Well Thought Thoughts

A Well Done Games Blog

Development has begun on our tree management game "IndusTree"

Planting the seed for something great

by Alexander Schmidt

About a week ago, we finally started working on the prototype for IndusTree, our tree management simulation game financially supported by the FFF Bayern and the budgetary funds of the Free State of Bavaria.

Prior to receiving funding, we already worked on the game's concept for over a year as part of our game studies course. Then we applied for the Bavarian game funding by the FFF Bayern and as an early christmas present - we got told we got the funding grant for the development of a prototype! So that's what we are doing right now. We got a few things we want to implement so we can have a nice prototype with which we can go to publishers and try to secure funding for the production version of the game.

What is an IndusTree and why are we making it?

IndusTree is (or will be) a management simulation game where you have to manage and nurture a tree from a small sprout to a mighty plant, all the while defending it from threats from the environment and burying your roots deep into the ground.

One of the reasons we are creating IndusTree is that we want to make players understand all the intricate processes that happen inside a tree and raise awareness to natures beauty that we need to preserve. Important environmental topics like climate change and rising CO2 emissions are made visible from the point of view of the nature affected by it.

These are some key features of the game:

  • 2D gameplay along a hexagonal grid with 3D representation of the tree
  • stylized art with a painting-like screen-space filter
  • game mechanics inspired by real biological processes
  • resource-management of different parts of the tree
  • exploration in the underground
  • random events with different challenges
  • learn about different types of trees and how they work by playing
  • make your tree pretty or make it functional, it's your choice
  • upgrade the plant cells of your tree and adapt to your surroundings
  • realistic foundation of the games' mechanics make it a great tool for teaching
  • all in all: a game for management sim fans and biology/botany enthusiasts

A week of progress

Our team consists of the usual Well Done Games members, each with their own speciality. Andi is making art, Elmo is currently working on systems design and balancing and Alex is knee deep in Godot and codes away like a maniac.

After the first week or so, we made a good bit of progress. We have a prototype of our systems in Machinations, a tool for modeling resource-flows in games. We have 2D placeholder assets for prototyping and the first 3D models of branches, trunks and roots in various configurations, to figure out how we may go about procedurally modeling and extending the tree.

We also made the underlying system for the hexagonal grid map, with good functionality for converting between hex-grid-coordinates and pixel coordinates, breaking Alex' brain in the process. If you want to make your own hex grid game, check out Redblob Games for the de facto gold standard in hex grid tutorials.

Thanks to a bit of hacking and Godots great features we also got a basic system to work for placing various things on the grid, in this case our aformentioned placeholder assets. It almost feels like a small level editor, which is something already on our roadmap.

We are quite happy with what we achieved in so little time, which we can certainly attribute to the fact that we were such a sworn-in team already, with workflows and project management already in place before we began. We already worked together on quite a few projects before, just not full-time. Of course, the start of a new project always feels great and progress is fast when you create something from nothing, so time will tell how long we can keep up this oh-so-great productivity streak of ours!

Who is the FFF Bayern and why are they giving us money?

Lastly, we want to thank the FFF Bayern for approving our game concept for funding and for trusting us to make this prototype.

The FFF Bayern is a media-creation-fund for the creative industry of the Bavarian state. First only for film & television, they also support the creation of games and XR/VR-applications for quite a while now. With that fund, Bavaria has one of the best economical support systems for game developers in Germany, which we are very grateful for.

What's next?

Having implemented a few basic systems already, we are on a good path to get a playable build of our game ready. Although there is still much to do, our goal is to have the core mechanics in our prototype as soon as possible, so we can play and balance our game.

After that, the goal is to implement basic versions of all the systems in the game and make the core game loop fun and the graphics pretty. With the result of our work we want to have a build with which we can go to publishers and investors of different kinds to secure further funding for the production part of this games' development.

But there is still a long way to go. I hope you will accompany us on our journey, we will at least try to keep you updated via various ways. Feel free to follow us (or me) on Twitter, Instagram, Mastodon, LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitch and Habbo Hotel for further updates on us, IndusTree and our other games. :) Cheers!

by Alexander Schmidt