Sinking Ship Adventure: Development Logs (2020-21)

Game Link: Sinking Ship Adventure

Hello. At the time of writing this it is 30th December 2021, meaning the year is almost over. As we step into a new year I decided that now would be a good time to make the development logs for Sinking Ship Adventure public.

I decided to do this as I believe it may help other new developers if they see a detailed account of every month leading up to the release of my own beginner project.

This post includes pictures/videos of Sinking Ship Adventures pre-release. These images were obtained by opening previous versions of the game.



June 2020: The Beginning Of The Project:

The idea for Sinking Ship Adventure (SSA) was originally conceived at a point when I was very new to game development. My only prior experience was a small ocean-themed obby, named ‘Escape The Ocean’ which I had only spent a day or two building.

Wanting to pursue development to a further extent, I began planning a new project. After writing ~20 pages of plans for this project, it became abundantly clear that I was way out of my depth and would never be able to make a fully-fledged game on my current skill level. Instead, I put the plans to the side, naming them ‘2022 Project’. I had to make a smaller game to advance any sort of skill level I could possibly have. So, I began brainstorming ideas for a small, short-term project that I could spend only that summer working on and hopefully develop a few skills in doing so. The result of this brainstorming was the idea of a sinking-ship themed escape room puzzle/parkour game loosely based on other games such as Flood Escape and Roblox Titanic.

On June 25th 2020, I opened up an empty baseplate in Roblox Studio and began work on ‘2020 Project’. A good place to start would be the lobby. After all, it’s a round-based game. For the lobby design I took inspiration from the 2015 version of Roblox Titanic. The old Roblox Titanic lobby was designed similar to a ship dock, with gangway doors that teleported the player to different areas of the ship. It was a design that I had always admired.

(The Roblox Titanic 1.0 Lobby I had taken inspiration from)

Despite my own very limited knowledge of building I began work on a lobby that was also based on a ship’s dock in a somewhat similar fashion to Roblox Titanic. I added some blue parts (water) above the baseplate and the start of a dock-like building above:

The game on June 26th 2020:

Eventually a night-time ocean skybox was added, and the rest of the floor plan for the lobby was completed, including the addition of a second floor with a viewing area of the ocean. The gangways to each door were finished, however the teleports were not yet scripted (and had nowhere to teleport to anyway).

Around now is when I realised that you could change your scaling/movement increment instead of being confined to 1 stud :man_facepalming:

At this point I had no idea how to add text to parts, therefore not knowing how to write the words ‘Easy’, ‘Medium’ and ‘Hard’ over the doors. So I thought “Hmm, coloured bricks above the doors are just as good!”

At this point the upstairs of the lobby was also to be used to teleport to any other Atlantic Games Studio releases:

(I eventually scrapped this idea as Escape The Ocean was the only other place that was active at the time and I’d barely even consider that to be a full game).


Helpful post of motivation :slight_smile:



July 2020:

At the beginning of July I had taken a couple of days off from working on SSA to play some games and try to pick up some techniques from other builders. The main lesson learned was to add details to each model. It sounds obvious, but sometimes you may finish a build and not realise that you could have added something extra somewhere. Keeping this in mind, some adjustments were made to the lobby:

Though these were improvements, the lobby still felt too bland and cramped. I began considering the idea of a possible area that is set outdoors, where players could walk outside the building into a small courtyard with a picnic table and chairs in it.

Well, it turns out the ‘small’ outside area ended up becoming the majority of the lobby.

The outside started pretty rough. There was no exact plan as to how this place would be laid out considering that work on it began almost immediately after the idea struck.

For inspiration I used the lobby of Murder Mystery 2, closely analysing almost every part in it to figure out Zyleak’s building style. I based the exterior SSA lobby on the idea of a small town, with few buildings.

A blue building based on a hotel was added, including the beginnings of a pathway that connected all the constructions.


(I am deeply sorry for the size of the dock’s roof here, I have no idea what I was thinking.)

