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Two years ago...

July 31, 2013 | Dukus | 76 Comments

Two years ago today, I started thinking about scrapping 7 months of work on a zombie game. It just wasn't fun and I couldn't make it fun. I kept the core engine code, left everything else to rot in my source repository, and spent a month writing the prototype for Banished. I think that was a good decision, even though I've spent way more time building it than I expected, and the game is much larger than I ever envisioned.

Sometimes I look back and wonder where the time went. Have I spent days doing nothing? Since it's the two year mark for Banished I decided to go looking back to see just where my time has been spent.

Let's see - currently the game has:

  • 4002 external resources (that's meshes, sounds, materials, textures, object configurations, ui's, etc).
  • 3.3M of C++ code in 915 files
  • 1.35M of typed resource data in 1397 files
  • 694 submits to source control

I generally don't work weekends or holidays, so per work day, that's an average of about 8 resources, 9.5K of typed text, and 1.3 commits to the source repository. I know I spent at least a month of time backpacking in the mountains, worked a few months doing nothing but contract work, and spent time getting the website going, so those numbers are probably a little low.

I suppose that can be considered productive. It still seems slow. If you decide to make a game on your own and write all your own tech, multiply your time estimate by 3. Really. Seriously.

Here's a pictorial view of how the game matured.... (dates are approximate, build dates on screenshots aren't always right)

Engine WorkFebruary 2011 Here I've started to get a few of the game engine subsystems running. You can see graphics, pathfinding, collision, and initial UI work.

AnimationsMarch 2011 Starting a new project makes things go so quickly. Lighting, shadows, and character animation have been added. I also gave the character a shotgun so he could shoot zombies.

Zombies!April 2011 Wait, wait wait. In 3 months I made my own game engine with zombies chasing you through a town and you could scavenge food and bullets from homes, board up windows and doors, and find safe places to rest? Why am I not this productive all the time?!?

SpotLights?May 2011 The engine also supports spot lights and other local lights! Why aren't they used in Banished?!?!?

Banished PrototypeAugust 2011 Everyone is doing zombies. Mine aren't fun. Let's try rocks and trees and characters that are a single box instead. After the prototype was built I went backpacking for a month and really considered if leaving my job to make games on my own was a good idea...

Rivers and MountainsDecemeber 2011 The prototype was nice so I decided to keep going. I rewrote a lot of code, added nicer terrain and rivers, and added a forester to manage the woodlands. Apparently I am also unable to make prototypes with stub art. Skyrim came out in November. Progess was slow for a while.

Add WinterJanuary 2012 Added seasons to the game, as well as more buildings. Blacksmiths have to create tools, and you can fish in the river! Also added roads and bridges.

A Town!Februrary 2012 Despite being simple, I really like playing this game. At this point I'm really glad I didn't keep going with the zombies.

Multiple crop typesApril 2012 Farms get a facelift. I added multiple crop types each with their own artwork. I added particle systems and deer in the forest as well.

Lots of new buildsingsAugust 2012 I adding a lot more buildings and townsfolk mechanics. There are now Town Halls doctors, orchards, trading posts, and sixteen occupations for the townsfolk.

UI Redesign and Character AnimationFebruary 2013 The UI Gets a facelift and the townsfolk finally get animated. I added maps, schools, and added gathering food and herbs from the forest as an alternative to farming. Feature Creep!

Is it done yet?April 2013 Isn't this game done yet? I'm really enjoying playing Banished. Sometimes I waste a day (or three) playing instead of working on finishing the game.

Destruction!July 2013 Uhh, who destroyed my town? That was a lot of work. Now I have to start over.


Happy Birthday, Banished!

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76 comments on “Two years ago...”

  1. Gratz on the two year achievement πŸ™‚ Game is looking great and looking forward to play it.

  2. Hey! Congratulations on the progress. This game really looks awesome and shows so much potential to be an awesome game. I also am looking forward to play it some time. πŸ™‚

    Keep up the great work!

  3. Came to know Banished only 4 months ago, so this was a great read! Very excited to buy and play this game...Let's get to a PAID alpha/beta - we're ready!

  4. Congratz on the two years, is looking great so far and I'm really looking forward to the final version and to play it ofcourse. Good luck with the rest of the development.

