Postmortem: Vicious Cycle's Matt Hazard: Blood Bath and Beyond
February 1, 2010 Page 4 of 4
4. Over Budget, and a Bit Late
Due to some of the mishaps described above, an increased scope, and the fact that it took longer to feel out the fun factor of our game than we had anticipated, we crept over our allotted budget on both time and money.
We always try to be extremely conscious of our schedule and our finances, but things just weren't clicking initially with BBB, and those issues had to be rectified in order to deliver a better Matt Hazard experience.
We were determined to make it work and deliver on what we initially set out to do. Fortunately for us, we had available resources to pile on the project in order get the game done to our level of satisfaction.
The team swelled more as we hit Alpha and Beta, but we were able to reduce the team size once we entered the Gold stretch, moving our resources onto other projects.
Thankfully, our publisher, D3, worked with us to get consumers a more polished experience. We are grateful that we had this opportunity to build a game that people enjoy and to give Matt Hazard another chance to strut his stuff.
5. Not Including Online Co-op
At the time that we started the project, there were only a handful of titles available for download that actually supported online co-op, and since we had limited time and budget, we needed to make decisions about the scope of the game and plan accordingly. We had to decide how we could deliver the best possible experience to the player, so we concentrated our efforts on core gameplay, level design, boss fights and local co-op.
The number of bugs that could have surfaced from this feature could have easily meant weeks of additional QA time as well. We would have needed more time to test and implement this feature for network play in order to work out all of the kinks. It is one thing to find a bug in a local multiplayer experience, but hunting down the cause for an online bug is more intense and time consuming.
In addition, we also knew that it would be a bit of an uphill battle because our game was a very fast paced game and required quick reaction times to win and complete levels. Network latency could have caused issues that are potentially hard to solve. We didn't want to have characters popping around the screen or bullets appearing right in front of you with no time to avoid them, and so on. Problems like these could make the game unplayable or, at the very least, frustrating.
However, even with all of the challenges I just described we should have worked to get the feature in. It would have been a very difficult endeavor but would have added a lot of value to the title. If we get the opportunity for a sequel, we guarantee that we will have it there.
Blood Bath and Beyond taught us a lot of lessons in downloadable game development that we've taken to heart. We now know what it takes to make a good downloadable game, and we hope to put that knowledge to use next time to make a great online game.
We feel that by combining fast-paced, compelling gameplay inspired by some of the classic arcade side-scrollers of the past; the unique, quirky storyline and characters of the Matt Hazard universe; and a healthy dose of parody makes BBB a fun and memorable game.
We're really happy with the way that BBB turned out in the end... and definitely hope that someday in the near future it will be Hazard Time again.
Cycle Software, Inc.
Publisher: D3 Publisher
Release Date: January 6, 2010 (XBLA); January 7, 2010 (PSN)
Platforms: XBLA and PSN
Number of Developers (can split this into full-time and contractors): 63 (Vicious Cycle), 6 external contractors including voice actors, 54 (D3)
Length of Development: originally slated for 7 months, but it lasted about 10 months.
Lines of Code: 500,000
Development Tools: 3DS Max, Photoshop, Vicious Engine, ZBrush, Visual Studio, Perforce, Sound Forge, Protools, Waves Plugins, GRM Tools
Any other interesting information (pizzas consumed, hours crunched, project restarts, softball matches won, etc): During the development cycle, some of our team members played softball against Epic and lost 21-8. We are pretty sure Epic had some of the New York Yankees playing for them that day.
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