January 28, 2013. That was the day we put the first build of a silly little game jam project onto the Internet for anyone to play. It was a run of the mill game jam project for me, and my fellow teammates, James Broadley, Jack Good and Luke Williams. But the aftermath saw our little medical-themed toy turn into a real grown-up full game.
The development process of Surgeon has been like a constant game jam. We would implement our ideas without a second thought to the game’s overall design. Leaving little details like balancing damage levels and timings until later, just concentrating on what we thought would be cool or fun for the majority of time. For example, once the game was in full production, one of the features I remember implementing first was the notepad in the reception that you can draw on, not exactly essential for the game but fun to make.
This kind of unplanned structureless attitude has continued throughout the entire project. It’s an extremely fun way of developing. It has its caveats and wouldn’t work for large projects with big team sizes, but the development team has always been small so for us it worked out great.
It also gives us a flexibility to take on anyone’s ideas that they may have and just try them. Some examples of things that made it into the game thanks to a flippant comment that was just too awesome to miss:
- The whole ambulance mode came from a conversation with a sysops chap in the office.
- Shaving the eyebrows and moustache of Bob, thanks to a comment from our Community Manager.
- The idea of lasers came from a Reddit user during an AMA.
- Space mode was shoehorned in a week before the initial release.
- The Alien Transplants was a suggestion made many times by the community.
- Finally, we implemented co-op play a couple of weeks before release date, just because it was too good an idea to not do it.
That’s right, co-op play!
What you do from this point is up to you. Help or hinder, it’s entirely your choice. But remember – if your friend is being particularly useless or annoying, they’re only a couple of feet away from you.
People that have played the original will find this opens up a whole world of possibilities gameplay-wise. A couple of well-coordinated friends may even be able to get some record times that wouldn’t be possible with single player.
Surgeon has had a very unique development cycle, and bringing the methodology to the PlayStation 4 (with all the new toys it provides) has been great. We see a feature opportunity, and we try it out.
We added support for the PS4 camera to allow pad tracking to control the arm, motion for the wrist rotation, analog trigger for analog fingers, the list goes on. In fact now that we’ve got talking, I’ve realized we haven’t used the DualShock 4 speaker for anything, brb.