Assault Android Cactus – Complete Developer Commentary


Hello and welcome to the developer
commentary for Assault Android Cactus I’m Sanatana Mishra I’m Tim Dawson And I’m Jeff van Dyck (Sanatana) – And we’re gonna be talking throughout the entire campaign about stuff that we find interesting (Tim) – So this is the first level– ah–first level and we kind of put it on an elevator to give you something
interesting to look at even though the gameplay is fairly simple at this point (Sanatana) – Yeah it’s really important to keep the first level accessible so using a small
space like the elevator lets us bring in enemies in really small numbers while
not overwhelming you and even still a lot of players when they get here go
“Wow, why are there so many enemies straight away??” (Jeff) – I’ve always really
liked how the elevator accelerates there it just adds this nice sense of pace (Tim) – Yeah it’s a good way of like adding movement and action to a level that’s
actually fairly static (Sanatana) – It can get very intense especially when it crashes down
at the end that moment shocks a lot of people because it’s the first truly
dynamic element across the entire campaign It’s also a lot of people don’t
even notice it and because there’s so much happening but I like it it’s always
been one of my favorite moments in the game (Tim) – It’s got a nice action beat (Sanatana) – I think this is the first time people get to experience the dynamic music as well the intro, the main menu, and the tutorial are all kind of standard fare but… by now they should be ramping up into that high-intensity/low-intensity kind of stuff
(Jeff) – Yeah, we wanted to make the music kind of follow your play style and the the quality of your play (Sanatana) – Yeah, I think that was your idea alone, right, originally it is ah…
(Jeff) – Yeah, it’s–it’s a
it’s a it’s an idea that’s been around for ages and but I just thought it would um…
I thought it would really apply to this game (Sanatana) – I think it adds a lot I’m very
very happy that you came up with that (Jeff) – Yea, cool (Tim) – Yea, so this is Turbine and
it’s based on one of the earliest prototype levels, actually One of the first layouts I built was this kind of round level with a couple of paths out
of the main area It’s all based around trying to create checkpoints (Sanatana) – I think it had a giant fan at one point, didn’t it? (Tim) – Yeah, that’s why it’s still called Turbine, actually (Sanatana) – Yeah
(Tim) Even though the fan is now missing (Sanatana) – It plays a lot better this scale
though I think this is somewhere around half the size it originally was
which was just… a little bit too overwhelming for people and also you ended up being away from the enemies quite a bit (Tim) – I also like there’s a caution sticker
on the ground even though you can’t fall off the edges (Sanatana) – Well, you have to be cautious gotta give people that scare I always enjoyed the aspect
of this level the most where there’s just so many enemies at some point that
it becomes absurd but it’s still fairly easy to deal with it was the…a really
great moment for me because people would freak out when they saw it happen that
would get surrounded they would get mauled but then they defeat everything, it kind
of works in line with the theme of the entire game which is this sense of doing
the impossible, overcoming ridiculous odds (Tim) – This is a level that has a nice
sense of ah…make teaching you so when you first play it you’re taught to get out of
the middle of the level when the when all the enemies drop on you, but later
you learn how to deal with it so you kind of you come back to it with veteran
eyes and know how to better…better handle threats (Jeff) – Well the game ultimately rewards you for playing more aggressively, doesn’t it? (Sanatana) – Yeah it’s a
central concept to the entire experience and very important to nail it down early
on. It’s also just kind of a simple level… I guess, which is really nice at this
early point throughout the game (Sanatana) – And here we have Filament, or my
affectionately known level as “They’re coming out of the walls!” Which…it has no
walls, but you get it (Tim) – So the ah…in the original earliest prototype of the game you had it–you had a torch all the time. So… wherever you face you were lighting
up–yeah, you’re in the dark with a torch and somewhere along the lines I realized
I kinda hated games that would set you in the dark with a torch, so that–the game
became really brightly lit and this level was left in this kind of a
reference to the to that early early version (Sanatana) – I think we worked around it as
well that the enemies have their own lights and indicators that are lit up in
the dark so you always have all the visual information you need whereas
those games that are centered around characters having torchlight, especially
twin-stick shooters, it’s really common. They often have that problem where you don’t
have the visual information so the entire game is spent with backing up and
praying that, you know, you get enemies in front of you, so…we flipped it on its
head a bit and you still get the visually interesting lighting but also
the gameplay just works well (Tim) – Yeah yeah and switching between the lights on
and off is really cool… Yeah I really like the flow it has because of that (Sanatana) – Also it
has one of my favorite achievements ever which was with Holly you can stand on the
edge, shoot the Cannonball and as it runs out of energy it will fall down, roll
into a hole and you get the ‘Nothing But Net’ [Tim chuckles] (Tim) – So this is Capacitor This was–this was the kinda…I kind of I like this level because it’s trying to tell a story It’s a story about a giant Capacitor that’s charging up It’s deep (Sanatana) – It is very deep. I, for one, was moved. It’s also one of the first levels that demonstrates drastic drastic change
of the play space and can make people really angry…also make them really happy
when they learn to deal with it but at first people are generally angry when
the game does something difficult [Tim chuckles] (Tim) – People don’t like change (Sanatana) – People do not like
change People like to be angry though I, for one, like to be angry at games By now you should have tried out some of
the characters as well…I usually have tried out, you know, a couple different
characters by this point in a game so hopefully people are checking them out
and finding their favorite I really don’t–didn’t want people to
roll into the first boss before they found something really comfortable…so that
was a big priority of mine (Tim) – This is–I think this is the first level where I really
try to drop a lot of bombs on your head (Sanatana) – Yeah there used to be more Not anymore, you can all thank me for that, players
[Jeff chuckles] I veto the bombs…I always
veto the bombs (Tim) – So we lost the entire bomb level You know…it works (Sanatana) – And yes that entire bomb level– that’s never coming back (Tim) – Boooo
(Sanatana) -So you’re all safe (Tim) – This is a bit like–a bit like Descent I like how this level ends with
another big kinda moment (Sanatana) – It’s one of the few
instances where we got to toy with the graphics as well, right? You do that sweet
long shadow lighting which we don’t see anywhere else because we use the shadows
for gameplay purposes, but yeah it’s it’s an interesting shift up and hopefully
gives people a taste of what’s to come (Jeff) – Ah, Embryo I’ve always really liked this
level mostly because it’s got our friend Dan [Lehtonen] as the voice of Embryo he did such a
fantastic job The other thing is we also… I always think of the music of this
level as being like…I don’t know like German techno or something like that [chuckles]
I’m not sure why I feel that suitable might have something to do with Dan I don’t
know [chuckles] (Sanatana) – It does have that very dark kind of menacing feel to it and it works great
with his…his best robot voice impersonation (Jeff) – Yeah (Sanatana) – I do like it too…it’s
also one of the first times where you get to demonstrate that there’s kind of
a story that happens throughout the campaign Tim came up with some
really clever ideas for that with different characters having their own
perspective and getting to drill down to something more than just the
‘shoot everything’ gameplay (Tim) – It was really important to me that every character
in the game felt like they were part of a spaceship and are working They’re not–they’re not soldiers
that kind of repurposed things So Embryo runs the…the
loading bay, and I never ever rationalized why he has guns for arms (Sanatana) – I mean it’s obvious, right? It’s super useful. (Sanatana) – He’s the new loading bay director
