It was middle of the autumn 2013 when we had another talk about starting something new. How come?
Keep uncovering new horizons
In its core – KaM Remake is an educational project. It was started 6 years ago (in March 2008) from grounds up. Back then we had very little knowledge about gamedev. Now we have spent 6 years on it and it taught us a lot. We even tackled things that don’t have ready-made algorithmic solutions (e.g. AI). Now there are not so many things left to do without hitting hard KaM bounds. Big features are likely to change the game too much, so we are left with a small ones. Sure, adding minor features is fun, but that lacks a thrill of exploration, sense of achievement. On the other hand, gamedev itself has changed a lot since 1998 – new visualization technologies have appeared (3D acceleration, shaders, skeletal-animation, tablets, etc.). All these are essential parts of modern games.
Bringing it up to date
There are factual numbers – how popular KaM is. Each day hundreds of players clash in multiplayer games. Since multiplayer was first launched in 2011 we had a almost 90 years of gameplay. Coupled with other numbers we can see (kamremake.com visits, Facebook likes), that is clear that games like KaM have many fans. Being available at GOG.com, and now appearing on Steam in October 2013 must mean that it’s far from being forgotten. On the other hand, KaM is 16 years old now, with pixelated paletted 2D graphics, very slow pace, unresponsive controls and many other inherent properties that were okay in 1998, but now are just too “old”. KaM is not friendly to newcomers either. Majority of players played KaM back in 2000s and return to it now. Coupling that with lack of similar games on the market shows us that there might be much more players that would like to play such a game if it was more modern.
KaM Remake itself is inherently stiff by its nature. Any noticeable modification to a game immediately hits 2 bumps: KaM legacy and art creation. KaM Remake is as close remake as it’s possible, with just a few experimental ideas alike Market. Being legacy means that we can’t change the game without upsetting many of its fans, who will readily defend the games spiritual purity and split community in half (Market discussions alone went for pages after pages in forums). Art creation is a problem as well, since KaM used sprites for graphics, that means every single animation step has to be constructed and drawn somehow. E.g. to add a new unit it would require someone to make 300-500 sprites that would need to perfectly match KaM art style to blend in.
KaM Remake is not only an educational project, but also our showcase. What is the first thing that a stranger notices when he sees KaM Remake? .. 100`000 lines of code .. 6 years in work .. well-developed scripting .. Unicode .. no. It’s graphics. Graphics which is colorful and nice, but 1,5 decades old. Two-dimensional view from top, twitchy animations, jaggy fonts. Internal code beauty matters less, since games are traditionally judged by their looks and gameplay. Latter has flaws too. GUI is old-fashioned and unit controls feel unresponsive. Units walk in straights and diagonals, constantly bumping into one another. Guess we can do better and show something up to date.
At the moment KaM Remake is completely dependent on original KaM. So far we were avoiding risks for as much as possible. Installer checks for original game installed. We encourage players to buy the game from official stores. Our mod does not interferes with the original games installation files. We try hard to keep KaM Remake spirit close to original. However if by any bad chance copyright owners see us threatening KaM … at best they can demand removal of any copyright KaM material from our site and installer, leaving us with a mod that we can’t advertise. Worse alternative – issue us “Cease and Desist” letter, by which we would be required to stop any development and completely remove any download materials. We have looked into similar “Remakes” and some of them were in fact shut down in such a way. KaM Remake has shaky grounds, that’s a fact.
TL;DR: Combined with other reasons, it was always a moving force to make something own, something to be proud of, with a “I made it” sticker on it. Back in the days KaM Remake was an attempt to make “a game”. Now having achieved that, we might look into making “the game”.