Nicalis Blog - Part 4


May 10, 2016

The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth hits consoles NOW!

Hi there, Binding of Isaac fans! I’ve got some awesome news: The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth is just about ready to launch on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Wii U (at a later date). In fact, it’s going to be out today, May 10th for $10.99.

If you haven’t heard, Afterbirth is the very, very extensive add-on DLC for The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth delivering 100+ additional hours of gameplay. Features include:
-A new final area and final boss for the main game
-The new Greed Mode
-Daily Runs to compete for high scores and best times
-1000+ new room designs
-A new playable character, Lilith, mother of demons
-Eight new bosses
-Four new alternate chapters with specific enemy types, visual themes, and surprises
-25 new enemies
-120 new items (bringing the total past 525)
-A massively updated item combo system
-New alternate soundtrack
-10 totally new and awesome challenges
-Tons of new secret transformations
-Revised seed code combo system and new special seeds
-Loads of new achievements
-And more! (Who doesn’t love “And more!”?)

But enough with the lists. Here are the juicy details on some of Afterbirth’s new content straight from the game’s madman creative genius, Isaac’s proud papa, Edmund McMillen:

Greed Mode:

Greed Mode is a totally new game mode in afterbirth that is a hell of a lot more fun than even i expected it to be. It mainly involves fighting off waves of randomly chosen sets of enemies that spawn around the room. These waves ramp in difficulty and continue to stack on top of one another till you hit wave 8, press the stop button, or die.
The more waves you string together without hitting the stop button, the higher the cash bonus, and if you are able to do it without taking damage there is another bonus in it for you. After wave 8 you get a breather to cash in your winnings and the button mysteriously changes to a skull!

GreedMode2

High risk, high reward. Get greedy in Greed Mode!

Pressing said skull will start the “boss waves,” an easy wave (on par with a basic boss from that chapter) and a med wave (usually an easy level boss with a small mob). You get a lot more time to kill these waves, but depending on how fast you are there is a high chance that the second boss will spawn in alongside the first…but you can always sacrifice half a heart to stop the next wave from spawning if things are looking dire.

Once these boss waves are finished, the exit door will unbar and you will be able to progress to the next level…or you can take a chance with the “nightmare boss wave” in order to unlock the devil room door. But get this: every single room in greed mode is 100% new, cursed rooms yield totally new surprises, secret rooms have bigger payoffs, and the content of devil rooms aren’t exactly what you are used to. In fact, all the pools in Greed Mode are totally new and have been heavily modded to fit Greed Mode perfectly.

All in all, Greed Mode will feel like a totally new experience that will not only yield tons of rewards for completing it with each character, but also features a very unique ending that should have you coming back for more for quite a while.

Daily Runs:

For those of you who have used “seeds” in rebirth, the short answer is Daily Runs are daily seeds that are universal to everyone playing that day…but I’ll assume you don’t know what seeds are and give you the deets.
Every new day, Afterbirth will generate a new “run” for everyone who owns the game to play. But what makes Daily Run different than seeds is that Daily Runs will be identical for everyone in every way (though we all know your actions might change later outcomes in the future…Back to the Future logic is real!).

So it doesn’t matter what you have or haven’t unlocked, Daily Runs don’t play by the rules! Everyone is on an equal playing field here! (Aside from 1000s of hours of experience and knowledge of the game.) Doesn’t matter what you have or haven’t unlocked. if you wanna go for Mega Satan from the get-go…then by all means go for it! Beyond all runs being universal, Daily Runs will choose a specific character for you to play as…and EVERYONE is forced to play as him/her/them universally. Yes this includes The Lost…but don’t worry, those will be rare days. That said, nothing can be acquired or unlocked in daily runs. Much like seeds, Daily Runs do not yield any progress rewards…so it’s best to play the main game more if you want game progress.

New Enemies:

Afterbirth will features loads of new enemies and bosses, and even some alts to existing ones…but just how many is loads? Honestly, I’m not sure. At this point it’s even hard to remember due to the fact that so many enemies have new alt forms and more than a few have level alt forms as well (like burning fatties/walkers/leapers etc). But here is one of my personal faves, mostly due to how they look. Fat Bats, or Fats as I call them, are a newcomer to the caves and depths.

Enemy-FatBat

They’re fat. They’re fangy. They’re Fat Bats.

Little Horn is a new and much welcome “stubby” demon boss. I really loved the design of Loki and I know there are more than a few Loki fans out there who appreciated the four-armed lil devil. I liked how small he was and in Afterbirth I made sure to add in more “small” bosses as well as more “mega huge” ones to boot. Not only does this guy break the mold with his AI, but he also has more attacks than normal bosses. Easily one of the most fun boss fights thus far. I also got to reuse some of his mechanics in other ways…

Enemy-LittleHorn

Little Horn is small but still dangerous.

Afterbirth will feature five new champions! Champions in Isaac are twice as large, do a full heart of damage, have twice the life, and usually drop something special when they die. Well, this time we are sticking with the basic formula…but switching things up just a tad. I wont spoil it all but here are two of the five new champion forms found in Afterbirth: Green Pulsing Champion and Itty Bitty Champion!

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Two of the five new champion forms: Green Pulsing Champion and Itty Bitty Champion!
New Items:

There will be new cards, pills, runes, bombs, hearts, chests, and even a few new item types you will run into and/or unlock via one of the 10 new challenges. I don’t want to spoil all the fun here, but here are a few…

New Item: DIPLOPIA! Diplopia is a new one-use item that does something pretty interesting: it doubles items and pickups. Not all items are ones you want two of, but I’m sure some of you can think of more than a few that would be nuts to have two of… There are also a few tricks you can do with it.

Item-Diloplia

Double your pleasure with the Diloplia.

It’s a new fave of mine: THE FRIEND BALL! I felt like charm effects were one of the more interesting additions to Rebirth, so I wanted to use them a bit more in Afterbirth. The Friend Ball will instakill any non-boss enemy, trapping them inside the ball. Then you can release the trapped enemy, now charmed to fight alongside you for the duration of the room!

Item-FriendBall

Use the Friend Ball to…catch ’em all?

Dead Eye is a fan-suggested item that raises damage with each consecutive hit and causes your tears to become red glowing balls of death if you play well.

Item-DeadEye

Dead Eye may cause your enemies to be the ones weeping.

Alternate Levels:

One of the more interesting features of Afterbirth’s main game is “alt chapters.” As many of you know the game currently features alt chapters for each existing level set, ie, the basement’s counterpart is the cellar. Each alt chapter has its own set of levels, themes, and enemies that are semi-exclusive to it. I wanted to add more stuff like this without muddying things up by actually making a full third alt for each existing chapter set. In Afterbirth, each chapter set will feature a variant that will go over the top of whatever theme you are currently playing, so regardless of if you are in the cellar or basement, there is a small percentage chance that whatever level you are in will become a new Afterbirth alt.

AltLevelBurningBasement

The new, alternative version of the basement/cellar. Burn, baby, burn!

I’m not going to spoil them all, but we will start with the first: the burning basement/cellar. Aside from how different this alt looks, it also features many different changes. There is a high percent chance that many different enemies will become “flaming alts.” All new level alts will feature modded stats and new attacks; there is a small percent chance that rocks will become fire pits. These seem like minor changes, but in a lot of ways these new alt levels will act as “champion” variations of levels, making things slightly harder but also raising the possibility of more reward. Each new alt will also feature new music, visuals and effects.

April 13, 2016

Creepy Castle: Meet the Developer

Hi guys! This is Zach, creator of the upcoming PC/Mac/Linux game Creepy Castle! It’s been a while since the game was guaranteed life through Kickstarter, but development has been moving along, and I feel like there’s finally light at the end of the tunnel. I’m hoping to keep you informed here about some of the various aspects of creating Creepy Castle, but before I do that, I thought I’d give you some background about myself.

Creepy Castle Title Screen

Creepy Castle is almost here, combining old-school looks and ideas for an all-new type of RPG.

I’ve been a gamer for almost as long as I can remember, my first console being the NES before moving on to the Super NES. I enjoy almost every game genre, but I’ve always had a special spot for platformers in particular. Some of my favorites include the Super Mario games (of course) and the Castlevania series – both the classic action-platformers and the more recent Metroidvania-style games. There’s just something special about venturing through those haunted halls of Dracula’s castle! I’m also a big RPG guy. You can’t go wrong with the Final Fantasy series, and the entire line of Mario role-playing games is spectacular. I’ve always appreciated how those games have tried to bring something new to the table to make them more than just menu-driven RPGs – stuff like the timed button presses for extra offense or defense in Super Mario RPG, and the little minigames used to execute special attacks in the Mario & Luigi titles. (Not coincidentally, you’ll probably notice the influence of a lot of these games in Creepy Castle.)

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Look! It’s Bee, who’s going on to bigger and better things in Creepy Castle.

When I was still pretty young I started creating my own games with RPG Maker 2000 on PC, and after spending a lot of time with that, I began fooling around with GameMaker. When I wasn’t attending school, I spent my time learning the things I needed to know to better make my own games: programming, writing, art, and, more recently, music. Along with one of my friends, this led me to establish Dopterra back in 2008. You could call it an indie game studio now, but back then it was more just for fun, and it allowed me meet a lot of other people who’ve contributed to Creepy Castle’s development. (Dopterra is also the name of the world where Creepy Castle takes place). We’ve mostly dabbled with smaller browser-based games, like Flutter Moth, a Flappy Bird-inspired game starring Moth, Creepy Castle’s main character. I was also commissioned to create a simple browser-based shooter to go alongside a book called Echo of the Boom a couple years ago – my first professional game!

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Classassin, a shooter created to promote the novel Echo of the Boom, was my first professional game.

But everything I’ve done before has been on a much smaller scale than what you’ll find in Creepy Castle. It’s by far my most ambitious project to date, and even though the going has been a little slower than expected, I think the extra time and effort are going to pay off. Next time I’ll write a little bit about Creepy Castle’s origins and how it’s become what it is today. Thanks for your interest!

April 4, 2016

Ittle Dew 2: Introduction to Ludosity

Greetings from Sweden! This is Joel from Ludosity; I’m one of the designers of Ittle Dew 2, which we’re bringing to Steam, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One with the help of Nicalis.

If you’ve had a chance to play the original Ittle Dew or any of our other games, like Card City Nights or Bob Came In Pieces (it’s a horrible name, I know), then that’s great! Thanks for the support! For those of you who don’t know us yet, here’s a little bit of background.

Personally, I’ve been a huge gamer ever since the days of the 8-bit NES. One of my favorites? The Legend of Zelda, naturally. That was my go-to game back in the day, and I was mesmerized as I explored its forests and deserts and dungeons. It seemed like there was always something new to discover; it was amazing. Another one of my favorites, for a lot of the same reasons, is Super Metroid, which might be the pinnacle of game design as far as I’m concerned.

Ludosity logo 2011

This is our logo. It proves we exist!

Back then I never thought I’d be a game designer, but one day I was criticizing some game — I don’t remember which one — and my girlfriend at the time told me that if I was just going to complain about video games then maybe I should just learn to make better ones myself. And I hadn’t really considered that before, but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense, and so I applied to university to learn about programming and game creation, and I loved it.

Bob Came in Pieces

Bob is in pieces. Or, at least, his ship is in pieces, and you need to rebuild it.

I formed Ludosity with a bunch of fellow students back in 2008, and we made a handful of games (like the aforementioned Bob Came In Pieces, which was released on Steam), but team members kept coming and going, and it wasn’t until 2010 or so that we came together to form what I call Ludosity 2.0, which included myself, Daniel (a fantastic level designer who I met at university), Anton (our art director), and Gustav (our programmer). Ever since that core team came together, we’ve been finding our own identity and aesthetic and sense of humor, and we’ve been continuing to create games we want people to enjoy, like the original Ittle Dew (which came out in 2013) and now Ittle Dew 2.

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Ittle Dew was our first stab at a puzzle-filled adventure game.

The Ittle Dew games are top-down adventures born from our love of classics like The Legend of Zelda, hopefully delivering that same sense of wonder and surprise and discovery, but with the Ludosity brand of style and humor and our own take on adventure-y gameplay. Ittle Dew 2 is going to be way, way bigger than the original, with new abilities, revamped graphics, better combat, and much more to explore, and we hope you stick around in the coming days and weeks to get a taste of what we have in store. Thanks for reading…and playing!

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Ittle Dew 2 is on its way to PC, PS4, and Xbox One. Adventure and shenanigans are guaranteed!

March 29, 2016

Full Mojo Rampage: Hello from Voodoo Land!

Greetings! This is Rob from Over the Top games, developer of the roguelike action title Full Mojo Rampage, which we’re bringing to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One with some help from Nicalis. I’ll be bringing you a bunch of details about the game in the near future, but first I thought I’d tell you more about myself and Over the Top.

I’ve been a gamer for a long time – I’m an especially big fan of Nintendo games, particularly the Mario and Zelda titles. I also love deeper, story-driven games like Deus Ex and The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. My colleagues and I are also huge fans of The Binding of Isaac, and I’m not just saying that because we’re partnered up with Nicalis!

After I became a programmer, my first job was at a company called Pyro Studios, which is best known for the Commandos series. My first project was a strategy game called Imperial Glory, which I worked on from start to finish over a couple of years. The next title for Pyro was a WiiWare game, but after around two years in development, one of the higher ups decided to scrap the project. That was my wake-up call to go independent, so in 2008 I decided to start Over the Top Games, where I was joined by my brother and one of my friends.

Our first game, which you might have heard of, was a 2D platformer originally called Icarian: Kindred Spirits, but was later renamed NyxQuest. It was fairly well received when it was released on WiiWare, and it later came out on Steam and iOS. That caught the attention of the folks at Electronic Arts’ EA 2D studio, who were interested in using the engine we developed for NyxQuest. That led to us working with them to bring Fancy Pants Adventures to console and mobile.

NyxQuestscreen2

Platformer NyxQuest: Kindred Spirits was our first release as Over the Top Games.

After that we considered doing something a bit bigger, something grander. We started prototyping a few game concepts and began reaching out to publishers that could help us bring these ideas to life on a greater scale. In the end, however, we decided that the financial environment at the time just wasn’t right for what we wanted to do. This could have been considered a setback, but it was actually a good thing, as it allowed us to make exactly the game we wanted, completely by ourselves with our own funding. That’s the game that ended up becoming Full Mojo Rampage: a voodoo-themed procedurally generated multiplayer action game that provides a new experience every time you play. FMR hit PCs via Steam in 2013, and now we’re working on bringing the game to console. The PS4 and Xbox versions will have all the features that the PC version had, along with some technical improvements and even a new mode.

Full Mojo Rampage, an action game fueled by the power of voodoo, will soon be released on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

We’re very excited to be bringing this game to a whole new audience, and we hope you come back to hear more about the development process. Next time: how we ended up going with a voodoo theme in the first place!

February 5, 2015

Castle In The Darkness: RELEASE DAY!!!

Hello! Matt Kap here again, posting on the day some of you have been waiting for…

CASTLE IN THE DARKNESS IS NOW AVAILABLE ON STEAM FOR $4.97 UNTIL FEB 12TH, AND $5.99 AFTERWARDS!

For those who are just seeing this, I am Matt Kap, a pixel artist at Nicalis. I’ve worked on 1001 Spikes, Legend Of Raven, and was the lead artist on The Binding Of Isaac: Rebirth. All throughout the dev cycle of those projects and the last 3 years I’ve been working on my own project, called Castle In The Darkness! I’m proud to finally have it complete and released on Steam!

For the price of a McCombo you can enjoy several hours of retro goodness, so please give it a try :). Also, I should mention that the soundtrack can also be purchased as a download here for $3, or 50 cents per track! I will be putting the profits from the soundtrack back into making music for future games and other soundtracks, so please support it if you like what you hear :).

