PAX South Russian Subway Dogs Stream

During PAX South last month, Miguel was interviewed on the digital stream about Russian Subway Dogs. This is the first gameplay video since the Kickstarter back in September. It really shows how far the game has come and gives a nice little taste of some of the hidden depths and interactions players will discover!  

The video should go right into our segment but if not, you'll find it at around 6 hours, 33 minutes in!


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)!

While the Crimson Update is free for everyone, its existence came at a terrible cost, documented in our new live action trailer, a collaboration with photographer Paul Hillier.

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

Amazing Japanese They Bleed Pixels Fan Video!

Just found this amazing fan video of our game They Bleed Pixels today. Since Nico Nico is weird about sharing video links I figure this would be a good first post for our new (and still default skinned) Spooky Squid Games tumblr!

The two girls in the video decide that all the blood is strawberry jam. If you listen carefully you can hear them yelling “jamu-jamu” and “ichigo jam” during particularly bloody moments. Also keep an eye out for when one of them gets cursed with TBP claws!

The video starts with a really impressive parody of the game’s opening cutscene. Among other changes the protagonist is switched out and the statues have all been replaced with various indie game characters. I recognize Gaijin Game’s Commander Video and the little critters from Spirits by Spaces of Play. Anyone know what the third statue is from?

if you haven’t picked it up yet They Bleed Pixels is 66% off this week on Steam!

They Bleed Pixels

If you've been following us on Twitter you've probably heard me mention "TBP" a collaboration we've been working on with musician Shaun Hatton (aka DJ Finish Him).  We've been keeping the actual title under wraps till we we were ready to show some video. Last week's Gamercamp festival seemed like a perfect opportunity to properly announce the game with this short teaser.  I suggest cranking your speakers, going full screen and HD so the pixels are huge and sharp.

So there you have it. "TBP" is They Bleed Pixels, a fast paced, gothic, low-fi pixel art, platforming beat'em up with a chiptune style  soundtrack coming out on Xbox Live Indies.

You'll notice this game looks very different then our other games.    Inspired by games like Niddhogg I wanted to experiment with a more abstract,  simple style that would let me really focus on smooth and stylish animation.

In terms of gameplay, all of our games are built with specific goals in mind:

  • Night of Cephalopods: Experimenting with Dynamic Narration.
  • Cephalopods: Co-op Cottage Defence: Creating co-op play that requires players to constantly talk and plan while they play.
  • The Night Balloonists:Make a one button party game that had the same pacing and skill vs chance balance of games like bomber man.
  • Guerrilla Gardening: Creating opportunities for creative puzzle solving through the interplay of dynamic systems and AI.  Exploring themes of public space and direct action. It's a bigger game so it gets to have more ambitious goals.

They Bleed Pixels is about game feel. The kinetic joy of moving and interacting with the game and creating beat'em up combat that isn't button mashy or button heavy.  We also wanted it to be a game that was radically different from our others so we could switch back and forth and keep our brains active.

Dj Finish Him instruments.
Dj Finish Him instruments.

This is also our first game collaborating with a musician.  We met Shaun in the summer when he interviewed us for Electric Playground, a month or so later I ran into him at a Hand Eye Society social and he handed me a postcard with a link to his chiptunes mentioning that he was interested in doing game music.  I saw a good fit between what he was doing and the look I had in mind for They Bleed Pixels and a few emails later and we were set.

We'll be posting more info on the game as it gets closer to completion.  Till then I suggest you head over to Shaun's DJ Finish Him site and download his awesome free albums!

Development Video #9 - CCTV Cameras

A bit of a longer video, it's about the CCTV Cameras in the game, and since that connects to some of the themes and inspiration behind the game I took the opportunity to talk a bit about them.  Each of the last few videos has been a bit of a different take on what the GG:SoR dev vid's are about, I'm probably going to continue along that vain.  Making a game (any game) involves so many different processes, activities and ways of thinking and I hope that by taking this approach I can build up a broad and detailed view of what's going into making this one.

All footage is from our prototype, the final game will look more like these: 1, 2, 3.

