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.
On the stream yesterday, we announced that if Rami got a giant pile of work done, we’d release on Nuclear Throne through Early Access today. It is with pride that the entire team and us announce that Nuclear Throne is now available for Early Access!
We’re announcing today that Wasteland Kings, the project of which we’ve been livestreaming development for the past few weeks, will from now on be named “Nuclear Throne”. It’s a bit of an haphazard announcement, with Justin Chan’s beautiful artwork above still not being finished, without us having a new logo and before we’ve been able to properly change the name on all the platforms officially, but we thought that if we’re doing open development we might just as well be open about it.
After announcing the game for PC, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita during Sony’s press conference at gamescom, we were contacted by a Dutch employee of InXile Entertainment, the studio behind 1988 title Wasteland and the recent Kickstarter for Wasteland 2. They explained that InXile CEO Brian Fargo and some of the team were worried about possible brand confusion and argued that Wasteland Kings could be misinterpreted as a title in the ‘Wasteland’ franchise.
We’ve been through a lot of trouble with people riding on things of ours, and we understand that American trademark law is pretty strict in that not defending a trademark weakens it. We realize that both games are set in a similar setting, that the names are similar and that InXile obviously felt the need to reach out. Although we aren’t sure Wasteland Kings and Wasteland are confusing enough for this to be an issue, both us and InXile really don’t want to spend development time on arguing over trivialities.
Most of all, we appreciate that the first contact between us was by a normal employee, and not a lawyer. There was no extravagant Cease & Desist-letter, nor a threatening letter in an envelope labelled ‘URGENT’. The e-mail we received was short, amicable and to-the-point. It was followed up by a quick conversation on Skype, in which we established that it would be the right thing for us to change the name.
This is the way business should work nowadays: between people, not companies, not lawyers, not departments. There’s so much paperwork between one and another that it’s easy for people to forget that they’re dealing with people instead of numbers and dossiers. Things can be friendly, rather than formal for the sake of formality.
We’ve spent the past week debating names with Paul, Jukio, Joonas and Justin. We’ve had amazing suggestions, such as ‘Genetic Miracles Fish & The Gang Vault Runners’, Trash Monarchs, Kingstarter and ‘GUN GODZ: Legend of Yung Venuz: Originz’. After almost 90 emails, we decided upon the new name, one that we felt did not only resolved the trademark issue but is also more gender-inclusive. We then made sure Sony, Steam and Humble were up to date and wrote this announcement right after the new title reveal at Eurogamer Expo.
So, we’re announcing Nuclear Throne, our top-down action roguelike-like about mutants in a postapocalyptic future. We’re extremely proud to be working with Paul Veer, Jukio Kallio, Joonas Turner and Justin Chan. The majority of development will be livestreamed over at nuclearthrone.com on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1PM CET until 5PM CET. Nuclear Throne is launching on PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita and PC through Steam and Humble.
Nuclear Throne will be available through Steam Early Access and Humble Store in early October at an Early Access price of $12.99.
This post is a bit late as Jan Willem has focused squarely on streaming Wasteland Kings and moving places and Rami just landed from his crazy trip to GDC Europe, gamescom and PAX. It doesn’t help that August was one of the craziest months in our existence as Vlambeer and was concluded with our third birthday on September 1st.
As you might’ve noticed, LUFTRAUSERS has been delayed again. The short version is that it’s going to be at least a month before it releases from now. The long version is: it turns out that certification is harder than you expect even when you have been warned that it’s harder than you think. This is our first ever console release, and it turns out the process that they call ‘Technical Requirement Compliance’ is weirdly intricate, with different standards in different territories and long arbitrary delays between submissions, so we want to get things right. This is not a dig towards Sony, who have been absolutely great towards us and are absolutely accomodating and trying to help us out, it’s just a reality we’ll have to deal with for now.
Devolver Digital kindly hired an additional QA team to help us out and check the game pre-submissions, and we’re wrapping up the final items on the list at the moment. Sadly, the game going through certification doesn’t mean it launches immediately, it means it’ll get ‘slotted’ at a certain date a few weeks later for launch. We’ve promised everybody – fans and platforms – that it’ll launch simultaneously on all platforms, and we’re never making that promise again. It just feels bad to have four perfectly releasable builds sitting here, just waiting for the last one to clear certifications.
We really ought to stop estimating release dates that early in development. It doesn’t really work with our style of development: we keep tweaking and fixing things until the game is as close to perfect as we can get it. Slamming a date onto something like that isn’t really helping anyone.
The Wasteland Kings stream is way closer to how we actually develop. It’s sort of chaotic, we have no clue when it’ll be done and we have fun adding a lot of crazy things to it. If you’re not watching the stream, we’re streaming every Tuesday and Thursday from 13:00 until 17:00 CET over at www.wastelandkings.com.
We are really excited about Wasteland Kings, though. The PS4/PS Vita reveal during gamescom was one of the most nerve-wrecking moments in our recent history and the reception it got at the Penny Arcade Expo was overwhelming. As for everybody asking, yes, we’ll start selling the shirts in our store as soon as the Level Up Studios guys get home.
The Super Crate Box iOS update has been delayed again as well. We got Rami a Macbook to finally fix that update with his crazy travel lifestyle (he could only work on our Mac Mini in the office before now) and then when he turned it on in Seattle, it plain out didn’t recognize the device’s harddrive. We’ve sent off the Macbook to some Apple support place as Rami prepares to leave again for a bit, to South Africa this time.
Then, all of a sudden, Vlambeer turned three years old, which – as we were on seperate continents – led to celebrations as excessive as the e-mail exchange above. As a birthday gift, we finally made GUN GODZ available for free, after it had been a Venus Patrol exclusive for a while, and we released the MOJAM prototype of Wasteland Kings. On top of that, we announced the Vlambeer & Friends Art Book project. You can grab all of those gifts at our birthday website.
Thanks so much to everybody who contributed to the spontaneous surge of Vlambeer OST sales during our birthday. We super appreciate all the kind words, merchandise sales, fan art and gifts.
Don’t forget to tune into the stream in four hours or so, 13:00CET at the Wasteland Kings website.
Today also saw the announcements of the Indie MEGABOOTH, where we’ll have LUFTRAUSERS, Ridiculous Fishing and Wasteland Kings all playable – with Ridiculous Fishing also being a PAX10 nominee. Wasteland Kings actually got nominated for what is likely our favorite event every year, so expect us in Austin for Fantastic Arcade with the game as well.