I got pretty carried away with the new lobby design and spent the next two days adding more buildings and then a fence to circle around them. Beyond the fence were simple placeholder buildings that serve no other purpose than to make the lobby feel as if it is part of a larger town. Immersion is important to remember in builds such as these.

At this point I also decided to make Hard Mode a post-release feature as this would allow me to focus more time on every other map alongside hopefully generating some sort of excitement among players for the new mode when it is released. Speaking of maps, in July 2020 I was so focused on the lobby that I hadn’t even started work on any of them yet.

As previously mentioned, details are important. Some extra models were made for the lobby, such as bushes, a tree, a check-in desk, ticket-barriers, waiting seats, roof fans with a power pack, a fake CCTV camera + CCTV viewing room, the (previously mentioned) picnic table and grips on the gangways. As a result, the lobby was extremely cramped. Details are good, but I went too far with them around here.

(I mean seriously this is way too much for the interior of a lobby!)

I had also made some sort of secret area but I had no idea what to put here.



August 2020

Though July was tiresome, work had to continue during August. After all, this was meant to be a project that would be done by the end of the summer! Work on the first escape room was soon to begin, but first a couple of changes had to be made to the lobby.

“The lobby is so cramped it’s difficult to navigate, so let’s add more stuff!- My logic


A tutorial door, leaderboard and large Atlantic Games Studio logo were all thrown into the mix.

But hey, at least I found a use for the secret room (though the club’s name was later changed).

Sub-lobbies for each difficulty were also made, along with functioning teleports to/from the main lobby.

Anyway, time was running out! The past month and a half had been spent focusing on the lobby, work on the maps had to start soon. With an outstanding number of tasks left to complete, I made the overdue judgement call that this game would not be complete and ready for release by the end of the summer. So, I set my sights on a release date for sometime in the Winter of 2020.

The first room of Map #1 was made. At the time I had no idea if this was to be an Easy or Medium map, but it didn’t matter all that much. This one would be used to scale the difficulty of all future maps anyway. The round began in an engine room of sorts that requires the player to jump around some platforms. The room had it’s fair share of traps, including a falling light and a falling railing.

The next room consisted of a ship’s corridor set out like a maze that the player must find their way through to escape.


I was quite proud of this area when I made it, but eventually went back to re-model the railing and doors:



September 2020

September was a slow month. I focused only on the map. The most notable change was the addition of the third and final room of this specific level. It was structured like a dining room.

(The entire room was on a tilt to give the illusion of the ship sinking.)

Some other changes to the map were made, but nothing that major. I did focus on making the rising water feature, however due to a lack of understanding of Roblox’s TweenService it was challenging, even with the aid of youtube videos.



October - December 2020: The Long Slump

Well, I had officially burned myself out. Who would have thought that working on the exact same thing for 3+ months straight could do that??

This was the point where I reached what some people may refer to as ‘mid-development hell’. Sure, I would try to work on SSA every now and then, but I couldn’t find the motivation to make anything new. Not to mention the fact that I seemed to hate any work I produced. If you don’t feel passionately about the work you’re doing, it will most likely be lacklustre. Well, there goes the Winter 2020 release date.

Now that’s not to say I had sworn off development completely. In fact, it was the opposite. One of the main causes of the lack of work was that I was interested in seeing what else could be done as a Developer. At the end of September I started a shipping-line themed group and spent all of October working away on that! In November/December I wanted to see what it would be like to work for someone else in a team of developers, so I tried that out too. I never stopped feeling passionate about development, but Sinking Ship Adventure had to be put in the back burner…at least for a while.



January 2021: New year, ready to work!

The only time I’ve ever upheld a New Year’s resolution was when I decided that my main development goal of 2021 would be to release Sinking Ship Adventure at some point during the year. Now that I had an actual idea of how long this would really take, the release date could be decided accurately. In January I eventually decided upon the planned release date of Friday, October 8th 2021. As it turns out, setting a release date helps to increase motivation significantly, even when it’s scheduled to be out 10 months in the future.

Of course I was just getting back into working on this, so I had to start with some pretty small stuff such as the addition of Points+Rank leaderstats/an invite friends button in the lobby. It may not have been much, but it’s better than the months before. The idea of a tutorial was also ditched, it makes the game seem way more complicated than it really is to new players.



