DevBlog #001 – How it all started (1/2)

Finally, we created ourselves a website to showcase our game Deep Space Gardening in development. And as we decided to make this website with WordPress, we then thought, it would be a lot of fun to also write a development blog. So here we are now, writing our first article with the hope that many more will follow, and that many more of you will follow our development process and support us on our journey!

This project startet almost one year ago and therefore, it might be appropriate to spend the first two articles reviewing what we’ve been up to since then.
It all began as a student course at ETH Zurich where Nicholas, Berkay, Maria, Sha and Johannes met and formed a team to develop a game. I, Jonas, was Nicholas‘ roommate at that time and since we had worked together on various software projects, I was more than happy to support the project in the background, before I then officially joined the team in July 2019 – but more on that later.

The „Game Programming Lab“ was a joined course of ETH and ZHdK, which meant that students with a computer science background and students with a background in art and design would join forces. The overall task for the semester was to develop a prototype of a game using „Monogame“, which was split up in different subtasks to teach us the principles of game development. This year’s theme for the course was „2099“.

First, we had to find a basic game idea and pitch it in front of the class. We knew pretty much right away that we wanted to do a cooperative multiplayer game in which up to four players could sit in front of one console and play together. But it took us quite some time to come up with the theme and the exact game mechanics. However, as soon as the idea behind Deep Space Gardening began to form, we all agreed on that concept very quickly.

The early development process was quite a challenge, since we had not worked with „Monogame“ before and „Monogame“ requires you to write a lot of code yourself that would simply be provided in most game engines. Additionally, to implement the game mechanics, interactions and physics on a sphere instead of a flat surface was something completely new to us. A good opportunitiy to mention how much we as a team profited from Nicholas‘ experience in game development and his unmatched efforts for this project.

After some weeks of rapid progress on our prototype, we soon had a playable first version and already started to enjoy the game, which gave us all an additional boost for the further development. Not much later, we could begin to invite friends to test our game and give us valuable feedback which was a lot of fun and informative at the same time.

At the end of the semester, we had to hand in our prototypes and all teams presented their games at a large event with teachers, friends and family. At this point, we had a playable prototype with all the key elements implemented, so the basic game mechanism of collecting berries, mixing them in the seed machine, planting the seed, watering and fertilizing the growing plant and delivering it in a plant pot to a shuttle, did already work. We also had created some first levels and included a star system to reward the players for good scores, as well as an onboarding tutorial.
We had reached our most important goal: we were proud of what we had accomplished and we liked how our game turned out. As an extra treat, that night we won both the jury and the audience award for the best game of the course. Considering all the other great projects and fun games, we felt very honored and more motivated than ever to continue working on our game past the course.

To be continued…

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