Showing for the first time at this year’s PGF, Grae Saunders who juggles game development with full-time work. Grae’s first foray into the first-person survival genre, ‘Little Bit Lost’ follows the journey of a science experiment gone wrong, ‘where you wake to find your world is much larger than it once seemed.’ With Grae and his wife often playing similar sandbox/survival type games together, the game is informed by both a genuine love of the genre and the shared nature of their experience.
What was your experience like at Perth Games Festival this year?
Amazing! Perth Games Festival was a wonderful experience that has given me the opportunity to share Little Bit Lost with a large audience and discuss its direction for the future.
What have you discovered in preparing to show your game for the first time?
Well, fortunately, I was able to do a dry run at Playup Perth earlier in the month and learnt to plan well in advance. As a result, I made no major code changes one full day before and was able to spend time testing and fixing any small bugs to make the day relatively smooth. Oh, and I made sure I had an early night so I was fresh and chipper.
How has player feedback been helpful at this stage?
Player feedback is crucial to me at this point as the game is so early in development. The feedback I got from the festival was great and hopefully guides a large part of development to ensure the game lives up to its potential.
What are some of your sources of inspiration and how do they translate into the game?
Well, the obvious one is “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” which for most people who grew up in the 80s would know was a great adventure, that, despite the adversities, we all wanted to be a part of. Other inspirations include books such as “The Borrowers” and kids movies such as “Antz” and “Epic”. On top of that is all the cool insects that we have in Australia that a large portion of the game’s (antagonists) will be based on.
What can you tell us about the crafting system?
The crafting system and inventory system have been a major piece of work for me over the last few months. These systems are crucial to a good play loop in a survival game, and I am very happy with how they have turned out.
How do you go about building a voxel engine within Unity?
This is my proudest achievement in Little Bit Lost and one of the areas I had to spend a large time learning. The first thing was the learning, which had me spending a large amount of time reading through online tutorials, watching YouTube videos and going back to some of my core mathematics from high school. I even constructed a model from foam balls and satay sticks to help me understand how everything hung together – you can read more about it at: http://www.littlebitlostgame.com/index.php/2016/05/13/over-a-year
What would you say has been your greatest challenge, so far?
The biggest challenge I have had so far has been networking. One of the thing I really want to do is make Little Bit Lost a shareable experience by adding the ability for players to play together. It’s something I have shelved for now but have implemented a framework to allow for it to be potentially included in the future.
How do you balance solo games development with your job?
This is one of the hardest parts of growing up! Finding balance has certainly been a very big challenge. I am very blessed to have a very supportive wife and been able to find time wherever possible to plan and produce content.
As a programmer What are some of the lessons you’ve learnt from games, specifically?
Working on a major project has actually made me better at time management and project planning. I have found with big task at work or even around the home I break them down into smaller work components so that I can get things done in a more organised manner.
Lastly, do you have any advice for those interested in building games?
Learn everything! This modern age blesses us with the ability to get a lot of information on anything for free. Read articles, watch YouTube tutorials, soak in everything you can find and then just go for it. Making games is fun, and you have nothing to lose if you just try.
Here are some other places where you can find out more about Little Bit Lost: