In terms of the technical and scheduling side of The Bloody First, the big news is that we’ve changed 3D engines. The project was begun under Unity 3D, but we have since switched to Slitherine’s in-house 3D engine, Archon. This change comes after much discussions about whether Unity was the best engine for the franchise going forward, and agreement that Archon was the better choice for future releases. This left us with a decision unique to The Bloody First – release this one version under Unity and then switch all future versions to Archon, or bite the bullet and make the transition now? As it did not make much sense to have a single ‘orphan’ release under Unity, the decision was made to switch The Bloody First over to Archon as well.
Archon has already been used to develop games of the same scope as Close Combat, and the latest version of the engine is better suited to our needs than Unity. It is a very flexible, data driven engine that already has great support for DLC and modding, major features we needed but which were somewhat problematic under Unity. Archon even has a built in scripting language we can use to expose game functionality – we can have scripted soldier behavior, or script the armor penetration model, for example -- and these scripts could be modified to change the game. The other major advantage of using Archon is that it is Slitherine’s engine. We have access to the source code to see exactly how it works, and there is an in-house developer who can modify Archon as needed. In short, we can add the new features we need and make sure they work the way we need them to, and we do not have to worry about existing features being changed out from under us.
Obviously the change to Archon has added extra work and extra time to the schedule. But the payoff will be a game engine that is more flexible, easier to mod, and easier and quicker to create new content for.