Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime is a 2-player co-op micro-platformer set inside a pink Death Star locked in battle with hordes of space baddies. Players work together running back and forth between ship control rooms, manning turrets, lasers, shields and thrusters to rack up points and stave off a vacuumy demise.
In mish-mash terms you could describe it as Jumpman meets Asteroids meets Han saying "Don't get cocky."
Whenever I buy a new “Art Of” book, no matter how great the concept paintings are, I often wish I could also see the earlier, rougher, uglier stuff that must exist from when the designers were still batting around ideas and trying to figure out what they were making.
On that note, here are some sketchbook pages from the past year-and-a-half of Lovers development. Working on paper, without an undo, helps to focus on the broad decision-making stuff and avoid getting bogged down in details. My sketchbook drawings have gotten rougher over the years as I’ve moved more mid-stage work to the computer, so with that warning, let’s dive in…
We’ve had ground-based enemies, which we call Walkers, in Lovers since way back in the days of the GDC 2013 build. Until recently these enemies have been tethered to spherical (well, circular) planets, so programming their movement was simply a matter of ensuring that their distance from the center of the planet was constant and their velocity was tangential to the vector from the enemy’s position to the planet’s center. However, as we continued to add new scenarios for players to experience we needed Walkers to be able to traverse more exotic terrain. Being the lazy developers that we are, our first attempt to implement a more robust walking algorithm was the simplest and most naive that we could come up with. Luckily for us, it worked out pretty well.
Following up on Matt’s last devlog, I’m going to wrap up our character creation process by discussing how we are rendering the characters in Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime. Warning: It’s very Unity-y. // More
Last January, Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime was admittedly a side project, something small that we were planning to tie off quickly, since the three of us were all busy with our paying jobs. And then IGF happened, and then PAX 10 happened, and it was an amazing experience to see real live strangers playing our game and responding to it. Throughout the year, the more effort we put into the game, the more we seemed to get out of it.
It was in the spring, after IGF, that we started thinking that maybe somehow Lovers could one day grow up and be a real game, so we dove back into design work and came up with a more robust spec. As well, we went through all the super fun legal processes to make Asteroid Base into a real company, while still keeping up our other contract gigs.
For a while, this part-time development style worked great, because it allowed us to ease into the whole indie game studio thing. But needless to say, working part-time and rejigging the scope has ended up making the dev process take longer than we originally planned—-sorry about that!
So finally, to ring in the new year, we’re pleased to announce that going forward, we’re going to be focusing 100% of our time on Lovers. All we can say is that we think the wait will be worth it when it’s finally done!
I recently had a chance to assemble this screen-cap footage from earlier last year showing our modeling/rigging/animation process for Lovers:
Although it’s a 2D game, we’re creating the assets as 3D geometry, using flat planes with transparent textures (more on that here). This might seem like a lot of trouble for one tiny little bunny friend, but the 3D approach lets us re-use the rig for all the humanoids in the game, including the player characters, just by swapping textures. It’s handy.
Last week we had a nice long chat with the podcast Guys With Pencils, and the episode is out now! I love their show (they interview artists and animators and game designers and folks like that) so it was super cool to be part of it. We tried hard to avoid talking about our illustrious mayor Rob Ford–find out how successful we were here.
One of the best parts about showing at PAX had to have been seeing couples come up to play Lovers. At several points during the weekend we would have a whole lineup of couples waiting to play. The process was all very similar each time: They would talk strategy before they sat down, they would play the game, and they would leave arguing. Mwahaha. Ryan Letourneau (Northernlion)’s PAX @ Home serves as a preview of the arguing that I hope will become the staple.
Another highlight was when James Portnow from Extra Credits surprised us with the Extra Credits Innovation Award. It came with a hefty trophy that is now being fought over by Matt and Adam.
Extra Credits Innovation Award 2013
After PAX wrapped, we had one last day in Seattle, so we checked out the EMP Museum. It was cool to see three of the inspirations for Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime all within 10 feet of each other in the sci-fi exhibit: