In Development – May Roundup

Articles PC

In Development is back with another Roundup of five awesome games still in development stage. This month we’ve been thinking a lot about graphic styles (we’re redefining DNX Gaming’s visual branding) so I decided to bring you a selection of concepts with innovative graphic mechanics. You always hear about games with cool graphics or nice aesthetics. Some developers take this further, implementing those cool graphics and nice aesthetics in creative ways. We’ll see some pretty cool effects, perspectives, and scenarios that will give a fresh new twist to your favorite gaming genres.

All the games featured in this Roundup have free demos for you to try, and all the information you need to support the development process of your favorites indie games.

1. HEARTH

Itch.io: https://milanimal.itch.io/hearth
Reviewed on Windows.
Genre: Survival
Developer: Corey Bertelsen, Vivi, and Millipede.

HEARTH is a survival 3D adventure, where everything burns? The only thing that can keep you alive through this unforgiving winter is your hearth. You’ll have to explore, gather, craft, fight… Anything you can do to keep your fire alive.

The game has achieves sweet aesthetics using simple graphics. dominated by dark tones clashing with the white snow that covers everything around. Now, when your energy starts to run low, your UI turns to an intense red. The simplicity of the artwork and the intense color changes work together to immerse you deeper into the experience, urging you to keep the hearth alive.

Interview Highlights

Q: Why HEARTH? What motivated the concept?

A: Bennett Foddy gave Milan a prototype prompt that was “A game designed to make money.” You can still play that original prototype at https://milanimal.itch.io/prototype-12 The original idea for our Masters Thesis was that we’d take that project and shift into a more Rogue-like game that involved the Chinese I-Ching, but the “feed the hearth” game loop ended up having more gravity than we anticipated.

We have a long list of inspirations, from survival games to charcoal drawings to avant-garde percussion music, but essentially the game is about entropy – you need the fire to stay alive, but burning things in the world has consequences.

Q: Are you working on any other games?

A: Corey is doing sound for Hyper Ecofarm – and some level design for Static – 
Milan is working on Constellations –  
Vivi recently made Card Odyssey – 

In order to survive, you have to keep your energy bar up. The real challenge is that your energy is constantly going down whenever you get away from the fire. There are ways of making it last longer, like only going out during the day, or at least crafting a torch for the night. But eventually, your need for fuel will make you venture deeper into the forest, be prepared.

How can you help the development of HEARTH?

HEARTH’s demo was developed by Corey Bertelsen, Vivi, and Millipede as a thesis project for NYU Game Center. But after a year of work the plan to keep working on the concept.

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If you want to support this awesome survival adventure follow them on twitter @feedthehearth

 

2. Hull Breach

Itch.io: https://v-ktor.itch.io/hull-breach
Reviewed on Windows.
Genre: Arcade Shooter
Developer: Viktor

 

Hull Breach is a simple Arcade Shooter where you’ll have to fend off enemies in an underwater setting. Drive any of the three spaceships with different stats and special abilities. Take down as many enemies as you can to beat the high score.

Viktor did a great job integrating the pixel art graphics with the space shooter theme. Your pixel spaceships turn with 3D perspective, giving the game a nice 2.5D feel. This would be easier to appreciate with a little more illumination. However, the 3D component works very well to enhance the pixel artwork and make the game quite aesthetic.

Interview Highlights

Q: What motivated the concept?

A: Regarding the pixel art style, the idea was to have strong outlines and 3D looking lighting. The sprites were rendered using Blender and there are normal maps and 2D lighting.

Regarding the style, It’s supposed to be dark. Enemies should be hard to dodge if you only react once they enter the screen. This is also the reason for the controls – you can only move with reasonable speed in a forward direction. So you have to keep an eye on the indicators and the radar.

Q: What has been the biggest challenge in the development?

A: There was no real big challenge, but this is because I already made a similar game with Godot (that was never in a playable state). I remember from that time setting up the collisions right using multiple collision layers was most difficult. Also rendering the sprites with Blender was somewhat complicated, particularly the outlines – there were some gaps so I had to correct this afterward.

The game gets very challenging, with all the enemies shooting at you and all. Luckily your ship is fast, with enough skill you can get out of danger. but mind the rocks and other ships, crashing into them will kill you just as fast.

How can you support Viktor Develop Hull Breach?

Hull Breach is pretty much ready, Viktor would really appreciate bug reports and feature requests, you can submit those to the GitHub project. If you’d like to get more arcade action and features, start sharing this concept with all your friends.

