Whew. It’s been a long time since we sat down a wrote a news roundup here at the Vlambeer blog. Sit down and grab a drink, because it’s going to be a longer one. First of all, we’re sorry that we didn’t write something in September, it was kind of crazy with Fantastic Arcade and preparing for the Nuclear Throne launch. Since then, a lot has happened – ranging from the majority of the Nuclear Throne team visiting Nottingham for GameCity to Ridiculous Fishing being nominated for a Dutch Game Award. And as some of you might’ve noticed, since the last blog post Rami spent two weeks in the hospital for emergency surgery and has been recovering since. It’s actually been interesting to us to see how our three current projects are affected by an emergency situation like that. The three main projects we want to talk about today are Nuclear Throne, LUFTRAUSERS and Ridiculous Fishing.
So let’s start with the one that most people are rightfully a bit anxious about: LUFTRAUSERS. Ironically, the above trailer still says ‘Spring 2013′, but we have been talking to Devolver Digital & Sony about the project a lot recently. With QA and FQA still ahead of us, we’ve established that 2013 is an unlikely release frame. That doesn’t mean it won’t happen, but it does mean that unless a miracle happens we don’t think it will launch before early 2014. The good news is that our job is now really done. Since our business dealings are spread thin with Rami not at full capacity, we’ve given full control of wrapping up our dogfighting game to Devolver Digital and they’ll be dealing with the final paperwork and setup. We want to re-iterate once more: we do not know the release date, because the certification process is so that you can’t set one until it clears certification.
The way we worked with LUFTRAUSERS, in hindsight, wasn’t really optimal. We assumed that certification would be harsh, but didn’t expect it to take more than a month or two. While a part of our team was already focusing on Nuclear Throne and Ridiculous Fishing, we kept being pulled back to fix things or add last minute changes to the game to fit within the requirements. Switching between projects in such different states mentally is extremely exhausting, and a lot of our time was spent orienting on where the game was and where it needed to go.
Another thing we noticed is that the project in the current state was overly dependent on Rami as a center of communications. Now, we really like being in control of our projects, but it turned out that having one central figure in development is not necessary good for control. When Rami went in for surgery, Nuclear Throne simply progressed onwards due to the way the project is set up, while LUFTRAUSERS just grinded to a full stop because the person passing on the messages was gone.
There’s a weird realisation we had after a conversation about the projects’ progress a few weeks ago: LUFTRAUSERS is very much the final product of the ‘Ridiculous Fishing’-era Vlambeer. It’s a game that Jan Willem started on to jam away his worries about Ridiculous Fishing while Zach, Greg and Rami were trying to salvage the project. In many ways, LUFTRAUSERS feels more aggressive than most of our other games. It’s a really strictly defined game in every way, from the limitations we set ourselves in the seven-color palette, but also in the way it uses only four buttons, the way the interface had to integrate into the world, the way it launches simultaneously on all platforms. LUFTRAUSERS is us being desperate about not climbing out of our clone-induced depression and us being angry at ourselves for getting cloned in the first place.
We’ve talked a lot recently about how Vlambeer games come from a happy place. LUFTRAUSERS was us transitioning back to happiness. In many ways, that makes LUFTRAUSERS feel like a different game than most of our games, which we actually think is really cool. Don’t get us wrong, LUFTRAUSERS is everything you’d expect from a Vlambeer game and we’re really proud of it: it’s intense, it’s challenging and it achieved the goals we set out for ourselves in April 2012. It’ll probably release in really early 2014, which also happens to be a really nice release window. We’re leaving the rest of this one up to Devolver until we rev up for release.
Nuclear Throne has been making good progress, as you all can see during the livestreams on Tuesday and Thursday. Unlike LUFTRAUSERS, the project is set up in a really distributed fashion. While LUFTRAUSERS uses a really strict seperation of responsibilities, Jan Willem leading the project during prototyping and Rami leading it during porting and certification, Nuclear Throne is a bit more open. That meant that even when someone dropped from the team, the team could operate in some capacity. Within the team, we’ve discussed the lore and goals and ideas of the game a lot – and everybody can add to the lore, modify the atmosphere and add extra intentionality to whatever they’re working on.
Nuclear Throne has made a lot of progress since the name change. Where the original prototype featured just three worlds and five mutants, we’ve completely revamped the game, added not only two new mutants and two new worlds, a lot of new mutations and we’ve finally started layering the game. In Update #4, we’ve finally introduced the Interdimensional Police Department, or I.D.P.D. for short, and Crown Vaults, and in expanding their role in the game, we’ll be adding a lot of interesting new ways to play Nuclear Throne.
The game has done extremely well on Early Access. In a week or two Nuclear Throne sold over ten thousand copies, which is absolutely mindblowing to us. Even in this early version, people are playing about 5 hours on average, and 5% of players already invested more than 20 hours. Those statistics exceed all our expectiations. Our idea wasn’t to have a public beta test, although we’re really grateful for everybody sending us bugs, but to create an experience – a ride, so to speak – out of us making a videogame. We wanted to do game development in an honest, open and almost performative way. So far, it’s been extremely rewarding. Not to mention the amount of fan art we’ve gotten on Tumblr and the Steam Forums, which is so overwhelming. We can’t wait to really start making noise about the game.
Unexpectedly, the other noise we’re making is about Ridiculous Fishing, and the news is pretty simple and we can wrap it up in a single image.
Because of popular request, we’ve been working with Zach Gage & Greg Wohlwend since March to see if we can create an Android version of Ridiculous Fishing. The breakthrough came when we met up with the folks at Apportable, who have a framework that allows them to port the game over to Android. That port is now almost done, and the next time you see us mentioning this should be when it releases. It might be sooner than you think.
As for minor updates, Rami finally got the MacBook Air we received for the Apple Design Award 2013 to work, so we can start making progress on the Super Crate Box iOS update as well. We’ve decided to use LUFTRAUSERS & Nuclear Throne as test projects for Windows 8 support, so as soon as those are done our own end we hope we can look into Windows 8 support for Super Crate Box, GUN GODZ and Serious Sam: The Random Encounter.
Jan Willem was in the media recently with an in-depth Rock, Paper, Shotgun article about that typical Vlambeer ‘game feel’, while Rami wrote an introspective post about life and impact that was later discussed on the BigSushi.fm podcast.
November is a lot about progressing on Nuclear Throne in terms of systems, so we’re adding a lot of new things to the game. Don’t forget to tune into the livestreams at nuclearthrone.com on Tuesday and Thursday at 1PM CET, we’ll be working on the game live.