3 min read

[-2/50] Revisiting the start of a video game

Image of a Sunrise over a forest with clouds and birds in the scene.
Scene from Paperplanes captured in engine.

Each day for the next 50 days, we will document our journey about making Paperplanes - mostly technical and creative notes about designing and developing a game in Unreal Engine with an occasional peek into behind the scenes of the development.

Always good to have a head-start and some warm-up rather than venturing unprepared and, therefore, we start at -2 / 50.


We started Paperplanes in March 2021. Back then the game had no name, just an idea of a 3D game we wanted to make for PCs and consoles. There were three of us on the first Google Meet call - two programmers and an artist. Over the next few months, more people joined the team and augmented the diversity of the skills across the 3D production spectrum. Some of them have since transitioned from the team.

The choice of making a narrative-driven 3D game with high visual fidelity for a first title, without anyone on the team having any experience of shipping even a casual mobile game, was a bold move but perfectly appropriate of the naivety that Lost Ferry sports.

During the two years between then and now, we had our share of ups and downs. Most of it was figuring out how to use the different set of tools at disposal to make a game. We were essentially starting from scratch.

Quick note about Paperplanes

First and foremost, Paperplanes is an out and out commercial game with mechanics typical of a third person action-adventure game with one constraint: no player perpetrated violence. This constraint not just takes out shooting and hack-n-slash - the two mechanics which dominate the genre - but makes everything else about (the already difficult) game designing process unimaginably hard.

Paperplanes is set in an alternative far future where climate change has decimated most of what humanity has built and a new civilization is being rebuilt. The geographic setting is contemporary India. You can wishlist the game on Steam or Epic Game Store.

Unreal Engine, Blender and Others.

We started with UE 4.26 and have been keeping the project updated with all releases and, currently, we are on 5.1. A lot of our 3D workflow, especially, characters and animations is driven by Blender. Autodesk Maya, Substance Suite and Quixel Mixer for texturing and Gaea for terrains round-up our primary 3D toolset.

Current Development Matrix

Game Design

After a lot of trial and error we have a game design we are convinced of and the next step (currently underway) is to translate the overarching design into moment-to-moment gameplay.

Core Mechanics

Conventional action-adventure mechanics including inventory, crafting, journal and quest system are functional but not polished enough to be shipped. Action based mechanics including platforming are work-in-progress.

Level Design

We worked on at least 4 maps and discarded them but that is the part of the process. At this point we have two maps in progress and parts of one of them can be viewed on our Steam page.

User Interface

Again, mostly functional but not polished enough to be shipped.

Art & Environment

This deserves a blog post of its own. We are in good shape and, as pointed out in the Level Design status above, have two maps underway including high-fidelity art assets.


Lost the count of the times we’ve iterated on this and there is every chance there will be a few more iterations in the coming months but the broad outline of the plot is fairly stable at this point.

Audio & Music

We are working on a few ideas in collaboration with artists from the indie scene - announcement soon.


We had a few starts but we discarded them in favour of iteration to achieve our vision.

Whats Next

In the next 50 days - the team’s aim is to polish everything that is in-progress to the point that if that is all we were to ship then it is ready to ship. We have a lot of half-done parts and the coming days will all be about assembling them into a cohesive whole.