Hey guys! Wow! It's been a pretty crazy week for us! Not only did Kristy, Natalie, and I spend all Wednesday night (and Thursday morning) setting up for the Artspace Hamilton Grand Opening (Kristy and I live there and I'm the chairman of the resident committee) but then, after spending all day Thursday actually at that event, I took a Greyhound at 3am to Louisville, KY for IdeaFestival!Read More
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Oh boy, oh boy, OH BOY! Radarkanoid is finally out! It's finally here. It's finally... well... done! We'd made Radarkanoid as part of the Kentucky Fried Pixels game jam last month (it was a month-long jam). The finished games that were part of the jam also made it on to a bundle, where 50% of the profits go to help Louisville Makes Games, a 501c(3) charity that helps Kentucky game developers live the dream!Read More
Bam! No intro! Getting right into it! Buckle in, because you're in for a long one! So, believe it or not, we're almost done with Radarkanoid. Up until recently, there was one big bug. Yup, just the one. Since Radarkanoid was intended to be a small, free game for you all to enjoy (and a bit of a passion project of mine personally, though I'll get into that in a bit), we figured that spending a couple weeks trying to fix said bug was just too long. This was especially true since it was being done to not only get Kristy into the swing of things (she is still a student after all) in a similar manner to what we did with Dante and FlyGuy (though that's a story for another time), but she had also just taken over on Collapsus and reach a fairly large bug in that as well. A break was needed. Of course, having a side project become as stressful as a main project just won't do. So, she took a break from Radarkanoid and jumped back into Collapsus. Well, since her schedule got a bit more hectic these past few days, she decided to pick Radarknoid back up rather than putting in half measures on Collapsus. This seemed to do the trick and it should be fully done here very soon!
Anyway, I wanted to take this time to get into the history and inspiration behind Radarkanoid. Oh yes, even Radarkanoid has "history" and "inspiration" like everything else around here. Remember me talking about "the Phonebook" here on the blog or in interviews? Well, if not, here's the skinny: throughout the 11 years Wraith has been operating, we've not worked on all that many games (mostly due to the fact that we became a full-time business only last year). Well, that's not entirely true I guess. See, in the first two or three years we worked on a metric boat-load of smaller prototypes (Collapsus and FlyGuy prototypes among them), that we released online for free, but they don't count because A) they were never meant to be "real" games B) they sucked and C) hey, we were still just high school students then (not that high schoolers can't make amazing games... we just couldn't).
In this time, as lead designer, I've come up with countless ideas, big and small, and put them into a "book" (really just a text document) that the team lovingly refers to as "The Phonebook", due to how thick it would be if published (well, slight exaggeration... probably). So there are a lot (and I mean a lot) of games that I want to see done at some point. This isn't even including all of the projects that other team members want to do! We have enough projects to last us a lifetime... and growing!
As you can probably guess, Radarkanoid is one of these projects. No one ever said they had to be "big" games on the list, did they? In fact, on several occasions it has been suggested that we have some sort of imprint (for lack of a better word) within Wraith just to handle smaller, cheaper (or downright free) games. In 2007 we thought about calling it "Wraith Arcade" and in 2012 "Wraith Minis". Heck, we even announced Minis in 2012 as an actual thing that we never did anything with (oddly enough, including a revived FlyGuy that we actually released, and the concept for Radarkanoid and Cave Worm, all the way back then). That idea seems doomed, to be honest. The imprint, not the smaller games. Just putting a label on them kind of deprioritizes them or something. So why not just make them and not need to label it? Sounds good to us!
Knowing that Radarkanoid is an old idea finally taking form isn't unusual knowing us, so lets get into the nitty gritty of "why Radarkanoid?" As in: "what's so special about this particular game that made it a 'must do' at some point"? Well, to be honest, it was kind of the perfect storm of ideas for me. As you may know, the name is a portmanteau of "radial" and "Arkanoid". Radial because the paddle goes around in a circle and Arkanoid, Taito's popular 1986 spiritual successor to Atari's 1976 staple, Breakout. It's a "block breaker" game in a circle. Pretty self-explanatory, no? Well, it's not even that simple.
The "radial" part also has its inspiration. That would be Andrzej Kapolka's classic, Radial Pong. What? You haven't heard of Radial Pong? Well, you must have not been frequenting the popular old school website Albino Blacksheep in 2002, then! Yup, I was inspired directly by an old web game that most people probably don't even remember. Yeah, I know I'm weird. It's a pretty cool little game, though. It's Pong (obviously), but in a circle (*gasp*). Yeah, I know, I know. But yeah, it was a pretty neat idea. Since Breakout started out as a way to capitalize on Pong, but in a single player format, it seemed only right to take Radial Pong and do the same. That's pretty much it for the gameplay, but why dos it look like a piece of old machinery, you may ask? Well, that's the next part of the story!
