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August 14, 2014

Castle In The Darkness: Design Pt. I, General Design

Hello! Matt Kap here again, with another dev blog about Castle In The Darkness! Today I’ll spend some time talking about the general design of the game! But before I do, I’ll show you a piece of promotional art.

As I have mentioned in the past, my main goal was to create a game that would have been my absolute favorite as a kid, had it been released on a classic console like the NES. I loved action platformers and adventure games the most, especially those that allowed some exploration (Metroid, Castlevania 2, Faxanadu, etc), so the main choice was that simple. This has always been my favorite genre of video game.

But…

In order for it to work better in this day and age, I felt like I had to make some changes to the formula.

1. Movement: To keep up with modern design sensibilities (and to avoid getting shot at by angry players), I did away with antiquated game design decisions like ultra-slow (why do Belmonts always walk?) movement and not being able to alter direction mid-jump. Instead, you are free to run and dodge at a fast pace.

It takes just a couple seconds to run from one end of a room to the other, but by doing so you might not be seeing obstacles, traps, and secrets. The plus side to this is that slower players can choose to play carefully, and impatient players (like myself) can blast through the rooms after dying learning where the traps are! Also, you get more airtime by holding the jump button, so it’s possible to tap jump to do a short hop, and hold jump down for a leap.

2. With the exception of projectiles, attacks come out as fast as you can press the button. So players can wait through an enemy’s patterns and strike a few times to play it safe, or use that window to dice them up by fist-of-the-north-star-ing the attack button! You will still lose momentum while attacking on the ground, but no more taking damage because you’re stuck with your sword out for half a second!

In the old days, slow mechanics were commonly used to extend gameplay time. So, by getting rid of those slow mechanics, the only way to extend gameplay time in Castle In The Darkness was to add as much content as I could. I’m hoping that players will appreciate this effort, and work together to uncover all the stuff I hid in this game.

August 12, 2014

Castle In The Darkness: Ye Olde Introductions

Hello internets! My name is Matt Kap, the lead artist here at Nicalis and the designer/creator of Castle In The Darkness!

For those of you who don’t know, Castle In The Darkness is a 2D classic-styled action-adventure game that I have spent the last three years developing. We are proud to announce that Nicalis will be publishing the game on Steam this summer! Before I go into too much detail about the game, have a look at the new trailer below!

Castle In The Darkness is an action platformer with RPG elements, and a big focus on exploration. When I started development on it, my goal was to create a game that was faithful to the games I played as a kid in terms of concept and aesthetics, but with a fast and modern approach to control and game design. As you have likely noticed from watching the trailer, I’ve done my best to retain the 8-bit look and styling in the graphics, and though you can’t tell, the in-game music is all chiptune as well.

This game was inspired by many games, including (but not limited to) Mega Man, Castlevania, Kirby, Zelda, Ys, and many more, so fans of those series’ will surely find something to enjoy in Castle In The Darkness. Starting now, and until around the time of Castle In The Darkness’ upcoming release, I will be making posts here regularily to outline both aspects of the game content, as well as aspects of the development process.

Please keep checking this blog, and be sure to follow @nicalis and @mattkap1 on twitter for future updates! Before I sign off, I’ll leave you with these moving screenshots to check out! Thanksth!

May 24, 2014

’90s, Steam, non-Steam and new screens

For this update I would like to address some concerns and share a few more screenshots from some of the game’s new cars and tracks.

I have received several emails asking about the game’s release date and why we haven’t shown any gameplay videos yet. There is nobody that wants the game released more than we do and we are working hard to make it happen.There are still some areas that need work and I’ve kept postponing any gameplay videos until we are happy with what we are showing. I understand that the people that helped fund this project want to be more involved in the development process but I feel that releasing unpolished or rough material can do more harm than good. It’s a fine line and I apologize if some people feel left out.

Also we’ll make sure that everyone who doesn’t use Steam will be able to receive a copy.

Last but not least..