(Tim) – Yea, you got like a high shelf? [imitates gunshot] (Sanatana) – Exactly Some things don’t need explanations (Tim) – Yeah
(Jeff) – Get rid of rats? (Tim) – Yeah? (Jeff) – He’s a ratting robot? [chuckles] (Tim) – They’re attachments, maybe has regular
hands and he’s just put his gun arms on ’cause… ’cause rebellion’s going down (Sanatana) – One of my favorite things
about this boss was all the times we tested it with our friends and they would die on the first phase almost every time, I think every friend I’ve ever had died on the first phase of this boss when we were initially testing it
because they just could not figure out that you need to
get close, none of them plays shmups of any kind, so that was like such an
interesting problem to solve where we you know, eventually changed his bullet
patterns a little bit and pushed you in and kind of guide you to what we want
you to do, but…I still think it was difficult even in the released version (Tim) – Always found it funny at conventions it was a constant that people would play
the boss and go “Whoa…” “That’s the hardest boss ever!” [All laugh] (Sanatana) – Little did they know… (Sanatana) – Congratulations, by now
you have defeated Embryo and are on to the second phase of game: Hive. Well this is a kinda cool
moment because we get to introduce the first unlockable character in World 2,
and not everyone’s gonna play them, but I think a lot of people are gonna play Starch We really tried to pick a fun character for the first unlock to
encourage people to try and branch out and… I think it works pretty well (Tim) – Yeah, I think she’s–the Micro Missiles are just a really fun and visually spectacular
weapon and you know the character’s a fan favorite as well so a lot of people
just react really well to…to Starch in general They get the humor (Sanatana) – I love the
music in World 2 as well it’s so different from the first world and just… I hope it surprises people and that’s kind of across the entire campaign I
generally hope the game surprises people but especially here (Jeff) – I tried to make it
so that as the level progressed like their music really picks up in tempo…and…also… I don’t know it’s like…from a mood point of view there’s the music…and
initially has a real sort of happy tone to it which…not all of the music in the
game is like that, but it just makes for a nice contrast (Sanatana) – I think it’s interesting
as well that across the campaign the levels get longer, and the complexity of
the music kind of increases to match because each track needs to fill more
space so you get the first taste of that here just continued across (Tim) – Art-wise I really
wanted to go somewhere different after the first world, like I was almost doing
the reddy-brown loading bay to just kind of get that out of the system and so the follow-up to that–for that was the… the greens and the the white medical bay theme (Sanatana) – It looks beautiful and it’s kind of intense as well, I actually like this
level for a similar reason to why I like Turbine because players already think “Oh
they can’t possibly throw more enemies at me!” and then we throw, you know, like a
hundred wasps on the screen at once and just really freak people out (Tim) – So this is Influx, A.K.A. the level from
the trailer that everyone remembers probably one of the most visually eye
catching moments in the game I think (Sanatana) – In some ways, I regret that it’s so deep in
the game as I learnt later in my life people have very very short attention
spans, myself included, and this is already midway through World 2 but when people get here, they–they’re genuinely like wowed a lot of the time
which is really lovely (Jeff) – Especially like when the level transition happens and the blocks fall away and and fall into place and it just feels awesome when it
happens and it’s really exciting (Sanatana) – Surprisingly this was one of the first
things I ever worked on from the programming perspective of Cactus and it
just actually worked it and played well and that shocked me because I don’t know
how to do any of that stuff it’s very very simple in the backend as well it
just Maps a pixel grid to every block and I can paint new versions of the
level and kind of get it up and running very quickly and that’s why I was able
to make all these interesting patterns and make them work so fast (Tim) – It’s an interesting example of generating chaos and complexity out of a small number of
parts, a lot of the look is…is based on animations being offset so you get this
beautiful ripple effect when the levels transform (Sanatana) – Oh yeah, I remember
when you came up with that idea ’cause I had them all just
transforming sort of instantly or a set rate and then you worked out that it
would be cool to transform them based on the distance to the player and then use
that in four player as well so it’s always kind of relative to where the
characters are I’m always ripple out from their position (Tim) – It’s practical as well,
because it means that the ground always changes first under the player so
they’re less likely to run into a transforming block [chuckles] (Sanatana) – Yeah, there’s a lot of tricks like that in the game where you think something’s
really dangerous but it’s often times we’re pretty lenient (Tim) – So this is Oxygen. I
actually really like this level it’s very simple–it’s basically a donut…but
there’s a bunch of interesting dynamics you get out of it and I liked what I was
able to do with the lighting. Again, it’s another level where I’m–where there’s a
kind of story progression through from evening to morning (Sanatana) – Yeah, I remember when
we learned that lesson actually… Before we worked on Cactus, we were working on
little jam games and things and one piece of feedback we always got with
anything arcady was that the sense of progression would feel lacking if there
wasn’t a visual element you could push through and have harder enemies and more
crazy things going on but something like the aesthetic changing between different
color grades of blue and red and green always gave people much stronger feeling
about the fact that something has changed like they moved forward in the
progress towards completion I think this level works really well
because of it in not in spite of its complexity but kind of together with its
lack of complexity (Tim) – A huge inspiration actually came from
the old Brisbane Airport they had this kind of circular terminal with a trees
and stuff inside it where you can see it from as you walked around it and so I was
like there’s something something I drew on when I was trying to figure out how
to have it visually depitct this level (Sanatana) – I think is one of the few levels in the
game where I didn’t go back and rebalance the bomb-only wave that you
are so obsessed with in your level (Jeff) – And the number of times that’s
taken me out, I tell you… (Tim) – People got to dodge. (Sanatana) – I make no apologies, it was fun. (Jeff) – I find this level a lot of fun to play the…way the tracks, the moving
tracks on the ground, mess with your movement is fun and frustrating at the same time.
(Sanatana) – Yeah, I always got amused when people play this level and they completely miss what it
was inspired by…it was a very direct inspiration for me when I was designing
it we were playing a lot of Bomberman [Jeff chuckles] And yeah it’s just I…I think it’s great
I like this level (Tim) – Slightly the other the other visual inspiration, again like the
previous level, was airports including the little flashing…flashing hazard
lights at the top, yeah. (Sanatana) – It also is one of the craziest levels for bullet patterns
yet. You get bullet-hell with Embryo but this is the first level where we dump
multiple turrets plus a bunch of drones simultaneously and it gets pretty crazy I
always appreciated that about it as well (Tim) – I really like the bits where the Kegs
start crawling out of the holes because you often get like four Kegs crawling
out of a very small hole and it really looks like they’re just pouring out of somewhere (Sanatana) – What about the bits where the platforms start hopping up and down
you’re trying to shoot your long-range weapons like a Missile or Cannonball and
you get a perfect shot lined up and it’s gonna get you that full chain, get you
that S+ ranking, and the platform pops up and blocks your shot. Do you love
those moments? Because I can tell you from my experience on the Internet…
not everybody loves those moments but I I think by and large this is one of the
more interesting levels in World 2 (Jeff) – What do you call it, toaster dogs? [Jeff & Tim chuckle] Bane of my existence (Tim) – Ah, they’re great.
