What's Tiny Tanks?
Tiny Tanks is a fun multiplayer party game with colorful tanks, an endless flood of game modes and total destruction mayhem. As a nice side effect, the game world tries to be physically correct and is completely destructible.
How did Tiny Tanks come about?
In the middle of 2016 I started working on a small physics prototype. The result was a small box with 6 wheels that could drive. Then I had the idea to build a small tank out of the box. The first major inspiration from Tiny Tank was the Tanks! game from the Wii Play collection.
I presented the small prototype to my friends and mentors at university and got good feedback, after which I expanded the project further. The next step was to build a simple environment out of blocks, which are still used in Tiny Tanks with the exception that the environment was not yet destructible. At that time, you could drive around on a small test map for two people. Then the destructibility was added and everyone who tested the game immediately enjoyed blowing everything up.
From student project to real game
After about a quarter of a year Jannik, who had watched the project from the start, joined in and so we both got together and worked together on Tiny Tanks. Right after that we set ourselves structured goals and tried to create a vision for the project, because until now development was all about adding a new feature, without really reflecting whether it would make sense to include it. Over the next few weeks we worked on a real gameplay loop. It also allowed us to go to the first expo to gather input and opinions from outsiders. From the first fair we were able to take a lot of good, but at the same time sometimes hard feedback along - and let it flow into the game straight away. We also got to know many other developers at the events, with whom we have very good relations today. Slowly a real game began to emerge and so we decided to submit Tiny Tanks on Steam Greenlight in March 2017, which was a fantastic experience for us, as Greenlight gave us a lot of attention in the social medias for the first time.
How the game was created from a prototype!
Our motivation was pushed by the Greenlight and we worked like savages. We revised the game concept a bit and added some real game modes to offer more variety to the players. The first modes were e.g. mine rain, in which the whole map is flooded with mines or a mode, in which everything is dark and only the tanks have a small light. That was all well and good, but the gameplay didn't have any real variance yet, so we decided to adjust the gameplay loop again. Now the modifiers came into play. To make each mode feel a bit different, we added modifiers to the game and you can combine 0 - 3 modifiers with a game mode. A modifier is there to change the game a bit throughout all modes. For example, as a modifier you can get a very strong recoil or gravity like on the moon. You can also combine the modifiers freely to get even more crazy variations. For example, you can play a match of Tiny Tanks in which you are chased by a UFO in the dark while trying to blow other players off the map with explosive projectiles. After we implemented those ideas, we had our first real gameplay loop and we could start producing content. But what else was there?
During the development we had made several attempts at an online multiplayer and had always failed. Nevertheless, our desire to integrate an online multiplayer was so great that we didn't give up and kept trying new approaches. The first tests for the Online Multiplayer were made in mid-2017. Due to events and private reasons among others, the further development of the Online Multiplayer was delayed and only progressed falteringly. Since December 2017 we are working on the online multiplayer of Tiny Tanks and it is the last real hurdle before the launch.
The online multiplayer of Tiny Tanks - A love-hate relationship
The implementation of the online multiplayer of Tiny Tanks turned out to be far more difficult than first assumed. The very first attempt was an implementation within the scope of a study project. With this you could drive around on a map with two people and destroy blocks. This approach worked well in the local network. At that time, however, we were not yet aware of how much we had not considered.
As we continued with this approach, we soon realized that our implementation would quickly reach its limits. As soon as you wanted to play a game outside your local network, the game kept crashing. We later discovered that the Internet connection was probably reaching its limits because so much data needed to be transferred.
Later on we looked at several solutions and decided to continue working with one of them. In the beginning we didn't know anything about Online Multiplayer, which is why we developed the project almost two times at the same time. There were many setbacks because we tried out many approaches that often led to nothing. There were moments when we doubted our abilities and thought we had reached our limits. But over time the multiplayer evolved and is now quite stable. You can play with up to eight players. There is only one big technical hurdle left, after which the online multiplayer can be regarded as finished.