Outer space is a common context in video games. Sometimes, space plays a central role in the story. Other times, space is simply an artistic setting for mechanics that were already developed. One new space-themed game is called Filament, which is set in an abandoned spaceship. We spoke to the game’s developers – Ben Webster, Aaron Coker, and Josiah Ward. He shares his experience developing Filament and provides tips to other game developers.
Where did the idea for Filament come from?
Filament began as a game jam project. This is where we had only a week to produce a small game based on an announced theme: “However vast the darkness we must provide our own light”. It was in the jam where we came up with the basic puzzle mechanics. It was a bit of a mad week – we started on a Thursday and I think it took us until Monday to actually work out that what we were making was a puzzle game. From then it just clicked. The space setting came a little later. We were designing interior spaces inspired by a lot of 80s aesthetics and some minimalist architecture movements and we just realized space would be the perfect backdrop for the world we were creating. It was initially all going to be underground.
What were some of the more challenging and rewarding aspects of its development?
There were a few rewarding moments during development. I have to say, right now feels great! People are starting to play Filament and are giving us really useful feedback. We’ve been working on it for two and a half long years, so it’s nice to know we made something that people like! The most challenging part of development was the first 18 months. We had no budget for the game so the three of us were all working part-time during the evenings and nights, all on completely different schedules.
What advice do you have for game developers?
I think the two pieces of advice I would give to game developers are these:
Do game jams and make small self-contained prototypes. The process of making something complete in a small amount of time pushes you creatively. You may discover new ideas you would not have otherwise come by. Having to have something complete in such a small amount of time really makes you prioritize the feel of a game as you can’t spend countless hours on art and other nuances.
The second piece of advice is to not be afraid to shelve something that isn’t working if you find yourself making something better. We were working on a different game before we made the initial prototype for Filament during a game jam. It became clear to us that Filament was a vastly better feeling game than the other one. We made the tricky decision to shelf our other game and work on Filament. Best decision we ever made.