Johnny Andrade on GamiGami Invaders.
A while back, we spoke to Johnny Andrade about the state of the Brazilian Indie Game Industry, and we touched briefly upon his upcoming game GamiGami Invaders. He has been working on this 2D Shoot em up for a while, creating a game with a playful art style and unique gameplay.
The game is simple to pick up, but hard to master, and it features everything an old school spaceship shooter fan would want. Unique bosses, bonus stages, and a variety of powerups make this simple game a joy to play. I recommend checking this title out if you are a Space Invaders fan. Johny Andrade was very passionate when talking to us, and gave us a whole bunch of insight into what it took to get this project going.
We had a previous interview going over your professional history. So how did GamiGami Invaders get started? How many people are apart of Bloqbit?
Hello Alexander. First of all, thank you again for the opportunity. The development of the game began when I started a Flash course in an Adobe Authorized center in Brazil, about three years ago. I decided to play a more complex project. I then began to conceptualize the design in a way that was able to be implemented, taking in consideration my restricted knowledge of the Flash programming language, Action Script 3. A given time after the start of the development, I realized that in case I stay with all the programming, the game development would take too long to be finished, and I would not be able to implement many new features that were emerging in my head.
I then thought a lot, and decided to look for a programmer to carry all the scripting business, and my responsibility would be all the rest that includes animation, music, design, testing, etc. I received several offers from people interested, but I chose the one I thought was the most honest and well received person. It was then that I met Marcelo, second member of BloqBit, and even with some limitations in regards free time, he was certainly the right choice. I would like to point out that he always surprised me a lot with his skills in Action Script, and he always managed to implement the craziest of my ideas, including a weapon that is a vacuum cleaner that sucks enemies. That weapon gave us quite a headache to implement.
So now we have two members in BloqBit. I would even take the opportunity to inform everyone that I am looking for Unity developers and artists to join the team and help in the port of GamiGami Invaders for Steam and other platforms as well as for other projects. Interested parties can contact me through our fan page or directly through my profile.
What is GamiGami invaders? Where did the idea for the game come from?
GamiGami Invaders, as the name suggests, is a top down shooter in the style of Space Invaders and Galaga, which were the games that inspired me. I was always the kind of player that while playing something, is at the same time trying to understand how the game was done and visualizing how it could get better.
So in one of those gameplays, I was playing Galaga and realized that that game for today's standards was not interesting in any way. All the mechanics were very outdated in a way that today it is not considered a fun game. I then went searching for modernized versions of the classic that have been made by the same company, and I confess that I could not find much difference between the versions, only versions with little graphical updates and some little improvements in gameplay.
There was nothing really cool related to mechanics in itself. It was then that I decided to add my own crazy ideas to the style, and so was born the initial concept of GamiGami Invaders. Since the beginning, I designed it to be an game with easy gameplay that could be played only with a mouse, because I did not want to make a game exclusively for the hardcore audience. I would like to make a game that could be played by children and housewives, while keeping it fun and complicated enough to be played also by a hardcore player. The biggest challenge has been that.
GamiGami Invaders is a 2D shoot 'em up. What features distinguish it from the crowd? What kind of power ups can we expect to see? How do these power ups work?
As mentioned above, I wanted to create a game that was easy to be played by the more casual audience, while preserving some appeal to a more hardcore players. It was then that I decided to create easy gameplay that could be played only with the mouse. Today, practically every shoot 'em up game is exclusive to the hardcore audience, and I attribute this to a difficulty that the more casual audience has in accepting the keyboard as a form of input for games. So I had the challenge of conceptualizing a complex mechanic and putting everything in a single click.
Since the beginning, I wanted to put many special weapons in the game, and a lot of people said I would not be able to put something like seven special weapons in a mouse, telling me that it was an exclusive task of the keys 1 to 7 of the keyboard. It was like trying to put a chicken inside an egg. But I was stubborn as ever, and in the end, I could conceptualize something that was very good. It was then that I created one of the great differentials of the game , which is the system that I have named the "wheel of weapons," which is a circle of colored lights that slowly circle above the ship, each representing a different special weapon.
There are six weapons, including a shield, magnet, trishot, bomb, laser and finally a very creative weapon that is the vacuum cleaner, which sucks much of enemies of the screen, chews them, and spits out a block of garbage. The vacuum gave us a lot of work to implement, but I protected the concept till the end. To select a weapon, lets say, the laser, the player waits for the right moment when the blue light that represents the laser is passing through a red target that sits on top of the ship, and with just one mouse click, the laser is selected. That way I could fit seven weapons in just a single button, and at the same time change a system that is today something almost purely mechanical, into something different and fun which is the process of any weapons selection in the majority of games.This would be the first difference between the GamiGami Invaders and other games in this style.
However, since I studied advertising, I always learned that a product to compete in the market should have not just one but several differentials, it was then that I decided to create funny stage bosses and give them mechanics that resemble those of bosses from another game that I have always been a fan of, Mega-Man. I designed the boss battles in a way that to pass them, the player must not just dodge their bullets and shoot then, as in all other shoot em ups, but mechanically learn tricks and patterns used by them to win. Each boss has an average of three different mechanical patterns in which the player has to learn them very well to succeed. In the battles against them, the player feels like playing a platform game, feels something unique, and is able to create something like this, this hybrid, is for me very satisfying. I think that it is the biggest and best difference of the game.
Also, I decided to make a brief tribute to the classic game Asteroids, and fitted one Survival Stage in the middle of the stages to alleviate some of the repetitiveness. Finally, I put into practice an idea that always hammered my head that would be tested to see how it would be a hybrid of space shoot em up and a platform game. I then just added the ability to make the spaceship "jump," and I confess that the idea was magnificent and had fit like a glove in the game concept. Another friend of mine that is also a game designer reacted to the idea questioning me with "What do you mean with a ship that jumps?" And that was the indicator for me to see that I was breaking a paradigm with this idea.
OK! This was the final missing element to the game. Now the player can also jump on the heads of the enemies to kill them, like most platform games do, without losing the top down shoot em up core that is the main element. With all these elements that are special weapons, the wheel of weapons, funny stage bosses and a ship that "jumps," I can say with all certainty that the GamiGami Invaders is without a doubt a singular game and that it's coming to give a new air style to the genre. Or at least this is the intention. All versions of the game will also have an online High Score system where players can compete with other players in the world for the highest score.
From what I have seen, you have a very interesting art style. What were some of you influences?
In this regard, I do not feel influenced by anyone in particular. I do not even consider myself a good graphic artist. I have done a lot of art for companies in the times that I had an ad agency, but just simple things like creating logos, visual identities, flyers and banners, things like that. I even have tried to do some more complex illustrations, and the result was not very satisfying. I am a very big fan of pixel art, and I am very frustrated also not be good at this. However, something I realized that I can do relatively well is 2D vector assets for games. For GamiGami in particular, I opted for a look a little more ludic, resembling a little of the Brazilian artist Romero Britto.
You may see some ludic elements in the space background, and even the design of the enemies is a little ludic and raw. An interesting story is how I got the concept of the enemy. At first, I was unsure of how they would look like, and was even considering that they could be some household utensil like brooms, shovels and etc, with life. It was then that on one of my classes in one of the courses that I took, I came across a simple and common exercise in which the teacher had asked to split up a circle in half, and then asked for me to play with this and various other forms. I then take a look and said: Bingo! This is it! They will be robots in spherical shapes that can open and close!
Boss battles are a big part of the game, I particularly loved the chef. How many bosses can we expect to see? What was your approach for designing the bosses?
