Welcome to the full reboot of our IndieSpotlight Series. In the following post we will be speaking with Dave AKA Bit Journal of Bit-Journal Games as we discuss his upcoming video game Eternal Jupiter which is a complete remake of an earlier title by the same name. Eternal Jupiter has been completely revamped and is Dave’s first professional endeavor since achieving a full understanding of game development through institutional education as well as learning on his own. I had the opportunity to be the first in the world to try out his demo which is to be released to the public soon and has many features including native support for the PlayStation 4 DualShock 4 controller on PC as well as Xbox 360 / Xbox ONE and other traditional PC controllers on the platform. Two players can even play at the same time with co-op.
Eternal Jupiter is a shoot em up action game featuring bullet hell moments of intense action. While still in development, keep in mind that the IndieSpotlight feature for RealGamerNewz primarily features titles that have yet to be released in any form (although we may began to branch out to some Early Access titles that are under the radar as well). The whole point of this series is to find those underground gems that fans of a particular genre might give a good home to. I am also fortunate enough to have a chat with every development studio who gets featured in the IndieSpotlight – so these are a chance for us to see the detailed vision a developer has behind their game. As always, feel free to reply with questions of your own for the developer in the comments section of this post. Here are some quotes from the developer taken during our Interview in the game is described in great detail. Thank you in advance for reading and we look forward to providing more information about Eternal Jupiter as it approaches release.
RGN: When did you first start making games?
Bit-Journal Games: I started developing games in 2011. I downloaded a trial copy of Game Maker 8 and attempted to teach myself the basics of game development. That is when I started developing Eternal Jupiter in its rawest form. I did this to see just how far I could take it. A month and a half down the road, while it was certainly not perfect, I created my first playable demo. It was at that moment that I decided to enroll with Brookdale Community College’s Digital and 3D Animation Program under the Game Programming Option of the degree. That was the beginning of my journey into Game Development.
RGN: When did the first Eternal Jupiter release and how was the public reaction?
Bit-Journal Games: While there is a demo for Eternal Jupiter, it isn’t technically released yet since I am still in the process of building it. When I first presented it at The Hudson Arcade in Hoboken NJ, people seemed to enjoy the challenge it presented to them. The press copy that you played was a result of suggestions given to me from various other people who played the game both at the event and others outside of the event as well. While the reception was positive, I wanted feedback from the players and got the feedback I needed. These suggestions led to better collision detection, more bullets and quite a few fixes for bugs that I found through testing the game both on my own and watching others play it as well. To all of those individuals who played my game, made suggestions and helped me hunt down and squash bugs (both directly and indirectly), I thank you all sincerely for that. 🙂
RGN: What is the vision behind the game?
Bit-Journal Games: Eternal Jupiter is a Top Down Shooter / Hack and Slash Hybrid inspired by a combination of Top Down and Side Scrolling Shooters, my love for Mecha & Super Robot style Anime, and Hack and Slash Action games. Its why I refer to the game as a Bullet Hell Hack and SHMUP. In it, you pilot a Jet that can transform into a Mech. In Jet Mode, you can fire your Lasers and Missiles depending on what button you press. Your movement is also a little faster in Jet Mode since the ship is more compact and aerodynamic. However, in Mech Mode, you move a little slower but your Lasers are replaced with a more powerful Arm Cannon and your Missiles are replaced with a Beam Katana that can reflect enemy bullets back at the ships that fired them. I wanted to create a shooter where I give the player the freedom to transform between Jet and Mech whenever they feel like doing so. In order to balance out the amount of power I give to the player, I give them a stock of three lives, no continues and no power-ups. Growing up in the 80s (like many others who may be reading have), old school arcade games have had a major influence on my life.
Before I learned how to develop video games, I always asked myself what I liked from this classic era. Then I asked myself what I would do differently to this style of game. That is part of the reason why gave the player the capability to transform on the fly and use a Beam Katana in battle. The other reason really just has to do with my love for Iai-do (The Japanese Art of Drawing the Sword) and my love for Anime.
Overall, Eternal Jupiter is a culmination of all of these things. Its a game about fast paced, arcade action and your pure willingness to survive.
RGN: What are some of the features the Remake offers above the original?
Bit-Journal Games: The original Eternal Jupiter was very bare bones compared to the Remake. After going to college, I took what I learned and applied it to the Remake. Before I get down to the features, on a coding level, I re-coded the entire game when compared to its original. I also built totally new animations and much better parallax vertical scrolling backgrounds and foregrounds. Presentation wise, I added in a new opening menu that resembles a boot up sequence screen that you would see if you were the pilot inside the Mech.
Game play wise, I was able give the player more functionality using less buttons. That way, their hands are not scattered all over the controller. Compared to the original, Eternal Jupiter Remake features:
– Xbox 360 and X-mode Controller Support
– PlayStation 4 Dual Shock 4 and Direct Mode Controller Support
– 2 Player Local Co-Op Mode and Two Players on One Keyboard
– More Bullets
– Better Timed Enemy Patterns and Generators
– Vastly Improved Controls
– More Varied Enemies
– A Better Boss Fight
RGN: How was the game made in terms of what you’re willing to reveal about the engine and tools used etc.?
Bit-Journal Games: Animation wise, I like to build my sprite sheets in Photoshop and import them in Game Maker Studio. This gives me the tools I need to help visualize where I want to place certain objects, backgrounds and animations on the screen. There are also occasions where I do some art in Game Maker Studio as well, but it’s mostly in Photoshop.
Using a combination of what I learned in my Game and Object Oriented Programming Classes (Note: Since GML and C++ are quite similar in execution, what I learned in my classes greatly enhances what I can do in the engine) and the power of Game Maker Studio, I approach development one step at a time. I don’t ask myself “What is the right answer?”. Instead, I ask myself “What are the questions I must ask to arrive at the result I am looking for?” I don’t look at development as a need to know all of the answers. Instead, I look at it as a learning experience. While the project evolves with the developer, the developer learns from the project. Every answer creates a question. Every question begs for an answer. Developing the logic behind the code is the most important step to arriving at these answers. If the logic is flawed, you most likely will not get the results you want. If this all sounds very philosophical, its because as a developer, simply put, I do a lot of thinking before I put my hands down to the keyboard. Then I do some writing to organize my thoughts. After the animations are finished and the assets are ready, I ask myself “What do I want this to do?”. Then I look at my notes, start coding what I need and test it. At the end of the day, it’s thinking, writing, testing and repetition that helps me get Eternal Jupiter closer to completion.
RGN: Does the final build of Eternal Jupiter Remake currently have a release date planned?
Bit-Journal Games: Given that I am about to start a new job, I do not have a specific release date planned at this time. However, once I figure out what services I want to use to sell the game (ex: Steam, GOG, Desura, Humble Bundle etc…), I will give you an updated ETA. The good thing is that I will release a few more demos over the course of development so people who want to try Eternal Jupiter and see its progression will have the opportunity to do so.
RGN: Where can gamers keep up with your work and possibly try out a Demo of the game?
Gamers can go to eternaljupiter.wordpress.com to read all of the updates related to the game and to download the demo once they become available (which I promise all of you, will be very, very soon. Perhaps tomorrow ;-). Once its up, I’ll definitely make an announcement. 🙂
– Thanks for the interview and previewing my game. Its much appreciated 🙂