On Saturday I announced that I have started to work on Photon, an old game concept of mine, once again. I’ll talk more about the new version in another post, for now I will, in a couple paragraphs, tell the tale of what I have done with the concept in the past for anyone who may be interested. (Which is quite possibly nobody…)
It has already been almost a year and a half since I stopped working on the original version of Photon. I wrote it using C++, OpenGL, and SDL (+a couple of other smaller libraries for this and that.) on Windows and Linux. I used a simple method of stepping through a 2d array to trace the beams and rendered the blocks as textured squares, but it was enough to get the gameplay concept across. I had spent a few months on it and released a couple alpha versions on indiedb, but when I received feedback saying it would do better as a mobile game and the graphics could use an upgrade I decided to try remaking it in the Unity game engine.
I worked a few weeks on the Unity prototype, and as anticipated it was simple to get running on Android. I made some small improvements, like beams could now be traced at any angle instead of just multiples of 45 degrees, but the graphics weren’t a whole lot better (if anything the 3D graphics made the plain, block based appearance work less well) and I was having trouble getting the mechanics to work to make good puzzles. Work slowed to a stop, and then there was then a long time where I did nothing with it. At some point I announced I had quit working and put the original version’s code up on GitHub (I hadn’t really published anything about the Unity version, and it wasn’t as feature complete anyway.)
This new version is a result of about a week of work in Unreal Engine 4, because with this engine it’s just that easy to get results. Of course, it helps that I’ve worked on this concept in the past, but other than the mental experience gained I’ve used nothing from the previous attempts, not even the stone texture I had made, because UE4’s starter content has you covered for that sort of thing. As opposed to the Unity remake, which was mostly the same thing with 3d graphics and minor tweak here and there, this time I have made several fundamental changes to the very basic gameplay, which I will describe in the next post. (If you’ve played the old alpha at all you may be able to guess one of them from the image at the top of the post…)