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321 – Game developed entirely for charity and made with Unity

game made with unity for charity

Three: Twenty One, also called 321, is an independent single-player adventure game made with Unity, and under development by small team of gaming industry veterans and volunteers. The game is expected to be released by mid-to-late 2016 on Steam and other DRM-free platforms.

The game is being developed to bring awareness to Winston’s Wish, a UK-based charity that supports bereaved children. Players will have the option to make an in-game donation to the charity. Winston’s Wish applauded the effort in January 2016, saying the charity is “delighted” over the game.

Synopsis

So what’s 321 about? It’s best summed up like so: “321 is divided into smaller adventure games or programs that act as a way to open a dialog with the player and encourage interaction and exploration. Unlike other games, 321  doesn’t aim to progressively become more challenging, (neither through mechanics or difficulty) instead it evolves through player progression and the challenges give way to a maturing storytelling system. Through the player’s interactions with these basic functioning adventure programs that serve as a timeline of events, they discover what 321 is really about and just how real games can get.” Dun dun dun.

The Cinema Suite team have been kind enough to support the development of the project (since it’s being made with Unity) and are keen to hear more about it so I feel incredibly honoured to write a little bit about the project, where it’s going, and what we got to show at Rezzed 2016 at the beginning of April this year.

Starting the Project – Free Game to help Charity

Prior to Rezzed EGX we had been working on and off on 321 for around about a year, raising around £1200 ($1800 USD approx.) for the charity so far. Development has been a little slow due to the volunteer nature of the project. It was always intended from the very start that 321 would be a free download with the option to donate directly to our charity of choice so we’re all in it for the feel good factor. The charity was chosen because my late brother, an employee of Creative Assembly (Alien: Isolation) passed away suddenly from Cancer leaving behind a wife and two children, one who was born a month after he passed. He loved video games (especially the adventure genre) and had a passion for them since childhood so I wanted to make something he’d want to play… and hopefully some of you will get a kick out of it too. 🙂

Made with Unity

Long live the adventure game. We do like it dark.

My background being in game audio, I knew almost nothing about the modern game development process. I rarely even play games as I find most too gamey and overly complicated and demanding on my free time. I do however love them for what they are and what they mean to me. Earlier in my career (2001-2004) I was fortunate enough to get to design a few Nokia games for THQ Wireless but due to relocation issues I wasn’t able to pursue a career in design – boo. I always wanted to design though and share stories. I continued as an audio freelancer for 5TH Cell and worked on the soundtracks for several DS titles and some console versions of those games as well. As for our solid team, our lead coder is currently in University in Germany and our two modelers are from different visual fields, both in their early twenties and learning a lot from being on this project. It’s been great to meet people from all over the world – even if it has kept us up at ungodly hours for way too long.

321’s development up until March was very much compartmentalized with each artist working on as a specific and unique part of the game with the plot deliberately unknown to all barring myself and our lead coder. Over time a lot of artists volunteered to help out but due to personal reasons are no longer with us on our quest for adventure glory, many leaving for jobs or studying taking priority – as it rightly should. So we’re shuffling a team of between 3-5 part time volunteers and surprisingly under these circumstances, it is progressing steadily 🙂

Made with Unity

Examining a moody picture. But could this all mean!?

Made with Unity

When we started the project I wanted an engine that was really accessible, in fact it was my brother some years before who had suggested I try making a game with Unity and that was some time ago before Unity was what it is today. When I researched it a little I realised this was the engine of choice with a ton of assets available, a healthy content store, a great knowledge base and community as well as well established success stories in both 2D and 3D indie games. Our game was both so I was sold. I wasted no time in tracking down a coder with Unity experience and met Max, our lead coder, and I’m really glad this game is made with Unity as every update is a blessing and a step in the right direction for our project.

Getting it to the Show

In early March 2016 we were offered kindly offered a booth for Rezzed EGX in London in April. At this point we had a lot of our game segments done but no one had yet stitched them together. I sat down and thought about what I’d like to show in a month’s time and how we could pull it off. With that in mind I set out to create a demo that took place in a conference centre, in which you could play segments of our game in a similar environment to the finished game only with the overall theme being that of a 1980’s electronics expo as opposed to our main game’s theme which is still being withheld (aha!). Surprisingly we managed to get it to the show in the short time and it worked well as a demo (once folks managed to get past the nitty gritty text adventure part). 321 was even rated pretty highly by the folks at Alphr as one of the 13 games you had to play from the show.

Besides the odd technical hiccup this was a fantastic experience and it was the first time anyone actually played the game, including ourselves! In fact due to limitations of resources (only one suitable computer between us 48 hours before the show and zero sleep) I was unable to even see how the game played (or sounded much to my grumbles) until the morning of the show and these EGX visitors were the first folks to actually play and experience the game. It was an invaluable experience though and it has really shaped up the reality of what 321 is and how to complete it given our resources. As mentioned we are down to two artists working part time on this as well as myself.

A shot from the demo at Rezzed 2016 made with unity

A shot from the demo at Rezzed 2016.

The Future

I’m very excited for what the future holds for 321 as well as the dedicated folks who have stuck with it purely to see it meet the light of day and to fulfill what we set out to do. For me it’s an incredibly emotional project and I find it heart-warming when we receive help or offers to help. It really has shown me that there are folks out there who care about so much more than we necessarily expect and that’s been uplifting especially with the grief of losing someone so dear to me.

We’re hoping to share with you our demo very soon once we iron out the bugs and get it to its intended state.  I’ll keep you posted when it can be downloaded and hopefully some of you good folks will give it a go!

How to Donate

Would you like to contribute to our cause and help in our development? Please visit us!