The current state of Peacenet development
So it's been a lot of time since I've posted a dev update for Peacenet. Now's the perfect time because some things are changing. A lot of things, actually. Big things too. Like, the game's being moved to an entirely new engine. If that isn't big I don't know what is.
So why no more Peace Engine?
Peace Engine was created specifically for Peacenet. But, over the last few months, I've started to realize that, although I'm interested in the really low-level parts of games and their engines, someone has already coded that stuff. I want to bring my idea to life, not reinvent the wheel.
I've always secretly had the same mantra as Volition, the developers of Saints Row. And that is "fun trumps all." Except, they're referring to gameplay. I'm referring to both gameplay and development. Peacenet should be, most importantly, fun to work on. And Peace Engine makes it...not fun. I spend more time coding the engine than I do the actual game anyway.
Well, what engine will you use?
Unreal Engine. And for a few very simple reasons.
- Visual scripting with Blueprint - You have the choice of coding in C++ with Unreal, but, for things like missions, UI, etc, not a single line of code is required for making things work. In fact I was able to get Peacegate OS's desktop UI set up with a "Power off" menu entirely with Blueprint and UMG. The only time I even looked at code was to look at the old Peace Engine theming code for reference when designing the new UI.
- Cutscene editor.
- Level editor.
- Extremely robust save system
- Better content/asset management - .pak files, lazyloading, etc.
- Itch automatically installs its dependencies - if you install the game through the Itch app.
- Networked multiplayer support.
- Local multiplayer support - even though that won't work well in this kind of game
- Full gamepad support
- Better text rendering
- Blurred background effects in the UI - this'll come in handy.
And, as Alex Mejia from Human Interact, the developers of an upcoming award-winning VR game called Starship Commander - also built on UE4 - puts it, why would you waste your time reinventing the wheel for a game like The Peacenet when the wheel's already invented and has been hammered to death by the pros for 20 years?
The last thing that's going on with Peacenet is, Watercolor Games as a group effort has been abandoned. Peacenet is now my solo project. My reasoning for this is that the point of WG was to prove that awesome games could be made on no budget.
Unfortunately we were unable to prove that without sacrificing our ability to have fun working on The Peacenet. We learned that you either have to put a lot of effort into a lot more things than just programming, or you need to have friends who are willing to take the load off you for free, or you need to be able to pay artists for their great work. And artists really should be paid for their work.
WG was a learning experience for me and so will this UE4 port of The Peacenet. But we'll make it through.
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