Starting with dice and paper prototypes, our game design crew developed a combat system that would offer more involved and engaging combat experiences than currently found in conventional Facebook games. Fleshed out over daily play test meetings, the writing team began adapting the BPRE narrative to an "adventure", distributing these amongst chapters of combat experiences.
A walking skeleton of the game was quickly brought online and deployed to the Facebook developer environment where the game underwent daily play testing. New features were identified and prioritized by team members based on their experiences and beta user feedback and then assigned to developers for implementation. These ranged from level design and user analytic tools to improved user flow and game-to-user feedback.
When it became clear the experience was nearing a release candidate, the production team identified a hit list of images that would be needed to further enrich the player experience.
Echelon engaged real-world manufacturers of cutting edge military hardware to outfit our "players" with everything from weapon systems and vehicles to body armor and clothing. The team then identified locations/facilities around the US to re-create various scenarios including live-fire combat driven pieces that would be later sampled into the location shots captured in our pre-production process.
It was around this time that the final look of the game came together. Building on the style pioneered by Neill Blomkamp (District 9), Black Powder | Red Earth would feature a gritty, run-and-gun documentary action style presentation.
Utilizing a team of US Special Operations and Defense Intelligence contractors, the team shot on a variety of locations including Fort Bragg, NC and Nellis Air Force Base, NV employing a variety of vehicles and weapons systems to create a vast library of imagery to be mined by the post process team.
Within a week of the shoot, the first art assets were stood up and inserted into the game.