DevBlog #01 : Let’s make a game

Hello there!

We have some exciting news to share with you: we have started the production of our first marketable game! This marks a major milestone for us, and we could not be more thrilled to share our journey with you. So let’s dive in and take a closer look at the progress we have made so far.

A quick retrospective

We started working on the project we called “Hexa” (you will understand why soon enough) at the beginning of June. Our idea was to create a 1v1 game based on an arena concept, but we wanted to take a unique approach.

Instead of having players fighting on the same side of the arena, we decided to place one player on each side of the board. This setup means that it is impossible to directly injure your opponent. However, they can interact and fight through the environment. The board is made up of hexagonal tiles that the characters can move around or destroy thanks to certain abilities.

The “gladiators” can smash or displace the tiles in their backpack. They can use their special powers to make their opponent fall through the board. For example, activating the “Take Off” power while standing in the middle of a circle of tiles will make the character take off in the air with much more speed than a regular jump. The player can also smash the first tile of a row which will propagate the shock wave to the next tile and drive the whole line to the ground. We called this ability the “Smash in line”.

We really liked the idea of glimpsing your enemy without ever being sure where they were the next second. It was fun to follow your opponent’s actions based on the movement of the board tiles and to react quickly accordingly.

Destroy, Smash, Build

We spent several months working on this concept. We focused our efforts on the network, which was no small task. We put as much energy on developing and refining the arena’s environment, the board’s behaviour, and our protagonists’ powers. We evolved the game mode by testing different principles, such as direct combat, base destruction, or a mix of both. The stone and waterfall environment became a world of sand, halfway between Berber adobe houses and a Coliseum-like structure. We also reworked the players’ powers. They now had to form specific tile patterns to use certain abilities.

Take Off
Smash in line

We were pretty proud of running a functional online game, so we started thoroughly testing our game mechanics. Our goal at that stage was primarily to come up with a solid concept so as to ultimately turn it into a full game.

We used our playtest sessions to evaluate what did or didn’t work (yet).

We liked the fluid movements, smashing tile columns, creating combos, and changing the decor to make it chaotic by generating holes to make the other fall. We were also pleased with the visuals we had created and with the FX we had started to develop. They were the finishing touch that made the whole thing come even more alive.

However, as with any project, we quickly noticed some problems. The patterns were too slow to use, relative to their rewards. Moving tiles was also fairly impractical. Moreover, we were no longer convinced by this combat game mode. It was a bit too simplistic, and we were afraid that players would get bored too quickly. Another comment we received was that our environments were pretty, so why not be able to explore them, or at least to see them better?

As 2022 drew to a close, we knew we wanted to make our game evolve to make it more engaging and exciting for players. We firmly believed in the originality of our basic mechanics and in the universe we were capable of building around them, but we also wanted to add more depth and variety to the gameplay.

A new beginning

We had planned an intensive two-week brainstorming session in early January. The goals were clear: set out all of our ideas and start the new year on a strong note.

After a few hours (well, days) spent reflecting on ways to develop our concept, we had come up with different possibilities: 2v2 combats? That would allow for more interaction on the board. A lighter party game? Adding more gameplay variety would be a good way to interest players and to push further the originality.
In the end, we mainly wanted to offer a cooperative experience that stayed more faithful to our values. But then what kind of gameplay should we opt for?

Our ideas kept evolving until we lighted upon the obvious. We already had pleasing movements, juicy and interesting interactions, equally fun destruction, all with an interesting twist.
Were we headed for a platformer?

Once we had decided upon this concept, our ideas started pouring forth. Everything took form: the story, the game modes, the cooperation, the environments. The possibilities of this genre seemed endless, and we were extremely motivated by the new turn our project has taken.

Today we are back in a prototyping phase. We still have many questions and tests to tackle. We are excited to explore and test our ideas to create a game that we are confident will exceed your expectations.

We don’t want to make too many early promises, but we already have several strong core guiding concepts for this new development phase, and we would like to share them with you:

  • Goodbye Competition, welcome Cooperation: We are staying true to our desire to offer shared experiences, which is why we are developing a game that is meant to be shared with an ally, and not an adversary.
  • Farewell, for now, dear Network: We will offer a local adventure, one that can be experienced together on the couch.
  • An adventure platformer: We will take you along for a slightly crazy, but unpretentious story. You will discover astonishing worlds throughout the game’s different levels. You may encounter strange creatures along the way; it’s up to you to decide how to deal with them.
  • With a twist: We kept the idea of a double-sided hexagonal environment, and pushed the concept even further. You will be able to explore these levels while using your capacities to make the environment evolve to suit your fancy, or rather, to reach your goals.

As always, game feel remains a priority for us. We will keep working on making sure the movements are fun, as well as the execution of the abilities and actions to be done in the universe we’re creating.

Moreover, we want to transport you into a unique universe with stunning visuals. We will continue to fine-tune our worldbuilding, and will push our 3D style further still.

We hope these few words have given you a first glimpse of our game. If not, no worries. We will keep you posted on our progress and will continue to share our project’s evolution with you on a monthly basis.

Until next time!

N.B. All images are for illustration purposes only. They do not reflect the game’s final visuals or gameplay.