History of Son of Nor – Part 1

As we just re-launched our website from scratch, created a new logo for the team, and generally do spring cleaning in every aspect possible I thought it would be a good time looking back to where Son of Nor started and how far it has come. Enjoy the ride.

When I joined the team end of 2011, it looked pretty differently. Meaning, other people were working on it at that time and it was an enthusiastic hobbyist project. We were a bunch of motivated people thinking developing all our tools from scratch would give us control over every aspect of the game. Which it did. But it came at a great expense: a gigantanormous amount of time we had to put into the creation of all these tools.

Our Own 3D Engine

In the beginning, Son of Nor had its own 3D engine. It only ran on Direct X11 Windows PCs thinking when the game would be ready for release, Direct X11 would have become the standard for graphics cards and be widely spread. We have a tech demo video of the game running in our own engine from a few months back. Have a look:

There was a level editor and the algorithm for dynamic sand ran extremely fast as this was all handled by the graphics card. The apparent drawback being that everything we did took time and was basically pure manual work. Bringing models in, adding effects, adding sounds, all had to be done by the programmers. A new build needed to be compiled and distributed to all for testing afterwards.

Here’s another video of those times. You can still see we had a pretty giant HUD and we played with ideas around telekinesis as a constant power you possess. The heavier the object you wanted to lift, the more power it consumed. Some objects could not be lifted with the limited power. You had to ask a friend to help you.

Along with this idea there was the idea of drawing paths with objects. These objects would follow the paths and create a natural shield that way for example. You could then start to build all kinds of “machines” and shields with the use of paths.

The Voice of Reason

We had the unique opportunity to talk to a friendly game studio in Austria and its CEO clearly said we should absolutely not develop a game from scratch with our own engine. We should rather take some development kit. There were plenty of great platforms and tools out there, namely CryENGINE, Unreal Development Kit, Unity 3D to only name a few.

So, in the evening of that day there was a lengthy Skype conference where we decided to port the game to one of these engines and make our lives a little easier. Especially because all of us were in different parts of the world and it was easier to collaborate on the project using these tools. This was great news for me since I work on a Mac and most these SDKs offer multi-platform builds.

Read on which engine we picked and how the game progressed in the next article.

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