Thanks to Emma Byrne for letting me use her fantastic photography of CCTV cameras  in this video. You can see all the photos and read the accompanying essay by Cory Doctorow  in her photo essay "Snitchtown" at

The Torontoist article on CCTV cameras that I briefly showed in the video is here.  They do a great job of covering local public space issues.

The photos of plants were from my first time guerrilla gardening that I posted about a few months ago.

I mentioned that Shenzhen China is being used as a testbed for networked cameras employing facial recognition and software that alerts the police when an unusual number of people gather in one place.  I'm unsure of how much of that has actually been rolled out so far but  if you're interested in more info, here's a pretty thorough article on China's Golden Shield.

On the other hand if you're all like 'Whatever, F*@k privacy!', and you'd rather glory in the abundance of ubiquitous surveillance cameras available for your voyeuristic pleasure SurveillanceSaver lets you see through over a 1000 unprotected CCTV cameras around the world. You may not want to run it all the time, but I found it fascinating to view so many random places around the world in real time.... also kind of creepy when you realize how many of these things are listed on google without any sort of password protection.

Guerrilla Gardening - Dev Vid #8 - Drawing Plant Sprites

This video has some quick info on the process and software used for creating the sprites in the game and then jumps right into a 10x speed time-lapse video of me drawing the new "Golden Bells" plant.

I was trying the time-lapse video thing for the first time with this video. Now that I know it works I'm definitely going to do it again with a more complicated sprite sometime. But the next video is going to be more about one of the new features we've added to the prototype since the last video.

If you're interested in trying out the Graphics Gale animation software I use there's an almost feature complete free version available for download on their site.

Development Video #7 – Game Balance and Tweaking the Screamers

Because of TOJam and the like it's been awhile since the last proper Development Video.  This one is longer and more in depth then previous videos and covers some of the balancing and tweaking we've done to the perennial screamers in detail. 

GG:SoR's game design is largely systems centred, it's about complex interrelating systems rather then pre-scripted solutions.  So getting all the elements to balance and work correctly in concert as we add more plants and AI behaviour is our main challenge now that the basic gameplay is in.  We need to make sure that solving levels is largely about coming up with solutions based on how the various elements, cops, citizens and plants interact and making those  interactions as transparent to the player as possible.

In specific terms there's just no way for us to predict what a player is trying to do with a screamer and which way they want to scare a citizen, so we need to make the screamer's behaviour predictable enough that the player knows how to place them to get the result they want without them having to think about nitty gritty details we may have going on under the hood.  If as the designers we do a bad job, and a seemingly perfectly placed screamer result in the citizen running off in the wrong direction for no clear reason the player will feel frustrated and betrayed.

As I mentioned in the video, I couldn't fit every aspect of tweaking the screamers into it.  For those who are interested here are some of the other issues we faced:

Along with coming up with behaviour that would work we also had to balance individual variables such as the size of the trigger zone, the length of time it takes after a perennial is triggered before it screams and how long it remains dormant before turning red again.  These factors are all interrelated and, as we discovered, none of them are trivial.

For instance one build we had with a slightly shorter dormant time resulted in a cop getting stuck, endlessly revisiting the same screamer surrounded by slowgrass.  The slow movement speed meant he was still trying to escape its trigger zone when it turned back to red causing it to scream and attract him back in an endless loop.

One behaviour we added that I left out of the video was a system Andrew suggested where the screamer's trigger zone would slowly expand if left dormant for too long, ensuring it would eventually scream after a few minutes.  However that messed with our ability to direct citizens since the delay before screaming was tuned specifically to how quickly a citizen could walk past the flower after hitting the trigger zone. Our solution was to delay the scream by the same factor that we expanded the trigger zone. Bigger zone.. longer delay and the civilian would still be scared foraward past the plant.

Hope you find this longer more detailed Dev Video interesting.  If you did let us know and we'll do more, if you hated it and prefer them short and simple post a comment and we'll avoid them in the future.

Oh also we're switching to a one video a month schedule for the next little while so I can concentrate on hitting some production deadlines.  But I'll be sure to keep posting interesting stuff on the blog in the meantime!

Development Video #6 - Influencing Citizens.

Here's the second video for the month.  Continuing from last video I'm concentrating on citizens.  This video shows how to use perennial-screamers and the new 'smell-so-goods' flower to direct citizens toward flower arrangements you've created. You'll also hear some very early sound implementation work we've done.

