Russian Subway Dogs - GIF dump #3!

Russian Subway Dogs - GIF dump #3!

It's time again for a big Russian Subway Dogs GIF dump, collecting progress animations from our twitter and giving them a bit more context. Lots of polish, new features, and funny bugs to check out!

We're also taking Russian Subway Dogs on tour this summer, hitting Devcom and Gamescom in Cologne, Germany as well as PAX West in Seattle, USA. More info at the bottom of the post!

If you're a journalist attending any of these events and want to preview the game and learn more about Russian Subway Dogs give us a shout

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We Made a Game for TOJam 12 Called Blobber Basher!

Hello there! I'm Alina, a Toronto-based pixel artist and if you've been following what Spooky Squid Games has been up to lately, you've already seen my art in Russian Subway Dogs!

This weekend I had the pleasure of participating in the 12th annual Toronto Game Jam, my first game jam ever.

Expectations

Some of my expectations of what a game jam might be like had me a little nervous about signing up.

Having been with Spooky Squid Games for almost two years I have learned without any doubt that while game development can be fun and rewarding when things are going well, it has an equal potential to be gruelling and disappointing when something just isn't coming together. Why would full time game devs want the additional stress of developing a side project in three days' time? Or the disappointment of coming up with a promising idea and not finishing it in time?

At the same time, knowing that Russian Subway Dogs had itself started out as a jam game, it didn't make sense to ignore the potential behind rapidly prototyping a game idea. Who knows how far it can go one day! And hey, if it never goes anywhere big, at least you gave it a shot and learned something.

Jamming

Working under the assumption that most finished jam games are mere shadows of the developers’ original ideas, Miguel and I made a point of not planning out too much ahead of time.

Our basic concept was to make a local multiplayer, alien-themed soccer game with a sentient ball. We imagined the ball having a few different behaviours to add an unusual challenge for players, and also thought it would be neat to include a few different power ups that could drastically alter the ball’s behaviour.

I found it very refreshing to rapidly prototype the smallest possible version of our idea in contrast to how we usually work, which involves constructing and following a fully fleshed-out game design document. That's not in any way meant to knock the design document approach - if anything it's necessary for any large project - but it was very nice to get a break from that method.

A quick pixel sketch to establish the style for the game’s playable characters. The one on the upper right was inspired by the boot-shaped McNugget!

A quick pixel sketch to establish the style for the game’s playable characters. The one on the upper right was inspired by the boot-shaped McNugget!

I started out by doodling some ideas of what the players might look like. I tried to go as low-resolution as possible in order to simplify animation, but we went even smaller in the end!

 
 

To save on animation time and effort, I decided to give the playable characters a squishy bobbing animation that would be used both when they’re idle and “walking”. Miguel made their animation speed up in-game when they were moving and it looks surprisingly good considering how much time we saved on animation!

I also tried to give these sprites a little bit of directionality so that, even though I only made one set of animations, we could flip them horizontally in-game to make them face left and right.

 
 

Inspired by Snipperclips, one thing we wanted to experiment with was altering the characters’ facial expressions to give them a bit of personality when they scored. I’m glad we gave it a shot because it made a big difference, even though it meant I didn’t end up with enough time to animate any of the other playable characters.

This was our progress at the end of the second night of TOJam. The squishy “attack” pose is just us reusing the squishiest frame of the bounce animation!

This was our progress at the end of the second night of TOJam.
The squishy “attack” pose is just us reusing the squishiest frame of the bounce animation!

In the end, even though we went in with what we thought was a pretty simple idea, which we then pared down to what we thought to be its most basic, essential iteration, we still ended up having to go even more bare-bones than that! The current version does have a ball with very simple AI, but it does not turn angry, and there are no powerups to push it into.

Having said that, we still came out of this weekend with a small little game that’s fun to play!

Play it now!

Aftermath

Overall this was an extremely positive experience for me. One thing that was very helpful was partnering up with Miguel. Because we’ve been working together at Spooky Squid for almost two years, we definitely had an advantage thanks to already knowing how to work efficiently with each other.

Another big help was using tools that we are already familiar with! While there’s nothing wrong with using a game jam as an opportunity to learn a new language or software [Miguel: I used it as a chance to learn Box2D physics!], I felt I was much happier making stuff with an already established workflow. However, this is absolutely up to individual preference and your learning style!

Even though we didn’t get all of our initial ideas into Blobber Basher, we’re still excited about them and may be adding a few new features within the next few months. You can play the current version of Blobber Basher right now on itch.io.

This weekend was a lovely learning experience for me, and I would like to thank the organizers for all of the time and effort that has gone into making this year’s TOJam happen.


PS: If you’re in Toronto and wondering how Russian Subway Dogs is going, you can check it out this weekend (May 13th & 14th) in the Comics X Games section at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival

Clawed Girl and Subway Dog guest appearances!

I'm a big fan of indie game crossovers, from the guest levels in They Bleed Pixels to the playable pups from comics and games in our upcoming game Russian Subway Dogs. So it may come as no small surprise that a couple of our characters are making appearances in other indie games. 

Clawed Girl playable in Bleed 2

The excellent Bleed 2 came out last month and among the playable characters is the Clawed Girl from They Bleed Pixels! 

The Bleed games share more than a similar title with They Bleed Pixels. Not only did they originate near our HQ in Toronto, Canada, but the creator Ian Campbell also shares our penchant for cute pixel art, a willingness to experiment with novel control schemes, and fast platforming with an emphasis on precision and mobility. If you're a fan of They Bleed Pixels, you owe it to yourself to check out both Bleed games. You can pick up Bleed and Bleed 2 on steam now!

Russian Subway Dog cameo in Ruin of the Reckless

You may know that the Ratcoon enemy from upcoming action roguelike Ruin of the Reckless is playable in Russian Subway Dogs, but our titular Canine will also be appearing in Faux-Operative's new game. The exact nature of the Subway Dog's appearance is still a mystery, and I've been told finding our pupper will be a challenge in itself. Ruin of the Reckless will be available on Steam sometime next month, April 2017 but you can wishlist it right now

Russian Subway Dogs - GIF dump #2!

Russian Subway Dogs - GIF dump #2!

We've been past due for another bunch of glorious Russian Subway Dogs progress GIFs!  But first some good news.

Russian Subway Dogs has received an OMDC (Ontario Media Development Corporation) grant to help with production costs! While it doesn't mean we have full funding for every aspect of the game it helps a lot and means we can safely continue working on our odd little doggo game full time! Can't express how grateful we are for this opportunity! 

Second we'll be showing Russian Subway Dogs at PAX East in Boston and a few events at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. If you're a journalist attending either event and want to preview the game and learn more about Russian Subway Dogs give us a shout

Now on to the GIFs,
WARNING: there are a lot of them so it may take some time to load!

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Russian Subway Dogs - This Month in GIFs - Post Kickstarter Catchup

Russian Subway Dogs - This Month in GIFs - Post Kickstarter Catchup

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.

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Spooky Squid Welcomes Pixel Artist Alina Sechkin to the Team!

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!

More Low Bit Pixel Effects

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.

1 Bit Pixel Effects

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.