Fenix Fire Announces ‘Source’

Today marks the two week mark since we officially entered Source into IGF and we’re still recovering from the massive flurry of activity we went through to get it ready and up on the IGF site portal. In fact, we’ve been working on all the other things that go into making an indie game, the marketing and PR side of things.  Since that all important deadline of October 19th, we’ve created an all new website, updated our company branding and image, wrote tons of info about the game and our studio, made a Press Kits and on and on and on.  It’s amazing how long this kind of stuff takes, but we’re happy with the end result and that this framework is finally in place.  Now we can officially get back to “business as usual”, just in time for GDC Next!

Source started out as a mobile game in 2011, right after we publishing Roboto.  We wanted to create something fun, fast, and had an idea for a futuristic vehicle combat game.  When the Roboto profits started to slide we had to put Source on hold while we worked on numerous client projects for the rest of 2011.  The following year showed no slow down as we continued to work on large scale client projects, always coming back to Source when we could, but it never really got the attention it deserved, even though it was always in the back of our minds. It wasn’t until after the Ouya CREATE game jam that we decided to focus on Source (still as a mobile game) as something we can finish quickly and get to market.

Around this time, Sony made their PS4 announcements, which changed everything for us.  Part of the announcement was the opening of their digital store front to indie developers, and we became very excited about transitioning a simple mobile game into something bigger. Unity followed suite announcing support for the system, which further cemented our decision.  After lining up a couple of pitch meetings for GDC 2013, we became laser focused to this new, bizarre game.

Originally inspired by the idea of Tron meets Metroid, Source started out with a top down camera where you travel for screen to screen by unlocking simple puzzles or destroying all the other creatures in a specific area.  With this gameplay working pretty well we decided to focus the remaining GDC time to art, which was full of glowing and reflective metallic surfaces.  We played around with doing this cool thing where the color of the environment would change based on the color your character became, and decided to make color changing a key part of the gameplay.  After a few weeks, we had our demo ready, drove up to San Francisco, and showed our game off to a couple of publishers.

The response we got from this top down, Tron looking version was great, and we started talking to one publisher very closely about getting the game funded and published.  Hover, it turned out that this publisher wanted to focus on mobile and wanted to see Source running on a mobile device.  This was where things started to splinter, as most of the fancy glows and reflective metal that made the art style would not be able to be utilized on mobile, essentially killing the look of the game, which was a big part of the uniqueness of Source.  None the less, we tried to port it over and have a rough version running on an iPad and Kindle Fire, but I just felt that it wouldn’t stand out enough on the mobile market, which has become so saturated in the past couple of years it’s almost like a lottery now, and we fell that going for the next gen consoles is a much safer bet.

At this point, I gave up on the mobile version and decided it’s 100% high end consoles and PC.  We changed the camera angle, uprezed the graphics more, and experimented with the art style.  Source really started to take shape at this point, but it wasn’t until I focused on the butterfly character when things really got interesting.  We spent at least 4-5 weeks just drawing and trying out various characters before settling on the current version.  We tried centepedes, dragonflies, and humming birds before settling on a moth/butterfly looking creature.  I think it was the way the wings flapped that just “worked’.  Once this character was in and working, it created a whole new dimension to the game, forcing us to completely rethink the environment art and the world that this creature would live in.

Before we began modeling the world art, we started writing out the story of the game.  What was the story?  How would we tell it? What are the locations in the story?  This exercise really helped us narrow our focus, as the game now required a vast and strange world to explore. This was all fine and good, but now GDC was only 5 weeks away, and all we had was a controllable butterfly in a completely grey void of a world, with nothing to do!



About Brian

Brian is the Founder and CEO of Fenix Fire, Co host of The Game Design Dojo, and industry veteran of over 15 years with over 70 projects under his belt such as Mortal Kombat Deception, Psi Ops, Hunter The Reckoning, Starcraft Ghost, and the Oculus Tuscany World Demo.