May 7, 2014

’90s Arcade Racer and Nailing Every Part of the Game

We’ve have been quite for a while on the ’90s Arcade Racer front and there are a few (good) reasons why.

First, the game has taken on a life of itself and we really want to get it just right. Yes, there are a number of racing games coming, but none have really taken on the idea of reviving an era that we both love and find the most appealing in the genre. To be more specific, we’ve found that as we continue to polish the game, its visual style, a physics model we’re happy with, everything else needs to be powered-up so to speak.

We know we have something special with ’90s and we want it all to be special, every. single. part. of. the. game! With that said, we’ve secretly been trying to get some of the best talent for basically every aspect of development, even if it means we need more time .

One of the aspects of the game we really haven’t spoken much about, but have put a lot of time and effort into getting just right is audio. Neither of us are audio experts so to speak, but we have found one!

The engine work and accompanying game sound effects are going to be handled by Stafford Bawler. That name probably means nothing to you, but it should! He’s working on everything from Dirt, GRiD and Forza to Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing. He’s that good. We’re already working with him to create some really amazing, authentic and very dynamic sounds that you’ll hear in the finished product.

You can follow Stafford on Twitter: @StaffordBawler

The other area we haven’t talked much about is music. We’ve received so many requests to enlist Takenobu Mitsuyoshi (famous for Daytona USA). But, unfortunately for us, he’s still employed by SEGA. However, we do know a number of really amazing musicians who have taken on the cause of ’90s Arcade Racer.

We’re taking a different approach to ’90s Arcade Racer and treating the soundtrack like a compilation of great music from great musicians. Each artist will be giving his or her take on what they feel the ’90s sounded like and we’ll announce each them as we progress through the final development of the game and near release. By the way, if you can convince Takenobu to do a track for ’90s Arcade Racer, we’re all for it!

We’ll be announcing the first musician in the next couple of weeks with a tiny sample of his track.

As a reminder for anyone who hasn’t followed our updates recently, our plans for ’90s Arcade Racer were to launch on PC (via Steam) and Wii U and follow-up with mobile. However, given the prevalence of Unity 3D on PlayStation 4, PS Vita and Xbox One, you can be sure we’re trying to find a way to get the game on those platforms as well. However, we’d like to get the game out for backers on PC and players on Wii U first–you’ve been patiently waiting and we do want to give you the ride of your life.

February 3, 2014

Update: ’90s Arcade Racer and Wii U

Antonis and Tyrone here!

As you probably know, part of working together brought along the opportunity develop and publish ’90s Arcade Racer for Wii U (among other places). The development is moving along well and for this update we’ll share some details related to the Wii U version of the game and our plans.

Fortunately, moving the game from PC/windows environment to Wii U has been a straight forward process since the project is being built on top of Unity and the team porting Unity to Wii U have obviously been doing a great job; that alone has made our part of getting running on Wii U much easier than expected. Of course, the process hasn’t been without it’s fair share of challenges.

Without getting into minutia that we’re probably not allowed to share in great detail, some things that worked on PC couldn’t be ported exactly Wii U without having affecting how the game performs on the Nintendo console–and probably other consoles, too. However, we’re very happy with the results. Fidelity, image quality and a smooth framerate are our priorities. Detractors note, Wii U is proving very capable of running the game at 60fps at 720p with 4xMSAA and FXAA resulting in a crystal clear image. It’s simply beautiful.

On the programming side these past few weeks our lead programmer has been busy working on the AI and creating the type of competition we’ve discussed in the past–focusing on a fun arcade experience. Our goal is to be able to race against 30 cars in each race. If we hit that number we’ll be quite happy

Many of you have emailed us asking for a release date, unfortunately it’s hard to give you a solid date but mid 2014 is our goal for now.

Thank you for being patient and even more thanks for all the support and interest in the project. It’s kept us going and we love hearing from all of you!

