Indie Game Dev #2: Glitch Arena

Posted on August 20, 2019
Updated April 3, 2021

Building on my efforts with Frag Forest, in recent months I have undertaken a new project, Glitch Arena, which saw a Steam Early Access release two months ago.

Before we go any further, an example of the game I designed and build in Unreal Engine:

I’ve always prided and advertised myself as an ambidextrous designer who can and will work in any medium and learn any software to accomplish a task. Developing this game is probably the best example of this to date. I’ve been able to expand on preexisting skills in user experience, graphic art and design, music composition and audio production, and develop new capabilities in game design and aspects of those mediums specific to game design, such as pixel art .

More finished levels have parallax shifting layered environments, such as Key3 and it’s Ghibli inspired swamp setting.
The actual levels are darkish to increase visibility of items: paramount in an item-driven game.

Glitch Arena exists to widen the appeal of Arena First Person Shooters by replacing “hardcore” and “violent” themes with more palatable ones, and by putting theme emphasis on fun. While it is still a shooter game, it is highly abstracted and does not involve human characters. For this it is very visually clean and has a higher degree of usability than many other FPS games, which serves the competitive potential well.

A randomly named Glitch Arena character. Players set their own colors for friendlies and frenemies to suit their tastes, a request from a colorblind player.

In terms of gameplay it also vastly simplifies the genre by reducing it to the essentials of what makes it work. The most enjoyable games are not hard to learn, but there is depth of gameplay within a simple set of rules. The AFPS genre exemplifies this, however there was still a lot of room move. Glitch Arena is thus an elemental archetype of a game that may not go down in history, but is a pleasure to make and play.

Single pixels shine in the dark on The Dig

Being primarily a designer, there were a few technical hurdles to overcome, but nothing that could resist some force of will. The game will be made! Unreal Engine offers a great road into game development with Blueprint visual scripting, and I greatly appreciate the effort that has been put into making game dev accessible.

In warmup mode, small in-world tooltips give hints to players to foster an atmosphere of discovery and play.

While being positively received by those exposed to it, Glitch Arena has not been an overnight success and nor was that possible. Instead I will continue to create high quality content for the game and allow it to flourish in its own time. It is now very much a hobby endeavour, but one that expands my interests in design, art, music and user experience. So it will be one hobby to rule them all.