The making of Hellpoint

Here is a nice interview from the guys behind the making of  Hellpoint!

Hellpoint the game!

Hellpoint is a dark sci-fi action RPG taking place on a derelict space station orbiting in real time around a black hole. Depending on the time of orbit, a variety of dynamic events can happen on board like mini bosses spawning or enemy horde assault, etc. The game takes inspirations from Bloodborne with melee, range and magic weapons as well as online and local multiplayer.

Which platforms did you target?

Hellpoint is available on Steam, GOG, EGS, for Windows, Linux and Mac as well as PS4 and Xbox. A Switch version will also be coming later this year.

Skills

Does your team have any past experience in the game dev industries?

The Cradle core team is composed of veterans from the industry, having worked at companies like Ubisoft and Activision. We worked on games like Prince of Persia, Assassin’s Creed, Spider-Man, and Call of Duty.

Tools

Which software tools did you use to make this game?

The game is made with a heavily modified version of Unity.

Have you found out any plugins or tools absolutely amazing to speed up your workflow?

“Rewired” is always a classic to manage all game controllers. We also extensively used ProBuilder to quickly create 3D models in the engine rather than using an external software. Most of our tools were created in house with our own node graph editor and lighting solution for example. 

Organization

Tell us more about your studio,when was founded and how many people are working in the studio?

Cradle was founded in 2015 in my basement and we were originally 3 people. We are currently 11 developers in house and 5 more devs around the world. 

When did you start to develop your game?

We started work on Hellpoint in 2015, prototyping in a PvP arena with splitscreen multiplayer. A year later we had a pretty cool vertical slice level with most of the features but the game grew into a monster over the years with tons of features, huge levels and a lot of love.

How long did it take?

Around four years total, taking into account that we had to take some time to work on a few contracts on the side to keep the cash flow going. 

What was the most difficult part you faced during the development time and how did you overcome these difficulties?

Streamlining a huge game through a very small dev team while keeping an acceptable quality level was definitely the biggest challenge. We released a lot of game demos and kept in constant communication with our player community. It’s also part of the reason why the release date was pushed several times. Having to work confined at home was also a huge pain in the ass. The game was solid for launch but broke down once thousands of players jumped in it so it took quite a lot of day and night work to bring it back to a stable state. 

Do you receive any external help? If yes, how do you find collaborators and which criteria do you use to find the best ones?

Our publisher tinyBuild has proven an invaluable ally to bring the game to market, providing support for quality insurance and business development. At the beginning we received help from a tech business incubator called ACET Sherbrooke who helped us with funding and strategy. As a startup we were really just very glad to receive any help we could. 

How did you organize your work/daily tasks?

We’re always working towards a build objective, whether it’s a demo or a convention or a playtest version. Most deliverables fit into a weekly schedule. We roughly scope into chunks of content that the devs feel comfortable delivering. There must always be time left to party otherwise our planning is wrong. We have a commitment to have as little meetings as possible, the productivity of allowing devs many free hours to get in the “zone” is simply too valuable to mess with.

Did you have other jobs or did you work full time on the game?

Cradle was our sole dedication but occasionally we would work with external clients on the side to offer support on other projects.

Opinions

Hellpoint making of

Do you have any tools, software, or books you want to recommend?

One of the most useful books I have is Universal Principle of Design by William Lidwell. It’s the greatest quick reference guide to make any product design way better. I’ve studied this book inside and out. I like to use Sketchup for a variety of purposes: level design, game design, user interface, almost anything. I really like any tools that allow me to be faster. I have the need for speed.

Which marketing strategy did you use and do you have any special tips to share?

We are all about grass root strategy. We wanted players to have a hands on the game as early as possible and see if we get a thumbs up or down. Back in the days we used Steam Greenlight. We sent demos to tons of YouTubers no matter how small, so quickly there was hundreds of Hellpoint videos popping up and that attracted the attention of bigger influences. I think it really paid off to be super connected and responsive to the community in a very humble way, knowing that we’re way too into our own game to be objective. Players really appreciate any dev team that is communicative and accessible.

Going back to day one of the development, is there anything you would have done differently?

I would probably have done a simple side scroller game. 😀 It’s a small miracle that the game came out at all and it’s been very difficult in all aspects of life. We’re so glad that the game didn’t fail after all those years. I would have been way more strict about completing a feature before starting another, and perhaps an early access phase would have allowed us to make a more solid launch especially for the online features, but it’s very hard to tell the overall impact it would have had. 

Now you have launched this game, what do you think about the future, would you continue to make games or “you’ve had enough?”

No way, we’re just getting started! Releasing a first title is the hardest part but now we’re present in the market. There’s at least a dozen games I want to make before I die and I’m very, very excited about what’s coming up next for Cradle Games. The possibilities now are huge!

Feel free to add whatever you think is relevant or important for our readers.

I would advise any dev to take care of their health in order to last long in the industry and not literally get sick of it. Game development is a dangerous job that’s very detrimental to the human body. Cut the carbs and start doing P90X training. Thank you for this opportunity!

If you wish to play the game, click the following button:

A game made by Cradle Games.

See you at the next interview!
Mark

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