The game is almost complete, and Liquid president Ed Del Castillo describes what the last two years have been like at his company.
Entry #9 - 07/11/01
President, Liquid Entertainment
We're only a couple of months away from our ship date--two short months in a development cycle that's lasted just over two years. How far we've come! It seems like just yesterday that the original "Liquid Twelve" moved into our first cramped office space and started designing the game that would eventually become Battle Realms.
In the project's darkest hours, we sometimes wondered if we were really up to the task. A triple-A RTS was a big mouthful for a new game company to swallow. With a third of the budget and half the team, we were competing with titles made by the "big boys." Battle Realms was a risk, but Liquid was never about playing it safe.
We've gone through a lot since those heady first days in the old office--three game-name changes, two offices, dozens of logo ideas, and gallons of blood, sweat, and tears. But there have been constants, too. Our excellent relationship with our publisher has survived the test of time, Battle Realms always made steady progress toward the game's ship date, and, most importantly, the core of our original design has been realized. Throughout all the changes, we stayed "Liquid." It's been a long road, but the end is in sight. We've started to reflect on what's gone before. We're remembering our successes, learning from our mistakes, and looking ahead to Liquid's post-Battle Realms future.
Though the Liquid team had a lot of shipped titles under our collective belt, we had always been supported by the infrastructure of a larger company in our creative efforts. Until May of 1999, there was no Liquid infrastructure, and even after that first May, we ran a minimalist shop for several months. Our first office was small--one big open space and a tiny corner room for meetings--but being together in one room forged tight bonds between team members who for the most part had never worked together before.
In the beginning, we had a few growing pains. We spent a month exploring a third-party engine that turned out to not be suitable for Battle Realms. When we bit the bullet and started creating our own 3D engine, we faced many difficult questions. How would our animation system function--would we rely on mesh animations or a skeletal system? What would our map editor look like? How would the renderer work? Would we try to make Battle Realms scalable, so that players with both high-end and low-end machines could enjoy it? In the end, even though it created extra work for us, building our own engine was unquestionably the right decision.
Some of our choices would come back to bite us over the course of the next two years. Early on, we locked down what we thought were reasonable polygon counts and texture limits so the artists could get to work. As it turned out, we locked ourselves too early and ended up having to redo much of the art over the course of the project. Fortunately, our art team shined and managed to get the most out of the strict limits they were operating under. The final product is visually stunning.