Ewoud van der Werf, a game developer, has shared the workflow behind the SCHiM project, talked about working with the Unity game engine and Blender.
My name is Ewoud van der Werf, I'm a 19-year-old game developer from the north of The Netherlands. I started out learning CG in middle school, I would use Blender in my free time. Always trying to make something new, eventually, I picked up Unity and released a few mobile games during that time. Later I went to college in Leeuwarden to study game design. There I met Nils Slijkerman and joined his company Extra Nice as an intern, to work on their entertainment game Skirmish.
The team working on SCHiM mainly consists of me and Nils: where I'd be responsible for writing the code & shaders, 3D modeling, and some level design. Nils works on the level design and concept, helping out with things I'm less experienced in. We've also recently teamed up with Moonsailor, an audio company from Brazil, who are producing all of the audio for the game.
When it was time to start my exam, I was given the task of creating a product/game for a company, I went with the place I took my internship, Extra Nice. Here I was given the freedom to create whatever I'd want and made the first version of SCHiM with the company. Several tweets about the game caught the attention of possible publishers and the scope was adjusted to become a more full-fledged game instead of a short experience. I finished my exam and continued to work on SCHiM together with Extra Nice.
The core mechanics are jumping, moving, and interacting with shadows, the latter meaning you can trigger the object you inhabit to do something (like activating a car horn). Designing the gameplay and graphics went hand in hand, giving the depth of the shadows first, and making the player move everywhere shadow-related. Later I added animated objects and what objects could do when you interact with them.
From the start, I already had a pretty clear idea of what the game was going to look like, the finer details later were the use of additional colors and textures. In the beginning, I only wanted to use the same four colors throughout the entire game, which later got changed to each level having its own different color palette. Because the initial plan was a short game for my exam, I didn't want to spend too much time texturing, so the first versions of the art style didn't have much texture work. As the scope widened I expanded on the art style and animation.
SCHiM is made on the Unity game engine, with modeling done through Blender. One of the biggest lessons I've learned is developing level design tools, creating content can be very time-consuming and unintuitive if you're not using the right tools. It's also about creating a fun environment to create levels in.
I found this great GDC talk by David Wehle, the developer of The First Tree, in which he talked about how he marketed his indie game, I took a lot of inspiration from that. Marketing I think is interesting, because that world is also very vast. I find it important to have a consistent output, ideally, I'd like to post something every week. It's also important to keep trying out new things, a little while back I created an account on TikTok, a platform I personally wouldn't have used, and it seems to get picked up there too.
Ewoud van der Werf, Indie Game Developer