Laser Disco Defenders in an upcoming procedurally generated twin stick shooter with its roots firmly planted in 1970s disco fever, with the aim very much to stay alive. We spoke to Alexander Birke from Out of Bounds Games to find out more!
Can you tell us a little bit about Out of Bounds and how you got into developing games?
Since I was a kid I always had an interest in being creative but also in science and engineering. When I was in high school I attended a summer school in games development.
The game we made was frankly terrible but it was a lot of fun to make and I knew it was what I wanted to do in my life. About 4 years ago I moved to the UK since the games industry is more established here than in Denmark where I am from. I then worked for both AAA and independent game companies before I decided I was ready to strike out on my own last year.
Your upcoming game is called Laser Disco Defenders, can you explain what it is about?
Yes in the words of the Bee Gees – staying alive! It’s a self-inflicted procedural bullet hell with 4 playable characters and an outfit system that lets you customize both how they look and play.
The main objective is to reach as high a score as possible by clearing each procedurally generated level to get to the next one. Players destroy the enemies by shooting them with lasers but must always be on their toes because their own lasers ricochet off the walls of the level and hurt them as well.
If you play too aggressively you make the game very difficult for yourself! On the thematic side the game is inspired by 70s Disco and sci-fi movies. At the end of the 70s the two things actually started to merge and you got Space Disco as a genre and disco fashion invading the costumes in sci-fi flicks.
All this is reflected in the visual aesthetic of the game and the original soundtrack is also heavily influenced by Disco.
What was the inspiration for Laser Disco Defenders?
The game started out as a prototype at the online game jam Ludum Dare. I had done a couple of various prototypes with lasers and bouncing projectiles in the past and got the idea to combine them. As you can see on the image from that prototype it looked quite different back then!
Since people seemed to like the game so I decided to work more on it. I think the disco theme came about since it was a good fit for a game involving lasers since it reminded me of the light shows you have at dance clubs.
The game also features an outfit system that was inspired by watching Saturday Night Fever. There’s a whole scene where John Travolta is getting dressed for a night out and I thought that would be a cool part of the disco culture to pay homage to.
With the disco theme, there are quite a few outfits to wear to strut your stuff too. Just how much is there to unlock in the game?
At the moment there’s 10 different items in the game and more might make it into the final release version. They all behave very differently so you get a lot of variety in how you can play the game. We also hope to put in a system that lets you unlock artwork and pictures that explains more of the background story for the game.
Did you have a clear vision with the game as you were developing, or did new ideas evolve as you went along?
I had a lot of core ideas such as the bouncing lasers, the procedural generation and the outfit system I wanted in but exactly how they work has changed quite a lot. For example the lasers used to be calculated as a single perfectly thin line which made it really hard to hit anything if you were playing with a joystick.
I therefore changed it so beams can have different widths and it really made the game a lot more approachable. The procedural generation has also had quite a few iterations. It started out being very random so it was hard to create a cohesive experience. Now it’s based on fixed rules that are activated the further the player progresses which allows me to adjust the difficulty a lot better.
What was your motivation for bringing this to the Vita?
We wanted to bring the game to a lot of platforms including the Vita because its big screen and dual analog stick and shoulder buttons makes it the only handheld the game would really work on. It made sense to release on the Vita first since I’m then sure the game runs well on the platform and don’t put anything into the game that won’t run on a handheld.
What are your thoughts on the Vita as a system? What games stand out to you and impress you the most?
I think there’s a lot of interesting games for the system. I especially like the titles that really make use of the hardware such as Tearaway and Metrico. I’m also impressed by the effort porting studios go through in order to get games originally made for PC and consoles to run on the Vita. There was a really interesting breakdown on how Bastion for example was ported and all the tricks they had to utilize in order to do this.
Are there any games coming out that you are excited for on the Vita?
I have already played Darkest Dungeon so getting that out on the Vita will also be nice. I know the developers of Hue and have seen the game take shape over the last year. I think that’s going to be a great puzzle title.
What’s next for Out of Bounds?
Probably some holiday after LDD has shipped haha! After that I have a couple of old prototypes I want to turn into full games. One would be well suited for PlayStation VR while another is a 2D puzzle platformer that would fit well on the Vita. Depending on how well Laser Disco Defenders does we might update it with more content as well since I have a lot of ideas for enemies and outfits that we don’t have time to put in for the release version.
Of the two Vita units, the OLED and the Slim which do you think is best?
I definitely prefer the OLED due to the better screen but having the longer battery life on the Slim is also nice.
We would like to thank Alexander and Robert from Excalibur Games for their time with this interview, We will bring you more news on laser Disco Defenders as soon as we have it!
This article first appeared in April issue of The Vita Lounge Magazine. Look out for more exclusive and magazine first content in the magazine soon!