Marketing material and new worlds

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This week the awesome marketing artwork was completed, so I took some time to update all the social media pages and the main Gunslugs landing page with banners and imagery. For the high-res marketing art I usually ask somebody more talented then me, cause no matter what I draw in high-res, I always see the little problems and details that I messed up and it will haunt me forever ;)

So the amazing Gunslugs2 artwork was done by Scott Tykoski, who also did the art for Heroes of Loot, Groundskeeper2 and Meganoid2.. so I guess you can say he is my go-to guy for this and I highly recommend him and you should follow him on twitter at the least!

Screenshot_2014-10-02-23-00-00Besides all the marketing work I did do a lot of stuff on the game. One interesting change I did was double the shooting speed of the main gun.. and this made the game so much more enjoyable and action packed it’s ridiculous that such a tiny change can have such an impact.  The main reason I did it, was that I found the default gun a bit lacking compared to the other weapons in the game.. well that’s fixed now ;)

I also started working on the 6th world, and based on that decided that the game will also need a 7th world. As you can see we are taking the Gunslugs up into space, instead of down into Hell like the previous game. This opens up some new idea’s and if I ever decide to do a 3rd Gunslugs game there is room for more interesting locations.

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Other work on Gunslugs2 this week was getting many small fixes done, and also putting some extra care and attention to the in-door area’s. Adding scenery to spice up the environments and make it all seem more “full”.

And finally I’ve been spending a lot of time getting the game “shops” working and adding items to them. Right now there are a couple of “shield costumes” an adrenaline kit giving you extra health, and an ammo-extender which is cheap and gives you 2 bullets extra every time you purchase it.. still some items to add, and of course ideas are welcome!

In the mean time Gavin is hard at work on the new music, the first two tunes are 99% done and will make you whistle them long after you quit the game !

As for release date, I think I missed all deadlines I gave myself so far, so I’m not even gonna talk about that yet. I still plan on doing a pc/mac demo, also to help out the Greenlight process for Steam, and I’m working as fast as I can!

I also took some time this week to give some much over due attention to one of my “older” games. Meganoid 2 was still waiting for an Ouya and FireTV release as I had a lot of requests from people to release it on those consoles.  The problem, as embarrassing as it is, was that I once started to improve the interface of the game, screwed it up, got distracted with other things, and never had the guts to dive back in and fix all the issues with it..

Even more embarrassing is that it took me only 2 or 3 hours to get the interface fixed, the game updated and working with controllers, and released.. so ..yeah.. could have done that months ago!

So be sure to check out Meganoid 2 over at Ouya or FireTV or even at Google Play ,cause it’s updated for all the latest Android versions and options, and it’s still a very fun and challenging game !

Crossing the t’s

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So after spending a week mostly campaigning for Gunslugs 2 on Steam Greenlight, I also managed to have a week full of coding and drawing.  Note: you can still vote, follow and favorite Gunslugs2 on Greenlight, so please do! All follows and favorites also help getting it on Steam, I can promise you the game is extremely playable on PC/Mac !

The current status of development feels like it’s crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s. At the end of almost every day I sit and play while taking a lot of little notes of things that need fixing, improving, changing, or sometimes removing. So that the next day I can browse the list and handle all the things I wrote down.  This play-testing is done on the Amazon Fire TV, with a Red Samurai 2 controller, and I must say this game really feels at home on a console.. can’t wait for more AndroidTV devices to hit the market soon!

Anyway, I also had a couple of people play test the game so they also had feedback on various things that I took a good look at to decide if they were right or if I was right and they are simply wrong ;)

The idea is that all these tweaks and changes hopefully make the final game in such a state that most people will appreciate it and not many complaints can be given; unless you downright don’t like games like this.

