Beware Planet Earth! – The Genesis of Beware Planet Earth! (Dev. Diary #1)
-Discover BPE’s first steps through the Developers words-
The story behind Beware Planet Earth! (Developed by Lightmare Studio and coming April 2014) is full of good ideas and strategy!
When Fabrice Chaland, Gwenaël Masse, Christophe Rautou and Frederic Oughdentz decided to create their first game, the initial decision was to go with a game based on the cheesy horror/Sci-Fi movies from the 60’s and the famous “Mars Attacks!” movie. On top of that, they consider Plants vs. Zombies, Insaniquarium and Garden Defense as references that everyone should take as role-model. Computing all their ideas and preferences, the small studio decided to go with the Tower Defense genre: “it’s one of the funniest types of game ever created!” as Fabrice Chaland (Co-Founder & CEO of Lightmare Studio) describes it.
The path to “Launch” is a long and tortuous one, after deciding that “Beware Planet Earth!” would be a Tower Defense, Lightmare Studio started to work on the first design and quickly understood that their concept could be really interesting and good enough to be sold! This led the team to be more involved and to stop considering this a spare-time project!
Going into their new full-time project and life, they decided to start thinking about the characters: “Adding several different Martians to the line-up was not a piece of cake”, said Gwenael Massé (Co-Founder of Lightmare Studio), “all the Martians are indeed very different and have a specific role within the game; these roles must therefore be very obvious for each Martian and the player needs to make them out at a mere glance. Even the slightest visual effort to do so would be very strenuous during a game, since the Martians may, at some points, be quite numerous on screen”. Their look evolved, but one thing was sure according to Lightmare Studio’s Co-founders: “We wanted the Martians to have a slightly warlike expression, but not so much as to make them look truly aggressive or evil… We eventually settled for the pouting face, so that they still look cute and mildly ridiculous!”
In the meantime, Martians had to be stroke back! This led the team to creating the machines: “When we started working on the machines’ design, the main two inspirations were the vintage ’50s toy robots and the movie “The Iron Giant”. The latter reference was a perfect tribute to the ’50s Sci-Fi movies while preserving a very modern aspect, and this is exactly the balance we were trying to strike”. One problem leading to another; Fabrice, Gwenaël, Fredéric and Christophe found their new robots too unsympathetic, as they wanted their players to be bonding with their lovely machines! In order to solve this slight concern, “[They] made the decision to drop partially the “’50s toy” aspect and go for a “shabby, rough and heavily-tinkered” feel. It is easier for players to relate to mundane objects, which they may be using in their everyday life”!
The next step was the Level design; the dev team proceeded, while keeping in mind two big concerns:
- Map Building
- Design and tuning of the Martian assault waves
“Building a level is always a step by step process, always done with a lot of testing and iterated improvements. Very early in the development, we decided the game space would take the form of a 10×9 grid. After some testing, we felt it was the best balance between legibility and level design freedom, with regards to the specific type of Tower Defense game we were planning to create. It is very likely that for another Tower Defense game, the game grid would have been quite different.” recalls Fabrice. Once they decided the map’s size and how many levels the final game would have, they started to create dozens of paths (each being unique). This whole step had a huge constraint; each path had to be unique and thrilling in order to avoid redundancy and boredom for the players…