Oken: The story of a canceled indie game project.

Last year I had the pleasure of working on Oken, a game that was supposed to released this January. It is a classic sidescroller with a couple of interesting game mechanics that got canceled. A canceled indie game project, here is the story:

oken logo

Lune and I decided that we needed to create games ASAP, indie games. We knew that we weren’t going to create the next GTA, but we wanted to create, to be able to show something we have done, something to be proud of. We started Oken out of an old idea back in my days at 3dmx. We had a project there called PreyInsight (please look here, all the art is Lune’s), we always liked the idea of creating a game  of a tiger, so we redesigned the idea from scratch, created our main character and decided to create a game. We invited 3 of our students to join the team, Carlos for the art department (guided by Lune); Alan and Adrian for programming (guided by me) and the Dorian, our sound designer/composer.

The Oken team:

We also had the help of  Netic (Ernesto Ruiz Velasco, http://netic-ck.deviantart.com/) who created some 3d assets for the game. Great job!

All the assets I am sharing here were already shared on the Facebook page for the project. You cannot imagine the amount of artwork created by Lune and Carlos for this game (enemy concepts, 3d models, millions of textures, even powerpoint presentations), but I think it’s their choice if they want to publish them (and where). Of course this space will always be open for them.

Dorian created awesome music for this game too! Please listen to the Oken Menu Theme. He also created ambient sounds for the first level, among other great sound assets.

The game was being developed using the Unity3d game engine, a great software for game development. We decided to use it because it was cheap (now it’s free) and because we knew it very well. We created great code too, including a character state manager system and a camera interpolation system (yes, we will be sharing the code with the world very soon).

So, the interesting question is: Why is Oken canceled?

It is difficult to answer.

I’ve been thinking of this for a very long time now. I can only think of one think that wen’t wrong: Our people skills. Lune and I were trying to get things done, we wanted to create a great game. Nonetheless, I believe we were unable to provide all the support the team needed as we were full time workers and Oken was only a hobby project. The team slowly loosed it’s energy, it’s will, and it’s professional perspective. We let personal stuff get in the way and at the end, it was impossible for us to work on this game. We decided that our friendship was more important, so we paused the project. A couple of months later I wanted to start developing again, but the the team was way to busy on other stuff (great stuff, like the short film Junior is preparing).

This teach me a lot.

I now want to share how the game looked like in it’s final stage. We made 2 builds, the first one is a test level designed to test and tune Oken’s movements, the second it’s our first level (on a early stage, it needed a lot of tunning).

Oken movement test level

Oken first level

(Move with arrows, attack with “z” (early combat implementation))

Please note that the game was never optimized for the web and that it really is in a very early stage. Still, you can see that the movement of the character works great. Oken was supposed to have combos and the game mechanics included an “aura system”.

All of our work behind the game can be seen on the public Assembla site for Oken. As you can see, we created a lot of documentation for the game (we were going for the real thing!). The wiki contains detailed information about the game mechanics and there are some visual assets there too!

It is very sad that Oken didn’t really worked out as we expected, but, the story won’t end there. Every single member of the Oken team is working on new great stuff. While Lune has a lot of projects (too many to list them here), Carlos is working on that short film, Adrian and Alan are working on the adaptation of their game Amnesia to the Unity engine, I am working on another game for the web with a couple of friends (new team). The game is gonna be announced on this blog very soon.

I hope the story of this project is useful to someone else. We need to always remember that the technical issues of a project can always be solved, but what really destroys projects is the lack of communication and time. The people needs to feel great working on the project, they must be motivated, and it’s everybody’s job to keep it that way. Never forget about the people you are working with.