Mommy's Best Games, Inc. is an independent game developer founded in 2007. This is a view behind the scenes of our game development and marketing!

Nathan

Thursday, July 8, 2021

Weapon of Choice DX Is Gunning Soon to Consoles!

Way back in 2008, we released our very first indie game Weapon of Choice on Xbox 360 to great acclaim. And I'm excited to announce it's now being remastered as "Weapon of Choice DX"!


The game will release on September 2nd on Nintendo Switch, both PS4 and PS5, and both on the Xbox One and the Xbox One Series X. I've been working on this one for the past few months with my game dev friends at Super Soul, to port it to all the consoles. 

If you've missed my other DX releases, check out my blog posts on the development of Shoot 1UP DX and Explosionade DX


 

Innovations of Choice

As a reminder of what makes the game so special, Weapon of Choice DX is a riff on the "run and gun" sub-genre similar to games like Contra and Mega Man. There are many innovations in the design including "death-brushing" which causes all time to slow down if you are about to be killed, thus giving you a chance to escape your brush with death. 

Another big change is the ability to find new players. You start with 3 "lives" like a traditional shooting game, but here all 3 lives are unique characters. And if you die, you can actually rescue the downed person, and get them out of the level (thus getting your "life" back). Each of these characters has their own special "weapon of choice" for players the learn how to use. Players can also find entirely new characters that have fallen in battle. If you rescue this new character, they permanently stay in your group, ready to fight and add to your total life count.

The level design is also unique. While the game is short to beat, there are many branching paths and 4 possible endings. This encourages replaying the game multiple times, and with different characters.

Deluxe Treatment

Remastering Weapon of Choice DX focused on several technical issues. The game has high-res textures, and large expansive levels. It was difficult and took substantial optimizations from the Super Soul team, to get the game running at 60 frames a second on all consoles. The hand-held mode for the Nintendo Switch is sadly slower and less powerful than most of the other consoles and layouts, so it took extra work to get the game up to par there. 

The hand-drawn was also all up-rezzed to 4K and looks extra nice on a big TV. Full button remapping was added, per console layout, as well.

For gameplay content, the game does remain similar to the Steam release back in 2015. There are "Mommy's Best Games pies" hidden throughout the game. Progress is tracked and recorded and encourages the player to find all the pies for an unlockable Achievement/Trophy! The original Xbox 360 release had 3 difficulty settings, but there are now 7 difficulty settings adding plenty of challenge. 

I also took time to tweak the 'death-brushing' effect. Now the game darkens the background entirely to make it easier to see you and the dangerous threat, which is better than the earlier versions of the game.

Deluxe Challenge

The DX version has also been made a bit tougher than any other version! With the game now running well at 60 fps, some bosses were going down too easily. I personally worked on rebalancing the game (testing on console hardware), and I tweaked all boss health, and some smaller enemy fights to keep things challenging and satisfying. The player speed and movement has been increased making the feel of the game much snappier than the original release.

 Pre-Order Power

Weapon of Choice DX is currently available to pre-order on Xbox One here

The Nintendo Switch pre-order starts on July 21st. 

We tried to get as long a pre-order as possible as that seems to help sales. I think this is because the pre-order sits in a special section of the digital stores, basically sectioned off from the giant warehouse of "released games". 

We'll also the have the pre-order in both the Europe and North America Nintendo Switch store pretty early, which we've struggled to get approved as quickly before. This is our 3rd DX game, so at this point, we're finally getting pretty good at the store approval process. It is a lot of work, but clearly important. 

In the meantime, grab the pre-order please, tell your friends, and stay tuned for release on September 2nd!

Friday, March 19, 2021

Explosionade DX, Out Now, Which Explosions I Remastered and Why

Explosionade DX is out now on Xbox, Nintendo Switch, and Playstation!

As with Shoot 1UP DX from a few months ago, this is a remaster of one of my older shooting games. Though we added 2 new levels to Shoot 1UP, I feel like we did even more to improve Explosionade for the 'deluxe edition'.

Discovering the Horronyms surprisingly organized culture is a subtle part of the fun.

Explosionade DX is a run 'n' gun mech game, in which you gleefully blast walls, and squish poor, little critters to gooey bits. I've always enjoyed the game, but one thing felt lacking--the difficulty was always a bit low. The final levels never really challenged you until the literal last areas. 

To address that, I managed to get the original level design program working again! I couldn't believe it, but the program Richard Rosenthal made for me, over 10 years ago, still worked, with a bit of help. The original version of the game had 40 levels. We basically scrapped about 35 of those levels, and created 55 new ones! 

All levels are hand-balanced for Easy, Medium, and Hard difficulty.

 

The most exciting part, is I got to work with my kids on it. Specifically my 10 year old son really took to making new levels. It was a great division of work. He loved making extremely hard levels. I strove to make varied levels. Often I would make new enemies and write new code, to create some original situations, such as the two "all dark" levels, or the new "barf bag" enemies. 

On the right side, is the result of the concrete-like sludge that comes from the "barf bags".

Not surprisingly my son's level designs did need some polish, but it was fun to have him block in the level, with ridiculous challenges. Then I would work with him and show him how to smooth it out just a bit, to make it more enjoyable over all, but still preserve the great challenge. 

In the "all dark" levels you'll have to "feel your way" through by destroying walls.
 

The end result now has at least 5 very tough levels (probably more depending on how you grade them) but these levels are spaced out later in the 60 total levels. I like these difficulty spikes, as you can enjoyably blast your way through several short levels in a row, but then hit a "wall" where you'll have to step back and actually think about how to proceed. These levels aren't that tough, but they offer a good bump in the challenge here and there. 

Cris-crossed by the laser-shooting Bruiser Horrornyms can make for some tricky fights.

 In addition to level design, we've added many new enemies, uprezzed the graphics to 4K, locked the framerate to 60fps, added Trophies/Achievements, and online leaderboards! 

It's only $5.99 on all systems, so if you enjoy shooting up some baddies, give it a go this weekend!

And do yourself a favor, if you've ever played through a Contra game, go ahead and pick the "Serious" difficulty for Explosionade DX. You'll have more fun.

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!