(Jeff) – Mmhmm. (Sanatana) – You need your toast? (Jeff) – They’ve toasted me a few times (Sanatana) – Rockets can be very
difficult to see amidst the chaos at some points as well, it’s
true…especially towards the end when everything’s moving so quickly it does kind of work and I think the
chaos adds to its charm (Jeff) – Ah, Vespula Voiced by my wife, Angela, actually and I thought
she did a really good job This level, you know, you watch people play it and
they struggle against it and they think “Wow, this is sooo much harder than Embryo!” [chuckles] Just watching people try to deal with the waves of wasps. It’s amazing, you know, that it gets even harder than this (Sanatana) – I really
like the fact people are just never sure that what the game is gonna throw
at them and I think this boss does a perfect job with that. So you’re saying
yes she’s super hard compared to Embryo and that’s kind of wonderful…
You think the game is gonna be all bullet-hell and it’s gonna be kind of
Embryo-like and you just have to learn the patterns and then you have this and
it’s–well there’s a hundred wasps on screen and they’re circling around and they’re
moving out to get you and also yeah Ang she does a fantastic job with the voice
she’s appropriately kind of menacing but not evil and just really really good
(Tim) – It kinda has that kind of melodramatic announcement to things well she’s yeah very good job
I think I’m still most proud of the way Vespula turns into a ball. That was a
idea I had and I had no idea if it was gonna work but I was too scared to tell
anyone how unconfident I was until I modeled it but yeah it ended up end up working really nicely (Sanatana) – It worked super super well except when people try and shoot the ball (Tim) – Yeah [chuckles] (Jeff) – The behavior of the wasps is sort of mesmerizing in a way (Tim) – Ah, I love it it’s like
it’s like a fluid dynamic (Jeff) – Yeah (Tim) – Yeah enough enemies on the screen and they
just they just move like a pattern (Sanatana) – Interestingly enough in our
speedrunning community they regard Vespula is the hardest boss because
there’s the most chance for things to go wrong which…I think is really great that
this early boss can cause the best players in the world so much pain just
because of the nature of her style of chaos, she’s not the hardest boss
to defeat, but she is the hardest to consistently perfect and that’s kind of unique She also has some really great dialogue I like Vespula’s dialogue–
I like the boss dialogue in general we don’t talk about that enough that each of
the bosses has like a really strong connection to the different androids and
gets their own point across (Tim) – I kind of like the idea that
like Embryo is a bit of a bully and you kind of feel all right about taking down,
but Vespula’s got a hint of tragic to it like you’re supposed to kind of be
like ah you don’t don’t feel super super great about how things came out (Jeff) – Well also, there’s a
backstory between Vespula and… is it Lemon?
(Tim) – Yeah yeah (Jeff) – Yeah and so like where in there were times when they were buddies Right?
(Tim) – Yea and… yeah and Vespula was her mentor So like…
(Jeff) – Yeah, yeah so there’s this in dialogue you can you can
see a bit of that in there (Sanatana) – Ah, Checkpoint. The best idea I never had. This is such a cool level (Sanatanta) – Tim?
(Tim) – It’s–yea…[chuckles] Yea, so this–this was a really important
switch up, I think. We got to the point of the game where–where it felt really
important to show a different type of gameplay and something that they had
never seen before (Jeff) – And the moving through the ship now like
is…is was such a huge step seemingly simple but…you know
(Tim) – Yeah It’s conceptually just another arena (Jeff) – Yeah, yeah… The arena is moving around the
player isn’t it? (Tim) – Yea
(Jeff) – It’s cool (Sanatana) – We always had trouble with understanding how this
level would work before we actually built it because…if you’re moving
through the level then how do we encourage you to defeat the enemies, how do
we box you in, how do we get the battery going well, but it just works so well,
it’s so much fun. I think if the whole game was like this, it would feel tiring
and just not very interesting but as a one-off or two-off across the campaign
it’s brilliant (Tim) – Yeah it’s it’s one I’m pretty sure that
the seams would show if you if you try to do it too much, but as a pallet…pallet
refresher it works really well (Jeff) – Always…always like how you made the wall lights react to the music (Tim) – Yeah yeah, some people don’t realize, but they’re literally bouncing off Jeff’s music.
It’s not–it’s not like pre-canned or anything like that (Jeff) – It’s like a frequency analysis
or something, isn’t it? (Tim) – Yeah yeah (Sanatana) – Although if you turn off the music it does do some random generation…
(Tim) – Oh yeah I just have to sample pillar noise because I no
longer have an audio stream to work off (Sanatana) – Yes… “Automation”…what a great track it’s just
so relentless (Jeff) – It for me was…I–I quite like that song it’s a part–I’m partial
to it and it’s a there’s sort of a danciness to it…but I
feel it ties in with the aesthetic of the world as well…there’s almost like a
nightclub vibe going on (Sanatana) – I think the entire Zone 3 has that feel to it, that go go go it’s…very
movement oriented in all the levels as well (Tim) – Yeah (Tim) – So this is Transit, set on a
moving train, which is just like Descent it’s the second time we had a small
gameplay space set on a…set against a moving background but I was particularly
proud of this level…there’s a lot of detail going into the track work and the
the train itself I always thought that (Sanatana) – I always thought the turns were the interesting part for this level the the train itself and the track work is pretty cool but the way that it
interacts and confuses you and tricks you and is the common theme with a lot
of my comments across the commentary now a bit, but… surprising people is always good.
And this level surprises a lot of people when it twists and it turns and they get
pushed around (Jeff) – The–the way the perspective changes with the camera rotating and stuff? (Tim) – Yeah like I love that first turn it feels like it’s just being interesting, but it’s actually setting up the laser sweeping you…it’s a very
functional setup (Sanatana) – I really hope people have figured out how to weapon swap-dodge
by now because…a lot of people don’t figure that out by now and then the
laser comes, and they don’t know what to do even though there’s two solutions: you
can weapon swap-dodge through it, or you can stand behind an enemy and let them
tank the laser, I…a lot of people just don’t figure out either of those and I
am a bit sorry for that that I don’t convey things better but I think when
you do know or figure out those strategies, it’s one of the most
interesting and fun parts of any level across the game (Tim) – You can also stand
behind the crates, but then we remove the crate that you’re standing closest to,
that’s where the next enemy spawns out of which I always liked because it’s got that sense–so at the start you can just
stand behind any crate, but by the end, there’s only one crate left (Sanatana) – What’s in the crate? What’s in the crate??
[Tim chuckles] Which you’ll find out shortly, I’m sure… (Jeff) – I didn’t know that,
I’m glad you mentioned that I know how to change the way I play now [chuckles] (Tim) – Yeah you can actually you can actually do it strategically by standing next to
a crate that you’re most okay about losing (Sanatana) – You can tell that Tim was the
primary idea man behind this level because again it’s got multiple waves
with just bombs (Tim) – Bombs are great Everyone loves bombs..
