Status: Playable/Needs work

Project summary:

The Rivening is an over view, real time strategy game. Spawning in, three lanes connect your base to the opposing player’s. You must create and manage unit spawners, which will create creatures to march across the field to attack your enemy, as well capturing “Essence conduits”. These conduits, when captured, will increase your income, which is required to build more spawners. The game is based around this struggle to maintain your economy while countering your opponent's attacks, and pushing out yourself to over take his base.

Development summary:

Over the year before we started development proper, my brother Sam and I discussed, and started hashing out the plans for a game we wanted to make. At this point, 2014-15, I was still in high school in Florida, and Sam was at Northwestern University, making it hard to work on anything, and planning only happened when he was visiting. Though we had our opportunity when I went out to live with him in Evanston over the summer of 2015. In the first couple weeks, we planned everything out thoroughly on paper, and then began working on the game itself. Sam’s primary job was story development and game design. He wrote the story of the game, and a vast history of the game’s world (you can read the lore here). As well he planned the core game mechanics, made designs for menu systems, and drew out how the characters would look. He also helped make some of the 3D models. I did all the programming, most of the modeling, and put everything together in Unity3D. As well I contributed to the design of the core systems. Over the summer we worked hard to build the game, and made incredible progress. Unfortunately summer ended, and going back to school on top of the physical separation from Sam, progress halted on The Rivening. The result of all the work was a functioning multiplayer game, that does need some work to be considered finished. Perhaps more than that, is how much I learned from the experience.

Value of focus and planning...

Trying to build a significant project, while also dealing with the responsibilities of being a student has been a struggle for me. Not for lack of ambition or effort, but of energy and hours in the day.
For me it was hard to spend eight hours at school, try to maintain some semblance of a social life, and still work on these big projects, and make a lot of consistent progress. In moving in with my brother, Sam, over the summer I was finally able to focus solely on my person projects. This ability to spend as long as I want just working every day without distraction was invaluable to the progress made on The Rivening. All former projects were done on and off over the course of several months, which made keeping a consistent train of thought extremely difficult. With this project, I was able to keep great focus, and program consistently day to day.

On previous projects I learned the incredible value of organization and planning. These were well applied in The Rivening. Below are some of the paper plans made for this project. Most of this can be contributed to Sam. He was good about drawing everything out and providing good reference for later development. Also this was one of the first projects with which I used Trello, and online todo list and organization board, which I know live by!
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Few things are more fun than organizing a file structure for a project, except perhaps admiring the sheer amount of assets involved in a project like this, and understanding every aspect of it. At the beginning, there was a daunting amount which had to be created from nothing. Now looking back, I’m very proud of just how much we were able to get done. It was incredibly gratifying coding for this project; looking back at the end of the day having written a few new files, acrewing a few hundred new lines of code, and having a new feature or system working.  On the learning side, it was a good experience in organizing my code to logical features and structures.


In the past I’ve enjoyed some 3D modeling, as in Mistake of the Heart, but am certainly no expert in the subject. With the Rivening I would have to build many models for all the characters, islands, cores, map, and any other assets. Also, up to that point, I hadn’t worked much with textures, normal maps, and such (notice in mistake of the heart there aren't any). It ended up being a lot of fun working with it all, and let me learn a lot of new skills. The results aren’t soo spectacular, but nonetheless I’m proud of my scrappy tinkers!
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The Haberdashery

One night, I had a sudden spark of inspiration, and realized a key piece of the game which was missing. The next day, I got to work, and for the next 10 hours straight, crafted one of my greatest creations: The Haberdashery of Autom. Perhaps I exaggerate in the significance of one of the sillier features of the game, but it is one of the favorite things I created for the game. Mainly in that it really was a one day project, which I feel came out, and fit into the game really well. I only wished I had made more hats...

​And on a quick serious note, it was a great learning experience in dealing with textures, uvs, and normal maps.

Close up of bricks

The game itself

This section goes over the specifics of how the game works. Near the bottom there is a download link to one of the most up to date versions of the game.

Game overview video

The first couple minutes of the above video goes over the core mechanics of the game. Following that is the full game play of a match between my brother and I.​

Writen Overview

Spawning in, there are two opposing islands, connected by three lanes.  Player one’s base is to the left, player two to the right.
The core objective of the game is to destroy the opposing players essence core, which is the centerpiece of their base.

Unit Spawning

You are the commander of your island. In Order to prevent meaningful lose to your crew, you use the spawners, which harness essence to replicate the power and strengths of your faction.

These Cost a significant amount of essence to create in the first place, but then provide continuous excess essence income for your use.

At varied time intervals, the spawners will create units, and send them in a direction set by you. They will then proceed forward, and do all the fighting on their own, ultimately trying to get to the core, and fighting anyone along the way.


A large portion of the game is centered around income control. Having a superior income to your opponent means you can react and change your spawner composition more easily, and secure further gains, and ultimately, victory. Perhaps the best way to secure a good income is through each lanes essence conduit. These funnel large amounts of essence into a usable form, but must first be captured. This is achieved if you have the lane pushed further than opponent; past the tower.

Base Defense

Before one can enter the enemy base, one must first destroy their guardian towers, and connecting wall. These towers are spawns of the essence, constructed to attack any in range enemies with significant damage. In other words, as long as the stand, they will fire powerful projectiles which will always hit any attacking entity.
The rest is up to the player’s own strategy decisions, and how they choose to play within the game’s rules.

Below is a link to download the most recent version of the game. Understand it is still a very early version, and much isn’t implemented quite yet. With that said it’s still fun once you get in! Enjoy, and good luck surviving the Rivening!

(and yes I took out the thing which let you get free Kabruisers)
Download The Rivening!


"The Universe​ is a physical manifestation of Essence,​ the sentient material of creation. Whether it creates consciously or unconsciously is unknown..." This begins to explain some of the deep history and science behind the universe of The Rivening. The rest is contained in an (incomplete) lore book, which can be read at a link below. All this was conceived and written by Sam Trotter.
To the lore!

Technical aspects

In tackling a project of this scale, I learned a lot about every aspect of game design. Including modeling, organization, and of course a lot with programming. One of the areas I struggled in, and ended up leaning the most from, was graphics. Mainly in respect to generating interesting visual effect. Some of the simpler examples are the particle systems used a lot throughout the project. I wanted a glowing effect to act as the essence in many places. This required learning about blending modes, and settings associated with this.

​There are two examples I especially want to highlight. When spawning in, the idea is that the essence builds the lane connections between the islands. To show this in game, I wanted a simple, quick, phase in, where the islands, and background elements were already present. The solution would be to somehow mask out the lanes, while keeping everything else. Unity did not have a build in feature for this, so I began research into shaders. Eventually I was able to build the simple mask, and achieve the desired results.
Another effect I wanted present in the game was a constant, massive stream of essence running in the background. I had a particle effect which did the job nicely, but produced performance issues when place far away, and scaled to the size it needed to be. I came up with the solution of running the simulation in a small scale, away from the background, and rendering as a separate layer below everything else. The results work just as intended.

In reflection..

Making this page has been a great experience of reflection. At the time of writing, it’s been almost two years since we started the project in the first place. Im very proud of all we accomplished, and all I learned through the experience. Despite the lacking content, it’s a great game, or at the very least it is our own unique little unity game! This is a project I could definitely at some point revisit, and give some finishing touches it deserves.
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