Mommy's Best Games, Inc. is an independent game developer founded in 2007. Our seventh game, currently in development, is Pig Eat Ball on which we started working in 2013. This is behind the scenes thoughts about game development and marketing.

Nathan

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Shredded Secrets


 With the end of the year approaching I wanted to share two of the contract games I helped ship this year. They are not the normal "Mommy's Best" insane action games, but still very cool on their own. 

Both games were made for Girls Make Games, an organization that works with young girls to encourage them to get into game development. These two games were made based on very popular Kickstarter campaigns to fund their development. (No I didn't get paid all that money, lol.) I charged a fairly low, Midwestern rate for the very nice GMG team! Today I'll talk about the first game we finished.

Shredded Secrets is a story-based platformer with 4 interconnected stories about 3 students and a teacher living their lives and struggling in school. Each character has their own troubles, and some of the stories even intertwine. The original girl team came up with the concept and the characters and Girls Make Games people produced the game. I helped form the gameplay for each characters. I'm proud that we created some new gameplay--new action moves for a platformer! 


 The first character Isabella is being bullied by the other kids in school. This is shown by visible insults flying through the air at her. The art was created by Katie Longua and it is adorable. 

 

Isabella can "block insults" by holding the action button. And she can even "reflect insults" back at the bullies if you tap the button just before being hit. I came up with that one. Isabella can jump and explore through each school level, and it plays like a platformer, but feels a little different, as you interact with the school kids some. You also find lost items that relate to your character. As you find new items, and visit checkpoints more of the story is revealed, and most of it is fully voice-acted!

The sounds, music, and voice acting is by Team Audio and is well done and helps elevate the game.

There are 4 levels for each of the 4 characters. 

The next character is Oakley the bully who is meanest to Isabella! You get to discover his secret, and some of the reasons he feels compelled to be so mean. His action is to shoot insults at other kids! I helped push that idea. It's fun, in a cruel way, because you can make regular non-bullies cry. But you can also attack bullies with insults. 


The big twist with Oakley is you can eventually evolve into getting to pick between insults or compliments! Eventually you learn you can tame your demons by actually helping, not hurting.

 

 

Next up is Taylor, a smart kid tortured by less than perfect grades. He's obsessed with grades and tests, and eventually his mind distorts his perception of the school, so he sees evil grades attacking him! His ability is to throw a school book like a boomerang. I borrowed this gameplay from Ninja Gaiden, the yellow boomerang powerup. It's very fun. You can even jump over the book and keep it swinging around you, attacking the evil grades. 

 

The final and fourth character is a teacher, named London. She is feeling overwhelmed at work, and has some troubles at home. Her interesting ability is to offer praise and help on people in the form of flying, arcing happy projectiles. But if you overdo it, and give too much of yourself, she gets tired and you have to calm down for a bit.


I did the level design and most of the code for the game. The level layouts is basic platforming stuff, pretty fun, and has some nice secrets. There are even some bosses in the game, and the team managed to sneak a shoot-em up level in there! (Taylor, level 3).


 It was a short project, but it is pretty good as a story-platformer, as you keep wanting to read more and find out how all the characters turn out. And if you play to the end, I finished with a final level that references the "Zombies Ate My Neighbors" credits level (if you remember that one!)
 

Check it out on Steam. I don't make any more money from it (I was paid to work on it at the time, no royalties). But it good to see an example of story used in a platformer, giving some fun retro gameplay, not too hard, but challenging enough, that is connected by interested characters.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Shoot 1UP DX on Xbox One/Switch/PS4

UPDATE: I've successfully gotten my website back from the hackers. Yay!

If you need the Shoot 1UP DX presskit, you can look below, or now here on my website:

http://mommysbestgames.com/Presskit/sheet.php?p=shoot_1UP

 

ORIGINAL:

I am running the presskit for Shoot 1UP DX temporarily through this blog post. Why? My main website was hacked by some Russians! (It takes you to "webhost1.ru") Yuck!

 

So while we wait for me to fix that up, here is all the info you need for Shoot 1UP DX coming to modern consoles!


 

Developer: Mommy's Best Games

Console port by: Super Soul

Game Stores Pages

Price: $5.99.

Nintendo Switch: eShop link

Xbox One: store link

PS4: (not released yet)

Summary

Why play shoot 'em ups one ship at a time?
Launch them all at once!
Unleash an entire armada of ships in Shoot 1UP DX!

Instead of stowing each 1UP you collect, each new ship becomes playable immediately, resulting in an ever-growing armada of destruction!
With your home world ruined, lead your detached battalion's charge by destroying the mechanical-tentacle hybrid attack forces responsible for your pain. 