I put the bomb tanks in as a joke but nobody stopped me, so they made it into
the full game (Sanatana) – Bomb Tanks are great… you won’t see those for several levels
though, for now there’s regular Wasp Tanks and lasers! I love lasers, I forgot
to mention this in Checkpoint (Jeff) – I like how the Firepower upgrade protects you from the lasers if the it’s the little drones caught the laser (Tim) – Yeah that was like a that was a total lucky accident that I kind of made sure
it’s it worked throughout the game (Jeff) – It saved me a few times, I’m sure
[Tim chuckles] (Sanatana) – They’re your little buddies! Look, they got like, cute faces and they do neat things…I love the Firepower drones especially if you finish the
level and you have them and they just chill out there and they do that thing
and they spin around…Firepower drones are great (Tim) – Yea, they actually have, like, special
behavior because normally they just deploy next to you but if you finish the
stage with them they actually have a little bit of drift animation they trigger off their…their idle animations they look more interesting (Sanatana) – The more you know (Sanatana) – So here’s a level that not a lot of
people are gonna talk about loving because it’s kind of an evil: Heat! I’m super proud at this level, though Despite people hating it…they hate it for all
the right reasons…that’s because it’s mean…It’s mean (Jeff) – Well you put–you put all
this stuff in there that looks like “Oh that’s a little safe spot..oh no, it isn’t…
and oh this is safe in here…no it’s not safe in here…” (Tim) – Well yeah…it teaches an
important lesson: There is no safe spots (Sanatana) – No there’s no safety, but it’s much… (Jeff) – An unsafe game (Sanatana) It’s much safer than it ever was in the early stages, I remember the
first version of this level where you didn’t have this open middle section,
like there was a pathway that it was closed off at the edges and it was
almost impossible to escape death when the fire was coming for you…but now now,
the open section it’s good and we also do a lot of changes now as well
with the fire turning off, moving fast, moving slow, double fire, all that kind
of good stuff (Tim) – I feel like the thing nobody notices in
this level is all my pixel art on the walls It has…I do little fire
animations, but the animations tell you what’s going on. So when the
fire’s regular side up, it’s telling it’s coming out one of the burners and when
the fire goes upside down, it’s coming out the other burner. And when it gets…
and when the fire gets really huge it’s coming out both burners. And then during
the point where it stops, you get “Cooling” written on the wall. So it’s kind of–it’s
helping you out, but nobody notices (Sanatana) – No…ah…yeah [Sanatana & Tim laugh] I noticed…eventually…even though I
worked on the game, but you know, other people probably notice more than me (Tim) – An early version of the game, when it does a it does a quick spin around, at one point
and with the bombs dropping in an early,
early version actually kept spinning around fast until all the bombs were
gone, which meant if one bomb managed to escape and get into a relatively safe
spot, it could just spin around over and over again. We fixed that (Sanatana) – One of the more
interesting things about this level on speedrunning versus score attack is that
if you’re running this level for speed you can kind of make use of the fire, I
think there’s a couple levels that are like this with red damage where you
sometimes want to let the red attacks which damage both players and enemies,
unlike blue and yellow attacks, actually do the work for you, whereas if your score
attacking, you want every kill so you need to try and fight against it
so the nice little divide there and what your goal is and how you have to play (Tim) – So this is Revolution. This was another level that was prototyped very early on.
This is kind of the first idea for a moving level that would have parts that
would rotate around itself and it’s kind of–I’ve always thought of it as a really
visually interesting level it’s–so much is going on (Sanatana) – It’s got more pixel art
that people probably won’t notice Lots of it [Tim chuckles] There you’ve got the arrows on the
side that show you which direction they’re going, I think they change speed As well, right? At least on the rotation speed?
(Tim) – Yeah yeah, they got a bunch of… They change… they scroll and animate between different
states (Sanatana) – If only this game wasn’t moving at a million miles an hour People might notice these things
[Tim chuckles] But I think it looks cool It was one of my favorite levels
for the fact that it has so many lasers any level with a lot of lasers is just
awesome in my book (Tim) – Yeah I really like the way the laser plays with the rotating
blockers so you get this kind of strange lasers shooting at it odd angles
gameplay (Sanatana) – How many people do you think actually ride the circle around As I sort of intended when I was designing some of this gameplay? (Tim) – It’s kind of hard,
like I feel like sometimes it feels like your friend, but a lot of the times it
just feels like a frustration which is which is a shame, because it would be
nice if it was it was more practical, I think (Sanatana) – Yeah I remember in the early
prototypes the blockers on the end were full-length of the rotational area, so
you couldn’t walk past them and it made the spinning a lot more of your enemy,
than your friend Now you can kind of use it it I use it, personally I use the
Accelerate and I spin around with it and avoid all of the things that can
hurt me but yeah…I think it’s a bit 50/50 in terms of how people view the spinning (Jeff) – The Accelerate actually reduces the damage you take, doesn’t it? (Sanatana) – Yeah, the
Accelerate will give you a sort of evasion on damage input (Jeff) – Yeah
(Sanatana) – Because you’re moving so fast that… (Jeff) – You can easily collect bullets, right? [Jeff chuckles]
(Sanatana & Tim) – Yeah yeah (Tim) – So to compensate, it actually like, ignores every third point of damage
(Jeff) – Yeah It’s a good thing (Sanatana) – It’s a fairly essential powerup if you’re trying to play recklessly and also early on if you’re trying to collect all the pickups
to get a higher weapon level so that it’ll suck in everything (Tim) – Yeah (Sanatana) – But later
on, you may want to prioritize a little bit more things like Firepower if you’re
going for just pure scoring I really like the way the three power-ups play
off each other and there’s never a best powerup overall, there’s
only the best powerup at this moment in this situation, this exact scenario (Tim) – Yeah, I’m really proud that none of the power-ups lost their relevance at
anytime, like…at times it’s a good strategy to do something, but it’s never
it’s never the wrong strategy in the end (Sanatana) – Same with the characters, to some
degree, they all kind of work well and play off against each other, across the
campaign (Jeff) – Right, so this is Justice I really like this level. This boss is
voiced by Tim, if I remember (Tim) – Yep (Jeff) – And that was a lot of fun to do
[Tim chuckles] Music-wise…
almost like a circus, or something or… I don’t know…definitely I was thinking
‘deranged robot’ [Jeff & Tim chuckles] And I always liked the way the fence posts…mechanics worked
and that you could like, you know, they you could take them out, and it was
to your advantage to take them out, but If you got distracted by
everything else, then and you didn’t take care of the fence posts, you just end
up in this hell grid (Sanatana) – I think this was the most nerfed boss Throughout development (Tim) – He’s a…yeah, he’s a tricky one he…he’s deliberately has this kind of
three-phase structure and his first phase is very defensive, which I think
just made him like an unbreachable wall for a lot of players (Sanatana) – In some ways that
actually described this boss as a…as one of the few pseudo-failures of how I
thought about things because the three phases, while they’re interesting and are
different from any of the other bosses they’re so hard for people to get used
to this idea that you need to fight through a whole phase just to get a new
battery. It just seems so alien to people and that’s why I guess we didn’t do it
again even though we made it work here with Justice it just took so long to
gradually refine him and refine his difficulty in its attacks Where in the
first version, which I could S+ quite comfortably because I understood the
design of the three-phase structure He fired like twice as many capture balls,
twice as often (Tim) – Yeah..yeah I mean I really liked how thematically he ended up being
all about containment and inprisoning, because it fits very well
with his character, but yeah he was a little bit overboard (Sanatana) – A brutal boss but also one of the most visually spectacular and as Jeff said,
he’s got this crazy circus-intense music thing going on which I really dig
as well (Tim) – I think my favorite element was that, that people probably don’t notice,
is that in his final phase when he He chest-beams you, his head switches to a