I am very happy you enjoyed the Chef Tulip and to answer your question, I will have to tell some of the plot of the game. The story revolves around a grumpy martian with a very bad temper that when he gets home, he finds a letter from his wife saying that she was kidnapped by some crazy robots and that if he does not raise his ass from the couch, he will have his balls kicked out of the solar system. He then, forced and very reluctantly, goes out with his ship to rescue her. I try to play with the sameness on the plot of several games where the player has to rescue a cute little princess and everything is wondrous in the end. In GamiGami, the protagonist is one very grumpy but submissive ET who has to rescue an ugly, bipolar wife, alluding to the situation of many real couples. The ones who kidnapped her were a race of robots called GamiGami, which is led by a royal family.
The royal family has seven members who are Chef Tulip, BinBin The Jester, Princess DinaDina, Prince balabala, Queen Eleanor, King Pacus and the Royal Priest Michelangelus The 3rd, which is the final boss. Each has a very funny and unique design. So it will be seven stages and seven bosses for you to "unfortunately" rescue your not so beloved wife. For the design of the bosses, I tried to use the most comical and different stereotypes in order to create something rare in this shmups gender in this regard as well. I want to make the player have fun, which includes having some good laughs, as a way to relieve the tension that the difficulty of the game itself imposes. I also think this whole mix of ease of gameplay, fun and comedy, combined with a good level of challenge are the right ingredients that please both the casual audience as well as the hardcore players.
So I conceptualized the characters to be comic and dude, where else will you find a shmup whose stage boss is a robot chef who shoots cutlery and makes vegetables falls from the top on you in outer space? Or a jester robot that literally laughs in your face when you die making you very angry and feeling more challenged and determined to win and see what will come next! So my intentions when creating the design of the bosses were not only to create something unique, but also make the player laugh and feel challenged, without being unmotivated and making them lose curiosity about the next challenges. I have conceptualized the game to be difficult, but without being frustrating and to challenge the player to beat me in my own game, in my own design. This concept of the game design challenging the player to win it is a concept that I think is very important in the creation of any game, and I have noticed that today the majority of the tittles in the major franchises, unfortunately, have opted for a more passive forms of fun, and that every time that this occours, the AAAs get more distant from what the word GAME means.
What can we expect to see at launch? Do you have plans to add in more content down the road? When is it going to come out?
Unfortunately I hit some barriers and I am facing some difficulties in this regard. Typical difficulties of a indie developer. The coder, Marcelo, who is also my friend and programmed with me Flash version from the start, for personal reasons, is no longer able to continue the project and therefore we decided to terminate his participation in the project by launching a version that will go until the the second boss, and we will be naming this Flash version GamiGami Invaders "Pocket." The game already has 80% of the development done, and we already have implemented all the stages, from the first to the seventh, but it is missing the implementation of the five last bosses. We will launch this Pocket version with two stages, leaving a purpose gap for the player to wait for the final version. This Pocket version is free, only for browsers, and it will serve to try to find some sponsor.
I will also use it to help in advertising the full versions, since the browser gaming market has an audience of thousands of players. The full version, which is being ported for Unity, will be released on Steam, iOS and Android at first because they are the easiest platform to launch a game. Depending on the acceptance, it may travel to other platforms.
For full versions, I have planned and even already started implementing a two-player mode that will be a hybrid of cooperative and competitive mode where a player can "push" the other player, unlike any other shoot then up games, and will both compete for the highest score, as well as at the same time having to help each other to go through all stages and bosses. This mode is becoming very fun, and will also be an innovative mode because the ships can run into each other and push the other player to the side so to get a crystal first and get more points as well as to eliminate the other player by pushing him into a enemy shoot . The way the players will play will depend on their moods. In tests I have conducted of this new mode, players have had a great time.
They laughed and even fought each other, which was the original intention. It was something really funny. I as a designer feel very motivated when I see that I can pull emotions out of the players and this for me has been the fuel that has made me reach this point. The Pocket version will probably be released in the early 2017 with the limit of two stages, but even so I'm sure it will please the browser games audience, who do not care so much how long the game is. The full version, if all goes like I'm planing, will not be released until December 2017.