Hello world wanderers,
I’ve never really publicly spoken about Heim development before. With the end finally in sight after almost three years, I suppose now is as good a time as any to start.
Now, where to start? If you weren’t familiar with who I am, my name is Tom Ryckeboer, I’m 24 years old and the solo developer behind Heim. After studying Game Development at DAE in Kortrijk, Belgium, I decided I wanted to try my hand at creating an entire game, start to finish, all by myself. In my experiences at school, I often found good ideas for games getting muddled when several people want their ideas realized at the same time. I started making games when I was around 12, and they commonly featured a great big adventure with an important central story. This time I wanted to put everything I had learned over the years to the test, from game design tricks and programming knowledge to cinematography and game writing.
I will probably do another few blog posts in between now and Heim’s release (look out for a new trailer and a release date pretty soon), detailing more aspects of Heim’s development in each post. For now, I’ll start at the beginning. My work on Heim has been unusually unstructured. Whenever I have an idea for a game, I start with a general sense of the game’s mood, genre, gameplay mechanics, a beginning and ending, and often some highlights in the middle, like special locations, characters or even scenes. Originally, I was planning on doing a cyberpunk stealth game, due to receive my full attention at the start of December 2018. However, I wasn’t fully convinced by the main mechanic’s potential, and longed for a bit more magic in my world – so I went with a fantasy adventure game instead.
Heim was an amalgamation (yes I Googled that) of all sorts of longtime inspirations, like Norse mythology, The Legend of Zelda (Twilight Princess in particular is probably the greatest inspiration), Spyro games, RuneScape, and even Dark Souls – even though I opted not to have combat from the very start. Coming up with puzzles is really fun and gratifying for me, and opportunities to freely explore are some of my favorite things to design. How much exactly the game evolved from then to now will be for another time. Who knows, maybe I’ll even make videos about the development journey? I’d need to figure out a way to muster up some charisma though, after months of not really leaving the house.
I guess this blog post was prompted by the completion of Dinheim, the penultimate world of the game and the underworld of Heim’s universe. This landmark event has personally been the “herald of the endgame” for me, both pertaining to the actual development of the game’s final world and to the ending of this particular piece of my game development journey. The development of Dinheim went surprisingly well – the majority of its development started back in January of this year and is now already functionally finished at the dawn of June. I’m not *exactly* sure what I did in the 2.5 years before, but as things stand, three of the four worlds are finished, and the last world (Numenheim, the world of the Gods) isn’t particularly long to get through. Just so you know – I always set up the basis for each part of the game before I start fully developing it, so there’s already a big chunk of Numenheim setup that I no longer have to do.
So what comes now? I’m making sure Dinheim isn’t missing any more “to do” bits – then I’m going to let some specific playtesters play that part of the game to iron out the kinks. After that I may not start working on Numenheim immediately, but shift my attention to the second trailer (showing off more of the actual puzzle gameplay this time), as well as finalize the release date alongside it. Then, I will focus on Numenheim, and perhaps also start working on a unique “optional quest” which sees you returning to a previous area. And then comes the great deluge of cutscenes and cinematics that follows, like the actual ending.
Important months ahead for Heim! Hopefully you’ll stay tuned for the next blog posts and potentially some development videos!