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.)


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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!

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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 IndieGames.com. 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.

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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!

Week In Review — Aug 7

This week I made a new trailer to announce Bleed 2! (To be clear, the game’s not done, but it does need to be *officially announced*.) I put a trailer together back in May that didn’t work out for various reasons, however THIS one is 210% good to go and will be out in the next week or two, max! Buuttttt anything I wrote about trailer-making would just be a repeat of the May post, so I’ll spare you. Instead, here are a few bits of polish I’ve added to the game over the last little while! Hopefully it isn’t too filler-y!

First we have the Rolling Invader mini-boss (my boss names are so creative, aren’t they??) It’s supposed to exist as a soft bullet-time tutorial, since slow-mo would (ideally) help new players deal with its speedy, dodgy antics. However, the Invader dodged shots instantly, even during bullet time, making the fight a poor introduction to the ability. I changed it so that if the player is slowing time, the Rolling Invader takes a while to react to the incoming bullets. I’m not sure how great it is, but it’s better!

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This week I’ll touch on a new feature in Bleed 2 — mutators! In case anyone doesn’t know, mutators are little tweaks you apply to the game to change how it looks or plays. Beating the game on any difficulty will unlock a selection of mutators, and I thought I’d share a lot of them with you here. I’m keeping most of the interesting ones after the break in case people consider this kind of thing a spoiler.

One really simple mutator is a “debug mode” that lets you see all the tiles and hitboxes! Maybe it’ll interest aspiring game developers, or anyone who’s curious how the game is constructed (there’s a bunch of hacky tricks!)

There’s also “infinite health” and “infinite energy” mutators for when you just wanna mess around, or play with your younger sibling or whatever. Obviously this would invalidate all kinds of leaderboards, achievements, unlocks, etc, so they’re all blocked while mutators are active.

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Fixing Bugs: Enemy Damage

This week I fixed all the major bugs (that I’m aware of) in Bleed 2’s engine! One of them was a problem with how enemies take damage, which I’m giving a big run-down of today.

First off: how damage worked before. Enemies and player attacks are made up of one or more hitboxes — when the hitboxes touch, the enemies take damage. Easy, right?

Weeeeelllll, not quite. The katana’s hitbox, for example, is large and can easily strike multiple hitboxes at once. If those hitboxes all belong to the same enemy, like a boss, the boss gets hammered with “you got hit!” notifications (one per hitbox), multiplying the damage like crazy.

The easiest way to fix that was to make it so enemies only accept damage once per frame — that’s how I solved it for the original Bleed, and how it’s remained since 2011.

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