n0rtygames Dishes On Their New XBLIG Arcade Shooter, Chronoblast

n0rtygames just released an arcade-style shooter called Chronoblast on Xbox Live Indie Games (XBLIG). Creator Steven Redmond talked to 30PlusGamer about their XBLIG SHMUP (shoot’em up).
Khris Golder: What was the main inspiration behind the style of Chronoblast?

Steven Redmond: Until a few years ago, I actually had no idea what a bullet hell game even looked like. My experience with SHMUPs was limited to ports from other systems like Atomic Robokid, Xenon 2, Uridium, and an old C64 classic called Blackhawk. I didn’t even own a games console until I was about 17. I started writing Chronoblast with these games as the main source of inspiration. Then I stumbled across a video on Youtube entitled “Hardest Video Game Boss Ever” showing the Stage 5 boss for Mushihimesama Futari.

Please enter the url to a YouTube video.

After I saw that video, I just had to own that game. I had to try and beat that boss. I went searching for it and discovered caves other games. I got hold of a ROM of DoDonPachi after hearing about it and that completely changed how I saw shooting games. I had to try and write a game like that, not like Xenon 2. It helped me appreciate the SHMUPs I’d seen in the London arcades, and I guess after that I just got hooked on the Japanese style of sensory overload.

KG: n0rtygames made Chronoblast for its fans. I’d hate to see what game you guys would make for someone who sends you hate mail. Not that anyone would because you guys are awesome! How many times have you actually beat your own game?

Steven Redmond: That’s a tough question. I’ve given it a lot of playthroughs. A lot of developers will admit in private that they haven’t beaten their own games on the hardest setting. I had to do that during several stages of development. Every time I changed something, I had to make sure it didn’t break the flow of the game. So, I’ve not really sat down and got a 1 credit clear on both loops of Hell mode for instance, but I’ve made sure every single encounter can be overcome without cheating, dying, or using bombs/supers. I think it actually drove me mad. I’ve completed AutoBomb and Normal mode several times though.

KG: I played it and felt accomplished for beating the first two levels. I would say it has something to do with our masochistic need to find a game that separates babies from hardcore gamers, but why do you think that 30+ Gamers are going to love Chronoblast?

n0rtygames - Chronoblast art 2Steven Redmond: I’d say older games were always about knowing the tricks to beat the game and usually had constant action. There’s a lot of that in Chronoblast and really shmups in general. There are some sections that need you to really think and plan what you’re doing, particularly on the harder modes. If you’re playing for score, there’s a lot of replay value and mechanics that you’ll discover the harder you push the game. It’s really all about the gameplay and not just the ending.

It’s one of those games that can be fun for a 5 minute blast, or if you put in the time, can reward you with a great sense of completion: much like many other titles in the genre. You just have to go full SHMUP.

KG: How has working through Chronoblast changed/improved your level of programming and development?

Steven Redmond: I left school at 16 and did terrible in mathematics. I even used to get frustrated at math homework. I had to teach myself trigonometry and vector math all over again until they sunk in. I’d pinned pieces of paper with notes and diagrams to the wall to help me learn. I basically had no clue how to work with angles. For my fiancé, it must have been like living with a mad scientist.

Also, there’s a lot of different disciplines in programming. On a console, you don’t have the luxury of throwing more hardware at the problem… and with the additional constraints that the XNA framework adds to the mix, you end up working to tighter budgets than I think people realize. Loading an entire game into memory and then getting it to run at 60 frames per second 90% of the time? That’s voodoo. It’s also why I have nothing but respect for people who hack PCBs or write real arcade games. They’re like wizards to me. I’ve come a long way, but not quite at that level yet.

KG: I know it’s way too early to tell, but I’ve been thinking – sequels are usually better, bigger, faster. Is it even possible for Chronoblast to have a follow-up?

n0rtygames - Chronoblast box artSteven Redmond: Well, when I wrote Chronoblast — because I’d been spending so long playing it while developing — I thought it was easy. It turns out I actually made it pretty hard, even for some fairly respected players in the SHMUP community. So there’s definitely a gameplay patch on the horizon that is going to bring new features and scoring mechanics to give more replay value. Then, I’m sure there will be more titles to follow. See, games can always be bigger and harder, but making them fun at the same time? That’s the part that takes the longest!


KG: I want to congratulate you because you’re on the cusp of becoming a 30+ Gamer. Any gaming or life advice you’d like to share with the younger gamers out there?

Steven Redmond: Go play Mars Matrix!

KG: Sound advice. Thanks for going old school with 30Plus!

Help support a fantastic indie game developer and pickup a copy of Chronoblast and get your SHMUP on! (Can I say that?)


Purchase Chronoblast by n0rtygames from the Xbox Marketplace

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