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.