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Andrzej Koloska is an experienced game developer from Poland, who worked on more than 50 games (including Witcher 2 and Hellraid: The Escape). wHe’s working on a big indie experiment in his free time – building a first person shooter entirely on his own, using Unreal Engine 4. The greatest thing is that he documents the whole process and makes a huge tutorial out of his development experience. We’ve talked about his work, his shooter and UE4.
Hello there! My name is Andrew Koloska, I’m workaholic currently living in beautiful city – Wroclaw, Poland. I have worked on many games… can’t even count them. You may recognize The Witcher 2, Real Boxing or Hellraid: The Escape for example.
When I started to work in professional game development (I was 18 then) industry looks different than Today. It was really hard to get any ready-to-go engines. Companies created their own technologies. It was hard (but creative!) time for indies comparing what we can see Today. Indies focused mostly on doing mods (Hammer FTW!) and trying to do games using frameworks… it requires big effort. Only big companies were able to license polished engines like Unreal Engine 3, Gamebryo or Unigine.
Today you have engines in your hands, lot of resources and ready to go assets that you can use. Everyone is able to create a game. Everyone. It only depends on your motivation and dedication.
There is lot of reasons why I have started to work on ShooterTutorial. Will try to point only those most valuable for me:
- Game development is evolving rapidly if you want to be the best you need to play with the best and commit yourself learning the stuff. I want to know exactly what my team is doing and how I can help them (I’m producer at my daily job) Learning is critical Today as teams are more agile. I want to be great value for my team and to achieve that I need to constantly improve my skills,
- Ambitions. I would like to be one of few producers out there that are able to create a game alone,
- Yet another resource for people that are trying to get into the industry. I hate when someone is trying to get a job and haven’t done anything. Everyone is able to create game Today. ShooterTutorial is great example during job interviews.
- I’m telling people to learn the engine (just pass step by step tutorials), create a game and get back to me again,
- I love to learn and share my experience with others. I’m participating in game dev events here at Poland and wanted to move this to another level,
- I want to leave something valuable from me to the industry.
Picking Up The Engine
I don’t want to compare engines because they have their pluses and minuses – all of them. I think I have most experience in Unreal Engine than other engines. It was natural choice for me.
As for the FPS just look how many shooter games was created using Unreal Engine. Borderlands, Mass Effect, Bioshock and many, many others. Even Epic created shooter games using it. For me it’s “shipping ready” engine for shooters.
Another thing is I want to be part of the UE4 community during early days. Engine is evolving and it’s great to be part of it.
I guess one of the best things about your project is that you show all those things, besides visualization. Can you talk about the hardest challenges of game building, that go beyond level production? Like interface, shooting mechanics and all those other things.
Making money is the hardest part. Seriously. You can create great game that won’t give you enough revenue. I will be doing posts about Bizdev and ShooterTutorial shipment will be open as well. Will share my knowledge on this topic.
As for the development. It’s always easy to create prototype using placeholder assets, but if it comes to shipping ready features you spend more time just tweaking things. That’s why I have chosen to use ready-to-go assets. People were asking me why I’m using those assets. That’s the answer – it’s easier to create something using placeholders and much more harder to use final assets. You will learn more.
Motivation and commitment. Another thing is that it’s always easy to start. Everyone loves starting things. New better idea came up – let’s do it! The most hardest thing in indie game development is start and actually finish (ship) the game. If you are looking to get to the industry it’s better to have one simple game shipped than 10 advanced games in design phase.
If you are committed to finish the game and don’t have any distractions you will find your way to resolve hardest things. Just take your time.
Creating the Action Experience
ShooterTutorial game is different than typical shooters. In my game you can’t move you are only aiming. It is more arcade and more aim challenging than other games. Currently I’m creating gameplay balance mechanics which will focus on similar approach that is in Guitar Hero. Aim rhythm is the clue here. Fun comes from rhythm.
You want to make system that is easy to learn and super fast to iterate your rhythm patterns. That’s the goal and it will be explained in next tutorial. You want to prototype fast and design things based on prototypes.
When it comes to shooters with movement the goal is still the same – create tools for fast prototyping and iteration. Create levels using brushes / boxes, prototype enemies and shooting with Blueprints as it’s much more faster. It really depends on the game itself which tools can help you.
And always, always play other shooters while prototyping. Analyzing (mean playing) references will boost your motivation and creativity.
I don’t have navigation features as player is defending one spot, but I do know something about it. The best way to guide the player is to use lighting. You can see this example in every first person game (even new Fallout 4) another thing is to use specific and detailed meshes / textures (eg: different colour) to drive player’s attention.
Building The Game in Solitude
It isn’t a secret. Just work and take your time. Simple as that. Don’t plan, don’t think too much – work hard, prototype and play with the engine. This is my secret. Instead investing time on planning / designing I’m just doing the features and play with them. I don’t have any deadlines. Instead of going partying every day or watching TV I’m just working. Simple as that.
Open Development Process
It’s more than open as I’m doing step by step tutorials how to achieve things that I’m developing. 20% of the time takes actual development and 80% writing tutorial about it. It’s hard as I’m slowly moving forward with the game but this gave me time to think about new features.
I want to be open to get feedback from everyone. I want to create some kind of ShooterTutorial initiative community. Spread the word and be sure to target as much willing to learn people as I can.
I’m not thinking about shipping yet. My first goal is to create public demo which will show main features. After getting feedback from players I will know how many features is missing.