So a week or so ago I announced the next Boss Baddie game; Stratonauts!
I won’t be giving anything away but this might give a little insight into how I work(ed) as a developer and that even rough ones can have a pleasant day in the park (HUH).
Really Big Sky was, and is a beautiful mess. I love playing it still. It’s the first of my games that I’ll fire up and genuinely enjoy. I love playing in co-op with Caroline, we make fun of each other when we’re killed by an enemy or boss the other designed. But the code is awful. It used controller coding from the old Tormishire engine, it was a small game with bits bolted on top to make it a big game. Every time I try and go back in to fix it up it’s a mess and difficult to do. I never made it expecting to get it onto Steam let alone go to conventions, getting it into a Humble Bundle and people actually buying it. Rags to (not literal) riches game. The working-class slogger that went on to run the business.
Stratonauts is much more cautious. It’s a vast game. Honestly the number of times I’ve had a “I CAN’T MAKE SOMETHING THIS BIG” crisis is getting silly. It’s not a comfortable game to make because it’s mentally outside of my comfort zone. It’s plodding along, maybe a little slower than I want but that’s all in part to how meticulously I’m coding it.
Rather than just throw enemies into it, each one hard coded with failsafes everywhere to (hopefully) get it working right, I’ve built huge frameworks for key areas of the game. Nothing is left to chance. The result is a much more solid game that I have full control over. For example one problem I had in Big Sky was it being unable to pause. This was due to MMF2’s loss of controller input during it’s built-in pause function. I battled with numerous systems to get it to work. All I could do is put in the present system; pause and unpause with the esc key. I wanted complete time control in Stratonauts, so not only is every-bloody-thing tied into a game “clock”, I can also slow it down or speed it up as much as I want. This is probably basic stuff really and built into every other game development tool with no problem at all. But here… nope, gotta do it the hard way. But I’m happy for that because it’s a really fun challenge.
People have asked me if it’s a MOBA, it’s not. At a convention I was asked if it was a fighting game, if it’s a racing game… it’s not. It’s something that I wanted to do back in January last year but needed a bit more planning. I don’t think there’s anything else like it but I could be wrong. It could change an awful lot before release, too.
Caroline and I were asked to take part in a documentary about women in games, on the spot during our talks we decided to make the main character female (you can see her in the middle of the group shot below) because both the big genres that inspired this game are male hero orientated. Obviously it’s not the only thing we’re adding but it’s all we can say at the moment.
There is a ton of screenshot and concept art I could show but let’s be annoying and just post progress shots of the announcement art.