Unstoppaball DX was my first major game. It’s interesting to look back at how I made it, and how it looked during the stages of development.
The final game looks like this:
But a long time ago before reaching that point, it was this:
I created this in a Unity-course at game-design-school. I have just learned the basics of the tool and was given the task to create a Pacman-clone in 3rd-person, within 1.5 days.
I experimented for half a day before coming to the conclusion that Pacman, without seeing the entire playing-field, would be no fun. So I “inverted” the level, turning corridors into catwalks and replacing my player-character with a physics-controlled ball. “Incrediball”, how I called it, was a blast. After a while people competed against each others to see who could get the better score, which was an amazing feeling.
Note how the very core of the game – moving a ball around a maze in isometric view – was already “finished”, and would remain the core of the game for the rest of the development.
Later I was given the assignment to create a full game in 4 months, and I chose to extend the prototype into a full game. Sadly the name “Incrediball” was already taken, so I fell back on “Unstoppaball“. I have an entire list of ball-puns.
Working in parallel to classes the game ended up looking like this after 2 months. The objects have been cleaned up and placeholders been replaced. The textures are still temporary.The original plan was to create 4 chapters á 10-15 level leach, with each chapter representing a dfferent art- and playstyle. I settled on “aqueduct”, “cyberspace”, “modern snowscape” and “crystal forest”, which all struck me as more interesting than “lava-world”. I shelved the latter two due to time-constraints and polished the first 2 chapters as much as possible for the last month, getting dozens of people to playtest it.
I also experimented with different gameplay-elements, such as jumppads, accelerators, wind-zones, crate-puzzles, enemies, shover-enemies, and several level-design-objects.
This is the release-version of Unstoppaball. Everything has been finalized and polished to a mirror shine. The 6+ weeks of playtesting have resulted in 30 unique, well-paced levels, which I have already culled from my initial 45. The game is fun, people laugh when playing it, and I am ecstatic.
After 4 months I handed in Unstoppaballand release it to the public. It got a grade of 100%, was the best game in class, and is still (one of) the biggest games created at the Design-Schule-Schwerin.I call that a whopping success!
Spin-Off: Metal Sphere Solid
For Ludum Dare 21 I created a small spin-off titled Metal Sphere Solid. It was a large level set in what was supposed to be the “modern snowscape”-setting, resulting in what is the best-designed level so far.
In addition to puzzles it also features characters, a story that weaves itself naturally into the gameplay and doesn’t interfere with it, stealth-based gameplay and battling enemies.
From the 599 games entered into the contest it ranked 42nd overall.
For my next step in my Indie-career I wanted to create a mobile-game. As luck would have it, I had one lying around, ready to being ported
In Unstoppaball DX (DX, because the HD-suffix is boring) you control the ball not by button or joystick, but by tilting the iDevice. This was massively fun, and improved the game a lot.
The new interface I created from scratch, making it more mobile-friendly. The soundtrack was extended to 8 songs in total. I threw out the mini-pickups, as they were rather boring. I also added a customization-feature (which I would later re-use in Badass Locomotive
), with which you could customize the appearance of your ball, being able to chose between 6 cores and colors, ultimately resulting in 36 unique spheres.
I also had to adjust performance-wise. I removed a lot of polygons and changed all the materials to more efficient mobile-versions. I was forced to change the look of the second chapter, as the background-pillars were too cpu-intensive. I replaced it with an animated flat plane, which was much more efficient and visually interesting, and conveyed “cyberspace” a lot better.
has now been on the iOS AppStore
for some time, where it fared quite well.
- Made with no monetary budget (save for iOS-licenses)
- 30 levels, all unique
- 2 distinct art-styles
- The largest ball-game made with Unity
- 2-3 hours play-time
- Soundtrack featuring 8 classical music-pieces
- Ball-customization, with 36 unique combinations
- 25000+ downloads on iOS
- 37th spot in the Kongregate/Unity-contest of February 2011, of ~600 entries
- Still high ranking Unity-game on Kongregate
- Nominated for an Unity-Award 2011 (student-game)
- Presented at the Unite11 in San Francisco
- Shown on the Unity-website as “good example of a Unity-game”, next to AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! for the Awesome, Rochard,Jetpack Brontosaurus and others
- Appeared on Rock Paper Shotgun, Joystiq, IndieGameMag
For something that began as a simple prototype I have gotten an incredible mileage out of this. It was my first game, and I have learned a lot during it development, not only game-design but also business-wise. It has been the foundation of my portfolio ever since, and lead to multiple instances of me being referred to as “The Ball-Guy”.
Do YOU have an Indie Dev story you’d like to tell? We’d love to hear it! Send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: The Indie Game Magazine – My Indie Dev Story – The Ball Guy And ‘Unstoppable’