Story time

We just launched our new website and this seems like a good time to talk a bit about how Teal came to be. We are students at the University of Applied Sciences Technikum Wien in Vienna Austria. We are attending the master’s degree program “Game Engineering and Simulation” there and Teal was created over the course of about one year. Though not the entire time was solemnly dedicated to Teal’s development as our responsibilities as students also had to be met.

The First Game Concept

We created our first concept during a lecture in which we had to create two game concepts in teams of two every week, followed by a presentation of our ideas. All ideas were rated by the entire class and at the end everyone had to choose one concept. These game concepts were further refined and presented at a final pitch. Out of the remaining eleven ideas we chose Teal as our project, since it incorporated a lot of interesting mechanics and challenges for our team.

Creating the first Prototype

We wanted to work with the Unreal Engine since it allows for C++ development and we did not have enough time to build our own engine alongside the game. Our supervisor wanted something playable as fast as possible, so we could evaluate the gameplay idea as soon as possible. Since we had basically no idea how to use the Unreal Engine we decided to build the prototype as one giant hack. And then take what we learned and build a proper framework for Teal. We then retired our prototype at the end of the semester and built our real project during the summer break. This approach really payed off since we had at least something playable at the beginning of the development process. At first the units only had melee combat by running into each other. This meant that most games ended in a draw. But it taught us one important thing, when a player did something amazing like avoiding certain death only to come back and take the game, it felt amazing for both players. This was the core experience we wanted to keep.

Teal prototype

Evolving Gameplay

To develop Teal in an effective way we decided to work roughly a week on the game, meet up, talk about our progress and what we want out of the next week. Most weeks were focused on a specific feature we wanted to either enhance further or add to the game. After the first stage of development with only melee combat, we decided that adding weapons would make the game less random. So we implemented our first two weapons, the pistol and the rifle. These additions made the game more interesting to play and led to even more of the aforementioned amazing moments. Sometimes players were able to avoid a hail of bullets and still make it, or die valiantly after putting up a great chase across the map.

Although the game was already fun to play, it still had some issues. Players could essentially just wall themselves off. Firing bullets at the enemy while having no incentive to move. Matches could turn into boring stalemates. We needed a way to force players to be more aggressive and daring. After some brainstorming we came to the conclusion that the map needed something players wanted, something powerful but with its own drawbacks. So the controllers, turrets and shields were conceived. They allowed us to place objectives around the map that when held gave the player a considerable advantage. To gain that advantage they would have to put their units at risk though. This was also the point in the development where repeatedly playing the game became increasingly important.

Teal with turret- and shield-tiles

The following period was mostly spent on adding features that were non gameplay related such as key rebinding and better multiplayer support as well as getting the options menu up to speed. It also saw the introduction of new weapons such as the gatling gun and shrapnel gun. Furthermore throwables were introduced to the game enabling us to create a whole new assortment of tools to get opponents out of cover.

At this point we were fairly confident we had solved a lot of problems the game initially had, but recognized that the player who killed the first enemy unit had a significant advantage. In order to give the losing side a chance at comeback we introduced upgrade tiles which would only activate once a unit had died. They soon became hotly contested and turned into very important objectives. Losing a unit just to claim the upgrades turned into a viable strategy .

Teal as it is now

The Future of Teal

So far we are fairly pleased with how Teal turned out and enjoy playing the game a great deal. We still have ambitions to evolve the game further. We have a few ideas we want to experiment with that we will have to keep to ourselves for now but will share as soon as they are ready to be announced.

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