On the Origins of Pine
Published 4 years ago
How it came to building an evolving game
About a year ago the rather ambitious idea arose to build a game about evolution – thematically, mechanically and visually. It was immediately clear that our main challenge lay not in building a fun game, but in bringing such a high-level concept to entertaining gameplay, in whatever form.
The first concretization came in the form of adapting/evolving enemy behavior, something our programmer Marc had been working on for half a year as a research project. Those techniques, typically based on machine learning, are used in fighting games for trying to figure out player patterns, but we wanted to go deeper. We specifically wanted our game to be something more than combat – something of an adventure.
An untitled new game was born, right after the release of With the Wind, our first game for iOS. Only having some thematic and genre-specific goals in mind, we were faced with a crazy amount of freedom, urging us to take the time to conceptualize everything nice and slowly.
The concept went from huge to tiny, from overly ambitious to just about the right size. We had some amazing breakthroughs that we think catered the mind-shift needed to let this concept work, and we can’t wait to build a full game around it all. However, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is Pine – we’re taking baby steps to get our weird mechanical implementations to work on a player level, to make sure we always maintain the entertainment value, which we hold in high regard.
Aside from that entertainment value, we have another key principle for Pine: To bring the evolution in a non-intrusive way. We don't like games with exstensive menu systems, hundreds of HUD elements or intricate numeric feedback to show the player the status of the game - instead, we want to let the player play naturally and observe the status of the world. This communication is a vital part of the game's core loop and we will focus on bringing the game as natural as possible.
So, with Charles Darwin’s original work at hand, the latest of neural network technologies implemented and the reference window of the best games out there, we’re going full throttle to build an amazing experience. On this blog, and after this brief introduction, we want to show you pngs, gifs, videos and stories about how we will develop Pine over the course of… who knows. The path ahead might be a large one, but keeping the public updated is a way for us to get instant feedback and have an external motivation.
The next stop for the project is to deliver a ‘vertical slice’, or an exciting demo, to show off Pine’s core mechanics in all their glory. While the theme of evolution will thrive in a longer game, we strive to make a smaller prototype in only 16 weeks that embodies this theme.
This blogpost was originally posted on March 14, 2016 on the official blog. Info may be outdated.