What is Captain Forever Remix?
Captain Forever Remix is a 2D action roguelike where you create a spaceship and blast apart randomly-generated enemies for spare parts. It takes place in a vibrant cartoon universe created in the imaginations of a sibling pair of Saturday Morning Cartoon junkies.
Here's a short video where some popular streamers describe what the game is.
SUMMARY OF RESPONSIBILITIEs
I created every art asset including illustrations, characters, textures, effects, backgrounds, animations, etc.
I collaborated with Brian Chan on overall creative direction for the project, design, and approach to marketing the game and community management.
I crafted our marketing materials, and made all of the visual assets used for marketing the game including images and trailers (with support from animator Liz Hollerman).
I designed and tuned new gameplay systems.
I wrote character dialogue and marketing copy.
I planned and attended marketing events such as PAX Prime and Indiecade.
When you're a team of only two developers, you end up wearing a lot of hats (and I do love hats!).
Left: key promotional art
Top Right: main menu art
Bottom right: finale screen
A sibling pair of Saturday Morning Cartoon junkies playing a game of make-believe on the weekend.
Left: Natalie Norberry AKA Captain Forever (she calls dibs on being the hero)
Middle: Natalie's little brother Kevin
Right: King Kevin the Bubblegum Mutant (and Kevin's altar ego. He's the villain)
Kevin's Krusaders - A Roving Band of Mutant Space Animals
A huntsman spider who sees the world in 4D. A mother toad that keeps her tadpole babies safe in her space helmet. A corgi that wants treats...and will kill for them. A tardigrade in a jumpsuit. These are Kevin's Krusaders, and they're out to stop Captain Forever from reaching Pluto.
"Captain Forever, do you copy? We're gonna destroy you. Over"
Roswell. The X-Files. Fire in the Sky. The Peacemakers are my take on the classic "grey" alien archetype that was so popular in the 90's.
The Peacemakers are a marauding band of aliens who spread peace across the universe...by any means necessary. Rumor has it their fleet just warped in around Pluto.
"We come in peace...not!!"
THE SOLAR SYSTEM
King Kevin has laid waste to the solar system in ways only a crazed 5 year old mutant can. Venus has been "snotted". Jupiter's eye was poked out. Neptune's famous oceans have been guzzled up with a silly straw. Kevin recently learned to tie his shoe laces after practicing with Saturn's rings (what's the point? He doesn't even have feet anymore. It's just mean).
Above: Captain Forever Remix is set in the early 90's when Pluto was still officially a planet (and served as King Kevin's not-so-secret lair)
The logo needed to be iconic, match the aesthetic of the game, contain a throwback to the original series (the cracked heart), and work at different levels of detail and scale.
Ship Bits - Spaceship lego blocks
I created over 35 unique designs for the Ship Bits - from the Mine Popper to the Scatterblaster, the Mega Ripsaw and the Dragon Breath Flamethrower.
The Ship Bits needed to look so fun that you want to use them to build a million different spaceships.
Every action and reaction needs to feel fun and juicy, even down to plugging modules into your ship. I wanted our effects to solidify the world and never become tiring to watch.
Web Presence and social media
I designed and made assets for our website which acts as a HUB for the game's internet presence.
I used my personal social media accounts to get people excited about the game such as posting Vines of my work (see right).
Major Promotions and Early Access updates
Each update to the game on Steam Early Access would focus on a particular theme or feature. For example I ran a week-long marketing campaign in order to get people excited by drip-feeding them information about our "Ship Bits Mega Pak" update. This update focused on the release of new Ship Bits, and the new "Power Bulkheads" feature which introduced the concept of rare bulkheads that give your ship special abilities.
I exhibited the game at PAX Prime, PAX Six, and Indiecade. The process of planning for PAX Prime was particularly involved. I designed and planned the booth, and created assets for it such as a large banner, signage, t-shirts and post cards. I roped friends into helping run the booth. I represented the game on the show floor throughout the event, and appeared on the Indie Megabooth Twitch Stream
We partnered with Indiebox to release a special edition boxed version of the game in July 2015. Collaborating with Indiebox was a fun experience and the process was quite straightforward. Indiebox handled the selection and manufacturing for the merchandise included in the box. Brian and I consulted with them on what would be appropriate and pushed for toys that felt very "90's" such as poppers, a scratch-&-sniff sticker, and a wristwatch. I designed various assets included in the box such as the soundtrack album cover, and wrote copy for the developer newsletter and instruction manual.
DESIGN PROCESS Summary: Remixing a Game without breaking the magic formula
We set out to re-create the magic of the original Captain Forever series while adding new features that expanded and refreshed the concept. Captain Forever Remix is built from the ground up in Unity, with Brian creating a completely new code base with no code shared from the original game. We spent early months on the project rebuilding the original game in Unity so that we had a solid foundation to work from. Then we started to add new systems and features.
New systems in Captain Forever Remix include:
- Power Bulkheads: rare modules that give the player special abilities such as critical hits, evasion, and the ability to stun their enemies.
- An expanded module library, with additions such as flame throwers, machine guns, laser beams, piercing blasters, and mine layers.
- An expanded metagame and unlockable Ship Bit starter kits which determine the starting state of the game.
- The ability to save and share ship designs over Steam Workshop.
- A sandbox mode where users can play with saved ships and tweak the rules of the game or play with cheats.
- The Nemesis System means that the enemy ship that destroyed you in the previous game will return in the next game. Destroying it nets you special rewards.
...and a bunch more. We also made many, many tweaks to the original game's core design. Each of these changes was made very carefully and involved a ton of iteration:
- The game's structure involves warping from stage-to-stage across the solar system, rather than it being a single continuous experience.
- "Build Time" between stages gives the player a limited time to tweak their ship design.
- Tons of tweaks to weapon range progression, the spawning manager, and other core systems.
...and a ton more. Most of these changes are subtle enough to go unnoticed by experienced Captain Forever fans, but they all improve the game and make "Remix" its own beast.