Pythetron : A 2.5d Shoot'em Up for PC, Mac and Linux project video thumbnail
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$1,585 pledged of $5,000 goal
By TJ Townsend
$1,585 pledged of $5,000 goal


 Download the game here.

The Game

If you've played shoot'em ups before it's clear the arcade style action is fun, but usually the game follows a set pace through the game world. Pythetron will be designed to feel like the shootem' ups you've known from the past, but with a few tweaks. In Pythetron, you control the speed! If you are up for it, you can put the pedal to the metal and blast through each level, dodging obstacles, dealing damage to your foes and discovering tricks that make each stage completion challenging and rewarding. You can use speed to strategically advance through the game, or be lighter on the throttle and meticulously plow through your enemies as you choose your route across the galaxy.


  • Gameplay exists solely on a 2d plane  
  • Visually compelling 3d backgrounds and environments  
  • 7.1 surround sound compatible  
  • Crazy smooth motion using a high tech modern physics engine  
  • Dynamically scalable graphics that look great on modern PCs and even better on a gaming rig  
  • A vast game world to explore with many themes and cleverly designed levels  
  • Customize your ship to make your ultimate machine of destruction  
  • 11 elaborate boss battles
  • Replayable levels that feel totally new when you use speed techniques  
  • 1080p 60fps on any modern graphics card and most older cards

The Story

After discovering that your planet's core is made up of a rare element called Gravitanium, the Zirgon, a functioning robot population that are the remnants of an ancient civilization, have unexpectedly attacked your home planet, Terradomus. Using Gravitanium harvested in their sector the Zirgon were able to develop long distance transport ships that could travel across the galaxy faster than light. Your only hope is to use your own long distance ship to launch a counterattack in hopes of finding and destroying the overriding command signal that appears to be responsible for the sudden change in Zirgon behavior.


I’ve currently invested $4,500 into the game and will be spending at least $2,000 more of my own money on additional assets I need to complete the game. As you may have noticed playing the game I’ve already completed several dozen set pieces and many background environments. The game’s engine is in a playable form as well as having completed several enemies and two early boss fights. The player ship and upgrade paths are all in place and playable now, but will likely make tweaks as I continue to develop the game. I have also created a 42 page document that clearly defines exactly how the game will progress that will be used for reference to finish the remainder of the game.

My intention was to complete the game, self funded, by May 2016. However with some help I will be able to realize a broader vision in the same timeframe.

I have purchased stock music, but with more funding would love to hire a composer to really nail down a custom dynamic soundtrack that changes along with the players movement style.

To date I have modeled, textured, and animated all the game models and set decoration. With funding in this area I could hire artists to assist me, offering more variation than I’d otherwise be able to complete on my own.

Without help, my larger vision would not be possible. I'd like to find individuals who are willing to work with me in developing content.

I would love to include fully animated and voiced characters in the game. I feel this could add depth and make the overall feel of the game polished and professional. This would require weeks of modeling and animation and money to hire voice actors.


In Pythetron my goal is to create an old school game with a new feel. It’s quite simple, a shoot em up with an accelerator. This creates a unique game style where each level can play out multiple ways. You could go really slow and mow down everything in sight, upgrading your ship with all the best heavy armor and just brute force your way meticulously through the galaxy with minimal scoring. Or, go a lighter approach and blast through carefully constructed levels narrowly avoiding disaster but racking up huge amounts of points, unlocking new worlds and plotting your own way to the far side of the galaxy.

What is great about the old school shooter...

  • Massive weapons - Who doesn’t like watching their ship go from a pea shooter to a machine of total destruction?
  • Easy to master controls - Keep it simple. You can move, you can accelerate, and you can shoot.  
  • Lots of enemies - Explosions and destruction are therapeutic.
  • Colorful high contrast environments - With so much going on, you need to be able to see. A key obstacle to overcome in this genre.  

The new mechanics...  

  • Pace controlled by player - See how fast you can blaze through each level, earning more points and unlocking more levels.  
  • Lots of permanent upgrades - Earn money and buy dozens of upgrades including several different weapon upgrade paths.  
  • Shorter replayable levels with unlimited lives - More rewarding difficulty without all the frustration of backtracking several minutes of gameplay.  
  • Longer overall gameplay with saves - With more levels, organized in a non-linear manner, the player can feel open to discover their own path.

