Fatal Theory Dev Log

Breakers to Fatal

Hey hey. Well, since Fatal Theory is releasing next week on Steam for the first time (Sept 14, put in your calandars!) I figured I'd tell the story of the terrible game it could have been. You know, instead of the terrible game it actually is, aha!



So many moons ago when I was some lame uni student trying my luck at C++ for the first time, I figured I'd make a 2d fighting game engine. Easy yeah? The inspiration was alllll the cool fighter s me and my bro played back on in the playstation 1 and 2 days. Games like Bloody Roar and Guilty Gear. They were awesome!

So I started to make this game called Breakers Gambit. It was just going to be a basic 2d fighter where you could enter in commands for special attacks like Street Fighter, with a bit of a deflect system (maybe I should still make this game...). I was new, so the code base for all this was basically a nightmare. But it sort of worked!


Pixels Help Code

So I started putting in a character to test that it was working. Enter Klave, the explosive fighter! Literally. His punches were suppose to create explosions with his specials. It was good having art in there to test this stuff, as it revealed assumptions, missing sections and straight up bugs. Problem was the art style choice was that of HD Sprite level (over a certain pixel size basically), and that took me a goddamn long time to do. So I employed my bro and one weekend my mate Jamie(musician for Fatal Theory) to help do some pixel pushing. It took ages but in the end we had a basic moveset, nothing special just say Street Fighter 2ish.

Clearly it was going to take forever to do at this pace and there was still massive holes in my code that needed testing. So do you know what I did? Decided to make a beat-em-up game from this code base with simpler graphics to test the fighting engine code. Wow, well if only I knew that was probably going to take longer, I don't know what I'd have done.


Nick Was Born

So I started Fatal Theory. The storyline was borrowed from another game idea in my head which was a top down masher where hells forces had invaded your city. I drew Nick up based on the goggles I bought at some point, the dorky shorts and shoes I had and gave him a weird quirky wrecker attitude to boot. I had just finished No More Heroes at this point I think, so that's why the tone of the game is so fun and dumb, despite the chaos and death.

I think not too long after this my brother figured we should pair up to finish the title. Poor bastard didn't know what he was in for. From my point of view though, no one else could have captured Nick any better in the writing then him. Its his words that really seal the deal for that little wrecker of mine.



Code is Punishment

Remember how I said that this was built all on top of a poorly made uni students fighting engine? Well those ghosts haunted the project regularly. For one, the particle system was shit. I mean the thing that makes explosions and effects. Man it sucked. I had to write that thing from scratch 3 times. Adapting the 1 versus 1 logic to work with 1 versus many enemies at once and then again to 2 versus many enemies at once was done terribly. Someone will notice this at somepoint one day. If you have an ally or playing co-op arcade, and you're both standing next to each other to hit an enemy, only the closest one will actually hit with bodily attacks. REALLY! ITS TRUE. 

Somehow we made a game and somehow it was half alright. People got some sense of enjoyment out of killing lots of dudes with crude weapons. The Guilty Gear inspirations meant we dumped a bunch of aerial attacks in there and so for a beat-em-up game that actually made it kind of different and cool. Since lots of beat-em-ups focus on the whole z-axis depth thing and ours ditched that all together.

I was pretty proud and we put the game on Steams Green Light.



We waited awhile and after our 'Yes's peeted out around 2.6k on Green Light, we figured we weren't going to get onto Steam. So we released the game on a few Indie platforms and for lack of better judgement, threw our game into some good and some horrible game bundles. 

Well, we figured Fatal Theory had done its dash. It was time for the next game, Starslinger Kings. Which was in and out of development. We had to gear it up for Pax:Aus and riiiiight before we got to Pax, Fatal Theory got Green Lit. 

This caused a problem. We had no time to release it on Steam because we had to keep deving for Pax. The other thing was that we promised if lit, we'd port to Linux and Mac. After Pax we died. It took a lot of mental and emotional effort to do that on the side of everything else in life.



I had to take on the gruelling task of porting the game to the other platforms on my own. Adam did a huge effort of revising the background art. Both took longer then expected, especially since another Pax had come and gone taking our time for another rendion of a Starslinger Kings demo build. Testing these ports never seemed to be quite right and took ages till I got each test environment pretty standard.

The other task was working with the Steam API (which wasn't too bad) and setting up the store page. Trailers and all that jazz. Rebuild this website. Press. Lots of work that devs have to do, that isn't developing code or art. Yeahhhhhhh.



In a few days we'll be on Steam. Not what I ever expected for this title. This crazy game that was suppose to test a basic 2d fighters code. I'm proud of this project, damn proud. It exceeds my expectations at every turn and although not the worlds biggest success, probably the biggest it could of done.

So, that's my weird game. Tell me the back story of your games :D


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