The Intro

Bleed 2 reached an awesome milestone this week — all audio is in the game!! I ran through it once to test everything out, and I can’t stress how much more engaging and alive the game is now!

I remember having a similar moment with the original Bleed — working on the same game for years, and in partial/total silence… I still love it, but after a while I’ve seen it all before a thousand times, and I start to worry that even the most exciting moments have become stale… I start to lose perspective, and worry that what I’m feeling in those moments is how the player will feel when they play it for the first time! But then the audio finally gets in there, suddenly the game is ALIVE and EXCITING and FRESH, and I get this massive adrenaline-rush kick in the pants at seeing it come together! (Hopefully THAT will be more reflective of a player’s first time, haha!)

Anyways, all audio in is fantastic, but it also exposed a ton of problems with how I’m handling the audio (like the timing of cutscenes, or bugs with looping audio, or sound effects being too quiet or too loud, etc.) But, this is what I accounted for and what I’ll spend the next week in crunch-mode fixing, ideally in time for the IGF submission! Even with all those problems and deadlines, it’s really, really exciting for me to be at this point. It’s almost like an actual game now!

Speaking of being an actual game, this week I made that short intro sequence I talked about last post!

I’ve never paid so much attention to the timing of audio and how things fit together! But now that I’ve got this pro-level audio, the attention is definitely deserved. I roughed out my plans for an intro sequence using my ancient copy of Premiere, trying to make it fit to Jukio’s music and mood! Once I was happy with it, I started drawing and animating (and I’ve gone into my process in past posts, so I won’t do so here.)

Continue reading

IGF Countdown!

Please forgive any lameness in this post, which was written on my phone during an extended power surge/failure! I hope it didn’t explode my computer… happy Canadian Thanksgiving indeed! (UPDATE from my computer: she’s 7 years old but she’s still kickin’!)

A bit of cool news on the other hand — Bleed (the original) has been chosen to appear in the upcoming AGDQ!! If you’re unfamiliar with GDQ events please check them out — it’s basically world-class speedrunners absolutely destroying games for 7 days straight, raising tons of money for charity as they go. It’s a privilege to be a part of it, even in a small way.

In Bleed 2 news, things are getting hectic around here! Two weeks remain to submit Bleed 2 to the IGF (the annual Independent Games Festival.) If you don’t know the IGF, think of it as the Oscars for indie games. They judge in a variety of categories like Design, Audio and Narrative — so while the game’s story won’t win any awards, Joonas and Jukio’s brilliant audio work just might!

My final week of IGF prep is really well-defined, but the coming (second-last) week, not so much. I pretty much finished all the medium-priority bugs and to-do’s this week, which leaves me with only major and minor tasks ahead! The major tasks (like the art-heavy credits sequence) will take more than a week, so I’ll go through the minor tasks instead, and work on those which will most impact the game’s quality.

For example, Jukio completed the Bleed 2 theme song this week, which he shared a bit of on Twitter:

Not only is it freakin’ AWESOME, it has that cool opening section. Listening to it gave me an idea for a simple intro sequence to match, which would give the story context and make the game’s opening more dramatic and exciting! I don’t think many people watch those intros, but for those who do (like judges…?) it could add a lot. (I realize I just poked fun at the game’s relatively simple story, but first impressions and context are important!) This will likely be my last unplanned addition to the game.

Working mostly alone can make picking hard deadlines seem arbitrary, and I believe there’s great value in the “when it’s done” approach. Even so, at some point you have to draw the line (and I’m getting close to the four-year mark) so events like the IGF, PAX, etc. (along with my large release window) help provide focus to the project and keep me motivated to finish the damn thing! Let’s do it!

Weapons (Some Spoilers!)

One thing I worked on this week was tuning the weapons for Bleed 2! I’m showing a few unlockable weapons in this post, so I’ve hidden those behind the break in case you’re spoiler-averse.

