows you to build a palette of game objects that can be easily maintained and placed in the game world. This feature was found in the previous engines too, but they were far more clunky and error-prone.
Unity is not packed with rendering and animation features out-of-the-box. You can always go under the hood and implement things the way you want – that’s the whole purpose. For the games that we are making, it’s just perfect.
How has the Unity engine worked between the different parts of the development team (artists, programmers, level designers)? Do certain aspects of the engine work better with certain specialties, or does the engine work well with everyones position?
Unity is an all-around engine, and it caters to everybody in the team. Because it’s so expandable, you can improve the work flow for any discipline if such need should arise. For example, we ended up doing our custom prefab browser for the editor as our requirements for levels in our game were quite specific. We were originally using the industry standard Perforce for version control, but the built-in Asset Server in Unity had better integration to the engine so we ended up using that instead even though it was not as feature-complete as Perforce is.
Thematically, what is your reason for giving Rochard a sort of quirky, comedic approach as opposed to something a little more “serious” or straight forward? Do you believe that the quirkiness gives better life to the story, characters and sense of immersion?
We wanted to create a story in the spirit of the old Star Wars and Indiana Jones movies which have a bit serious themes but with fun and lighthearted overtones. The quirkiness in Rochard’s case not only helped us to write more catchy characters and story but it is also good for the suspension of disbelief – It’s easier to accept and not question the world of John which may seem a bit odd sometimes. Although the characters seem funny to the player John and all the other characters in the Rochard’s world take themselves quite seriously and the humor is often based on that. And of course the game is filled with witty one liners.
There are certain elements, like John’s Rock Blaster that suggest Rochard could be a purebred shooter game, but what makes Rochard stand out is of course the gravity control which coupled with nice physics bring a whole new level of control to the player. The G-lifter, John’s handhold gravity tool, is another highlight. It allows him to grab and shoot objects in game world. When we started the creation of Rochard we wanted a very solid gameplay based on something familiar, but with an unforgettable twist. You know: something old (platformer), something new (gravity control), something borrowed (G-Lifter) and something blue (gravity is blue)
Check back for the third and last part, or read the whole article on VideoGameWriters.