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The creators of Strength in Numbers Studios have talked about their debut game Tuebor and discussed the difficulties of indie development.
Strength in Numbers (SiN) Studios first opened its doors on April 1, 2015. The name originated as our CEO believed that as our team grew larger, SiN Studios grew stronger. Plus, it has a fun little acronym.
Tuebor is SiN Studios first launch title.
Many of our senior staff have worked for AAA studios and have shipped titles such as: Fallout: New Vegas, Dungeon Siege III, Alpha Protocol, Call of Duty: Ghosts, Halo 4, Halo Combat Evolved: Anniversary, Halo Reach, Call of Duty: Black Ops, Galactic Civilizations III, Saints Row, Saints Row 2, and Red Faction: Guerilla.
Many of our junior staff have also shipped indie games from various projects.
The CEO, and Founder, of the company had owned a LAN Center for almost 9 years, which is where the game design originated from.
Tuebor is a 3rd person, cross-genre, competitive, multiplayer, action game where players will conquer, defend, and survive against hordes of mutants, cyborgs, and an evolving artificial intelligence system in a post-apocalyptic, dystopian future.
Our goal was to capitalize on features and aspects of games people enjoyed, while discarding the features that were less than optimal. Everything is end-game content so players can jump in and enjoy the experience without having to spend months getting to the good stuff.
The game is heavily influenced by sci-fi and cyberpunk with inspirations from such great franchise as Aliens, Blade Runner, and Star Trek.
Building Multiplayer Element
One of our primary goals was making sure, throughout the creative process, the game remained fun for players. Each map, game mode, and characters’ abilities have been play tested repeatedly over the course of the development cycle.
The closed alpha testing we have been doing over the last few weeks has helped bring fresh eyes on the game. We’re continuously tweaking things that don’t feel right or don’t give the user a good/fun experience.
Our concern too was to make sure the levels didn’t just feel “grindy”, but also had a strong element of fun, or challenge, or excitement about them.
We are currently using Unreal Engine 4 for our game engine, and a custom “learning and evolving” AI engine that we have been adapting and licensing from Michigan State University.
The tools are easy, just learn everything about Maya, Zbrush, Unreal Engine, Visual Studio, AWS, PhotoShop, After Effects, Agile Methodology, SharePoint, MySQL, NDO, DDO…
But seriously, the production pipeline got into the best position when we were able to hire an experienced full time project manager/game producer. Having someone be able to organize and assign tasks to keep the pipeline flowing has been immeasurably helpful.
The entire process is a learning process, whether you’re a junior developer or have shipped a lifetime of AAA titles, so there are always bound to be mistakes.
The big mistakes came early on in assuming we had enough design documentation. Once we learned that we needed to step up the documentation we were able to keep all teams running more efficiently. Having people wait for the design team to flesh out the information wasted more time that would have been prudent. The fix for this was having the design team work overtime (nights and weekends) for several weeks to get the pipeline unclogged.
We are approaching the monetization on three fronts to allow gamers to tailor their purchases of Tuebor based on their personal preference.
Right now (subject to change) the plan is as follows:
- Free to play: to allow players to get their feet wet and see if they really like the game
o F2P accounts will have limits to weekly content such as game maps and heroes onrotation.
- $15 Skull Ball Edition: this will include all of our Skull Ball game maps and 10 of the30 heroes
o This account will also still be allowed access to the same weekly maps and heroes
- $30 Champions Edition: this version will unlock 20 of our 30 heroes and all of the game modes and maps.
- $45 Heroes Edition: this version will unlock all 30 heroes and all game modes that ship at launch.
- $60 Ultimate Heroes Edition: this version will unlock all 30 heroes and all game modes that ship at launch, AND all heroes and game modes that we release for the entirety of the game life cycle.There are also vanity items in-game to purchase to snazzy up your hero in very unique and fun ways. These will be sold via low dollar amount micro-transactions between $1 – $5 for the Tuebor enthusiast that wants to pimp-their-hero out like a baller.There are no pay-to-win elements of this game, you cannot buy items to make you stronger, faster, better.