Finally, I should mention that some people cannot start the game because they are missing DLL files. I will fix this as soon as I can in the next update, but in the meantime you can fix this problem by updating DirectX, and also installing the DLLs that you can get from this installer.

Anyway, thanks for reading, check out the game, and come back soon! There will be more blog posts and announcements about this game :D! Bye!

February 4, 2015

Castle In The Darkness: World

Hello! Matt Kap here again, with another dev blog about Castle In The Darkness! Today I’ll talk about the game’s world!

This game is split up into areas, but it’s also a large open world. Before describing any further, I’ll show you guys a zoomed out map of the entire game.

To give you a sense of scale, that red mark on the bottom left is about the size of one screen, so there is a LOT of area to explore in Castle In The Darkness! Of course, you don’t have to explore at all, you could take a straightforward path to the end, but you will find that by skipping all the secrets and upgrades, the game will become hard REAL quick.

Sometimes, certain obstacles will be unpassable, so you will be forced to take a different path, then return later on once you are able to pass the obstacle. These types of games usually require some backtracking. Luckily, there is an item you will obtain part-way into your journey that will facilitate this:

This is the warp stone! Once you get this item, you will be able to use warp points scattered across the world to travel, first to a place called Warp Zone, and from there you wil be able to warp back to any of the warp points.

Warp points are similar to save points, but with a different colored crystal. Without the warp stone, the crystals will not be able to take you anywhere, and will appear as plain rocks. Using the warp stone will make it easier to traverse such a large world, and who knows, Warp Zone may also be hiding secrets of its own!
(And maybe those secrets also have secrets…!)

As usual, thanks for checking this out! Just to remind everyone reading, the game will be out on Steam TOMORROW! Please come back to this blog in the future for more updates, even AFTER release! Till next time!

February 4, 2015

Castle In The Darkness: DANGER! Razor Wing swoops in!

Hello! Matt Kap here again, with another dev blog about Castle In The Darkness! Today I’ll write about one of the bosses you’ll encounter- Razor Wing!

Razor Wing is a giant and hostile owl that builds its nests on the tops of giant mountains or on tall towers. With its extremely high swooping speed and wings strong enough to create gale winds, it really is a force to be reckoned with!

Razor Wing’s attack patterns are slightly more complex than General’s, but don’t fret- some of you may play through the game and never run into it.

Attack 1: Gale Wind- Razor Wing descends, and uses its powerful wings to shoot gusts of wind at the hero! It’s hard to dodge, but maybe dodging them isn’t the best tactic…

Attack 2: The Descent- Almost without warning, Razor Wing descends at such a high speed that only the most skilled players will be able to move out of the way! The tricky thing is that it may come from either direction!

Razor Wing doesn’t have a weak point like some of the other bosses, but that doesn’t mean that hitting it becomes less challenging as a result. Also, Razor Wing might have a larger role in the game than some of the other bosses, but you will see why once you play the game.

Last, but not least, here is part 2 of the LP done by the lovely Karrie Shirou! Thanks Karrie :D!

As usual, thanks for checking this out! Just to remind everyone reading, the game will be out on Steam on Thursday, Feb 5th! Please come back to this blog in the future for more updates, even AFTER release! Till next time!

February 3, 2015

Castle In The Darkness: Upgrades

Hello! Matt Kap here again, with another dev blog about Castle In The Darkness! Today I’ll talk about the items in the game!

Upgrading your hero is a very important aspect of Castle In The Darkness. By collecting upgrades and items, you will become much stronger, and able to pass obstacles and kill bosses that previously prevented you from proceeding! The first, and most common upgrade, is this:

Boss Heart: After killing boss monsters, they will drop a boss heart. Collecting this will increase your maximum HP by 1 point! This may seem insignificant, but there are a lot of boss monsters in the kingdom of Alexandria, so upgrading your HP as high as you can will enable you to sustain more damage before dying. Other upgrades are in the form of items:

As you can see, there are various types.