The level I'm playing in this video is actually a slightly modified version of one of the tutorial levels in the demo I was showing people at GDC.

As always, this video is of our prototype and has a lot of quick rough art, if you’re new to the blog you might want to check out my previous post, previewing what the final game should look like.

Development Video #5 - Happy Citizens.

As predicted this month's first video is a little late due to my much needed post GDC vacation.  I'll be putting a second one up next weekend and then we'll be back on track. The last few videos have concentrated on the stealth aspect of the game: tricking and evading the cops.  This video switches focus to the citizens and making the best use of ornamental flowers to cheer them up so they'll rebel against General Bauhaus's fascist government.

As always, this video is of our prototype and has a lot of quick rough art, if you’re new to the blog you might want to check out my previous post, previewing what the final game should look like.

Development Video #4 - Tactical Tree Drops!

This month's second video is all about 'tactical tree drops'  one of the first ideas I had when scribbling down the concept for the game in one of my sketchbooks.  I think this feature really captures the over the top take on guerrilla gardening I want the game to have. Needless to say I've been looking forward to being able to demo it for awhile.

So yes, you can radio in air support to drop a tree nearby, perfect for hiding from the cops.

This video is of our prototype and has a lot of quick rough art, if you're new to the blog you might want to check out my previous post, previewing what the final game should look like.

The next video may be a little late since I'm going to the Game Developers Conference next week. On that note, if you're an online distributor, publisher, press or the like and would like to meet, send me an email.  I'd be happy to demo the prototype for you!  (Same goes for fellow indie game folks of course!)

Development Video #3 - Shorter, Faster... Better?

Here's the first of this month's development videos.  It focuses  on a new plant we've added called the 'perennial-screamer', for reasons that will become obvious when you watch the video.

As I mentioned last post we're trying something new, cutting down the length of the  individual videos and posting two development videos a month instead of one.  I also experimented with zooming in and cutting the game footage so that it's hopefully a bit clearer what's going on.   So while it looks pretty chunky and old school the game actually runs at 1024x768.

If you want to see a sharp version of  the new art in this video, I'd recommend checking out the previously mentioned  T.O.Jam posting about the game.  It shows off the over the top statue of General Bauhaus, a perennial-screamer and a useful flower who's identity has yet to be revealed, though fans of obscure flora may notice a certain resemblance to a real life flower.

Development Video #2

A little late but here is this months development video!  Andrew has been busy getting features into the prototype and stomping out bugs so this time I recorded it solo.  Last month all we could do with the prototype was create a simple world with a few people wandering around and almost no interactive elements,  you'll  see we've come a long way and there's a good chunk of simple gameplay working now.

Because YouTube and pixel art aren't friends here's a still shot from the current version. Remember as we mentioned in the first video, we're keeping the art minimal for the prototype, so this doesn't represent what the final game will look like.

Development Video #1

We're starting up the Guerrilla Gardening: Seeds of Revolution development blog with the first of what will be a regular feature : our series of monthly development videos showing the progress and pitfalls of making the game.  Right now we're prototyping and tool building so what you'll be seeing is very rough and very early but should be of interest to anyone who wants to see the ugly exposed underbelly of game development.

As you can tell YouTube isn't doing us any favours visually so here is a screenshot to give you a better idea of what the prototype currently looks like.

Scott Pilgrim Gets it Together

As I mentioned in the video we're keeping the art very minimal right now so we can change it easily.   I also showed an illustration I did for the back cover of the graphic novel Scott Pilgrim Gets it Together. We're using that pixel art as a goal for the final visuals, so here's the high quality version without the video distortion.

Other than these videos what else will we be posting here?   I'll be posting about the art development process with sketches and pixel art. Andrew will be posting about how he's approaching the programming. We'll both be posting about the discoveries we make taking the game from our current design document through prototyping to final game.

We'll also occasionally talk about development on our smaller projects such as Night of The Cephalopods and about some of the other interesting things going on in Toronto's thriving indie games scene.

We want to make sure that we post stuff that you find interesting so feel free to comment or ask questions and tell us what you'd like to see, both on the blog and in the videos.