Stage Select, Part II

It’s the moment you’ve been waiting for! Last time, I talked about how unTied Games began. This time, I’m here to talk about where we’re going next!

First off, sorry about the delay in posting. As always, life takes twists and turns that you don’t expect. And even when you expect them, accepting it can be tough. But I’m back on track now!

We released Star Reaction in November 2014, and we’re proud to have a completed game under our belts. We had been working on it for a long time, so we’d really like to move on and do something fresh. However, that doesn’t mean that we’re done with Star Reaction! I’m going to continue to experiment with new game modes, but it’s definitely on the back burner right now. There are too many other tantalizing game projects that have been patiently waiting for our attention.

This might surprise you, but we already created a second game! Well, a mini-game, at least. It’s called “Colorado John and the Quest for the Forbidden Princess,” and it may or may not be a slight parody of something you recognize. This game came about when Charlie (our musician) got involved with producing a music workshop for St. John’s University, our alma mater. He wanted to make the workshop about composing music for video games. One thing lead to another, and BAM! Colorado John was born. The game is incredibly simple, but achieves all the goals we set out to meet. First of all, the sound effects and music are replaceable. You can just drag and drop your sound files into a folder, and it loads them. It’s easy for any aspiring musician to add music, no matter what their technical level is in terms of using a computer.

*whip cracks*
Colorado John, being brave.

Second, the game is kind of a proof-of-concept for me, personally. Ever since I started learning how to program, I’ve always wanted to make side-scrolling games. Not to say I haven’t tried before- many of the proto-games I made when I was starting out were attempts at side-scrollers. This was my first chance to apply the techniques I had learned during and after college to a side-scroller. For the first time, I made a side-scroller the professional way. I used our in-house editor to shape the levels. I drew in the collision using polygons, a new technique I’ve been playing with. I implemented broad-phase collision in my engine and added a way to chain collision phases together. The thing I’m most proud of- I figured out a way to simulate retro collision resolution, while still using modern techniques. So for the first time, I approached a side-scroller professionally, rather than just as a hobbyist. Even though it was a relatively small project, it was exhilarating and quite fun to work on.

Lookit all dem tasty polly-gons.
A view from our editor “ObjectMaker”, showing an early version of the game’s level.

The extra cool thing about this project is that even though the game itself was small, all this infrastructure I set up for it in my game engine can be used as a springboard for some of our future games! Believe me, it’s really going to help to have a decent solution for collision detection/resolution, among other things.
The OTHER cool thing is that we’ve decided to release the game for FREE, so other aspiring game musicians can compose music for it! We’ll have more updates on this soon, so stay tuned. We’re also going to do a brief postmortem of the workshop itself. (It was a hit!)

So that’s one of the things we’re doing next. I already hear you saying, “But that’s just a mini-game, right? Surely you must have something bigger planned!”
And you’re right, we do have something bigger planned.

Drum roll, please…

You read that right! But how does it work? I’m glad you asked. Ethan, our artist, came up with a great idea. Instead of focusing our efforts on one large game, we’re instead going to make a variety of smaller games. Each of us will take turns being the project lead, so we’ll all get to have a chance to try and make the games we want to make. We’re definitely not alone in that line of thought– it sucks to get stuck on a project you don’t really enjoy. We’ll be having more fun this way, since we’ll be able to work on a greater variety of things. It also increases our odds of hitting on a good game idea, so I’m really looking forward to that! Ethan compared this idea to the concept of making pilots for TV shows, and I think that’s the perfect description. So that’s what we’re planning next: “pilot games!” Stay tuned- we’ll post more details as we dream them up!