Developers Blog

So, why do games take so long?

Beginning of 2020
The first phase is the beginning of 2020 when we realized we needed to do Mines 4. It was obvious to me when we did Checkers 3, everything was made for older players. It became clear that what was missing was the audience, the internationality of the game, etc. That is, you have to design the game from scratch in a team, because one person can't do it. By the end of 2020, we already had a vision. I was making the first gifs at the time. There was an understanding that there would definitely be a lot of bots, content, it should be generated and combined, and clans should be from the very beginning of the game. But back then we didn't have the resources yet.

Spring 2022
Next, let's move on to the pace of development, what happened, step by step. Let's start from the spring of 2022, the team had just gathered, we were still getting used to each other, but we had already managed to do something. Firstly, we realized that the name will be ERZ, and secondly, Max and I went through many engine options and decided on the one with boundaries. We made the first version without UI design, chose the right technology stack, chose bases, without authorization you could enter the game from any device. We made a basic control and it was glitchy and not very pleasant.
Summer of 2022
Over the summer of 2022 we delved into inflation, deflation, economics, tokenomics, how it all works. We talked about coffers, what we need to do to get resources balanced in the game. A lot of work was done conceptually, it may not be all thought out, but we realized how it works, we immersed ourselves in macroeconomics, etc. We finished the 2D-engine, made lighting, borders, made the sand beautiful. The texture artist made excellent textures of all biomes. The first identical buildings with neon signs appeared. Then we realized that it would be faster to import 3D robots, because from the concept of a robot to its model is faster than drawing sprites. So we decided to do 3D. Players said that somehow it doesn't fit that the robot is 3D and everything around it is flat. In the UI we made a very good tool that allowed the server to layout everything inside the client. We got Web3 authorization, wallets, Google authorization, simple stores. Management became cool, the way it is now. What could be simpler than controls? But no, there's some basic thing you run into that pushes you back a few months. Also construction, leaderboard, chat. We tried to make a YouTube show on the basis of which we would promote our team, development and the whole engine not only to those who know about the game, but also to a larger audience. We worked with external marketing agencies who promised us a boost. We still have a telegram channel with 3500 users, I don't think it's miners or people who were into ERZ online. Anyway, we got frustrated with marketing outwardly, and then we started doing the game itself.
Fall of 2022
And the turning point happened for us in the fall of 2022. The most important point "Crypto is not a base", we realized that the game can't be based on crypto. Crypto itself doesn't have an idea that will make everyone start playing right away. Crypto is a tool to monetize the game, to make investments flow into the game, to capitalize it. In general, of course, it is an interesting accompanying tool, but the game is always a game.
Then we got a new Unity developer, and we exhaled, because the pace increased. We got the Titan surface. A second version of buildings appeared, which the players nicknamed "fence". About the IDE style - back then we thought we were making a game where people make money and it's a serious game without any flashy stuff, there was Flat Design. We were making a game as a tool, as a slack, a discord. We were very advanced in that, Vlad drew almost all the interfaces. But then we realized that we were not going to implement everything to the end, we had the idea to make a beautiful sci-fi game. We made it possible to select diggeroids. You used to control one, but now you can switch, we also implemented purchasing. NFT diggeroids. And finally there is a generator. We rewrote completely on new rails so that it is a new algorithm. Although of course the generator leaves a lot to be desired, right now it's still an outline. Geochem is a geochemical engine, lava, sand, boulders, differently dumped, at different rates. Basically, we've established by rock, how things will work. Then there were quests and the first modes of the programmer, which were called AFK, when you just leave the button "forward" roughly speaking.
Winter 2022-2023
We made a big map, the backend developer has figured out how to make a bigger map than in past Mines in a very elegant and cool way. Right now we are playing 10000 by 5000, but I assure you this technology will keep 30000 by 30000 and so on as long as we need. We have connected the payment system Xsola. While the game is not in wide access, so there is no sense to donate, we checked that all messages are sent, that if there is an error - we will see it and so on. We have the first pumping in the form of skills, the first tutorial in the form of steps, added analytics, made playtests.
Spring 2023
In order to keep players interested and to progress in the world, the game has to be attractive. There were problems with the past 2D engine and zoom because we have three zoom modes: prezoom, light zoom and very far, accordingly we needed to make it beautiful and comfortable for players to play on any of these zooms. By researching, studying pixel art, doing performance test drives, we came up with the so-called engine pipelines, that is, we know what algorithms we use to draw what you see now. This is not the final 3D view of the game, but we realize that we can pull textures, we can make different and random shapes, we can rotate objects, different bases, holes and so on. So it all lies in this task, then from what we have, we need to finalize it, make it beautiful. Also we have e-mail authorization, I do not think that this is a cool theme, because e-mail authorization implies the ability to create many accounts. There are shops, bases, highwoids. The game has a logic: there are bases, on the bases there is a core, around built a defense, then you can build a resp, store, guns. There is a natural enemy - from the old robotic expeditions, in which there were no living people, mad artificial intelligence has formed its colonies and lives somewhere in the depths, hides from expeditions and sometimes attacks. We made fuel, we made nub-zones: when you start the game, you are in a restricted zone with one kind of building, and all you can do is pump, dig crystals and master the basic mechanics of the game. The first programmer appeared, which has different functions, it was created not so much for the convenience of players, but to check that the server is stable, that the virtual machine is running, there are no infinite loops, memory is not leaking and so on.
Summer of 2023
First of all, advanced on the engine, beauty in 3D, there are shadows on the floor, the floor itself is cool, not cubic. Lots of different beautiful rocks.
On the UI, we've gotten to the concept, we understand how all the controls we have look. Maybe not fully implement it. Also on the storage system a lot of work has been done.
As you can see, there are things that we go deep into and study and spend a lot of time on, but in the end the game doesn't need it in the first place. The game is constantly changing, it's a laborious and long process. It would seem that you can do it in a month, but no, there are a lot of areas, it all takes a lot of time. Each fix consists of many other docking points, it can't be done quickly, most of them are not even done in a week. For every 3 months, you can develop 5 to 15 of these fiches. These chips are called Epics, as it's not just a chip, it has many other chips in it.
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