I’ve spent about 12 hours in the past 2 days working on sprites for Surface in an attempt to come up with a suitable redesign for Arik- the game’s protagonist. Surface has always been a bit of a pet project for me, and I try to keep building it up exactly the way I envision it, although it’s taking me quite a long time to be satisfied with things that are probably fine to begin with.
It’s pretty hard to find inspiration anymore for things I want to do. I plow through a few indie games and find tidbits here and there that I enjoy about them and would love to incorporate in my own games. One game who’s art style stood out to me was The Blocks Cometh by Halfbot. The fact that they made a generally small size sprite with an incredibly hard (no diagonal) solid color outline look AMAZING is appealing to me, so I tried the same thing out. It became very easy to make sprites with a similar technique look very vibrant and simplistic without taking away from the aesthetics.
Anyway, point being- I think I’m finally satisfied with the hero’s base sprite, and I will continue working on his sprite sheet over the next few days.
First ever versus match on Zombie Grinder, using the new Capture the Bag game mode! Played with the programmer, myself (artist), one of our first beta testers, and a fan from the IRC chat!
I can gather from this experience, that I fucking suck at video games…
And of course, you see me walking around like a moron with my super laggy connection :P
In one of Surface’s many redesigns, we decided to go with an NES style look and feel to the game. This brought on a LOT of excellent NSF tracks from the game’s composer, Steven “surasshu” Velema. So great in fact that even after a few more visual tweaks in the game, we decided to keep original NSF soundtrack, even if the visuals no longer matched “NES” style. You can check out one of my favorite tracks here (in NSF format).
Some of those really old Surface videos from my old Youtube account. Note that this is part of it’s first incarnation. The game is slow, unrefined, and never came into it’s own this way.
Surface is a game that has been in on-and-off development since 2009. It’s really kind of hard to explain in detail how it’s evolved over the years, but the concept really shifted into it’s own unique thing.
The original idea was simple; “Mega Man” with a Bomberman looking hero who has a jet pack. It’s not that game anymore. Over time the project became more and more about “climbing back to the surface”. I couldn’t think of any better way to do that than by making the game an exploration-platformer. It made sense to me to make a game that’s the opposite of most exploration games. Instead of “starting on the surface” and “digging your way to the center”, why not start at the center and work your way up? Why is the “end boss” always at the deepest and darkest place in a game? (Blaster Master for example). I guess Cave Story kind of used the mechanic of starting from the inside and working your way out, but not quite to the same extent.
I want a game that really immerses you in exploration. Progression being about finding new things and new tasks, and less about following a straight path. I want sequence breaking, and exploits. It’s just not realistic to have one clear cut route in a game, because even in life you can take a shortcut through the woods to save you time on the trails, right? That’s what Surface is about. An exploration platformer game in the spirit of Metroid, Mega Man, Blaster Master, and all of the classics, with modernized mechanics, and without the “hold your hand step by step” crap that comes with modern games. I want the players to explore, and beat the game in their own way. I want two players to meet up and talk about how they finished the game, and compare what they did differently. It’s like the first time beating Super Metroid, only to realize that you could have bomb-jumped to get some things early. THAT is what made those games so fascinating to me.
No progress or anything to post really. Just getting this stuff squared away for now.
I had a really interesting chat with Brian Provinciano (Retro City Rampage) about some projects I have down the road and deployment methods/platforms. The man is very wise. At first I had it in my head that a good launch would be on a bundle of some sort, but he really helped me see why it’s not a good idea. I can see it for a game that’s having a dip in sales, or needing some revitalization, but for a launch it’s terrible. I really enjoy hearing what he has to say though. The fact that Retro City Rampage started as a fan game, and developed enough publicity to warrant taking it to a commercial level is fascinating to me. I’m still trying to wrap my head around the idea of actually generating a budget for a game that has no real budget to begin with. I could barely afford Minecon to help Jordan present Zombie Grinder, so I can’t even imagine what it would be like going to convention after convention out of my own pocket to present a game of mine. I think I’ll get to that point eventually.
I already know all of the right people, and everyone I work with on games are very professional and are the best at what they do. That’s a start!