I always wanted to work on a fighting game…
My name is Matthew DeLucas. I’ve been in professional game development for over six years in Pittsburgh, PA at Schell Games. My role started as a gameplay engineer working on an unpublished Wii title, but now I do a mixture of design and engineering for various projects on various platforms.
I’ve been interested in game development from a young age, attempting to design my own Sonic and even Lemmings levels not really designing mind you, just crude drawings in notebooks, but still, a start. I feel like the genre I really came to enjoy though was the fighting game genre, which came about when I accidentally rented the Super Nintendo version of Mortal Kombat instead of Plok. I’m not sure what I really enjoyed about the genre so much; I wasn’t and truthfully am still not even good at them, but something about them just clicked with me. I remember starting to design characters strange, shapeless alien, Slug McDog being a personal favorite and unlikely crossovers like Mortal Kombat Vs. Clayfighter.
Anyway, after high school I attended the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. Sometimes I wonder if I should have just went to a college to focus on computer science and programming, but at the same time, I’m happy that I learned some art fundamentals that pertained to game development such as 3D modeling and animation. So it’s not so much a feeling of regret, but if I could do it all over again, I’d definitely try something else. Anyway, after a short internship and successful game jam, I was hired by Schell Games and have been there ever since.
Battle High: XNA Versions
I always wanted to work on a fighting game but felt that working on one of the major titles Street Fighter, Tekken, Mortal Kombat, etc. was just not going to happen for a variety of reasons; developing one in my spare time seemed more realistic. During college, I was introduced to GameMaker and made a simple fighting game prototype.
After posting the prototype online, the original developer of Battle High approached me about helping him. Sadly I didn’t read the message until the game was practically completed. I did help make an alternate color system for the game, which for GameMaker was a rather complex task at the time.
Anyway, after the GameMaker version was published, the XNA framework had already been released and I decided to try and port the game to this platform. Fortunately, the original developer was okay with this and a few months later, I finished the XNA version, Battle High: Elemental Revolt. I was relatively happy with how the game did and eventually we developed a sequel. I learned a lot from these iterations and enjoyed designing as well as implementing the game’s different characters and systems.
Battle High: Unity / OUYA Version
After releasing the XNA version, the OUYA came out. Excited to work on the independent platform, I decided to make a Unity version knowing it could be built for Android as well as a variety of other platforms. Unfortunately, this took a bit longer than I would have liked. I wrote a GameMaker programming book, which was an interesting experience to say the least, but juggling between my full time job, the book, and this port was rather challenging.
In addition, I attempted to build the game two times in two different ways before realizing that essentially copying and pasting my C# code from the XNA version to Unity was the best approach to take.
I was very glad to have finished the Unity and OUYA versions, but sadly I rushed before going to my parents’ for the holidays and released the game with a major bug. This was, and this is the best word I can think of, bushleague, especially since it was so easy to fix and just a bit more testing would have caught it before releasing it. It is out now on OUYA, and people seem to be enjoying it, which is always an important goal when developing games, especially in one’s spare time.
…people seem to be enjoying it, which is always an important goal when developing games, especially in one’s spare time…
I also want to give a quick shout out to Steven W. Hunt, a voiceactor who helped out a lot with the XNA version, not only providing his voice for three of the game’s characters Ryken, Bryan, and H.W. but also helping connect us to other voice actors such as Kyle Hebert (Jiro), Kira Buckland (Mai), and Danielle McRae (Jada). He’s had a lot of faith in the project and definitely helped motivate me when it came to finishing the OUYA version.
In the coming weeks and months, I want to continue developing Battle High 2. There are several unfinished characters and modes I’d like to implement for the game. I’d also like to attempt the rather daunting task of online multiplayer.
I have also some other projects I’m prototyping. For example, I’m working with Unity’s Mecanim system to see if I can develop a 3D fighter of sorts. Not sure all of them are appropriate for the OUYA, but it definitely doesn’t mean I can’t at least attempt to make them work for it.
To come home from work every night and work on a personal project, you have to love it. You’re effectively having an affair with your muse.
The quote above was tweeted by game developer, Laralyn McWilliams,and is probably the most important thing I try to keep in mind when developing side projects. I’ve worked on other side projects that have failed and the reason, most of the time, was that I fell out of love with the project or never loved it from the start. That even happened a few times with Battle High during its development. The best thing to do when this happens is to just step back and take a break, prototype something else or pursue another interest entirely.
If you truly love it, you’ll yearn to work on it…
If you truly love it, you’ll yearn to work on it again, like I did. It’s important to note, you’re sacrificing your time, which is almost more valuable than any paycheck, and if you don’t love it for any reason, the end result is probably going to suffer. Of course, since I’m employed, I have the luxury that my side project can be whatever; Battle High doesn’t need to sell thousands of copies to pay my rent or wages. Even if this luxury didn’t exist though, loving the project would still be important. Now I’m not saying love and passion is a cure all and going to make every project successful; marketing, research, collaboration, and quality are all still important! But if you love the project you’re working on, all of these become a little bit easier.
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