All this, for Tennis for Two. It's certainly a weird game. It was made by physicist William Higinbotham using an oscilloscope. A freakin' oscilloscope. For those who don't know, an oscilloscope is a voltage tester kind of like a more complicated multimeter (also called a "DMM"). I'm simplifying, but yeah. Think about that a physicist makes a video game in 1958... 14 years before Pong. Freaking PONG!!! That was 58 years ago! That's hardcore! Sorry about that, I get excitable sometimes. Well, as you can see, it has a very distinct look to it. That's because of how it displays images. It's not really like pixels or polygons today. Seeing it in motion is really cool: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s2E9iSQfGdg
As you can see, the look of not only Tennis for Two, but the hardware it's played on had a huge influence on how Radarkanoid looks. In addition to that, another inspiration was actual radar equipment.With the fact that an oscilloscope already looks a bit like a radar screen and that it is named "Radar"kanoid, I looked at a lot of radar images for reference, as well.
"Okay, okay", I can hear you say. That's the end of it, right? Well, no, sorry to say. There are a couple other places of inspiration on this one. As you can probably tell, Radarkanoid's gameplay graphics don't really line up with Arkanoid, Radial Pong, or Tennis for Two. Well that's because they're more closely inspired by the vector graphics for some old arcade games, and more specifically, 1982's home console oddity, the Vectrex!
The Vectrex is, in my opinion, one seriously strange and awesome piece of gaming hardware (of course, I think the same about the Virtual Boy, of which I own one, so I may just be strange myself).
It was a home console with a built-in vector monitor. Vector graphics are different from what you may be used to because they're generally only one color and are very crisp, glowing, geometric shapes. Oscilloscopes are actually vector monitors, but unfortunately Tennis for Two didn't look anything like (or anywhere near as good as, in my opinion) the good ol' Vectrex!
So that's it? Nope. But we are getting very close. I would be remiss if I didn't mention another piece of inspiration, the Fallout series' trusty Pip-Boy! More accurately, even though I did take some inspiration from the Pip-Boy directly (obviously) most of where they got their inspiration from is where I drew my inspiration from directly as well, rather than me just looking at a Pip-Boy and doing that. No, this was more indirect. Last year, leading up to Fallout 4's release the ShoddyCast had a contest to Fallout-ify their logo. This was my submission (I do still occasionally do freelance graphic design, after all):
Sadly, I didn't win... but I did have a blast making it! When it came time to work on Radarkanoid, instead of going with a pixelart aesthetic like I had originally planned on doing years ago, I actually thought about the historic context of my influences and used the same texturing techniques I did for this logo. I am a huge gaming history nerd, after all ("Nah, we never would have guessed"). Here's what it looks like now... we're pretty sure this is how it will look on final release here soon (or at least, very, very close):
What do you think? It was a real journey; quite a fun one, too! It really goes to show you what goes into even a really simple project! Heck, don't get me started on the pop art influences in Collapsus! Anyway, I've rambled for quite some time now and development does still need to get done. Later days!
Last week we had artist extraordinaire Lance T. Miller and The One True Eric (Eric Baxter) of Nerdyish Things (yes, our part-time blog writer, Eric) in to kick this mural's butt! It seems to be coming along really well, if I do say so myself! It's really cool to look at the wall and see all of the cool stuff from games you've worked on (or plan to work on for some of them) sprawled out in front of you. It's just so awesome! Like, in the literal sense: it just fills you with awe! Okay, well it does for me anyway. Take a look:
Pretty nice, huh? It's really coming along. Only a little more sketching to do (probably another day's work worth) and then we're outlining the sketch with Sharpie. After that's the paint! Really no clue how long it'll take in total, but it hopefully won't be too long now.
That's pretty much all the news on the mural side of things. Now on to the blog news.
It's been about half a year since we started doing weekly blogs. It seems to have been a huge success! Before, blog posts were random and there was little incentive to even do them at all most of the time. This weekly format really makes us think about what we're posting and get something of value out of it. So, we're pretty sure we're going to continue this format for the foreseeable future. If it ain't broke and whatnot. Well, if we're just going to keep doing what we've been doing, what's this part about? Well I wanted to talk briefly about some things we want to be doing with the blog in the near future. A teaser, of sorts.
