Dev Blog Update #1

Leaving the school project vibe behind us

Even though we’re working hard on the sequel called ‘We Were Here Too’, we haven’t forgot about We Were Here. Now, six months after the release, the game is still being played by more and more gamers worldwide. So we thought it was time to give the game a performance upgrade, allowing more gamers with lower-end setups to enjoy our game. Read all about how we achieved this as our programmers Sam and Thomas explain the fine details.

Since We Were Here started out as a school project and had to be developed in less than three months, there wasn’t too much time to optimize properly. Shortcuts in code were taken, unnecessary amounts of polygons were drawn and multiple lighting systems were stacked upon each other. Four major goals were set when starting with this overhaul:

  • Increasing overall performance (Especially for lower-end systems)
  • Less hiccups / frame drops
  • Solving frequently reported bugs
  • Preparing the game for future ports to other platforms

Spreading the load

A seamless game experience is an important part of the game. Upon entering the actual gameplay phase just after the matchmaking, a system called Dynamic Mesh Filter System (DMFS) was developed to simply split up different parts of the game (e.g. the theater and dungeon) and only enable those where the player is walking. This makes game-breaking loading screens in between puzzles obsolete. However, toggling large amounts of game objects at the same time caused hiccups as well. To improve this system, Sam redesigned it from scratch. He came up with an asynchronous recursive depth-first traversal algorithm that essentially spreads the load by enabling game objects within an area over time. In the example video you can see the player walking through the dungeon. As he walks past corners, the DMFS starts loading the area he is heading towards, and disabling those he left. This improved system, together with Occlusion Culling, makes for a smooth gameplay experience


Total Mayhem Blog #1

Welcome to the first Total Mayhem Games blog post!

Let me first introduce ourselves to you, dear reader. We, Total Mayhem Games, are a young Rotterdam based Indie Game Studio who recently launched their first game, named ‘We Were Here’. It is a free-to-play game, which we present to you on steampowered.com. You don’t need any money to play the game. Just a computer, a friend and your voice. Well... you don’t even need a friend, you are able to play the game with a complete stranger if you want to. As long if there is a ‘we’ in ‘We Were Here’.

We are a group of six game enthusiasts, who were able to bring their passion to the next level: this resulted in game development. Which, even if we really couldn’t, we would probably still do. But that’s what makes passion a passion of course. And if you are passionate about something, you probably know everything about how passion feels. We signed We Were Here up for Steam Greenlight, managed to get approval in only 3 weeks and launched the game on February 3rd 2017. This all happened between the walls of the University of Applied Sciences in Rotterdam. Maybe you already know, maybe you don’t, but we are all still students. Except for one by now, our programmer Sam was the first to graduate (thank God, one functioning adult in this team, which is also the youngest member - life is strange).

We organized this big party to launch our game and the two other games that took part of the minor - Pool Party Panic and Cat Rekt (we only had 4 weeks to prepare the party; we’ve gone through organizing-hell with that). Our set goal was to publish a viable game within 14 weeks with 15 students (we are now with six left from the original team), some more rules that I forgot, and 1000 downloads before 00:00 on February 3rd. And that meant the whole production from beginning to end, even just coming up with what kind of game we wanted to create and develop. Imagine we only had one 3D artist. One… He’s still with us luckily, modeling next to me as I type. Okay… Back to the assignment. So we launched We Were Here on the 3rd at 18:00 on Steam. We were scared. We were afraid. Some of us were probably also already drinking away their nerves and fear of failure. And then the moment came when one of our 15 team members looked up the numbers of the current downloads, which were a few thousand in just 2-3 hours. You can probably imagine our reaction. This wonderful, somewhat blurry picture shows our excitement quite well. Maybe you'll recognize some of our team members. And me: with purple hair.