Fingers of Fury LAUNCHED on iOS!
We have a fun announcement to make today. We created a new game for iOS devices, called Fingers of Fury, and it’s available for download today. Even better…it’s totally free!
Here is a link to download the game from the App Store.
If you are press, or just curious, here’s a link to download some screenshots, artwork & information on the game.
And here is a teaser trailer we put together to entice you to check it out!
The game itself is what we would describe as an Endless Brawler. Born out of our love for classic Kung-Fu movies, and inspired by those glorious fight scenes where one lone hero faces off against countless waves of enemies, the game requires you to heroically fight infinite waves of Kung-Fu villains using the power of your two fingers.
The genesis of this idea was a game jam we did towards the end of last year. After an intense 18 months of development to release CounterSpy, we wanted to have a palate cleanser and have some fun doing fast prototyping to see if we could come up with a simple concept to develop into a full game.
We had a LOT of fun and the result is Fingers of Fury. We will have some more news on what we’ve been up to soon, including more details on how Fingers of Fury came to be. In the meantime, please check out our game. We hope you enjoy it!
The Dynamighty Dojo
We wanted to share some cool news. Thanks to the influx of new players from the PS+ program, we just passed a major milestone for CounterSpy. Over 1 million players!
We have been so blown away and happy to see all the new people discovering and enjoying CounterSpy. One of the very cool things about making games in the 21st century, is the direct access you have to the people playing your game, via social sites such as Facebook or Twitter.
We are a small team so it’s not always easy to respond to everyone, but we love being able to engage with people, reply to questions, share people’s ‘lets play’ videos and generally keep tabs on what people have to say! :)
The journey of a game can truly be a tough one, sustained by a combination of dreams, passion, experience, optimism and determination.
At the end of it, you have a game! And releasing that game out to the world, then becomes a scary final step.
After all those late nights, all any creative person wants to do, is to create something of value, with passion, and to share it out with the world.
Being able to fulfill this with CounterSpy was a true blessing for us at Dynamighty, and to think that over 1 million people are playing our game, and to see it bringing joy to people’s lives, truly does make every long day & hard night worthwhile.
Thanks to everyone playing our game and helping us achieve this milestone!
We are working on new ideas for our next game at Dynamighty. As part of that, time to revisit some old classics. These Bruce Lee vs everybody scenes were the best.
It’s been a little short of a month since CounterSpy was released into the wild and realized we hadn’t shared any of our pictures from the launch party. How rude of us!
The team kicked off the fun at Free Gold Watch in San Francisco. Besides being a screen print shop the space is host to more pinball machines than you can count with 2 hands and numerous arcade games (including Street Fighter 2!).
The classics sure are great but how we load CounterSpy on one of these? ;)
From our family to yours, thanks for joining on this wonderful adventure with us!
Hey Dynamighties. It’s been so great to see people enjoying CounterSpy since we launched it. You guys know we released on iOS & Android right? :)
We thought it might be fun now that the launch craziness is behind us, to look back at some of the earlier development of the game. As a co-founder of Dynamighty and creative voice for CounterSpy, one of my privileges is that I was able to reach out and work with some really talented people, whose work I really admire. One person that has long been a huge inspiration for me has Robert Valley.
For those that don’t know, Robert Valley is an artist & animator that has a unique style. It’s a very bold style that has influenced a lot of the artists that I have worked with over the years. More recently, he was a major part of defining the amazing look of the Tron Animated Series. Before that, he helped shape the incredible Beatles Rock Band end sequence (one of my all time favorite game cinematics EVER). He also has an incredible series of semi-autobiographical books called Massive Swerve that you should totally hunt down and buy if you like what you see here.
So how did we end up working with Robert Valley on CounterSpy?
One of our biggest challenges early in development on CounterSpy, was that we didn’t have a character artist. We had Mark Holmes as Art Director, and Mark was shaping an amazing visual direction for the game with his graphic design, environment art & reference.
We cast around trying a few different people and I kept coming back to Robert Valley’s work. Something about the bold straights & the elongated proportions had an elegance Mark & I could see carrying over into our fiction.
I’m the kind of guy that is not afraid to track someone down and bother them if I want to work with them. After all, someone can only say no but they could also say yes! :) I got lucky in that I managed to get hold of Robert right as he was finishing his work on the Tron Animated series. So he was between gigs and also on a little road trip taking him through the Bay Area. So we met up for a beer and hit it off. He agreed to help us out for a few weeks to see if it would unlock us.