Remastered DX Version

Shoot 1UP DX has enhanced graphics, new enemies, levels, and bosses! Carefully remastered for 4K, with modern Achievements and Trophies and online, worldwide leaderboards!

Each DX version is carefully ported to Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4, and Xbox One. Even if you're familiar with the original, the new deluxe version has plenty more to offer shoot-em up fans. 

All DX versions of Mommy's Best classic action titles are being released to modern consoles!

Features

  • 1UPs INSTANTLY ENTER THE ACTION!
  • Command up to 30 ships at the same time!
  • 2 player local cooperative play for 60 simultaneous player ship insanity!
  • Contract your phalanx to dodge enemy fire, expand your ships to fire the plasma auger!
  • Weapons upgrade as you collect more ships (And they downgrade when you lose them so stay sharp!)
  • Sacrifice ships for a bullet-vaporizing bomb which increases in power the more ships you've collected!
  • Hardcore? Crank up the difficulty and gameplay speed for thumb-twisting maneuvers!
  • Classic shmup design - 8 levels of alien-fighting action, ready for you to get your revenge!
  • New Deluxe Edition includes new enemies, new levels, and more!

Trailer


Screenshots









Hey, am I famous now? We've never been hacked before. 

It feels kinda cool? But also really bad since I feel like I locked myself out of my own house. Anyway, here's to a great game launch and to getting my website back!

-Nathan



Friday, July 10, 2020

New Un-Open Project

TL;DR
New MBG game in the works!

With Pig Eat Ball I tried a very open development process. I showed the game from an early state, but the game art and design changed a lot along the way.

A very early, public view of Pig Eat Ball from 2013
Now granted the Pig Eat Ball started as a 'game jam' project, and I really enjoyed making it, but I think some of the early impressions stuck with people.

That meant for the average person scrolling through social media and looking at new games, my "new big game" didn't look great.
Oh no! I don't want that to happen!

Because the action-puzzle gameplay was so unusual to design and figure out, I spent a long time getting that just right. But I did wait till near the end of the project to improve the art and visuals.
Which is kind of bad as they are VIDEO games.

Now that looks pretty cool! Two screenshots from the end of the project.
The good news is, the game finished with great reviews. Super! But honestly we did not get a lot of press coverage. While it is always tough to get attention from press (or streamers), I think the game could have turned more heads, if I had worked harder on the art/visuals from the start. I still would have had problems, because the design itself was changing a lot, but simply put: visuals get people's attention.

That brings me to our NEW SECRET PROJECT! Yes, I am working on a new MBG title! And yes, it's a 2D, shooting, action game! And the real MBG part: it will have a crazy new gameplay mechanic to compliment all the shooting!

I love making shooting games. Contra, R-Type, Gradius, Metal Warriors... I love playing those games and others! I know how to make cool, shooting games, but I always like to innovate--to add something to genre.

My plan is to keep the project a secret until it plays AND looks great. Then I'll do an announcement and try to get some attention for it.
It already looks super cool, but I don't want to take any chances this time.
Thanks for your patience and support for when I finally get to show you this new crazy project!

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Level Design for Gestalt: Steam and Cinder

I hope everyone is able to stay safe and healthy and had some time to play some fun games!

 
I've been playing Castlevania: Rondo of Blood on my PS4. I never got to play this when it was first released, and I'm enjoying it immensely. The branching level design of Weapon of Choice was inspired by this game--but only from me reading about it! It's great to play the game first hand and uncover all sorts of secrets and hidden paths organically (rather than the way a lot of games do it like 'collect 10 stars  and unlock an extra level').

 
Rondo of Blood is *quite* difficult,  and I've already run in to some bosses I have no idea how to beat, but so far, I've made it to 'Stage 5' without resorting to any walkthroughs, so I'm feeling pretty good.

In development news, after having shipped Pig Eat Ball to all major consoles, I am secretly working on a new Mommy's Best Games action project. But that is super secret and far off!
I can't wait to reveal it, but I have to. See Pig Eat Ball, while I love it to pieces, didn't make a ton of money. Maybe it still will over time! But in the meantime, I need to keep making extra money.




And to that end, I've been fortunate enough to land a contract job with Metamorphosis Games, the team behind the beautiful new pixel art Metroidvania called "Gestalt: Steam and Cinder".
Take a look and consider adding it to your Wishlist!
Steam Page: Gestalt: Steam and Cinder

Gestalt is a Metroidvania game with a 'steam punk' aesthetic and absolutely rockin' art, as you can see. It's got an interesting story and the main character Aletheia has troubled past that slowly revealed over time that upends the entire story and characters within. There's some very inspired areas to visit all strung together by excellent, tight gameplay.



