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Torque3D game post mortem at PAX-DEV (Seattle)


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I'm getting excited for my annual PAX "vacation" ... starting with 2 days at PAX-DEV followed by 4 days of PAX-Prime, here in Seattle.

Why do I mention this?

Well, just noticed that DEAD STATE is doing a postmortem on Thursday:


It's a Zombie RPG with isometric view, based of the Torque 3D engine.

Besides "Blockland", this is only the 2nd time "Torque" has come up at PAX.

(at least, to best of my knowledge)

... And this is the engine that got me into Game Development, so excited to see it shine.

Although, technically ... Blockland was based of TGE (not T3D) so maybe this is a first.

I'll try to capture some useful details and share here ... but they do ask that PAX-DEV is "closed doors".

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  • 2 weeks later...

Well it was an interesting PAX-DEV this year ... but the dead state postmortem wasn't exactly one of the highlights.

First, they mentioned that the team originally only had (5) members ... but suggested that of the (5) people at PAX-DEV only (2) were from the original "cast" from before the kick starter campaign.

Rather, they added (3) new team members - none of which had prior game dev experience and (especially) no experience with Torque, Torque 3D or Torque Script. No mention of what happened to the original team ... only that they hired some fresh new talent.

Which they admitted at one point -- was a cause for concern. Because it caused over-reliance on the senior members, rather than spread the work load amongst them evenly.

So, it wasn't a surprise when the (new members) all seemed to throw Torque3D "under the bus" ... as one of the major challenges to final release of the game.

One comment about Torque being "Obtuse and hard to work with" needed to be be put in perspective -- yes, its difficult to learn from the ground up. Especially if you have no scripting, programming or game dev background.

But they seemed to blame the engine and not their lack of experience with the engine itself.

Also, the game development had started with "Torque Game Engine" ... and was moved to Torque3D around the time of the kick starter campaign. But they repeatedly said it was not cross-platform compatible and another reason they dumped it when their project ended. And their comments suggested most of them didn't realize the difference between Torque and Torque3D. *sigh*

It sounded like most of that work was done by a crowd totally new to Torque3D and even, Torque in General. So complaining that it had a "proprietary scripting engine which was difficult to use" ... while it is a valid point, IMHO -- reflected more on their ability to learn and use a new scripting language.

So again - It was a depressing post mortem and the over-all tone was to blame Torque 3D for majority of their challenges, rather than in reality ... admitting they all had to learn something new, which was in itself challenging.

Also, was quite a shock to hear that they only ever had a single "dedicated" programmer ... with a few others helping with scripting. For the entire life of the project ... which seems amazing, considering there was (from what I could see) alot of customization done to stock T3D - to get to their final project.

Such as path finding, all the RPG menus, zombie Ai, the overland map, and so on ... personally, I think that programmer should get some kudos for the magic he worked into the engine.

Plus, they mentioned some 70+ levels that had to be designed ... again, no small feat in and of itself.

So I'm sure the majority of the post kick-starter efforts must have focused on content creation and level design.

But I took out of it, what positive notes I could.

a) Admit that learning a new engine adds challenges, don't blame the engine.

b) Source Control and QA are vitally important ... start from the beginning of any project.

c) When building out your team, don't underestimate the value of experience with your chosen engine.

d) If you goto speak at PAX-DEV or other game dev forums, consider your audience. Stay humble and sincere, you'll earn a lot more respect in the process.

e) "Zombie Fatigue" : Zombie games are getting "old" ... their next game is rumored to be a Western RPG?

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Torquescript is not "difficult to learn" - it's weird, but it's close enough to C/C++/Java/C#/damn near anything else that it's not that big of a deal.

Their "not cross platform" complaint I feel was valid at the time. In fact, of all of the "it's Torque's fault" complaints I feel that this is the only "real" complaint - and it is a big factor for future sales.

If they started with TGE then technically they've spent $100 on the engine license, as long as they didn't also spend the $1000 for the T3D commercial license. At the time of release it was still the best bang-to-buck ratio on the market for engines.

I agree - less "woe is me, Torque is painful" and more "yeah, Torque was a factor but we made some other errors along the way" would have been more appropriate - I think the Gamasutra article was more in this tone than what you're describing for PAX-DEV.

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