Weapons- Swords and other weapons you can equip to attack.
Armor- Armor you can equip to raise your defense and add special properties.
Magic- Powerful magic that you can equip to use against enemies.
Items- Items that add an upgrade once collected, or unlock a path.
Relics- Items that will give you a permanent special ability (swim, break blocks, etc)

In order to see all that Castle In The Darkness has to offer, or even to finish the game, you will need to collect some, if not all, of these upgrades. Some of them are super secret, and/or hard to attain, so meticulous adventurers will be rewarded!

Before I sign off, here is a moving screenshot that shows what the “Ares Gauntlet” relic allows you to do! You will be able to break certain blocks, so in order not to miss anything, you’ll want to find this in the first area of the game!

That’s it for today! Till next time!

January 30, 2015

Castle In The Darkness: Monsters!

Hey everyone! Matt Kap here again. Today I will be touching on something that you will see a lot of in Castle In The Darkness, the monsters!

For a game like this, there really has to be a lot of enemies to make each area feel different, and to keep the challenge ramping up throughout. So, though there are a couple (very few) palette swaps, Castle In The Darkness features over 100 enemy monsters! It would take far too long to write about every one of them, so I have picked a few early-game monsters to share some info about.


Flouse
A flying eyeball with scaly wings and some legs. They aren’t hard to defeat, but report what they’ve seen to the sorcerer that summoned them.


Arrey
An arrey is a skeleton that has been reanimated by evil magic. Because they are missing any heavy flesh or muscle, they move faster than the zombies, and throw bones at the player.


Blue Devil
This mischevious devil spits fireballs at the hero, mocks him, then quickly flies away before he can be punished!


Beastman
The hair coming from this guy’s head looks like a strange mullet, but it’s really his fuzzy and floppy ears. When he’s not attacking you with his whip, he likes to go for walks and play fetch.


Mushman
This creature walks around in Agros Forest. When startled, it will squeeze its fungus muscles and shoot out burning spores through its cap.

This post just happens to scratch the surface of what you can expect in terms of enemies, so maybe at some point I will do another post that will show some of the late-game enemies or more obscure/secret ones.

Last, but certainly not least, the lovely Karrie Shirou made a video of herself LPing the first area of Castle In The Darkness! Keep in mind that this was made a while back, so the build is dated and things will be a bit different when the game drops next week. It was a pleasure for me to watch this, and I’m proud to be the cause of the intense emotional ups-and-downs she had to experience :). Thanks Karrie!

Again, thanks for reading! Please keep checking this blog for future updates! Till next time!

January 29, 2015

Castle In The Darkness: The Music!

Hey everyone! Matt Kap here! Today I will be talking about the music in Castle In The Darkness.

I’ve always had a lot of musical instruments around my house because my father was a musician. Eventually I got into playing music myself, first playing drums in a punk band, switching to guitar at one point long ago (and playing with several bands), and recently picking up the violin for fun. It’s safe to say that without having heard the soundtracks from games I played as a kid (Castlevania, Megaman, Ys, etc), I may never have gotten as much into music as I am today!

When I started working on Castle In The Darkness, I wanted all the music to be fast-paced, a bit aggressive, but still super melodic. Since I was already well-practiced in making music that included those traits, I figured it would be really fun to compose the soundtrack by myself!
The music in-game had to be 8-bit-ish chiptune styled to fit with the 8-bit limitations I had already set for this project, so I composed them using a computer. I have composed about 50 songs in total, most of which made it into the game! I am very happy with how it turned out, as they do a really good job conveying the feeling and atmosphere I had in mind! Here are a couple samples of the soundtrack and some moving screenshots:



This is the music that plays in the first area, Alexandria.
It’s fast and melodic, with a galloping drum beat. Perfect for the start of a challenging journey.



This is the music that plays in the second area, Agros Forest.
It’s a driving rock chiptune that is somewhat of a contrast to the happier sounding music from the previous area. Things are starting to get serious!

For those of you who like what you hear, the entire soundtrack will be available to purchase at some point, but I’ll give more details about that in the near future! Thanks again, and come back soon!