Lostcast 169: Mattacast


  • LDG


  • Tiger Hat

    I can understand the annoyance of the game being compared to Boi. When I was working on http://ironbane.com/ it was often compared to minecraft, I guess because of the retro graphics and being 3d. There wasn’t any mining, or crafting, or voxels involved. I would always think that you might as well call Call of Duty a Doom clone, or Darkest Dungeon a Maniac Mansion clone (as if the current generation of gamers would know those games).

    It is what it is I guess. Honestly I don’t even really like Binding of Isaac as much as a Wizards lizard. Prolly because of all the poop.



  • I bounced off of BoI pretty hard. I played the original a few times but it didn’t appeal to me. For one, although I think Edmund McMillen is a talented artist and a creative guy, I didn’t dig the game’s aesthetic. Other than that the game seemed like it would require too much work to get good at.

    FYI I’m old (older than you guys, by a couple of years, I believe), so I see your game as inspired more by the original NES Legend of Zelda than BoI. To date myself, I played the NES LoZ for the first time when it came out in '86 at a video game store at the mall (they had a demo).

    That said, to make Soul Thief stand out more from BoI I would play up (gameplay-wise) the possession element as much as possible. Of course the tough part is balancing your time and need to move the game through Early Access, so you can make money and move on to other games, with the need to further develop gameplay. I don’t have an easy answer to that. I did post one relatively, I think, less time-intensive suggestion on the Steam forums.

    Unfortunately most of my ideas for enhancing Soul Thief’s possession mechanic would involve layering on systems, which I doubt you guys have time for. I’ve done enough hobbyist game dev to know how long adding a new system, and balancing it, can take. Its
    never something to consider doing lightly.

    Some wish list suggestions, though, would include:

    1-The ability to earn powers/special attacks that become available when you possess specific monsters. E.g. when you possess the pig head, you can spawn a cloud of flies or fire an apple that splits into pieces and hits enemies. These would be attainable either via the ToyBox or by getting through the game (or just one area) as the monster in question.

    2-Monster “upgrades.” You can buy ToyBox items that give you 1 more health when possessing certain monsters or make a certain monster’s attack more powerful.

    3-The ability to turn monsters you’ve possessed in the past against other monsters while still controlling Raga. This would be a special Raga attack that turns one monster into an “ally” that will attack other monsters.

    4-Revival of the tongue attack mentioned previously or some other lizard-y type of attack (requires more art, animation, coding, etc., I know) to make Raga a bit more fun to play (wands are great, you just don’t have them all the time - at least I haven’t).

    One more thing, I don’t think you guys are lazy when it comes to marketing. A lot of games (and game devs) seem to come out of nowhere and sell tons of copies. Stardew Valley was apparently known on Reddit and had a growing fanbase, but it certainly didn’t have 1 million fans following it prior to release. I didn’t see any marketing for it. Just read the reviews on Steam before buying it.

    Seems like it’s more the game, and interest in it, going viral than marketing, at least when it comes to indie devs. Tom Happ (Axiom Verge) toiled away on Axiom Verge for 4 years before doing any real marketing. Here’s an article he wrote on the game’s development.

    http://blog.us.playstation.com/2015/03/31/the-development-of-axiom-verge-a-5-year-retrospective/

    Anyway, entertaining podcast, as usual. Glad to hear that Jim Sterling played it. Pretty decent-sized audience and it’s good to see AWL: Soul Thief get more exposure.


  • LDG

    @Ceric said in Lostcast 169: Mattacast:

    Unfortunately most of my ideas for enhancing Soul Thief’s possession mechanic would involve layering on systems

    Seems like most of our ideas are similar, which are expensive and kind of not an option for us at this point. Adding new content has become labored, because the easy/fun ideas have mostly been tapped, and now we mostly want to code new stuff. But it’s so time consuming and the game needs more content rapidly.

    1-The ability to earn powers/special attacks that become available when you possess specific monsters. E.g. when you possess the pig head, you can spawn a cloud of flies or fire an apple that splits into pieces and hits enemies. These would be attainable either via the ToyBox or by getting through the game (or just one area) as the monster in question.

    This is a cool idea. We have something kind of similar to this in the wands getting more powerful by unlocking certain toys. Monsters are already a ton of work at this point (there’s behavior, art, corpses, guts, sound effects, unlockable toy, and then playing as that monster, which can be very tricky), so I am hesitant to stack more work onto that.

    2-Monster “upgrades.” You can buy ToyBox items that give you 1 more health when possessing certain monsters or make a certain monster’s attack more powerful.

    That’s a good idea – we’ve got a trinket that adds +1 health to anything you possess. Geoff’s spent some time on it, but it’s another tricky thing that touches lots of systems.

    3-The ability to turn monsters you’ve possessed in the past against other monsters while still controlling Raga. This would be a special Raga attack that turns one monster into an “ally” that will attack other monsters.

    Interesting, and might be doable since the monsters have a pretty decently flexible targeting system. However I’m not sure how we’d make it clear to the player what’s happening in that scenario.

    4-Revival of the tongue attack mentioned previously or some other lizard-y type of attack (requires more art, animation, coding, etc., I know) to make Raga a bit more fun to play (wands are great, you just don’t have them all the time - at least I haven’t).

    We desperately wanted to explore the tongue mechanic because it’s very lizardy, fun, largely untapped in overhead games, and would continue to separate the game from others in its genre. We got furthest along in the Unity version, but as you probably know, that project died with our weak Kickstarter offering, and I think this mechanic died along with it.

