Dead Wake Version 0.5.51 Out Now (Lessons Learned)

I’m so proud to present the Dead Wake zombie game version 0.5.51. Before I say anything more, I’ll give you guys video to check out:

You can find out what has changed and what’s happening from the Dead Wake community forums, but there’s some things I consider pretty meaningful in terms of development.

What is ‘Beta’?
I decided to drop the word ‘beta’, since it was giving headache for some developers (didn’t hear any players complaining about this by the way) who were pointing out that ‘betas’ are considered more finished products than what Dead Wake version suggests.

Some guys suggested using ‘pre-alpha’ or ‘alpha’, but to me this also gives a bit bad impression. By the definition, betas are considered very ‘ready’ versions while ‘alphas’ are perhaps for internal testing only. Since the core idea of Dead Wake development was to provide monthly updates, it kind of escapes the definition. It’s not beta, but it’s not alpha either. It’s something in between.

This made me drop the word ‘alpha’ or ‘beta’ totally. I just call them versions. And that’s what they are: new versions. If somebody wants to categorize them… so be it. It doesn’t really matter what you call them. To me they are new versions, and that’s it.

(By the way, a comprehensive article about development stages can be found at Wikipedia – for those who are interested.)

Back to good old Blitz3D engine
When I started to develop the version 0.5, I made the decision to drop the NeoAxis engine development. That development started out fine, but the NeoAxis engine wasn’t simply ready enough for what we really would have needed, and having a programmer to code month after month costs something. We weren’t progressing the pace I had hoped, so after weeks of research and testing, I finally switched back to the engine that’s tested and I know well.

This switch meant that I needed to port some features (not all are done yet), and leave some away, but it also meant that we got some new benefits (such as no need for .NET or DX9) and of course this also meant that the much wanted multiplayer will be in the game.

In terms of gameplay things did same to some extent: the old FPS view is gone, but the current isometric view looks good I think. The idea about barricading and survival hasn’t gone anywhere, and we can get easier tools to use.

The most important element is that: now I feel I’m in control. I have the necessary resources and skills, and no 3rd party dependencies on any critical components. When doing Edoiki, there were 3rd party ‘variables’ in terms of art (such as animations). When doing Dead Wake using NeoAxis I was referring to 3rd party ‘variables’ in terms of programming. (Don’t get me wrong: 3rd parties are good, but you gotta be absolutely certain you have the budget). Now, with Dead Wake 0.5 (and future) the risks are minimized since I’m relying on content packs (although replacing some art by hiring if necessary) and mainly my own development skills (although I shall outsource some parts of the code). I’m getting help, but since I don’t have the budget to hire full time team members, I’m only outsourcing certain aspect of development.

Object oriented… kind of
During this year I’ve really got into object oriented programming, and switching back to Blitz3D to get things finished meant challenges: Blitz3D is not object oriented (well, not much anyway) engine, so it meant doing some creative thinking to get things working in (bit like) object oriented way.

I am quite pleased with the results (even though my main game object ‘class’ is huge!) and think that I can survive with Blitz3D until they get a better version. BlitzMax seems excellent, and when they get DX9 support there it might be the path I’m heading. Or perhaps it’s Xors3D, or perhaps Leadwerks engine (this one is an amazing game engine: I’m going to make a review about this one in the nearly future). But that’s a new decision to make in year 2009, not now.

What I value now is the engine I know inside out. I could have taken the path to try to learn these new engines, but right now my goal is to finish the game. Spending months and months learning new engines is not going to happen now. Maybe after 6 months, but right now I’m sticking with the engine I know well.

Anyway, I’m now really happy with the choice and feels like I’m getting a very nice progress using the tool I’m really familiar with.

With that being said, check out Dead Wake website.

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. I do contract development work using the Torque Engines. Drop me an email if you want to discuss it further.

  2. Maybe I am really a fast commenter, but I can see the word beta in the title of the dead wake game website.

  3. I have actually checked out (even bought a book & did tutorials) for Torque Engines, and I think they are excellent. The art pipeline & learning curve (& documentation) kept me away from the engine.

    As a good side: there’s solid community & respectable company behind the product.

  4. Excellent choice going back to what is familiar to you! No matter what technology you use, there are ALWAYS going to be issues, so you are usually further ahead going with what you know best.

    However, when you look at an engine switch I would also encourage you to check out Torque Game Engine Advanced by Garage Games. It’s the most cost-effective engine on the market, IMO.

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