What happens when you are in dire need of testing your videogame, but most locals festivals and showcases won’t approve you because your game does not have snazzy pixel art, or are so prohibitively expensive you neither have the funds nor the will to participate just to garner some ersatz sense of legitimacy?
Well, you improvise.
Now that In Extremis is (believe it or not) nearing it’s launch date, I though it would be a good idea to warm you up, my phantom audience, with a sample of interesting, challenging, or just plain weird shoot’em ups that I played in the last couple of years. Some are free, some are not, some are hidden in dark corners of the internet. I’m focusing on more obscure or overlooked stuff, so don’t expect Jamestown or Ikaruga on this list (even though is you duty as a decent human being to play Ikaruga). Onwards to the shmuppery, then:
During the cycle of development of this game, one of the toughest challenges was to be recognized in gameplay terms alone; it never helped that, early one, INX looked uglier than sin on a Christmas Day. So, let’s go back in time a bit, and see the graphical evolution of the game in these past few years, to the pont it is now:
During the three-and-a-half-years-oh-dear-god-why-this-never-ends cycle of developing In Extremis, I’ve acquired the habit of saving anything visually interesting for further reference down the line. This started back in 2013, when the overall ideas for each stage aesthetic choices were still being sketched; during those days, me and my project supervisor made a short internet experiment where people would go in a website and associate keywords with images and music. A ton of interesting visuals were chosen for this activity, and some mood boards were assembled to set the tone of the stages (you can check them here, even though in the end of the day they were not that useful for the project).
Those boards were not nearly enough to clear a vision, as in the years that follow those visuals shifted toward several directions, and my collection of links only grew. So, since development is finally reaching its final leg (yes!), I though about sharing some of that cooler stuff around here:
Being on Greenlight for about two weeks now, and coming out of a tough and frustrating media blitz attempt, only served to confirm some of my early suspicions about the necessity of visuals to properly make a splash and be noted in the Post-Apocalyptic Candyland of Indiegamia. Though as of right now, there is really nice art coming along to INX, the imperative of beauty in marketing is still something that bugs me, though it isn’t surprising at all.
In the spirit of that, I’m showing today something I have been meaning for a long time; In Extremis production sketches. They are not concept in the sense of “pretty stuff with very little to do with the game in itself” and more like “rough and tumble sketches that were invaluably useful in the making of the game”. Click to zoom in, and don’t mind the coffee stains:
These past few months were quite rocky, to put it mildly.
The game is still alive, of course, and there are some Bigcoming this way. I started this blog, way over a year ago, in order to share thoughts and ideas about the development of , and now that I am in the verge of the final stage of the game development, I think I need to clear the gap behind those previous intentions, and where I am right now.
All right, this one has been a long time coming; take it as a long-delayed letter of intentions not only describing the ethos of In Extremis, but my own values as a game designer. The current ones, at least, since my own longtime interest at videogames imply a constant change of perspective. So, the question is the perennial elephant in the room in the history of the medium; what the hell videogames are? (more…)
One of the reasons I think that the genre of the shoot’em ups haven’t seen a revival in the past few years has to do with an adherence to tradition. Most attempts at modern shmup-making veers on the side of homages, sometimes sticking too close at the established rules of the genre, without producing something truly new.
Now, for most people, shmups are simple affairs; usually, every starting coder first project is usually a space blaster of some kind. But the simplicity of implementation does not mean simplicity of design. When researching the origins of the genre in the beggining of development (shmups.com forums were incredibly useful at that time) , I was found out a series of unwritten rules most (good) shooters often apply. Since my goal was to make a shmup that was truly for contemporary audiences, i’ll try to look over what those rules are, and what I am trying to make different in this project.
Lately, I’ve been tweaking the difficulty setting for In Extremis, which caused me to meditate not only on the concept of challenge in games, but also on the need for it. Difficulty is a treasured topic for me, because it often presents itself as the main barrier of accessibility for people new to videogames. In fact, there are even people suggesting that challenge should be entirely removed, if only to make the medium of videogames more accessible. Well, I could not disagree more; as challenge is not only the soul of games, but perhaps, of art itself.