Tag Archives: RealGamerNewz IndieSpotlight

IndieSpotlight: Eternal Jupiter

Eternal Jupiter Gameplay Screenshot

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. ūüôā

Eternal Jupiter Gameplay Screenshot 2

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

Eternal Jupiter Gameplay Screenshot 3

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. ūüôā

– Thanks for the interview and previewing my game. Its much appreciated ūüôā

[Update: The Eternal Jupiter Work-In-Progress Game has received a Public Demo downloadable HERE]

Eternal Jupiter RealGamerNewZ

IndieSpotlight: Dungeons: The Eye of Draconus

RealGamerNewz IndieSpotlight- Dungeons- The Eye of Draconus

Welcome back to our favorite new RealGamerNewz Section, IndieSpotlight, in which we attempt to bring to the surface independently developed video games that are more than worth your attention. A good while back (before the RGN fireworks party about a new Micro-Console being announced and put into hardware beta called the OTON X) we had the chance to speak with some really creative and technically skilled professionals who had put together a game called Dungeons: The Eye of Draconus which is a coming-soon, work-in-progress game you can see at the bottom of this screen in a very early version of the title recorded in Full 1080P High Definition.

Concept:

Dungeons: The Eye of Draconus is a 2D Brawler type game which if you find yourself as one of those types of gamers that feels the need to compare directly to others then in essence of gameplay mechanics Golden Axe from the Sega Genesis days could be passed as a game that definitely helped inspire a title like Dungeons: The Eye of Draconus. With a screen full of over 50 characters at any given time though, Eye of Draconus gets a lot more intense. A comedic style is used to keep things from getting too edgy.

With 3 player co-op featured for both online and local multiplayer, gamers are faced with a plot-driven narrative told through dialogue and cutscenes and based on live action series. This game has been in development for 5 years plus 2 years for the script during internship and the developers had to fight to get the control of their content rights back for this IP that has taken nearly a decade to bring to essence.

RealGamerNewz Gameplay IndieSpotlight- Dungeons- The Eye of Draconus

A linear, episodic tale is told through Dungeons: The Eye of Draconus similar to Telltale’s The Walking Dead Video Games. Coding manually and doing the art themselves, this team really went the extra mile to deliver a quality polish and it shows. Online play optimization has been prioritized for the final build while more features are to follow on top of the base game’s design ambitions.

Starting from the top this title is a comedic (think Conker’s Bad Fur Day funny), action-packed hack and slash game featuring chain combos, 1-2 swing power hits, and each character has a special ability as well as the additional gameplay opportunities presented by obtaining mounts. Mounts with breathing fire for example!

In terms of the plot, Episode 1 gets players familiar with characters going after a treasure and yet embodying anti-heroes. The main characters are roaming around trying to find a way to rise up to glory. Things like small goals lead characters into a situation where crap hits the fan and action must be taken. A funny demeanor will hit to keep things up pace but there are some plot twists designed to inject some emotional value to the actions the gamer is taking during the narrative of the game.

RealGamerNewz Gameplay 2 IndieSpotlight- Dungeons- The Eye of Draconus

So, three reject heroes unite. Bolax with the alcoholic-diabetes-itis syndrome, in for his next drink and Gleobryn the cleric with total dropout/screwup spells going wrong every where you turn and then doing awesome things by accident. Why couldn’t have done that when I needed him to!? Then there’s Rose. Rose is a thief so selfish that her own self interests may get in the way of her own best interests… not to mention others! Bad luck has a way of following her like a dark cloud, possibly as payment for a lifetime of bad credit with the Karma corporation.

Dungeons: The Eye of Draconus is based on fun factor, does its best to present a compelling and immersive story and world to play in, and hones the gameplay design back to an age where intuitive controls and rewarding experiences were mastered for the art direction which also ties together to, all in all, make this game a pretty complete package.

RealGamerNewz Gameplay 3 IndieSpotlight- Dungeons- The Eye of Draconus

There are loose goals when playing through the game. There is no noble cause but instead players are out there trying to get money and mess some people up until they run across an entity that will change their focus and give them something that will potentially change their way of thinking, and their way of life. If you’re still not getting it by my mammoth hints, the quest of a life time.