skull (Sanatana) – Also a lot of people don’t even notice he throws his head at you and replaces it
[Tim chuckles] (Tim) – Grows anew one, yeah (Sanatana) – Which is a cool little trick he has multiple heads, apparently (Time) – Aged to a different thing (Sanatana) – All right, we’re moved into World 4 and the game is getting pretty deep by now you’ve unlocked a bunch of characters I really really hope people play the different characters I think that they
do based on anecdotal evidence of watching them play and leaderboards and
things but I really hope they try Shiitake anyway because she’s so much
fun this level was… Oh, sorry (Jeff) – I was just gonna say those mines are just
really fun to play with and laying them in the right spot and having the enemy
walk into them just feels really, really good (Sanatana) – Yeah, she’s probably one of the most tactile characters to play, it’s that
sensation of every shot just feels so strong (Jeff) – Yeah, especially when you line up
a whole lot of robots all in a row (Tim) – I really like this level it’s one of the it’s one
of the larger levels and it feels it feels like it’s almost one of the most
representational levels in the game where you get a big mix of enemy types, a
lot going on, the level’s constantly shifting but you kind of can really cut loose (Sanatana) – It also has a very simple concept that ends up in a lot of complex situations which
is a hallmark of the better levels in the game for me, so the platforms that
are shifting out are just kind of ones that aren’t near you so they’re not gonna
cause unless maybe have no enemies, you’re not on them, that kind of thing so
you can actually control which platforms drop away and which ones fall in if
you’re paying a really really close attention, but by having this simple
nature of how they react like that and then having a lot of variants and the
type of platforms that can change, I find that it creates enough chaos that it’s
really exciting all the time so I like that about it too (Tim) – I find World 4,
for which is set outside the ship, is one of the most interesting, visually,
probably the most ambitious worlds I think which is kind of cool like…it
feels like you’ve worked up to this epic you can see the ship in the background,
you can see the stars at times it’s a really nice feel compared to the,
y’know, from going from inside to outside (Jeff) – I know in the music I tried to
really push the sci-fi sound of it and thinking about being floating around in
outer space, certainly at the beginning part of the song just makes me think
that (Sanatana) – I think the World 4 music is my favorite stage music and second favorite
track of the entire game behind “Little Android” Which just makes me crack up
every time I hear it Whenever you watch anybody play the game, like ah, somebody
picked it up and they’re streaming and they don’t know me, somebody who has
no connection to me, and they play it and I watch and eventually they get to a
stage that’s too hard and they die they put the controller down for 20 seconds
and it starts singing at them about you know not feeling their face or their
fingers and and different things but that is a golden moment
(Tim) – It’s pretty good (Jeff) – It sneaks up on people because it takes so long for the vocals to come in, so they just think it’s just… (Tim) – Yeah yeah
(Jeff) – …Moody music (Tim) – Although they’ll miss it the first few times (Jeff) – Yeah, they do
(Tim) – Like that is–it’s only when they listen it to it. I love the the the
art style of this whole world is actually based on space stations and
solar panels and some of that and keeping that orange theme because each each
world has it’s own color palette but I was really proud of how this one
managed to kind of… channel some of that kind of
International Space Station imagery in its own way (Sanatana) – I think it’s great, it’s hard
to use orangey-brown and make it cool-looking with your art style but it
works really well here (Tim) – So this is Relay the second moving level in
the game alongside Checkpoint and it’s it’s kind of cool, like I liked that we
got to revisit the concept and I like that we got to revisit it in a different
way, you know Checkpoint is enclosed and you’re running through corridors and
this is like you’re just floating in the middle of nowhere you can see the panel
snapping off behind you it really feels like you’re in a perilous situation even
though mechanically it’s pretty similar (Sanatana) – Yes snapping off behind you, not at all
the same as when the doors close, I can tell you technically it’s totally
different. I promise
[Tim chuckles] Believe me But yeah, it works pretty well I actually think
this level is a good example of why this style of gameplay wouldn’t work across
the entire game because by the end of the level it is starting to feel a
little bit tired but it’s also refreshing and entertaining that it
comes back and you get to do it again so I really liked I thought it worked out
well and also because I did the design of this one so obviously it’s the best [Tim chuckles] (Sanatana) – That’s how I qualify with different
level qualities, by the way (Tim) – This is an interesting level, you’re–you’re
literally moving across the ship you can see depending on how far you move you
can see more or less at the spaceship which was actually really hard to line
up because at times if you got it wrong you’d end up half better than the ship (Sanatana) – I remember how much
care and attention you put into the design of the different
areas that you go through and the ship and trying to keep the whole concept
together and then you get to World 4 and you actually get to see huge chunks of
it in the background and I think the sense of place helps
I certainly hope people get a sense that they’re on a real place and that as they
travel through each level that they’re progressing somewhere so I think yeah
this was a really cool level because you get to move so far and you get to see so
much…it works (Jeff) – I think that’s it’s a cool aspect of Cactus in general is that
like on the surface you know it’s a twin stick shooter and there’s enemies and you
shoot them that’s that, there’s levels having this cool looking stuff but that
if you look into it there’s a lot of depth and backstory and everything from
the level select to like, you know, this this particular world and how we’re
outside of the ship everything is linked and everything ties into each other with the the game design, the backstory, the level
design, the characters, their purpose You know what I mean? It’s a it’s all very
well thought-out and everything’s connected and has a purpose and..yeah. I think
Tim you did a good job figuring all this out [Jeff & Tim chuckle] (Tim) – Everything is in the
service of game–is in the service of gameplay, like, everything is about making
the game feel and play right, but at the same time it was really important to me
that the game could be something people could love like that if you dug into it
if you if you thought about why the levels were that way that you’d find
something interesting and not just be like a “well we do it that way” (Jeff) – Yeah…yep (Tim) – I love…I feel like–I feel like we managed to between the three of us, we managed to
do that across every facet of the game and I think that’s–I think that’s really
cool (Sanatana) – Yeah I can definitely feel that in the design at the world, there’s always a
little bit more than you expect when it comes to the lore, the setting, or the
sense of place, or the music with its different layers and how people feel it
with the gameplay as well with some of the character balancing and the designs
and the interactions that are there (Tim) – And even some of the level–the…the enemy
waves, like a lot of…there’s a lot of thought put into combining certain enemies with other enemies to give specific feelings (Sanatana) – Yeah that the…
combination of enemies, I think there was a great talk it and one of the
conferences once on how they combined very few enemies in in some of the
classic arcade shmups to create a huge array of experiences and we tried to do
as much of that as we could where if you’re very conscious about matching the
blue toaster dogs with the laser enemies and you get gripped but you can’t move
it creates such a different sense of pace and feel to some of the other
gameplay styles so I really do hope to people like that (Sanatana) – Ah, Focus The level that was originally
meant to be giant panes of glass but I think it’s actually kind of cooler the
way it is now. Landing down on these big disks that shatter away and you fall
down, you totally fall by the way, none of this is faked I can guarantee it, just like I guaranteed
[Tim chuckles] everything about the other level. Trust
me, I’m a doctor I’m not a doctor (Tim) – Yeah, I like–I really like the layout of
this level, like, effectively you’re just moving from a smaller gameplay–game
space to a larger game space over time but it has a lot of a lot of character
and really benefits from being outside as well, gets–you get to to see you’re getting close to the ship every time you fall
down (Sanatana) – Yeah, you’re moving down you’re crashing things down, it’s got that real
