SteroidS is an arcade-style shooter (think Asteroids or Geometry Wars meet Smash TV) where the only thing that matters is your high score. You’re a scientist trying to stop some “crazy thugs” from escaping, using your steroids gun to defeat them with an overdose. However, there’s a catch: the steroids gun makes them faster with every shot, so you have to move fast and shoot them enough times to dispatch them.
This is an overview of how SteroidS was designed, and how the design for a game can come from unlikely and dumb situations.
Posted by TheDomaginarium on Nov 30th, 2011
I just wanted to mention this is not a postmortem. I'm not going to go through "what went right, what went wrong" since I think it's still too early for that.
The idea of the came up in a very unusual way, but it's an example on how a game concept can come up in unlikely situations. The producer and I were discussing about possible "arcade-style games" and I said something like "Remember Space Invaders and Asteroids? Well how about we take Asteroids, cross out the A, and come up with an excuse to why the game is titled 'steroids'? That's your game." However, when the joke was over, we realized the idea wasn't bad at all, as there are some games using the Asteroids formula (for example: Geometry Wars). So the next step was to think of the "excuse" to use the word, and we thought it would be cool if we had this guys shooting steroids to bad guys, and that steroids would make them stronger so you had to shoot them many times so these steroids would kill them.
(Just to clarify, I don't encourage the use of any type of drugs or enhancing "things").
And that's what pretty much the game is: SteroidS is Asteroids or Geometry Wars without the glowing geometric figures, but with shirtless guys running around. The idea is simple enough, and the mechanics work perfectly, but I've come to realize some people don't quite get it (more on that later).
We decided to go after a cartoony look since that would fit the entire mood of the game better. Besides, I didn't want to have the first arcade shooter with photorealistic big head dudes running around. Besides, a cartoony look allowed for a faster development cycle.
The game was developed in around 3 months, using a crew of 2 people, from concept to "final" release. I consider 3 months a pretty good development time compared to other indie games that could be considered as "simple" as SteroidS. I used quotes because we will be adding more stuff to it, but the current release is already comparable to other products, feature-wise. Unfortunately we didn't finish on time for the IGF, though.
In a way, it's like we're treating SteroidS as "game as a service" since the game will be constantly updated for some time. I think we, indie devs, can afford to do this since it's not insanely expensive to improve create more content for our games over time. Thanks to digital distribution we can patch and improve the game over time, while larger AAA games work more on a "fire and forget (after you're done with DLC)." This doesn't mean "release an unfinished game" unless you're going the alpha-funding route.
So even if you can get SteroidS now, you will be getting all updates when they are released. What's coming for version 2.0? A more noticeable steroids boost (some enemies now gain a huge amount of speed after the steroids shot), a new power-up that I will talk about on a future article, some performance improvements, (possibly) Mac support (having problems porting it), and many other things.