Renewed Noah’s Ark: Reviving a 20-Year Old Game
You may remember an old game called Super 3-D Noah’s Ark from the 90-s, so here it is again, renewed, bright and shiny.
Noah’s Ark is Back!
Just a few words about the game itself: Super 3-D Noah’s Ark is an adventure first-person action shooter. It’s a labyrinth FPS from the DOS era, based on an upgraded Wolfstein 3D engine. The gameplay is similar to Wolfenstein, with a shooting experience set within a non-violent game world.
The scene is a well-known story from the Bible, where Noah takes all the animals with him on an ark, but due to the extensiveness of the journey, many of members of Noah’s Ark crew become restless and escape their cages. You, as the protagonist (Noah), need to get all of them to sleep until you leave the ark. Your only tools are your trust slingshot and the food you collect on the way (no RPGs here).
The game has 30 original levels, 6 feeders and 11 animal varieties, nicely-featured game map with fully-textured mapped environments.
For the 20th anniversary of this game the developers have added some nice and handy modifications such as the ability to run natively on modern operating systems, high-resolution rendering, modern and improved style controls, ability to play with SNES scale feeders and more.
We talked to Eleazar Galindo, the founder of Piko Interactive, who made Super 3-D Noah’s Ark, asking him to share some secrets of how to bring a good old game back to the market.
How do You Re-release a 20 Year Old Game?
In the constantly changing world of gaming it’s no surprise there are similar or even too similar games to ones you develop, but it was never a reason to dump the game for Eleazar’s team.
“The programmer of the game has dedicated years in developing and working on the engine used; after the release of our game he released the engine as a free tool for people who want to make new games with it.”
Making a game is a creative process and you need to be inspired by something to generate ideas and bring them to life. Eleazar shared his source of inspiration, which is pop culture he liked as a child.
The storytelling wasn’t a challenge as well: “Super Noah’s Ark is loosely based in a one page story of the Bible, so it was easy to work with that. Besides there is not much to say about the story”.
As I already mentioned, the original game was released in the early 90-s, to be specific in 1993 and the developers decided to retain its authenticity as much as possible. They take you back to the 90s and let you experience the same game with updated features and graphics.
However, this approach brought a conflict between the artistic vision and scope of the game, so they had to find a solution for that. “I try to stay as flexible as possible and let everybody in the team make their own decisions”.
As for the design, there wasn’t much trouble with overcomplicating matters, it was more the difficulty of working long hours, in the end however it was totally worth it. Talking about game physics, based on the same first person shooters, Wolfstein 3-D engine: it’s simple, but has everything needed for a shooter game: moving objects, textured walls and greatly reduced CPU usage compared to the other similar engines.
Super 3-D Noah’s Ark inspired the team’s programmer to create something new for the game: “It is a new engine made by the programmer of the game called ECWolf, which is a remake of the original Wolfenstein game engine”. They also used components from the Wolfstein game engine library. Luckily, there wasn’t any shortage in resources for this game development.
Another important “brick in the wall” is documenting the game development process, which wasn’t really present while creating Super 3-D Noah’s Ark, apart from saving the back-ups. However, the programmer has a full diary of his work done. Basically, only that very person, the programmer, was the one to put this game into action. It took him about a year to get everything done, which is impressive.
Of course, there were other members of the team working on the game’s development. During the whole process of development, there were hardly any communication issues between them and Eleazar: “As I mentioned, I am very flexible and trust my team; so even if we had long periods of time with no communication, I trusted work was getting done and done the right way”. It wasn’t hard to build up such a team, it took just a word of mouth to find talents for the project. Eleazar didn’t even have to outsource any parts of the game development, as he normally did working with pixel art components. Due to the inability of working together under one roof, the team used Skype as a collaboration tool, which turned out to be simple and efficient.
The last, but not the least stage of game development is testing. That is more important – code review when testing a game. Eleazar honestly said, that it was very important for them and it saves you a lot of headaches once you make those reviews.
Testing, as a software process for quality control of video games, has many possible ways of realization. In order to test Super 3-D Noah’s Ark Eleazar played the game from beginning to the end several times in different operating systems to indicate any bugs or UX problems that appear in the process of gameplay.
“By playing the game in different machines we were able to anticipate potential problems with game displays. So at the end we were able to make our game universally compatible with most of computers out there”
Without testing there would surely be complaints about the game display resolution, being not as good on one PCs compared to the others. But the team did a great job checking on all the drawbacks and prevented such incidents.
Working on Super 3-D Noah’s Ark was so smooth, that the team didn’t chase the deadlines and finished everything “without much crunch [time]”. The tricky part began with the marketing operations and spreading the game in masses.
“We pushed our deadline only once, due to a marketing decision (try to not to compete with AAA games releasing on the same date)”, which was a very reasonable decision and never ruined the plan”
One more bonus was the possibility to use the original graphics from the 1993 version of the game, this allowed to cut down on the cost and time to develop game components.
Super 3-D Noah’s Ark was made out of pure passion and work, so there were no problems with fundraising, which was a solid benefit for the game developers. Eleazar used one of the most widespread tools – Google analytics to follow the records for the game, which was usually the data in percent on sales conversion.
Talking about publishing the game, the team decided to go with Steam, which, as they say, is the best PC distribution platform with support for indies.
“We pushed through having the game lit on Steam Greenlight. Additionally we have agreed to bundle the game with other games that are massively distributed”
Needless to say there were some game discovery problems, but they were quickly overcome working together with game bundling distributors. The review keys for the game were sent to various Youtube game celebrities and reviewers to build the awareness of the new Super 3-D Noah’s Ark. Also, the game itself is quite old and has a 20-year-old IP, which has been featured in many Youtube videos. What else may one need to make the game stand out?
“I believe we could have spent some extra money to advertise more, as well as reach out to more reviewers and Youtube celebrities to create more buzz about the game”.
But, nevertheless, an old popular IP played its role for game recognition and let the gamers give it a try. Then it was all about spreading in by the word of mouth around the world.
Plans for the Fans
Pinko Interactive has impressive plans for its next games:“We want to release all our licensed old games IPs on Steam, and crowdfund an original IP game”. They are about to make their products suitable for running in classic consoles like the NES, SNES or even Sega Genesis. So, keep an eye on them, you, good old console games’ fans!
The world of gaming is always ready to give way to great quality games, no matter if it is an old one or a new project and this was truly proven by Eleazar’s team. What’s old is new again!
About Piko Interactive
Piko Interactive LLC is a game development and publishing company that concentrates on the development of new games for old consoles. Their consoles of interest include but are not limited to the NES, SNES, Sega Genesis, and handhelds like Game Boy Advance, Gameboy Color and Gameboy.
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