Endless Playability – Dead Cells Early Access Review

Dead Cells is the kind of game that baits you into hour long marathons. You dip your toes in to test the waters and end up free falling. Sessions end with a pounding head and bloodshot eyes, but your regret is tempered with unwavering satisfaction. You promise yourself this won’t happen tomorrow, but when night comes around, you find yourself in the same chair, the same game, with the same results. I consider this a litmus test, where your enjoyment results in something tangible.

Dead Cells considers itself an illegitimate child of a Metroidvania and Rougelite – a RogueVania. The world it tosses players into is ever-changing, each run guaranteed a unique experience due to a non-linear progression system. Endless replayability wrapped up in a merciless, electrifying package. There’s never a dull moment as you explore the labyrinthine corridors of each level. For every platform you scale, a surprise awaits, be it a reward or an enemy, exploration is exhilarating because you never know what’s around the bend.

The world of Dead Cells is vibrant and lively. Each level has its own ecosystem, and while some enemies are constants, there’s always a newer and stronger enemy to contend with. Dying is inevitable, but every death pushes your progress forward even by a single centimeter. This isn’t the kind of game you can brute force your way through. Practice makes perfect, and the road to victory is a slow, steady one. An insurmountable obstacle today becomes a cakewalk tomorrow.

Collecting ‘Cells’ from enemies allows you to upgrade your character’s abilities and equipment in the rest area between each level. You lose the cells if you die half-way, so think carefully before diving into the fray with swords swinging. It’s a gamble on the chance to earn more or potentially losing everything.

Non-permanent upgrades arrive in the form of ‘Scrolls’, allowing you to customize a preferred build for your character. Want to be a glass cannon? Go for it. What’s that you say? The best offense is a good defense? Sure, whatever floats your boat. The headless character you control is but clay, waiting to be moulded into your ideal.

Your character lacks the ability to speak, but its personality shines through its reactions to various NPCs and events. Overzealous head nods, shoulder shrugs, I find it amazing how much it conveys despite not saying a word. I never missed a thing, because the gorgeous pixel art makes it near impossible to look away. Dead Cells oozes style and beauty, the amount of detail put into the sprites, background and objects, is staggering. Projectiles exploding in solid, pink spheres, the shower of sparks on the tail end of a chain lifting a wooden platform. Early Access isn’t something I’d associate with this game.

Other than the art, combat is easily the best thing about Dead Cells. Combat feels buttery smooth, an intricate dance instead of messy, clumsy blows. The pool of weapons you can choose from is varied; from swords to whips to bows. There are advantages and disadvantages to each of them, experimentation is key in finding a favourite weapon to eviscerate an enemy. I stuck to the traditional sword and shield as I have an unfortunate preference for rubbing elbows with things that bite back, and a shield is handy for times where I’d miss a target and stare down at a nocked arrow.

Players can also arm themselves with gadgets for extra firepower. They are especially useful during boss fights, the bear traps and grenades come in handy when faced with an enemy twice your size.

I’m reminded, very rudely, of the fact that Dead Cells is still a work in progress, when I’m interrupted by an error message. I don’t mind it too much since it’s nothing ctrl-alt-del can’t fix, but it chips at my enjoyment when I’m half-way through a really, good run and have to restart. These incidents are rare, I’ve come across only two so far, but it can be a tipping point for fussy gamers.

If you can handle the occasional bug, I’d heartily recommend Dead Cells. It is a challenging, mesmerizing experience that will have you craving more after the first taste.

Survival Horror: Do’s and Don’t’s (2)

As said before, there are many things that developers do in order to make up the bulk of their survival horror game. While some of these elements can work, there are ways to do them, and there are most certainly ways not to do them. You most certainly can experiment and get creative with your game as a whole, but you need to be very careful not to fall off the deep end. Here are a few elements that can be used to the developer’s advantage, but can also lead to some disastrous results.

