As you might’ve noticed, the Nuclear Throne was added to the game earlier this weekend. It took us 33 weekly updates to take the game jam prototype to where it is now – and you can now reach the titular throne after you and your mutant complete the gruelling fight to the Palace from the campfire.
Creating this final moment of the game threw a major wrench into our live streaming and even led to some tension in the team about our approach to hiding our work on this reveal. Some of us wanted the Throne to be perfect before we revealed it, while some of us felt we should develop it completely in the open. We eventually agreed upon something in the middle: as soon as the Throne worked, we’d throw it in.
This does mean that now we can finally get back to not having secrets from you all, and that’s quite a relief. Sure, we’ll hide some thing from the livestream for fun every now and then, like the Frozen City Bandits last week, but it won’t be something that takes months anymore. We thank you for your patience while we learned that lesson.
As a little thank-you, we want to show you some of the things that we hid from you during development now that it’s all there.
For those of you that have been following us in the Steam Forums or on the Twitch.tv livestreams, it has taken us nearly seven weeks to design, prototype, iterate and develop this early version of the Throne. During that period, we discussed the lore of the Throne endlessly, and how it would look and work. Paul worked on the above implementations of the Throne, every time getting a bit closer to the vibe the Throne needed.
Jukio created music, first something that was closer to a heavy Castlevania boss track, and later decided to scrap that in favour of a track that emphasised the impending resolution for our mutants more than the unexpected mortal peril that they find themselves in.
Jan Willem struggled with dozens of different boss designs and behaviours before he finally settled on a range of attacks that felt appropriate to the battle. Of course, like everything in Nuclear Throne, what you might play today is a first draft that will be improved upon in the future.
A new chapter
In many ways, the addition of the Throne is an indicator that the first half of development has been wrapped up. It’s a reminder of an exhausting but amazingly rewarding game production. It’s the result of the work of six people that have pushed themselves to the absolute limit of their ability, the feedback and enthusiasm of the community and the support of the tens of thousands of gamers that play the game.
However, this does not conclude the work we have to do on the story of Fish and the other mutants. To us, reaching the Nuclear Throne is the most crucial moment in the lore of the world, but there is much left to be told about the world that the game takes place in. For the second half of development, we will revisit much of the content already in the game, but also start expanding on the lore and the world in the game.
In terms of reaching release-ready, we’re about half way. Nuclear Throne is starting to reach a state known as feature complete – it’s the point that denotes that the systems that power the game are now all in place. You can technically walk around, shoot things, collect ammo, mutate, find crowns, uncover secrets, fight bosses, pick up things, find cursed and golden weapons, play co-op and all the other things that you’re used to from Nuclear Throne. The next stage is known as content-complete. That’s when all the content – the levels, enemies, weapons, mutations, crowns, secrets and so on – are in the game. After that, there’ll be a period of polish and certification, after which the game will launch officially on PC, Mac, Linux and then PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita.
Early Access and performative game development
We’ve been really serious about trying to ‘do Early Access right’. We have livestreamed development for four to six hours almost every single Tuesday and Thursday since we started the project properly, and we’re updating the game practically every Saturday. We refuse to do sales and bundles while we’re doing Early Access, since we believe it should be utilised to make a (stable) game even better, rather than using it as paid public beta or pre-order platform. And since we want to be able to make the best of our players’ feedback, we keep the feedback loop really short: we launch on Saturday, read your feedback on Sunday, plan our next week on Monday, livestream on Tuesday, work on Wednesday, livestream on Thursday, wrap up on Friday and launch on Saturday.
Keeping iterations that fast allows us to quickly correct the course of problems, but also to really offer our players a dynamic insight into how games are made, what decision processes occur and how prototyping features works. Basically, we don’t think we could do Early Access any better way than this.
If you feel that we could do better, please do let us know. We’re always looking for feedback.
Help spread the word!
If you’re not yet playing Nuclear Throne, it’s available on Steam Early Access or through Humble for $12.99, which it will stay – without discounts or sales – at least until the game reaches the final release version.
As we create these things and continue to livestream our development process, we invite you to continue to join us in the livestreams every Tuesday and Thursday. We also want to ask you – if you enjoy the game – to help us out with promoting the game. More than with any game we’ve made before, we’ve opted to spend our time making the game while relying on you – the players of Nuclear Throne – to help us spread the game. You can help by tweeting, posting on Facebook, making videos on YouTube, livestreaming on Twitch, telling your friends or joining us in the Steam Forums.
On behalf of the two of us at Vlambeer, Paul Veer, Jukio Kallio, Joonas Turner and Justin Chan, we thank you for your support thus far, and we hope you’ll join us as we continue working on Nuclear Throne.