War Tech Fighters: a procedural approach to game development
Published 5 years ago
A procedural approach to game development
Drakkar Dev is a company born in 2010 based in Catania, Italy.
We develop games with Unity engine for PC, consoles and mobile.
We already published six titles and we’re now working on the seventh one: our biggest project til now.
Our team consists of Manlio Greco, programmer and Domenico Gallo, artist. Since the first projects we collaborate with Riccardo Bellistri both for sound effects and musics.
“War Tech Fighters” is a sci-fi game featuring giant robots (called War Techs) fighting in space. Likewise the japanese anime the game takes its inspiration from, it features both long range combat with guns and close melee fights with sword and shield.
The ability to customize every part of the robot allows a huge number of combinations, gives the player control on aesthetics and performance.
Many sources inspired us in conceiving gameplay, settings and visual style. We started from classic giant robots anime to recent hollywood blockbusters. From the beginning, one of our goals is to stay true to these inspirations and realize a childhood dream: to pilot our favourite robots.
In a distant future mankind colonized the galaxy. Although there were planetary governments, the colonization era joined peoples in one  galactic nation.
After years of peace Zatros, a very large and rich colony, began a war of conquest to establish a totalitarian galactic government. Weaker planets fell first, one by one. The others developed new machines designed to fight in space. They were called War Techs.
The pilots of these machines were teenagers with special attitudes. They became one with their vehicles, thanks to cybernetic implants. The body and mind of adults generally rejected these implants, so the future of the new generations was entrusted to themselves.
The symbiosis between pilot and War Tech was the deadliest weapon ever seen in the galaxy.
The zatrorians owned the most advanced War Techs thanks to their greater resources. The defeat of the disorganized resistance force seemed to be obvious. Until the fate of the war were not overturned by the most unlikely team of pilots ...
Four boys, vagabonds of planet Hebos’ suburbs, were rescued by Nathan Romanis during a ground operation. Famous for being the only pilot in the galaxy above the age of 20, Nathan was a guide for the boys and trained them personally creating the most feared squadron by the Zatronian forces.
We are a small team, facing such a big project is a real challenge. We had to plan in details the best strategy to carry out tasks normally assigned to dozens of people.
We got the right idea thanks to another childhood passion: Lego bricks.
Instead of modeling every single item individually, for every type of object we studied what base volumes could generate different and more complex forms.
This approach gave us what we were looking for: the best visual detail quality in base pieces and the capability to create a huge amount of different assets in a short time.
On the other hand, this method required a long initial study. We had to consider many engineering aspects in addition to the artistic ones. It took many tests before finding the right volumes and detail amount.
Using Allegorithmic softwares was a natural choice since we wanted the same flexibility and variety in materials management.
With Substance Designer we applied node-based texturing to our “lego bricks”. This allows gamers a visual customization through colors, patterns and liveries. This is another layer of complexity and variation on final assets design.
We also largely used Substance Painter to add unique visual elements to the procedural ones. The single “bricks” are disguised and the final user can enjoy the overall design.
Another advantage of using Substance materials is integration in Unity 5. In addition to parametric functions it allows to a reduction of memory usage for textures.
Unity was our first choice from Drakkar Dev’s birth because is the most flexible engine and let us to compete with much bigger studies because we can build tools that we need.
The Asset Store is a precious resource (expecially Level 11) too. It allows us to get new tools for increasing productivity and/or graphic quality.
Unity 5  is a big step forward both for final graphics quality and for managing audio tracks and effects.
Careful asset planning, using proper softwares and their integration let us to have graphic customization for the War Techs and to create a huge number of interchangeable pieces with different function and specs. The players can use these pieces to improve battle capabilities of their War Tech. So we added a strong tactical part which completes fast-paced combat sessions.
In order to plunge the player into the story from the very beginning we decided to create a fully 3d menu setting. Every menu page is a different part of a big hangar where the player's War Tech is stored.
We've built this hangar using the same  procedural approach and smart materials like the rest of the game assets.
During combat the player faces several enemy types with different several and behaviours controlled by different AIs, e.g. battleships, fighters, space stations and War Techs. Combat is made of two main modes: long-range and close-combat.
In long-range combat objectives must be destroyed with long distance weapons divided into fast guns, cannons and homing missiles. The player has to defend himself from enemies with a shield, dodging or using surrounding elements as a cover.
In close-combat (only with other War Techs) the player uses sword and shield (as every reputable anime) and he can make devastating combos.
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The game will be released in 2016 on PC, Consoles, Android and iOs. Obviously since it’s a PC game it will require a careful optimization for mobile porting, we can already say that our target will be high-end mobile devices in order to maintain a very high visual standard.
Manlio Greco