“What was the inspiration for Steam Brigade?”
Well, we were looking to do something fun with a lot of strategy and depth, but not a lot of conceptual complexity. We took a look at Rescue Raiders (which wikipedia credits as one of the first real-time strategy games) and saw that the side-scrolling perspective provided just that. This is the very first mock-up we made back in January ‘05. Here you can see Ryan’s mad mspaint skillz.
As for the Airship, we knew it was a bit of a risk to have the player fly a ship with no guns, but the more we thought about it, the more we were convinced it was the right thing to do. There are just so many more options availible to the player this way. You can lend a helping hand to your own forces as well as mess with the enemy in creative ways. You can still shoot stuff of course, you just pick up a vehicle with your magnet and approach the enemy.
Lastly, we went with a steampunk theme because well, we always wanted to.
“Who did the art? It looks great!”
Why, that’d be the fine young Joel Carlson. Joel is a classically trained 2-D animator and storyboard artist. His particular skill set as well as his obvious talent made him perfect fit for a top-notch 2-D game. He took the Steam Brigade concept and pushed it way past our original expectations. Without him, the game would have looked pretty much like the mock-up you see above.
“I like the music. Who did that?”
Thanks, I’ll pass that on. The music was composed by none other than the fabulous Kirstyn Fletcher. Kirstyn grew up in a musical family, and honed her skills at Selkirk College, were she completed their “Music and Technology” program. Her father, Jim, lent his expertise as well.
“The AI for the Enemy Airship is pretty cool. How was that done?”
You’re just full of questions today, aren’t you? Colin has always had an interest in AI and fuzzy logic, so he went back to a fuzzy set library he had going on the back burner, and brought it up to a boil for Steam Brigade. Get it? Boil… Steam? Anyway, we’re thinking about making a visual editor for the fuzzy sets and making that availible to the public. It’d be pretty fun to have an AI competition some day.
“I hear you’re using a physics engine?”
Yes indeedy. We’re using the Newton physics engine. We originally considered using a physics engine just to do collision detection, but quickly decided to use the simulation features as well. They gave the game a certain “feel” that was quite compelling. It took some doing to make a 3-D engine work well in 2-D, and I’m sure Newton’s creators are shaking their heads at us since they worked so hard to make a great 3-D engine. But in my opinion, it’s a credit to their excellent work that we messed with it and it still runs smoothly.
“Can you tell me anything more about the story?”
Well, no, not really. We wouldn’t want to spoil it. I can say that Joel thought up the story line. He then sketched out a storyboard and we all had a look. Then came the daunting task of illustrating each of the scenes. Once a panel was done, Ryan wrote more of the poem to explain the story details. Joel sorta went crazy at the end there and churned out a bajillion pages for the final cutscene. Ryan didn’t stop rhyming for months.
In a similar manner, once the sketches for each of Garr’s minion’s were complete, the text was written to accompany them. The text was originally going to be in the form of a silly limmerick, but when we decided they were going to be notes from Marshall’s father, they quickly developed into “life-lessons” passed on from father to son.
Certain real-life events made the story more relevant to us and lended a lot of inspiration, especially for the final conclusion.