The Curious Case of Bullet Force

How one teenager is making a fascinating online first-person shooter for mobile

Bullet Force
Lucas Wilde

If you want to know how far along game development has come in the past decade or so, Bullet Force is proof.  In 2006, Call of Duty was still a World War II shooter and hadn't dramatically altered the FPS landscape by going to modern combat. Multiplayer on the previous generation of consoles was not a guarantee because of the difficulty of net code. Heck, the idea of playing a full-fledged first-person shooter with online play on the go was only coming to fruition through the PSP and Nintendo DS, with limited titles available that could do that.

Flash forward a decade later, and we have games like Bullet Force. This is a modern warfare first-person shooter, on mobile, with full-fledged online play against other players. Oh, and this game was made by an 18-year-old who just graduated high school named Lucas Wilde.

Feel old yet?

Bullet Force is impressive in large part because it's made in Unity by a teenager, but the game itself is pretty solid. It tackles a lot of the genre standards, with maps that take place outside, with scenarios like offices and prisons that come into play as well. Multiplayer is the core game mode here, with team deathmatch, point-control conquest, and gun game modes available. And this all takes place in 20-person matches. The game is fun, if not a bit standard, but that's fine. It knows what it's doing and is trying to be a fun game for people who want a fun, standard first-person shooter on mobile. I've enjoyed playing it in early builds as it's come along.

The visuals have dramatically improved, and the game feels better with each update. It might not win any awards, but the developer won a scholarship to attend Apple's World Wide Developer Conference in 2016.

It's Come A Long Way

What this all shows is that game development has come such a long way. Engines like Unity allow developers to create titles that otherwise would have taken large teams months if not years to create and to do so with less manpower and less work.

In fact, the scale has shifted so much that as we see, anyone with enough will to do so can make the online first-person shooter of their dreams. Especially considering that Unity is free to try out, and is accessible to those who don't know programming. I've talked to one of the developers at Naquatic who said that he didn't know how to program when he first started making games in Unity. While programming helps, and any game development is going to impart some understanding of coding, the barrier to entry is not "you need to know how to code." This game should be inspirational, that anyone can make a promising and fun game, no matter who they are.

The other thing that's fascinating about Bullet Force is the way that social media and streaming plays a role in the game's development. Lucas Wilde has all throughout development interacted with players of the beta version of the game on Twitter, regularly crowdsourcing information on desired features, and getting feedback from the crowd on how changes to builds are performing. He even has a dedicated audience of fans on platforms like Mobcrush – I've streamed the game and gotten some of his fans who have shown up, and seen people excited when he pops into an unrelated stream.

There's a good chance he's better at marketing games than many other developers are, too.

It's Impressive

And that's part of why this is so fascinating. It's not just that it's an impressive game made by one teenager. It's the fact that you have a developer who's using powerful tools – both concrete in terms of development and more ethereal in terms of marketing – to help make a game and get the word out to players. And not only is the game a fun first-person shooter, but it's rather inspiring because for anyone who says they want to make a game, well, this guy's making a game he loves for an admiring audience while he's in an exciting time of his life.

What's stopping you, or anyone else?

Bullet Force is available in early access on Google Play.

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