As you probably know, we've started up two ongoing series about the industry recently: "Where Do I Get Started" and "11 Things We've Learned from 11 Years in Game Development". We should have some new posts in both of those series here soon. The cool thing about those is that it (hopefully) won't just be me and/or Eric. We're trying to get not only the rest of the team doing little snippets on them, but also maybe some guest spots from other developers we know as well. Wouldn't that be cool?!
Other than that, we have a few other posts planned. We want to do a postmortem on both the mural & the studio remodel as a whole, a few more random development posts (for Collapsus, Physix, and Radarkanoid), a Radarkanoid launch post, a Radarkanoid postmortem, a couple posts about the status of the Collapsus weekly builds (when they're going on), at least one post leading up to the Collapsus Kickstarter, a Collapsus Kickstarter postmortem, a Collapsus Greenlight post, and maybe a few more Collapsus posts as well (like for the console releases, Arcade Edition, "weird ports", DLC, promotions, and the like). Then we shift into more Physix, JPH, and Cave Worm posts, but those are a while off.
Now, setting aside the 50 million development posts I just mentioned, you can also expect a post on the shirt making process, a post on the interviews we've been in recently, a post about making our old (crappy) game; FlyGuy, a post about our old (crappier) pre-FlyGuy games, a few posts about events we're either going to be at or breakdowns after we come back from them, a few posts about the game jam we're trying to organize, and hopefully a lot more (we are doing 52 blog posts a year, after all! That's a lot of air time to fill). There's even a few secret posts we have planned that we can't quite talk about, but we're sure you'll love!
There's just so many cool ideas we have ready to spring on you... so just stay tuned!
So, we decided to take a little break from Radarkanoid (though we've still been working on it sporadically) because A. both Kristy and I are sick (and we're the only ones working on it) and B. we wanted to prevent burn out of such a small project (there are some um... "interesting" code/math problems that we're overcoming and since it was supposed to be a quick project, it was more than a bit frustrating, to say the least. We'll get it, though).
In the meantime, we're back to Collapsus (though, to be honest, we never stopped, we were working on it in tandem with Radarkanoid). Most of what we're doing right now is actually work on the Versus mode. You know, the Versus mode. Like Puzzle League, Tetris Friends, Puzzle Fighter or Puyo Pop. Those are all really, really solid games on their own, but having a Versus mode really brought them to the next level (no pun intended)!
Collapsus is already a pretty content-dense game as is, and at risk of invoking feature creep, we feel that such a mode is just too awesome not to include. Aw, who are we kidding! Feature creep has been an issue day 1 of the project back when we started it in 2006. A decade. Huh. Wow. Now I feel old. Anyway...
How we have the versus in Versus mode working is the better you do, the more "junk blocks" go over and clutter your opponents' field. Yup, note that apostrophe placement. It's not a typo. We're working with (at least) up to 6-player battles! Maybe even more, if we can. Still testing the waters on that one. So yeah... as I was saying: junk blocks are kind of a staple in the multiplayer puzzle genre and with the mechanics we use in Collapsus, it just felt right to use them.
We originally had the junk blocks be just singles, just like any other block and regardless of who sent them (or what field they were on) they'd be the same color. We figured after a while that both of those ideas were a bit dull, so we're experimenting with junk blocks that merge into one-another, complete with color coded, per-field aesthetic!
Yeah, we know, as has been pointed out on Twitter, it kind of looks like a pair of underwear, but more patterns are made depending on how they're merged, this is just a coincidence :P
We think it's pretty sleek. The version of the screen with even more players will have a bit of a different layout (and multiplayer is only available on devices with screens that can comfortably support it, as well), but this is a good guideline of how it'll probably look.
On top of that, in our design room (and over Twitter) we've been discussing how we may do a chat feature. Seems that emotes may be a fun way to do it. We should have some of those early ideas up on Twitter soon.
It's all pretty cool stuff, if you ask us! We're trying to keep these matches pretty frenetic and interesting without altering much of the core gameplay that those who have played it have grown to love. Like, why would we make it too drastically different and still call it Collapsus!? That'd be crazy! So, for the most part, other than the addition of junk blocks and new power-ups (which we'll get to in a later article) we've tweaked some of the original power-ups to do things to your opponents as well in addition to their normal, single-player effects. We're keeping the transition simple. Collapsus is best when it's simple!
We can't wait to get something playable out to you (probably in the form of our free, online weekly builds) but we'll probably have a new trailer before that. After the weekly builds start, hopefully (again, hopefully) we can get that Kickstarter campaign out the door and then working on the mode specific trailers after that. So exciting!
We hope that you can't wait to see (and play) it as much as we can't wait to give it to you! Next week: Something completely different (probably)!