  5. Awesomeness follows your blog! Love your work and looking forward to playing the game πŸ™‚

  6. Congratulations on the progress, it’s coming along nicely. I always look forward to seeing new updates on the site.

  7. This is one of the few games I'm really looking forward to. It looks completely awesome.

    Enjoy seeing the progress you're making and can not wait for the finished product. I'm here ready to throw my money at you!!

  8. Inspiring story! Keep up the great work. Really looking forward to playing it (shoving cash at the screen, etc)

  9. Uh, I read 915 ROWS of code first. My immediate thought was: What sorcery is that? That's not possible! Unless you're the Master of the Demoscene or something...

  10. to have a game about natural life, with all its demands and pressures, and without the OTT gore, zombies, hellish creatures etc that infest so many top titles, is something I have been looking for for years. What I have envisioned as my 'perfect' game, would be where the player can build up and re-create from previous destruction, a world that is livable and lovable. It doesn't always have to be about killing 'enemies'and being king of the hill, surely. So much can be built in about gathering resources, overcoming problems... Banish looks as if it might be the one I have been waiting for, and if so, it will be worth every penny to folk like me.

  11. This is the God game everyone has been waiting for! Looks impressive keep up the great work. Happy Anniversary Banished!

  12. Wow, the time really passes quickly, I've been following the developement almost all the way from the start and it feels like only a couple of months have passed.

  13. I have read several posts here on your blog and you really made ​​the best choice to abandon the project of zombies which would be any game.

    "Banished" reflects be a promising game and his work is meticulous in it. I'm looking forward to buy it and play.

    Jean Rocha
    FlorianΓ³polis / Brazil

  14. I bow to you, My Lord! Mayority (90%) of game deveolopers mainstreams fastphased fps or zombie. Not only did you break free from mainstream, you are currently doing something noone have done before. You have created a new branch in the Gaming Universe. RTS-Survival.

    If there is any game that are alike Banished, you can held you head high and say that this is the only fun RTS-Survival.

    When a single person developes a hole game all by himself all creds to that individual. You do not only developes something you believe is fun, you acually love it. Not many developers are "hardcore" gamers towards their own game. Minecraft developer (Notch) played his game but really, Everone who had LEGO in their childhood loves minecraft. But he does not loves it as much as he belives in it as a business model.

    I will not have this game for free. Dont you dare. This game acually deserves its money. No not the game, YOU deserve it.

  15. Amazing what can be created when one's heart is in it. I'm really looking forward to your release. Keep up the great work.

  16. cool post man.

    let's hope you release the game before it's next birthday, alright πŸ™‚

  17. Good to see you stayed dedicated. I'm sure it was a long road, but the game is looking awesome. Keep up the good work!

  18. You're a rare species in the gaming industry and I'm glad I found your game.

    A true game, made for gamers for gamers.

    Not rushed and filled with passion

    This is all rare in this industry and too many people make games for maximum profit.

    I honestly cannot wait to get my hands on this game

  19. I see from the final screenshot that you are finally adding the zombie apocalypse endgame.

  20. I just wanted to pop in and say thank you for all the inspiring and interesting posts you put in here. As a game developer (very junior, but I'm working on that) they get me thinking how I would have solved those problems, or just makes me realize how much I have yet to learn πŸ˜€
    Keep up the great work and I can't wait to play the game once it's out!

  21. Next Age of Empires? Because that would be awesome! and definitely looks amazing it looks like it could pull off a lot of different game ideas

  22. Gz on the mark. Ur game show rely huge potential. I rely look foward to be abel to play it. I think u are making new standard on the medieval games with this game ^^ .

  23. Happy birthday!
    But you're such a tease, when's the release?
    My money is jumping out of my wallet on its own essentially.

  24. Great reading about your progress timeline. Given that this is effectively under two man-years of work it does make you wonder how other titles manage to employ dozens of staff for the same length of time to make far inferior looking products. Fingers crossed it's a big success before its third anniversary!

  25. @Andy. im pretty sure 99.999999999% of indie devs make games so they can buy food and not die.
    but maybe you think that's maximizing their profit?

  26. Congratulations on the anniversary. Been watching the development for a few months now and have been drooling over the progress. Great work!