In sharing the work he did for us, you can see its quite different to where the project ended up. However, it helped us take a real step forward in visualizing the aesthetics and the shapes we were looking for. I loved the work he did for us and its never been shared before. A Robert Valley exclusive! :)
When we eventually brought in our talented Character Artist, Nathan Sisler, he was able to use Robert Valley’s art as an inspiration to jump off from, and shape it into his own stamp that was very unique and awesome. Sometimes it just takes a little push in the right direction and I’m so proud that this gave me the opportunity to work with one of my favorite artists.
Recently, I had an email chat with him about his experience with the project, as well as a bit about his process. I’m posting it here I hope some people enjoy this!
Tell us a little bit about your background and where you went to school
Vancouver BC, I went to a fine art school called Emily Carr and did a 3 year animation course.
What was your first ‘real’ job in the industry?
First job was at Colossal Pictures in San Francisco, a hockey commercial for ESPN.
What were the major turning points/influences that you attribute to the development of your style - at college? Or when you started working?
What’s an early artistic influence you remember from your childhood, that inspired the moment where you thought “I don’t know what this is but I want to do this”
My older bro used to feed that part of me, made me look at drawings, and really study them.
Were your parents generally supportive of your doodles & artistic obsessions?
What makes you excited to get up and go to work in the morning?
Just getting up early and going to work makes me excited about getting up and going to work. (endless feedback loop)
What is your morning routine as you get up and prepare for your work day?
Shower, coffee joint, email, photoshop, the earlier the better.
How much has music played a part in your life, and what is the music that moves you?
A huge part, i can’t play it but i listen real good. I guess I am always trying to make the animation equivalent of what i feel when i hear music.
Do you like to work to music? (if so what)
I’ll play a song till its dead; that a really bad habit. I like lots of stuff.
Music has been such a big influence on my life and shaped the way I think about things. I was wondering if you had any specific tracks/lps/artists from back in the day that shaped you, as well as anything you’ve been listening to recently that you’ve been killing it with?
Well. I come from more of a Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin Pink Floyd type direction.
The Pink Floyd Planetarium show here in Vancouver was made for kids. That definitely shaped me. The song 'sheep’ on animals… that was a game changer.
Then of course I got on the electronic music bandwagon. I always preferred drum and bass, never knew the names of djs or songs. Lately I have come to rest somewhere between Trip Hop, and Cypress Hill. That sort of brings it back around again to Black Sabbath.
Do you have any methods you’ve developed to overcome when you hit a creative wall?
Not really, just have to get thru it.
You’ve moved around the globe a lot in your career. Is that something that you love to do? Or more a necessity of the work (go where the jobs are).
Yeah I go where the work is. That is harder now that I have a son. Lately I have been frequenting France.
How much do you think your traveling has shaped your work?
My work… I guess a lot. It rounds out my understanding and opens up some new shit.
What’s a bit of advice for a young fledgling creative type that you wish someone had shared with you when you were a kid?
40 year grind, then do it some more.
Who are some of the artists out there working right now that excite you?
When we approached you, we were nobodies, and it certainly wasn’t for the money. What was it about CounterSpy that interested you enough to work on it?
You seemed like a nice fellow, so I thought why not. Something about the Scottish accent.
What elements did you key off when you were thinking about that mid-century espionage world?
Sean Connery, Goldfinger what else?
Your work has such a strong identity with its hard sharp lines. Which aspect of the work do you enjoy the most? Character, environments, comic panels, or animation?
I like all of it, bounce back and forth between book and animation. Thats where I want to be.
Do you like the mix of working alone and as part of a bigger team? How do you think the two feed off of each other?
Yeah, can’t stay home all the time. I haven’t worked on a team for a while. maybe its too late for me now.
The dance illustrations remind me a lot of old reggae/dancehall posters I used to see around London in the late 80s. Very primal. You’ve also mentioned before you enjoy that part of the world. What is it about London that you dig from a creative POV?
Yeah London, its a grind, nothing but good flavors going on in my head right now. San Francisco is like that too.
How is work going on Pear Cider & Cigarettes film (which is looking so rad by the way)? At your current pace when do you think you will be 'done’?
Next year, i feel like i am on the shrink’s couch when I am working on that, so I should get off it soon.
Can we grab a beer next time you are in the Bay Area?
CounterSpy is out!
It is now available digitally for PlayStation 4, PS3 & PS Vita.
The game is a Cross-Buy title and includes Cross-Save, so you can switch between platforms and keep your progress.
North America price is $14.99
Europe - Price is €12.99/£9.99
You can buy the game from your console store or in NA buy PS4 or PS3 online
We are so excited to finally have the game out in people’s hands. It’s the culmination of many long hours and late nights but the thought that people are now playing our creation is what makes it all worthwhile!
