Mike McManus and I started Victory Lap Games (VLG) 4 weeks ago. Every Monday, we will be sending out an update on the various shenanigans of running an indie studio as well as our progress on Blast Zone! Tournaments (BZT). Hooray for 3 letter acronyms!
So, what’s up with BZT’s development?
For the current development status to make any sense, a little history is needed. BZT is the 3rd game in a series of games that started with Bomb Buddies, a PC game with Bomberman-inspired core gameplay. Bomb Buddies was online in 2012/2013 and had a very active player community. In December 2012, the Bomb Buddies development team began working on Bomb Buddies’ sequel which was released in March 2014 as Blast Zone, an iOS game. Then, the development team moved on to an unrelated game.
Fast forward to December 2016, Mike and I were watching and playing a lot of Overwatch, League of Legends, Clash Royale, and Rocket League. When brainstorming ideas for our next project, we started talking about how awesome it would be to reimagine Blast Zone as an eSports game. Those discussions kept building momentum and by February 2017, Mike and I opened VLG and owned the legal rights to Blast Zone. Everything was awesome.
We were ready to dig in and start to morph Blast Zone into BZT. Yet it turned out that sometime in 2015, the Blast Zone source code and data repository was deleted. That was a shocking realization. The situation could have been catastrophic; yet fortunately, many of the Blast Zone team members had parts of the game on their machines.
After digging through hundreds of gigabytes, it became clear that we had all the really important parts of the game such as the design data for the single and multiplayer levels and all necessary source art. We even had a mostly complete copy of the final version of Blast Zone’s client code. Yet, the project files necessary to build BZT’s online servers and some of the AI-related code were lost to the abyss.
Unphased, Mike immediately started to Frankenstein the various parts back together. And, BZT is rapidly coming back to life – the first 60 single player levels are running again! Piece by piece, the game is coming back.
So, what are the next steps?
- Get all 300 levels of the single player story mode fully working again (avoidable)
- Get player customizations, level completion rewards, player EXP, and additional data properly stored, sent, and updating again (avoidable)
- Add support for multiple game controllers on the PC and Mac for local multiplayer – 8 players playing together on a single PC
- Revive the backend server architecture (avoidable)
- Update the UI and flow for PC, Mac, and consoles
- Remove features we want to depreciate and add the eSports features we want
We are a few months from having online multiplayer working again. The the steps above marked as (avoidable) could have been avoided had Blast Zone’s archive survived. If there is any lesson here, it is to always properly archive your projects. Ensure you have the source art assets, code, scripts, build tools, and all design data packaged together and well documented. Hard drives die too; so, have your game’s data saved in multiple locations including a reliable cloud.
You never know when you’ll have the opportunity to return to a prior game series. Mike and I are super excited to be working on BZT and will send out updates each week with our progress.