A New Zone
When we set out almost 5 years ago to start creating a game we came up with Zone, it is a game that takes the best parts we like from an Arena shooter and we are trying our best to put this together as a game to release within the next 12-18 months.
Zone has gone through many significant changes from when we set out building a Xitol team to create this shooter and a lot has changed. Zone started out as Battleground: The Arena and was a UDK based project building upon existing UDK features and code and making it our own.
One of the first changes we made early on in creating Battleground: The Arena was its setting and also its name, we changed it from a close encounters Arena shooter to a more traditional Sci-Fi FPS game with diverse map designs and larger maps, along with the game becoming Zone: The Battleground. One of the new pushes was to have AI in the levels as stand-ins if players were to drop-out or if a game session had open slots to fill for team balancing.
One year later and we decided to make another change to our design which was to add classes and a more ambitious larger scale game mode, and another slight name change to Zone: Commando. By this point we had characters, weapons and maps ready for testing but no stable network or online play. That is when it was decided to put the project on hiatus and revaluate if this was a possible first game for us to create.
Then Unreal Engine 4 was announced along with its marketplace. This allowed our much smaller team to build a prototype which is where we are at today, we made the decision to go for current generation graphics with PBR (Physically Based Rendering) and high-detail models. As well as switch back to a more classical arena shooter style. Gone were the player classes, elaborate maps and anything unnecessary to making a good game.
We also scrapped our older Character and Weapon models as they needed to fit in with the new art style and design changes we had made, as Zone has changed from a more Urban/Futuristic feel to a Sci-Fi game with a more alien and fantasy based element to its universe.
We’ll be talking more about the universe in future posts.
What is happening with Zone?
Currently Zone sits at Pre-Alpha 02 state, our third Pre-Alpha build and after a successful online playtest of Pre-Alpha 01 we are looking to refine gameplay as well as work on our HUD and player UI along with Game Modes. Our focus was for the first 2 Pre-Alpha builds to establish online functionality and get some games working with player feedback from a small group of friends of ours.
Taking this feedback on a month-by-month testing basis will be helping us shape gameplay into a modern take on an arena shooter, one decision we have already decided to make is to set all of our levels inside actual arenas within the Zone Universe, as limiting as this sounds it doesn’t affect how we’ll be designing maps, but it will give the maps a unique feel.
We don’t want to have this Arena setting limit Zone to being a competitive game, some of our game modes are strictly designed to be fun and a bit more unique than other games, something else we’ll be talking about in the future. We are however focusing on 3 core game modes for initial development and testing of maps including a Classic Deathmatch style mode and a CTF mode.
In our next April Update, I am hoping we will be showing off Convert our first Arena Level, as well as documenting its progress from 2D concept through to final Pre-Alpha game ready level.