February 2021:

The wheels had started turning once again, and this time there was more of a motive to work on SSA than before. I made it a point of be critical of some older builds, seeing what changes needed to be made and where. The most significant decision was annoying, but necessary: the map that I had been working on had to be scrapped from the game.

I liked the build when I first made it, but when looking back on it with a better structure for the game’s design and slightly more experience, it became all too clear that the map was flawed in too many ways. For example, the first room was far too open and didn’t remotely seem as if it was set on board a ship. The third room was ridiculously easy, making it boring to play - the only “obstacle” was to walk past a fire and out the exit. No puzzles, no parkour. Literally just walking.
Realising that the map was poorly made, it was promptly cut from the game. However, I decided to keep Room #2 (the room with the corridor maze) as I was actually happy with that area and it held up pretty well from a game design standpoint.

Having just erased the majority of progress that had been made since September, work on a new map had to begin. I wasn’t entirely sure what to make specifically, so I went with the idea of players being stuck in an elevator and have to escape their way through the shaft all while the ship is still sinking. As you can imagine, this map was named ‘Elevator Shaft’ and was the first map constructed that is still included in the game.

The main thing I remember from building this map was how much more enjoyable it was to make than anything that was made beforehand. Probably because it had been so long since I had built anything for SSA. This year in particular I wanted to focus more on scripting as I was still lacking on knowledge in that department. Roblox’s ‘Proximity Prompts’ had just been released at this time, so those were integrated into the map so that I could practice CFrame scripting.

I recorded some of my own sound effects too by using items around my house. For example, the sound of the Elevator hatch/ship doors opening and closing is the sound of my bedroom door!



March 2021:

Elevator Shaft was nearing completion, with a few more areas to be filled in. I decided to go back and salvage the corridor section of the previously cut ‘Engine Room’ map. The corridor section was placed into the map and is used for players to find their way around to obtain a key that must be used to escape.

Elevator Shaft (Easy Map #1) was complete, now it was time to begin work on Easy Map #2. I always prefer to plan out things relating to Roblox development on pen/paper kept organised in a ring-binder, so I drew out a rough floor plan of what could potentially be the second map. This is the sketch I came up with:

Plans made on 14th March 2021


(forgive my awful handwriting, this was not intended for other people.)

If you’ve played the map ‘Cabin Class’ in Sinking Ship Adventure, you may see the similarities of the top half of the plans to the game.

In this month I had the idea to make a menu screen in the game with the background of an ocean behind a ‘Play’ button. Before the main menu would be the Atlantic Games Studio slowly fading out, similar to what you may see in games such as Grand Theft Auto IV. It took a while, but the main menu GUI + loading screen group logo were added to the game.



April 2021:

April started with the continuation of Easy Map #2. The design of the last room was for the player to open a random button on the Bridge’s (Captain’s room) control panel to open the emergency hatch and escape. It became clear that if the exact same button was used to open the hatch every time, players would know the way out of the room after their first time playing. This would make the map boring and would make it lose a lot of replayability, not to mention the fact that even the easy maps are meant to pose some sort of challenge. Due to this I devised a system where a random button is chosen. Whichever the chosen button is opens the hatch. Only catch is, players have no idea which one opens the hatch, therefore leading to a frenzy of relentless button spamming. For the sound of the buttons being pressed, I recorded the sound of a button being pressed on my keyboard.

The map was complete pretty soon after that, leaving time for some other work before I had to begin work on yet another map.

On the plus side, I finally came to my senses with the lobby and freed up a lot of space:



May 2021: Running out of time…?

May was a relatively productive month, however I began to grow cautious of time. I was set on the scheduled release of October 8, but every day it seemed less likely to reach that goal when I remembered how much there was left to be done and how long it had taken to get to the current point the game was at. Not to mention the fact that some essential systems such as the repeating round system, map voting and levelling/xp system were yet to be made!