You can join the discussion around CounterSpy by following us on twitter @dynamighty as well as following #CounterSpy
For now, conserve your ammo and watch that DEFCON!
Hello Agents and fellow C.O.U.N.T.E.R conspirators! Agent Claymore (aka David Nottingham) here.
With E3 behind us and our Gold Master fast approaching, it felt like we were past due a blog post update.
I wanted to take some time to talk about an aspect of the game we think people will enjoy getting hands on with, the cover combat mechanic in the game.
The game started out as a side-scroller, inspired by our irrational love and countless childhood hours playing those games. We wanted to bring our own hook to the genre though, and thought about what elements of modern gaming could be interesting in this context. We’d been playing a lot of cover shooters, and felt like there was something there that we had not seen yet in this genre.
Although the game is a side-scroller, the world is all fully built in 3D. We realized that we could take advantage of this to open up the combat space in certain circumstances. And so the cover combat mechanic was born.
As the player stealthily moves through levels, you will encounter many strategically placed cover objects. One thing these military superpowers really like to do is leave conveniently placed, well marked crates and other objects in the world that make for good hiding spots.
With a button press, the player can go into cover, and from there, the view turns from side on into a full 3D view, opening up the combat space for the player. So as well as staying hidden and scoping out areas ahead, the player can pop out and shoot at enemies. You’ll find this essential as the challenge ramps up, and especially when you are in the final combat rooms of a level, where enemy resistance is at its highest.
For advanced stealth players, a fun way to use cover combat, is with an equipped stealth weapon such as the ‘Diplomatic Pistol’ (a silencer is sometimes the best version of soft diplomacy) by taking time to quietly pop off enemies one by one. If you are skillful enough, you can clear a room without alerting anyone. This also is a great way to goose your score, as you can watch your stealth combo multiply with each new silent kill.
One of my favorite weapons for clearing a room is the ‘Dart Persuader’. This is one of the advanced C.O.U.N.T.E.R weapons that you unlock later in the game. With a single well placed shot, you can turn a guard against his fellow men, then sit back unseen and watch the bullet show commence!
As we put the finishing touches to the game, we hope you are as excited to jump into the diabolical world of C.O.U.N.T.E.R as we are to share it with you. We will share more soon!
Join Dynamighty devs giving an introduction to the gameplay & world of CounterSpy, talking with Ludwig Kietzmann from Joystiq
Hello covert agents….Here’s a quick writeup from David, sharing our experience of showing CounterSpy at E3 this year. Enjoy!…
So CounterSpy was at E3…and E3 was nuts.
That’s a simple way to sum up the experience we had this year!
To give more context…
As you have have noticed (or NOT noticed more to the point) Dynamighty has been ‘deep undercover’ for a while now on CounterSpy.
Periodically, we’ve emerged to make a small announcement (such as bringing the game to PS4, yay!) and if you follow this tumblr you will have seen some small nuggets of info such as this awesome Jesse Harlin post about the games original musical score.
But overall, we’ve stayed true to the spirit of our game by operating ‘covertly’ as we apply final touches, polish, bug fixes to prep the game for launch.
Because of this going into E3, we didn’t have much sense for what response we were going to get to the game.
Thanks to our friends at Sony, the game was fully playable on the Sony booth. We also managed to land a spot over on the IndieCade Showcase area.
The game was being let out into the wild!
Over the course of the next 3 days, I ran around from booth to booth, talked myself hoarse about the game, met super cool fellow developers showing their own games (shoutout to 17-bit!) met up with beloved old friends and generally reflected on the last 2 years of development that started with John and I wanting to form an independent games studio to now being on the cusp of releasing our first game.
The show begun with a really nice treat for us. John & I got to attend the Sony Press Conference and see all the great games we’d be sharing the floor with over the next few days.
One of the highlights for us, was seeing a dear friend and old colleague Dominic Robilliard, get up on stage and share the game, Entwined, from a brand new Sony studio called Pixelopus.
Dom was a member of our team at LucasArts and now works at Sony as part of the same group that we’ve been working with on CounterSpy.
It was a very poignant and happy moment because we had all shared a lot of hopes and dreams for our team at Lucas and here we all were, years later, building on those dreams with Sony!
In fact a side note about the experience of working with Sony, that has been really gratifying for us, has been meeting all the fellow talented developers working with the San Mateo group that we have worked with to publish CounterSpy.
Over the course of E3, we got to hang out, eat sushi & play classic arcade games with Arrowhead Games. They are a super nice Swedish team creating a game called Helldivers that is SO much fun.
Hanging out with them at the show and seeing Dom’s success, made us feel a bit like part of a growing extended family of like-minded developers all working to make awesome games!
I also have to say, this was one of my favorite E3’s ever and one of the reasons was the diverse amount of interesting games on the show floor.
All the major Publisher’s & console players have been making such a push to support smaller games, to expand beyond just the traditional blockbusters that would typically dominate past E3s.
I still love my big AAA games but something about the smaller games that I love is that they embody so much of the personality of the small team that makes them.
But enough about everyone else, we were here to show CounterSpy! We kicked off the first day with a live demo on Gamespot.
We’d done this last year and got hit with some funky technical issues live on stage, with a controller that stopped working. It was a good exercise in improv but not ideal for your first time ever doing something live. So imagine our surprise when the same thing happened this year!
Gaaah, must be some kind of Dynamighty/Gamespot curse? Or maybe we’ve started a new tradition!
Either way, we figured it out a lot quicker this year and so it did end up being a good start to the show.
Unfortunately, Ed (our Lead Designer) had to go off-stage to conclude his live play-through so we missed out on a full session of his game-face. But you can enjoy this photo to see how intensely he focuses when playing our game! :)
From this point on, the rest of the show was a blast. Press were getting hands on with the game and we were seeing really positive feedback.
The thing that was so satisfying for us was that people were really enjoying the gameplay. We always felt good about the strong visuals for the game but the two other elements we’d been working so hard on were the playful tone/humor of the game (a 'playful’ game about the Cold War!) and the gameplay. The fact that people were so positive on both made us super happy and made all those late nights worthwhile!
Here is just a selection of the great coverage for CounterSpy:
“Counter-Spy is a sneakily addictive retro-delight.”
“Dynamighty’s stylish, side-scrolling stealth game has personality for miles, switching between Mark of the Ninja-style sneaking to 2.5D shooting segments”
“..the environments are deftly detailed and the whole game oozes style…Creeping up behind enemies before blowing their heads off looked like fantastic fun, and it’s clear the developers have been careful not to take themselves too seriously.”
“CounterSpy’s striking art direction will instantly draw your attention. Influences in the art design include 1950s propaganda posters, the work of Saul Bass and Pixar’s The Incredibles.”
throws in a dash of stealth combat, a soundtrack full of twangy guitars and a tone that vaguely mocks the Cold War–enough to look like the game Rolling Thunder might have become if it hadn’t been forgotten.
“CounterSpy is a triple-threat. It has great art, unique gameplay, and a fun story”
To cap it all off, we also ended up with a nomination from the Games Critic Awards!
After such a positive experience at E3, we have a full head of steam as we put the final finishing touches to the game.
At this point, we are down to final bug fixes, getting the game ready for all PlayStation platforms (as well as the mobile versions!) ready to launch this summer.
We are super excited that soon, you too will be able to get your hands on and play our creation. We really hope you love it and enjoy the world of CounterSpy as much as we have enjoyed the journey of making it for you!
If there’s a musical equivalent to black and white film, it’s 1960s era spy music. You know it when you hear it. It’s a sound that instantly brings to mind film grain, exotic locales, and impeccably tailored suits.
When David Nottingham asked me to write the music for CounterSpy, I jumped at the chance to reunite with him. I’d written music for him on Lucidity when we both worked at LucasArts and it remains one of my favorite creative experiences.
“All I need,” David told me in his typical understated style, “is a main theme that stands up as instantly iconic and memorable as the greatest spy themes of the ‘60s. That’s all.”
No small task.
But what is it that makes spy music sound so iconic? There’s a musical language that evolved in the 1960s from the works of composers like Lalo Schifrin, John Barry, and Henry Mancini. The first thing I did when starting the score for CounterSpy was to steep myself in the musical vocabulary of espionage.
In a way, it’s almost formulaic. Start with a jazzy guitar, bass, and drum rhythm section. Add some unusual melodic instruments, usually ethnic stringed instruments, alto flute, or an organ. Pepper with beatnik percussion like bongos. Then add a healthy heaping of half-steps, the smallest interval between notes in Western music.
Spy music is full of half-steps and it’s this constant movement to and from important melodic notes by way of adjacent half-steps that gives spy music its bluesy, cool feel. They’re the key to the hooky riffs of “Mission: Impossible”, “Peter Gunn”, “Get Smart” and the rest of the spy music oeuvre.
David was a big fan of the sound of a Hungarian instrument called a cimbalom, one featured in some of the spy-score sampled tracks of British trip hop band Portishead. Its exotic string sound fit perfectly with the vibe of the era.
With the formula in place and some processing to make it sound like the track was being played off of old analog tape, my first demo of a theme landed close to the mark.
The vibe was right, but the tempo was too slow and the melody wasn’t strong enough.