In non-spoilery terms: the original Bleed’s weapons had a lot of issues. When designing them I focused purely on the numbers and their use in ideal situations, as if everyone playing the game was a flawless machine (or a TASer!) Many weapons were theoretically powerful, but in reality underwhelming and pointless. Others were straight-up balanced poorly — see some DPS (damage-per-second) values from the original:

  • Pistols: 123
  • Rockets: 66
  • Laser: 91
  • Katana: 150 (used perfectly), 72 (used normally)
  • Revolver: 350 (used perfectly), 62 (used normally)

…yeah. This time around, I want weapons to feel powerful and fun even in casual use. For example, the starting weapons in Bleed 2 are the pistols and katana (which can be used as a combo weapon, or as standalones separately.) Here’s the current DPS breakdown for them:

  • Pistols: 170
  • Katana (Reflecting Swipe): 150
  • Katana (Standalone Flurry): 160

I don’t want players to feel they need to button-mash to excel, so the auto-fire attacks of the pistols and the flurry do more damage than spamming the reflect. Also, while the standalone katana weapon does less damage than the pistols, they’re all pretty close — so if you’re all about the katana I hope you can play the game without feeling terribly underpowered.

Continue reading

Jukio’s Revenge!!

I finally took a vacation this week, at a family cottage! I seem to have trouble not working as I still put in about 12 hours, but it was mostly artwork which was a relaxing change of pace — in general it was some much-needed downtime. I’m feeling way better now and ready to rock. WHOOP!

Since I got very little done, I thought I’d share some more of the music that Jukio Kallio’s been creating instead!! (If you missed the clips of his I shared previously, you can find them in this blog post.)


Continue reading

Week In Review — Sept 18

This week I worked on things that blog poorly, like the controller rumble system and implementation. So now all actions and characters have controller rumble (which you can also disable in the options, don’t worry!) but do you really want to read about that…? I’m guessing no, so here’s a couple random things I’ve added and thought about over the last few months.


Health Pickups

Yes, yes, you say. We know about health pickups. Well, some of them were more challenging to implement than you’d expect! They’re exclusive to Arcade Mode, and most are hidden out of the way so you have to sacrifice a bit of time to get them, but two levels in Bleed 2 really don’t have anywhere to hide them (like in the picture above!) I want each level to have one, though… what to do?

My solution is that the two troublesome levels begin with the pickups in plain view, and the level won’t properly begin until they’re gone. Players have three options: grab the health and begin the level, wait five seconds for the pickup to fade, or shoot the pickup to destroy it. I think grabbing health will clear your style meter, so if you care about score (or are too cool for extra health) shooting is the quickest-but-riskiest option. The fourth, fastest option, is to begin the level at max health, in which case the health pickup never spawns and the level begins immediately.

The health spawns at an awkward high position right now because I don’t want players to accidentally grab it as it appears, but there’s better ways of doing this and I’ll probably polish it up at some point. Since these kinds of health pickups aren’t hidden, grabbing them won’t get you the achievement for finding ‘hidden’ health pickups. Lastly, the two levels with health in plain view are roughly one-third and two-thirds of the way through the game, so they’ll work out pretty well for beginners attempting Arcade Mode, I think!

Continue reading

Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Exhibiting At PAX

It’s been a week since PAX West! It was an amazing time showing off Bleed 2, and the response has been even more positive than I’d hoped for! Most people who played seemed to really enjoy it, and several large websites have even been kind enough to write about the game, including IGN, Destructoid and Woohoo! (EDIT: Now Hardcore Gamer too, yay!!)

I thought I’d record some thoughts from exhibiting at PAX while they’re still fresh in my head. Mostly, it’ll be answers to the questions I was asking everyone before I went, in case others want them answered too. Please keep in mind I’m just some rando first-time PAX exhibitor, so none of this is necessarily right — it’s just my perspective, along with some insights from other developers who I spoke to!

I’ll pepper in shots from the show to break up the text, plus at least one pie chart. You can’t do these kinds of things without pie charts.


How Much Does It Cost?

Short answer: a lot! The MEGABOOTH estimates teams set aside $3-6,000 USD to exhibit (not including travel costs) and I found that to be accurate — I made it work for about $4,250 USD. That includes things like the rental of the booth space (I had a 10×10 booth, about $1,900 alone) and signage/merch (a standing banner, 1,000 postcards and 1,000 game keys.)

Other items include equipment rentals — I had padding for the floor (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED), electricity, monitors, computers, stands, etc. It all costs money unless you bring it, and it isn’t feasible for me to transport all those across the country (except the signage/merch, which I FedEx’ed over for about $100 CAD.) Add food, flights, hotels, etc, and things start piling up, to the final tune of about $6,750 USD — even worse considering I’m a Canadian (RIP leftover Bleed sales, shout outs to the exchange rate.)

