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An 80's arcade themed turn-based tactical shoot 'em up. It's your move. DEMO AVAILABLE!
An 80's arcade themed turn-based tactical shoot 'em up. It's your move. DEMO AVAILABLE!
An 80's arcade themed turn-based tactical shoot 'em up. It's your move. DEMO AVAILABLE!
871 backers pledged £11,515 to help bring this project to life.

Best Buds, Interview, Status


Buddies for (Artificial) Life

You've seen them there, lurking on the left of the screen. The enigmatic little faces of Gun Buddy, Shield Buddy and Repair Buddy, the ship's three main systems represented as semi-belligerent AI's (Artificial Intelligences). But why are they there, what purpose do they serve?

Well, I'm glad I made you ask me that.

When the main focus of a game is a spaceship it's difficult to impart character into it - it's not a cute little critter, or a person, it's nothing relate-able. It has no facial expressions, or characterful movement style. It's just tin can, albeit a heavily armed one.

This worried me. I worried that without some characterisation in the game, players would have trouble attaching to it in an emotional way, that it would only be appreciated on a mechanical level. I like games with character so I was keen to inject some into this game.

At that stage of development I already had an idea of how I wanted the power core and shield/gun power balancing to work. I started thinking about it's looks.  I'd been staring at car dashboards for layout inspiration and noticed that some of them are shaped like happy or inexplicably furious faces. My mind made a mental connection with an old comic called Rogue Trooper, in which fallen comrades personalities are downloaded onto computer chips that can be clipped into guns, helms and backpacks and assist the hero of the piece, Rogue himself. The actual purpose within the comic was to aid in exposition as this 'lone' Rogue Trooper travelled around totally 'alone' yet with three other personalities to interact and banter with.

Thank you, Rogue Trooper!

That's when Gun, Shield and Repair Buddy were born. They would be embedded into the dashboard and have a face-like quality to them. Each would have it's own personality and they would banter with each other and help inform the player about what was happening in the game. You should have seen the smile on my face that day :)

But we have a question for you - Do they work? Do you find them appealing or appalling? Are they too chatty, too ugly, too...  basically, just telling us how you feel about them would help us evolve their place in the game.  There's a Comment button at the end you can use, we'd really love to know your thoughts on the Buddies.

For the curious you can see the original programmer artwork for the buddies here. Ooof!

Interview and Video Preview

A few days ago I was interviewed about the game. I haven't listened to it yet (like most people I cringe when I see or hear myself), but I really enjoyed doing the interview with @FerrousPilot . You can find it here (and let me know if I did ok):

There's also a great video preview from @GAUStudios about the game:

Where are we at?

As of this email we're at 47% of the way to the total goal of £10,000.  That's pretty good going so far, but that's not to say we're not nervous about hitting the target.  We're contacting the gaming press as fast as we can but pledges have slowed right down. We need your help.

If you'd like to help out then keep Tweeting and Facebooking about how much you're looking forward to the game and include the short link to the Kickstarter:

If you're comfortable with it then contact your favourite gaming sites and youtubers/let's-players and ask them if they'd consider covering the game. Gaming sites love to know what their audience is interested in. Just a single mention from one of the big sites or people could put us over the line.

In the meantime we'll keep plugging away at our big-list-of-who-to-contact.


The Mighty Git

Joe Clark, Liam Watts, and 3 more people like this update.


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    1. Joe Clark on July 14, 2014

      Hey Johnny! I love the idea of the gun buddies - like you say, they lend personality to what could otherwise be a cold game. I think work is needed on them (including in explaining in-game how they work), but that will come with time. I think they can be a really key feature, though, so it's worth having these discussions and persevering with the design.

      I'd have liked to see stronger personalities from each buddy. I think the banter could be a bit sharper, but also adding stronger differences in their artwork might help them feel more like unique personalities.

      I think better visual reinforcement of what they're doing would help. Like a glowy blue shield when Shield Buddy is powered up, or blue bullets when Gun Buddy has more juice. I found it qiute hard to tell the benefit of my micromanagement. I wouldn't be surprised if you've got that planned, but I figure it's worth calling out.

      I also found that I'd miss a bit of banter if I issued a quick command: as soon as the turn ends, all text is lost. This is a particular problem during slow sections, because I issue a move quickly to get to the next fight (years of drilled-in deathmatch Quake instincts, I'm afraid). Maybe you could add a minimum display time (real time) on all text? So that I can read status and banter while the game is running?

    2. Johnny Marshall Creator on July 14, 2014

      'How long....', I would love to try that out. I think as long as they didn't speak too much (monotone is harsh on the ears for fairly constant speech) that may work. I wonder if there's something in the asset store for Unity that'll just do it.

      Also, have you noticed that in the game that they do have different bleep 'voices' when they 'speak'?

    3. Missing avatar

      michael linn on July 14, 2014

      I think I would like the Gun, Shield and Repair Buddy to have text to speech with different voices.