I've been posting progress on Russian Subway Dogs pretty regularly on twitter, but it can be hard to hunt them down if you miss them. I figure it'd be good to have them all in one place, so what I'm planning on doing is posting a big gallery round up of all the images approximately once a month.Read More
I tweeted the above thoughts on Breath of The Wild after watching waaaaay too many hours of the Nintendo E3 Live Stream. Someone on Facebook asked me to elaborate, so here are my thoughts with a bit more unpacking.
So Looking Glass Studios were the originators of the first person simulation genre with games like the original System Shock, Thief I & II, Ultima Underworld, etc.. A lot of the games that continued in that vein were made by ex-Looking Glass folks, the first Deus Ex, Bioshock, Dishonoured, etc. These games tend to try to simulate a lot of interesting interactions and prize player agency in creating their own solutions to problems. Enemies also tend to have more complex AI, with some simple emotional states and awareness of the world. However they can suffer from sticking too closely to reality, simulating things that just aren’t interesting and doing a lot of things but doing none of them particularly well (EG stealth in the original Deus Ex was an option but was terrible in practice).
Nintendo design tends toward elegant simplicity, they’ll build a game around a small number of mechanics and execute them really well, exploring a lot of the possible uses for them and making sure everything works well. Nothing is in there that doesn’t need to be. If there is a lot of content it usually doesn’t interact in as many ways as it would in a Looking Glass style game. Nintendo tend to focus on gameplay first rather than worrying about realism or coherent worlds. Puzzles often have a single solution and will sometimes block the player from using their own creative solutions (invisible walls in late stage Majora’s Mask dungeons I’m looking at you!).
Both of these philosophies have strengths and weaknesses but what’s great about the mix in the new Zelda (based on what I’ve seen) is that they’re working together to make something with the strengths of both while removing the weaknesses. There’s some super robust simulation stuff going on but none of it feels needless or out of place. It’s not overly concerned with making these simulations realistic, so they can exaggerate them to create better, more interesting gameplay (EG spicy food protects you from the cold, carrying a metal sword increases your chance of being hit by lightning in a storm) and it has the level of gameplay polish and “game feel” you expect from Nintendo.
A good example of a moment in the stream that felt pure Looking Glass style emergent gameplay was Link cutting some saplings to make sticks in a gale force wind. The wind carried the sticks into and through a campfire, setting them alight. The sticks then blew into a field of dry grass that caught fire and quickly spread, alerting a nearby encampment of enemies.
Zelda has flirted with emergent stuff for a long time but it’s never been this coherent and all encompassing, tending towards small one off touches that don’t interconnect above a certain level.
Fun side note. Looking Glass’s best, or at least most elegant games were probably Thief I & II, for which the designers have mentioned being highly influenced by Nintendo’s approach to design.
In other news we’re Kickstarting a new game “Russian Subway Dogs” soon!
We're happy to announce that They Bleed Pixels is now available fully localized into Japanese and DRM free on Playism!
Buy They Bleed Pixels on Playism
DRM Free + Steam Key (Win/Mac/Linux)
On sale $7.99 this week!
We've had this localized version in the works with the Playism folks for a while now, but have been waiting for the Crimson Update to be complete before going forward. I worked closely with Playism, picking appropriate Japanese fonts and altering layouts to work with them and I'm honestly quite proud of the results. I think we really managed to incorporate the translated text while preserving the original typography and design, which can be a tricky balance.
It's been an interesting process. The Japanese character sets are very different from English. Not only are most words shorter but many characters are denser, more complex and have more curves and less straight lines then the roman character set. This creates a unique challenge given much of our text layout in They Bleed Pixels was built around a blocky pixel font and a thin flowing art nouveau script.
The solution I decided on is a mix of finding a good blocky Japanese font with a similar weight and (where it's appropriate) leaving the original English in and incorporating the Japanese text as a design element. A trick I borrowed from some of the better visual localization I've seen in manga and anime translated in the other direction. I've included a bunch of screenshots from both versions of TBP in this post for comparison.
Japanese media has been a major influence on my art so it's been really amazing to see the reaction from fans in Japan over the last few years, some of whom I've been lucky enough to meet in person at Tokyo Game Show and Comitia. Not to mention the amazing fan art and let's play videos they've produced! I hope this localization encourages them to give it another play-through and introduces a whole new audience to the game.
Big thanks to the fine folks at Playism for their work localizing the text and spotting all the places where we messed up entering it into the game! I also want to the thank the Japanese fan(s) who created the unofficial translation patch that this translation replaces. There was a long period where that was the only way to play the game in Japanese. I know there are many players who were introduced to They Bleed Pixels through their work. If you're reading this, hats off!
For English speaking players this Playism version is also the first version available completely DRM free with zero Steam integration. If that's important to you or you hate online leaderboards for some reason you can now buy this version and still get a Steam key with all the bells and whistles!
Buy on Steam
We’re participating in Indiependence Day, a collection of games that are holding a non-sale promotion to encourage folks to support indie developers and buy games at full price.
You can read more about it and see all the games participating here:
If you bought and enjoyed They Bleed Pixels or another game on this list at a discount we’d encourage you to buy a gift copy for a friend at full price if you can afford to.
We all love getting games at a discount so why is it important to buy full price when you can? Because when prices get too low (as they are now) indie game development becomes unsustainable. That means less risks taken, less experimentation, less games that cater to a particular niche and less indie games in general.
You definitely won’t get big updates years after a game comes out like our recent Crimson Update for They Bleed Pixels
You may not even get those few rare big indie hits that make serious money! Many of the hit game you’ve played were not the first games made by those creators and they could only happen because their early games had some moderate success.
No one is making indie games because they want to strike it rich. Were doing this because we love games and we love making them. But we do need to make a working wage to keep doing what we do and making the games you love.
Big thanks to Dan Adelman for organizing this!
The long wait is over for Mac and Linux users, They Bleed Pixels is now available for your OS of choice! All three operating systems are also getting the brand new Crimson Update free! More levels, more polish, more blood!
As an extra bonus They Bleed Pixels is 75% off for the next week (June 3-10th)!
Crimson Update Features:
- New engine rewritten in C for 60fps gameplay on netbooks and older computers.
- Shorter and easier Novice Difficulty levels.
- New bonus levels! Winter’s End and exp. 666.
- Record, play and share your best runs on the leaderboards. Watch the top players to improve your runs!
- Enhanced blood effects! Double the blood particles!
- Support for both DirectInput and XInput controllers.
- Lots of other little bits of polish, from save games to graphics options.
Top image illustration by friend of Spooky Squid Games Eric Kim.
We're super happy to announce that pixel artist Alina Sechkin will be joining our team full time starting today! An alumni of Toronto's DMG program, Alina Sechkin's pixel art appears in Will O’Neill's Actual Sunlight and Necrosoft's upcoming game Oh, Deer! as well as at the DPAD2 game culture exhibition.
She's helping out on our yet be announced next big game and will basically double our art output. Which means you can expect a whole bunch more pretty pixels in the new game! °˖✧◝(⁰▿⁰)◜✧˖°
You can check out more of Alina's artwork on her Facebook art page!
You may have noticed our website has had a major overhaul and is full up to date information (gasp!) .
After an almost five year hiatus (ahhh!) we final have a development Blog again. We basically went devblog silent for the entire production of They Bleed Pixels and the upcoming free They Bleed Pixels - Crimson Update. We're moving onto the next big project and so this silence ends now! That said, till we officially announce our new project, we will be vague. Probably also inconsistently updated. Let that be our motto for the new blog: "inconsistent and vague".
The entries you see below are taken from our tumblr and our old Guerrilla Gardening Development blog. Speaking of Guerrilla Gardening : Seeds of Revolution the new website now includes a memorial archive for that now mothballed project. Lots of information on the development of the game, why we shelved it and some never released pre-production artwork.
For fans of They Bleed Pixels we now have a much more extensive fan art gallery including a section for cosplay photographs and videos. Expect some new wallpapers when the Crimson Update drops as well.
More photos (and a video!) of margo-aquato’s fantastic Clawed Girl cosplay on tumblr! Love seeing this stuff so much!
On Saturday I had a chance to show my Clawed Girl cosplay on stage (っ˘ω˘ς )
More 1bit visual effects experiments. Messing specifically with healing status effects this time. I did the three on the right first, trying different dissolves. The one on the left takes my favourite dissolve and uses a quick stretch and squash intro to make it appear first.
The bottom image is a test with a sprite I had lying around. I added a single pixel drop shadow to the bottom of the effect and really like how it adds a bit of depth and volume without messing with the simple flatness of the effect.
Some 1bit pixel art visual effect experiments from last night. Working on finding some good techniques that don’t rely on colour or shading to sell the effect. The bottom one is inspired by a hand drawn 2D lightning effect in this Kyary Pamyu Pamyu video.
Update: Added a pink smoke poof also inspired by the 2D animations in that Kyary Video.
YAY! MORE THEY BLEED PIXELS COSPLAY!
Seriously folks, seeing people dress up as the Clawed Girl from They Bleed Pixels keeps blowing me away! I feel like it’s on of the highest complements to have someone take the time and effort to create a costume and dress up as your character. So Great!
Remember the great They Bleed Pixels piece from the Indie Ape show in San Francisco? Well you now have a chance to own a copy! We’ve made arrangements with the artist to do a limited run of fifty signed and numbered prints*!
$15 (plus shiping) - 10”x10” digital print
It is limited to only 50 so grab one quick!
*Signed by the artist Charles Noard, not the developers.
Here's an interesting tumblr post on how both Shovel Knight and They Bleed Pixels add elements of risk and reward to checkpoints. I wasn’t aware of Shovel Knights’ checkpoint destruction for cash system till reading this. Great to see other game devs experimenting with systems that integrate checkpoints and saving into the gameplay in a meaningful way. There’s a lot of unexplored territory there.
By the way, our friend Mathew Kumar who originally suggested the They Bleed Pixels checkpoint system has an upcoming game called Knight & Damsel in the works folks may want to check out. He also designed a particularly devious They Bleed Pixels guest level coming in the next update.
Quick little story. The blood in They Bleed Pixels is a mix of Andrew’s carefully coded particle physics system and some hand animated splash effects I pixeled. We worked together to fine tune how each element of that system worked to get it looking just right.. or thought we had… except we messed up. The splash animations I drew don’t run properly in the current version. They’re far too slow and are possibly skipping frames. This only became apparent to us when we got the blood up and running in the to be released rewrite and whatever obscure XNA bug was messing with them didn’t make it over. Suddenly the blood looked EVEN BETTER then before! Andrew has also raised the cap on the number of blood particles that can appear at one time before the engine starts culling them (previously 4000 particles), so along with all the other improvements in the next update expect even better looking blood effects!
Wow! Check out this amazing They Bleed Pixels Cosplay from Anime Midwest by Tumblr user lovablechaos. Those are some impressive claws!
Still finding it surreal to see people dressing up as our character. Not sure when/if that’ll ever stop :D
Spent yesterday working on some character art with comic artist Eric Kim. Here are some examples of the pencils he drew and my final pixel art drawn over them. These are all for a new thing we won’t be announcing for awhile yet.
Last night me and @spookysquid got to making some art! Here’s a compilation of last night’s collabs #games
Comics vs Games + Spooky Squid Games = Crazy Busy Toronto Weekend!
So outside of Spooky Squid Games I’m also part of the Hand Eye Society a Videogame arts and culture non-profit here in Toronto. As part of that I started a project called Comics vs Games a couple years ago that keeps getting bigger every year. The third one happens this weekend as part of the Toronto Comic Arts Festival (TCAF) and it is going to be madness. Here’s where you’ll be able to find me (Miguel) or the other half of Spooky Squid (Andrew) all weekend.
Saturday May 10th 11am-8pm at Bit Bazaar, Andrew will be manning our table which will have the new Russian Subway Dogs playable and a ton of They Bleed Pixels Merch!
Saturday May 10th 12pm-1pm I’ll be upstairs from Bit Bazaar interviewing XKCD’s Randall Munroe for Comics vs Games Talks live on stage. (Full talk description here) In fact I put together a full 7 hours of talks and panels that day with comic artists and game makers talking about the intersection of the mediums. Full list in the CvsG Talks program guide: http://handeyesociety.com/wp-content/uploads/Comics-vs-Games-Talks-2014.pdf
Saturday and Sunday May 10-11th at TCAF
Black Church Brigandage 2/4 player versus barbarian sports game I created with comic artist Andy Belanger will be playable at the Comics vs Games Showcase. This game isn’t available anywhere so it’s a rare chance to play it. Here’s a video of a 1vs1 match I played against fellow game dev Christine Love, however it really shines in 2vs2. It’ll be upstairs near the elevators at the TCAF main location along with a whole bunch of other games. I’ll also be there most of Sunday if you want to chat or challenge me to match.
I’ll also be on the following panel talking about traveling in Japan with TCAF:
Sunday, May 11 12:15 pm - 1:15 pm
Toronto Marriott Bloor Yorkville Hotel - Google Map
TCAF International: Japan, England, and Beyond!
The Toronto Comic Arts Festival has been exhibiting on behalf of the Canadian Comics Industry and Canadian artists in Tokyo, Japan, for the past 2 years. In 2014 and 2015 we plan to head back to Tokyo, as well as other destinations around the world! Find out about our trips, what we’re hoping to accomplish, and how you as an artist or publisher can get involved.
So if your in Toronto and a fan of Spooky Squid Games, or just comics and games in general you should come out! Full info on Comics vs Games including times & locations here: http://torontocomics.com/comics-vs-games-3/