I’ve heard of plenty of ways to cut costs. Stay in a hostel instead of a hotel, arrive the day of set-up and leave the day of tear-down, buy your equipment from local stores and return them after the show… I estimate I could have gotten expenses down to $5,000 USD if I really went nuts, but it was my first PAX and I wanted to make sure I had time to approach it correctly, as well as room to make mistakes.

Continue reading

PAX West!!!

So I’m showing Bleed 2 at PAX West right now, which is a mega-huge blast!! I’ve gotten to meet so many people and see tons of folks enjoying the game! However, as you might imagine, it’s also taking up 99.99% of my time, so a real blog post isn’t really possible. Instead, here are a couple pics of the show floor!

First, the booth at setup, arranged as planned!

Continue reading

Making A Demo

If you missed the news: I’m showing Bleed 2 at PAX Prime next weekend! Come by, say hi, try the game! I’ll be in the Indie MEGABOOTH!

I spent this week preparing a new demo build for the show. At face value it’ll look like I’m simply demoing the first level of the game, but there are a ton of edits I’ve made to help it shine in an exhibition setting, as well as fixing some common problem areas. I’m gonna list as many of these edits as possible to show the amount of work that can go into preparing a demo! I hope it’s not too much of a ramble.


Build An Arcade Cabinet

My basic philosophy to showing at exhibitions is to treat the booth like a big arcade cabinet. It should be simple and straightforward and entirely self-contained, and ideally it should draw peoples’ attention as much as possible. If I do it right, I shouldn’t even need to be there at all (although of course I will be, for just about every moment!)

First off, I created a new main screen with as little clutter as possible — just the game logo and player select (arcade-style!) Since some stations will have co-op and some won’t, player two’s area won’t even display if a second controller isn’t plugged in.

More, I added an attract mode! For those not familiar: you know how if you leave old arcade cabinets alone, the game will start playing itself? That’s called an “attract mode” — it’s meant to get people interested so they’ll try the game. It’s a lot more exciting than the main screen, and will work much better than me hassling every person who comes by. Who knew all my replay work would eventually have a payoff!

Continue reading


YES!! Another thing I’m very pleased to announce is that Bleed 2 is in the Indie MEGABOOTH for Pax West!! If you’re gonna be there, come say hi and try out the game! Here’s a handy map of the MEGABOOTH space, and where you’ll be able to find Bleed 2.

For anyone who doesn’t know, the MEGABOOTH is an awesome organization that helps indies like me show our games at huge events like PAX, GDC, E3, etc etc etc. You can see the whole PAX West lineup on their website here — it’s really, really exciting to be showing alongside so many other amazing games. I’m stoked!

This also means I’ve been running around like a madman for the last month or so trying to prepare. There’s so much to be considered and co-ordinated and designed and ordered — I’ve barely touched the game itself in the last 4 weeks. Here’s what I’ve actually been up to!

Continue reading

The Trailer (FINALLY!)

At long last, Bleed 2 has officially been announced and the trailer has been released, woohoo!! I thought it’d be out a lot sooner than this, so thanks for bearing with me. I hope you enjoy it! I’d recommend watching it at 60FPS if you can!

(It also has an official Steam store page now, and a press kit too! Yeah, I’m pretty legit over here.)

I don’t pretend to be a professional trailer-maker, but if you look back on my original trailer post maybe you’ll be able to see what I was going for, namely; a brief introduction to the setting, a long take introducing the basic gameplay, and finally a whole bunch of action showing the variety of locations, set-pieces and bosses. I wanted to focus on gameplay because (aside from my already-stated not-being-a-professional-trailer-person) the game is 100% about the gameplay, so I hope it speaks for itself and gets people excited! Plus, when you got the knockout combo of Joonas and Jukio and audio, getting people excited gets a whole lot easier.

So far it’s gone over really well, and I can’t thank everyone enough for being so kind as to share it on Twitter, NeoGAF, Facebook, etc! I did some creeping, busted. But it’s really touching and encouraging to see.

That about concludes this post — I’m worn out from attempting the whole media/PR thing this week. Buuutttt it’s not over yet, as I’ve got one more exciting thing to announce soon, so (radio announcer voice) staaaaayyyy tuned!