Heavy Artillery: Do not get me wrong. There are plenty of games that give you weapons, and still maintain their stance in the survival horror world. However, the use of guns such as machine guns, gatling guns, sniper rifles, lasers, whatever they are; these are things that just do not belong. When you give your player the means to wipe out monsters with air strikes and missile launchers, that fear and dread you mean to invoke are just not there. A big bad monster comes out of nowhere. Oh, I shot him. Well that was fun, what next? These are known as action games. Do not slap the genre “survival horror” on a game and give your player a magical one-hit sword. Most of the time, it just really does not work.

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Over Complicated Puzzles: Puzzles in survival horror are quite common, in fact, they’re in just about all of the noteworthy titles. However, there comes a time whenever you need to look at your overall story and ask yourself “How long will this puzzle take?” If you’ve done your job correctly, given your player a good amount of fear factor in an area, made your haunted house nice and spooky with that subtle tinge of fright, good on you! However, putting a Myst-level puzzle in the middle of a room with which to slow their progress is highly discouraged. After a while, you lose all feeling of uneasiness in favor of confusion. That confusion can turn into boredom very quickly if you are not careful. Then your player goes off to a walkthrough of the game and that just takes them out of the experience as a whole. Was it really worth it?

 

Fast and Easy Scares: Perhaps the most used and abused element of the survival horror genre. Before terror or eeriness sets in, we are treated to a big fat monster with scary fangs going booga booga! No… just no. There is a method to this, and popping out at the very beginning to scream at your player is not the answer. These things take time to build, they need to progress slowly before you jump the gun.

 

Atmosphere: Let’s face it, if you do not have the skills to create a truly unsettling atmosphere for your player to lurk, survival horror is going to be nigh impossible. This can be done in several creative ways, some ways need very little expensive backgrounds, but at the same time, the more creative you aim, the better you should probably be with your surroundings and the more time you should spend adding just that extra tinge of subtle paint on a wall that looks like it may or may not be blood.

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The Antagonist: Perhaps one of the most important things you can get right and wrong is the main villain of the game. Dracula is a very hefty example of this, so let’s use him, shall we? Dracula has been depicted in thousands of ways, whether it be the ancient Transylvanian vampire or a new age, bleak depiction of the vampiric lord, he can be menacing, or he can be an outright joke. Say you bring him into the fray and he does his thing, but then in walks his father. The bigger, badder vampire guy with the aura of mastery will overshadow our favorite blood sucker, and then all credibility will be lost. You just killed any vibes you were aiming for in favor of a new, scary bad guy with bigger shoulder pads. Well, what about Dracula? If he’s sitting there trying to impress his daddy, why do we care?

 

Or, let’s say you go a little overboard with his villainous traits, give him that evil laugh that we all know, make him just walk in, spout out some threats and kill a kitten. Well, now we’re just sitting there saying “Okay, we get it, we want to kill you. You don’t need to rub it in!” Subtlety, that is the key to giving us a fulfilling urge to reach the goal, and it also makes us fear this guy. We need to be afraid of his fangs and his power, and once we get into that final boss battle, we can truly concentrate and wonder “Well, crap, what do I do now? I need to pay attention. OH GOD! PLEASE HAVE MERCY ON ME!”

 

Helplessness: This can be completely abused and horribly mistreated. However, when done right, it can be the kicker that makes your game truly great! If you truly feel helpless in the eyes of a terrifying entity, but have that chance of escape/victory, the urge to survive will come to you naturally. Hence the name “survival horror.” You want to survive, and thus you will play every facet of the game in order to obtain the ability to do so. Even if you are given a pistol with which to defend yourself. If that pistol does not stop the monster, though it may slow it down, the horror is heightened! “Crap! What do I do now? I need to run! Please don’t catch me!” Boom! You have just successfully upped the fear factor and made your game that much better.

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Forced Fear: Finally, it is worth talking about one thing that many games seem to fall back on as a means to invoke some sort of reaction. Do not tell the player what they are feeling. Do not have a fear meter or some random character saying “This place is so scary!” We will be the judge of that! Telling us to be scared and driving it into our heads like you’re commanding us to emote just does not work. Yes, having the character we play show how scared they are can affect us, but that is only if it is done properly. There are tones you need to set, traits you need to build upon and relationships you need to cement into us before we truly begin to feel for what they are going through. Telling us when to scream is overstepping your bounds as a game, and usually draws an opposite reaction of perpetual eye-rolling.

 

You can have a great game with amazing game mechanics at your disposal. Good on you. However, before you start labeling your genre to the capacity of Lovecraftian horror of the survival variety, make sure you at least make an effort to bring us into that mindset. It is not easy, especially if you are aiming to truly make us bite our nails. You can throw in all of the jump scares you want, but unless you get us in that dark, abysmal place in our psyches that invokes those emotions we came here for, you have failed your mission. Pay attention to what truly brings out the scares and makes us delve into that world. You will be glad you did. But first, always remember to drink water.

Rage Quit Labyrinth – Hollow Knight Review

Name: Hollow Knight
Developer: Team Cherry
Publisher: Team Cherry
Release Date: 24 February 2017
Platform: PC (click here for the Steam link)

It’d be really easy to sit here and liken Team Cherry’s Hollow Knight to any Metroid game, so that’s exactly what I’m going to do. Hollow Knight plays a helluva lot like classic and contemporary Metroid games. If there was ever a game that embodies the word “Metroidvania”, it’s Hollow Knight. Cut it in half and you’ll find a picture of Samus Aran running through it.

Ok, so you get it by now. Hollow Knight is a 2D platformer with a sprawling map to explore. Periodic skill upgrades enable you to backtrack and access previously out-of-reach areas, find more upgrades, and advance the story.

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But instead of super missiles and life-draining flying parasites, Hollow Knight offers a weird and wonderful world full of talking bugs, corporeal dreams and ancient prophecies. The game opens with a tough but diminutive warrior awakening and jumping from a really high cliff to find a largely abandoned village called Dirtmouth.

It sits above a ruined, ancient kingdom that was sealed a long time ago – only the well in Dirtmouth allows access. And there’s something down there stirring from a long slumber…

Mechanically, Hollow Knight is everything you could ask for from a modern platformer. Expanding on the classic basics, it adds in a plethora of new twists and ideas to provide a challenging title even for genre veterans. All of those speed run videos you can find will seem extra impressive once you actually play the game for yourself.

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The protagonist attacks foes with his trusty nail, bashing enemies at melee range. Supplementing this are some ranged spells, and later, advanced nail techniques that let you deliver charged power attacks. Enemies drop currency that can be used to buy map upgrades, more charms, or expand the nifty Stag system that serves as the ancient kingdom’s Underground network.

Adding versatility to how you play Hollow Knight is the charm system. Each charm has a different effect, and occupies a certain number of notches; the more powerful the effect, the more notches you use up. For example, you can use a charm that gives you bonus health, that shows where you are on the map, or extends the attack range of the nail to attack enemies.

You can gain more notches by purchasing them at stores, or unlocking them via challenges, but ultimately it comes down to the choice of having fewer stronger boons, or more numerous weaker ones. I found myself leaning towards the latter, though of course every player will be different. And the sheer volume of charms makes it fun to experiment with different combinations.

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And experiment you shall, because Hollow Knight can be savagely, ruthlessly, mercilessly hard. There’s a small safety redundancy in place in that if you die, all of your hard-earned cash stays in the same location with a shade of your former self. If you defeat it, you reclaim your lost loot. But if you die again before you do, it’s all lost. Forever. And that’s even before you play the game in Steel Soul mode, which inflicts permadeath.

Luckily, Hollow Knight is a pleasure for the eyes and ears, so although the repeated deaths you’ll endure will culminate in repeated rage quits, exploring the labyrinthine depths of the fallen kingdom of Hallownest will take the edge off the anger.

I continue to be a fan of understated graphic styles, and the sleepy, dusty kingdom of Hallownest certainly showcases one. There’s such a rich and varied texture to each of the areas; the palette of Hollow Knight isn’t that varied, which makes how distinct the different sections of the world are such an achievement.

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And what a world map it is. There’s a sprawling maze of interconnected caverns, rivers of acid, and forests of fungus to explore. And if there is a joy above all of the others in Hollow Knight, it’s in the exploration. The game places a high premium on the art of mapping, making it really difficult at first to navigate the mysterious depths.

Indeed, it’ll cost you a precious charm notch just to keep track of where you are at any given time. Incomplete maps of each area must be bought, and yet another item purchased to add new rooms to the map as you travel through them. Map pins keep track of places of interest – once you buy them, of course. Fortunately, Hollow Knight doesn’t operate a microtransaction system!

You can lose hours plumbing the depths of Hollow Knight, and just when things get too frustrating – and they will get frustrating – it’s easy to put the difficult area to one side in favour another far-flung corner of the large game map. A treat for the eyes, a nostalgia hit for old-school Metroid fans, and more challenges than a political election in Florida; Hollow Knight has a lot to offer.

EnomView Score: 9 out of 10

Survival Horror – Do’s and Don’t’s (1)

Survival horror is perhaps one of the most slippery slopes in gaming. That feeling you get when you walk into a room you have never been in. You can barely see, the shadows in the room take on forms that look ominous, the silence in the room is louder than any noise that you will ever hear, and everything is still, motionless, eerie. There is a creeping feeling in your brain that tells you that you should not be there, and the darkness begins to take its toll on your nerves. There is a sudden flash from outside the black curtains in front of the window that makes you stop in your tracks as all of the forms of the room are brought to light for a single instant, but that only makes it worse as the darkness returns. One sudden motion, and your heart can skip a beat, you begin to feel the dreading that something is watching you, something is coming for you, something is about to crawl out from underneath the furniture that is covered in white sheets and grab your ankles, pulling you into a place unknown, a shadowy place of which there is no return.

It is up to the game developers to first capture that feeling in a setting for your character, and simulate that feeling of absolute helplessness. Do you have a weapon with which to defend yourself? Can you survive if something truly does lurk in the shadows? Well, that’s where we start to get into the true cusp of a much larger world, one that has captured the hearts of millions, but also caused some of the largest disappointments ever seen in the gaming world, rivalling that of E.T. for the Atari.

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Truly terrifying horror games are some of the most difficult things to write and develop. While there have been some terrific successes, there have also been some horrific failures that completely trounce the number of good games that are meant to invoke fear. When you step out from the middle of the trees, and get a good look at the forest for what it is, you can start to see where the successes bleed together. They have certain elements in them that are worth noting and if used properly, can truly give the player what they came to see and feel, true terror!

Horror movie fans are normally the target audience. Those people that go to the theater to see a scary film, even if chances are it is not going to be good, they are willing to risk it. These are the ones that want to take that extra step further and live in that world. They want to interact with that horror movie and be a part of it. If you can make your audience feel like that, you have won the race that is called survival horror, and you will be greatly rewarded for your efforts.

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Then there are attempts that just miss the point entirely, or do not have the means nor the know-how to truly make the player become engulfed in their dark, horrific reality. This could be from a lack of funding, a lack of skill, or just a simple lack of knowledge on the subject. Some people think it’s just as simple as shoving someone into a dark room and have people talk cryptic nonsense.

In the next article, we will go over some important items involved with making survival horror video games in detail. Stay tuned and be sure to keep an eye out.

Read Part 2, and in-depth list of features to include or not include, here: Part 2

Want to see more Game Development articles? Check out our article on Marketing your Indie Game, here!

A Fresh Roguelike – Slay The Spire Early Access Review

Roguelikes have been a dime and a dozen over the last decade. While it is an interesting video game genre with a high difficulty level and clever progression mechanics, many of the games that belong to it have flown past the radar for many because they failed to differentiate themselves from kingpins like Rogue Legacy and Spelunky. Not only that, but all too many games seem to be implementing Roguelike elements into their gameplay seemingly at random. But despite the over-saturated market Slay The Spire, which just released on Steam early access, manages to feel fresh and engaging.

I know, I know, it’s heresy to review a game while it’s in early access, but this is one of those games that deserved to be checked out now. You’re not missing out on any story (of which there is none, in typical roguelike fashion) and all mechanics are in place. All to be added is some additional game modes, characters and cards. ‘Cards?’, I hear you ask. Yes, cards. In this game, you defeat your enemy using a deck of cards, each with unique offensive, defensive or skill based powers. You use these cards in turn based fashion to deplete your enemies health pool while saving your own hide. If you are thinking Hearthstone, then you are on the right track.

The gameplay mechanics of Slay The Spire actually aren’t all that unique. You progress through a series of rooms containing combat encounters, shops, rest points and a smattering of other things. While all these rooms are presented on a map and you are allowed to pick your own route, this is still standard fare in the land of Roguelikes. The combat mechanics, while finely tuned, are also fairly reminiscent of games like Hearthstone, and standard trading card games. What makes this game feels fresh is that this combination of game elements hasn’t been done all that many times before. The only other game I can think of that does this is Hand of Fate, and that game has a wholly different approach. It’s a breath of fresh air to play a roguelike that isn’t a top-down hack and slash or a 2D platformer for once. The art style has a hand-drawn feeling to them (probably because the sprites were hand drawn). This style may not appeal to every gamer but it’s good when a game strays away from pixel art for once.

The game plays really smooth in its current state, so there’s good hope for the rest of the journey through early access. You start the game with one of three characters, one of which isn’t out yet. The difference between them is their starting health pool, aesthetics and relic. Relics are items that give you a permanent buff for your playthrough, which could be over in minutes. The Ironclad starts out with a relic that heals him at the end of every combat encounter, for example.

Your starting deck consists of a bunch of duplicate attack and defend cards that you can use to damage your enemy or block incoming damage. At the end of every combat encounter, you are able to choose one of three random cards to add to your deck. There is a surprising amount of depth and strategy in deck building. Will you choose cards with high damage output and boosts your deck with cards that increase your strength? Or perhaps you will focus on debuffs or even a deck where you discard cards and gain special effects. The fun lies in experimenting with these strategies, and overcoming the many powerful enemies with them. Add potions, shops and relics to this and you’ve got yourself a game where roguelike enthusiasts can really sink their teeth in. Highly recommended in its current state, but we will definitely update this post when it comes out of early access.

The Brawl to End it All – Stick Fight: The Game Review

Remember when we use to draw stick figures? Or when we used to have those stick figures wield our poorly sketched armaments? Well, take that, add a bucket of awesomeness, and some snake-shooting weapons, and you get Stick Fight: The Game.

Stick Fight: The Game allows you to take control of a stick figure and fight against up to three other opponents. While you fight to the death, varying states of destructive weapons rain from above such as snipers, pistols, rocket launchers, snake guns, flamethrowers, and so much more.

The games key feature is its online mode. This allows you to connect with three random people and begin the carnage instantly, but, there is also a local mode, where two people can use one computer to wage wars on each other. The great thing about local co-op, especially with a game like Stick Fight: The Game, is that it could easily be the centerpiece of any couch party. Gathering around your flat-screen with four controllers and a hunger for beating your inhumanly thin friends just became possible.

The physics of the game are basically non-existent. You can jump twice your height and fire snipers with one hand. The map is entirely dynamic, so you can shoot at anything to destroy it and send your opponent’s plummeting to the depths below. This can be a fun and easy way to win, but your character can also climb onto any surface so they could recover and then you’re in for a nasty surprise.

The dynamic-map aspect is unique to the beat ’em up genre. When coupled with the many different power-ups you can use to decimate the map, it becomes a truly invigorating match with a satisfying victory.

I do wish that there was access to more maps. As far as I can tell, there are only three or four. If a community map building update of some sort was released, it would make for a lot of fun for every player. There is no tutorial for the game, but that is quickly overlooked as the game is easy enough to understand in the first two or three matches.

Finally, there is a feature in the game to talk with other players, so I took this opportunity to get some feedback from others within my intense matches. They had this to say: 

“This game is a great way to spend an hour or two”
“My favorite fighting game I’ve found on steam for under $5”
“I love this game because of the unrealistic weapons (like this snake gun)”

EnomView Score: 9 out of 10

Check out the game: http://store.steampowered.com/app/674940/Stick_Fight_The_Game/

Insect Invaders – Q-YO Blaster Review

Alien insects have invaded Earth, and it falls on you to defend your home from these miscreants. Enter the miniature world to stop the threat and wipe them out! With eight levels and two difficulty modes, Q-YO blaster is a surprisingly fun 2D shoot em’ up for the price, rocking an adorable pixel art style and slick animations.

The story plays out like a whacky fever dream, and that’s a good thing. There’s nothing more of a buzzkill than a game taking itself too seriously, but thankfully, the game proudly owns the absurd premise of fighting off insect invaders. When I played Q-YO blaster, I truly felt like the last hope of earthkind, up against insurmountable odds.

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Q-YO blaster is reminiscent of arcade games, each death using a single ‘credit’. You get nine credits on easy mode, and slightly less on hard mode. There are three gameplay styles to choose from: Attack, Defence, or a mix of both. Finishing your first run will unlock several more special attacks, and the variety keeps things fresh.

Each style has its own roster of characters to pick from, with their own distinct bullets and special power-ups to experiment with. This adds to the game’s replayability and fun factor, because what’s not to like when you can play as a jet-pack wearing hamster, a robot doll, or even a severed dog head?

The story is, unfortunately, lost in translation due to the exhausting-to-read font and ineligible english, but the buoyant designs of enemies and bosses more than make up for it. Even the backgrounds are a sight to behold, and overall, the pleasant colour scheme is easy on the eyes and fits the retro-arcade look.

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The gameplay is simple but addicting. You shoot bullets to take out nasty insects, while dodging all sorts of multi-coloured projectiles. Characters are given several upgrades to choose from after completing each level, allowing players to tailor a character to their liking. Upgrades include permanent power-ups to, like upping your bullet speed, or adding an extra life prevent from dying too quickly.

Q-YO Blaster is challenging but it never feels unfair. Throughout my time with the game, I never died due to poor hitboxes, glitches, or external elements I couldn’t control. Whenever I died, it was usually due to a moment of carelessness, but I keep coming back because the game is ridiculously fun.

I don’t usually play shoot em’ up games and Q-YO blaster is more of an exception than the norm for me, but I enjoyed the game a lot. I highly recommend checking it out if you’re interested in beautiful, pixel art, and something challenging.

EnomView Score: 7 out of 10

Indie Game Marketing

It goes without saying that game development requires a lot of work. This ranges from how you will create the art and design for your game, all the way to how will you promote it once it releases. Of course, if you are an individual or a small game studio, you are likely to need an extra pair of hands when it comes to physically (and mentally) managing all of these different aspects of game development. Whether you are a small team or not, you can still have success in the game dev world.

My name is Max, creative director at MLC and I will be sharing our experience working with game studios to help market/build their games. Hopefully, our unique tips will improve your knowledge and understanding of how you can develop an incredibly successful game.

In this blog, we will focus on our most recent major project, Batch 17. We started by working on different resources to make it stand out online and look the best it could. Promotion on various platforms like Reddit was a great success, which you could even say, made the game as popular as it has become. Ultimately, when marketing a game there is one thing you need to have in your mind: There is no one way to market anything, it is all about persistence and creativity.

Persistence

Focusing on reaching the absolute maximum amount of people is very important. Set yourself a target of a potential reach of 1 million people. I know that sounds impossible, but it really isn’t too bad. There are plenty of subreddits with 80K+ people in them. Post in these subreddits, some Facebook groups, make sure your Twitter is buzzing and you will be well on your way. Even targeting smaller communities is effective. For example, letting a streamer with 1k followers have access to your game could end up being well worth your time and effort.

Creativity

It is important to think of new ideas to help reach that goal of 1 million people. It just isn’t enough to post your game on sites saying “Hey check out this cool game I made, it has guns and shit!”. That’s far too common. Think about what a player might be thinking. For Batch 17, we got our major success when we posted about our upcoming free alpha. Our Twitter was well organized and constantly posting, so people found it and were interested. I woke up one morning and we had been put on Metacritic, a blog had been written about our alpha and we had 400 sign-ups. Now their mailing list has 11,000 members!

What is important to learn from this is: target your audience like you would want to be targeted. Don’t assume someone wants to play your game, in fact, assume they don’t. It’s all about saying “hey look at me”, so draw attention to yourself using a great hook and kicker (great blog post about hook and kicker). Make a kickass trailer (or ask us!), run a giveaway or even partner with a Discord channel. Whatever you do, remember it’s all about that reach count. If your trailer isn’t being found and has less than 1k views, consider sending it to a channel like MathChief. Get other people involved.

 

Finally, make sure you know what you are selling. There is nothing worse than not even knowing what’s so fun about your own game. Get your ideas and stick with them. Copy and paste writing you have used on your store page, on your posts around the web (of course altering slightly). Make your game relate to what the audience wants to play – which is most likely what you want to play.

Get in touch

There is too much to marketing to put in one blog post. There are plenty resources online to help you learn more, but make no mistake, this is hard stuff. If you are really serious about your project it is vital you get marketing done properly. Feel free to contact me at sales@maxlouiscreative.com or message me on Discord at Max#2210 to have a chat with me 🙂

Steam Indie Game Recap – Week of the 21st

Indie games come out every day. Sadly though, many of the incredible titles released never gain the publicity they deserve. Here are three games released this week on steam that deserved to be checked out!


1. Witchkin


“You are being stalked by evil dolls in an old black-and-white film”

Witchkin is a first person ‘hide-and-sneak’ survival horror game in the vein of Slender or Five Nights at Freddie’s.

The player takes the role of a child attempting to find his abducted little sister in an abandoned Texas farmhouse in the 1920’s. This house is home to the Witchkin–a family of terrifying toys, the children of a deranged woman known as the Candy Lady. Using her “children” she will do everything in her power to keep all who enter the house from ever leaving.

The base play mechanics of Witchkin are primarily stealth. Sneaking, hiding, staying quiet and aware of the toys and your surroundings are skills required throughout the game. Witchkin boasts a very strong and unique art style reminiscent of early silent movies, painted in the eerie sepia tones of postmortem photos and the murky shadows of nightmares.

Witchkin is a one-man show, only one person created the game: art, music, voice (with a little help from family members), and programming.

Check out Witchkin on Steam, here:
http://store.steampowered.com/app/682170/Witchkin/

2. Damsel

Cause some distress in this fast-paced arcade platformer. Speed through each arena taking on vampires, rescuing hostages, disarming bombs, hacking servers and much more. Super tight and responsive controls let you take on the darkness with precision and style. Balance frenetic action with split-second choices, and watch your back – you never know what direction the next vamp will come from! Armed with her powerful ultraviolet shotgun, Ra, make the undead see the light; or get in close and personal with devastating melee attacks. Or maybe, save up your shots and use Damsel’s powerful (and deadly) dash.

String together attacks and movement while collecting the mysterious arcane skulls that litter each environment. Challenge yourself to pull off combos and special moves and wear your high score as a badge of honor! Experiment in each mission to discover that perfect sequence of moves and shots that maximise your effectiveness. Damsel is a ballet, and you’re the choreographer.

– Super fast, frantic gameplay with that “just one more go!” feel.
– Quick, nimble platforming in over a dozen beautiful environments.
– Bite-sized missions, for those with busy schedules.
– Use your enemies and environment to your advantage. Temp your foes into taking each other out, then go in and clean up the rest.
– Rack up massive scores and hit the top of the leaderboard by completing bonus challenges and performing tricky moves.
– Play through the game in campaign mode, where you can hone your skills, or arcade mode, a classic challenge that sorts the women from the girls.
– Coffin loads of extra challenges and bonuses to extend your play time.
– Awesome original soundtrack.

Check out Damsel on Steam, here:
http://store.steampowered.com/app/452410/Damsel/

3. Scrap Attack (VR)

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– Dive into virtual reality and blast away waves of evil robots in an immersive arcade style shooter.
– Defend the crystal from the 5 ruthless enemy types with awesome sci-fi weaponry.
– Three different arenas of varying difficulties for you to master.
– Compete in online and local leaderboards for the top score.

How far will you push yourself to protect the crystal from the robot onslaught?