The Key Focus

Although I feel Pythetron can expand on the shoot'em up genre, I believe the two main ways it will stick out are in speed and replayability.

By giving the player unlimited lives, and keeping the levels short (15 to 60 seconds), each level can be challenging and cleverly constructed for replayability. In a typical shoot’em up model, a player usually has a few chances to beat a level. That means the level designer could only throw so much at the player. The player needed to have a realistic chance at beating each level with only a few tries to do it. With unlimited lives, combined with shorter levels, each level can offer challenges with seemingly impossible odds, that push the player to master the game quickly without all the frustration associated with replaying huge portions of the game over and over again. This keeps the player moving forward, continuing to experience new things, and learning to play the game in new ways to maximize the amount of content the player can unlock.

The game progresses through scoring. Once you beat each level, you are ranked with one, two or three stars depending on your score. The more stars you earn, the more levels you unlock. You can go back at any time, perhaps after applying several upgrades to your ship, and replay an older level with higher scoring potential. The key to unlocking more levels will be the player's ability to maintain speed and accuracy. Each level will be designed to assist in fast movement making it an interesting game not only to play, but also just to watch being played. The intensity of the gameplay will be in your hands, and you can crank it up to eleven if you can handle it!


As you play the game you will earn money to purchase upgrades to your ship. This includes several upgrades to your armor, acceleration and weapon effectiveness. In addition you will have several weapon upgrade paths that include dozens of projectiles and missiles. You may start out simple, but by game’s end prepare to be unloading 5 different projectiles in 9 different directions following unique targeting paths laying waste to your foes and taking down giant enemy ships that would otherwise seem invincible. 

Your armaments includes… 

  • Several different missiles including splash damage missiles and guided missiles that can be used in combinations of two. 
  • Dozens more projectiles that can be used in combinations of 3 (in addition to 2 missiles), some of which include lightning balls, flame throwers, and a goo gun. 

Additionally, in-level upgrades include… 

  • Health-ups 
  • Boost-ups 
  • Temporary Shields 
  • Temporary Weapon Upgrades 
  • And energy orbs to act as an offensive shield

If you’ve not already done so, download and play Pythetron now at Experience hours of entertainment and see for yourself the game’s potential.

Development Plan 

I am a 1 man team outsourcing very little in the project. I’ve completed more than half the game myself so far. The tasks listed below account for the items I am personally handling. Stretch goal items will be outsourced. I’ve set aside an additional 45 days to project manage and implement the outsourced content.

The projected release date for the full game is Q2 2016 (task projections are conservative estimates)  

Not including stretch goals, the funds raised will be used to cover the costs of software and hardware as well as outsourced music licensing and marketing.  

As each stretch goal is achieved the funds gained to meet that goal will be used to outsource the content creation.

About Me

I have been making small scale games as a hobby for 24 years and eLearning games and training courses for a non-profit organization for the last 7 years. I’ve also done work as an artist in video game marketing for games such as World of Tanks, Kingdom Hearts, Final Fantasy X, among others.

Apart from traditional artwork, which I’ve been doing my whole life, my original passion was programming. At a time when computers could barely display 256 colors I was amazed at the potential of using a computer as a creative tool. By the time I was old enough to program a game, computers had evolved and my passion slowly moved toward 3d modeling and animation.

Today I use 3d and 2d graphics software both personally and professionally. A large portion of my time is also spent doing audio and video work.  

Recently I have created a series of time-lapse Photoshop videos that can be seen here on YouTube.  

My passion for creating Pythetron stems from watching hundreds of speed-runs over the years. I enjoy watching the GDQ events and have even donated some artwork to the events. My goal for Pythetron is to create an enjoyable game that is designed with speed-runners in mind in a genre that historically has not offered this type of game-play.

Risks and challenges

Thanks to the low cost nature of this project the initial funds needed for hardware, software and media licensing have already been covered by myself to assure the project can go forward on some level even if funding efforts fall short. As you've seen above, the tasks required to complete the project are well within the scope of the work that has already been done to get the game to alpha stages. But it will be with additional funding that I can expand my vision and work with other talented individuals to make Pythetron an outstanding addition to the shmup genre. The only challenges would come from finding other artists and programmers to assist in creating the content associated with the stretch goals.

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Funding period

- (30 days)