The PAX 10?!?! Come on out, Ashton Kutcher!

by Mike
Sat, July 9, 2011 -- 0:13 UTC

I think I speak for the entire team here at Final Form Games when I say: ZOMGPAX10BBQ!!!11!

I could spend some time writing about the emotional rollercoaster of getting to this moment. Fact is, I want to. I think it’s a pretty good story.

However, as the stalwart long-time True Fan readers of this blog know, we do tend to get a bit extemporaneous and long-winded when we’re reminiscing. Never fear! Today’s post is going to break that tradition and cut right down to the chase! IN EMPHASIZED CAPS!

——(the chase follows)——
pax10_photo

JAMESTOWN IS GOING TO BE AT PAX PRIME THIS YEAR, AS ONE OF THE PAX 10.

YES, THAT PAX 10.

WE KNOW. SOMETIMES, THE WORLD IS SO CRAZY THAT IT JUST MIGHT AWESOME.

FINAL FORM GAMES WILL BE ROLLING TO SEATTLE, AND WE WILL BE ROLLING DEEP! IN ADDITION TO THE CORE TEAM OF THREE PHILADELPHIANS, WE WILL BE JOINED BY “THE FOURTH MAN,” OUR INESTIMABLY TALENTED AND CHILEAN COMPOSER FRANCISCO CERDA.

IF YOU SEEK OUT OUR BOOTH FOR THE TWIN PURPOSES OF PLAYING JAMESTOWN AND/OR WORSHIPING AT FRANCISCO’S FEET, YOU WILL ALMOST CERTAINLY BE SUCCESSFUL IN YOUR QUEST.

AT TIMES, YOU MAY HAVE TO WORSHIP FRANCISCO IN THE PAX JAMSPACE, WHERE HE WILL BE PERFORMING SELECTIONS FROM JAMESTOWN’S SCORE LIVE IN CONCERT.

FINALLY: EVERY ONE OF THE PAX 10 GAMES THAT WE’VE ACTUALLY PLAYED IS COURAGEOUS AND FUN. WE SEE NO REASON TO BELIEVE THE OTHERS WILL BE ANY DIFFERENT. WE WILL BE HONORED TO STAND SHOULDER TO SHOULDER WITH THEM, IN THE AUGUST HALLS OF GAMEHALLA.

pax1

The Gamehalla we're referring to.

So: come say hi! Bring your friends!  We can’t wait!  For some of you, this will be your first chance to experience the blistering funsplosion that is 4-player co-op! For others, this will be your first time playing the game at all! To be present for either of those moments would be a true honor for us, so don’t hold back! Exclamation point!

We’ll post updates as our PAX plans solidify. For now, the weather forecast for Seattle says to prepare for rain…

…A RAIN OF COUNTLESS PINK AND BLUE PIXEL BULLETS LOLKPLZBYE!!!1!


Jamestown Has Been Unleashed!

by Mike
Thu, June 16, 2011 -- 9:12 UTC

On this very date in 1607, after a month of extremely hard labor, 104 exhausted settlers finished constructing the first fort at Jamestown (the colony):

Looked something like this.  Unclear if giant statue of Powhatan is to scale.

Looked something like this. Unclear if giant statue of Powhatan is to scale.

Jamestown (the game) took almost two years to build with a core staff of just 3 people, so… this analogy could use some work. STILL! We felt that this would be an appropriate day to take a quick break from our post-release duties and shout the following message from the rooftops:

JAMESTOWN: LEGEND OF THE LOST COLONY HAS BEEN RELEASED INTO THE WILD!!!
:D :D :D

Steam put us on their front page for four glorious days.  Right next to Duke Nukem Forever.  It's... absurd.  And awesome!

Steam put us on their front page for four glorious days. Right next to Duke Nukem Forever. How crazy is that? HOW AWESOME?!?

Not only is the game out, but people have been playing it and writing what they think about it! On the internet! Here’s a sampling from the first batch of reviews (emphasis ours):

“As for the game proper, it’s just a class act. The range of enemies, the design of them, the placing of them, the way they burst in a shower of nuts and bolts that you’ll want to collect, the way the guns feel, the music, the pacing, it’s all fabulous.” – Rock, Paper, Shotgun

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“The environments, the enemies, the troops fighting in the background – every single graphical element of this game is absolutely stunning, to such degree that even those who don’t care for pixel art are sure to be pleased with how Jamestown looks. Every inch of the screen suggests lovingly handcrafted and passionate art, and soaring through it all was a joy.” – Bits ‘n Bytes Gaming

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“…one thing’s for sure: if you had told me that Jamestown was Final Form’s first title, I wouldn’t have believed it. … Accompanying the stellar design are a stellar soundtrack and sound effects. The music in Jamestown is indistinguishable from a big-budget epic soundtrack, and the game’s sounds are an excellent mixture of retro and modern shoot ‘em up titles.” – GamerLimit

break1a

“In a world of me-too shooters plagued by uninspired presentation and flat gameplay, Jamestown is a standout, a breathtaking experience that not only hearkens back to the golden age of gaming but also smartly offers fresh game mechanics at every turn. Jamestown has rock-solid mechanics, beautiful art direction and depth of content, and it’s a pure joy to play.” – Press X or Die

break1b

And for those of you who think reading is so 2010, here are some of our favorite video reviews/first-looks:

ByteJacker –  “I gotta tell you: this thing, with four Xbox controllers, and an HDMI out to your TV, has got to be, like, THE definition of kick-ass gaming. It’s just really, really amazing.