November 29, 2013

’90s: New Video, Environments

Hello everyone,
I wanted this update to be a gameplay video but unfortunately the car handling is not ready to show yet. Instead I would like to share a video showing the latest developments for the race tracks. Excuse me for the quite bad youtube compression.

As many of you might have already figured out the game won’t be out this year, targeting more platforms as well as creating more cars and tracks than what was originally planned have led to a longer development cycle.

We are working hard to get the physics right and get rid of any bugs and unwanted behavior while also working on the AI and general game structure. It’s quite a challenge but every day we are getting closer.

Probably the biggest undertaking for this project, the art assets, tracks and cars are close to 90% done which means there is enough time to polish and optimize in order to get the best possible results.

November 7, 2013

Legend of Raven Coming to PS4 and Xbox One with GGPO!

We’re sure some of you may have heard that Legend of Raven is coming to more than just PlayStation Vita. Well, we’re super happy to confirm that Legend of Raven will indeed be releasing on PlayStation 4 AND Xbox One. It gets better, too. We’ve signed an agreement with Tony Cannon to implement GGPO netcode for the console version of Legend of Raven. Oh, and did we mention that the PlayStation 4 and Vita version will be cross-buy/cross play? Yeah, pretty cool.

Check out the new trailer below that shows some of the more interesting combos in Legend of Raven. We want to hear more of your feedback and thanks for the support!

October 2, 2013

90s Arcade Racer Update: Physics

At this point some of you may feel like we’ve been working on ‘90s Arcade Racer since the ‘90s. That’s not entirely true, while Antonis and I were indeed playing Scud Race (Super GT in the US) and Daytona USA some 20 years–that was just preparation for the game we’re developing now.

Here’s what’s been happening the last couple of months with ‘90s Arcade Racer.

Physics, physics and more physics!

In the 100+ hours I’ve spent on racetracks combined with the thousands of hours logged playing racing video games, there’s something that feels quite counterintuitive to the genre. You would think super realistic racing games would have super accurate and lifelike physics — but that doesn’t necessarily always make a better product. To really give the sensation of speed, gravity, lateral gravity, as a designer you end up removing many functions that make a vehicle simulation “real”, in the theoretical sense. A driving simulator, more often than not feels like a floaty, unresponsive boat. Part of that is because you can’t feel yourself slinking around a bucket seat, you don’t have the sensation of a vehicle’s weight shift between the four corners; there’s an entirely missing dimension in racing games.

Antonis and I are going for a fun and arcade racing feel, we’ve said that from the start. Those two descriptors are equally important to the project. Getting to the balance of an arcade feel while offering a challenging experience and still giving the car some complex real-world behaviors is where our own challenge begins.

Once you start playing a racing game, especially an arcade-style one, terminology like camber, caster, differentials, toe, torque and drivetrain are quickly forgotten. Initially I spent a lot of time trying to get an arcade feel out of a real vehicle simulation. After extensive experimentation what Antonis and I found was that it just wasn’t working.

In this case it’s much easier to build something from zero and create an experience that perfectly recreates the perception and expectation we all have of a typical arcade racer. Version 2.0 of ‘90s Arcade Racer physics is built within the expressed intention of creating a real arcade racing game. What that means is that the game is really feeling like should. The car reacts in a way that is indicative of an arcade racer, it moves and accelerates properly and now we have a really fun grip and drift mechanic within the game. Although it’s been challenging having to build physics from nothing, this has allowed us to really build the vehicles exactly how we want and how they should feel.

I’m pretty confident that we’re very much in the right direction with the physics and you’ll probably agree once you have an opportunity to play it. Antonis, has been doing great work on creating the world of ‘90s Arcade Racer. More on that at a later time.

August 22, 2013

YATAGARASU TO BE REBORN AS LEGEND OF RAVEN, ON PLAYSTATION®VITA

An enhanced, portable version of the high-speed 2D fighting game, created by ex-King of Fighters developers

Santa Ana, Calif., (August 21, 2013) – Nicalis, Inc., developer and publisher of independently awesome video games announces 2D fighting game, Legend of Raven, for release on the PlayStation®Vita handheld entertainment via the PlayStation@Network.

