Creators of pixel art online game about Russian post-apocalypse discussed how they plan to combine F2P elements with warm retro visuals and Fallout influences.
We’ve talked with the developers of Bunker – an exciting 2d pixel art game, which features F2P elements and very interesting style. Every sprite in this game is hand crafted in Photoshop. The project is meant to be a multiplatform initiative, which will work in web-browser and on mobile. Together we’ve discussed the peculiarities of production, the choice of game engine and the search of investment.
We wanted to do something special during our free time, realize our childhood dreams. First, we looked at game mechanics, jumping from one to another, and built an idea of a mix between Tiny Tower and This War of Mine for mobile platforms. We ended up with MMORPG concept – we’ll talk about it later.
As for its setting, we all wanted Fallout-like game. We didn’t need any post-apocalyptic atmosphere, we wanted the post-apocalypse of Fallout. It’s not only about mutants and devastation. It’s also the romantic America of 1920s and the way it immerses you.
The problem was, we couldn’t recreate this atmosphere as we knew little about it, which would lead to a fake experience. That’s how we ended up with USSR: its romanticism, cartoons, films, what we heard from our parents – all that retro part.
Futurism inside alternative USSR – I think that gets every science fiction fan going. We found inspiration in different design projects, military stuff, science fiction and films from USSR. We don’t set some boundaries with USSR though – it gives us a great start for sci-fi setting, which can lead to another concepts.
Choosing Pixel Art
We chose pixel art for several reasons – it looks cool, works great with the game’s setting and its idea, doesn’t make us compete with huge studios. As a result, we can focus on its atmosphere and game design.
The beauty of pixel art lies in handwork, every pixel has to be set manually. But that is also a problem – you can’t create several objects and then build a location with them as your visuals would suffer. Add a need for procedural content generation and you’ll get a challenge for your team, artists in particular.
Everything is created like the classic pixel art – without gradient, shading and everything that brings sub-pixels, which damage the style.
Animation is another huge and painful topic. First, our 2d artist works on it. Then, we stepped away from automatization – only handwork. Imagine your character has set of moves – he stands, sits, eats, gets shot in the head or body, sleeps, etc. Now you add new clothing – that makes you change your animation. Sometimes, these changes are not only about colors and specific parts as new clothing has different geometry and silhouette. So, pixel art is for patient developers.
Defining the Genre
Point & click feeling might come because of the side view, which was our choice from the very beginning – full-fledged 2d world with its rules and no camera changes.
We’ve been working on defining its genre for half a year, from back when Fallout Shelter was announced. Despite having different atmosphere, Bunker can be compared with Shelter, when looking at its features. Later, we stepped away from building, powered up RPG element, changed crafting and the way players communicate.
Online was added at the beginning. Then it was chosen as our focus. Our game does not tell you one particular story – it gives you possibility to create your own, dive into the world, feel the hard times. The best situation would be the game with no NPCs.
F2P gives your the ability to build massive online community. The best thing about this model is that more players will know about your game and that you can continue developing it after the release.
We’re not going to sell decorative elements or choose Pay to Win model. We think about that stuff from the point of gamers.
We have a rule – before starting the production we choose the most suitable software from what is available out there. We’ve developed games using in-house C++ engine, Cocos2D, Flash, OpenFL. This rule brings the best quality.
Web, desktop and mobile platforms are important for Bunker. The key here is web, as most engines are quite good with mobile and desktop.
First of all, the engine has to provide stability for all the platforms. Then, we need tools and interface, particle, level editors, which are good for speeding up the production.
These were the choices we had:
- Defold – new and fast C++ engine with good web targeting through Emscripten. It is evolving fast, but still at the very beginning.
- Kha – cross platform framework on Haxe, which works with all the needed platforms. Very fast and compact. It is not an engine, but a way to build your own cross platform engine. Still, not evolving fast enough.
- OpenFL – framework on Haxe, which also supports all the platforms. This one might be quite familiar to those, who used to work with Flash.
- Cocos2D-JS. Lots of mobile games are developed with the help of this Chinese framework. Yet, developing huge game on JavaScirpt is not that convenient. There are examples of using this one with Haxe though.
The most popular ones – Unity3D и Unreal Engine 4 – are no good as these are not meant for web games.
We had no offers from investors so far. Well, a part of this goes to project being advertised only on Twitter and VK. We are planning to develop Bunker using our own money and crowdfunding, but we are ready to talk to investors, who have similar ideas. So, you can contact us.
We don’t need any help with traffic as we have all the necessary experience to find our target audience.
If you are a popular blogger or have YouTube channel and like our concept – write us a letter and we’ll send you a demo before game’s official launch..
We have plans on writing open dev log and starting to build game’s community before its release. Then, there are press sources, streamers and bloggers. We can use cross-promotion with games that have similar community.
Each platform has its own monetization. You can use Xsolla for web, Steam for desktop, AppStore and Google Play for mobile. We can also work with publishers, but as of this moment we have all the needed experience with game development, marketing and analytics.
We think publishers now are not the ones that order specific games. They’d rather give you the missing resources or competencies. Studios need lots of competencies – naming, providing promotional products, defining tags, working with press, QA, testing, localization, support, community management, adds, working with game events, offline events for game fans, analytics, entering asian markets. You can either work with publishers or think about outsourcing – there are different studios that can offer help with localization, QA, testing your game, etc.
Interview conducted by Kirill Tokarev.