NorthernLion –  One of the best indie games I’ve played this year and, as you know, I’ve played pretty much all of them.”

Total Biscuit, The Cynical Brit –  “One of these is homing! ALL OF THESE ARE HOMING!

Our profuse thanks go out to all the writers, commentators, and pundits who spent some time with our game, and then made the effort to tell the world about it!

This is Jamestown running in a Taito cabinet.  Guess we can check that off the ol' Impossible Dream list!

This is Jamestown running in a player's arcade cabinet. Guess we can check THAT off the ol' Impossible Dream list!

Overall, the response to the game has been overwhelmingly positive. Players have been going out of their way to let us know that they’re having a blast playing Jamestown, which is like a firehose of warm-fuzzy-feelings right into our sleep-deprived hearts. So, to everyone who has been tweeting, posting, and emailing us with kind words: Thank you, thank you, a thousand times, thank you!

We’re also thrilled and gratified by the community that’s forming around the game. Watching our players help each other learn to play, post expert sessions on YouTube, stream Divine Gauntlet runs live from Japan, and energetically debate the finer points of Bomber usage in our Steam forums has been a true joy. ;)

Finally, it should go without saying that we are extremely flattered (and somewhat taken aback) to see our little game being compared to the works of CAVE, Takumi, Treasure, and ZUN. That said, their influence on Jamestown is hopefully unmistakable; they are our heroes, after all.

Much like that very first fort at the actual Jamestown colony, the first build of our game was hardly the last. Right now, we’re working hard to fix bugs, answer emails, and keep getting the word out about Jamestown. If you want to help us with that last bit, and you love the game, then please don’t be shy about telling the world! Our twitter hash-tag is #jtown16xx; go nuts!

More updates to follow. Until then: thanks again, and enjoy playing!


Final Form, Year One: WHERE WE’RE GOING

by Mike
Thu, July 1, 2010 -- 19:59 UTC

It took 365 days of hard livin’, but we’re finally here: Final Form Games is one year old today! You are our loyal, never-say-die readers with whom we will always shoot straight, and we hope you are excited to celebrate with us! Over the past few days, we’re brought you up to speed about where we’ve been and where we’re at, but said very little about…

WHERE WE’RE GOING

or

Seriously: What In Tarnation Are You Guys Working On?

What a good question! We are working on a rad videogame! It represents a lot of what we love about games, its working title is Jamestown, and we think it’s going to be a blast.

Logo

First things first: The screenshot we posted back in October wasn’t an image of functional gameplay. We know, you’re shocked. HOWEVER! That image does represent the overall aesthetic and milieu that we are striving to deliver to YOU, the customer! To vouch for the truth of our words, here are some totally real, in-game (and very Work-In-Progress!) screenshots of what the game looks like on this very day:

And HERE are some scintillating details:

- Jamestown is an old-school, handcrafted shoot-em-up (or “shmup“) with a new-school twist: 4-player co-operative play!

You will roll deep.

You will roll deep.

- As many have guessed (amazingly), it is set in 17th-century British colonial Mars. It will feature: Famous alt-historical figures! Majestic alien landscapes! Steampunk space tech! Hard-bitten settlers taking their shot at ekeing out a better life in the New World! Redcoats and Martians settling their differences with spear and space-musket!

Redcoat

- With the gameplay, we’re striving to press all the important hardcore gamer pleasure-buttons, while still leaving room to innovate on what co-op can really mean in the context of a classic shooter. We just love co-op games so much!

In 2011, one of these ships could be you.

In 2011, one of these ships could be you.

- We hope to tell a story within this world that is legitimately engaging and worth reading/watching/playing. A story that one might use the word “swashbuckling” to describe! Or, “coherent!” Or even, “explodathon!”

- In terms of timeline, we plan to submit to IGF this year, and hope to release on PC sometime in 2011, with other platforms to follow. The comments section awaits your snarky comments about release dates!

RedcoatFw

This is our first project, and we undoubtedly have plenty of rough waters to contend with between now and ship day, but we are optimistic about the journey ahead. As you may have read in our previous two posts, Year One was largely about investing a huge percentage of our energy into developing the game mechanics, technology, tools, and skillsets that we think are necessary to make our game great. Year Two is going to be about using them.

Thanks for being here with us on our first birthday. More to come.


Final Form Games, Year One: WHERE WE’RE AT

Wed, June 30, 2010 -- 17:49 UTC

On July 1st, a mere earth-rotation from now, Final Form Games will celebrate its very first birthday. To commemorate this milestone, we decided to break our customary silence to talk about where we’ve been, where we’re at, and where we’re going.

finalform_officepanorama

Day one.

