I love games!
- H. Elwood, Lead Game Designer
From the author:
Empire in the Sky is a personal project that is in essence a labor of love. I started this project just to 'see if I could whip up a space building game in three months', and four years later I have "graduated" as an OpenGL programmer. Ever since I was a little kid I have avidly played video games. I played 80% of titles released during my lifetime and I have explored deeply the meaning and substance of games, animation and virtual worlds. In 2005, I graduated from Carnegie Mellon University having studied under Randy Pausch (co-founder of the Entertainment Technology Center) and Jordan Mechner. I've also been a fan and friend of Al Lowe since the early 90s.
Over the years I have developed a core underpinning that makes Empire in the Sky a unique experience in gaming. Not only is the approach innovative, but the content is developing to a standard far higher than when I started this project. I have learned that specializing in procedural animation is a key aspect to modern game design. I have also routinely sub-specialized into various aspects of animation, geological and astronomical sciences, and science history to think of and develop pseudorealistic parts of the game such that it has a subtle aftertaste of non-obtrusive edutainment.
Generally I am employed as a web developer for companies large and small. However, things are a-changin' on the web and I see my future in a different industry if I can manage the transition. Though I spent my days in academia working in multimedia, the bread and butter of my existence has been developing the web backend. Although I enjoy and hopefully will return to work in that specialty, it is nowhere near as rewarding as developing Lost Astronaut and the Empire in the Sky game title.
What initially started in 2007 as a simple C program using libAgar, this project has grown into over 130,000 lines (and counting) of rock-solid C++ objects encompassing thousands of features and individual animation techniques. The work directory for Empire in the Sky is beyond 5GB, and we have terabytes of backups from over the years. For the effort of a lone developer, this is an enormous amount of work embodied in the game and its artwork. It seems daunting at times, but I press forward because I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I also think about the ramifications of the framework itself, and how it could be enhanced to provide powerful tools to other low-budget game developers down the line.