Space Toads Mayhem is the current project of Luke Snopkiewicz, a very retro-inspired topdown shooter. Aimed to capture the very essence of the 8-bit/16 bit games we grew to love as kids. Paving the way to becoming a bigger and better sequel of the original Space Toads (a simple web game done in HTML5 – which received high acclaim thanks his unorthodox use of Adobe Typekit’s fonts during gameplay), Luke is looking forward to implement new advancements within the series. This includes a hardcore survival mode which is his current focus, as well as a standard campaign mode with different levels to beat (which start out easy and become incrementally more difficult as you play).
SGR – After the initial success of the original Space Toads, what different features and aspects did you incorporate in Space Toads Mayhem to keep the interest of your current audience while grabbing the attention of new players?
Luke – In a nutshell, Space Toads Mayhem is a bigger, better and more interesting game than the original. It looks, feels and plays better. Basically, I’m in a position now where I can take my time and develop each gameplay aspect to a point where I’m really happy with the result. So for example, while it is a simple arcade-style shooter at heart, I wanted to add way more personality to the enemies – that’s why I put some extra work into the animations and implemented what I call “simple emotional states” which affect the enemy behaviour and add some depth to the overall experience. Some enemies might be just chilling as they fly around, some will become angry and start chasing you – but they’re never too careful so they might bump into each other and get scared (which also affects how they act). So other than just blasting away, the player can utilise enemy behaviour to score some points.
In terms of an audience, I am indeed aiming for a much bigger one than with the original game. Currently, my primary market is PC / Mac players (Steam) – and I’ll take it from there once the game is released.
SGR – With various levels growing incrementally more difficult as the Player progresses, what can we expect to see that will pose as challenges to your audience?
Luke – One thing which makes the game increasingly more challenging is the “chance for a good drop” gameplay mechanic (borrowed in a way from RPGs like Diablo etc). Basically, power-ups such as Mega Death Sun or Vicious Red Hole are rather over the top and make easy work of the incoming enemy hordes. However, as you clear the waves of Space Toads and progress through – the chance of getting a good drop like that decreases, to a point where you may even get nerfs that disable your gun temporarily, or ones that can actually kill you. So at later stages you need to be pretty careful about what you pick up. Fortunately Insta Death is rather obvious to spot and easy to avoid – unless you like to gamble and collect all the Mystery Drops that is (identifiable by question marks). Results may vary 😉
Also, there are special types of enemies such as Mr. Greentoad who hovers around and pushes others towards you at high speeds. Ultimately, it’s all about a skill and reflex based gameplay, where a degree of unpredictability requires you too stay focused all the way through.
SGR – What was your drive to utilize retro top down shooting with the 16-bit feeling? How much different will the Hardcore mode be compared to the regular gameplay?
Luke – I always wanted to make a game like that, and now I can 🙂 Since my childhood, top down shooters where some of my favourite games – River Raid, Galaga, Life Force and many many others certainly kept me busy for looong hours (even though some of them you could beat pretty quickly if you were good) 🙂 And I think in general I have a soft spot for retro games of the 8bit / 16 bit eras. So it was important for me that Space Toads Mayhem has that kind of a feel to it.
Now, in terms of gameplay modes and difficulty – it’s all still very much work in progress. In the current build which takes you through 20 waves, the game starts relatively easy but gets more hardcore towards the end. So perhaps rather than having an easy / hardcore mode split, I’ll stick with the sort of a natural difficulty progression. There’s a number of things which need to be properly polished before I’ll be making a final decision regarding this.
SGR – One of the unique features of the first Space Toads was the way you utilized Typekit, which coupled with the sci-fi atmosphere is a very pleasing to play through. How was your experience working with Typekit in this way? Were there any challenges that you had to overcome to make it flow with everything?
Luke –The first game had some rather neat features, such as the Twitter API integration – so for example if you wanted your high score recorded and published on the website you could just sign in with your Twitter. It took no time or registration etc – just couple clicks, and everything was sorted for you automatically.
Typekit itself was super fun to work with – there were a few technical challenges, mainly performance-related whenever I made the Canvas2D work a little too hard for its own good. But it was fun, especially that no one seemed to have thought of using this service the way I did at a time 🙂 I believe it was the best way to have real, dynamic vector fonts in a web game – plus they’ve had the retro / sci-fi styles I was after which added to the overall vibe.
SGR – With Space Toads Mayhem you decided to go a different route rather than using Typekit. How has this experience differed for you? Has developing this way potentially opened any other areas of interest up for you in the future?
Luke – Well, this time I’m using Unity which comes with all the tools I could possibly need, so there’s no need for an external font service such as Typekit (plus the game is not going to be web-hosted like the previous one so it would be more tricky to implement in a non-annoying way). I should be able to make ports for different platforms pretty easily shall I want to.
The other big difference of course is, the original game was put together in a Notepad into one, longish script – and now I’m using an actual engine. So there’s more of a proper structure and workflow to what I’m doing – which is good when your project becomes more complex, just makes it more manageable. Not to mention you can prototype all different ideas quicker and easier. I think working like that with Unity has certainly made me think of doing different things for different platforms in the future. Actually, just playing with the engine’s particle system spawned a couple new game ideas in my head!
I’ll take it one game at a time, and Space Toads Mayhem will be my main focus until it’s done and released. There’s still a fair amount of development to do, and most probably a ginormous monster of a marketing effort ahead of me. Plus, looks like we might have just landed a spot in Indie Zone at the upcoming Insomnia 59 so I better sort these pesky frame drops quickly! 🙂
Below is some footage of gameplay of Space Toads Mayhem, and an introduction to Mr. Greentoad!
Stay tuned with Super Game Reviews for our Indie Game Spotlight on it once it releases! To stay current with the latest on Space Toads Mayhem, please be sure to visit the following links: the Game’s Website, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram!