it About Me
Hello. I'm Mike Hanson and ever since I was little I wanted to make a console game!
Last year, I got motivated enough to actually try to do it and so far, the results have been pretty good... When it came to game mechanics and design principles, I couldn't resist the retro charms of those computer, console and coin-op games I grew up on, but when I got going with the garnish I decided to take a bit of a risk on the visual style of the game and create something altogether more modern than pixel art and chip-tunes.
...Instead, I went with rendered, post-produced 3D art alongside juicy sequenced, sampled music which combines big beats with choir and orchestral score. I borrowed the software I needed to do this and decided that while I worked on the game, I would save my spare pennies like mad so that when Power Up was ready (a year or so after I started it), I would be able to afford my own, commercially licenced copies of the software I'd used to make the art and music assets. That was the plan, and goes some way to explain how I was able to get this far...
When I got made redundant a few weeks ago, I had to commit my savings to my living expenses. Hey, this is real life. These things happen... I decided to stick with my project, regardless and explore what options I had left... which led me here to Kickstarter.
A Bit of Project History
Power Up started out as just an educational hobby as I wanted to teach myself a bit of simple game programming. Since then, the game has become my very own little labour of love.
For the last 12 months I've poured every moment of my free time into the project, learning to make better art, code and music as I've gone along. I hoped to get my head around some of the finer points of good design, and soon I found myself sharing my every setback and breakthrough with a frankly, brilliant twitter community.
I love to share what I learn! I regularly upload tons of pictures, to my twitter account: @psypsoft, along with progress reports, links to my latest blog posts, production videos, and even the occasional project trailer or press article. I'm always up for a natter and will usually respond within a day to any questions, to give/take advice or just generally talk bubbles with anybody nice enough to get in touch.
If you haven't seen or heard of my project on twitter, that's ok. I won't hold that against you. You're putting all that right just by being here and reading this.
But Let's Talk About the game!
POWER UP - SCENARIO:
"The Earth is doomed! As you pilot the prototype fighter, Weapon-F through the debris of your vanquished escape shuttle you come to realise that you are the last human alive.
You alone must take on the army of reptillian monsters responsible for the destruction of humankind. You alone must carry out your final order... revenge!"
...You get the idea, right? I'm sure you've gathered by now that Power Up is indeed a game. More specifically, its an indie that game I'm making all on my own, for Xbox Live. I designed Power Up in the style of a classic sidescrolling space shooter because I realised that the first bits of game code I needed to get good at were tight controls and effective collision detection. It made sense to make my first game a spaceship shooter!
I was very visually influenced by the 90s Amiga games of my teenage years. Project-X was fresh in my mind as I began to paint the stars and nebulae of Power Up - Chapter 1 and as I played around with my weapon selection ideas I was reminded of Hellfire for the Megadrive.
...Other Shoot-Em-Up classics that crept into my psyche at an early age also no doubt influenced Power Up in wonderful and subliminal ways. These include the likes of R-Type, Battle Squadron, Chronos, Apidya, St Dragon, 1943, Xennon 2: Megablast, Armalyte, Silk Worm, SWIV, Agony, Blood Money, Dragon Breed, Dragon Spirit, Defender, Forgotten Worlds, Truxton and many, many more.
With a vast wealth of shooter heritage behind it, Power Up has grown and evolved. I've managed to implement a weapon select and power-up system which allows you to evenly strengthen all of your different guns at once or to fully focus on the weapons you want to use depending on how you play the game, regardless of whether you prefer the reliability of the straight laser, the sheer range of the spread shot, the protection of the sideshot or the fast repeating whip-action of the plasma cannon. Just don't forget to power up your rear gun too to avoid surprise attacks from behind!
Other pickups include progressive speed-ups for your ship which make you quick, nippy and gererally much better at dodging the myriad bullets, mines and homing missiles being hurled in your direction, regular points bonuses (of course) and mighty, screen-clearing, boss-draining Blast Bombs that you can collect along the way too!
As for the locations, the narrative of Power Up takes you on a journey to the core of an alien world through five chapters of intense spaceship shoot-em-up action. Beginning your mission in the debris of your fallen escape shuttle, you'll fight your way through the enemy planet's orbit, enduring numerous bullet-hell situations and balancing your array of weapons for maximum effect against your enemies. Then, you'll speed over their arid desert plains and into the vast Supercity, outwitting waves of vicious reptillian fighter pilots and mammoth, mechanical guardians. Finally, you'll journey deep into the planet's core where only the most skilled pilots will earn a showdown against the mosnstrous alien mastermind.
The story is driven through brief segments of classic RPG style character dialogue, between the pilot (that's you, that is), your on board Artificial Intelligence unit called HATI, and the various cast of characters, good and bad. Of course, all of the game's dialogue is extremely skippable, so if you're just looking for some good old SHMUP action and want to get to it, you can!
Throughout the learning process, I've stumbled accross a few other flourishes and touches you might like too. Asside from the masses of particle effects and general lightshows, one of my favourite little control innovations is what I call the "Parthian-shot death control", which allows you just a little influence over your dying ship so you can take a couple of your enemies to hell with you as you crash and burn! ...Nice!
I'm working hard to get all of this, and a few secret extra features available for XBLIG submission with a view to a release this coming summer..... well, no, I'm not. I'm writing this. But when I've done this, I'll be doing that! ...Not to mention obsessively and repeatedly checking back here to see if anybody is actually pledging, of course.
Want to be a part of it? Of course you do! What kind of crazy person wouldn't? So why not make a pledge, then tell your friends... and then come to Twitter and tell me, @psypsoft what you think about it all. I won't bite, honest!
So What Do I need?...
Power Up has been made with a few bits of specialist software. Lucky for me, the programming side of things is free for XNA developers... but here's what you guys will be funding me for...
*3D Studio Max - This is the 3D software I use to create all of my spaceships and a few level elements. Its the biggest cost for my project at a whopping £2900.00!! (Source: http://store.autodesk.co.uk/store/adsk/en_GB/buy/Autodesk_3ds_Max_2013/productID.251720300).
*Adobe Photoshop (commercial version) - This is what I use for my textures and model post-production. It's also what I use for all of my level backgrounds, my character illustrations and my User Interface art. It's very much an essential piece of kit for any modern game and a commercial licence for a full version will cost me £660.51. (Source: http://www.adobe.com/uk/products/small-business-pricing/software-catalog._sl_id-contentfilter_sl_catalog_sl_software_sl_photoshopcollection.html)
*Steinberg Cubase 7 - I use samples, instruments and whatever I have to hand to create the music in Power Up, and I do it all with this. For an official licence, Cubase costs £488.00 (Source: http://www.steinberg.net/en/shop/buy_product/product/cubase-7.html)
*Adobe Audition - This is where I create all of my other sounds. Lasers, explosions, shield hits, missile launches, you name it, Audition's brilliant set of production tools helps bring Power Up's audio to life. This will cost £329.64 (source:http://www.adobe.com/uk/products/small-business-pricing/software-catalog._sl_id-contentfilter_sl_catalog_sl_software_sl_allsoftware_uk.html)
These are the costs at the time of writing. I've been checking them out over the last few weeks and they seem to fluctuate slightly but hopefully not to the extent that I can't handle if I account for it in my total. Let's add those figures up and see what we're looking at to make Power Up viable for a commercial release...
Total cost of software: £4378.15
Accounting 5% for Kickstarter's very reasonable fee and 5% for a third party payment processor's fee, we're looking more like this...
Total cost including fees: $4815.96
And finally, taking into account those fluctuating Adobe prices, I'd better make sure I round up a bit to cover them...
Final total: £5000.00
So what if I smash it? is there anything else I could do if I make more money than I need?
Sure. If Power Up does well on Xbox, I shouldn't have too much trouble porting it for Windows by myself, and after that I might even consider a Windows Phone version too... though that's probably where my currently limited programming expertise ends. so what else could I stretch to?...
1. iOS and Android, Multi-Resolution Ports:
Working in multi-res handheld games has given me a few good contacts. I have programmer friends just itching to help port Power Up to iOS and Android phones and tablets of all descriptions, and I'd love to let them do it... but I would never ask them to do it for free. If your pledges prove there's a demand for the ports to happen and reach £6000, those guys will get paid and that will happen.
2. Ouya Port:
I'm hearing a particular demand for PowerUp on the new indie consoles and I'm certainly hoping for the means to do it. £6500 will get us an Ouya version. (See below for details of the planned GCW-Zero version).
3. Unlockable Paintjobs:
It recently occurred to me that in order to get iOS ports out there with little fuss, I'm going to need some sort of Mac! Well my cheapest option seems to be the Mac Mini at £499.00 (Source: http://www.apple.com/uk/mac-mini/), so if this Kickstarter reaches £7000 and covers the cost, here's what's in it for you...
4. Nintendo and PSN Ports:
This is where we start looking into PSN and Nintendo versions of PowerUp. There's a few hoops to jump through to make these happen, but I'm told it can certainly be done.
5. GCW-Zero Port:
I've been talking to the GCW-Zero guys and it looks like this version will carry its own unique complications. As I can't absolutely guarantee a version in the immediate future, I've had to slightly lower the port in the stretch priorities.
However, I really hope to work with the GCW-Zero guys to come up with a porting solution that fits PowerUp. With a bit of luck that will happen before this campaign runs out and I'll be able to bump it up.
6. Toys and Merchandise:
I'm looking into the possibility of additional merchandising for the game. you know, tee-shirts, posters..... models! Yep, models! I don't know about you, but I would love some real life models/toys of those spaceships around Psychotic Psoftware Pstudios (er, my home office). It's early days yet but if the money's there and PowerUp drums up the popularity, this could happen too a little further down the line. Hey, it worked out for Mr. Lucas... (personally, I'm angling for my very own Power Up spaceships soap-set. Imagine that!)
So with regards to stretching the project to make something more of Power Up, its really all a question of my having the resources to do it.
That's where you come in. Thanks for taking the time to check this project out. I'm still working hard on it but ultimately, whether or not I get my software licences to release it is totally up to you...
Risks and challenges
Power Up is a one-man development. That means I'm only relying on myself. The advantage here is that this leaves very little room for any collaboration timing mishaps. I won't be waiting on anybody else. However, that mortgage needs to be paid so my main personal priorities have to centre on finding a new job. That said, I've got Power Up this far while in full time employment so be it full or part time, even a string of freelance jobs, I always have and always will find time for Power Up. It's my baby.
Other than that, the main risk for delay lies in the Xbox Live submission process. Basically, this is an unknown quantity for me. for all I know, it could take 3 days, it could take 3 months. However, one thing you can be sure of is that I'll keep you informed every step of the way, daily on Twitter and regularly on here and Facebook too.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)