Uh huh, looks like whilst I was sneaking off along multiple ghost trails in York the news dropped that Death Ray Manta will be on show at the Eurogamer Expo this coming week.
I’d completely forgotten I’d even submitted the thing in the first place so this came as quite the surprise. Needless to say, I’m stupidly over the moon happy about all this – throw in the lovely, lovely things people have been saying about the game and it’s been a grinworthy week or so.
And what amazing company I’ll be keeping too! Christ, it’s a fucking strong line up, it really is. Amazingly good selection of games on show, I tells thee.
A Bastard (George Buckenham)
BaraBariBall (Noah Sasso)
Don’t Starve (Klei Entertainment)
DRM: Death Ray Manta (Rob Fearon)
Gear Up (Doctor Entertainment)
Kairo (Locked Door Puzzle)
Last Knight (David Hagemann)
Proteus (Ed Key/David Kanaga)
Sentinel (Matthew Brown)
Sokobond (Alan Hazelden/Harry Lee)
The Button Affair (Oliver Clarke)
Tower of the Gorillion (Circuiton World Design)
Where is My Heart? (Die Gut Fabrik)
Zineth (Arcade Kids)
I recommend you play DRM before Proteus though, it’s a lovely way to calm down after the RETINAL DEATH BURN and PUMP IT HARDER of my work.
Oh, whilst I think on, as happens every time I release a single stick shooty game I get a few people asking me “Rob, can you make it a dual stick shooty game?” and I suppose it’s about time that I sorta said this in public! No, not really. I would like to make a dual stick shooty game but selotaping dual stick controls into anything based on the SYNSO formula (as DRM rather blatantly is) breaks the game entirely in every single way. So no. And yes, obviously, I’ve tested it with twin stick controls just to make sure I’m not talking bollocks. Even throwing in Axelay/Leave Home style firing into the formula drastically tips the game into something else, something that means I can’t make the games I’m trying to make here. And more crucially, into something really rubbish to play.
You see, this is what happens. You spin the stick once, everything dies. Game broken.
I could change the amount of firepower to compensate for this and the amount of fun decreases exponentially alongside it. Game broken.
I could then change the movement to suit and the amount of fun decreases exponentially alongside it. Game broken.
The whole thing is designed around the player having to charge into things guns blazing in front. It’s the reason you have massive firepower emitting from your face in the game. It’s a game entirely built as a single stick shooter and hinged around the player-as-tank concept.
You’d be surprised at what an awkward, awkward tight rope writing something like this becomes. Writing arena shooters in general is all in the tightrope balancing act you perform and how well you perform it and when you’re writing something as stripped down as DRM, well, magnify that, right? Every level is hand built to make the most out of the single-stick-age and to fit somewhere in the difficulty chain.
I mean, it’s not like shifting from player-as-tank to a more traditional twin stick affair is a small change. It’s an unfeasibly massive one, it changes everything. It changes how the enemies have to behave, it changes the placement of the enemies, how the player has to play and react to the things on screen. It’s a change at the most fundamental and important level. I could, theoretically, change absolutely everything else to fit but then I’d just be making Geometry Wars or Robotron or Llamatron and not Death Ray Manta. And to be fair, it’s not like there’s a shortage of dual stick alternatives anyway. Scoregasm alone could keep you going for a fair while just by virtue of being rather fab, right?
I don’t want to write someone else’s game, I’m interested in exploring an alternative space outside of the dual stick formula and this is sort of where it ends up, with Death Ray Manta as is. For better or for worse, right? And Death Ray Manta is very much the culmination of lots of things I’ve learned in writing single stick shooters like this, I hope it’s for the better!
So there we go, on the record! No, I will not be putting dual stick controls into DRM, sorry. It’s one of those things that might sound like a smart idea but really, it’s not. You’ve kinda got to trust me on that one, I’ve tried it, it’s poo. You go from a pulsing, pumping vibrant game to something tremendously substandard or the same game as all those other games and then I’m adding nothing to the world of videogames at all. I don’t think that’s what anyone *really* wants.
Right, anyway, enough of that. I’m just back off hols so I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing about the Expo stuff. I’m hoping to make it down one day but I don’t really do hovering around I CREATED THIS stuff, much preferring to take in the rest of the games on show and stuff but yeah, I’ll roll up at least one day if all stays well.