Check out Scrap Attack on Steam, here:
http://store.steampowered.com/app/774401/Scrap_Attack_VR/

How to Make Your First Game

For just about every gamer there is in the world, there are about a half a hundred game ideas just waiting to be tapped into. If I had a dime for every time that I’ve heard one, I think I’d be rich enough to provide every cent that Rockstar needed to make GTA 6 a reality. For many, these are just ideas, but for others, these are the beginning baby steps into a long, glorious future in game design, and we here at EnomView want nothing more than to set those beginners on the right track. Here are some helpful tips to get you started:


1. Idea & Scope

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The first part of this step is simple enough: have an idea! Was there ever a game-related passion project you wanted to start on? A concept you wanted to make into something tangible? If so, then now’s the time to take that idea and practically apply it.

The second part of this step, however, is much more tricky.

>>>Think small.<<<

While you should definitely let your imagination run wild, you have to remember that this is the first time you’ve stepped up to the plate, bat at-the-ready. You shouldn’t expect your game to sell, nor should you be trying to make something comparable to AAA titles like Assassin’s Creed, The Elder Scrolls, or Call of Duty. Instead, shoot for something like a mobile app game, or one of the more simple flash games you’d find on Kongregate or Armorgames.

If you have some sort of other talents you can use, like art or writing, then by all means, use it. However, since you’ll most likely be working on this all on your own–and again–this is your first project, you’ll want to worry first and foremost about the gameplay and mechanics, not the stylization of it all. Record a basic synopsis of that idea somewhere safe and keep that synopsis handy.

There are lots of strategies to creating good mechanics, but if you want more help with those before you start or maybe just need some inspiration, then I’m going to recommend the following links:

Snoman Gaming (Quick videos going over examples of good game design in popular indie and AAA games)

GDC (Videos of lectures given by professional designers at the Game Design Con)

Extra Credits (A channel recommended to me personally by several designers who’ve been making games for years)

2. Game On

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Play games similar to the one you want to make, but don’t just mess around, analyze them. Try to break them, exploit their faults and glitches, figure out what they did right and what they did wrong. Try to look at these games not only from the perspective of a player, but a developer, and determine why the systems put in place were chosen. Use the knowledge you’ve gained and edit the information on your recorded synopsis as necessary.

3. Pick an Engine

Things weren’t this easy at this stage back in the old days, but thankfully times have changed. It’s now possible to make something that people all over the world will fall in love with and not even have to touch the code. Every one of the engines listed below has their perks. While you can truthfully use any one that you so please, certain engines will work better for certain types of games.

Gamemaker Studio 2 – Used to make games like Death’s Gambit and Undertale, Gamemaker Studio 2 is really the best all-around choice here. Platformers, RPGs, general flash games, and even 3D games can be made with GMS2. (Tutorial playlist links)

Gamesalad – Generally used for mobile app games, it’s not uncommon to see a featured download on the App Store that was made with Gamesalad. For games made to be played on a phone or tablet, Gamesalad’s where you’ll want to go. (Part 1 of Tutorial Videos)

RPG Maker – If you like old school RPGs, then you’ll love RPG Maker. If you’re making a game like The Legend of Zelda or Pokemon, then go ahead and use this one. (Tutorial Playlist) 

Unity  – Used to make 3D games like Kerbal Space Program, Rust, and Battlestar Galactica Online, Unity’s the first choice of several indie developers. It will unfortunately be the hardest on this list, and is usually only used for games with 3D models, but it should not by any means be dismissed. (Part 1 of Tutorial Videos) 

Once you’ve decided upon one such engine, play around with it. Use one of the tutorials linked above and get a feel for what you can and can’t do. Then, when you’ve got a basic feel for it…

4. Give it a Go

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Try and make it happen!

Set about with an idea that won’t take you any longer than a month, then give yourself half a months time longer to account for production errors. If you go over that month and a half-long timeframe, then it may be best to take a step back, figure out what you did wrong, and start again with something new. It’s far too easy to fall into a forever-unending development cycle, and you want to make sure that you finish your work.

When you’re done, ask a few people you know to play it, and collect feedback. Apply that feedback and make changes as necessary.

“And what about when I’m done? What do I do then?”

Start right over from the beginning, my friend, and keep making games over and over again until everyone you know is begging to play your latest release. And then, once you’ve reached that point, keep on going.


Looking for more articles like this? Check out our Game Development is Not Easy article!