Red Cell - Agent Green!
Where to start...?
Where it all started, obviously.
August 2015 - The annual game jam 'The Week of Awesome' (#GDNJam) held by gamedev.net
In 2015, I made an entry in the 'Week of Awesome' GameJam hosted here at Gamedev.net titled "Death is Useful" (which was also the theme of the competition). It wasn't my best entry as far as results go (I actually managed to score 4th position on both Week of Awesome II and IV) but I felt it was the one with the most potential to scale into an interesting game.
Though the game was in 3D, it incorporated most of the core mechanics that would later become Red Cell. I briefly revisited the title when investigating the revamped Unity WebGL exported, but back then, it was simply not viable.
April - July 2017 - Red Cell & Kongregate
By mid 2017, I was in touch with the reps over at Unity through a client and ended up doing some R&D with the actual WebGL exporter and it had come a long way since I had last used it. So, little by little (working fulltime as a freelancer leaves very little spare time for passion projects) I ventured a bit deeper with the exporter, to see how I could polish & optimize the results.
I went out to test the game on Kongregate, see whether this had legs. On July 2017, I released a lite version of the game on Kongregate. After 2 weeks, I was leading the 'best game of the month' charts, feeling excitement. It was surreal!
I didn't actually win the best game of the month, as there was a serious 'downvoting campaign' agains the game in the last week (the average rating had been steadily above 4 for almost 3 weeks straight when it suddenly fell under 3... this is just sad, but I was half-expecting it).
The game was never meant to be a kongregate-friendly game to begin with. It wanted to be played on a gamepad, and the support there was a bit touch-and-go. What's more, the website is actually quite heavy, and the WebGL game's physics suffered as a result. I knew I wanted to make this into a PC game, but I wasn't going to throw this on Steam where people wouldn't 'get it'.
That's about when I heard about Itch.io...
August 2017 - March 2018 - Itch.io?
The last few months were crazy. After getting incorporated, I struggled to find the time to get back to Red Cell. It's a 'small project', but one which, I feel, is very enjoyable for the right crowd. No question, it's a niche game, but for someone who likes games such as Super Hexagon, it fits a crave no one else really 'gets'.
I took some time, every week (or so) to get some steady progress going, and eventually was able to complete what I felt would be a decent first iteration of the game. It's very different than the original, and even from the Kongregate version, and I think that it now starts to feel like its own thing. I'm almost done with development of this version, I've even configured the leaderboards which I'm just waiting confirmation from my provided that I can use this in a public manner (I expect to get the answer very quickly!)
I was hoping to release this over the summer, but I'm ahead of schedule and feel releasing now will allow me to get some early feedback to make the game better. Think of it as an early access if you will!
So what's new?
- Coop mode! -. Play with a friend! (along with in-game revival mechanic)
- Leaderboards (with actual user/password and a very simple registration process)
- More reliable physics
- Better debris emission (we're no longer constrained to WebGL performances)
- 16:9 resolution / Fullscreen gameplay
- Large audio channel pool (to avoid sounds cutting off)
- Keyboard and Controllers remapped input
- User interface now supports gamepad controller
- Re-balanced mobs / enemies (bits!)
- 'Lethal' weapons now break after a single kill (to prevent over-powered mobs)
- Improved performances, less lag, more low-spec friendly
- Removed all out of memory crashes
- Visual polish of the visual effects (funny to say given the retro look)
- New 'Pickups' System
- Protective SHIELD Pickup
- Cell ENERGY Pickup
- Color blind mode (currently disabled)
- User interface additions (progress to next boss, boss' current life amount, etc.)
- Tons of bug fixes and minor visual polish
There's no secret that the coop mode has been in the works since it was originally previewed. In a way, I feel coop is almost the 'real way' to play Red Cell. It brings us back to the NES era, your buddy and yourself against whatever's the game got in stocks for you. It just works, and I'm glad I could finally achieve that.
As for the future, well I've got tons of plans, but I feel I need to put this into actual players' hands to see where to go from there. Hear your thoughts on it, what it currently lacks, how I can make it better... I'm looking at making the current mode sharper, more balanced. This mode is meant to be the 'tournament' edition: you play this to win, and to win fast. It is speedrunning-friendly, and it relies a lot of skills.
I've got other modes in mind, such as a survival mode (which would be a lot longer, using more bits, bosses, etc.) or a VS mode (I won't reveal anything about this one yet!). More pickups, possibly, if they don't feel 'forced', and tons of additional polish items to make it feel better. Someone even mentioned that I should make a sandbox mode... I'm not sure exactly how that could work, but the idea certainly stuck, and it is still somewhere on my 'maybes' list.
So when is it going to be available then? Soon... that's the best I can say. I'd be willing to distribute it now in fact, if it wasn't for the leaderboards provider I'm currently waiting on. So, it is that soon.
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