The Origins Of Rumblers Part 2

Data Loss

One rainy Thursday afternoon, while I was trying to get my daughters to sleep, Angelo called me out of the blue. His first words were:”Do not panic, but..”. As an advise my dear reader, never start a sentence with the phrase “Do not panic”. The only rational thing which came to me was to actually panic. Anyway, he continued with:”..our Servers are out and we lost everything!!”.

Let me go a couple of month back in time… After we decided to start using the UE4, as stated in the previous Blog, we tried to imitate all the level modelling which we had created previously in Lumberyard. Why did we do it again? To learn how to use the UE4 engine while having a specific goal in mind. This resulted in a significant increase to our learning curve.

Once we achieved our goals, we split the analyzed tasks between the three of us. Angelo and Marcel went ahead to finish our website. We decided to implement it with a static site generator called jekyll, since it provides us with templates and themes which we can pimp (customise) to suit our needs. Our main website is implemented in FullPage.js, while our blog page is implemented with a jekyll theme called Aspire Themes (for more Information about that specific theme feel free to visit: this link. Of course the guys had to improve their HTML, JS & SCSS skills for this task, but after a lot of trial and error, cussing, and frustration it all worked out pretty well, as you can see. One additional bonus which we got from using a static site, was the free hosting we received on GitLab where all of our code, even for our Apps and Games, is being hosted.

Meanwhile I got the most exciting job out of all of them, finishing the writing of the plot and story of the game. For that I bought a huge map of Syria and started reading about the Syrian revolution from beginning (March 18th 2011) till December 2016. With time, little post-its were added to the map to visualize the route our main characters took during their refuge within Syria and I added dates to the main events that occurred in that time frame in their current location. Simultaneously I started to write the plot in our “Wiki”, which was located on our Server.

Map of Syria with markings.

For around five to sixth months we kept up with the same routine and at one point I had finished the plot and the map was complete. I started to translate the plot into User-Stories in Jira so that we could start with the development. Angelo and Marcel finished the website and we moved onto starting to implement the story. We had a mutual friend who still took care of our Servers and was so happy in letting us know, that he has implemented a backup strategy to ensure we do not have any data loss.

Not even two months went by, for a rainy Thursday afternoon to come….

No matter what we tried, the data was gone due to a migration our Admin was attempting which even damaged the backup he had in the system.

Retrospective & Motivation

I do not know how you guys would feel, but we were utterly and completely frustrated. All the Sketches, Pictures, Story-Book and Jira work were gone with a click. Hit by reality, I went home dejected and thought about all the time which I was away from my wife and daughters for that to be gone within a second.

Nevertheless, 2 days later we met up to do a small retrospective of what we have achieved until now and what were our pain points:

  • Large scope: We underestimated the complexity and amount of work which had to be put forth to finish such a huge project
  • Lack of Budget: We do not have the capacity to create and design all the required assets for the game as well
  • Atlassian Jira was a pain in the ass, excuse my french. We did not need the complicated and excessive amount of features it came with - lack of transparency
  • Positive: We actually enjoyed our time and did not regret spending the time in developing the game - motivation is still present

After discussion the problems we even found solutions:

  1. We need a small project (low hanging fruit), through which we can further increase our skills and therefore agreed to do a little brainstormung session later on
  2. We agreed to purchase some small assets packages at the beginning (depending on the project) on which we can build.
  3. We searched for replacements of Jira and found Trello which was simple and easy to use. Fun fact, it was purchased 2 months previously by atlassian.

Time to Rumble

To get back up, after getting beaten down, is what makes a man or breaks one. Through our motivation and the persistence to follow our dreams, we refused to give into desperation. One wrong step does not mean the end, it just means you have to give a bit more effort to get back on the right track.

So the little brainstorm session started, where our 2 previously mentioned criteria where the guideline. We discarded again a lot of ideas until we all thought about our childhood and what we actually enjoyed doing playing as kids. This made us all reach a quick consensus to do a local multiplayer couch game that revolves around cars. And that my folk was how Rumblers was born.

To not forget our 3rd solution, we searched right away for some assets which could aid us in the new learning phase. Per chance ,Marcel came upon the MotoPro Assets which we immediatly bought.

Again we split the work amongst ourselves. Angelo and Marcel turned into youtube freaks and watched one tutorial after another until they learned and mastered the best practice methods for building the architecture in the UE4. Then they went ahead and did some more youtubing until they got the hand on how the blueprints system actually worked with objects and assets in the map. From there their creativity kept driving them forward.

Me on the other hand took an iPad, a pot of tee, and started writing how the game should function. From the different game modes, to the details of every single usable item and what it should look like.

And this is how it went on for the next 2 years…