Crossover

It’s been more than a year since I’ve passed the doors of Daedalic Entertainment for the first time, back then a small, cozy and absolutely unique game development studio settled in the Workport Hamburg, right next to an extraordinary butcher and tons of Lufthansa planes.

What You Leave Behind

Having started out as an intern, I advanced to the position of the Lead Programmer of the company after a few months. When the old lead Jan Napitupulu left for founding his own company Beardshaker Games, I seemed to have had enough time to demonstrate my social and technical skills, while being in the right spot at the right time.

My first task was to support many of the legacy titles of Daedalic, each of which had to be released on multiple platforms, in different versions (i.e. full version, demo version), in different languages for several publishers. Titles I’ve been working on include Edna & Harvey: The Breakout, The Chronicles of Shakespeare, Ravensburger Puzzle, 1954 Alcatraz and Living Stories: The Lost Heart. Our team was forced to dig deep into existing code in no time, most of which was created by people who weren’t part of the company anymore – one of the most challenging duties for software developers like we are. The games were based on all kinds of technologies and engines, such as Java, Torque 2D, Panda3D and Unity3D. All of these games have finally reached a stable status and sell well, except for Alcatraz which is still in development and scheduled for a 2013 release.

Edna & Harvey: The Breakout
Edna & Harvey: The Breakout was the debut title of Daedalic Entertainment and is still one of its most successful ones. It has most recently been ported to the iPad platform.

In the mid of 2012, I got to lead a small team developing a framework for creating (yet unannounced) 3D adventure games based on Unity3D. That framework was supposed to enable game designers with limited programming skills to build scenes and dialogues, while being easily extensible by experienced game programmers. My team and me became familiar with a lot of useful software development tools, such as unit testing for Unity3D (SharpUnit), static code analysis (StyleCop) and API documentation (Sandcastle) which I’m going to cover in my next blog posts. The framework is based on the idea of entity systems I’ve talked about before. It held some tough challenges for our team, such as the trigger system, which was required for building an editor the game designers could use, or the dialogue system… We thought building a dialogue system for adventures should be pretty easy.

We were wrong.

The games of Daedalic, with their strong focus on narratives, caused their very own, unique challenges for our team, and I hope I’ll find the time to talk about some of those later.

Square Meters of UML Diagrams
Square meters of UML diagrams on our tables weren’t unusual during the design phase of the new adventure framework.

Apart from the above projects, I had a lot of other responsibilities in the company, most of which were related to technical direction: There hadn’t even been a corporate Wiki when I began my career at Daedalic, and so I established many of the new development standards of the company. I became the one to evaluate all programming applicants, creating a coding challenge that all of them have to solve when applying (which was fun, really), and I’ve been the primary contact for many business partners, now being familiar with most established publishing technologies such as Steamworks, Intel AppUp, Windows 8 Store and OnLive.

I’ve learned a helluva lot at Daedalic Entertainment, and I really got to love the games, the company, the people. Having spent many, many great hours with one of the best teams I’ve ever come to work with, I can’t stress enough that the decision I made shortly had nothing to do with me being grumpy or even unhappy.

3D Adventure
3D adventure games are the consequential next step of Daedalic Entertainment to keep surprising and impressing their fans.

Call To Arms

It is a funny coincidence that I got to know Christian Oeing playing soccer in the city park of Hamburg: Marcel Köhler, my coding buddy at Hostile Worlds, had started working on Kartuga at Ticking Bomb Games, and asked both his co-worker Christian and me to join him on his weekly Saturday soccer matches.

I had the opportunity of creating a game with Christian shortly after, at the Global Game Jam 2012. After that weekend, I somehow had the feeling that I had learned more in the past 48 hours than in weeks before, and that was not least because of working together with him.

Christian in turn had already been thinking about founding his own company before, and we started to meet once a week, chatting and pondering which game was missing in our world. We competed with each other at the Google Ants AI Challenge (both ranking quite well actually), and worked together at the InnoGames Game Jams #3 & #4.

Bones
Bones is a great example of what Christian and me were able to achieve with a great team within 48 hours.

The Die Is Cast

All of this finally led to one of the most important decisions of my life: I have left Daedalic Entertainment. On January 3, 2013, Christian and me founded the indie game development studio Slash Games.

We got an idea, we got a team, and our first game is very likely to be finished within the next few months. In the meantime, we’re both looking for work as freelancers in order to pay our bills, so don’t hesitate to get in touch with us if you got anything tough that needs to be done.

I’ll keep you posted on any updates, and of course I’m gonna tell you as soon as our website is up. I am really, really excited about the things the come, and I’m absolutely crazy about starting to create our own games!

Keep your fingers crossed for us 🙂