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During the last month I've been working on this fun little shooter. I wanted to make a game that simulates the feeling of growing up in the late 80s - early 90s. So I did the only rational thing: I went with all the cliches!
80s and 90s sci-fi action films were dominated by the idea that technology would advance rapidly in the next years and of course EVERYONE's vision of the future was: robots and cyborgs! So in the spirit of that pop culture I made the game with the same hooks: "In the near future, in the year 1997..." , "...experimental microchips inside soldiers..." , "...until it all went wrong..." these are some of the basic premises regarding the story. But the story alone isn't enough to carry a game, and an action shooter one at that. So I started experimenting with the visuals. I used pre-existing assets by CRAFTPIX and some others and got down to work. The reason for the top down view is this:
This was the official arcade machine of TECMO's "Tehkan World Cup '85". This was one of a kind arcade cab that was great for playing that game since it shared the same top down point of view. I was lucky enough to have an arcade near my home when I was growing up and I used to visit that every weekend and that unique machine really stood out. So of course I went with a CRT shader for the game to simulate scanlines and the "curvy" feeling of those screens.
Of course one of the most important aspects of games like this, is the music. Thankfully I found some extremely talented synthwave artists that have shared their works royalty-free. They are way too many to remark them all right now, but they are all in the credits of the game. One wrong assumption that people have of the retro-futuristic aesthetic is the generic pink-purple-neon horizon with the sun setting.
While this isn't entirely false, it's not entirely true either. Most visions of the future in the 80s looked like an industrial dystopia rather than a serene purple bladerunner-esque wallpaper. While Hotline Miami does a great job with the neon-vaporwave aesthetic, this is more of a romantic point to look at the retro-futuristic vision. Most of the envisioned technology was just panels and monitors of thousands of lines of information that the characters were supposed to know what was being given to them with a single glance. Like when Neo was fighting Morpheus in The Matrix, and the crew was just staring at a black screen with random green characters popping up. Well, I ditched the random characters but kept the exposition.
Now, how do you make the player feel that they are actually controlling a cyborg? I mean, the hero isn't supposed to be a robot like the Terminator but more like a mix of the two, like Jean-Claude Van Damme's Universal Soldier. I decided to use the story and gameplay mechanics to my advantage to fool the player. So, in the game's story there is the POLLUX microchip that is being installed in soldiers in order to assist them in combat. The chip accelerates their biological neural signals giving them quicker reflexes, it processes sonic input to alert them when hostiles are nearby etc. Since the hero has a processor and augments inside him, why not having him see the world more "electronic"? Whenever the player takes damage, a visual glitch appears like when you unplug a console from the TV. Also, according to the lore, the POLLUX can overload the cyborg's nervous system, causing glitches and malfunctions and the only way to combat that is to produce adrenaline so that the organism can compensate the sensory overload. I made the decision for that for two reasons: a) I don't want the player to be sitting around in a corner and waiting for the enemies to come to them, instead the player has to actually run into combat in order to avoid the overload, and b) It looks so damn cool when glitches happen!
So, this is my vision of the game, I hope you give it a try and I would very much like to get some feedback.
Might I suggest adding more directions other than sideways to the battle animations of all the medieval packs? Right now you are not able to attack/block/dodge in every direction which makes it impossible to work with anything other than jRPG battle system.
I would gladly support a remaster.