Back at the start of the year, Ian Fischer and I decided it was time to start our own company — to make the kinds of games we’ve always dreamed about making but never had the right combination of opportunities and resources to make while working at other places. We had been dreaming of these games for many years beforehand, and it was time to finally start making them actual real playable things.
Thus, C Prompt Games was born! As we approach the end of our first calendar year, it seemed like a look back, to talk a little about what goes into starting up a new company and new game from Square One (and maybe also a little about what’s next).
As it turns out, there’s a lot you have to do at the very beginning of a company, even when you have many years of experience going into it. Filing for incorporation, setting up a bank account, figuring out how to set up accounting and actually pay people – these things all take time to research and execute on. It’s all non-game business stuff which isn’t exactly the exciting part of game development, but it still all has to be done.
When it came to actually making games, we were on a lot stronger footing. I’ve personally created games and game engines from scratch numerous times before, so I had a pretty good idea of where to start and what kinds of tools we would need. At that early stage we were still figuring out the specifics of what the game would be, but I had enough of a picture to start building a sort of “board game engine” – cards and dice and a simple map.
The game that would eventually become Heretic Operative took a few twists and turns on the way to settling on that design. Would it be high fantasy or low? Would it have a more tactical combat system, or something simpler? Do we need 5 locations on the map or 30? Answering all of these required a mix of iteration on actual gameplay and deeper design analysis.
Once the pieces started to fall into place, the unique flavor of “narrative strategy” became much clearer, and we could move on to building out the core gameplay systems as well as the content. As more of the gameplay revolved around cards, we needed more tools to rapidly create and test the many different kinds in the game – loot cards, enemy cards, adventure cards, etc. Development really picks up at this stage, as the actual game becomes visible instead of just a collection of technical parts.
There’s also a great deal of non-gameplay tech that goes into making any modern game – options screens, save games, Steam integration, screen resolution scaling, code signing, and the like. Fortunately, this was another area where I knew from experience what we would and wouldn’t need, so we could beeline straight for the important systems.
By the end of the year, we had a game! It’s a fantastic moment to start getting feedback from beta testers and realize we’ve gone from something that was just idle discussions over coffee a year ago, to something that is a fully-fledged game.
So, what’s next in 2019? We are still putting a few finishing touches on Heretic Operative, but if all goes well you can expect to see it early in the year. Some post-release content is already planned, and we can’t wait to see what players think of the game. Beyond that… well, there are a lot of new games we are eager to start creating.
So, from our families to yours, celebrate the end of 2018 (responsibly), and we can’t wait to get started on 2019!