I’m Chris, one of the programmers on Blightmare. I’ve been a professional game programmer for almost 10 years now ranging from AAA sports games to web games to mobile games. I’ve always had a weakness for MMORPGs, starting with a text based one called Phatasia 4 to Dransik, Runescape, and of course WoW. It might seem odd that I’m working on a platformer and to a certain extent, I thought so too. Originally I joined the project just to make something that I owned a piece of, with people that I like to work with, and with a small enough team that everyone had to contribute. As we got into things a bit, I did some “market research” and played through some of the more recent big hits in the genre: Celeste, Ori and the Blind Forest, and Hollow Knight. What I learned primarily is that I’m terrible at these games. Through the pain – over 3000 deaths in Celeste – I got an appreciation for the accomplishment and shared experience that the games brought me and bought in even more to what we are trying to do with Blightmare.
Over the holiday break, I took some time to organize some of the folders on my computer and I came across some of the very first videos that I ever took of Blightmare. I thought that it would be interesting to share them along with a rough description of what was going on at the time in terms of development – from a programming perspective. I will highlight the fact that all of these videos represent little windows into our process, which has changed a bit since then and is by no means the best or only way to go about things. It’s always easy to look back and see how different choices may have gotten you to the present more efficiently, but I’m not going to talk about that here. Instead, I hope that these videos give you a laugh and a sense of the path that we have travelled to get here.
This is the first video I could find. You can see some really slick programmer art that I did myself. This iteration of the game was using the experimental ECS system within Unity as much as possible. I thought it would be great to get ahead of the curve a bit and I really like some of the structure that is forced by using such a system. We may get into what this means in more detail later, but it’s a broad topic and this post is already longer than I thought it would be. The point is, I was pretty happy to have figured things out enough to have a controllable player that had collision and gravity, and a distinct swingable net.
I have the benefit of writing this from the future so I can say that there are exactly 0 lines of code that existed in the version of the game in that video which persist today. Some of the decisions made in those early days were not the right ones, but we know why and it was a good learning experience. In my next post I’ll show several videos of the early mechanics complete with art and animations. Perhaps I’ll dive a bit into my thought process for how the code was written. I won’t pretend that it was a great design, but in walking through it perhaps others can be spared the same mistakes. Anyway, thanks for stopping by and have a great day!
Bugs always make for the best gifs, so I’ll leave you with this one: