MADSOFT Games Publisher Update #1: Getting To Know Our Games

In mid-2015, we soft-launched the MADSOFT Games Publishing Program. With it, we hoped to help smaller, Edmonton-based indie developers produce, polish, and publish their games. So far, it’s going pretty good. Since beginning our publishing program, we’ve brought several new, innovative, and exciting games into the MADSOFT Games family.

In this series of posts, we’ll catch up with the games we’ve currently got in the pipeline and give you a sneak peak behind the development curtain to see how they’re progressing. This week, we’re going to take a look at the history of four upcoming games, and get to know the developers, artists, and designers behind these projects.


VRNinja

  • Release Date: July 2016
  • Platform: Steam, Oculus Store For Rift
  • Players: 1
  • Genre: Virtual Reality, Motion-Control, Casual

VRNinja is an action-packed, virtual reality game that challenges you to dodge an onslaught of deadly weapons in one of three scenic Japanese environments. With its use of 3D positional sound and Unreal Engine 4’s hefty graphical capabilities, VRNinja transports you to another world where focus is paramount and knives are really, really sharp.

The pond from VRNinja’s dojo level

VRNinja started out as a prototype at the MADJAM 2015: Extra Life Jam, where developers Alex and Nathaniel Rossol set out to build a game in only 24 hours. As their shared last name might suggest, Alex and Nathaniel are brothers, both programmers who have studied at the University of Alberta and both charming as heck. Nathaniel, though he’s very reluctant to brag, has won several awards for his work in Unreal Engine, including a 2nd and 3rd place finish in two Make Something Unreal competitions. He’s also got a PhD, which according to a certain ninja named Brian makes him even more awesome.

VRNinja’s hotspring level

For their MADJAM game, Alex and Nathaniel had to incorporate their randomly drawn themes of “Mountain”, “Servitude”, “Justice”, and “Sound” into their final prototype. They came up with the idea of a ninja training in quiet solitude, using their keen sight and acute hearing to anticipate the trajectories of incoming shuriken. The game earned second place at the game jam, but it was the reception by testers that really egged them on to continue the game’s development. People’s reactions were overwhelmingly positive, and players often cited that the controls felt very instinctive. After all, ducking when something is flying at your face is something everyone learns pretty quickly in middle school gym class.

VRNinja’s dojo level

Since its original inception, VRNinja has undergone a complete overhaul, moving from Unity over to Unreal Engine 4. Karina Weber, resident MADSOFT Games artist, was brought on to model new projectiles, and the environments were given a fresh coat of paint. VRNinja has appeared at two Edmonton gaming events, Telus World of Science Dark Matters and GDX Edmonton 2016, to great success. At the at the eHUB Hackathon in March, the brothers were awarded a summer student intern. Thus, the ever-so-talented Nathan Doraty joined their team and the virtual reality triad was complete.


Semi Conductor

  • Release Date: TBA
  • Platform: iOS, Desktop
  • Players: 1
  • Genre: Puzzle

Semi Conductor is a sleek, little puzzle game from the development team of Jordan Ranson and, well, it’s actually just Jordan. Jordan is a UI and UX designer from Edmonton and yeah sure, he went to NAIT for Digital Media Design and he’s done design work for websites like Wowhead, but more importantly, he has a Dribbble account (which you should go follow).

Semi Conductor’s title screen (WIP)

Semi Conductor, much like VRNinja, started out as a solo project at the MADJAM 2015: Extra Life Jam. However, unlike the VRNinja team, being in a team of one meant that Jordan only had to wrangle with a single theme: Circuit. So naturally, being a computer dweeb like most of us here at MADSOFT, Jordan’s mind immediately leapt to computers, motherboards, and connections. The goal of Semi Conductor was to build a game that was refined and elegant in its simplicity, with levels painted lovingly in gorgeous, saturated colour palettes. The original prototype of Semi Conductor played a bit like a tapping game, making use of the new touchscreen technology in the latest Apple mobile devices. Upon revisiting the game post-jam however, several alterations were made, including swapping the game over from HTML5 to Unity and completely reworking the puzzle mechanics to bring out a more streamlined and intuitive gameplay experience.


Little Hellions

  • Release Date: TBA
  • Platform: Steam
  • Players: 2–4
  • Genre: Local Multiplayer Battle Arena

Playing Little Hellions is hell. Literally. Little Hellions follows the antics of a group of demons who, after growing bored of the mundanity of their daily torture routine, decide instead to torment one another to past the time. Fiendishly fast-paced with tons of wicked arenas to choose from, Little Hellions offers up a unique and competitive battle experience . To win against your demon friends, you’ll need more than just quick reflexes; you’ll need to anticipate their every move.

Little Hellions (WIP)

Jace Boechler is the man behind this wacky, underworld-inspired game. An illustrator with web development experience, Jace built the original prototype for Little Hellions during the MADJAM 2015: Global Game Jam. The theme that year was “What Do We Do Now?” and from that, the game’s teleportation mechanics were born. Teleportation forced quick reactions from players, solidify the theme within the core of the game. After the game jam wrapped up, Jace elected to continue the game’s development solo, in part because the project’s scale was manageable, but also because the occult motifs and character of the game appealed to him. But then, from our perspective, it’s pretty hard not to get attached to a game when your main character is as cute as Lucy.

Lucy

Bound Against Time

  • Release Date: TBA
  • Platform: Steam
  • Players: 1
  • Genre: Puzzle-Platformer

Bound Against Time is an atmospheric puzzle-platformer that is guaranteed to remind you of Braid. Or at least, everyone who has played the game thus far has felt the need to point out the two games’ similarities. Developer and designer Jeremy Burns knows that Bound Against Time is a little Braid-ish — what with the time manipulation and all — but the essence of the game is very different. In Bound Against Time, you follow the story of a young creature as they attempt to close the dimensional rifts that threaten to tear their homeland apart.

Bound Against Time (WIP)

Bound Against Time’s original prototype was built in Flash during MADJAM 2015: GDX Super Jam using the theme of “Twice Upon A Time”. Jeremy teamed up with the indescribably pleasant and talented composer Nick Samoil for the project. Now, Jeremy has been working in the game’s industry for the past eight years, which makes him both old and wizened. He’s got some pretty spectacular awards under his belt, including winning the Great Canadian Appathon back in 2011. He also skateboards and drinks Soylent, which should tell you everything else you need to know about him. Nick, on the other hand, is relatively new to the video games industry, and Bound Against Time is his first major video game composition project (though you wouldn’t know it by listening to the soundtrack; it’s great).

Character renders from Bound Against Time

After the MADJAM game jam wrapped up, the pair decided to continue working on the game, due to the warm reception the game received from the game jam judges and the general public. As efficient as Flash was for rapid prototyping, Jeremy elected to move the game over to Unity, allowing the incorporation of real physics into the game’s puzzles. Additionally, Bound Against Time was given a complete graphical makeover courtesy of Karina Weber who provided new character models and backgrounds for the game.


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