Looking back at 2015

Firstly, from both of us at TriCat, we hope everyone had a great time off over Christmas and a wonderful new year :)

We thought we'd start the year with a quick look back at 2015 and then talk about where we're going in 2016-


Back in late 2014, I decided it was starting to get close to the time to leave the mainstream games industry and start working on my own projects. But I needed a plan in place, so I began working on a game tentatively known as 'Bounce Blocker'. But it was shit! It didn't work at all in the way that I had hoped it would. Upon talking with Dave about what was wrong with it, the core idea for a new game:  'Defendy Rocket' was born. For the first couple of months of 2015, I worked on 'Defendy Rocket' in my spare time, building up a prototype and solving some of the initial design issues. 


In February 2015, I made the leap: I quit my job! However, I agreed to stay on a few months to help see through the end of core development on 'Disney Infinity 3.0'. During these next three months I slowed down a bit on 'Defendy Rocket' (I knew I was going to have a lot more time for it shortly). Around this time, Dave decided that it made sense for him to take the plunge too, and we discussed the idea for forming a company: 'TriCat'.


May 8th, 2015 was my final day at Ninja Theory. We registered the company name 'TriCat Games' the following Monday, May 11th. Dave's final day at Ninja Theory was the same Thursday, the 14th. We quickly set about forming a bunch of company guidelines, setting up a website, getting a business bank account and building a server (amongst other things). A couple of weeks later, when everything was in place, we finally sat down and started working on 'Defendy Rocket' properly.


The game quickly got a lot better in every way possible. Up until now I had spent about 10-20 hours a week on it. Now we were both working on it nine hours a day. The game improved significantly as we added features like time dilation, new game modes and additional enemy types. Dave  greatly improved the presentation by adding new art, sound effects and music. We crafted a giant meta game involving collectibles, upgrades, leader-boards and achievements. The game became much bigger than we expected.


As we got further along with development, one side effect we noticed was that the game's core meta changed completely. It went from 10-20 second quick rounds to 30-180 second much-longer rounds, with some games lasting 5-10 minutes once the player mastered the mechanics. As such our plan to monetise it with banner ads broke down, and we decided to switch to video ads. But this lead us to a new problem: UE4 didn't have video ads. Attempts to implement them ourselves failed and we decided to put the game on hold until someone provided a plug-in.


Having wrapped up the core development on 'Defendy Rocket' we shelved it temporarily. We sat down and came up with a completely new game: 'Project Rope'. We decided that this game would be very quick to play, meaning we could ship it with banner ads. We also figured we'd keep the scope of the game down too (meaning no upgrades or cosmetic changes at launch) so that we could finally release something.


'Project Rope' went extremely well and a really great game formed along the way. We renamed it 'R.A.B.B.i.T.' and continued to improve it. As the end of the year rolled closer, we decided to release the game for Christmas. Although we came very close, we ultimately failed for two reasons: 1) The game just wasn't quite complete and we didn't want to just kick it out of the door and 2) We found a significant bug where approximately 1/3rd of our testers would experience a crash involving the Google Play Services sign-in.


So we wrapped for Christmas, with the intention of releasing 'R.A.B.B.i.T.' very early in the new year. But two, things happened in close succession over Christmas: Firstly, we had our crash bug confirmed to be within the engine. This meant that we had to put 'R.A.B.B.i.T.' on hold for a while until Epic could resolve it. However, secondly, a video ads plug-in got released for UE4! Meaning we could finally release Defendy Rocket!


So, entering 2016 we've now shelved 'R.A.B.B.i.T.' and have dusted off 'Defendy Rocket'. We're currently doing a bunch of things with 'Defendy Rocket' to get it ready for launch, including porting it to the latest version of UE4 (we need to confirm it doesn't have the same crash as 'R.A.B.B.i.T.'), localising the game, making some UI and performance tweaks and of course, testing the video ads. But we're looking to have the game enter submission somewhere around mid-late January.

Hopefully we'll soon get to see if the last eight months of hard work has paid off :)

Posted on January 6, 2016 .