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Just a little list of the various things that got changed this last few weeks:

  • various explosions and flying particles are improved, some were to small, others were to big.
  • Enemies are now more capable of jumping over crates/objects to chase you.
  • Later enemies now carry more powerful weapons (this then required a whole new round of balancing things out)
  • changing your weapon now makes an “airy throw” noise
  • the Hell-worm from part 1 is back
  • small weapon/item shops are added, including first 4 various “shield” types
  • different weapon sounds are added/improved
  • Driving vehicles is now not limited by crates/objects, you can shoot those

And that’s just the list-size of a single day of tweaks and fixes. A lot of time is now also put into adding the shops, basically these replace the buildings from the original Gunslugs. Altho right now they are just useful and there are no hidden mini-games and such yet, I’m not sure if I’ll find time to add them in the first release version, but it’s always something fun to add in updates.  The shops are now also re-enterable as long as you don’t buy anything. So if you run into a shop and don’t have enough money, you can always go back in when you do have more coins.

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The graphics for the final world are now also on their way, so the big issues left right now is two big bosses, some new enemies for the final world, and maybe a cut scene or two and a “completed game” scene.

I’ve also been working on creating the official Gunslugs 2 website, the current one at www.gunslugs.com is more a placeholder until all the art is ready, which I’m hoping it will be next week and the new site can go online.

Gavin has found his inspiration for some of the new music, so that’s also coming together.. and it’s becoming a slightly nervous time as we near a release version!

I think that late October / early November is still a possible release date, it’s at least something I’m really targeting and working towards, so we’ll see if everything works out :)

 

Gunslugs 2 are gunning for Greenlight

This weekend I dabbled with Screenflow and started creating the teaser trailer you see above. It’s my first self-made trailer, and I’m pretty pleased with the end result. The hardest task of creating a great trailer has been finding the right tools, and I’m happy to say that Screenflow has it all, from screen recording without lag or problems, to full editing of clips, adding effects, etc.. it’s pretty cool software and the best I’ve found for osX.

Now, the main reason I created the trailer, besides having an awesome trailer, is that I decided to finally get my games onto Steam, and that means I have to get Gunslugs2 through the Greenlight process.

This basically mean that the game needs to get enough votes and attention from YOU so that I can eventually distribute the game through Steam for PC, Mac and Linux.

So please, if you want, head over to the Gunslugs 2 Greenlight page, and give it your vote:
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If you have any questions just ask them here or on Steam, and I’ll make sure to answer !

Heroes of Loot turns one, and stats

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Today my little rogue-like, dungeon-crawling, ode to Gauntlet turns exactly one year.. and it’s still going pretty strong!

One year and about 8 months ago I started working on a dungeon game with randomly generated levels, and a focus on action, with absolutely no clue of what I was doing! I never played dungeon games or even role playing games since Gauntlet in the 80’s.. and I’m not even sure if that counts as a role playing game.

I did always love the concept of having this party of adventurers roaming through dungeons, looting, fighting, and going deeper and deeper into the dungeon.

Fast forward to 8 months later, and I finished the game and released it on iPhone/iPad, Android, Blackberry, Ouya,Gamestick and PC,Mac + Linux all on the same day.

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It was a game build with many problems, I was in the middle of a home renovation happening, so I was often working on the game while literally in the same area as a couple of big guys with drills, saws, and a lot of dust flying around.

It was also a game build while money reserves were quickly declining (mostly due to a costly renovation) and this game was the only possible source of income.. so it HAD to be released, it HAD to be good, and it HAD to sell.

I was close to breaking down, waking up at 7 am (cause, workers love early hours apparently) then finally having some peace and quiet in the house after 4 pm, working until 11 am, going to bed, hopefully sleep, and at 7 am I had to start it all over again.

But Heroes of Loot got made, it got released, and it did amazing. A huge relieve after 8 months of working on it, and I’m fortunate to say that it did recoup those 8 months of work and more.

Today the sales on iOS are close to 1 or 2 copies a day, but on Android it still sees anywhere between 10 and 40 copies sold a day.  I honestly have no idea what the total sales are, I don’t really look at all the stats that often. A ballpark figure would be about 65.000 sales on all platforms combined (this includes price-cuts, etc).  With at least 300k downloads of free versions and “free for a day” downloads combined..

But most importantly, the game has great ratings on all markets.

