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Creating the Competitive Line Racer Deadliners, Available Now on Xbox One

In “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance,” Robert M. Pirsig writes about quality. I think Deadliners gave me a taste of it. There’s a quality that goes into deep work, and there’s appreciation to be found there. Hidden steps and mysterious secrets to discover.

Creating things that work in this world is extremely difficult, but when it clicks you feel the love. Until the next problem arises, and it’s back to work. Conjuring up dragons isn’t the most pleasant experience but slaying them is better than you can possibly imagine.

Deadliners is a straightforward game, but parts of the gameplay talk deeply to who we are, and how we react when faced with our limits (I love that). People don’t know they have it in them, and I hope Deadliners can help bring that out.

It all started years ago when I made a little prototype game called Deadliners in JavaScript. The idea came from my older brother, who played a lot of Tron with his friends back in the 80s. It was easy to feel how much he missed that time. We had a lot of fun playing the prototype, and I had created it all on my own!

Deadliners Screenshot

Finding the Right Path

A couple of years later I finished my BA in Software Engineering, which had been tremendously dull. I wanted to make a change for the future, but I didn’t know how.

And that’s when Casey Muratori saved my life.

Casey is the sole programmer and author of the YouTube show called “Handmade Hero,” an educational stream where he teaches you to program an entire game from scratch. I can’t recommend it enough. A single stream of “Handmade Hero” shows you just how masterful a person can be, and it’s right there, on the Internet.

I was blown away. Seeing that, my gut told me to follow along for a couple of months, and after that I knew I was headed in the right direction. I wanted that for my life, and oh my god, it was the best decision ever.

Deadliners Screenshot

Coming to a Decision

After following the teachings of Casey, I branched out and worked on minor games to improve my skill. I made a little Bomberman-like game and a few months after I started on a bigger original project. Of course, the scope was way too big, being a single-person developer, and I dropped the project. I had to approach it differently. Deadliners was still in the back of my mind, and I thought: Why not?

I knew the gameplay was fun, and quickly ideas popped in to my mind about different game modes and challenges. My older brother helped me once more and we had many great talks about the design, the graphics and what kind of music to put in. We also had a bunch of disagreements, being family in a somewhat commercial project isn’t always great. I guess it made us stronger.

The development took about nine months, where I had to learn a whole lot, and I got help from a bunch of nice people who helped make the graphics and soundtrack. I think it turned out well, especially the gameplay. There are depths to it, that hopefully some players get to experience.

Deadliners Screenshot

Looking Forward

Something very special about our time is that you can treat YouTube as your own little university. You can choose freely among the best of many different teachers. If you have the discipline, you can gain insight from masters of the craft and create a fantastic education for yourself. Material beats method and YouTube has excellent material, if you know how to find it.

Watching different programmers at work, I found my own style and I grasped the lessons that worked well for me. One of the best ones, I think, is the art of getting things going.

It’s so easy not to go after your goals in life, but there is a trick to get going, and if you figure it out, nothing can stop you. You pass through the membrane. You take the war path. You get out of bed, sit down, and you do the work. One step in front of the other, into the unknown.

Would I recommend making a game to someone else? Making Deadliners was, by far, the hardest thing I have ever done. I imagined it would be hard making a game; it’s not like that information is hard to find. But it was much, much harder.

Deadliners Screenshot

I guess you must ignore the warning signs, if you really want something of value. Every single step in development was a challenge, nothing came easy. Learning C/C++, game design, graphics API’s, game testing, finding help among friends and to finally release it to the world is something I look back on with much despair.

Looking at a list of a 150 todo’s, knowing there is only one guy to finish them all. I am grateful it worked out, and I can’t wait for my next project. Maybe conjuring up dragons is my kind of thing.

I hope players will like the game and invite their friends to a small tournament, and that they feel the spirit of my brothers gaming group from the 80s. It’s always interesting figuring out hierarchies, and in Deadliners, you quickly realize who’s the best. Good luck!