Exclusive Fuel Developer Diary Part 3

Exclusive
Fuel Developer Diary – Part 3

“As we
near the end of this title, it has pretty much become ‘who can take on this’ or
‘who can take on that.’ ”

The
production of a game is a long, involved process, and the folks at Firetoad
Software are in the home stretch of a racing title called Fuel. Published by
Dreamcatcher, Fuel will ship for both the PC and Xbox and may just have the
high-speed action gamers are craving.

But Fuel is
not your typical turn around the track. Slated to release at the start of May,
players will have the opportunity to go off road, use an ATV or personal
watercraft and hustle their way to the finish line at top speed! There are 10
characters to choose from, course from around the globe and the choice of more
than 35 vehicles.

There are no
rules in this all out frantic race. This is a no-holds-barred, free-for-all,
action-packed game, with one goal – get to the finish line first! …and scoring
points along the way would help!

So, what
does it take to pull together such a varied title? In this exclusive developer
diary, we get a look into the making of this title.

(For Part 1
of the diary, please see

http://xbox.gamezone.com/news/01_25_06_02_13PM.htm
; Part 2 may be found at

http://pc.gamezone.com/news/02_08_06_11_02AM.htm
)

The Final
Push

In this, the
third installment of our Developer Diaries for Fuel, I’ll be talking about the
final push of development and the effort that is required to get the game out
the door.

First I will
provide you with a little history. Firetoad Software is a small, startup studio
composed of four main people, including myself. Over the years, we have grown to
as many as 10 people, bringing on extra talent for modeling, texturing,
animation, etc. The main reason I bring this up is to illustrate where we are
coming from and to put things into perspective.

As a
relative newcomer to the gaming industry (Fuel will be my first released title),
many of the processes we have gone through while developing this game have
simply been trial and error. We’ve encountered many challenges along the way and
I’d even go so far as to say that the project lost its way on a few occasions
but we always got ourselves back on track. That being said, here we are, with
just over three months before we successfully ship our first Xbox title. I look
back in awe at the amount of work it has taken to get Fuel this far, yet so much
still needs to be done before we reach the elusive Gold Master build. I can now
truly appreciate when people in the industry say that the last 10% of any game
requires 90% of the work. It’s not so much the number of hours that the last 10%
takes as it is the mental strength needed to endure the seemingly endless list
of small tasks that remain to polish the game.

I think back
to when Fuel was in full production mode and now realize how easy that time was.
Everyone knew what they were working on. We all had our job titles nicely
outlined and we were a pretty well-oiled machine. Over the last few months we
have been wrapping up production and turning our focus to debugging the game and
fixing problems. Now I find that the daily schedule has gone completely out the
window and has been replaced by what seems like organized chaos.

Unlike a
larger game studio, where an employee specializes in one particular area, every
one of us at Firetoad has had to go outside of their own area of expertise and
take on roles that may have not been in their original job description. As we
near the end of this title, it has pretty much become “who can take on this” or
“who can take on that.”

So we will
stay on course and focused, follow the monthly task lists, and hope that, like
in so many game post-mortems I have read, everything comes together at the last
minute.

Chris
Dunwald  
Art Lead/Designer
Firetoad Software