For my second pass, I refocused the same formula through a different lens.
There are a large number of spy scores with a quirky 60s sense of fun to them. “The Prisoner”, “The Avengers”, and “The Saint” all had a playful element to their swanky themes. With that in mind, I swapped cimbalom for harpsichord, swung the track with a bossa nova beat, and went nuts with the half-steps. Another thing you’ll notice in this second demo of a theme is the inclusion of what I’m calling jazz clock.
Dynamighty’s Mark Holmes had suggested playing off of the “counter” pun in CounterSpy by perhaps including a ticking time-bomb sound into the main theme. By chopping up four different clock and watch recordings into individual ticks and tocks, I was able to create a varied clock instrument that I could program to swing with the beat.
The clock worked well and the tempo was much better, but the fun feel wasn’t the right attitude for CounterSpy’s more serious tone. Working with feedback from the crew at Dynamighty along with Sony Music Supervisor Matt Levine, I set to work on another version of the main theme that eventually hit all of the right notes.
In the end, the cimbalom returned with a touch of alto flute. Half-steps reign supreme in every aspect of the melody. We recorded live brass, drums, and guitars to help the track life. I kept the jazz clock, but I bumped the tempo up to 148 beats per minute. Much quicker than a regular stopwatch, the result is a subconscious psychological impression that time is escaping from you faster than normal and something that should instill a small sense of panic.
The resulting theme for CounterSpy is an up-tempo track that hopefully leaves you humming the theme long after you stepped away from the game and gives CounterSpy a great signature sound to its slinky sneaking!
I hope you enjoyed this slice of music. I can’t wait for you to hear the rest of the soundtrack as featured in the game!
Composer, Dunderpate Music, LLC
It’s Grace again, here with a post-GDC recap!
The 2014 Game Developers Conference (GDC) was a big event for Dynamighty. We were so excited to finally share CounterSpy with a wider audience for the first time, and our Lead Designer, Ed Kay, also gave a talk at the conference about the design process on CounterSpy.
We had hands-on demo stations at both the PlayStation and the Unity booths. Over at the Unity booth, animator Chris Magovern and myself were around to chat about CounterSpy and show people how to play the game.
— Eddie Lee (@eddietree)March 20, 2014
As an industry conference, there are GDC sessions devoted to all aspects of game development. Some sessions are technical lectures geared towards specific skill sets (for example, audio, AI programming, etc.), while others are more about sharing innovative game ideas, or advocating for industry change. Here a some of the team’s notes on their standout moments of GDC.
“My favorite session of GDC was Soren Johnson’s discussion about board games’ relevance to digital games. Specifically, his point was that the unifying characteristic of board games is that the rules are 100% transparent. This is because the players are the ones enforcing those rules, and they couldn’t do so without knowing exactly what they were. Soren went into detail about how video games benefit from the same clarity about what’s important to player and what isn’t. Showing information about why an AI is behaving a certain way empowers the player to make better decisions about how to interact with them.”
– Jeff Morris
“This is the first year that I went to the Experimental Gameplay Workshop, but I’m really glad I did. It’s basically a selection of short presentations showing working in progress gameplay prototypes. There were some really amazing looking games this year. Gorogoa had the audience gasping in amazement as the player zoomed in and out seamlessly into beautifully hand-drawn scenes to solve ingenious puzzles. Anchorage was also really interesting; it used a person’s email history to create a journey through their previous memories, as they guided their ship along the river. Hack n’ Slash also got some fantastic reception—in the demo, we were shown how the player could literally hack the code to change the state of the game and invent their own solutions to puzzles.”
– Ed Kay
“Meeting so many other passionate developers and students was a ton of fun. I did however manage to slip away from the booth and explore the rest of the Expo floor. Apart from ogling over dat Project Morpheus, one of my favorite sections was the IGF (Independent Games Festival) Pavilion, where I saw and played a slew of indie games—all of which were extremely innovative and many I had never even heard of. Sharing new ideas, new tech and our games is what GDC is all about, and 2014 definitely delivered.”
– Chris Magovern
“So, I wasn’t actually at GDC this year! Due to a #veryimportantperson event, I was in another country. :) However, on Sunday night I did manage to have a wonderful dinner with my dear friend Rich Lemarchand, who is always a fountain of inspiration and good cheer for me. Then, from overseas I was able to covertly check in and track the various events of the show. I think the part of GDC that has most excited me in recent years has been the strong emergence of the advocacy track. From the #1ReasonToBe panel to Manveer Heir’s talk on stereotypes, it really feels like our industry is talking about the BIG ISSUES in a way that excites me. Our industry is healthier with a broader cross-section of our society participating in it and creatively contributing, so I’m super excited to see this trend continue.”
