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."
A couple weeks ago I gave a talk at Toronto SkillSwap on our process for making and animating the 2.5-D characters in Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime, and I thought I’d post some of the things I discussed. I’ve always been interested in the mushy space between 2-D and 3-D (when I worked in animation I got to make this secretly-3-D watercolour bank commercial, and had a hand in the early dev of the 2.5-D kids show Justin Time) and for me, finally being able to throw code into the animation mix has been one of the most interesting parts of game dev. (And just a note–”2.5-D” can be used to mean all sorts of things, but here I’m taking it to mean using a 3-D pipeline to create a mainly 2-D game.)
We’re using Unity to build Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime, so everything is made of polygons–though most objects are just transparent textures mapped onto simple planes that face the camera. There are no lights, we just crank the ambient light all the way up. We’re handling assets in a few different ways, evolving our process as we get more comfortable with the engine.
THE PLAYER CHARACTERS
The main characters are a bit of a time capsule from our early prototype, before we learned animation scripting in Unity. The characters are first animated in 2-D using After Effects, and then the animation frames get rendered to a sprite atlas texture (a big grid of all the animation frames). In Unity, each character is made of a single plane, to which we assign the sprite atlas texture. The plane only displays a zoomed-in piece of the texture though, and we can show different frames of animation by changing which zoomed-in bit of the sprite atlas texture is displayed.
This weekend we are pleased to announce that we will be exhibiting Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime at Gamercamp. We will be unveiling the Arcade Edition of the game which we feels represents a distillation of the frantic action and pacing into a shorter and sweeter play through.
You can come and play it at the games showcase on: Saturday 10am – 1pm
Sunday 1pm – 4pm
We would like to extend our thanks to Bento Miso and Digifest for giving us the opportunity to display our current build at Digifest this year. We had a great time meeting everyone who got to play the game.
Big ups to Robby Duguay for being able to explain the game better than I could.
We were featured this week in the Bonus Level podcast with Chris and Lance. I met Chris at Digifest this weekend and played a few games with him. On the podcast he told the story about how he immediately thought, “This is a game me and Lance need to play.” I can’t say how awesome that reaction is. // Listen Here
Thursday October 18, we were invited to show Lovers at the Toronto After Darkcade. We were also joined by Drinkbox Studios and their game, Tales From Space: Mutant Blobs Attacks. We had a blast being able to debut the game to the public, and would like to thank Alex Bethke and everyone at TADFF for giving us this opportunity.
To continue from Jamie’s last dev log with the sketches…
So after we’d decided on our concept for Global Game Jam, we started thinking about visual style. Jamie and I both have an illustration background; this is the fun stuff for us. Because a spaceship with guns is hardly a rare concept in games, we really wanted to avoid a default look, so leading up to GGJ we were gathering references from outside video games–plus I’ve always found this keeps you honest about how much you’re borrowing from any one source. Even though at the time it was “just” a jam game, we wanted to be coming from the right place.
Since the game features a ship’s cross-section, right away we hit on our nostalgia for the sci-fi technical manuals we had as kids.
A little over a month after the Global Game Jam (where we started Lovers) we, and the rest of the world awoke to FTL. In an email chain titled “RE: uhhhhhhh oh shit” we discussed mainly how cool FTL looked and “Holy shit they raised over $200,000!” Actually we we’re freaking out when they raised $40,000, but they quickly quintupled that figure. Unfortunately for us, from then on we knew that anytime we would show our game, people would make the connection to FTL and be in it’s shadow. // More