1. Create the Core Early
The original concept of Wizard Ops was vastly different then the game it is today. Originally the game was meant to be a physics-based puzzle game but hardware limitations forced us to move the game in a different direction.
An early mockup of the game (this core mechanic was eventually discarded)
At this point we decided to make the game a 3D shoot ‘em up that emphasized destroying all enemies in your path while dodging incoming fire. However, we had to make sure that the game would be fun and feel good to play, so we focused on building the core of the game first and foremost.
Once we had the core mechanics built into the game, we quickly went to playtesting to get the all-important feedback. During our initial testing, we found that the game did not play well in landscape mode.
Mockup of what the game would look like in landscape
Player’s fingers were covering up too much of the screen and it was hard to swipe all the way from one side of the screen to the other in one motion. This led to the creation of the “Touch Area”, an area on the screen where the player can place and move their finger without obstructing the view of the game.
The Touch Area is located at the bottom of the screen so a player doesn’t obstruct their view of the game
One of the other benefits of focusing on the core mechanic early was that we were able to focus on other aspects of the game later in development.
2. Internal Art Team
During the beginning of production we outsourced most of the art for the game. However, we eventually felt that this would not be sustainable in the long run and made the decision to create an internal art team.
So, in the fall of 2011 we brought in three Artist Interns from the Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy, a masters degree program for video game development through the University of Central Florida. Our artists quickly went to work and finished all of the art for the game within 2 months! That being said we still want to thank the artists that we worked with before the interns arrived. Their work helped to develop a clear vision and style for the game, and we appreciate all the work they did for us!
Here are some pictures comparing how the game looked before creating our internal art team and after the creation of the art team:
We’ve always been fans of the movie Space Balls and the Police Academy films, so when it came time to do the SFX for the game we joked about how awesome it would be to get Michael Winslow to do them (If you don’t know who Michael Winslow is then you’ve been living under a rock or were born after 1994).
Little did we know that we would actually make it become a reality! Working with Michael Winslow was an amazing experience. Not only is he immensely talented, he is a great guy to work with.
However, we did have some struggles with getting his SFX in the game. Instead of just looking through a SFX library and picking which sounds we liked, we had to provide Michael with a comprehensive list of all the sounds we felt we would need in the game. We would then have him record the sounds and edit them back at the studio. The biggest problem is that no one on our team has much audio experience so it took us a long time to cut all the SFX to sound good while also staying true to Michael’s unique talent. In the end though we feel that Michael’s SFX sound great in the game and gives the game a unique charm.
Michael Winslow doing what he does best!
In the end, the production of Wizard Ops was an excellent experience for us all. We feel like we learned a lot over the last year and we want to continue to share that knowledge. Because of that, we will be releasing another article on design3 that discusses how we overcame some of our biggest obstacles (look for it over the next few weeks).
Finally we want to thank everyone who has been involved in the creation of Wizard Ops! Without their work, support, and dedication the game would not be what is it today! Thank you!
For more information on Wizard Ops and Phyken Media you can visit our website, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter!