By Spiceworx . May 4, 2012 . 1:33pm
In its current state, Pig & Bullet iOS is a highly optimised and polished version of the widely played Flash game released by GHXYK2 two years ago, with some new modes for added value. But in terms of content, it is still early days. We plan to add new modes and bullet types over the coming months, and the game is also being prepped for an Xbox Live Indie Games release.
As Ishaan correctly stated when he approached us with regard to writing this devblog: “Shoot-em-ups are interesting because they’re a popular genre for indies to experiment with, but obviously, there’s a lot underneath the surface that players don’t necessarily see or think about.”
Anyone hoping to weave through more than just the increasingly dense wall of vertical bullets in version one may be pleased to know that we are planning hot and spicy boss encounters amongst other additions and a future article will detail our methods used to create the various attack patterns.
So hopefully you will enjoy reading about the evolution of this game, as it progresses from a bacon sandwich into a juicy pork tenderloin!!!!
We (Mike and GHX) have been working together since 1995, with focus gradually shifting to software around eight years ago. Former clients include Warner Bros, Electronic Arts, Disney, SCEE and Turner. Pig & Bullet is not our first attempt at a shmup style game, either… So first we will take a look back down the road to Pig & Bullet iOS.
2002: Super Galactic Lover (Windows, unreleased)
Mike Prawn: A fairly mediocre first attempt, but if you don’t try, you’ll never know!!!!
GHX: Haven’t seen it for ten years…less bad than I remember. Maybe the lover will fly again on iOS!!!!!
2003: Seafood Galactic Lover (Windows, unreleased)
MP: If you try too hard at something it really shows… So based on the previous effort this was essentially an exercise in self-deprecation…
GHX: You MUST correct the error of your ways. If you don’t identify problems in your own mind how can you judge other people so freely? Do you really think you are flawless? If you answered yes, then and only then are you ready to make truly honest work…
2004: Airmercs (MaxArtists, J2ME)
MP: This was one of many level mapping jobs we did for Euro developer and publisher CSP Mobile (later known as MaxArtists). We also handled enemy placement and other stuff along those lines. Getting the Nokia emulator to work on our garbagio workstation was a daily battle. At the time I was ignorant as to how dirty my hands would get from changing SIM cards between hundreds of handsets bought from eBay, as we went full steam into mobile development between 2006 & 2008.
GHX: Be sure to check out "Family Guy: Air Griffin" on the Sharp GX10. Also some Bart The General references in the Nokia N95 classic "Hollywood Hotel"…
2004: Dragon Star (MaxArtists, J2ME)
MP: Same as Airmercs but side on with parallax.. The development method was largely the same across all the 20+ mobile games we worked on during this period. To this day, ‘Mappy’ remains a great tool for tilemapping and object placement.
GHX: With all these J2ME games you don’t have to do just one map per stage, you have to redo it tile by tile many times for all the different phones based on their screen sizes and hardware capabilities. Some had resolutions as low as 120×160…
2009: Phineas And Ferb Best Game Ever! (TV Plug N Play)
MP: One of the four games included in this motion controlled TV game was a side scrolling shooter. It was still early days for The IP that this was based on so we had a lot of creative freedom compared to some of the more established Disney licenses we have worked on, such as Toy Story and Hannah Montana.
GHX: To test the robustness of the engine, we recreated the first level of Gradius and there’s a chance some remnants of that made it to the final product. If you see it in the bargain bin at Toys R US, you can find out!!!
MP: I remember using a bespoke tool specific to PAC300 (tv plug and play board) to plot splines for the enemy to follow and everything else was scripted in a text document. The office was covered in many sheets of A3 paper with diagrams of what hex code triggered what enemy on what path.
2010: Pig & Bullet (Flash)
MP: Originally it was planned that we would update the flash version regularly adding new modes, bullet types and so on, however shortly after its release it was receiving thousands of daily plays and earning a significant amount of advertising revenue. I had a vision that if we added new content suddenly the session count would rapidly drop off. “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it!!!” So we decided to leave it for a while and see what happens.
Well, a few months later just as it was starting to drop off and I was considering an update, it spiked again!!!! Around this time GHXYK2 were starting to develop for iOS so I figured it would be interesting to see if it performed remotely as well on this platform as it had for flash.
2011: Mobil’amour (Flash, unreleased)
MP: Another failed attempt to make love in space…
GHX: I had been working on a sidescrolling engine that featured a bullet time style slow down / scaling effect and wanted to use it for a game involving froggies in space. Around this time we also started looking into XNA and iOS, neither of which the existing code would port to without a lot of hassle. So instead of working further on the flash version I put the whole thing to one side and dedicated every hour of the day to GHXYK2 Classics Vol. 1 for Xbox…
MP: The art was done by my acquaintance ASD, a talented developer from Hyogo Prefecture. I hope we can finish the game one day.
GHX: At the time, this featured by far the most complex enemy code that we had ever attempted. The boss switches randomly through a range of attack patterns including some fairly hard bullet formations. After setting everything up the first time I had to redo it all when I realised in order for the player controlled slow down effect to work as desired, each bullet needed to exist as an individual entity – the initial setup I had gave all on screen bullets the same constant speed, so slowing down one would slow them all.
MP: I forgive you…
Going through this process we learned many interesting techniques that can be applied to the updates of Pig & Bullet, which will be elaborated on in a future blog. We could likely spit out some flash demos of the unreleased projects mentioned above if readers are interested in trying them.
Well, that’s enough of an introduction to our studio Spiceworx for now. In the next article, we will detail changes from the flash version to the iOS version, a diary of the XBLIG submission process and various infos about the first content update for the game.
Follow GHX @ twitter.com/ghxyk2
Follow Mike @ twitter.com/scorpiongorblin
Follow their studio @ twitter.com/spiceworxeu