Since the release, I also put the game on Amazon FireTV, and last month I released Heroes of Loot on ChromeOS (works in Chrome browser on any system and also on Chromebooks). If that wasn’t enough, last Wednesday Heroes of loot got a spot in the Humble Bundle mobile 7.  And finally the game is still set to make a showing on PS Vita, altho I have no clue on when or how as I don’t have that much to do with, or even interest in, the Vita stuff.

Heroes of Loot turned out to be one of my biggest games ever, a game in a genre that I never play or create.. It was an awesome first year.. and who knows what the next year will bring?

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Casual throwing

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And another week closer to releasing Gunslugs 2 !  This week was mostly about doing more small changes and tweaks that polish the final game, and also adding the opening animation that basically sets-up the game story.

First of all, I’ve also been doing some updating and work on my other games, as this week saw the one year anniversary of Heroes of Loot (actually, TODAY!) and a cool way to celebrate that is by having it in the latest mobile Humble Bundle! so if you still haven’t tried it, this bundle could be a great way of getting your hands on the game and a few other awesome games in the process.

But back to the game that is currently keeping me from goodnight sleep: Gunslugs 2..

So using the game-engine and all the stuff that I’ve added to it, it was remarkably easy to get some cool stuff going for the opening animation. I’m fearing that it might annoy some people due to it being slightly longer than my usual animations, but I hope they’ll soon forget about that when they are dropped into the actual game.

Besides the animation is only “forced” on you once, and you’ll never have to see it again after that!

I’ve also been working on the weapons, and I decided to visually show which weapon the player is holding. This turned out pretty cool, especially when you are carrying a rocket-launcher which is basically as big as your head!  But the flame-thrower also looks pretty sweet as you carry it on your back.

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To make all that even cooler, I also made the slugs “casually” throw away their old weapon when they pick up a new one.. it really looks cool!

Further more a bunch of little effects have been tweaked, improved, and added (like a muzzle-flash when you shoot).

I’m now slightly worried that the game is becoming a bit on the heavy side for slower android devices, there’s really a lot of stuff happening on screen.. but I’ll do some tests later and see how that turns out. Most 2012+ devices should have no problem running it I guess.

Let’s just wrap up this post with a sneak peek at the openings-scene, and get back to work!

Movie references

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After last weeks “week of bosses”  this week was all about the small stuff. The little details on basically everything in the game. Graphical effects, sound effects, balancing and bug fixing!

I’ve also been working on the 2 player co-op mode. This is mostly doing a lot of testing to make sure the environment and monsters all interact with both players.  For example, the first few runs all the enemy bullets just ignored player 2, and doors didn’t function for player two when player one was near (the door would notice player 1 and thus completely ignore player 2!).

Most of that is all minor stuff and easily fixed, and sadly for you guys, it’s not interesting enough to make screenshots or video’s from!

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Luckily, on top of all that, I’ve been adding short animations/cut-scenes to the game to make it all even more epic and action packed!

I also finalized on how the process of your energy and rescued hostages works.  Every building in the game has one of the Gunslugs locked up in a cage (only those you actually unlocked game wise).  When you rescue that Gunslugs, you become that character and your life energy is refilled.

Each character also comes with his/her own weapon and possibly some other statistics need tweaking (running speed, or how enemy bullets react to you to name a few).

All in all I’m very pleased with the progress made the last few weeks. I’ve managed to play a co-op game, and also did a solo-run lasting well over an hour and only just passed the half-way point of the game.. not bad!

Some things on the ToDo are: creating the graphics for the area six outside and inside levels,  creating the two (or three) final bosses, improving the weapons and keep play-testing the game!

 

Nearing a playable product

Welcome to the week of big bosses!

For those who follow me on twitter you already know what I’ve been up to this week. I’ve been creating various end of level bosses, and managed to get four done which means I still have at least two to go (with the option of adding another area to the game, requiring yet another boss).

The above video is a bit of a spoiler, but I also plan on keeping the other bosses a secret for as long as possible, so don’t worry.. it’s not a big spoiler you’ll see this boss pretty early in the game anyway ;)

The bosses vary from still-standing, to fast moving and even a multi-part boss. It’s been really fun process of creating them, the only real problem I had was coming up with new designs every-time.

