Wonder Potion told us about the development and art style of the dystopian action platformer SANABI, explaining how they made sure it was challenging but not frustrating.
If you enjoy dynamic platformers that make you dance around the map swinging from ceilings and jumping over gaps, SANABI is a game you should try. We asked its developer Wonder Potion to tell us more about this stylish dystopian action game where your giant chain-hook arm is both your weapon and movement aid.
"You, a legendary retired veteran, are called upon for one last operation: to ascend a mega-city ruled by a corrupt conglomerate. You were chosen for this mission because of your signature chain-hook prosthetic arm and the ability to maneuver and quickly defeat enemies. The mission: to hunt down a mysterious entity known as “SANABI” and uncover corporate secrets hidden deep within the city."
Wonder Potion is a team of five people. The team was college students back when we first started developing SANABI and had no experience in making commercial games. SANABI is our very first project as an individual developer as well.
As you can imagine, we ran into some mistakes and errors during the development. In retrospect though, we learned a lot from that process and became stronger as a team.
The ninja rope from the Worms series inspired us a lot. How fun would it be if you could shoot a ninja rope and have some action moves with that in the platformer games? That was the start of the SANABI concept.
Making the game challenging enough but not frustrating definitely wasn’t easy. Based on the community’s reaction and their feedback, we were able to guess where and when the players were frustrated. We watched tons of gameplay through various game shows, live streams, walkthroughs, etc., and were able to pinpoint the specific stages and areas that people had a hard time playing. And this was how we tried to find the right balance.
Chain Hook Prosthetic Arm
Optimizing the feel of the control was our priority and the most important task here. Because this is used literally every moment, we implemented various systems that allow the players to shoot the arm anywhere they want but at the same time that don’t require too much of a precise control which could be felt petty at some point.
Mechanics such as aim assist and chain length auto control are some of the examples we worked on to improve the player’s gaming experience.
The team’s huge fan of pixel art. We’re crazy about it. There is something about pixel art that can be both retro and modern. At the same time, it was easier for us to create a sprite animation with pixel art.
The game's background is a typical cyberpunk-themed environment but combined with traditional Korean aesthetics. We would sketch things first in Photoshop and then finish the artwork with the Aseprite tool.
Our advice for game developers is not to give up on the project because every moment is challenging.
Whenever the team faced big issues, we tried to change them rather than solve them. As you know, there isn’t always a solution in game development. So widening our thoughts and trying to see the situation from every perspective was helpful.