WHERE WE ARE AT
or
THREE FACTS WE HANG OUR HATS UPON:

0511101929

Tim, hacking the encryptions. And yes, he is using three mice at the same time in this photo.

ONE: For prototyping, our goal/dream was to write games in a way that was as rapid, straightforward, and fun as tools like Flash.  Tim told us he had a vision, and that though the path would be a risky one, he knew it would take us where we wanted to go. When Tim finally emerged from his 5-month journey into code, drenched in gore and using a walking-stick that appeared to have been hewn from the claw of some long-forgotten subterranean insect, we looked upon the spoils and knew that we had found what we were looking for.

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Hal, playing our game in the Traditional Manner.

TWO: We realized that we needed two programmers, and had but one. This led to a conversation that basically went like this:

Tim: “Hal, we’re going to need you to become a programmer now.”

Hal: “Okay.”

And so he did.  It’s easy to say, but much harder to imagine actually doing: Hal bootstrapped himself the bulk of the distance between occasional-web-tinkerer and full-blown-gameplay-programmer in less than a year.  Working closely with Tim brought him the rest of the way there, and now almost all of our actual gamecode is the result of Hal’s skilled handiwork.

THREE: People routinely compare our art to the art in Metal Slug. The rest of Mike’s life is more or less guaranteed to be downhill.

ALSO!
or
OTHER TRUE FACTS THAT WARM OUR HEARTS WHEN ALL IS COLD AND DARK:

- We are active members of the small-but-scrappy Philadelphia game developer community, and are thrilled to be a part of its establishment and continued growth.

Our playtests... are getting a little crazy.

Our playtests... are getting a little crazy.

- We’ve given a few talks and round-tables about what we do at some local colleges and universities, along with our BFFs over at Cipher Prime and Merit. We’ve enjoyed dipping our toes into these kinds of education initiatives, and hope to wade in much deeper during the coming year.

Crunch dinner, courtesy Hal's then-fiancée-now-wife Jenn.

Crunch-time dinner, courtesy Hal's then-fiancée-now-wife Jenn. It was delicious. And TIMELY!

- Our friends and family have been hugely supportive of our endeavor, contributing everything from kind words to sage advice to crunch-time donuts. Two particular people (one of whom was Mike/Tim’s mother) went so far as to teach themselves how to pixel, and contributed much-needed art assets during our darkest hour.

- Finally: we are doing what we came here to do. We are spending our days making games of our own devising, learning all we can, and enjoying it ever so much. Year One was a great, tumultuous adventure. Join us on our birthday tomorrow, and we’ll tell you about why we’re so excited about Year Two.


Final Form Games, Year One: WHERE WE’VE BEEN

Tue, June 29, 2010 -- 23:19 UTC

On July 1st, a scant two days from now, Final Form Games will be one year old! To celebrate, we decided to bring our (fiercely!) loyal readership up to speed on where we’ve been, where we’re at, and where we’re going.

But what about right now, you ask? What is Final Form working on right this second? When will I finally see evidence that anything from that timeline up there is actually true?

Well… it is our birthday coming up…


Welcome to Final Form Games! Dot com!

by Mike
Wed, August 19, 2009 -- 14:07 UTC

As I type this, Hal and Tim are muttering arcane strings of code sigils. Ostensibly, this constitutes some form of back-and-forth communication between the two of them. The frequency of these little gobbledygook salvos has been rising steadily for the past two hours or so. A good chunk of it is over my head, but I have pieced together the following through context clues:

  • This website is almost done. Indeed, it is very possible that we could go live before C.O.B. today.
  • Doing so will require that several annoying bugs in the category Tim refers to as “survivors” be squashed with extreme prejudice.
  • Going live before C.O.B. today would be desirable in the extreme.
  • Having some actual content on the blog when we go live (for our “readers”) wouldn’t get kicked out of bed either.

So our two alpha coders put their heads down and started speaking in tongues. As a result, I have been charged with producing our very first message to the world at large. I’ve decided to talk about the big picture of what this year is about for us.

Put simply, this year is about starting up. It’s about paying what it costs to spin up a studio, a technology core, and a decent understanding of what 3 guys making an entire game in a reasonable amount of time really looks like. Most importantly, it’s about setting up a webcam. Because you gotta have a webcam.

We’re 2.5 months in now, and things are going pretty well! In keeping with our goal of contributing to the Dialogue At Large, we’ll be expanding on the how and the why of our emergence from the primordial bog in subsequent posts. For now, suffice to say that we have the studio, the technology that will underpin our games is well underway, and we’ve been evolving our development processes steadily over the course of these initial efforts. We also (improbably) have a webcam. On a webSITE! Not using capital letters and italics to convey our excitement is becoming increasingly difficult.

Which brings us to today. With the website done, there’s not much left to do around here except our JOBS. To wit:

  • We will make fun, handcrafted games that explore the themes and mechanics which have always resonated with us.
  • We will sell those games to you. For cashy money!
  • We will use that money to repeat this process.
  • We will drive the minions of evil to the world’s jagged edge, and pitch them into the chasm so that the bell of peace can ring in our land once more.

Alright. Back to it. Join us! Explore! Check back often! There will be new stuff!