When we heard about “The Walking Dead : All Out War Game Jam” we were thrilled. We love TWD comics and we love Unity. The two-weeks timeframe to work in a jam project was also nice, so it really was a no-brainer for us.
The Team (Beavl + Ruppel)
Beavl is a two man studio based in Argentina: Dami (Game Design and Development) and Nico (Game Design and Business). For this competition, we decided to team up with our friend and amazing artist Fernando Martínez Ruppel (this was the second time we worked together in a game jam. You can play our previous collaboration here). There was a plus too: Nico (short stories and scripts) and Fernando (art) work usually together to create fast-paced narrative series such as Butcher from the Atlantis (among many others), so this was a great opportunity to come up with a brand new fictional universe.
Note: One of the jam rules stated that The Walking Dead IP cannot be used, so we decided to create something from scratch. Including zombies was not mandatory, but hey… we love zombies!
Theme was All Out War. We started to think about it and we were dropping some references when something came up: in an All Out War everything is part of the belligerent effort. So thinking about zombies, humans, battles and dismemberment (!), we asked ourselves: why don’t we make an RTS where resources to build new units are found as a result of killing your enemies?
Further work on the idea
You kill an enemy and you get some meat. With meat you could make new units. We call this process “cooking”. Cooking would include an RV (after Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead, RVs are never gonna be the same!). As we didn’t want the character to go out from the RV, we thought that a mutant dog would come in handy! (Anyone knows something about a Russian’s Two-Headed Dog?). We also read some crazy stuff about controlling the mind with radio frequencies (there are incredible things in science history. If you are interested, you should read about Jose Delgado’s work).
So there it was. That was the start of something we believed to be interesting to develop. At this point, we needed some lead character who could pull all these weird things off! But we didn’t want to take the human vs. zombies approach, so we were thinking about a third party…
We had all this “get meat, assemble, reanimate and remote control your army” going on, so we started to write about our main character and some tie-in scripts in order to make the whole universe interesting. After some passionated talks, The Narrow Path was born. As we are planning to make short comics and stuff, we are not going to spoil anything here but the intro! If you like what we created, you should play the game and read the comics when we release them! (yeah, they’re going to be FREE!).
Fernando told us he wanted to make something b/w for the game (you know, being fans of TWD comics, it made perfect sense!) and he also wanted to try working on pixel art. Thing is… this was his first experience making pixel art! But you know, talent is really an awesome thing, so he started seaching for resources, found Graphics Gale, read some tutorials and started working on all the ingame assets right away. The results were incredible. Here you can check early sketches, a screenshot and some animation gifs!
We wanted to make an RTS. Due to time constraints, we decided to make a really simple one but adding some roguelike elements (permadeath, leveling, item drops and exploration). Unfortunately, we couldn’t add procedurally generated maps (we will come back to this later).
So you cannot leave your RV and you remote control an army of reanimated monsters. Also, you would be able to gather some resources with the aid of a mutant dog. In order to make this work, we designed an indirect control scheme taking advantage of light/dark areas and cursor changes. When hovering on resources, cursor would change and by clicking on them the dog would go and fetch’em. When hovering on enemies, your remote controlled monsters would attack. If you click on an empty surface, all your monsters would move there. When they get out of the light areas, your RV would follow them (if you don’t have any monsters left, your van would move when clicking on an empty space).
Your objective is to kill everyone out there. As you know from the intro scenes, you have kidnapped the Swanson Sisters and you plan to repopulate Earth when all humans and zombies disappear. But wait… Zombies would attack your RV!
If it hadn’t been a Unity-only jam, we would’ve worked with this framework nonetheless. Working with Unity is usually a great experience (and hey, this was no exception). Having worked with platforms such as plain OpenGL & C++ or Cocos2d, this engine is absolutely fantastic. All went really smooth, but maybe a minor setback we had could be worth mentioning. For our game, we decided to use the pathfinding system included in Unity PRO. We had used it before in Galaxel (a game we made for the past #7DFPS), it was easy to set up and the results were really good. But in this case, we didn’t think of something (and we stumbled upon it in the middle of the development!): in Galaxel we had a fixed map, but for The Narrow Path we wanted one procedurally generated so as to have the kind of RTS/Roguelike mashup we were aiming to. Well, this pathfinding system didn’t work well with this approach, and that’s because the NavMesh cannot be created nor modified at runtime. This would have forced us to put the obstacles always in the same spot! So, as an emergency measure, we decided to leave a fixed map in the compo version, but we will address this issue in a future full featured version of the game by dropping Unity’s pathfinding system.
In order to create units (remote controlled monsters), you’ll have to get some resources. As we stated before, you’ll get some by killing enemies (if you kill a zombie you get meat. If you kill a human… you get cell phones!). There are three types of units you can create. Each of them has a special recipe!
In order to level your character, you need to kill a certain amount of enemies. When you level up, you’ll earn one star you could assign to any of the abilities listed in the leveling screen.
Music theme was composed by Fernando. It has some crazy things going on (including a creepy music box and some passionate reverend speech!).
After two weeks of hard work, The Narrow Path was finished (at least the jam version). There are lots of things we would like to add to the game and we are already working on it, so expect some surprises! We would also love to hear what you all think of the game! So feel free to comment on this post!