Darkfire Galaxies: Evolution

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Indie Game Development Changes Over Time

Hi, I’m Adam Roush, and here’s a quick look at how at Darkfire Galaxies, a sci-fi real-time-strategy game was developed when I worked at Blue Frog Gaming. It changed a lot over the 2 years it was in development.

A Little About Darkfire Galaxies and Blue Frog Gaming

The idea of this game was to grow your world and your spaceship armada to conquer the galaxy. It played similar to any RTS game, like Clash of Clans or Vega Conflict. Our team consisted of just 19 people; 4 artists, 2 designers, 7 programmers, 1 community manager, 1 help desk person, 3 head honchos and 1 game designer. This turned out to be a colossal undertaking, but I loved working on this project, because I’m a huge fan of sci-fi games.

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Battling in outer space was the primary part of gameplay. Pictured above is one of the earlier versions of the battle system. The assets are isometric, all 2D and hand-painted by the art team, including myself. Each square contained one Fleet, which had up to 4 ship types. Of the 4 different ship types, you could have thousands of them. Each Fleet had a commander, who had special abilities and powers to either increase damage, inflict special conditions (like accuracy, healing, defenses) or buff another commander to have better powers. It was very complex, and hard to get into unless you loved hard games, as much as our company owners did. Still, we had a pretty large fanbase. The above image only shows the human ship types, but there were 2 alien races as well.

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Skipping ahead about a year or so, above is what the game changed into. The creators greatly simplified the battle system in an attempt to make the game easier for player to get into, easier to understand and more fun to play as to attract more users. In this version, you had 7 fleets, which you had to strategically arrange on the grid, each octagon representing a fleet which only had 1 ship type and 1 commander, who still had powers, with attacking order determined by placement on the board. There’s way, way, way more to it than I can possibly explain. While it was indeed a lot easier to play and more fun, it was sad to see all of our hard work, with those earlier ships, ultimately scrapped. We spent a solid 3 months just developing the first generation of ships, buildings, and other assets, all of which were eventually replaced.

Game Termination

Sadly, at the end of 2014, this game was terminated. Darkfire Galaxies just wasn’t pulling in enough revenue to keep it running. By the time they decided to end it, the game was, in my opinion, a mess. There were mismatched art styles throughout the game and the gameplay just didn’t mesh very well. Although, the coding was probably fine since we had good developers. Yes, it was sad to see 2 years worth of work go up in smoke, but that’s the way of game development sometimes.

If you’re interested in seeing the game in action, here’s a video:

But Darkfire’s failure was the success of our follow-up, Shadowrift. Since we had so much experience in sci-fi RTS game development and had spent so much time in isometric perspective, we knocked out a more unified and cohesive game in 6 months. This one’s still active (I think), which you can find at: https://shadowrift.com/

If you’re interested in seeing more Darkfire art, here’s a few links:
http://bluefroggaming.com/
https://www.artstation.com/artwork/wqyZg
https://www.artstation.com/artwork/251nB
http://adamroush.deviantart.com/gallery/42917956/Darkfire-Galaxies
https://www.artstation.com/artwork/1ELJX

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This was a guest post by Adam Roush, a Youngstown Game Developer member, and was written for the March 2017 YGD Newsletter.

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