Hello and welcome to SBOCLIGHT ON… our weekly feature where we dive into the nitty gritty of gaming’s most indie of offerings. Here, we will shine a SBOClight (get it?) on one game, offering a never before seen look at its fun parts. Sometimes, there will be interviews, sometimes development stories and videos, who knows maybe even a giveaway or two. What we do know is that this will be THE place to read up on some of the industries newest and most interesting titles, let’s get started.
The unmitigated horror of spooky, scary skeletons is known the world over. This Halloween, they strike.
Indie game developer Jasozz has been working on a graveyard defence game pitting players against an onslaught of sugar-buzzed children, their parents and even the military. Armed with trumpets for essential dooting action and maximum spook, players defend their graves through skeletal slaps and the unearthly strength of a being fuelled entirely on calcium. Collecting milk cartons to increase your calcium level, you and a friend can fling child after child out of your cemetery this Halloween season.
We were fortunate enough to talk with the developer about his title, its features and all things that go doot in the night.
What lead you to develop Graveyard Shift 2 on from the original gamejam title?
Graveyard Shift 2 originally just started as quick game that I wanted to kick out for Halloween. I’ve been working on jam-sized games lately as practice with keeping scope under control. I’ve been tinkering with game dev since 2005 or so, and only recently started actually finishing things, because my projects always got out of hand and were way too ambitious for a one-man team. I was trying to think of something that’d be fun for Halloween, and Graveyard Shift 1, which was developed in a few days for a “So Bad It’s Good Jam”, got some pretty positive reactions, so I decided to stick with goofy skeletons. I basically just said “okay, this time though, I want people to play as the skeletons, so what would skeletons be doing on Halloween?” I initially had some gameplay outlines for something where you’d spook trick-or-treaters and steal their candy, but it was a bit too much for such a short time span, so I decided that defending a graveyard from vandals would be doable in the month and a half that I had.
What features can we look forward to on launch and in the future?
The itch.io release is going to be pretty similar to what people have been seeing if they’ve been following my Tumblr or Patreon – a simple, single-level game where you try to hold out as long as possible against waves of hooligans and various agitated adults. This version will just feature two-player listen servers, so players might need to brush up on their port-forwarding to get a game going. Thanks to my Patrons, I’ll be able to afford to build the Steam edition next, which I’m hoping to release by the end of the year. The current planned features are 4-player servers, goofy cosmetic items, and a new gamemode where you fight through a set number of waves and then fight a boss, who is a secret for now.
What’s it been like to game-ify skeleton memes and just how many doots can we expect?
I was well aware going into this that skeletons were popular in certain niches of the internet, but I had absolutely no idea it was going to explode like it did. Skeletons are fun characters to work with because you get to make them expressive through their actions and body language rather than verbal or facial cues, and you get a bit more freedom with their actions since they’re undead. As far as doots go, as fast as you can mash the doot key. At the end of the game, you’ll get to see a stat comparison between you and your other players that will show who was the dootiest.
What would your dream game be to develop if you had unlimited resources?
I’ve got a game in mind that I’ve always wanted to work on, but the scope is so big that I’d really have to be a full-time developer to take it on. I don’t want to give too much away, but think of it as a cross between Super Metroid’s gameplay and No Man’s Sky’s concept of planet-hopping.
What’s been your favourite game this year?
That’s a tough one – I haven’t had alot of time to play games this year, between moving across the country, trying to find a house, starting a new job, and adult life being generally awful, but Resident Evil 7 has been a title I keep coming back to. I’m really excited to play Evil Within 2 as well, but I haven’t touched it yet, as I plan to make it my reward if I manage to meet my release date!
What games most inspire you?
I’m mostly inspired by games that just feel good to play. Examples I cite pretty often are Super Metroid and Resident Evil 4, for different reasons. Super Metroid has this no-hand-holding, straight-to-the-point approach that I really appreciate. You just hit the switch on your SNES and go to work, and most everything about the game is fluid and satisfying, and even after 20 years of owning the game I still stumble upon new secrets. RE4 has a similar vein of well put-together gameplay that I really appreciate. Any game where you can just get good at it is really satisfying – for example, using the knife to your advantage and just practising with it makes it a formidable weapon, whereas in some games your starter weapons just fade into obscurity because they’re just under-powered and not useful when you get better gear. The trusty-sidearm thing strikes a chord with me, whether that’s your knife or a chunky pistol that always comes in handy. I want to make games that people want to come back to, because even small play sessions are rewarding, and there’s no areas in the game that are “ugh, this part” – if that makes sense.
What games are you most looking forward to?
Well I had really high hopes for HUNT: Horrors of the Gilded Age but now that its turning into a competitive shooter, I’m a bit disheartened by it. Otherwise I’m basically just ready for Igarashi’s Bloodstained and Kojima’s Death Stranding, as I’ve been really put off by how Konami has handled its franchises and it’s going to be nice to see the minds behind those games just doing what they do best.
What else have you worked on?
I’ve worked on literally hundreds of projects in my time, but most of them were just experiments to see if I could do something, or I had a neat idea that I wanted to put to code, but it didn’t turn out to be as fun as I’d hoped, or was just too difficult to flesh out. I do have a couple of recent projects that are unfinished, but have demos available. Dungeon Break is probably one of my largest projects, and it’s a randomly-arranged platformer where you’re trying to fight to survive through a labyrinth filled with jerks who want you dead. Creature Castle is a short, but finished, action game inspired by the Gameboy Zelda titles that was built in about a month for a game jam. Then, there’s Hemoglobin 2D, which was an attempt at a 2D horror game, but I decided to save the story from that and build it in 3D instead when I was a bit more proficient with Unity and modelling. All of those games can be played for free at my Itch page, jasozz.itch.io, as well as the first Graveyard Shift!
What else can we look forward to from you in the future?
My next game is actually going to be a 3D survival horror game. I’m going to be building a short demo to test out some gameplay ideas that I think are going to be enjoyable and satisfying. If that turns out well and gets good feedback, I’ll likely expand that into the 3D version of Hemoglobin that I’ve been wanting to make. My one big dream is to be able to develop games full-time, but I’m a long ways from that still. I’m hoping that with a couple of solid projects under my belt, I’ll inch closer and closer to that being a reality.
How can people keep track of your work?
You can keep an eye on my projects on my Tumblr at jasozz.tumblr.com , and get some extra behind-the-scenes posts and other goodies by being a Patron at www.patreon.com/jasozz . I post all of my progress there as well, so even if you’re not a Patron its still a great way to keep an eye on things! No Twitter yet, but seeing how much exposure GS2 got on that outlet, perhaps its time I made one!
As the developer’s first foray into the world of multiplayer games, the first build of the game will be available to play on October 27th on itch with a steam release later down the line, but for now, prepare for doots to intensify.