– David Nottingham
There are all sorts of fun social events that crop up around GDC, too. Dynamighty and a playable demo of CounterSpy made an appearance at the Unwinnable Salon, a sort of show-and-tell for indie developers held in a Victorian house. “The reception was really positive,” Ed says, “with people getting hands on with the game and providing some great feedback.”
— Job J Stauffer (@jobjstauffer)March 22, 2014
“For myself personally, it was incredibly gratifying to see how people responded to the game. I’ve been chained to my keyboard for so long, dealing with all the usual things you have to fix when you ship a game. It was amazing to see people really enjoying the game, and giving both positive feedback and constructive criticism. It’s moments like these that really make the hard work worthwhile!”
– John Elliot
All in all, an awesome week for Dynamighty and CounterSpy. Big thanks from all the Dynamighty crew to everyone who supported us at GDC—whether you stopped by the booth, tried the demo, told a friend, or posted about us on social media!
Big news we are so excited to finally be sharing. CounterSpy is confirmed for PlayStation 4! This means it will be available in the summer for ALL your Sony gaming devices. :)
Enjoy the new trailer, for more info and new screenshots we have a post up on the PlayStation blog.
Stay tuned for more exciting bulletins on C.O.U.N.T.E.R operations soon!
Hello, C.O.U.N.T.E.R agents in waiting!
I’m Grace Morales Lingad, a Designer at Dynamighty. My duties around the studio involve wearing many hats: designing gameplay spaces, scripting, setting up interactive props, and creating the “recipes” for our procedurally generated levels. I’ve also been known to literally wear hats!
As Bob mentioned in his previous post, levels in CounterSpy are composed of individually handcrafted rooms, picked out and stuck together according to defined rules. Since we like food so much at Dynamighty, we call these rulesets “recipes”.
I didn’t write the code for the procedural system – credit goes to the engineering crew, particularly John Elliot, Pete Demoreuille, and Devin Kelly-Sneed.
As a designer, it is my job to use the procedural system to define the player experience. Just as a chef designs a multicourse menu – picking which dishes go in what order – part of my job is to define the progression of rooms that make a meal, er, level.
First off, all the rooms in the game are tagged. Tags like “Start”, “End”, were obvious starting points. There are bite-sized combat spaces (“Snack” rooms), and larger rooms with multiple stories to navigate up or down (“Nav” rooms). There are also rooms that serve as a breather between combat encounters: connecting corridors (“Conn” rooms, for short), sometimes with elevators (“Elev”) that lead to optional areas.
With all the rooms tagged, it’s time to make a recipe!
Now we’re cooking with gas!
Using this recipe as a base, the randomly selected rooms are attached to each other via “portals”, simple markers placed along a room’s left and right borders that tell the game where to connect to its neighbors.
Since there are multiple rooms tagged with the same tags, the combination of rooms that the procedural level system puts together is varied. And with multiple missions – each with their own unique recipes – the levels are always different.
The level below was also created with the same recipe:
And that’s not all!
While each room in a level is individually crafted, these unique spaces also have their own bits of randomized content. Some of the randomly occurring things in rooms include:
These are governed by their own systems, according to the difficulty level, what the player has unlocked, and so on.
Building and testing a game with so many random, interchangeable pieces is technically challenging, but, one of its greatest upsides is the unpredictability it provides the player.
I hope that this has whet your appetite for procedurally generated, retro-inspired espionage action!
Until next time…
My name is Bob Archibald, and i’m a Senior 3D Artist at Dynamighty.
I’ve been responsible for building and lighting all of CounterSpy’s levels in which you’ll soon be covertly neutralizing enemy threats. My job puts me right at the nexus of art and design… where the magic happens. I work closely with designers to create spaces that serve as a stage for exciting gameplay opportunities, while ensuring that the setting also tells a story, and maintains consistency with the established art direction.
Most of my day has me pushing polygons around in Maya (our 3d modeling package), arranging spaces in Unity (our level editor), and painting textures in Photoshop. It’s really fun stuff!
So, today I wanted talk you through a bit of our process for creating these spaces, and also some challenges we’ve faced when creating levels…
CounterSpy’s levels are composed of procedurally assembled rooms, each with their own rules of how and when they connect to neighboring rooms. With procedural levels being a key feature of CounterSpy, we really had to figure out a good way to create rooms that give you quick bite-sized bits of story and setting, but also create a larger narrative when randomly assembled.
The foundation of building levels, starts with having your player metrics defined - How tall is a door? How high can the player jump? How much space does a standard combat scenario require? etc.
