2015.02.21 Boss 101 Update: Dog Rockets and bullet hells

Hello and thank you for stopping by!

This week we’re kicking it off with another behind the scenes look at the way we make our magic. (or at least a peak at it!)

Boss 101 – Making the Dog Boss Bark
We start with a basic discussion about what a boss will act like, how he will behave. Things like movement, weapons and personality are discussed and planned out. Of course it all needs to work within the games framework of interlocking parts.

Let’s look at the Dog Boss – here is a look at the first pass of the dog’s main weapon planning diagram. We layout the way things work with some sketches and notes.

From there it gets a working first pass… like so…

When it’s in the game we start playtesting and seeing how it feels along with other boss combos, player weapons and basically everything we can think of. I have to say it’s pretty fun to watch something come online the first time and just blast away at it. There’s nothing like horribly imbalanced weapons to get the blood flowing!

Arm Weapon Setup in Boss 101
Then you have things like the arm weapons… the little one on the shark boss right here…

Those notes became this!

Pretty dope right?! That’s the kind of fun we have all day!

Setting up and Art Team (or any team really)

OK – more coming but check out this little bit of development blog magic I wrote up regarding my thoughts on how to setup an art department. (this was asked in regards to my time spent at Black Isle on Planescape Torment)

First, I would start with the very basic ingredient of ANY team – which is passionate people. That sounds trite but you want people who believe in your project working with you especially since the smaller the team the more a “true believer” will affect the work as a whole. I’m basically talking about someone who is excited and you personally feel you can get along with. Believe me, you will know this person when you meet them. The flipside is if you have someone on the team who is disagreeable or who tends to subvert the goals of the group then it’s in your best interest to remove them as quickly as possible.

OK – with that out of the way and assuming you have a small group of dedicated people then the rest is a LOT easier to manage.

Department organization – some thought in no particular order (from my time on Planescape and Neverwinter Nights 2)

•   First and foremost try to put people on work they WANT to do. If someone loves characters then they should be ideally on characters. If someone loves backgrounds then put them there. This will require you to shuffle people around to let them see the various departments and jobs inside an art team but it can be worth it. Sometimes everyone says “I want to be a character artist” but they discover they are really good at UI or something else.
•   Always appeal to the greater project when getting people to do work – at all times you should frame any job as it impacts the whole project. In other words – how will texturing this house, modeling this character, animating this scorpion, etc help get things done. If YOU don’t know how it affects the project then DO NOT ASSIGN it until you do. Project management mistake #1 – handing out ‘assignments’ with no sense of the bigger picture.
•   Allow people the freedom to do what they want but make sure they do the job asked first. ALWAYS allow people to suggest changes and even implement things on their own. They probably have better ideas than most since they are the ones working on it. However I would say it’s equally important to make sure they do the work asked first BEFORE they do their own thing. It’s a fair system.
•   Be prepared to change the task if one of the workers points out something ridiculous, futile or time wasting about it. Ever hand someone a task and they make a funny face? There’s probably a reason they think it’s stupid – find out why and do so with minimum disruption.

Art Directors duties (a semi humorous but accurate look)

– Cheerleader – getting the team to work together and in harmony. This is your number one job (well, TECHNICALLY the #1 job is to turn a profit right? haha)
– Garbage man – there was a term when I played basketball in high school lo those MANY years ago. We had a guy on each side called the “garbage man” his job was to take all our junk and put it in the basket. Our crappy shots, passes and all that shiz – he grabbed it and turned it into points. What I’m saying it the art director should, in most every case, never work on primary art for the game (this is dependent on team size of course and layout). He or she should be working on the stuff no one else wants to do an making sure that is of the highest quality. Turning the garbage jobs into points as it were.
– Tracking the project – at all times the art director needs to keep their eye on the goal of the game, watch the tasks for progress and above all make sure all work is relevant. This will mean course correction at times but it will have to be done. Any task which becomes outdated or irrelevant should be stopped immediately – avoid letting people finish ‘just because’ unless you are fairly certain you might use the work. People catch on very fast to busy work and will throttle their productivity accordingly.

Till Next Time!

Talk with you soon and LIVE YOUR DREAMS!


2015.02.15 Boss 101 Dev Blog Update

Welcome back to our weekly dev blog update! This week we’re peeling back the curtain a little and showing you the magic behind the scenes. I’ll be straight with you and say the reason the game is moving along so well is the great testing tools we created.

Command Center Main Room
First off though – let’s check out the work on the Command Center main room – YOUR main room in the game!