nice sense of progression that we’ve tried to do across the game. For me I
love the way the pillars are kind of moving down with you and creating this
different play space, they’re not there at first then you fall down and there
and then it crashes away and they fall with you. Getting that all to work
properly and play well with the different enemy waves was a little bit
challenging, but it works really well and also this level introduces more lasers. I
don’t know if you know this, but I love lasers (Tim) – Is this the level where we introduce…introduce
reapers or were they…? (Sanatana) – This is the Reaper level This is the level where I
originally had three times as many Reapers and then initial people that
played the game got very angry with me this is a theme I feel like at this
point (Jeff) – This level also has the blue toaster dogs with their little laser
leash thing (Tim) – Yeah, the friendly ones (Jeff) – Makes…makes me very angry (Tim) – The only enemies in the game that can’t
actually hurt you, but people really really hate them (Jeff) – If you..I’m trying to remember
if there’s a way you can avoid their…their tractor beam
(Tim) – You can run
behind a pillar if you break line of sight (Jeff) – Yeah, that’s it! and if it…and I’ve made them growl with…
[Tim chuckles] it’s really hard to hear the growling amongst all the chaos of the
level, but yeah they give you a little little growl
(Tim) – Why would you do that to them? They’re trying their best (Sanatana) – Occasionally people can hear the evil sinister laugh of the Reaper
(Tim) – Oh that’s great (Jeff) – Oh, the Reaper? Yeah yeah (Tim) – I’ve talked to people who thought they were imagining it and it was so good (Jeff) – Yeah I tried to keep it subtle, but yeah (Tim) – No, it worked so well (Sanatana) – So many nice little
touches like that where like Tim’s pixel art in earlier levels and
here you’re slightly creepy audio coming in people aren’t sure what…what exactly
is happening it’s quite lovely (Tim) – This is…this is the only level that uses a blue
flamethrower as well which was needed because…to stop it murdering all your
enemies (Sanatana) – Yeah when it was a
red flamethrower, at first it was killing all the
wasps and making the level super easy so I obviously had to change that keep
things on the up-and-up (Tim) – But it’s an interesting point of
contention, a lot of people think that the blue flame is unavoidable, you know, they could get a bit salty about it (Sanatana) – Just move around, dodge through it, do something I hate to use it, but git good (Tim) Ah, Repeater This is one of my kind of pet levels,
it’s very indulgent technically it’s reconstructing itself as you’re playing
with with surprisingly little trickery it’s actually reassembling physics as
you’re moving around and trying to build a pathway between you and where the
enemies are and everything else (Sanatana) – Yeah when Tim tells you something is
really real, he means it unlike me so (Tim) – Well the whole game is smoke and mirrors
that’s the whole point like you know good games make you feel like you’re
doing things that, you know, much more complicated things than you are (Sanatana) – But this
level really is doing horribly complicated things
[Tim chuckles] (Tim) – Each of those blocks can
transform both into tiles and also those those wall blocks which is kind of
interesting they can have unfolded and then spread
apart and revealed little canvases (Sanatana) – Oh it’s so brutal (Tim) – Yeah it was a horrible
level to balance because…we can’t [laughs] (Jeff) – I remember the…doing the audio for it was
a bit of a head-scratcher too because each of those things trying to trigger
sounds and stuff like that trying to, you know, do it in a way that’s somehow supportive and
intuitive, you know (Tim) – Yea not sound like…not sounding like someone
dropping a bunch of, you know, transformers down some stairs (Jeff) – Yeah yeah, it was tricky What’s the–what’s the logic behind what it’s like the path that it’s
creating? (Tim) – So it uses a whole bunch of things, the main one is it takes your
position and your velocity so it tries to put the blocks ahead of where you’re
trying to move, so as you’re running around, it’s kind of trying to try to put
the blocks where you’re going But also keep a path to the enemies
(Jeff) – Yeah, I’ve noticed that when I–when I played it it’s like I feel like “Oh I want to go there” and if you push in that direction, it
builds the floor in that direction (Tim) – Yeah. So it’s kind of helping you out, but also…
also restricting (Jeff) – Yeah because it puts those sort of box things in there (Sanatana) – Sometimes it can end
up being extremely brutal though if it decides that it wants to build a wall
somewhere and you don’t want the wall to be there, it’s just gonna build it
anyway (Jeff) – Yeah, especially when you’re trying to S+ this one (Tim) – It actually
switches between a few different template patterns throughout the level,
like so there’s a period where it starts building these kind of tetra block
shapes that you have to maneuver through and they’re quite interesting to
dodge when bombs are falling and then in a later part of the level it starts it just
stops building walls and just builds flats so if you if you run out you’ll
actually get into a big flat area but if you stay in the if you stay in the
walled area they’ll stick around so it’s kind of you have a lot of control over
what the levels going to be (Sanatana) – I like that about these dynamic levels when they do that where…if you’re paying attention to how the level reacts to what you do, you
can control it. So it’s less about you dealing with its change and more about
you creating the change that you want it to make (Tim) – Like, a big rule for the whole
game was to try to keep everything procedural and deterministic so it’s
based off your actions so if you get a really like disadvantaged…yeah if you get
a really bad level shape it’s kind of your fault (Sanatana) – Yeah I think a lot of people
don’t realize that when they play it based on not just this level in its
shape that it’s making, but also the enemy waves, where they spawn and that
kind of thing. They’re all based on your position, what you’re doing, who you’re
defeating, the timing of when you defeat them, a lot of things like that that are
actually under your control and as you see the players get more and
more experienced…one of the coolest things that I ever saw is when the speed
runners worked out that if they defeat Embryo’s waves at just the right
time, just the right milliseconds they can get the right power-ups and cut 20-30
seconds off the boss flight and then they can try and do that to some degree
in the regular levels as well it’s really really cool (Tim) – It’s like everything
seems chaotic and terrible and geared against you, but you actually have
control It’s a metaphor for life [Sanatana & Jeff chuckle] (Jeff) – That’s deep [All chuckle] (Jeff) – Ah, Venom So this is voiced by you, Nart, isn’t it? (Sanatana) – It is, it’s my best impersonation of a super creepy giant spider robot that wants to
destroy you (Tim) – We were contractually obligated to add a giant spider to the
game because we’re a video game and also (Sanatana) – And also Australian (Tim) – Yes (Sanatana) – I mean, he’s a little bit
small compared to the ones I see in my backyard, but he’ll grow up, he’ll get
there One of the few instances of true
bullet-hell in the game I would–I would describe him as one of the earlier stuff
like Embryo and some of the levels even are very soft, but Venom doesn’t mess
around Every pattern, every wave is just A brutal way of, you know, huge
amounts of bullets on screen Hundreds…I think you can get it
up to a thousand in one of the waves and it’s just absurd (Tim) – Yeah, I really,
like, wanted to get I really wanted to play with scale for Venom and make him
feel like the largest boss, like he’s so large he can’t even interact with you
the (Sanatana) – Some of his phases to–er had to be nerfed quite hard but also then had to
be brought back and changed quite drastically I learned a lot of lessons
about bullet-hell based on the first version of this boss that he spent a lot
of time on and I felt really bad because the concepts we were using were just not
strong enough in the early versions a lot of the bullet patterns were based on
sheer number of bullets rather than kind of coalescing them together and in the
future revisions like the version that people play now he actually fires more
bullets I think than the earlier un-nerfed version but they’re all together and
create these really easily visible lines and patterns and circles that you can
dodge and weave between so learning about all that was really tricky for us all Is there anything–any favorite moment in
particular for you, Tim? (Tim) – I mean, right–yeah I really–I really like when he
gets up close enough to just start, you know, hooking his way up into the stage, and firing his butt cannon [Sanatana chuckles] (Jeff) – Yeah I actually–actually quite like when
the other way where because he’s so big, the camera has–and the…the