Believe it or not, it's a game that I've been wanting to get done for quite some time(before Physix, in fact) but never got around to doing because other, larger projects ended up taking not only my time, but the rest of the studio's as well. It was conceived as one of a few smaller, free games that were just sort of neat experiments that I felt had to be made, even if they weren't earth-shattering by any means.
We put these up on Twitter last week mostly because I was trucking away on the art before Kristy got to working on the programming. That's right, this time there are only two of us on this unlike Colalpsus and Physix. Just me and Kristy. Told you it was a small project! We really don't want to waste to many people working on such a small, few game. How else would our big titles get done!?
I eventually got to something looking like this. Pretty neat, huh? Well, like with the gameplay inspirations, the graphics have a lot of hidden inspiration, so you'll just have to wait until the postmortem to hear about them. Ain't I just a tease?
After that, we started working on some powerups. Currently we've got one that gives you an extra paddle, a paddle extender, multi-ball, a burning ball and, of course, an extra life! The game's all here! We may add, change, and/or omit some of these, just for now, these seem pretty solid!
Anyway, on with the show! As you probably know, we're trying to get Collapsus ported to pretty much anywhere that'll have it: PC (hopefully Steam, GOG and the Humble Store especially!) Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, Windows phone, Fire tablet, web browser (mainly Kongregate and Newgrounds), 3DS, and Wii U just to name a few! Today, though, I wanted to talk about some of the, um, "weirder" aspects of Collapsus distribution.
Firstly, I'd like to talk about the Arcade versions, since we've mentioned them at various points before. Progress on the dedicated cabinet that's going to Arcade Legacy is going smoothly but slowly. I have a bit of experience with arcade cabinets not only with me being a collector of vintage cabinets, but also having also built my own MAME machine. That's one of the big reasons we're shooting for an arcade release. I (all of us, really) LOVE classic arcade machines! To be honest, it's all pretty simple stuff, but it's a pretty big investment of both time and money. It'll be done when it's done, I guess.
We're also trying to make a build for the Winnitron Arcade Network. It's mostly going to be a port of Versus mode with more of a focus on local multiplayer, as per Winnitron's specifications. It'll join other multiplayer variants of awesome indie games like Super Crate Box and Canabalt.
As for smart watches, we're trying to get a Pebble build out, especially with the new "Time" and "Round" featuring color displays... but we're also doing a greyscale version for the "Classic" and "Steel", of course. This desire comes from the fact that the Pebble version of Tetris is surprisingly awesome and I love playing it to kill time. So why not Collapsus, too? Hopefully we can get it on other smart watches as well, but since we don't have access to them (as of right now) we'll just have to wait and see.
Then there's the Ti-83 calculator! Oh my, the Ti-83. You remember the old Ti-83, right? It was simply the best graphing calculator for so long and it's still used today! Heck, one of the coolest things about them were the games and programs! There were tons of awesome games on a calculator of all things. It was crazy! Anyway, it'd just be pretty awesome, no? One of the biggest reasons we want to do this is because we have a friend how actually made a pretty awesome Rubik's Cube solver for it back when we were in school. Part of me is just hoping we can convince him to be the one to make it so I get a chance to work on it with him.
Well, what could be next after that? Why retro consoles, of course! I have a pretty big retro collection myself, but two of the neatest retro consoles to still sport indie games are the Dreamcast and Game Boy. Heck, the Dreamcast actually gets a couple games every year to this day! It's pretty sweet. As for the Game Boy, how cool would it be to play Collapsus on the old grey brick! If possible, we'd love to do ports on the NES, SNES, Genesis... anything that we can do, really! Yes, even the Virtual Boy (we actually own one if we wanted to do tests :P )
Last, but not least, I guess, is the original kindle. Seriously. Not the Fire (though we are making a release for that... it's even what we demo'd it on at OGDE) but the original Kindle eReader! When we found out that Settlers of Catan has a version running on the original Kindle (I'm not kidding, take a look: http://www.catan.com/game/catan-for-amazon-kindle) we realized we had to try! No other reason than because it would be neat.
So... that's a bit of a write up on some of the unusual places we want to release Collapsus. Some of them we're actually making 100% sure we're doing and other's may just be flights of fancy that may not come to fruition. Either way, none of these non-standard releases are taking time away from the development of the core game. One thing's for sure, though: no matter where Collapsus shows up, you can bet it'll be a fun time!
Hey guys! I know it's kind of unusual to see a blog post from us that's not on a Monday, but I figured that since we're competing for App of the Year, it would be best to get this out while all eyes are on us. Over the past couple weeks I introduced the uninitiated to the history of Collapsus and an exploration of what'll be in the game when it's released. This time around, I want to write an article about our development process and where we go up through release. Sound good? Lets get started!