We’ve been adding ambient touches to the room. This is your first stop in the game and where you hang out with Max and Steve. This week we updated the window with animations and gave Max and Steve a gloss pass.

Boss Testing
As you know we have a lot of bosses and boss parts. To test things like animations, how well they match each other and general firing patterns we created a boss testing room where we can trigger all that stuff. In it we can mix and match parts as well as trigger various animations. Some examples:

We can randomly jumble parts together to check how various thing match. We can also select any part (like the head or the main weapon) and cycle through all the variations.

We can also look at the minions in the game and trigger their animations (like the firing animation on this little guy called 7 Shot)

Dialog Testing
As you can probably surmise – there is a LOT of dialog in the game and all that talking needs to be checked and tested. We have tools for that too. You can trigger any dialog (in game or Command Center bases) from the Dialog testing room. VERY helpful for putting the finishing touches and checking formatting.

InGame Screenshot
A snap from one of the levels with some giant boss wreckage from previous battles. Oh yeah, this shiz has happened before and left remains for you to see.
A lot of what we are going for in the game is to a) give you something cool to see b) hand out story elements and hints for you to discover and interpret for yourself.

Part 5 of my Making a Game Article is up at Indie Game Riot!
The Latest article from my series on making games is up at Indie Game Riot. Check it out!

2015.02.14 Update – How to Make a Game – Part 5

A sneak peek at NEXT week’s article!
(from How to Make a game – Part 6)
Note Taking and you!

You can use Excel, Notepad, your favorite mail program… even paper! Whatever works. The idea is you have an easy to access place to jot things down as you think of them. I started carrying a small Moleskin everywhere (really any small notebook will do). Most of the time this gets filled with movie recommendations, songs and various ideas I have or hear during the day. There are great programs with Android and iTunes (like Google Keep) which serve the same function on your smart phone.

Ok – so you have the program or journal. The best thing I have found is to just start using it for ALL your ideas and notes. Write everything down you think of. Maybe you have some gameplay idea after seeing a movie. Write it down as soon as you can. Maybe you woke up from a dream with an awesome Boss design. Write that down immediately (keep that list nearby).

You need to stop with the “I gotta remember to do that” crap. Most of the time you will forget and anyone who has been in game development has a few stories about idea they just forgot which were “so awesome if I could only remember”.  Notebooks and note taking will dramatically increase your happiness as a side benefit. How you ask? Well, less remembering to do and less forgetting is, of course, less work for you and that is always a nice thing. Also – you will learn to collect ideas efficiently as you write things down.

That’s all for this session and tune in next week for another look at our progress!

Remember to LIVE YOUR DREAMS folks!


2014.05.08 Flying at warp speed, shooting swords!

Been a busy week so let’s check out the latest developments.

Warp chases

You can now chase bosses through warp portals and take them down while in warp space. Of course this might toss you out somewhere you aren’t expecting.

As always – we want to give YOU the best game possible which means gameplay, story and overall entertainment. There have been a lot of posts about the game’s look and we have not forgotten about the story of Steve and Max. Without giving too much away Boss 101 will give you a look behind the curtains as to why the guys do what they do. Who were THEIR influences? Who do they look up to and why? Is this stuff important? We think so and we feel it will give you a lot more reasons to root for them when you know how they arrived.

That said – there will always be the smart-alec robots and funny quips (mostly since STEVE isn’t going anywhere).

So if you see a warp in space like this:


Then you move on in:


You might end up in a warp tunnel blasting samurai swords!


Hey, no one said it was easy being a kid with a jetpack. Actually, maybe they did and they of course lied. HAAAAAAAAAAAA!!

Bonus Time: A look at one of sweet outfits you can get in the game…


Also – get ready for the Steam Greenlight – coming soon and we will need YOUR vote. Thanks in advance for your support!

Remember to live your dreams!


2015.01.31 Boss 101 – Bring it on!


Steam Greenlight work is humming along. We’re concentrating on the Command Center and the alternate game modes. We gonna make sure that you see all Boss 101 can be when we drop the video. We have missions that are more than just blasting bosses. You’re gonna have to rescue robots in need and sometimes you’ll be chasing bosses as they warp around the galaxy.

More coming but in the meanwhile – check out today’s snap…

Sometimes you gotta take the fight to the upper atmosphere no matter how hot it’s getting! ‪#‎boss101‬ ‪#‎indiedev‬ ‪#‎gamedev‬ ‪#‎screenshotsaturday‬

Live your dreams people – no one else will!