MechaChain – full-cycle game development for a 3D play-and-earn third-person shooter mobile game

About EthernalHorizons

EthernalHorizons is a French gaming company specializing in the creation of mobile games on the Ethereum blockchain. Their key mission is to push the boundaries of combat video games through the recreational use of blockchain technology. The company's largest project, MechaChain, is currently under active development. MechaChain will be created with a focus on mobile devices, primarily Android and iOS systems.

MechaChain

MechaChain is a 3D play-to-earn robot combat and space conquest mobile game. The robots are divided into two factions and are called mechas: each mecha is a set of parts that are NFT collectibles that can be purchased online by blue card with a game utility token called Mechanium ($MECHA) or using Ethereum.
Players who are not blockchain-savvy and don’t have a crypto wallet can also start the game in its free-to-play format by using the game login system and receiving a non-NFT mecha body and a set of non-NFT modules for it. As the mecha improves, the player gets the opportunity to convert individual components into NFTs.
After being fully assembled, the robot is ready to participate in PvP battles alone or in teams. Players can earn Mechanium by winning battles, as well as upgrade their mechas by purchasing new modules and weapons. They can also rent out their robots to other players and thus earn Mechanium.

Production Workflow

The work on the game was divided into 6 key stages, each of which involved developers, game and sound designers, and artists working in accordance with the approved pipeline.

GOAL

Our goal was to provide full-cycle development, including some aspects of the art in the form of modeling mecha modules, weapons, and map elements, as well as animation, coding, game design, UI/UX, tech art, VFX, and sound.

challenge

Our challenge was to develop and implement a state-of-the-art and balanced game design that looks accessible to a player of any level, meets all current standards for third-person shooters, and corresponds to the client's conceptual vision.

Stage 1. Discovery and GDD phase

At this stage, our team asks the client key questions about the game to form an understanding of the essence of the task and develop game design documentation with all the necessary clarifications regarding mechanics, systems, servers, multiplayer, and so on.
The gameplay of MechaChain is based on 4 game mechanics:

  • Mecha customization
  • Mecha battles
  • NFT marketplace
  • Galactic conquest on the MechaChain console

Stage 2. Project estimate and production start

Having received all the necessary information, we prepare a project estimate and agree on the key development steps: vertical slice, closed alpha, open alpha, and release. For 18 months, the project has to be ready for release.

Stage 3. Vertical slice

The vertical slice stage includes the preparation and deployment of all game mechanics that allow the client and the player to understand the basic concept of the game. The implementation of the basic logic of all features consists of the following tasks:

  • Creating art and animation (shop, mecha hangar, mecha bodies, modules, and skills)
  • Implementing stats system (combat and module) and core technical systems
  • Drafting maps (combat map level design with environment)
  • Developing multiplayer (matchmaking logic, combat HUD, server logic)
  • Adding UX/UI (inventory, hangar, mecha equipment, profile)
  • Building combat core systems (aiming, movement, damage, and anti-cheating)
  • Creating VFX and sound (mecha bodies, modules)
ART

Modules
The mecha modules we're working on can be active and passive and are divided into back modules (Mr Alarm, RS-76, Hemere’s Grace, and Jetpack) and shoulder modules (Armor Crusher, Berserker, Melee Amplifier Module, Quick Reloader, Shoulder Mounted Enhancer “Fury”, and Mass Rocket Launcher)


Weapons
The weapon module can be placed on the mecha's left or right forearm. The types of weapons we develop include automatic rifle, impulse rifle, light machine gun, thermic lancer, and rocket launcher.


Environment
We also create some environment elements, such as spaceships for both factions, mecha hangars, individual buildings and objects of the urban environment (benches, stairs, pillars, kiosks), Mechanium containers, and more.

Stage 4. Closed alpha

At the closed alpha stage, our team ensures the implementation of the full logic of all features and full-fledged multiplayer. The game is available for testing for the client.

Stage 5. Open alpha

At the open alpha stage, our team implements the polishing of visual bugs and also completes work on all modules and server features. The game is available for testing for the project community.

Stage 6. Release

Having received all the necessary information, we prepare a project estimate and agree on the key development steps: vertical slice, closed alpha, open alpha, and release. For 18 months, the project has to be ready for release.

RESULTS OF COLLABORATION

We are proud of the results of our collaboration, as our team provided a range of services and created captivating art for the MechaChain project

Weapons

The weapon is the tool for the Mechapilot to fight enemies: futuristic, powerful, and authentic to the gaming lore. We created weapons from scratch to attach it to Mecha's left or right forearm. The weapons we have developed include automatic rifles, impulse rifles, and light machine guns. Each has its description and features, offering a variety of combat possibilities.
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Character Art

We received the robot in a complete set with the rarest modules from the client, and our Artists gradually removed the module parts to restore the Mecha to its original state. We worked over creating concept art, mecha models and their animations.
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UI/UX

We crafted UI/UX, which provides seamless interactions, intuitive controls, and immersive UI elements, such as in-game maps or health bars. Engaging UI/UX elements, such as dynamic animations and informative feedback or progression bar, keep players invested in the game
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Vehicles

We created futuristic spaceships for both factions with two spacecraft landing zones and Mechanium containers. We made each element fit seamlessly into the setting and overall aesthetic of the game.
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Team Structure

Working on a full-cycle development involves assembling a large and diverse team with a lot of experience working on large projects.

  • Technical
    Team

    Responsible for the tasks of coding and implementation of game mechanics.
    • Unity Team Lead
    • Unity Devs
    • DevOps
    • Backend dev C# .NET
  • QA
    Team

    Responsible for test scripts, creating test reports, and fixing bugs.
    • QA Team Lead
    • Middle QA
    • Junior QA
  • AI
    Team

    Responsible for developing AI for NPCs and providing an adaptive and responsive game experience.
    • Unity Team Lead
    • Unity Devs
  • Game Design
    Team

    Responsible for the development of game design, including basic game mechanics and game economics (tokenomics).
    • Lead Game Designer
    • Senior Game designer
    • Senior Game Designer/game economist
  • Concept Art
    Team

    Responsible for creating concept art for mecha modules, weapons, and map elements.
    • Concept Art Team Lead
    • Concept Artists
  • 3D Art
    Team

    Responsible for modeling mecha modules, weapons, and map elements.
    • Lead Technical Artist
    • Technical Artists
    • Technical/VFX Artist
    • Lead VFX/Technical Artist
    • Lead 3D artist
    • 3D Character Artists
  • 3D Animation
    Team

    Responsible for creating all the necessary options for the movement of mechas and other game elements.
    • Lead 3D Animator
    • 3D Animators
    • Senior Rigger
  • UI/UX
    Team

    Responsible for creating the game interface in accordance with the specifics of the setting and game design.
    • Lead UI/UX department
    • Senior UI/UX Artists
    • Middle UX Designer
  • Sound Design
    Team

    Responsible for creating musical accompaniment and game sound for all possible game situations and scenarios.
    • Senior Sound Designer
    • Senior Composer
  • Spine
    Team

    Responsible for the spine animation of the corresponding hangar game elements.
    • Lead Animator
    • Middle Spine Animator
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Values Delivered

Based on the client's vision of the game and benefiting from extensive experience in game development, our team created a game design for MechaChain, including basic game mechanics, gameplay features, and game economics (tokenomics). Taking the client's art concepts as a foundation, we also drafted and modeled all types of game weapons, mecha modules, and map elements in accordance with the setting and the general style of the game. Deep knowledge of coding and mastering the most modern tools and approaches has given us the opportunity to ensure the successful implementation of all the necessary features in the game.

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