SODWA Update #1

by | Nov 7, 2019 | devblog | 0 comments

From a simple idea based on Final Fantasy Tactics to running a wildly successful Hero Machine fan contest, working with a famous comic book artist, getting interviewed for gamedev podcasts, working out a deal with famous comic sculptor Randy Bowen, becoming a licensed Nintendo devloper, and falling on my face more than a few times, this is the story of SODWA.

Alright, time for our first major Dev Blog update. I’m going to try to post an update at least weekly. This will probably be the most in-depth post, as there is a ton of stuff to cover.

First, a little backstory. It was 2004 and I was sitting in my friend’s apartment playing Final Fantasy Tactics on his PS1. I was full-on addicted to that game, and I had a thought that I’m sure many others have had: “Imagine if this game had multiplayer!”. I had always loved tile-based games like Tactics, and Shining Force, but had never seen one with multiplayer, and it kind of became an obsession to find something to scratch that itch.

Fast forward a few months and my other friend introduced me to a game called Heroclix. He had hundreds of these weird little Marvel and DC figurines, and it turns out they were the game pieces used for a tile-based tabletop strategy game. I became hooked immediately. I’d always loved comics, and I’d always loved strategy games, and now I had the chance to play a multiplayer tile-based strategy game using my favorite comic characters.

A few years later, the company that made Heroclix released an online game called Heroclix Online. It was…kind of a disaster. Do a Youtube search for “Heroclix Online” and you can see for yourself how slow and soul-crushing the game was. It was buggy, the interface was a mess, and the entire experience was as slow as molasses. It ended up getting canceled after a very short run.

It was around 2005 when my friend and I decided to actually design a video game. I still wanted to scratch that multiplayer tile-based strategy game itch, so that’s what we decided to go with. We decided to get a little crazy with the idea, and ended up naming it Super Omega Deathbattle Warzone Apocalypse: The Most Dangerous Game Ever Made.

It was just a fun silly project; we never really planned to do much with it. However, I ended up getting pretty deep into designing the gameplay mechanics. I took inspiration from all different sources, including Shining Force, Final Fantasy Tactics, Heroxlic, D&D, Warhammer, and others. Eventually the project fell apart, as it was never a serious project to begin with, but every so often I would find myself opening those old files of mechanics and ideas and tinkering with them.

Fast forward to 2011 and I’m living in Muncie IN with my wife, Meg, while she attended grad school at Ball State. I owned a small “pub trivia” company that paid the bills, but only kept me busy a few hours a night, 3 or 4 nights per week. Muncie wasn’t exactly the most exciting place to live and I didn’t really know anyone there, so I spent most of my time just dicking around playing video games. It was during this boring period that I started to really get back into the design of my game, mostly as a way to pass the time.

It was also around this time that Tim Schafer launched his now-famous Kickstarter and ended up raising more than $3,000,000 to fund his game, Double Fine Adventure. After learning about Kickstarter and doing a good bit of research into crowdfunding, I finally figured, “sure, why not,” and decided to actually try to get my game made.

…tune in next time as I recall the actual development of SODWA, from my first few posts on the Unity development forums, to my wildly successful Hero Machine fan contest, to working with Transformers: Autocracy comic artist, Livio Ramondelli, to the current state of the game. As always, thanks for reading!

-Woody