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Indie Dev of the Month

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2 Dawn Games

Posted by StrYdeR in Indie Dev of the Month on Oct 16, 2012

This month, the winner of our Indie Developer of the Month title goes to 2 Dawn Games for their multiplayer only FPS vehicular title Ravaged.  I had a chance to get my hands on a preview copy and play with some of the developers, and quite frankly I was blown away.  The gameplay itself is frantic and the game types are challenging – and FUN!!  The maps and character classes are varied - and quite polished, which makes the
settings believable and … did I mention FUN?

After an evening of playing with the developers, I found myself wondering about what it takes to put something like this all together, so I decided to ask Joe Halper (the Executive Producer of 2 Dawn Games) how Ravaged got to what we see today.

 

Modsonline:

So, tell us a little about 2 Dawn and Ravaged?  How did it all come about?

Joe Halper:

About 3 years ago we sat down and started brain storming ideas of what type of game we wanted to create.  We thought about the gaming style, the art direction and what we knew we were really good at. We have a strong heritage in making multiplayer FPS vehicle titles and have found much success starting way back with our Battlefield 1942 MOD called Desert Combat. It received more than 3 million downloads and had a HUGE fan base. That MOD was the launch to some of our gaming careers. Desert Combat also led us to be hired to research and develop gameplay for Battlefield 2 which was also an extremely successful multiplayer FPS with vehicles. Some of us went on to design and head development of Frontlines Fuel of War which was the first title for Kaos Studios. Even though we invested the greater percentage of effort into the single player campaign it was our multiplayer that stood out to everyone.  So we decided to create a game based on what we knew we were excellent at and the fans would enjoy. That is a PC multiplayer team-based vehicle and infantry FPS title. It’s been a lot of hard work and late nights “2 Dawn” but it is exciting to see it finally coming together and getting released! 

Modsonline:

What game engine are you working with – and why?

Joe Halper:

We use Unreal Engine 3 and for us this was a no brainer. Some of us have been using UE3 since 2005 and it has the tools and support to allow our small team of indie developers to show off their amazing skills. We don’t believe we would be able to pull off this amount of detail with the small team we have with anything else and the support we get from the Epic Games development team and the community is outstanding.

Modsonline:

Are you using any other software/tools?

Joe Halper:

Absolutely. As a multiplayer game, we needed a robust online tool set that gave us the ability to support a big online game.  In addition to Steamworks, we're using GameBlocks middleware, which provides impressive features and lowered our costs significantly while also freeing our developers to focus on the game itself.  The GameBlocks team provides all of our official dedicated servers worldwide as well as online middleware such as WatchDog which provides network tools/alerts (NOC) and detailed info on player connectivity.  For the players, the most interesting GameBlocks tool we've licensed is their FairFight system, which is a revolutionary new anti-cheat solution that is truly ground breaking.

Unfortunately, cheating has become a real problem in FPS gaming - even on the consoles.  Unreal Engine's popularity makes it a target for cheaters and hackers and because we've had very poor experience with other anti-cheat solutions on previous titles we were excited to integrate something that attacks cheating quite differently.  Instead of looking at a client's PC for modified game files, FairFight analyzes the game in real time and provides the development team simple tools to set-up rules that instantly and automatically kick or ban players that are cheating, even providing multiple levels of "discipline" by giving the player a warning and escalating actions taken from there.  We've never seen an anti-cheat solution that gave us real-time info on what was happening and the tools to address it

For development of art assets we use a variety of tools. 3DS Max, Maya, Photoshop, Flash, Zbrush, etc. There are many other applications that each of our artists use based on their own personal preference. Programmers use Visual Studio, Visual Assist and a collection of other utilities and programs that help with performance, database queries, etc. We use Perforce which versions and manages digital files. For audio we use Reaper, Sonar and a ton of other audio tools and plugins. Microsoft Office products are used by some but we have been heavily using Google docs which are great for sharing and editing documents live with multiple team members at the same time. For communications our main app is TeamSpeak (NY2.LeetTS.com:10008). There is always someone live on there and it is like our virtual office. Any of the players can come on there as well and poke any of us if they need help or have questions. We also have a “Need Help Channel!” that we monitor. If someone hops on it one of us immediately jumps in to provide assistance. We also use Google Drive, DropBox, personal FTP’s, Skype, AIM and MSN Live for other file sharing and communication needs.  Last but not least is our IdeaScale page (http://ravaged.ideascale.com/) which we do consider to be an excellent tool for keeping in touch with our players. They can post bugs and ideas and we track this religiously. There were a few ideas that were on there that actually made it into the game.

Modsonline:

How large is your studio at present?  How many on your team?