Unity's been pretty reliable for us and as such, we've been getting quite a lot done, having the core gameplay (bar a few bugs) entirely playable at this point (as those of you who played it at OGDE can attest). After that, we started working on getting the new power-ups working. This involved working on a new system called the power-up "Dock" and making some really cool (and useful) effects!
As for additions, we've added a new way to interact with certain power-ups. Things like the Switch, Shuffle, Splash, Time-Up and Time Freeze blocks are now added to an "inventory" of sorts when broken that can be clicked on and used at a later time. Shown below next to the "Level Banner" and the Score:
Pretty nice! In addition to all that, as well as all of the consoles we're releasing on, we're in the process of working on a physical arcade cabinet that should be going up at Cincinnati's own "Arcade Legacy" shortly after launch! We also hope to get that version out on the Winnitron Arcade Network, so non-Ohioans can enjoy it as well! You can go read more about that side of development over on our website, if you're interested.
Well, that's all we have for now, I hope to post more often, but whenever I say that it takes about a year for it to actually happen for some reason, so I'll just say that I'll try my hardest. Here's hoping that you all get to play this labor of love of ours soon! After that, who knows, maybe we may actually get some work done on Physix or Jet Pack Hero?... Nah!
I'm a full-time stay-at-home freelancer designer (both graphic and web) and I spend most of my free-time either sleeping or working on one aspect of Wraith or another. I'm the primary game/sound/level and web designer, only artist, secondary writer and I also handle everything on the business end as well. Wraith has been my passion ever since I started it in 2005 when I was still in school. Being a freelancer, my normal workload is erratic to say the least, but when I'm not pulling my hair out from long stints of tight deadlines, I'm left with empty voids in my schedule that if you could shout into them, I'm sure you'd hear a might impressive echo.
This being said, I can often make several “bundles” of assets for projects on our huge list “dream games” and still have nothing to do with my self allocated “Wraith Time” waiting for a convenient opening in a programmer's schedule but pick up assets from another game and work on them, while other times, I'm so swamped, I get programmers pounding at my door for assets for projects while trying to balance my less fun, primary job.
As for Collapsus, the programmer working on that one just got out of collage for the summer and is frantically trying to push the game into Beta before he returns. Fly Guy's been pushed onto the back burner due to no one really seeing it on Kongregate and with no feedback, making an iOS version is out, but we'll more than likely just take our iOS assets and make a new web version and call that one case closed. Which leaves us with Jet Pack Hero and I'll save that for a later post :P
As for our other projects, Collapsus and Fly Guy, Collapsus is nearly finished, but it's on hold while we work on Physix (we are just a few guys, after all) and Fly Guy is undergoing some serious design changes as our prototype that hit Kongregate wasn't exactly “explosive”. Though to be honest, we knew it wouldn't be. That's why we put the prototype out there: so we could make the real game better. The only problem is that we didn't get much feedback, though from what little Kongregate feedback we have, as well as a multitude of personal and professional feedback, the final mobile game will be spectacular.
We've also started working on a few other smaller projects, many of which will never see the light of day; but for those that do, we're going to try this new little idea. It's called “Wraith Minis”. Whenever we have a little tiny game that some of our team members made in their free time, or just all-around team efforts made just for the fun of it, we're going to release some. Most of them will be for free on iOS, Android and web (ad-driven, of course), and they should theoretically come out more often than our other “major” projects. Of course this doesn't mean that we're going to be whipping out little project after little project, as these are just things that we've done in our free time; and it wouldn't be fair to our team to make these on a regular basis, it wouldn't be fair to expect you to play an entire library of our pet projects and it wouldn't be fair to our big projects, which would be neglected and start to cry.
Thirdly, but surely not least of all, we're officially announcing 2 new games:
The first is Collapsus, an Android/iOS puzzle game that long-time followers may remember the taste of and the second is Fly Guy, a free-to-play web game. You can visit our gallery for some early screenshots uploaded with this post.
I know what you all might be thinking, and no, Physix WILL be keeping on-keeping on and on top of that we hope to have new screens, videos and a playable demo soon... we've just had more work on to do to make it awesome enough for the “final beta” mentioned a few months back and we'd rather post something huge rather than smaller things here and there.
Collapsus and Fly Guy are just some side projects that “turned real” faster than anticipated, that we hope will be out soon. As always, we're taking the “it's done when it's done” approach with Physix and these new games are the same way, but we think they’ll be out considerably faster than Physix.
Again, let us know what you think by visiting our social network pages and keep on PLAYING HARDER!