I've been tasked to help design and arrange the overall world structure, but also design and build individual rooms and levels. The team has been carefully dissecting games including Castlevania Symphony of the Night, Hollow Knight, Dead Cells, and Mega Man X series, to name a few, and are meticulously creating new levels and designs to make an all-new Metroidvania for you!

Winding corridors, tricky jumps, loads of secrets tucked here and there, and loads of wild enemies all amazingly detailed in their animations await you. The boss art is incredible, just check out the "MEGA M.E.S.S" boss up above.

For the forseeable future, I'm lending my design skills to the team to help them make an amazing new adventure. It's really fun to work on a project in which I'm not in charge of the art, and I can focus more on just pure level design! I like doing everything on a game of my own, but it's also neat to work on a slightly larger team.

Stay safe and happy gaming!

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Mommy's Best Year in Review: 2019

Hey all, welcome to 2020! 
2019 was a monumental year for Mommy's Best Games.
We finally,
Finally,
FINALLY
released Pig Eat Ball!

Completely! It was finally released to all major consoles: PS4, Switch, and Xbox One.
(Yes, it's true that it was released in 2018 to Steam, but the nice news is, the super-duper balanced polished version is out everywhere now!)

Thank you again to all who supported us through the development of the game. I've been working on it since 2013. I've always been very excited to create a true "arcade adventure" game, one in which it felt like you were playing in an extended arcade universe--and I think I've hit the mark with Pig Eat Ball.

The reviews have been great too!
We've got an average 80+ on Metacritic across all platforms, which has me beaming.


Alright I did get ahead of myself though--Pig Eat Ball hit consoles on October 18th, but let's take a look some other months.

January 


We had a big month to start off last, year--we released the 'Speedrunners' update to Pig Eat Ball. This had lots of tiny fixes to improve the flow of the game for experienced players, but also added some nice polish in general.

The work that went into this paved the way for great ports to console, later in October.

February

Testing, testing, 1, 2, ...3 consoles??
February was all about more testing and fixing console specific bugs for Pig Eat Ball.
For instance, we had a nasty hitch for a while, on Xbox One when you registered Achievements. It would slow down the game when it popped certain Achievements. Finally got it fixed!

March

Continued testing for all consoles, plus all the "fun" of submitting announcement trailers and store information to all 3 consoles for release later on. It takes a lot of work to get a game ready just for the digital storefront!


April


Excerpt from my work log during a random day in April:
"Nintendo complained about the controller descriptions, and some of the localization was broken because umlauts and other special characters were broken by importing with Unity."
Porting continues through April! Had to keep those umlauts from getting me down :)
 

Also big for April - we officially announced Pig Eat Ball would be released to Switch!


May


I developed and shipped two games in May!
Yeah, hard to believe, but in the background, I took a contract job to develop two educational games for Legends of Learning.
One game taught and reviewed probability for 7th graders (I named the game "Probably Fun" :), and the second game reviewed Scientific Notation for 8th graders (this game was called "Gobble").

Contract work like that helped even out the money before shipping a bigger title later in the year.

June


I did lots of art and code for the next BIG MBG game! Pretty much for the whole month.
Might not use any of this art, but it helped pave the way for the future of the next game.

July


 Worked on launch trailers for Pig Eat Ball. Very close to approved for all consoles.

August


PS4 Europe finally approves the game this month.  Pig Eat Ball is now certified for launch on all consoles. It is sitting in the hopper.

September


I secretly start a new contract on TWO more games! Yikes!
These are mobile games for the company Girls Make Games. Except.. I'm not a girl? Turns out they had some prototypes designed by girls in their summer camps and wanted to polish them up for launch. Here I come!

I helped design and program "Yume" and "Good Dogs Bring Joy" for Android mobile.
Google even featured the games on their store and we had some cool blog posts!


It took 6 weeks but we developed and shipped these games in late October.
(Yes as PEB shipped!)

October


Hold on to your hats, and try not to barf in them--Pig Eat Ball launched this month!

November


I start level design contract work on a secret game for another developer!
It's a paid gig, and not full-time, so I am happy with it as I can work on my own MBG games too.

December

I begin in earnest on a NEW game for Mommy's Best!
This feeds off the research I did in June.
I also continue level design for the other game.

2020

What's up for 2020?
I have an exciting, MOMMY'S BEST ACTION announcement hopefully coming this year!
All fans of run 'n' guns are going to be really excited to see it.
Talk to you soon!
-Nathan