Joe Halper:

We are a virtual studio with between 12 to 16 developers and we also have additional contractors. We are scattered all over the planet with developers in New York, North Carolina, Texas, Indiana, the UK, Russia, Denmark, etc. 

Modsonline:

Tell us about your move to Kickstarter – how did it feel to double your goal?  Were you at all surprised by the support?

Joe Halper:

Our Kickstarter campaign was pretty amazing and we were very excited to see the amount of support received. It just reassured us in knowing that this was the type of game the public really wanted and with our background they know we can deliver it to them.

Modsonline:

How long has this game been in development?  How did it start?  Was it a “hey, I’ve got this fantastic idea – let’s do it?” or more “hey, I want to do something – let’s come up with something?”

Joe Halper:

The game is about 3 years in the making and we built it for longevity so there will be continued support and features after we release. In the beginning we knew what we were good at and that was multiplayer FPS titles with emphasis on vehicles and team gameplay. For us there was no question on what we knew the people wanted and what we were capable of delivering.

Modsonline:

What is the basic premise or theme of the game?

Joe Halper:

Ravaged is set in a post-apocalyptic earth ripped apart by natural disasters, it chronicles the struggle between the “Resistance” and the “Scavengers” as they fight for vanishing resources, disputed territory, and their very survival.

Modsonline:

Tell us about the setting for the game – some of the maps or areas that we’ll play in.

Joe Halper:

Ravaged is designed with a heavy focus on vehicular combat taking place on vast maps that will have you strategically duking it out on land and in air with over 40 vehicles and weapons. Placed within a competitive team-based environment created specifically for the PC, Ravaged is set in a post-apocalyptic world that was ripped apart by cataclysmic climate change.

In Ravaged you experience disparate multiplayer maps, some large enough for 32-player combat such as our Bridge and Canyon maps, which encourage large-scale vehicular tactics. For close-quarters combat, various maps, like Ice Breaker and Oil Rig, are small enough to force eight players into extraordinary firefights.

Modsonline:

What about the characters / classes?

Joe Halper:

The Scavengers are an overpowering band of murderous savages bent on taking every last inch of land and every resource for themselves. They will stop at nothing. Their success seems certain unless someone can rise up against them.

The Resistance are the world’s last hope against the Scavengers and humanity’s only chance to restore civilization. Days before the Apocalypse, a small band of freedom fighters was able to seek shelter deep below the Earth, storing just enough weapons and food to survive the catastrophe and emerge to rebuild the world. But outside this refuge the criminals and less fortunate of the world were left to the elements.

Each side has 5 classes of characters to choose from. Each character class holds a primary, secondary and melee weapon and you can choose various options within the loadout screen. The characters from each side are not a symmetrical match. For instance, the Assassin on the Scavenger side possesses a crossbow while the Resistance’s Sniper possesses a hunting rifle.  We have spent a lot of time balancing these weapons so that no one character class overwhelms all of the others. One of the cool things in game is that you can pick up the primary weapons of fallen allies or enemies.

Modsonline:

And now on Steam with a release scheduled for October 17 – does it start to feel now that it is all coming to fruition?

Joe Halper:

We have our heads buried in game development but it is very exciting to see this finally coming close to release. We are amazed at the support we have been receiving from both the fans and the press and can’t wait to open the gates and fill up the servers. This is going to be a blast!

Modsonline:

Are there any plans to open the level editing to the community (ie – modding support) for custom maps and the like?

Joe Halper:

Allowing mod support is on our backlog list of community “like to haves”. It is currently our number one voted request on our ideascale page so I guess you could call it a LOVE to have. Beings that we come from a modding background we would love to have it as well but our focus currently is the release and support of the game. Creating mod support takes a substantial effort and we currently don’t have the manpower to cater it at this time. Down the road though it is possible.

Modsonline:

What were/are some of the challenges faced by being an indie developer?

Joe Halper:

One of the hardest things as an indie developer is to get a team interested in the idea you have and sticking with you through the thick and thin. Most of us have day jobs and this was what I would like to call a blood, sweat and “smiles” project that we continue to do after we get home from work. The name “2 Dawn” actually came about because a good portion of us literally work until dawn with development. And as a developer you have to do many things out of your own pockets. Game development can be extremely expensive especially if you create the type of title we are doing so there have been a lot of sacrifices made. In the end though we are lucky to have developers with so much passion and commitment. We all have not only a passion for making games but an equal passion for playing the hell out of them. :)

Modsonline:

Thanks Joe, and all the best luck to our Indie Developer of the Month 2 Dawn Games and their title Ravaged.  You can grab Ravaged on Steam here: http://store.steampowered.com/app/96308/?snr=1_7_suggest__13

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