Idea to make a bullet hell style, danmaku inspired shooter had been brewing inside the head of one team member and this was the perfect chance to try it out. Everyone thought that this type of game would offer a lot of interesting challenges and opportunities to learn, while being reasonable to complete in our time limit.
For the art style we took inspiration from NES style pixel art and cartoon series like Adventure time and Owlhouse. We wanted the color to be more nuanced and muted compared to the 16 bit era to give the game a modern look.
Gameplay wise we took inspiration from games like Touhou 7, Jamestown and MegaMan. From Touhou we studied boss design and took notes on how the game uses music to elevate the gameplay. Jamestown served as a good reference on how to keep more muted colors readable and clear. Megaman was there mostly for the vibe.
The development process ran smoothly throughout the whole process and gave a lot of valuable opportunities to learn. With the game having a lot of moving parts the developers had to learn how to keep the code organized and clear. Building solid tools for content creation was crucial for reaching the finish line. We learned quite early that getting all the parts is only a minor part of the development process. Most of our time was spent tweaking things and trying to find a good balance for the game. The small details that make a game satisfying to play seemed to take as much time as we were willing to dedicate to them.
We had to learn how to keep the graphics compatible and consistent between two artists. The moodboard design document helped with this greatly. It allowed us to have a reference point and thus keep the style consistent and true to the vision we had.
The moodboard in question (the bird being the most important component):
First the looping of the background art was challenging but it was resolved easily and some graphics had to be removed and changed later to more suitable ones but as always the best result comes via testing and learning. The biggest challenge apart from consistency was keeping the art easy to read as the gameplay could be rather hectic and the ability to separate enemy bullets from the background was paramount.
In the end we’re very happy both with the end result and with what we learned along the way.
Play it here: TBA
Kaarlo Kangas: Project lead, Programmer, Audio
Ville Karilainen: Programmer
Joona Ljokkoi: Artist
Samu Hujanen: Artist