camera has to zoom out really far and your character gets really small it just
makes everything seem massive and I like that (Sanatana) – I can’t go past the moment
where the drill pokes on up and plunges through the ground and just
sprays out a thousand bullets in a giant spiral that that’s got to be one
of the most iconic moments in the entire game (Jeff) – One of the the funnier sound design
things I had to do here is choose the appropriate fart sounds for the butt cannon [Tim chuckles] So yes there is fart sounds in there (Sanatana) – Good job, Jeff The sacrifices that you’ve made… (Jeff) – You know, I now know that I have
like 200 different fart sounds in my library [Jeff & Sanatana laugh] (Tim) – The interesting thing is…is
Venom has eight phases because he’s a spider It just seemed appropriate
(Jeff) – Ahhhhh… (Tim) – But he–he loses
multiple legs in a couple of phases so he has two phases that aren’t leg
related. But it was important to keep that eight I’m all about themes (Sanatana) – Also by
having a large number of phases we had the reverse situation of Justice, where
now you can actually kind of shorten the phases and make them more intense and
exciting and difficult in other ways which was a fun switch up (Tim) – Venom was also
a really interesting point for the storytelling Like, the game’s not–has–doesn’t have the most complicated story, but we were
kind of leading you to Venom as the instigator And it’s the one time we actually…yeah, working at–working a plot twist which is pretty cool
(Jeff) – And yeah, quite possibly the the most sinister moment there in the whole game (Sanatana) – Yeah, it’s very fun introduction of a fun character that
players are about to meet they had no I–no real idea it
aside from the tiny hints the previous bosses all dropped about greater things
at work (Tim) – So Centrifuge is our first intro to
World 5 and I really like this level actually it’s kind of a–it’s a meat
grinder of a level and it’s just all about throwing huge amounts of enemies at you and making a deal with them (Jeff) It’s always felt to me like the most sort of
traditional wave-based level to me, you know, like ’cause you can…
I remember feeling like I could memorize the patterns or I felt there they were
more a little more predictable than some of the other
levels (Sanatana) – It’s also the first time the game is really that clean traditional sci-fi
plus the visual aesthetic and also the music for this world, I think, is very
much in that tone, that where the rest of the game is kind of more eclectic Which i think is a fun changeup that we take until now to go back to…yes
we can do the traditional style really well as well (Tim) – In general each of the world…
each of the first levels of the world we’ve tried to give you a level where
you can cut loose of it so you have you from Hive to Checkpoint to Assembly into
Centrifuge And it’s kind of… It’s a way to try out the new character [chuckles] (Jeff) – This was
quite fun to play with Peanut and when you first do that thing when you do the
drill along the edge and just do circles that’s quite fun to do [chuckles] (Sanatana) – Was that a
bug or was that intentional in it first went in I can’t remember…
(Tim) – It was It was technically, like, it was an implic–it was a implication of the rules that I
realized, like, “Oh, if I say that if you can go along a wall it’ll correct your
trajectory” that means you’re gonna be able to go around in circles and then I
like–and increased the threshold to make it more viable (Sanatana) – Yeah I recall that exact
moment, because it was awesome and he wanted it to happen more. When it first
happened it was very shocking [Tim laughs] (Tim) – Yeah, and we..I remember, like, kind of sitting
there going “Ahh…is this gonna break the game?” and we can kind of concluded it
wasn’t, so it’s fine (Tim) – Yeah it’s fine, it’s fine Peanut as well as…I think she’s one of the
most interesting characters in the game– I use this word a lot, “interesting,” but I
think she’s genuinely unique and cool across all the characters because her
secondary is so mobility-focused it’s not just about damage, in fact, a lot of
it isn’t even damage, when you pin a character and you move them across you
don’t damage them until you hit a wall So the most efficient way is often to
drill an enemy right against the wall but you’re invulnerable and you damage
smaller enemies along your path so if you can drill someone across the entire
stage you can drastically change the situation that you’re in and I just
really really love that about Peanut (Tim) – I was…yeah, I mean I–this level was
themed around the Gravitrons from, you know shows and that kinda thing, and like that whole spinning thing I just–I know I really liked it I considered at one point spinning the camera as well and I realized that may be a problem (Sanatana) – It’s a lot of that… avoiding that [laughs] (Tim) – Probably for
the best (Jeff) – So Control… There’s something I really
like about this level…when I first tried it out I found myself sort of becoming
obsessed with using the little helper devices and trying to figure out the
best sequence in which to use them and enable them and I’ve every job–every
time I play it I have my my pattern that I go to, I don’t think it actually is a
very good thing in terms of score chasing or anything but it’s just…it
feels so empowering when you when you enable these things and you you’re able
to cause a lot more damage when when using them (Sanatana) – Yeah they’re super fun,
especially activating the machine gun which keep going, even after you leave,
that is one of the most satisfying things across the entire game, it’s just
that moment where you step on it, you step off and it’s just shooting things
for you (Tim) – Yeah it’s it’s the only game– it’s the only level where you get to use
the stage hazards against your enemies (Sanatana) – They are all there just for you they
can’t hurt you in any way, unlike, you know, Revolution where the spinning can
be a helper, but also a hindrance just as much (Tim) – Yeah let’s say–I really like that it come comes in so late in the game as
well, like you know, you’re heading to the homestretch and it’s just a way of
mixing it up again (Sanatana) – You know, this was the only level that… We actually put out in
the game’s beta and had to remove and rebuild completely because I was so
unhappy with the original design I had for it, but the redesign just works so
well I’m really really glad we took the time to do that The first design was a
lot simpler, it didn’t have these these helper bots that would shoot you instead,
it had different layouts that you could trigger based on walking over switches,
but essentially you’d find a layout that worked best for your play style your
character and then just stick to that the entire time, so my desire to give
people options and create enemy waves that were better suited for using the
different power of different layout switches, this never worked out, whereas
these helper bolts they’re just great they pop up, they shoot you, they do
different things so they all have unique purpose and useful–and as Jeff said, he
has his style of how uses them and it might not be the most efficient, but it’s
like, the way he wants to use them (Tim) – And the cooldowns are designed to
kind of push you around the level a bit so, you know If you want to make use of all of
them, you wanna move between them at different points which…yeah
it’s always a good thing (Jeff) – It’s good with the accelerate powerup ’cause you can fly around and activate them all… cause maximum damage (Sanatana) – I think which character you play it has a big impact on how you experience this level too…I personally like to play Peanut because she has that
mobility on top of the Accelerate, so so even if you don’t have it, you can still
get from one path–yeah…area to another But yeah, it’s very very interesting this
different style (Jeff) – Convection is a really interesting level because I had to learn
a bit more about how the level design or how the level functions, like from a
technical point of view and learn how Nart & Tim put these levels together
because I wanted the sound to trigger on the…when the flaming pads light up and
it was really interesting as Nart mentioned earlier with the pixel grid basically,
you know, you used parameters like…he’s a program do you use, like a painting program or
something like that to change the color of a pixel would–would define whether…
what state a block was in (Sanatana) – Yeah you can paint in how long it was
gonna take for it to light up, how long it would stay lit up for (Jeff) – Yeah it was–
I found the system really interesting and then having to, you know, work
that into the audio triggers and then again, you know, trying to make it so that
we didn’t trigger too many sounds all at once, so obviously the machine and the level has the ability to just trigger hundreds of
sounds at once and just trying to make it sorta smart…and then the level itself is
so incredibly tricky [chuckles] because of these flaming things chasing you, especially
the ones where it’s it lights up wherever you go, that one’s especially hair-raising (Sanatana) – I’m really glad you took the time to handcraft the audio for all the