 

3. Future Mage: Spellmaker

Itch.io: https://paperfrog.itch.io/futuremage
Reviewed on Windows.
Genre: Action RPG
Developer: Albin Andersson

Have you ever wanted to design your own spells? Future Mage: Spellmaker has a simple interface that lets you program the effects of your spells. Want to shoot fire or lightning? Should it go faster or stay longer? Twist, split, turn… You’ll have many different customizable behaviors, all you have to do is drag and drop in the order you like best.

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The best part is the display of the spells you programmed. You can appreciate your work with their clean low poly design and good illumination. It can get pretty spectacular after a few levels. The enemies will get tougher and so will your magic.

Interview highlights

Q: What inspired the concept of Future Mage: Spellmaker?

A: I’ve generally always been a fan of games where you as a player can create and customize a lot. Kind of where you will lean back from the screen and carefully plan your next move. For this game, I think it was a lot of different things coming together. When I started to learn game programming a few years back, I made this little split-screen, top-down game where you flew around and tried to hit each other with one of like twenty attacks. It was naturally not a very good game, being one of my first, but I thought it was very fun to program all the different skills and weapons and somewhere there, the idea that that process could be given directly to the player was born.

Q: What’s the next step? Can you tell us something about upcoming features?

A: I will continue to eliminate bugs and balance the game, but I also want to put together a manual to help newcomers get a good start. I’m also planning to compose a soundtrack. After that, I’m not yet completely sure which way to go. I have some ideas to some new nodes and some boss fights would also be exciting to implement, but I think what I most of all need now is feedback from people playing to see what works well and what doesn’t.

The game is very challenging. You need to make sure your spells are as powerful as they can on every floor. Otherwise, you won’t stand a chance against the robot army.

How can you help Albin Andersson develop Future Mage: Spellmaker?

Albin is looking for all the feedback and constructive criticism he can get. Developing any game takes a long time, it’s hard for a single person to develop and share a game. It would help a lot if you could tell him what you think and share it with all your friends.

 

4. Forager

Itch.io: https://hopfrog.itch.io/forager
Reviewed on Windows.
Genre: Survival Sandbox
Developer: HopFrog

Gather and refine different resources. Build cool structures. Craft equipment and weapons. Everything a good sandbox needs. The 2D aesthetics are simple and colorful, but the best part of Forager is that you don’t need to be close to the items to loot them. Just drag the pointer over and they go straight to your inventory. Such a simple mechanic can really save a bunch of time when binge playing a sandbox game.

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The graphics on Forager are artistic and very animated. The way the whole world shakes when you swing your pickaxe makes you feel the power. and everything jumps shakes or moves in cool patterns. The whole experience is very fun and engaging.

There are many recipes to craft. The game has a subtle RPG component to let you unlock them and customize your character. You can try the demo right now, it has 2-3 hours of gameplay.

How can you help HopFrog develop Forager?

The full version of the game is coming this fall (2018) on steam. You can subscribe to their email list to keep up to date with the progress and share all the information about Forager with your gamer friends.

 

5. CastleClysmic

Itch.io: https://ostsenior.itch.io/castleclysmic
Reviewed on Windows.
Genre: 2D Platformer
Developer: Owen Senior

 

CastleClysmic is a regular platformer adventure where you’ll fight as a king against minions and monsters. The game has simple controls and engaging mechanics that make every move you make high-risk high-reward. ClastleClysmic sets itself apart from other 2D platformers with their pretty amazing scenarios and artwork.

Owen played expertly with the perspective when implementing the maps. Using different layers of 2D backgrounds he managed to give deepness to the world. This is an usual practice, what’s really innovative about it is the way the background layers move as you move. Then he added a few layers in front, this really took the whole 2.5D to a whole new level. In the end, CastleClysmic achieved amazing aesthetics with the pixel artwork we love some much.

Interview Highlights

Q: Why CastleClysmic? What motivated the concept?

A: I saw a rise in 3D pixel art games like The last night and Project octopath traveler and liked the subtle parallax world of Hollow knight, so I thought I’d give it a go in one of my games.

Q: What was the biggest challenge while developing the game?

A: Probably the biggest challenge was making a good melee attack as I’ve never done that before, or maybe making the giant spider’s legs sick to the walls around it, that took about a week before it worked.

The mechanics are very simple. You’ll run, jump, swing your sword and enjoy the view. You have to be really careful, enemies will kill you with one shot. Keep an eye on the signs to roll away from damage or you’ll have to go back to the last checkpoint.

How can you help Owen Senior develop CastleCysmic?

Owen has the development of the game pretty much handled, he could really use an honest rating on his itch.io site(https://ostsenior.itch.io/castleclysmic). If you try out CastleCysmic remember to go back and tell the community what you thought.

 

This concludes May’s Roundup of In Development, for all the published Roundups and Interviews visit us!