I always liked the idea of making a map where the power had completely shut off and the players must navigate their way through the sinking ship in the dark. The only issue with this map is that all I had in mind was the themes, but absolutely no clue where to begin with the floor plan. So one night I just placed some parts around and hoped for the best:


More was added the next day:

I was finally experimenting with TweenService, so decided to practice by implementing a watertight door that would begin closing when the players reached a certain point in the map.


(I later realised that it made no sense for watertight doors to have open-curved corners, but that’s besides the point.)

While making Power Outage I was introduced to the use of Remote Events (which at the time I found to be very confusing!).



June 2021 - a month with no maps:

Power Outage was complete, finally wrapping up all three Easy maps. Not only that, June 2021 commemorated the one year mark since the beginning of the project. An entire year had passed and release was still months away. Remember when I said this game would be “done by the end of the summer”?!

However, I was not about to rush into Medium mode. No, I had other tasks to do that were previously neglected. Primarily the system where players receive points upon successfully escaping a ship. The GUI was made with a fade-out effect and the points were awarded to the player. At some point I got bored and implemented a daily reward system where players receive a certain amount of points every time they join in 24-hour intervals (In case you’ve ever wondered, the chances of getting 2000 points from daily rewards are 1/27!)



July 2021 - The worst of scripting:

July was without a doubt the most difficult and intense month of pre-release development. Goals were set, mainly to make the round/map-voting system and the first medium map. This was challenging enough, it didn’t help that the temperature was extremely hot every day. However, it was July so I didn’t have a whole lot of other responsibilities outside of Roblox.

That month I stayed in a hotel during a trip away. While I was there, work began on Medium Map #1 in any free time I had during the night. Having virtually no plans as to what the design of the next map should be, I had to improvise. Aaaand so I based the map directly off the hotel room I was in + the adjoining room some family members were in. I quickly followed the floor plan of the rooms and came up with this very basic design for the layout:


It may not look much like a hotel room here, but it made sense at the time.

Lots of complicated scripting logistics, click if you feel like reading it

Meanwhile I was still pulling my hair out over the map voting system. I tried to get help from a variety of youtube tutorials, but it would be impossible to find one that is perfectly suited to the game design of Sinking Ship Adventure. This meant that I had to code a lot of the system myself, which posed a real challenge. It seemed that every time the repetition/voting system was good to go, there would be another problem cropping up. It was like a crazy game of scripting whack-a-mole. For example, the SSA round system needs to account for many factors that may not be present in other games, including but not limited to:

  • Only players who are in a certain sub-lobby must be teleported
  • The game must recognise which players are/are not in each sub-lobby corresponding to each difficulty
  • The system must be able to detect when all players have died so that the round can restart
  • The system has to check twice to make sure all players really have died instead of just waiting to be teleported before the round begins (there is a slight delay between voting ending and the players teleporting).
  • The game has 2 (soon to be 3) round systems all functioning at once, they must not interfere with one another.
  • Each map needs to have a specific picture that corresponds to the voting pad.
  • Player collisions are disabled, however the voting pads use raycasts. The rays must block out all other players for voting to work with multiple people at a time (this one I didn’t notice until after release).

Upon returning from my trip away, work on the next map continued. I decided to base the corridor section of the map off the floor plan of the hotel I was staying in, including the directions and elevator position.

After a few more changes and alterations, Medium Map #1 was nearing completion, now being named ‘Cruise Ship’ as an explanation for the large design of the ship.

Some of these waterfall effects were later removed due to poor performance on some devices.

Commissioning an Artist:
Later in the month I was on a call with my friend @cooldudejmc (jmc). I mentioned to him that I was considering finding someone who would be able to make a thumbnail-drawing for the game. Jmc (who had spent a considerable amount of time practicing his own drawing skill) offered his help. And so I commissioned him to draw a thumbnail.

First drafts:
image

Final result:

Jmc also went on to be commissioned for almost every other SSA artwork, making him the group’s primary Artist. Other work includes the SSA logo, the Premium gamepass icon, most badge icons and more.

