Recently, we put the X-speed project on Greenlight for feedback. We received a HUGE amount of feedback from this.
Before I dive into that feedback, let me explain about the roots of X-speed.
X-speed started life as a futuristic hovership shoot-em-up. It was a little bit like the Windows 95 game, Hover, except we had physics, weapons, and a football game mode. I loved this, but it was owned and worked on by 4-5 different people. In around 2007 we dropped “FMC” as it was known then as we were switching technologies.
In 2011, I created a hover-football game along the same lines to see how Unity handled it. The answer was: Very, very well. Testing complete, we put it on the shelf whilst we decided where to go with it. At this point it was never intended to become anything other than a simple Unity test.
Come forward two years, 2013. I found the old prototype, and played with it once more, rekindling my love for what was FMC. I snapped, and decided to do something with it. I spent a few hours designing a terrain based track and adding a waypoint based system, and Red Forest was born.
As you can imagine, even at this point, we have a prototype system that was upgraded into a racer. It played really well, but with no solid core design, things started getting messy quick. I spent some time cleaning up the project, but the fact remains: At it’s very core, Red Forest was still a prototype.
Red Forest turned into project X-speed when we added the procedural track generator and removed the terrains, but even being careful during the conversion, the fact that the project evolved instead of being designed became both part of its charm but also part of a core issue. The game was internally organic. Everything was getting data from everywhere else, much like the roots of an overgrown tree finding their way through the soil, poking up here and there along the way and causing cracks in nearby buildings.
Now, if we jump forward to November 2013, feedback is coming in fast from Greenlight:
“It plays great but it looks terrible” – Fair enough. Users on Greenlight voters will NOT take prototype/coder art into consideration, instead, you will be downvoted for it. They don’t want to see a playable prototype, they want to see a hint of the final product.
“Add this! It needs that!” – All good feedback for features, and we listened!
So, we’ve got a very well-loved project, but it’s not very well. What do we do? What’s the news?
Over the last two days, Sturdy Games has been in talks with Mad.Array about doing what should have been done 7 months ago:
Take the currently implemented and planned features, and build a full design documentation, as if X-speed was not yet in active development, and create a brand new core taking everything into consideration.
The result is that Project X-speed is getting an absolutely HUGE upgrade.
You asked for jumps, stunts, and more interesting tracks. We will deliver, and then some. I’m not talking about just having a slightly better tracks, I’m talking about having tracks that split, twist, jump, go upside down, and generally push you back in your seat as you try not to fall out. This is what you would expect from a pod racer, and as time went on it looked like the current codebase just couldn’t reliably handle it.
You asked for more weapons- This is also being upgraded. Weapons themselves will be managed differently (you won’t notice this, but here at Sturdy Games we know what’s going on!) The HUD system is being removed and replaced with one that each weapon can make use of itself, instead of a single “Ammo” counter on screen.
The UI is being ripped out and replaced with a solid, core system based on NGUI, instead of a system I built myself. Let’s face it, the UI was childish.
The track generator will be hugely upgraded from the original plan. You will be able to place waypoints, generating a track that follows them, applying twists, turns and jumps, track prefabs and collectibles as you go. Generated tracks will have the ability to split and join, allowing two paths.
Networking will be at the very core of the new product, instead of being wedged in afterwards as it has been so far. Multiplayer will be a possibility. The new core should allow niche features like multiplayer track editing…
Mad.Array has been given full control over the visuals, ensuring we can get the best use of our skills. Do not expect us to produce an AAA title however- there are just two of us working on this- but do expect some big improvements over my red/yellow obsessed visuals of the current builds.
This is just the tip of the iceberg, but we will end up with a more stable, and far more exciting product that better matches your, and our, expectations when it is released.
The downside to the tough decision is that we’re going to have to delay a little. Core re-writes such as this take time, and in the instance of project X-speed, are absolutely required to allow it to be the best it can be.
To our fans, we appreciate your patience! To the naysayers- Hopefully these massive, core changes will win you over.
As always, you will be kept up to date. Over the next few weeks we will be testing different core ideas to find which ones best suit the new version. Along the way I will release little tests for you all to play with. The best will be selected for Project X-speed before we apply them to the game.
Right, I’m off to experiment with the new track generator core. Laters!