Official 1080P Video of Work-In-Progress Game:

 

Steam Greenlight News: A Unique RTS Emerges Called The Mims: Beginning

The Mims Beginning 2

On Steam Greenlight (as well as the lesser known Thunder Clap social awareness booster) today is a new title being crowdfunded with a $5,500 budget (being raised over the next 47 days) on IndieGoGo and an impressively well put together pitch for gamers to digest while waiting for the full release. The title is already 18 months in development and has come very far including being playable internally for testing and visibly publicly in the video at the bottom of this article (gameplay, story, and dev diary all in one).

The Mims: Beginning is the game we’ve been talking about and is a 3D Real-Time Strategy / Adventure Game with humor involved, and yet it is more than that. On other planets the player takes the role of a leader helping colonists to expand and defend themselves in an area that was not originally their own. Fast reaction time and thoughtful moves are required though the game will serve both Adventure game audience as well as RTS vets.

With a mix of Strategy elements like building structures and commanding units as well as Adventure features like automated artificial intelligence and story-driven directives, The Mims: Beginning is already well underway. Take a look at the video below and see for yourself what the team at Squatting Penguins has put together so far.

The Mims Beginning

IndieSpotlight: Mark of the Old Ones

Mark of the Old Ones RGN Indie Spotlight

I recently had the opportunity to stumble upon one of the most fascinating titles from the Indie space that I’ve seen in quite some time. Hit The Sticks is a developer who has brought forth one of the most intriguing strategy communities around, and now brings that experience to the 2D world by introducing a compelling story and a unique gameplay experience with Mark of the Old Ones. This game has just launched on Kickstarter today, and you can learn everything about it in the following article which I thank the team at HTS for giving me the opportunity to produce, enjoy.

Concept:

Mark of the Old Ones is an upside-down, physics-based adventure game built around a Lovecraftian theme and yet it is also one of the most unique projects we’ve had the pleasure of seeing come out of the indie scene in some time. Players fill the role of main character Thomas who is injured in a plane crash that completely removes one of his legs when a symbiotic parasite attaches itself to his spine, brain, and nervous system allowing him the ability to escape an otherwise grim fate. The initial horror of such a thing happening, the question of where does the symbiote end and Thomas begin, and the eventual realization that life will never be the same are just some of the things players will experience alongside the main character they control in Mark of the Old Ones.

The game and story of Mark of the Old Ones together form an integrated experience that is made possible by the team at developer Hit The Sticks’ fully modeled muscles and bones (down to realistic joints) that produce gameplay and visuals which allow intense immersion. The setting that this all takes place in is just as epic as the premise though. Thomas didn’t just crash his plane to find one symbiote waiting for him, he has landed in the middle of a location called Namaset which once housed a huge presence “Kraal” who was a living creature known by a thriving society as their ruler, and their god. This being created the “Brood” which are the symbiotic creatures that became one with their hosts; the priests, the worshipers of Kraal; the many members of this functioning society Namaset.

But something’s changed. By the time Thomas arrives Namaset appears to be empty. Everyone else who was bonded with a parasite is no longer living here. Discovering the answers to what happened becomes part of Thomas’ journey through Mark of the Old Ones, and part of the lore that the player will delve deeper in through a number of direct and indirect ways. One thing’s for sure, the visceral control being offered by Hit The Sticks in the location of Namaset aims to be like no other, as an entire society once lived here each member of it sporting the same tentacles as the main character Thomas. The implications are that Namaset will be a fascinating place to navigate, and players will be getting used to their new parasitic companion at the same time as the main character.

Mark of the Old Ones Concept Art

In most games, you’re constantly fighting battles using direct violence. Mark of the Old Ones seeks to offer a thinking gamers’ game, something more complex, rewarding, and challenging while avoiding becoming repetitive and boring. Much of the gameplay will involve figuring out the environment around you and what it all means, surviving the many paths and traps that exist in Namaset, and eventually overcoming enemies while learning how to use your new parasitic abilities. The game not only features Thomas taking control of two tactile tentacles using dual analog sticks for super-human movement, but also new abilities that a human could have never dreamed of attaining on its own.

Thomas is capable of slowing down time (Chronition), propelling himself upward with great force (Boost), and temporarily multiplying his own volume / mass to overcome certain hazards along the way (Increase Mass / “Carapace”). These abilities are also up-gradable throughout the game. Hit The Sticks is a developer with experience, having created JustTactics in addition to staffing members with extensive industry experience in 3D Programming, Game Development, and experience with adhering to high-end Quality Assurance in multiple industries, this registered PS4 development house is set to bring something powerful and of high quality to our industry with this title.

Hit The Sticks has opened a Kickstarter for their game Mark of the Old Ones today, and after the Q&A Interview we conducted with them (seen below) you’ll find a video that they put together which explains the game and shows off a wire-frame physics demo complete with one of the most coherent and to-the-point voice-over tracks I’ve ever seen in a KS project. They’ve also said that they will be making a plotline that Lovecraft would have been happy with by working Mark of the Old Ones into the Lovecraftian Horror tapestry while inventing their own setting and characters.

The entire game takes place in the 1920’s and the Art Direction will maintain a heavy focus on Contrast which is also a parable to the shadows, the unknown, evil, and the suspense of not knowing what’s around the corner. Another way players will experience more of the story is through the journal entries found scattered around Namaset from a side character who perhaps did not have as fortunate of a fate as our playable character Thomas.

Q&A Interview:

RGN: First off, for those who don’t know much about Lovecraft, do they need to¬†know about it to enjoy Mark of the Old Ones?

Hit the Sticks:¬†There is no backstory necessary to enjoy Mark of the Old Ones,¬†although having a rich knowledge of the Lovecraft canon will certainly¬†enhance the experience. While we draw heavily from the Cthulhu Mythos,¬†and our narrative style is informed by Lovecraft, we’ve mostly¬†invented our own setting and characters. As a result, we hope to keep¬†even hardcore Lovecraft fans off-balance and in the dark.

RGN: We know Namaset is a Cavern City in which Chapter 1: The Overseer takes¬†place, what more can you tell us about the terrain’s weather?

Hit the Sticks:¬†Namaset means “dark cloud” in a local dialect. It refers to both the¬†city built for the glory of Mother Kraal, and to the mountain in which¬†she was imprisoned. At the beginning of Chapter 1, Thomas (the player¬†character) is trapped in Namaset. The entire game takes place inside¬†the mountain, in various sections of the city and Kraal’s lair.

Namaset is many things. Namaset is dark, lit by fire and luminous¬†fungus. Namaset is dangerous, filled with unsafe working conditions,¬†death traps, and biological remnants of Namaset’s civilization.¬†Namaset is alien, built for the pleasure and convenience of Kraal’s¬†Brood of parasite-bound upper class.

The main driver of our story and gameplay is exploration.You’re never¬†forced down a particular path. If you’re paying attention, you should¬†be able to deduce your next goal from the clues we leave. We’re a¬†little studio, so I’m not claiming it’s some kind of open world¬†sandbox. But, it’s not a sidescroller, either.

RGN: The video in the Mark of the Old Ones Kickstarter reveals dual analog sticks are used to produce unique and realistic limb control. Can you tell us some of the other actions available in the control layout?

Hit the Sticks:¬†When you first begin, you’ll have your hands full with the tentacles.¬†They’re a lot of fun, but they’re definitely challenging.¬†That said, you have three additional powers: Chronition, Boost, and Carapace.

Chronition represents the heightened senses and reflexes granted by¬†the parasite, and manifests as slowed time and expanded radius of¬†vision. This is your “oh sh#%!” button, giving you a bit of space to¬†plan escape before you’re slammed into that patch of firebush.

When you Boost, your parasite uses a stored charge of [CENSORED] to cause an intense explosion beneath your feet. The main effect is to shoot you upward like a Quake rocket jump. But, it also has the important secondary effect of igniting nearby flammable objects.

Finally there’s the Carapace ability, where the parasite wraps Thomas¬†in a temporary protective shell. This makes the player much heavier¬†and impervious to some kinds of damage. The additional weight helps in¬†a variety of ways as you interact with the Crude Tech contraptions¬†scattered through Namaset.

