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BDSM game story

BDSM
I had been toying with the idea to make a version of Diablo turned upside down for quite a while. As for why we ended up with BDSM, it's a really good question, to which I'm afraid I don't have a clear answer. I guess we must have taken the wrong turn somewhere…

The development began in early 2017. That's when we decided to reskin our top-down shooter with no frills, bells or whistles. But as we kept on working, our appetite grew, the game concept changed thanks to our (then) lead game designer who persuaded me to shift towards DOOM (with battles in small closed arenas, lack of ammo, etc.). Of course, since the game was supposed to be short, there would simply be nowhere to put a lot of loot, not enough time to level up, plus we would encounter serious issues with balancing... But I agreed for some reason. That meant we had to roll back a lot of RPG elements that had already been implemented in the previous game. Now I realize that that time and money should have been better spent on increasing the game duration and random level generation. As a result, there have been loads of tweaks and changes, and we've moved quite far away from DOOM. Maybe we should blame the top-down view – hell if I know. We spent twice the original budget. The game's a decent shooter, with cool boss fights, an appealing picture and sometimes funny (while sometimes cringey) humor. Let me elaborate on the latter. What mattered to us most was if the plot and the characters were 'fun.' We didn't really bother with limiting ourselves by anything. So long as someone came up with an idea and no one minded it in the team, we implemented it in the game. Our technical director wrote tips popping up on the loading screen, the animator contributed to some drunken ravings for the imps, and so on.

Porting BDSM to the console deserves a separate chapter. Initially, there weren't any plans to do that, but as we kept developing the game, it soon became clear that our efforts wouldn't pay off if we only released it on Steam. We imagined we'd strike it rich as soon as we released BDSM on consoles. In fact, we ended up barely making half the money we'd made on Steam. So we contacted one expert in this area, signed a contract and ordered devkits from them.
Since the game was developed for PC and its resources, the first time we launched it on Xbox, we saw something like a slide show. Dynamic light, unoptimized textures – you name it. We had to do some lightmapping, which we had no idea how to implement, so we outsourced it to one company called Cooking Games. We decided to go ahead with it after falling for Evgeny Fedorov's (their CEO) claims they'd had a lot of experience doing this. In retrospect, of course I realize that their team decided to cut their teeth on the technology at our expense. Several members of their team tried their hand at porting our game, but the results left much to be desired. We were about to terminate our contract when one of them managed to produce something more or less acceptable by some miracle. Now BDSM could even be played at 15-20 fps on Xbox, which gave us hope, since we thought all that was left to do was further optimization. By the end of the fifth month only about half the levels had been lightmapped, while the quality was still satisfactory at best. We were really pressed for time, but luckily we'd taught ourselves how to lightmap by then so we redid the whole thing in about a month.
As for the technical issues, it's worth mentioning controller mapping, which was implemented with InControl. As a result, it worked like magic. All control features on the consoles functioned just as well as on the PC. The only problem was with getting access to the multi-platform version, since any such code is proprietary and thus protected by the privacy policy. There was no way we could get our hands on the file system. As if that wasn't bad enough, the game would crash on Nintendo Switch whenever we tried to access the files. So we had to make the file system modular and replace it with the right one depending on the platform.
BDSM was super sluggish whenever there were hordes of enemies on the screen, all because of slow HDDs used in PS4 and Xbox One. These days, using any HDD will guarantee you problems with seamless loading. While everything was super smooth on Nintendo Switch, the game lagged on home consoles. As a result, we had to transfer all heavy instances to Object Pooling and asynchronous loading.
When the game looked less like a slideshow and was playable material, we started submitting the first builds to console platforms for review. Immediately there were problems with censorship. I have always wondered how any game and movie can contain as much violence as you can imagine, yet you can easily get banned for the f word or some nudity. I was still unaware how bad things were until I had to face it myself, though.

There must be absolutely no nudity, cigarettes, alcoholic drinks and swearing. To cut a long story short, we never got the green light on one of the platforms, even though we'd replaced all alcohol with milk and cut out pretty much anything remotely indecent or obscene. For instance, you could play an afro-demon – after all, whatever happened to freedom of speech, hey? When you choose this character, the description says: you can use the N word. Anyway, in one of the versions we had to cut it out still, since despite the fact that the N word is used by the afro-demon, the game was developed by privileged white males so that might be considered racism. Interestingly, Switch accepted and released the uncensored version of the game, although even for Steam we had to make a special patch that unlocks some of its content. Needles to say, all these changes meant we’d wasted a lot of time and money.

As a result, we didn't recoup our expenses – however the project still earned quite a lot. If it hadn't been for all the changes we had to make and the rejection from one of the platforms, we'd have been commercially successful.
At the end of the day, our team gained some optimization and porting skills, which is invaluable experience, of course. As of now, Big Way Games has released two games on consoles and ported one of its older games.