Monday, July 16, 2018

B-Grade Renegade development retrospective (or... "Sometimes the making of a game is part of a longer game plan")

Murray Lorden takes a retrospective look at the development of his third game B-Grade Renegade, and discusses how it represents part of a longer journey towards becoming a fully operational death sta... um, game developer, making the games of his dreams.

This blog entry tells my story of making B-Grade Renegade: Race to the Rocket, a top-down action roguelike for iOS, Android and Mac.

B-Grade Renegade - Game Trailer

The game features a lot of procedurally generated elements, with strategic choices to make on the meta-game map, and then proc-gen maps and objectives whenever you go into a mission.

The game takes inspiration from classics like Interstate '76 (for it's tone and flavor), FTL (for it's race against time in a procedurally generated set of obstacles and opportunities), and a touch of the original Grand Theft Auto (such as being able to jump in and out of different cars, and the top-down viewpoint of the game).

But the experience of making the game is really about much more than just trying to sell people on how cool this game is.

For me, it's a much longer journey about learning to make games on my own terms, and building stepping stones that take me towards being able to make the games I truly and ultimately want to make!

So let's go back to the start...

Although I started working in the Australian games industry in the year 2000, only now am I finally starting to feel confident with building my own dream games for the world to play.

It's been a super long path for me getting to this point. I started in Quality Assurance at Bluetongue Software in Melbourne, Australia, working on "Starship Troopers: Terran Ascendancy", super keen to be a game designer, but joyfully accepting a job in "QA" when it was offered (not really knowing what QA was at the time!).

I'd done some map making for Quake and Quake 2, and later I made a small Thief 2 level that I was really proud of ("Lady Lomat's Flute")... and I'd also been teaching myself 3D Studio Max 2, and then 3, using books I'd buy in the city.

But one of the tough things about the Australian games industry, is that there's never been that many studios that focus on level design, even though Level Design is a fairly meat-and-potatoes job at many bigger studios around the world.

So I spent 6 years at Bluetongue Entertainment, where I did quickly graduated to being a Game Designer and Assistant Producer on Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis for Xbox, PS2 and PC.

I then went to Firemint (now Firemonkeys EA) for 5 years, where I applied my Game Design, Producing and Video Editing skills to their massive successes with early mobile hits Flight Control, Real Racing 1 and 2, as well as being lead designer on the cute stealth game SPY Mouse and some other GBA and Nintendo DS titles.

Then I left in 2011 to start making my own games!

I'd discovered an engine called Game Salad which allowed me to make my own games with a sort of "visual scripting", and I hoped to cash in on the promise of the mobile games cornucopia!

Well, after making Rad Skater Apocalypse in 2012, and following that up with Pulp Diction (2012), I'd learned a lot about designing and implementing games, and had earned about $300. Gulp.

It may have been wise at this point to discard all of my half-finished Game Salad prototypes and projects and launch into a much better engine like Unity...  after all it was fully 3D games that really had my heart - games like Quake, Half Life, and especially Thief, and now more recent immersive sim games.

But instead, I wanted to get one more of my unfinished Game Salad projects finished off! A project that had been there since the start.

Originally entitled simply "Foxy Driver" when I started it in 2011, I finally finished it off as "B-Grade Renegade: Race to the Rocket" in 2018, after many life changes and game development challenges, and a full time job teaching Game Design & Production at a tertiary level games school (during which time I'd also been learning Unity, and coding in C#, and having to keep beating this Game Salad project over the head for years was a real pain).

The game was actually the first project I began making in Game Salad, and it ended up being the last that I would finish in that engine before switching my focus entirely to Unity (PHEW!).

In the final days of using Game Salad, I decided to make some development retrospectives of my B-Grade Renegade project, to look over how the project works, discussing the design of the game, how the actors work, and also discussing how the design changed over the years.

There are two videos covering these topics. The first video focuses on looking at the Game Salad project, looking over the actors, explaining how the game is structured, how the AI works, the vehicles, the weapons, etc.

B-Grade Renegade: Game Dev Retrospective - Pt 1: Inspecting the Project

And in the second video I open up a whole bunch of the project files dating back from 2011 right through to 2018, looking at how the project changed, and discussing all the design changes as development went along.

B-Grade Renegade: Game Dev Retrospective - Pt 2: Jumping thru versions (2011-2018)

I wanted to share the story of developing B-Grade Renegade to tell just one story of a developer's completely-inglorious and non-astounding journey through learning to make a complete game. Coming to the end of this project, I'm really glad I finished it off.

Although it has formed a triptych of games that have all basically launched to absolutely no fanfare or sales of any kind, I consider these to be really successful stepping-stone projects in their own way, and I'm excited about launching into my next project in Unity, currently just code-named "Romero", a fast paced challenging FPS game with some immersive sim aspirations (more news on that as it comes to hand!).

Murray Lorden

You can get B-Grade Renegade for Mac for free on

And is also for sale on the iOS AppStore

And on the Google Play Store

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