Devlog#1 : And the winner is…
Welcome to our first ever #devlog !
I kind of feel like I’m at the first day in middle school, when you know absolutely no one in your class and have to introduce yourself in front of everyone. You know you don’t want to sound too nerdy / awkward /stupid (pick the correct statement).
Plus, the classroom is way bigger this time !!!!
So I’ll start with a simple: Hello, I’m Gwen ! I’ll be your monthly devlog host during the quest of bringing back this great game that is Little Big Adventure.
I’m sure many people in the LBA community are wondering what we are aiming for. We absolutely want to pay our respects to the vision the creators of the game had for anything related to the development of such a game, but we also bring our own background and knowledge to the party.
So the first question I had to answer even before we announced the game comeback on Twitter was “Which game engine are we going to use ?”.
As a young studio with big dreams, with some of us coming from a technical background within industries where you have to try your best to avoid waste, we want -and need- to put a lot of effort into working as smart as possible.
We want to make great games (obviously 🤭) but we also want to be as efficient as possible as a team. So from the beginning we decided to look for a game engine for our future games, and build our teams and projects around that choice. Pretty big decision to make, as you can imagine !
The nerd side of me would love to code her proprietary game engine but the responsible side wins: it’s not about getting hyped on coding something cool (and hassle many years to keep it up to date with the latest hardware…), it’s about providing great content to our players, with budget and time constraints.
We decided to go with Unreal Engine. If you want to know why, just keep reading!
Disclaimer : You won’t find here a thorough comparative study but our thought process that led us to this choice and the main reasons that led to that decision.
Back in June, when I started looking into this specific topic, I wanted to consider as many game engines as possible and keep an open mind along the way. My original plan was to make acquaintance with the less exotic and more common engines used by indie studios and developers -that I knew of-, and rate them in 5 categories: Community, Team, Technology, Ecosystem and Pricing.
What is the traction of the community ? What is the level of quality of the discussions on the different Discord servers ? The number of users ? What do they say ? Who are they ?
What is the hiring situation on a specific technology, depending on the area where we would recruit. And also what kind of candidates would apply ? Another important question was the integration of all team members capacities in our pipeline (designers, artists, etc.).
What can we do with this specific engine ? What can’t we do ? How do I feel about the interface, the languages used by the engine? Does the engine support multiple platforms ? Do we have access to the source code ?
Of course another aspect was the engine's ability to create the games we wanted to make and not be stuck because of some weakness of the engine.
And all the very very sexy things like source control, performance, build time and so on 😊
The documentation quality, the learning tools, the marketplace (quality and quantity of assets).
Do I need to explain this one ? 😅
Unreal Engine & Unity - the most commonly used engines in indie game development
Godot - for the open source aspect and the huge traction from the dev community
AWS Lumberyard - I was curious ?
Source engine - my own bias, I love Valve ;)
Blender Game Engine - because why not ?
Pretty quickly though, as I was diving into the different communities on Discord and the technical specifications, I had to eliminate all of them except the two most “obvious” choices, Unreal and Unity.
For our ambition and the ideas of the game that started to emerge already, the other engines just didn’t make the cut. So it was mostly a showdown between Unreal and Unity in the end.
Game engine deathmatch
As you already know, my heart finally fell for Unreal engine.
The starting point was that both engines would allow us to make pretty much any game we wanted to. From that point, I had to try both and see for myself which one would fit best. Following are the main reasons that led to that final choice.
Reason #1 : Technology and engine capacity
To me, Unreal offers a better code architecture.
Blueprints are a great visual scripting tool, it allows people with less coding experience to iterate easily on ideas.
The engine has so many built-in features, there is little to no need to rely on third-party apps, ensuring overall quality and stability over time.
The engine source code is available for free.
The templates provided by Epic are easy to reverse-engineer and a good start for fast prototyping.
I really liked the user interface and the general user experience with the engine
Reason #2 : Positioning
We believe this choice will have a positive impact on our Studio reputation but also set the bar high for the quality we are aiming for.
Reason #3 : Team
In terms of collaboration, Unreal is a great tool for all team members (Art, Design and Coding)
It’s easier to learn than people think. Modern C++ is no harder to learn than C#.
It’s not harder to hire Unreal developers than any other technology.
Reason #4 : Epic Games perks
Free access to Quixel megascans and other Epic-only free assets, again great for fast prototyping.
Using Unreal unlocks the access to Epic Megagrants which could benefit us should we win it (visibility and finance).
Unreal 5 is SICK and promises great new features for large world building.
Reason #5 : Pricing
You can use the engine freely for up to 1M$ in revenue. So yes, it’s not completely free but when we are at this stage of revenue, I’ll be more than happy to give back to Epic Games who made such a great tool available to game developers ;)
Feel free to leave in the comments what you think about this choice and if you would have expected this outcome ?
I’m also interested in knowing what you would like to see in the #devlogs ?
What’s next ?
In the following #devlog, I will bring you with me and the [2.21] team inside the Game Camp conference in Lille (France).
Thank you for your support, and see you next month !