A reference to his drawing was added in the game:



August + September 2021:

After a painfully long period of trial and error, the round/map-voting system was finally ready and had been implemented to Easy mode. The only issue was that the release date of October 8th was becoming closer, and there was still a large amount of work to do, including two more maps. August was spent finishing the round system and making a live-countdown game, but September brought a lot of pressure.

At this point the plan was to release a trailer for the game on October 1st, one week before release. However if the game wasn’t ready to be released at this point (which was becoming more likely every day) the release would have to be pushed back.

The idea of a map set on a yacht was one I was considering. The only issue is that a map such as Yacht would require the full ship to be built (including an exterior) instead of simply interior rooms such as every other map. Oh well, worth a try.

Yacht took way too long to make. Much longer than it should have, at least. For the first half of September I was busy with school, for the second half I was sick at home with Covid. I spent the free time I did have working away on Yacht, finally finishing the map in late September. That was 5/6 maps complete, but there was still one left to be made and only a few days left to make it. The part that was particularly concerning was that every map beforehand took a solid ~3 weeks to make each one.

I used any free time I could to make the final construction, with only a few days to do so before the supposed reveal of the game. It became all too clear that October 8th was not going to be the release date and it would have to be pushed back (again). However, I had been working towards that specific day all year, it would be disappointing not to release it then. Thankfully, I had enough time to finish the final map (‘Fire’) in around 3 days. That was intense and exhausting to say the least. But hey, it was now September 30th and I had recovered from Covid. The trailer had to be out soon.

On the night of September 30th the footage for the trailer was filmed and edited. Roblox only allows trailers that are a maximum of 30 seconds, so it didn’t take too long to produce.



October 2021 - Time for release:

Well, the trailer for SSA premiered on October 1st as was planned. More importantly, the release date of October 8th had been confirmed. To be completely honest, I was still feeling uneasy about the release, but the only stuff left to do were some bug fixes, minor adjustments…and the main menu + levelling system. Yep, that still had to be done with under a week left to release.

Thankfully the levelling system was created surprisingly smoothly. I was expecting to be faced with a challenge similar to the map voting system, but it actually was relatively manageable. I’ve always enjoyed ui design, so the ‘Profile’ tab of the main menu was fun to make. As for the actual levelling system, it was ready right on time. There were a couple of errors during the scripting process, however they were fixed before release.

October 8th 2021 - Release day!

The whole day I was eagerly excited to release at 9:00 PM that night. When I arrived home it occurred to me that there were some slight errors with the round system. Not exactly something you’d want to go wrong a few hours before you release your game. Luckily, it was fixed in the nick of time. I had stupidly forgotten to add music to the rounds, but that process was simple and was done before release.

And after around 15/16 months in development, Sinking Ship Adventure was open for the public to play! Sure, there were a couple things yet to be added but everything major was in the game and functioning properly. It was actually really enjoyable to see other people playing the game, especially considering this was their first time ever doing so.

The next couple of days were awesome. Many friends came on to see the new game, including some developers who I’ve looked up to for a long time. I’m extremely grateful to see that people have been playing the game and enjoying it! It became clear that Elevator Shaft was too difficult and Yacht was too easy, so they were switched places between Easy/Medium mode.

And beyond that, popular youtube-creator Jesse Gillett recorded a video of the game, which showed the game to a larger number of people.

It may have taken slightly longer to create than just the summer of 2020, but it was worth it.



Post-release and Christmas Lobby:

(Points glitch)

The months following release were pretty tiring but enjoyable nonetheless. There were plans for a Christmas-themed lobby, so work on that began. In November @Jxllyous was commissioned to make models of a christmas tree + presents to be added to the lobby re-design. Meanwhile I continued work on lights/snow.

The completed lobby:



Conclusion:

That brings us up to now! Thank you for taking an interest in the game reading through this post. I look forward to the future of Sinking Ship Adventure and I will hopefully be making another post similar to this relating to the previously mentioned ‘2022 Project’ when the time comes.

Thank you for reading, and have a happy new year! :slight_smile:



Other Links:

Credits: Sinking Ship Adventure: Full Credits

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