Before we entered production on CounterSpy, we’d already had a pretty good idea as to the basic sizes of what our rooms needed to be in order to facilitate interesting gameplay spaces. At a certain point, right after our big E3 2013 reveal, i was able to get a little bit ahead of the design team schedule-wise, and took that opportunity to start on what i called “the shell pass” for the game.
We had created a set of metrics for small, medium and large rooms (ranging from 15 meters wide, all the way up to 60 meters), and “the shell pass” was all about going wide and getting coverage in the game - essentially, creating as many unique themed rooms as possible. A “shell” is basically the walls, floor, and ceiling of a gameplay room.
For each “shell”, I focused on just the room’s theme and shape, trying to convey the room’s identity without worrying much about the specifics of set dressing. Most days resulted in 3-6 shells getting modeled, textured, lit, and hooked up in the game for the design team to then start getting inspired by, and filling up with gameplay.
This point in production was really a lot of fun for me, as i was able to get playable “sketches” of some really cool spaces into the game, without being slowed down by details.
As I was getting these spaces set up, I would constantly be updating the design team as to what new shells they had at their disposal. It was really interesting to see how they would get inspired by the rooms, and what they would do with the spaces to accommodate cool enemy encounters. At one point in production, there were three level designers cranking away on these rooms, and they really caught up to me fast!
Once design was able to do a gameplay pass on the shells, the rooms would come back to me to make basic structural adjustments (fill in any holes in the backdrop, move some walls around to be load-bearing, do a more targeted lighting pass, etc) and we would then start thinking about set dressing and more specific context for the rooms.
Generally, these rooms would also get play tested by the team, and good feedback would come out of those sessions which would result in further refinement of the game spaces.
Most of the large art challenges came in the form of abating visual repetition - as a player would progress through the game, they would begin seeing rooms that were a bit too similar to previously traversed rooms.
This was actually a great point to be at in the game’s development for me, as now we had the broad palette of rooms created, and I was then able to go in and push the look of each room to be a bit more unique.
I’ll likely go in to more detail about this part of process in my next blog post.
Thanks for reading!
We have been operating fairly deep undercover on the Dynamighty front recently and we thought it past due that we share an update on what we have been doing.
Well the good news is, we are starting to emerge from the covert phase of the game’s development and you will start to see a steady flow of information, starting with a weekly blog post update from the team here.
Every week, a different person on the team will be sharing a bit about their part of the project, so you can get a taste of what it takes for a small team like us to make a game like CounterSpy.
When John and I started Dynamighty, one of the most important values we held dear for the studio, was to build a sustainable, awesome place where everyone who was part of the team, loved what they do, looked forward to coming to work every day, and felt like true collaborators on the project.
When we signed the partnership deal with Sony back at the beginning of 2013, Dynamighty was still just David Nottingham (Creative Director), John Elliot (Tech Director), Mark Holmes (Art Director) & Mark Erman (BizMarkie because he handles the business side).
It’s crazy to look back and see how far we’ve come since then. We are now a team of 10 full-time people and some amazing key contractors that have all come together to help us make our first game.
We want to give a little roll-call shoutout here to some of the amazing people that you will be hearing more from in the weeks ahead. These are the people that make it all work and its thanks to them that we are starting to get close to releasing CounterSpy.
Bob Archibald/Environment Artist - Bob was someone at LucasArts that John and Dave had not worked with, but was so talented & passionate yet with such a sweet disposition, We were determined to one day work with him. Bob is our 3D Environment Artist and as such has been responsible for taking all the grey box level design from us designers, and the amazing visual development from Mark, and turning it into the levels you see in the game.
Grace Morales-Lingad/Designer - Grace was another former LucasArts alum. She came to us as a designer that had worked most recently on the Sly Cooper game that came out last year. Grace is a multi-purpose designer that does level design, systems, scripting and helped me keep my sanity on the project when things seem like they are about to tip over.
Chris MaGovern/Animator - All the kick ass moves of our spy, all the enemy moves, as well as the various humorous animations we have ‘hidden’ in the game, all thanks to Chris!
Devin Kelly-Sneed/Lead Gameplay Engineer - John and I had worked with Devin at LucasArts and was one of the people that I had always hoped to work with again. What engineers do in coding is like a mystical art to me. Devin has been a major force on the coding side and along with David Swift has been largely responsible for all the gameplay systems and code that supports the game.
David Swift/Gameplay Programmer (Japan Division) - David was another member of the old LucasArts family. David is based in Japan and spends his time rewriting animation systems when we break them.
We’ve also made a few key more recent hires to round out our crack squad here at Dynamighty.