    One more thing, I don’t think you guys are lazy when it comes to marketing. A lot of games (and game devs) seem to come out of nowhere and sell tons of copies. Stardew Valley was apparently known on Reddit and had a growing fanbase, but it certainly didn’t have 1 million fans following it prior to release. I didn’t see any marketing for it. Just read the reviews on Steam before buying it.

    Heh, that’s good. I think all the marketing and promotional efforts wear us out the most – spending a day coding or drawing up sprites can be super fun for us, but usually when we spend a bunch of time outside of our comfort zones, we feel more sapped. Also, the returns have been diminishing since day 1. For example. our Twitter followers and Lostcast listeners seemed to pile up pretty quickly in the first year or so, but now they’ve tapered off.

    Tom Happ (Axiom Verge) toiled away on Axiom Verge for 4 years before doing any real marketing. Here’s an article he wrote on the game’s development.

    Very interesting, and brief! He kind of just breezes through “here’s a year of art” or “I spent 3 years working on this”. I think most developers in his shoes would have fallen into one or more of several pitfalls, including wanting to rewrite constantly or wanting to redraw everything (since skills tend to improve the more you use them), or just becoming overwhelmed by the prospect of this thing taking another 4+ years to finish. Most of us give up halfway or less, I’d like to know how this project seemed to come so effortlessly out of him.

    Anyway, entertaining podcast, as usual. Glad to hear that Jim Sterling played it. Pretty decent-sized audience and it’s good to see AWL: Soul Thief get more exposure.

    Thanks :) Yeah there are several positive signals, including the remarkably positive Steam reviews – most of which have come from this awesome community, esp Lostast listeners. Even though the game hasn’t had the reception we were hoping for, it’s great to see our friends supporting us!


  • Tiger Hat

    @richtaur said in Lostcast 169: Mattacast:

    Very interesting, and brief! He kind of just breezes through “here’s a year of art” or “I spent 3 years working on this”. I think most developers in his shoes would have fallen into one or more of several pitfalls, including wanting to rewrite constantly or wanting to redraw everything (since skills tend to improve the more you use them), or just becoming overwhelmed by the prospect of this thing taking another 4+ years to finish. Most of us give up halfway or less, I’d like to know how this project seemed to come so effortlessly out of him.

    As a dude trying to achieve a shipped game, I strongly relate to what you’re saying here. I can’t imagine spending an entire year on art and coming out the other end still going strong (programming background here).

    Also super familiar with the constant urge to rewrite (and also, the constant urge to just trash it all and start on something new).


  • Tiger Hat

    @Warspawn said in Lostcast 169: Mattacast:

    I can understand the annoyance of the game being compared to Boi.

    IMO it’s a pretty shallow comparison, particularly AWL2, they’re not even both Twin Sticks any more - They do share the cel-shaded look, but the characters in BoI are all ugly (by design).

    I would always think that you might as well call Call of Duty a Doom clone

    That’s an insult to Doom, take it back :)

    Darkest Dungeon a Maniac Mansion clone

    That’s a giant leap, I’d love to see your reasoning :)

    It is what it is I guess. Honestly I don’t even really like Binding of Isaac as much as a Wizards lizard. Prolly because of all the poop.

    Yep, I’m not a fan of the Genre to start with, but I’ve found BoI is filled with edginess for the sake of edginess - but there’s little there that’s endearing, I’ve got a real soft spot for Raga.


  • Tiger Hat

    @richtaur said in Lostcast 169: Mattacast:

    Seems like most of our ideas are similar, which are expensive and kind of not an option for us at this point. Adding new content has become labored, because the easy/fun ideas have mostly been tapped, and now we mostly want to code new stuff. But it’s so time consuming and the game needs more content rapidly.

    How much of this do you think is due to sitting on top of a custom engine - are your choices being shaped by the requirements imposed by Djinn?

    That’s a good idea – we’ve got a trinket that adds +1 health to anything you possess. Geoff’s spent some time on it, but it’s another tricky thing that touches lots of systems.

    I saw this as more a newgame+ feature, where toybox items upgraded monsters, both as enemies, and as possesses

    Interesting, and might be doable since the monsters have a pretty decently flexible targeting system. However I’m not sure how we’d make it clear to the player what’s happening in that scenario.

    Surely you could place a icon over the monster as you do with poison effects?


  • LDG

    @salmonmoose said in Lostcast 169: Mattacast:

    How much of this do you think is due to sitting on top of a custom engine - are your choices being shaped by the requirements imposed by Djinn?

    Maybe, but I think it’s more of a content thing that would be true on any engine. At first monsters were isolated entities and we could do whatever we wanted with them, realistically. Now that they have all these additional hooks, including player possession, their own unlockable toys, etc. they are just more expensive to produce across the board. That combined with the sheer volume of monsters we’ve had to create, we’ve got to be as smart with them as we can.

    For example, the knives have been very expensive to iterate on over time. And they still don’t feel right! It’s very tricky to get both monster + player feeling good.

    I saw this as more a newgame+ feature, where toybox items upgraded monsters, both as enemies, and as possesses

    Ahh, interesting. So basically a new game mode. That’s a possibility!

    Surely you could place a icon over the monster as you do with poison effects?

    Yeah, we could probably put ? icons over their heads, and if the wand was called something obvious like Make The Monsters Attack Each Other Wand, it might be fine. I think I’m hesitant to add new states because we had at least one other one (rage) that got cut because it was just hard to work with. The visuals overlap with other states like grace and stun that are core to the gameplay. IDK games are hard :)


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