LUFTRAUSERS is the new and improved version of LUFTRAUSER.
These posts are related to LUFTRAUSERS.
Vlambeer News Roundup – April 2013
This month, we spent most of our month recovering from the Indie MEGABOOTH madness at the Penny Arcade Expo and the Game Developers Conference. Rami visited Boston again after the Game Developers Conference for somewhat of a week off after two weeks of conferences as Jan Willem started wrapping up the final interface tweaks for LUFTRAUSERS. Zach Gage, Greg Wohlwend and us started working on a minor update for Ridiculous Fishing. We’ll finally be updating Super Crate Box iOS shortly (think two or three weeks) and if things go well, a minor next project is already lined up beyond that and we’re pretty excited about that one.
Polygon launched the Human Angle article they’ve been working on for almost two years now. After news of the LUFTRAUSERS clone hit Pocketgamer and sent Rami into a frenzy of answering emails aboard a German train, Polygon also conducted a quick followup interview with us about our game development process and why we release freeware games first, products second.
We visited FMX in Stuttgart to talk about games and Ridiculous Fishing and then spent the last few days traveling back and forth between Indievelopment in Amsterdam and A MAZE Festival 2013 in Berlin. Rami hosted Indievelopment and fulfilled his jury duty at A MAZE Festival, where Henry Smith’s Spaceteam was unanimously voted to be the Most Amazing Game of 2013. Jan Willem hosted Local Multiplayer Picnic A MAZE edition and jammed on ‘Fold’ for Ludum Dare #26 with a bunch of friends.
In terms of nice things, Eirik ‘Phlogiston’ Suhrke joined with Sanjjib to record a celebratory Ridiculous Fishing rendition as a thank you for the many people that bought the Ridiculous Fishing soundtrack already. We’ve been discussing streaming on Twitch.TV a bit more often – maybe once a week or two weeks, so we might start doing that after LUFTRAUSERS is done. Crunch isn’t all that exciting to stare at.
As some of you have noticed, we’ve been at the center of more cloning controversy than we signed up for. Rami spent most of his day convincing German train officers to let him use the first class WiFi aboard the six-hour train ride he was on to be able to respond to the whole thing going down.
We obviously endured a bit of a scare when news arrived of LUFTRAUSERS being cloned and released ahead of our own release schedule by another developer. This time, however, it’s not ‘just’ the idea of the game that has been cloned, but also the visual style. This gives us much more room to fight the whole thing, and we fully intend to. The developer of the clone has gotten in touch with us after Twitter exploded and let us know that ‘acttuly we genrated our assets, Codes and all newly’ and that the gameplay as indicated on the screenshots ‘is not there in game as in the screen shots. We just done those screnshots for public attraction’. They signed off with the note that ‘we really dont think it links your game at all’.
We simply can’t deal with the stress of another cloned game, so we’ve gotten in touch with Apple and Google to see if there is a way for for the issue to be resolved without us getting involved in yet another clone war. They’ve requested us to file a DMCA filing, which we (and the handsome men at Devolver Digital) have done and we’re awaiting the results of that now.
We’re more than happy to see games inspired by our works and we encourage anyone to practice game design and development by recreating personal favorites – in fact, many of our games have been cloned dozens of times without us complaining – but the clones of both Ridiculous Fishing and LUFTRAUSERS take ‘inspiration’ a step too far and into the marketplace. We’re extremely exhausted from dealing with this type of cloning and even though this is an important issue to stand up against, we had hoped that we could just release a game without the cloning debate happening for once.
Ultimately, we refuse to accept this as a part of our industry. We believe that showing our games to our fans early is a better way of developing Vlambeer games than keeping secrets and just dropping the final result on people when it’s done.
Now that we’ve got the chance, we’d also like to take a few seconds to use the clone as an argument towards why LUFTRAUSERS is almost certainly not coming to mobile – we just can’t find a way to make it work as well as it should on touchscreen devices. LUFTRAUSERS requires you to keep track of three things: steering left or right, accelerating or stalling and firing or not firing your weapons. You’d need one input for each of those pairs – so on keyboard, three fingers or on a controller an arrow, a button and a trigger. On touchscreens, you’d need three thumbs.
LUFTRAUSERS is still hitting PC, Mac, Linux, Playstation 3 and Playstation Vita – with the latter being the most interesting device for those of you who would like to play LUFTRAUSERS on the go. We’ve been wrapping up development and we are on schedule to release the game later this spring.
Thank you so much once again to the fans, friends and press that have helped us out with Ridiculous Fishing and thanks so much to everyone for standing with us once again with LUFTRAUSERS. We hope this will be the last time we have to deal with this, but we’re encouraged to know that if it’s not, we won’t be alone.
P.S. We really like the idea of a Vlambeer clone game jam – we might organize that after we’re done crunching on LUFTRAUSERS.
If you all don’t mind, we’re going to take a nap now. It’s been a long day. We hope to be back soon with nice news.
We’re well into the new year and we’ve been working like crazy on getting two games done. Obviously, we had originally planned to release LUFTRAUSERS at the tail of last year and then start this year with Ridiculous Fishing somewhere in the first few months of the year. We’re going to vaguely announce that the plans have shifted a bit after a certain large company (that we have worked with before) has been talking to us to maybe try and bring LUFTRAUSERS to at least one handheld and one console device if that means anything to you all.
Vaguely because first of all, we’re still negotiating with them so we don’t know whether it’s going to happen. Second of all, because if it will happen, we still need to develop it for those platforms. Either way, we think it’s great that we’re talking as we love those people, plus it gives us even more time to polish the game.
Obviously, though, we’re sorry to say that that means that it is likely that LUFTRAUSERS is shifting back a month or two. Not only do we need to support these new platforms in the code, we also need to make sure they pass the certification processes. LUFTRAUSERS would be best launched on all platforms at once, as far as we’re concerned, so that means we have to push back the release just a bit. We’re now thinking it shouldn’t take too long – so hopefully something like early spring, but as always – it’s done when we’re happy with it. Next time we’ll announce something regarding dates, it’ll hopefully be set in stone and ready to go.
As for Ridiculous Fishing, progress on that has been amazing the last two weeks. It’s been a painful ride, but after a year of being depressed about it, we finally found motivation to finish the project – things have just been coming together at the a breakneck pace. Greg Wohlwend – the artist on the project – has basically moved in with Zach Gage, the programmer, while they finish up development. The two of us here have been fixing up the final design and release issues. It’s amazing how much momentum the project has regained – and how much fun we’re having making the game again. We’ll be honest, there were times at which we felt dropping the game might be a better solution than pushing ourselves to work on it any further, but we’re glad we didn’t do that. We’re extremely happy with how the game has turned out and can’t wait to show you a bit more. Not just yet, but soon.
Basically, what we’re trying to say is that we think Ridiculous Fishing is going to move in front of LUFTRAUSERS in terms of release, but both of them should be out before three more months.
Also important, the games will be playable at several events around the world. We’re going definitely going to be at PAX East, although you’ll be able to catch one or both of us at a bunch of events including Subotron Vienna, PAX East and IndieCade East. We should consider having some sort of calendar for events we’re visiting, so you know where you can tap our shoulder to play some in-progress games.
In the meanwhile, check out our brand-new store and maybe grab the digital or physical Vlambeer OST to get some exclusive sneak peeks at the LUFTRAUSERS and Ridiculous Fishing soundtracks, or catch one of the few remaining Super Crate Box Limited Edition crates.
#2013yearofspace, Vlambeer Store launches and LUFTRAUSERS Closed Beta
It is now 2013, and we hope you’ve all saved NEO TOKYO from the forces of destruction by hostile forces. As #2013yearofspace has now officially started, we need to get some things done before we can focus on the wonders of space ourselves.
You might have noticed we’ve started with offering merchandise a while ago – and we did that for two reasons. One of the reasons for that is that we just really like having physical things that we can touch. The other reason is that we often get the question whether people can donate to us, but we really prefer giving something in return for money. So, today we’re launching the Vlambeer Store – which isn’t really a store but more like a collection of direct links to things that allow you to throw money our way if you like our games. Of course, if you don’t like our games but just really want that die-cut CD with KOZILEK and Phlogiston-tunes, that’s completely OK too. Just hit the giant button in the header of the site to head over to the store.
Late last year we started the LUFTRAUSERS closed beta, asking fellow developers, designers and some friends in the press to let us know what they think of the game. We’re happy to say that we’re extremely excited about the response we’ve been getting and we’re reaching the point where we feel the game is almost done and ready for aspiring LUFTRAUSER pilots around the world.
So, that’s where we’re at after a full week in 2013. We fully intend to start the year strong with two games you might’ve been waiting for, and we hope you’ll be along for the ride this year, too.
