I realize we’ve been really quiet, almost dead-looking these last couple of months. Rest assured that we are working steadily on Retrograde, even if Vortex and I sorta suck at the P.R. stuff :P . We’re hoping to do a little better in the future in the way of making blog posts and progress updates though.

Lately our focus has shifted us in a slightly different direction. After a long discussion, we both decided that in order to keep Retrograde on track, feature-wise, we should think about making a smaller, less-complex game to help get the ball rolling. I know I haven’t revealed much about the core aspects of Retrograde, but know that it is a very ambitious undertaking that is going to require lots of time, patience, and resources to see its goals fulfilled.

So that brings me to this blog post! Vortex and I are announcing that we’re working on a side-project using the Retrograde code as a base. Our working title is called Build-a-Bot. I have been working on a proper design doc for Build-a-Bot for a little over month now (on and off), with lots and lots of input from Vortex on the designs. The goal is to create a fast-paced 2D free-scrolling action shooting game with a heavy element of player customization. In the game you take control of an assassin robot, which you design, and you have to make your way through a myriad of enemies and hazards within a level to then complete simple objectives.

A look at edit mode.

We’re shooting for a format that is relatively simple and easy to play, but also challenging and fast paced. Your robot will be able to fly around and boost to increase its speed, making dodging a big factor in gameplay. The enemy roster is made up of all sort of different behaviors from fast-flying robots to hulking metal behemoths and lots of stuff in-between. There will be missiles and lasers and bullets and all sorts of things flying around when things get hectic. There will also be lots of level hazards, power-ups, and secrets to find. You can almost think of it as a shoot ‘em up except that the levels are free-scrolling; you won’t be fixed to a certain route with pre-scripted enemy behaviors.

I’m hoping to make the robot customization a big element in the overall gameplay of Build-a-Bot. There’s an in-game currency which allows you to buy new weapons, chassis parts, and other parts in a shop format. Each bot will likely be made up of various chassis parts, three types of weapons, and internal components like generators and boosters. Additionally each weapon in the game will be able to choose from three different types of ammo. Each ammo type alters the behavior of the weapon slightly to create an extra layer of depth. If all goes as planned, the number of robot combinations possible will be pretty spectacular.

To go along with the element of simplicity that we’re looking to achieve, the level format will be relatively straight-forward. Levels will most likely be made up of tiles for the sake of simplicity. We’ll be using 3D visuals to present the game, but the core mechanics will be 2D. However we are looking to experiment with a sort of 2D layered format, where the player can fall back into a background or forward into a foreground, giving the gameplay a pseudo 3D immersion. Art style is also something we haven’t quite figured out yet, but we’re fairly certain the theme will be very similar to Retrograde’s theme. There’s also a story, but it’s relatively simple. We’re looking to convey most of the story elements through gameplay and subtle in-game hints.

Arggh, heat seekers!

Some of you may be wondering why we’re stopping progress on Retrograde to work on this. Well to be fair, working on Build-a-Bot actually helps us out in the end in regards to the meaty chunks of Retrograde; you could even say the two are inexorably linked together at the hip. Build-a-Bot will be a test bed for features that we’ll very likely end up using in Retrograde. It will, hopefully, give us some invaluable experience with game design, specifically of the non-FPS variety, which we can put to good use later on. Most importantly though, we’re hoping that the finished game might provide us with some funds so that we can continue working on Retrograde and secure its future. Unfortunately, even though we love designing and working on this stuff, it requires a certain amount of funding which we just don’t have. In order to keep from butchering Retrograde’s goals, we would prefer to take the time to make a smaller game first to help with funding. That way we should be able to keep Retrograde’s integrity intact and continue doing what we love :nod:

As we continue to chug along, I’ll definitely go into more detail about the gameplay aspects as well as things like game entities and art style. Vortex has made some excellent progress on the code base and just recently put together a build with a simple map editor and some test enemies and player weapon behaviors! I was having too much fun with it, so I figured it would be a good idea to record some footage of the editor and gameplay in action. Check it out!

Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for new blog posts about Build-a-Bot. Also you can check out our Twitter feed and our Google+ page for more updates! And hopefully we’ll get on the ball and make more updates from now on :3

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