Mark of the Old Ones Linux Mac Windows PC

RGN: Since the game is only for controllers, is there a specific controller(s) recommended for an ideal experience?

Hit the Sticks: Anything with two analog sticks and a few buttons should work okay. But controller quality varies, and some work better than others.

The first-party big name console controllers are the best we’ve seen.¬†On Linux and Mac, PS3 controllers are plug and play via USB. On¬†Windows, wired 360 controllers are plug and play with the right¬†adapters–and there is an adapter for the wireless 360 controllers.

We’re doing our very best to support as many controllers as possible.¬†Basically, on PC, we should support every dual-analog controller that¬†your operating system supports. We have a decent budget item for test¬†gamepads, so most controllers available between now and release should¬†be mapped. Even if you have something we haven’t mapped, you can¬†always just map the controls yourself–so long as your OS recognizes¬†it.

RGN: In what ways can gamers look forward to having direct control of 2 tentacles of the symbiotic creature change the gameplay of MotOO?

Hit the Sticks:¬†Well, gameplay-wise, MotOO is a physics platformer–a bit like Little¬†Big Planet, but not as cuddly. Your tentacles are how you interact¬†with the world.

So at the core, you have movement. Basic movement is swinging. As you¬†get better at that, maybe throw in the second tentacle, you realize¬†you can go *really* fast. And once you’ve built up some authority and¬†momentum, you can pull off some incredible moves. The level of control¬†is superb, especially given how alien it feels at first.

That dovetails into the story as well. Thomas is completely freaked¬†out at the beginning, as you would be too if the scariest critter¬†you’d ever seen inserted itself into your spine and brainstem. The¬†parasite is under his control, but he’s never controlled a parasite¬†before. You and Thomas are having the same experience, in that way.

Mark of the Old Ones Kickstarter

Once you’ve mastered the basics, we turn you loose in Namaset. You’ll¬†interact with the natural environment, plus bizarre and ancient¬†technology. You can pick up and move objects, control machinery,¬†disarm traps, fire yourself from catapults… the Namasetians were¬†very imaginative in their primitive technology, an aesthetic we’re¬†calling Crude Tech. And all of it is built around tentacles, because¬†of course the Namasetians had tentacles.

None of this is pre-animated, by the way. All of the contraptions I’m¬†talking about are simulated in real time in Box2D. The tentacles are¬†controlled with your stick inputs and our IK solver.

RGN: Does MotOO currently have a targeted level of quality for the graphics, such as resolution?

I want this on your TV, looking beautiful at 60 inches in 1080p. MotOO¬†is a game for your Big Picture box. So, that’s the minimum quality¬†we’re shooting for.

We’ll definitely support lower resolution textures, which should help¬†on lower-spec’d graphics cards at lower resolutions. Higher quality¬†textures *might* happen, but I think that looking beautiful at¬†1920×1080 is the sweet spot for the monitors most people have.

RGN: Since this game relies heavily on horror and suspense, we certainly don’t¬†want to be spoiled about anything. Are there any other technical aspects of¬†the game your team is prepared to elaborate or re-iterate upon slightly for¬†prospective backers and fans?

Hit the Sticks:¬†I don’t think we’ve mentioned this anywhere before.

We believe Mark of the Old Ones should be about natural player skill¬†instead of artificial skill progressions. There are power upgrades,¬†but for the most part Thomas undergoes his transformation at the¬†beginning of the game. As a result, the major factors in his¬†capabilities are your own abilities. Maybe it’s even a little old¬†school that way.

In order to support that pursuit of natural skill, we’re working on a¬†pretty neat statistics package. If you opt in (it’s totally optional),¬†we’ll keep track of your stats on our servers. Those will include all¬†sorts of metrics about your own performance in the game, allowing you¬†to track your mastery of the parasite. Examples: best times, top¬†speed, “stunts” pulled, longest swing combo, etc. And if you’re the¬†competitive sort, you’ll be able to compare your stats to your¬†friends’.

Official Kickstarter Video of Work-In-Progress Game:

Follow Mark of the Old Ones: Kickstarter | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube | Website

Mark of the Old Ones Indie