Battling the past
For the past six months or so, Vlambeer has been working on LUFTRAUSERS, our 2D dogfighting game in which players get to pilot and customize their own RAUSER. This new game is built upon the foundations of the singularized original, LUFTRAUSER, which we released more than a year ago.
LUFTRAUSER was once created with the idea of making a quick game as a distraction from working on Serious Sam: The Random Encounter. We decided upon a dogfighting game and reached out to artist-in-crime Paul Veer and our favorite Finnish musician, KOZILEK. With them aboard, a lot of things quickly solidified. Jan Willem designed that flawless feeling of control in the game, Paul established the visual style with an extremely limited and striking palette, KOZILEK composed the memorable soundtrack that accompanied the action and I tried to keep up with my fellow Vlambeer as I programmed along with Jan Willems furious prototyping skills.
After two days the game was done and seeing that this was at the end of Vlambeers first year, we felt we earned a vacation. Long story short, we ported LUFTRAUSER to Flash and we tried to sell it to a Flash portal.
Even though we had good contacts at a lot of portals that knew of the successes of Super Crate Box and Radical Fishing, all of them turned the game down for being too ‘monochrome’, too ‘extreme’ or too ‘difficult’. We gave up after trying for a few days and decided to do something else. We’d use LUFTRAUSER to see if a game like it – five colors, difficult and ‘extreme’- could have an audience. We implemented a tracking solution to see how often it was played and decided that if it did well, we’d send the data along with our next game we hoped to sell to a Flash portal.
We released LUFTRAUSER for free without ads and allowed any portal to have it on their site as long as they did not disable the tracking.
Somewhat unexpected to everyone, the game blew up. LUFTRAUSER was amongst the top five games played on portals for a while and racked up millions of sessions in the first few months of being available. Even today, a year and a half later, on a bad day the game is attracting thousands of players per week.
A year later we found ourselves done with most of our projects: Serious Sam: The Random Encounter was done, GUN GODZ was available to Venus Patrol backers and Ridiculous Fishing was on the backburner until we felt like working on it again. We needed something to do and decided to work on LUFTRAUSER. We opened the game, played for a while and Jan Willem set out to redesign the flight mechanics of LUFTRAUSERS from the ground up.
We are stubborn people, so we stopped looking at the original and started working on the sequel independent of its prequel. LUFTRAUSERS started to take shape. In a week or two, we had the first builds in the game. After a month or two, we posted the SQUAD MODE video on our blog. We were experimenting – we were having fun.
Then something happened we couldn’t quite grasp: LUFTRAUSERS wasn’t nearly as fun as LUFTRAUSER. Even though we had a year of extra experience working on games, even though we had already made the game before, LUFTRAUSERS simply wasn’t what the prequel was. No matter how much we polished and tried, we simply couldn’t get the game up to shape. Diving down from the skies to skim just over the water didn’t feel as great as it should and shooting other airplanes missed a sense of gravitas – of weight – that we really liked about the original.
It took us weeks of doubt and work to get the game to the quality and feel that the original had. Almost two months were spent tweaking the camera, adding effects, iterating on flight feel and communication and accessibility. Hours of discussions spent on the background clouds, the enemy types and the interface. Endless iterations were made on effects and sounds and music. Nevertheless, one day we looked at the build and realized: this was it. We had finally reached the quality of the original game.
LUFTRAUSERS would be a worthy sequel.
That’s when we went back to LUFTRAUSER – and that’s when our stubbornness in trying to make something independent from its prequel turned out to have paid off weeks earlier: the original Flash game was pretty terrible to play.
Sure, we still recognized it as a good game, but it felt static and boring and flat comparing to the game we had been tweaking for months – which was weird: we recalled LUFTRAUSER as feeling dynamic, powerful and above all fun.
The months we spent tweaking weren’t spent getting the new game to match the feel we loved so much in the original game – no, they were spent getting LUFTRAUSERS to match the fond memories we have of that little Flash game. Memories that – especially for what LUFTRAUSER was, definitely outclassed what it actually did.
We didn’t stop there, obviously – we’ve been polishing the game endlessly ever since that moment three months ago. When we play LUFTRAUSERS now, it surpasses the memories of tight dogfighting and the insane aerial acrobats of a game that only existed in our best memories of a little Flash game we’re – to this day – extremely proud of.
We don’t think this is a repeatable strategy: it was us being unaware of our exaggeration of LUFTRAUSER’s feel that allowed us to push LUFTRAUSERS that far. Either way, it was definitely an interesting realisation.