“We are extremely excited to launch Legend of Raven on the PS Vita,” said Victor Rodriguez, CEO and Executive Producer, Nicalis, “ Originally announced for the Nintendo 3DS, we’ve since moved development over to PSN due to the incredibly overwhelming response from the fighting gaming community. With Legend of Raven on PS Vita we can take advantage of the beautiful Vita OLED screen and spend time developing new features like parallaxing backgrounds and an original new soundtrack.”

Legend of Raven Features

■ Featuring Eight exquisitely, hand-animated characters by King of Fighters artist, Kotani Tomoyuki
Every character features their own unique set of special attacks and super moves

■ Enhanced from the original
Featuring a new soundtrack, parallaxing backgrounds, ad-hoc versus play and more!

■ Innovative parry and damage mitigation systems allows for a multitude of defensive options
Execute well-timed counter attacks to turn the tide of battle.
■ Flawless Local Play!
Battle nearby friends with lag-free ad hoc Versus mode!

Prologue
The year was December 25th, 1926. Japan was on the verge of welcoming a new era…the era of “Koubun”.

Instead a revolution broke out, led by those who hoped to revive the Land of the Gods, Japan, and return her to its former glory. The Prime Minister’s cabinet, the police department, the Zaibatsu families, the mass media…the flow of information to the outside world was immediately suppressed.

Out of options, the old government resorted to creating a group of elite assassins, called the “Yatagarasu” in order to maintain order and suppress the rebellion.

These government agents have become known as the “Government’s Dogs” by the general populace. Now, they are on the move towards “Iga-sei”, which is said to still function as the government’s intelligence hub.

Legend of Raven continues Nicalis’ partnerships with ultra-talented and super-awesome independent developers. Previously Nicalis has teamed up with 8bits Fanatics (1001 Spikes), Edmund McMillen (The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth), Studio Pixel (Cave Story, Ikachan), Nicklas Nygren (NightSky), and Terry Cavanagh (VVVVVV).

More information can be found on the official website at http://nicalis.com/legendofraven

August 20, 2013

THE BINDING OF ISAAC: REBIRTH FINDS A NEW HOME

Edmund McMillen’s award-winning roguelike coming to PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita and Steam in 2014

Santa Ana, Calif., (August 20th, 2012) – Nicalis, Inc., developer and publisher of independently awesome video games announces Edmund McMillen’s multi-million selling roguelike, The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth to release on PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita and Steam in 2014.

Edmund and Nicalis have commissioned filmmaker James ID to create an ’80s-inspired teaser trailer to celebrate the platform announcements for the 2.4 million+ fans while maybe confusing, perplexing and scaring new fans.

About the Binding of Isaac Rebirth
The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth is a remake of the The Binding of Isaac now with 100-percent less flash and expanded gameplay, playable characters, story, enemies, bosses and over 110 new items. Totally retooled and greatly expanded version of the game so many have come to love created in a NON-FLASH engine programmed/designed by Nicalis (Cave Story+, VVVVVV), Rebirth will also feature a totally new graphics overhaul rendered out in a semi 16-bit SNES style.
The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth features

■ LOCAL CO-OP PLAY
■ COMPETITIVE LOAD OUTS: Players can do the same run for Twitch streams etc
■ 50-percent FRESH NEW CONTENT OVER THE ORIGINAL BINDING OF ISAAC
■ STEAM LOYALTY DISCOUNT FOR PLAYERS WHO ALREADY OWN THE GAME
■ 2+ PLAYABLE CHARACTERS
■ TONS OF NEW CHALLENGE RUNS AND MORE SECRET STUFF WE HAVEN’T FULLY TESTED YET SO i WON’T MENTION…

© 2013 Nicalis, Inc
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