I actually create the bosses by first drawing them, and usually while I draw them, the ideas on how it should move and act automatically start flowing. After I draw the full boss, I look at splitting him up into various separate parts, and then I start writing the code to make it all work in the game.

Besides the bosses I’ve also done many other tweaks and improvements. One such small detail is the fact that all enemies now have a similar “black duck army” hat making them look more organized !

As for the game flow, I’m still pondering about the missions and as you can see from the video above right now the missions are not even shown. The way I had the missions, didn’t really add to the game in anyway. It was just a mission description that basically said “take down the towers” or “save 3 hostages” which all boil down to you running through the level, killing everything, and flying out at the end of the level..  which you also do if there are no missions.. so: pointless!

So perhaps I’ll go back to the original Gunslugs mission objectives, and have them as a little extra besides the normal gameplay.. or perhaps I’ll just have no missions at all, the game won’t be less fun or less interesting if I remove them.

Finally, I’m getting a lot of questions on “when is it released!?”, which is cool cause that means you people wanna play this, but really, I don’t know when it’s done!  Possibly still at the end of this year (2014), but since this game is already growing in scope, it will also require more time to port it to all the various platforms and test those versions.

Also there are still a bunch of things I have to add and implement. The weapons right now are just silly and don’t make much difference, also the characters all pretty much play the same right now, and the whole coin collecting thing is pretty much pointless cause right now nothing is being done with the coins! :D

So many things I still need to do and work on, and that’s excluding ideas I have as “extra” that I’d love to add but haven’t even started on yet..

so.. it’s done when it’s done! I’m working as fast as I can ;)   You can, and you should, sign up to the Orangepixel newsletter if you don’t wanna miss the release or possibly early playable demos or early access thingies.. who knows ;)

Glueing it all together

Screenshot_2014-08-06-10-48-32So up to this point I have mostly been creating content.. lots and lots of content. From level graphics to enemies, special effects, characters, all that funky stuff.

During the development of Groundskeeper2 and Heroes of Loot I noticed that having a lot of content makes it easier to streamline your gameplay and gameflow. So when I started working on Gunslugs 2 I knew I had to try and test my theory.

So now that I have all this content, it’s time to glue it all together.  In Gunslugs 1 I used the missions mostly as a fun trigger for people to keep playing and trying to complete all objectives. For this game, the whole game-flow will come from the missions. Even though there are all these levels and worlds, your progress is dictated by how you complete the missions.

So, for example, unlocking the Wasteland area is done by completing the “stop the train” mission. Which then opens up new and harder missions that take place in the Wasteland area.

This structure also allows me to easily make you go back to earlier area’s, adding more difficult enemies that weren’t there the first time you got to play the area. As you can imagine, this extends the value of the game as you get to play a much bigger game.  I’ll just have to make sure the missions don’t feel too much like a boring grind.

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So while working on the missions screen, it turned into a part of the actual game where you could just run around the “Command H.Q.” bunker and talk to the general to get your mission. I then took that a bit further and made Command HQ the game interface.

So all unlocked (rescued) Gunslugs characters will walk around, and you can swap to any of them on your next mission.  There will also be a jukebox to change the sound settings, and I plan on adding things to change the controls and to check your achievements/leaderboards.

The cool thing (warning: tech-nerd stuff) is that this whole hub runs as any other level in the game. So I could even drop in a little enemy or two if you hang around Command HQ for to long. I could place a tank in there at random, and you can drive around… I won’t.. but I could !

Sadly no new gameplay video yet, I hope to have one early next week with some of the mission stuff in there and of course Command HQ!

 

Gunslugs 2 big progress

Just noticed how long it has been since my last update on Gunslugs2 !  I do have a good excuse tho, few weeks of vacation, some side projects and basically it’s summer! so I work less :p

But, that doesn’t mean Gunslugs 2 work slowed down to a halt, far from it, look at the above video showing a lot of new content and let me walk you through it.

A bunch of new game area’s are now added. The jungle, The himalaya, changes to the Wasteland and Wild wild west, and of course the original “the docks” is also still in the game.

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The jungle comes with some nice rain effects, the further in the game the harder it rains. I’ve also started adding bigger scenery pieces like the huge statues. The one in the jungle is especially cool cause you actually walk underneath it’s right arm, and on top of his left hand.. it’s in the details!

Further more I started adding a few extra weapons like the rocket launcher, double-gun, flamethrower, grenades, really just the stuff that was also in the original Gunslugs but updated and improved. Most of the weapons still need some tweaking, right now they do about the same amount of damage.

A bunch of new enemies and obstacles also shows up in the above video, like the cool lasers in the jungle buildings, or the mech-ball thingies in the himalaya.

The character unlocking is also in there for some testing, I think I’ve seen this mechanic in Broforce and was very much in love with it. Rescue a character, and then you play as that character with your energy refilled. It’s a cool life system, so I might keep it.. we’ll see!

Next phase is glueing all the content together. I’m thinking about giving the player missions which you have to complete in order to unlock the next mission, the next world, the next character, etc.  So it will be a slightly different mission setup as the original Gunslugs had, but it will also give players a better feeling of progression in the game (I hope).

My aim is to have the game completed this year, the August/September deadline won’t be made, cause there is simply a lot of stuff I have to add to the game and I don’t plan on rushing this one as it’s really becoming something special and huge !

 

 

The tweaking process

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So where are the Gunslugs2 updates?!?!  wellllll.. this is one? But it’s not a movie or anything like that, just this boring text blog… oh and the above screenshot which shows the Wild Wild West level with a different color scheme, cause I found the purple-pinkish colors becoming too much like a candy cane setting… yuck!

With Gunslugs2 I tried to do a new approach on developing the game, what I learned from Groundskeeper2 and Heroes of Loot before that, is that it’s easier to tweak and build your game, if you have a lot of content already working and completed.  So I set out to create a bunch of content, and then work them all into the game while I balance and tweak the gameplay.

So the first few weeks of development was mainly generating content, drawing a couple of worlds, creating game settings, creating enemies, writing the code for the enemies, and basically doing the rough outlines of the game (level transitions, inside/outside levels, etc).

That is the stage where it’s easy to show new awesome stuff, so the early video’s already showed many things happening, but they also revealed there was very little balancing going on.

After the content-generation is done, we now enter the less interesting weeks: tweaking, balancing gameplay, and placing enemies and hope it all makes for a fun experience.

Right now my main area of concern is the game flow, I don’t enjoy the running/shooting experience as it currently is. Again with Heroes of Loot and Groundskeeper2 I was really worried about the gameplay and got frustrated with my self for taking so long to figure it all out.. but I do believe that both those games ended up being near-perfect for what I tried to create. So the time “wasted” on trying various gameplay changes is worth it.

I’m probably very uptight about this stuff, but I do believe it’s part of what make my games recognized as “Orangepixel” games.

What I basically do is play this unfinished goo we call “Gunslugs2 prototype” over and over as if it was a finished game. And in my mind I keep making notes about things that frustrate me. For example, every time I played I was getting pretty pissed off that crates took 4-5 bullets to break up, it just didn’t feel right and seemed to slow a process. The problem is of course that using only 1 bullet is also a no-go cause then you can’t ever use crates to hide behind or jump on cause you’ll shoot them before you even see them. So I tweaked it to now just take 2-3 bullets and it feels better…. for now.

It’s really a million details like this that I’ll be going over before this game sees a release date!

My current frustration is a more difficult one tho. At some play-through’s I enjoy the game as it is, but in others I feel it’s either not interesting enough, maybe because of it being too slow, or maybe other things being too fast.. it’s not something I have pinned down yet, but something has to change.

So the next step is redoing the level generator and completely rewriting how enemies/obstacles are placed and coming at you, and how many at a single time. I have to figure out the right pace for this game, the speed at which a person should play it, and then make sure the player is aware of that speed subconsciously, the rhythm and heartbeat of the gameplay which, in my opinion, is in every game.