  27. Can't wait!!! If it takes longer to perfect it then take that time! You are creating a masterpiece!!!

  28. Agree with Lee - As much as i would love to start playing now, i am sure a few more months wouldn't kill any of us.

    All the best! and Happy Birthday Banished!

  29. loving it, cant wait to play. I agree with Lee & Andy D, take your time perfecting. We can wait πŸ™‚

  30. Can't wait for the release! Didn't know the anniversary will come out on my birthday πŸ™‚
    All the best! πŸ™‚

  31. Pretty cool to see the progression. Considering it's origins, can we look forward to a zombie attack disaster Easter egg? Only slightly kidding

  32. I'm so glad you didn't make a zombie like EVERYONE else. Are you still aiming to have the game release by the end of summer? Hint hint, I consider August to be end of summer. Make it happen baby.

  33. Happy birthday Banished. You are scaring me with that Zombie project that you abandonned....hope you won't do this with Banished, and with so much beautiful and creative work already invested, this cannot be something else than a success. I already dream of playing it. πŸ˜‰


  34. "Skyrim came out in November.
    Progess was slow for a while."

    Yep, I remember that too...!

  35. HBD Banished! Now I'd like to give you some money and you give me a game to play! πŸ˜‰

  36. I thought this was going to end with a release. I was on the edge of my seat. Anyways, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! (I hope you don't get a case of the terrible two's)

  37. Every-time I read you blog, I want to get into game designing more and more, even though I have no idea what your talking about when you talk technical I still find it fascinating.
    I just love that fact you have built up this world from nothing, it must feel empowering, I imagine you must become quite attached to it.

    One more thing your in the best position to enjoy this game, anything you want to include
    you just to have code it in.

    Keep it up. I'll pay good money for this when it comes out. πŸ˜›

  38. I recently discovered your blog and I think it's an invaluable resource for indie game developers who want to work solo on a project.
    I was reading an older article where you went over modeling and texturing the marketplace and you said you worked directly in 3D rather than coming up with 2D concept sketches first. What approach do you use for making organic models? I imagine it's a bit harder to block out a human compared to a house.

  39. I come on here every two days just to check up on updates and release date. You sir has dugged into my brain and made it into a game. I love God Games/RTS but this has got to be the best yet. The thing with this game is that you strive to keep it original and simple. No bright cartoonish theme like most other. When settlement 7 was ending and settlement 8 came out I just went crazy. Thats how bad it was lol. Keep up the good work and be sure to not abandon your mission until its complete. I see so many failed designer or gave up on their already good masterpiece.

  40. LOL I got to check my grammars before I publish it. Excuse my previous paragraph. Sometime I get excited and just don't bother to check what I'm typing. Maybe this game has took a portion of me away with it lol.

  41. I love your blog and can't wait until I can get my hand son Banished...

    It echos of a game I loved, the old Caesar games. Especially Caesar III. My only complaint in that game was it always inevitably became a battleground (I didn't much care for the combat and it didn't mesh very well with the city building and management aspects)

  42. When you say you're writing the entire thing by yourself, does that mean that you aren't using third party not-so-high-level APIs like:
    - Qt, wxWidgets, FLTK
    So, your code interacts directly with Win32/X11, right?

  43. I really can't wait to see the final version of this game. I'm in the process of writing agame of my own, not nearly this large scale by any means but i'm going from the low level with DX11 and trying to learn things so i can one day tackle a game like this. As someone learning programming i think the fact that you include code snippets from time to time is awesome, would love to see someone like yourself do some like tutorials on making games.

  44. I look into this blog from beginning 2013 and im really like what iam see. This game looks really great especially id like the settler queue so this game is a good answere to big publisher against this onlinebrowser games πŸ™‚

    So i hope i can spent my mony in the next fey months for this great game

    Ps: greets from germany πŸ™‚

  45. @StickFigs: I personally think I'm terrible at making organic models - but to make them I usually find real world images and base my 3D models of of them.

    @Albert1: Correct. I don't use any libs except Win32, XAudio, and DirectX. I'll do a similar thing for other platforms if I ever make ports.

  46. Hey, I only recently discovered the development of this new game, it really looks like it will be fun. I hope the release date comes soon, it's the end of summer 2013 already, must be on the verge of final release. Or on the verge of mental breakdown.. one or the other πŸ™‚

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