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Postmortem: Vicious Cycle Software's Dead Head Fred

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Postmortem: Vicious Cycle Software's Dead Head Fred

November 8, 2007 Article Start Previous Page 3 of 5 Next
 

4. Getting more development time.

Time... if only we had more time. Isn’t that what we all say? Well, for the first time in many years, we actually got more time. There was a certain point in the project when things just weren’t coming together fast enough, and we needed more time to make the changes suggested by our focus groups.

We went to D3 and asked (very nicely) for them to give us more time to get the game right! It was a new intellectual property, one that we wanted to be successful and one that we eventually wanted to turn into a brand with future games. The choice was to ship it with problems and get poor reviews, or to take the time to make the necessary changes and hopefully get great reviews.

The experience that most teams have had in this industry is, “release the game and take your lumps.” Luckily for us, D3 had the foresight to give us the extra time we needed. We actually had time to fix some of the problems and make the game we really wanted to make! After an additional six or so months, we were able to re-unveil the game -- and, at its second E3 showing, Dead Head Fred received a nomination for Best Handheld Game from the Game Critics Awards: Best of E3 2007.

This acknowledgement from our peers was huge, especially considering the tough competition -- not to mention the fact that Fred was the only new intellectual property in the bunch.

5. Utilizing our technology, the Vicious Engine.

We actively license our game development technology -- the Vicious Engine -- to the games industry. Over the past five years we’ve developed all of our internal products across multiple platforms using the engine. Dead Head Fred allowed us to utilize our technology to make another great game, and it provided us the perfect opportunity to update the technology and further enhance our support for the PSP platform.

The Vicious Engine has turned into a stable environment for making games on current and next-gen consoles, the PSP and the PC. Given its highly data driven architecture, we were able to devote many more team members on the game content development while the engineers continued expanding engine support for the PSP. All game features in Dead Head Fred were implemented through the interface of the Vicious Editor, requiring no game-specific C++ code.

Most of the game-level features required for Fred were already in place, but significant updates had to be made to the low level platform code. We were able to quickly modify the base engine to work well on the PSP. While the PSP is similar to the PS2, it has less memory and is able to handle fewer visuals. However, with time and effort we were able to generate a truly robust and fully optimized implementation of the Vicious Engine on this portable console.


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