One that has really helped me, was Ed Kay, who joined us as Lead Designer. Ed filled a huge gap in my own design background. My strength is being a big vision guy. I’m super optimistic and excited about the possibilities of what a game can be. Someone like me needs the balance of a design partner that loves the details and compliments those big ideas with the technical and system design chops to go right to the metal of the games design. That person is Ed. I love working with him because we can really balance each other out. Just the right amount of ambition paired with the rational implementation for how to make something work.
If you are at GDC this year Ed will be giving a talk on the design process for CounterSpy (which he joined midway) called ‘Designing within Constraints on CounterSpy’
We have also brought on Jeff Morris as a Producer. Jeff is a shipaholic. He loves the challenge of getting games through that final few months to finish! He has brought structure, detail and taken over a lot of the day to day responsibilities that John and I had been grappling with in addition to our own project tasks. If there is one lesson I would pass on to any other developer of 10 people or above, definitely hire a good Producer! Because you need to free up your own time as much as possible to be doing what you are best at, which is whatever your core speciality is. You know, the thing you loved to do that got you into games in the first place!
We’ve also added some coding heavyweights in Ryan Medeiros, Jamie Culpon, Chris Georges, who have all joined us more recently and we are excited for what their future contributions will bring to the project.
Finally I have to give mad shoutout to some of the various contractors that have helped bring the game to life.
Jesse Harlin, for all the incredible music composed for the game. We wanted CounterSpy to have the feel of a 60s espionage TV show and the music is SUCH a signature part of that. I had worked with Jesse at LucasArts where he created the beautiful music for Lucidity. I knew he was the person to nail that cool espionage vibe we wanted. Watch this space for a future post from Jesse on his process composing for CounterSpy.
Jean Moreno, who has created all the VFX for the game. Jean was someone we found via him selling his own VFX assets in the Unity Store. Jean has been kicking ass on the project, its his first major commercial project to be involved in but he has the work ethic and talent of an experienced pro (without the grizzled curmudgeonly of the rest of us!)
Thanks for your support! Going forward, we will be updating here with a series of weekly posts. Next week Mark Holmes is going to share a bit about his process on the Art side, and how he brought 16 years of experience from Pixar to the visual development process at Dynamighty.
In the mean-time, we hope you enjoy this new screenshot of the game just to show you we have not been sitting idle! Making this game is a life’s dream for all of us at Dynamighty. Lots more info will be coming soon and we can’t wait to start sharing more :)
Creative Director (CounterSpy)
Every holiday season the Cold War foes would gather around a tree and hold hands, and then with great anticipation unwrap the glorious red gift wrapped presents from C.O.U.N.T.E.R….
Happy Holidays all. We’ve been pretty quiet around here lately but 2014 is going to be an exciting year as we reveal more on CounterSpy. Stay tuned :)
Have a great holiday from all of us at Dynamighty!
E3 week is in full swing with all its craziness. We’ve been sharing the game with press folks via our friends at Sony. More stuff to come soon in the meantime, our first bit of video with gameplay and a trailer. Enjoy!
Figured we’d repost the CounterSpy screenshots featured on the Sony Blog Post from last week.
Stay tuned we hope to be able to post some new tidbits soon!
CounterSpy - Dynamighty first game revealed!
This blog post being brought to you by David Nottingham, Co-Founder of Dynamighty.
Hey friends! Today is an awesomely exciting day for us at Dynamighty as we are proud to finally announce our first game!
For those of you coming here from this months issue of Game Informer, welcome! For those of you that haven’t caught the issue, it reveals details about our game and we gave them a Q&A that you can find here. You can also check out a blog post we wrote for our fine friends at Sony.
CounterSpy (still a working title) is a game that we have been developing for some months now. The game is being published by SCEA and will be launched later this year on PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, and mobile platforms.
Dynamighty was originally founded by myself & my buddy John Elliot. We previously worked together at LucasArts, where I was Lead Creative & John was Technical Lead for a big AAA new IP that never saw light of day, and then we founded LucasLabs, in which we got to work on a bunch of cool experimental small games. Some of which even got released! (Monkey Island Special Edition and a quirky little game called Lucidity).
Today, the studio is 10 super passionate human beings. We have a few more ex-LucasArts folks so, although we have been super-saddened by the closure of that studio, we are one of what we hope will be many other friends & former-colleagues putting their skills to work in starting small, indie-spirited studios with friends creating works of passion to bring to the world!
Now that the game has been announced, we are going to use this tumblr to showcase bits and pieces of the development process as we get CounterSpy ready for launch. If you want to see a bit more of the people behind the game, we have a facebook page that we use to share team photos & activities. For formal announcements and links to any press, we’ll be on twitter.
Keep checking back for more exciting news and developments soon!