Our current game’s title itself has gone through a few iterations since we began conceptualizing it. As this was initially a side project, we simply called it: Project B. Catchy title, right? Well it's what we went with as it was originally taking shape. One day we realized that we had ourselves a retro beat-em-up inspired fighting game. So what was a suitable name for it? How about the overly obvious: “Beat ‘Em Up”, “Brawlfest”, “Retro Rumble”? Nah… we wanted to make a fighting game, but we didn’t want to blatantly beat our audience over the head about it. How about something a little less obvious: “Canuckle Sandwich”, “Out For Blood”, “World of Pain”? It wasn’t quite catchy enough.
So, eventually we decided that we really liked the word Hematoma. It’s got kind of a “cute” easy-to-speak quality to it that rolls off the tongue. We also wanted to give a bit of a throw-back to the old days of console games… (I suppose it’s still a common trait for Nintendo published games to have “Wii, or 3D, or DS” released in the title… heck they did it with “Advance” and even the absurd “64" right?) And so Super Hematoma was born. The more I said it, the more I liked it. And as it’s inspired by the prime era of Japanese games… we decided to go one step further with it and make the title include both English -and- Japanese!
スーパーヒマトマ! (pronounced Supa Hematoma – written in katakana, the alphabet for foreign words). But wait… maybe if we’re going to appeal to the Japanese gamer, we should make it a little more authentic? Ok, so let’s try スーパー血腫! (pronounced Supa Kesshu! – written in a combination of katakana and kanji as kesshu is the equivalent word in Japanese for hematoma). Hmm… except that’s not quite right either… sure there were lots of Super Famicom games that used スーパー in the title… Super Mario World and Super Metroid for example… buuut there were some other games that used the word 超 (Cho) instead. Super Ghosts and Goblins and Super Bonk for example… it expresses the meaning of the word super without being a cop-out and using the English word. And so we went with 超血腫 (Cho Kesshu)… until Matt pointed out that that sounds more like we’re talking about -a- super hematoma… and not quite expressing the same thing between the two languages. And so finally we decided on 超血腫伝 – (Cho Kesshu Den, which is more like a story / stuff going on about / in the context of/regarding to super hematoma).
So we had a name… now to come up with a logo. So we started doing iterations on the text… we wanted it retro-y… so we used a fairly limited palette. I experimented with some different fonts, proportions, spacing, overall silhouettes… I discovered how to work with 3D geometry inside Photoshop (saved me from having to try and work in a full fledged 3d Package which is nice for this type of conceptual work!). It was actually a lot of fun once I started going, trying to figure out how to make an appealing image using words. I felt like a lot of the designs were reminding me of old comic books more-so than old games, so I started to try to make it a little more modern. Less flat colors and more gradients. More outlines. Eventually I started elaborating with some blood spray… does it cover the words? Or just the background? And how does this all look if we have some stuff surrounding it?
We're pretty happy with what we ended up with, and so the next part of this puzzle was a title screen.
Feeling that music is an integral piece of the overall puzzle, I began to think very early on about what we wanted for our soundscape. Actually, this came even before we had a title. We knew we wanted something that’s retro, but what would that mean for the music? Afterall, Sword and Sworcery is awesomely pixely without falling back to chiptunes. And even back in the day of Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis, developers were trying to get away from the hardware sound and using samples as much as they could to push in an orchestral or rock direction
My thought though, is that I was in love with a lot of Game Boy and NES music for the same reason that I loved their graphics. It leaves a little bit to the imagination of the person playing the game. Is this orchestral? Is this metal? What is it that I’m listening to? Everyone ends up with their own interpretations, and I think it’s why there’s so many great tributes to these old songs on YouTube. So after giving it some thought, I decided that making the game with modernized sound wasn’t what I wanted. So that left us with a few options still. There’s lots of chiptune engines to go with, and while I really love the sound of a lot of Game Boy music, I think that the sounds are probably a little more harsh than what we want in this particular game. And so after spending some time listening to old game tracks… I eventually decided that Famitracker is my sequencer of choice.
So what I ended up doing with the first track, is that when I was walking to work I would also be carrying my portable recorder with me. Imagine that! Me walking down the street, humming into a microphone! Yeah, I know, weird, but when you’re working a full time job and trying to make a game in your spare time, you make the most of whatever time you get. So I came up with a tune that I kind of liked… something that was kind of light-hearted and energetic. Then I sat at home trying to noodle that tune out into something a little more substantial with my guitar. Eventually I thought I had something, so I set to work in Famitracker bringing it to life. And… well? What we have below is the result!
Set it to full screen and 1080p if you want to see our mock-up of the title screen in the second half.