Blog: Diamond Raven Games & Haunted Hop not quite a post mortem

Sorry again for another blog I haven't had as much time to analyze games as I would have liked recently (Though I'm going to be looking into Assassin's Creed: Black Flag soon). So update time!

As many of you may already know, after I got laid off I started a venture with one Ms. Josie Noronha. This we called Diamond Raven Games. We wanted to make some simple app that looks gorgeous for the iPhone. Something that would control well and was still enjoyable. Initially we wanted to do a dungeon crawler. We thought this was a brilliant idea. Because UE4 lends its self very well to level editing. Fortunately, within the first week, we realized this was a little out of scope for us. So we scaled back. Our next plan was doing a simple match-3. We figured this was more manageable. But we quickly realized a few hundred levels in our couple month time limit wasn't going to work very well on such a small team with an engine which neither of us have used in over a year. At least they wouldn't be possible at the level of quality and polish we wanted to release with. So we scaled back further. Then in April I threw together a quick prototype of a man jumping rope in UE4. It used a single input as the control (Just the space bar to jump) and kept score based on how many times players were able to jump without touching the rope. Simple enough we figured this might be a good starting point. Here is a video of said prototype/Proof of concept:

Knowing that simple games typically do fairly well on iOS we decided to press forward with this.

We ran into a considerable amount of speed bumps along the way. For one, while Josie could 3D model and animate she couldn't do it fast enough to meet our deadline. And while I could do some 3D modeling, animating was beyond my wheelhouse. So we decided to see what was available in the Unreal Store. We managed to snag the 3d character, graveyard parts, fire particles and sounds from the store. This was a lifesaver. Mostly because we thought about doing the game in 2D so Josie could do all the art without a problem. But we felt that it wouldn't look as cool as a 3D game and the camera angle would be weird. So we continued on.

A particular design challenge I ran into was: I wanted there to be 7 different speeds for the fire to move at. And each speed would be a different color. In concept this sounded good. But it turned out to make the game much more complicated and created a game design crippling bug. (Each speed needed to have it's own corresponding color the bug was letting any speed have any color so the player couldn't learn the feel of the speeds.) Because of the bug, and that it made the game possibly too complicated, we scaled back down to 3 speeds. Red (Slow), Yellow/Orange (Normal), Green (Fast). (Just like traffic lights BOOM GAME DESIGN! sorry I couldn't help myself...)

We continued on through many different bugs and issues which would make any non crazy individual pull their hair our (The legendary fire particle bug, the reset but in an alternate dimension bug, and the hidden sky just to name a few). I'll go more into those in our actual post-mortem. But we've finally come to the point where we are getting to release the game. 4 long months later. It definitely looks great. It's simple using only single input. And it is fun. At least in a similar way to Flappy Bird being fun.

I thank you for sticking around for the entire post and if you have an iOS device please download it and let me know what you think. I hope you enjoy the game and continue to support us in the feature.

Thank you,