Post Mortem: Fire Fight

Fire fight started as a result of our desire to make a game that would mean something to Australians, in a country where a lot of the major natural disasters come are bushfires we wanted to do something that could put others in the shoes of the people that help to save homes and lives when bushfires occur.

After the issues caused by a lack of research into mechanical melee we made it a point to do some research into the competition before we started. To our surprise other than simulations there were very few games that explored the theme in the way we intended.

After talking about what to do in the prototype phase we decided that even though the ultimate goal was to do something to was centered more around bushfires we would start off with a smaller office level which would allow us to create a fun smaller level for testing the main mechanics, and would require a smaller effort to build from an asset standpoint.

The project started out quite well, with the level assets being built and put into game within the first few days, and basic movement and mechanics like chopping down doors and putting out the fire being added a little later. After all of the basic mechanics were added the coding team started working on a basic AI for the fire spreading, which was when we noticed that the particle effects put a huge amount of strain on the (reasonably high end) systems we were working with. The coders then spent time optimising the systems so that we only processed what the player was seeing but that still wasn’t enough. It was then that we realised that our dream of having open world levels had (excuse the pun) gone up in smoke.

We changed up the level design a little to limit how many of the particle effects the player could see at any one time, which helped to fix the issue. Moving ahead towards completion we still felt that the game was missing a lot in terms of the strategic elements that we wanted to give the player. We always envisioned a game where the player would be able to choose between different strategies for fighting the fire, all the while trying to save as many civilians as possible. This was not quite what we ended up with at the end of our dev cycle, and we quickly realised that the testing that would be needed to naturally guide the player through large levels with multiple different paths and objectives would be beyond a small team like ours.

In the end while we were happy with the theme and how the game progressed, but we felt that it would take much longer than the 6 month timeframe that we have to get something built and polished for our goal of releasing before PAX prime. With this in mind we have taken firefight off of the table for our big project.