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Cheap Shot: A video game crowdpunching frustration simulator's video poster

Navigate oblivious crowds of people, where your only weapon is your trusty sucker punch. As seen on IGN's The Next Game Boss season 2. Read more

Portland, OR Video Games
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pledged of $3,000 goal
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This project was successfully funded on April 22, 2013.

Navigate oblivious crowds of people, where your only weapon is your trusty sucker punch. As seen on IGN's The Next Game Boss season 2.

Portland, OR Video Games
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About this project

Frustration is unavoidable. It's infectious and eternal. Life is full of it, and one of the biggest sources of frustration is people. Once grasped by the truth you begin to see just how ugly the world is. More often than not people crack under the constant bombardment of chaos. The trick is to let go... to do unto others as they do unto to you!

Can a game about frustration be fun?  Of course!  Most games that offer any real challenge often involve failing and repeating tasks over and over.  This is frustrating--but we keep playing these games until we master them. 

Cheap Shot has a fast pace that is addictive and draws you in. Cheap Shot is a game inspired by frustration and how we all deal with it in our day to day lives.  And we want to channel the emotional response that occurs when you're frustrated, whether it's with your surroundings, your situation, or with other people. It's easy to get frustrated with people and when you do those people can seem really ugly. With this in mind we purposefully created flat, crude art for the game to go with the crude subject matter.

Cheap Shot has elements of conventional game play-- a time limit, a goal, and obstacles.  However, it is also above all else an art game.  It’s hand illustrated and has a meandering, inter-connected story full of both familiar and bizarre characters.  It’s novel and it’s not like anything you have seen before. Think an underground comic, where you get to drive.

Here’s what the industry insiders we met while filming IGN’s Next Game Boss had to say about Cheap Shot:

"I love the spirit behind it.  Every year we're seeing developers that are starting to say that it doesn't just have to be a traditional game, it can be a form of expression." -David Jaffe, designer, Twisted Metal & God of War

“...kind of punkish, very interesting art style..." -Jenova Chen, designer, Flower & Journey

“It might be a little weird." -Lisa Foiles, journalist, gamer, actress

  • Boss Battles - There's no maneuvering around these jerks
  • Power Ups - Find a Plushie Power Up to unleash Plushie's rage and clear a path
  • D-Bag Bonuses - Sucker Punch a D-Bag, feel justified and add a little extra time to the clock
  • Original music - Completely original game score
  • Story - An intricately woven story connecting each levels sucker puncher to the last that circles back to the beginning.

To take on the frustrating jerks of Cheap Shot you'll need little more than your fists. Punch left and right as you head for your goal, but don’t punch someone who is looking your way or it's game over!

You can try the basic demo for Windows or Mac here:

Windows Cheap Shot Demo

Mac Cheap Shot Demo

This demo on captures the basics, and there is more to come.  As it develops, we will be jam-packing the game with secrets, so experimenting with different paths and ways of playing might yield super cool results!  Examples include finding a character who is hiding in a level who will dramatically clear a quick path to your goal, having varying outcomes when you reach your goal depending on how you play, and game play behavior that triggers events.   This enables a multifaceted interpretation of the theme.

"The world of cheap shot is the most interesting to me." -- Jenova Chen

Each level will flow to the next (see picture below) with stage after stage of varying challenge, eventually linking up into the first level’s narrative.

"Not the most inside the box thinkers..." --David Jaffe

And yes, they both have beards!

Beardo Games is a collaboration between Miles Nielsen, a ceramic artist at, and Chris Harback, a programmer at Secret Arts Interactive Media.

Miles’ work in ceramics has been a staple of the tiki and lowbrow art scenes for more than a decade. Through Munktiki, Miles has worked with Tim Biskup, Dave Burke, Pixar, Mitch O'Connell, Miles Thompson, and Bwana Spoons.  After completing an extensive ceramics residency in Japan, Miles has been branching out thematically beyond tiki art, with a particular focus on kaiju.  He has had solo art shows around the world.  His video game collaboration with Chris represents his most significant non-ceramics creative work to date. Miles is also a talented musician and is composing all of the music for the game. Here are some samples! First, Plushie's intro music:

...and here is the level 1 theme:

Before breaking off on his own to start Secret Arts Media, Chris had a job developing developing  games in Flash for television shows.  On his own, Chris takes on client development tasks (like Alameda Brewing’s Spin the Bottle app) and produces his own projects (like Volcanoid).  He has embraced developing in Unity as an excellent platform for realizing his and Miles’ creative vision.

Something to remember about Beardo: when we say we are "indie" developers, this is not just because we are two guys operating outside a big company. We are independent because we are bringing a different perspective to the games we develop-- something at least half a step (though sometimes leaps and bounds) outside the commercial mainstream.

This perspective is shaped by some games we’ve played, but also by art, comics, movies, and so on.  It certainly made us the weirdos on the second season of IGN's Next Game Boss! Spoiler: we win that episode but not the next one.

The Next Game Boss

Our $3,000 goal will be used to purchase a Unity3d license along with a few Unity3d add-ons, as well as a font pack that we really think will work well in the game. That in no way pays us to make Cheap Shot though; we're focused on making this game because we love it!

With that said, we'd love to get to these stretch goals and beyond. It'll allow us to focus more on Cheap Shot than on our regular gigs.

As far as Stretch Goals go, the first one will help us bring the game to Ouya, something people have been asking us about a lot. The $1,500 extra is for the purchase of the Android publishing add-on for Unity3d.

The second two goals are for two additional levels for Cheap Shot, which will require a bunch of time and effort to get created. The cost is to help us add in these extra levels and still hit our expected delivery date for the game for the end of the calendar year.

External Links

Beardo Games



Risks and challenges

There aren't a lot of stumbling blocks associated with making Cheap Shot. The first level has already been completed, so many possible problems have been sorted out already. During the crunch to get level one worked out in two months for the Next Game Boss we really honed our workflow. There are just a few possible pitfalls, like juggling our other gigs, but we’re committed to finding our way through.

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    Get the complete original soundtrack for cheap shot, plus everything above.

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    All of the above, plus a Cheap Shot Fun Pack!
    Fun Pack includes Coasters, Stickers, Temporary Knuckle Tats and a Window Decal.

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    Ltd Edition Munktiki Skull mug. Done in a Black and White in honor of level 1's main theme.
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    Get your face drawn up on a poster in the game along with a short one to two word quote. Poster will be placed in a location of our choice
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    Thats a copy of the game, Soundtrack, Fun pack, Fonts, a T-shirt AND your face drawn up on a in game poster!

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    Wanna be in the game? OK! We'll draw you up and throw you in head first. Don't be mad if people punch you though. Or you could even immortalize your fuzzy friend spot instead of yourself?
    Also comes with a copy of the game, Sound track, Fun Pack and Fonts!

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    Woah, really!? you want everything?! Ok, you got it!! Everything listed in the above tiers is yours, including an A/P(Artist Proof) Black and White Skull Mug!

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Funding period

- (45 days)