fire throughout this level though because when it–when we were thinking
about automated systems, it could have sounded semi-correct, but the way it
sounds when you play the level now, the fire races from left to right, it circles
around you, there’s that real sense of positional audio that comes through
there just adds a ton to the feel of the level (Tim) – So all during development
and white-box, this level had kind of giant red Jello cubes [Sanatana chuckles] that when you come out of the ground to represent the fire and in my mind, they the level will
always look like this. This was a thing like, whenever I was playing the white
box levels, they always look like the final game to me, I just I was just
filling in the art as I went, but I think there was some tangible disappointment
when the jello cubes went away (Sanatana) – I love the Jello cubes [Tim & Jeff chuckle] I hand-animated those Jello cubes and took me about 30 seconds, and it was great (Jeff) – It’s interesting that
there’s a lot of the early access version
of the game on YouTube and stuff and you can you can watch, you know, how
the the way these levels used to be when we were developing the game and how
much of it has stayed true to the white box and that it’s, you know,
effectively that towards the end it was an aesthetic pass that we did to finish
it off, but it still plays the same (Tim) – Yeah, one of the things I love about the
pixel approach to timing everything is that Nart was able to get this kind of
real choreographed dance performance feel to the level, like when the burners
come on en masse and they just sweep across the level and it’s like
fast and violent and it’s–yeah, just spectacular (Sanatana) – It really does…just, kind of consume you at different points, especially when it
starts firing underneath you and you’re running away from your own shadow,
essentially while having to deal with the huge flaming circles that are
spiraling out everywhere and there’s just so much chaos happening, but it’s
all still under your control It’s pretty cool And the other thing that’s
interesting about this level to me was that like many of the levels, it became
more playable, not less as we added graphics and I think that was an
interesting goal for the game as well that every time we added new graphics to
the game, it was to enhance the way that you played it, rather than to detract or
overpower you (Tim) – Yeah and so much of the art was built around visibility and information We really wanted to let you know what was going on (Tim) – Collider So this is one of the most
divergent levels in the game and I’m really proud of that part. We introduced–
we introduced another Android that you’re facing up against, but you don’t
even fight her to start with it was a really nice way of kind of bringing
things full circle, I think (Sanatana) – This level is the bane of many people’s existence And I don’t think it’s unfair to say most people would describe this as possibly
the hardest level in the entire game despite the fact that they might spend
longer trying to defeat Medulla, because she’s just so brutal, and the level itself is
so brutal (Jeff) – I remember actively asking you guys to
make it easier, because I was–I was finding it so frustrating to get through
this level. I think when especially when I was trying to S+ it, you know, cuz that
that is really really tricky (Tim) I feel like Licorice has some of the–like one
of my favorite tracks in the game as well (Jeff) – Oh yeah, yeah, it’s… Because I to
me, it’s like…it gets really…I don’t know for the lack of a better word, really video gamey There with the and–and I wanted the guitars to be a sort of a sound of her
strength, her power, you know? (Sanatana) – It comes in really really well in that semi-boss track style, it’s actually a unique track as well, because across the game, we have
whole tracks, boss tracks which are progressive tracks, and the dynamic
tracks, but Licorice is this kind of segmented whole track experience, so I
really like that she has her own flavor, her own dynamics, they go on there and
the track itself is just killer it’s yeah, definitely one of my favorites (Tim) – We were–I always had this goal of trying to make Liquorice work as both a enemy
and a playable character and during development it was so scary, like, we had
contingency plans for if it didn’t work out but in my mind I knew how I wanted
it to feel and what I wanted to capture with it (Tim) – Yeah, there were very many risks
associated with this semi-boss battle the idea of essentially playing a PvP
against the AI and making it work, making it fun especially–we did a lot of early
testing on actual PvP and it was terrible, so– [chuckles] (Tim) – Yeah, yeah, which is a big part
of why you’re fighting Licorice among other robots and so it’s a–it’s a
resource war not–you’re not trying to beat Licorice, you’re trying to
outplay her (Sanatana) – And I think that leads to some of the more diverse endings to a
level, as well, because it can actually last infinite amount of time, so long as
you’re both getting batteries It’s entirely down to battery control and no
sense of destruction on either player (Tim) – Yeah it’s–it’s a good thing, I like it’s
almost teaching people that Androids are scary, like, for the first time you
understand what it’s like to have an enemy that just doesn’t–doesn’t like
stop when you knock them down when (Sanatana) – When Licorice grabs the first battery from you [Tim chuckles] and you realize that she can collect the batteries That is terrifying, that is the darkest moment of the entire campaign (Tim) It’s so good…yeah I love that we
were able to do everything so genuinely She takes…she powers up her main
weapon using wep mods, she takes your power-ups, and she has to keep battery to
survive (Sanatana) – But it’s still totally fair that’s the important thing about like,
when I talk about the difficulty of this game a lot, I talk about people getting angry or you know, upset at things, but they tend to
stick with it and want to defeat it because the game is never cheating you,
and Licorice never cheats you In fact, if anything Some of the secret mechanics
that work behind the scenes allow you to cheat Licorice a little bit, when you’re
fighting over the same battery (Tim) – It’s slightly stacked in your favor, but yeah,
but and…she moves around she plays just like her player avatar counterpart,
she’s not doing anything too different (Sanatana) – And I think that’s important,
that that fairness (Jeff) – Her cool special ability at the end to–when she’s finally
taken out by her battery running out that she grabs one last bit of power by
destroying all the robots at the end there (Tim) – There’s an interesting thing, that the amount of
battery she–emergency battery she restores is actually based on how many
enemies are on-screen [Sanatana & Jeff chuckle] (Jeff) – Ah, Medulla Now, I suppose I had every opportunity to be
the voice of Medulla As the audio guy on the team, but! We decided to have my
daughter Ella be the voice and yeah I thought she did a great job, we put a lot
of processing on her voice, so she doesn’t really sound like herself, but
you know, it was such a cool opportunity to revisit all the other bosses and
re-say their lines, but she’s–she says the same dialogue that they did in her own
voice and so in a lot of ways that’s showing that, you know, she’s been in
control of all the bo–Medulla has been in charge of all the bosses, all this
time (Sanatana) – Yeah, some really neat visual storytelling, as well as the actual
storytelling where we’re finally getting to the conclusion and having all the big
reveals about the game’s plot It’s not the most complicated plot, but I think it
really works to sell the location in the feel of the game (Tim) – It was really nice to
kind of revisit both some new mechanics, also invent new mechanics with the dome
levels and also then revisit the bosses (Jeff) – The music, in this level, is sort of
like a montage of all of the previous boss battle music With moments of unique Medulla
music as well (Sanatana) – Yea, it’s a remix
just like the fight itself, right? (Jeff) – Yeah that’s right, that’s right (Sanatana) – They’re coming in and what’s old is new again and that was very important to us
to get that feeling all right I think every classic game that you can
think of from the kind of era that the Cactus is obviously inspired by, has
this feeling, this emotion come through at the end, that you need to revisit
where you’ve been in order to move on to new and interesting experiences It’s so brutal Though she’s so…ohhh… I just feel like, when I get
through some of these phases, when I get to the phase with the homing bullets
firing at you, my heart rate increases, it doubles, you know every time (Tim) – I was really proud of this boss fight for two reasons Both how it contrasts with Venom, who’s like being introduced is the physically largest boss and then you go “Well how do you go larger than that?” And Medulla encompasses
the ship, like, the entire stage is her body but she’s even bigger than this and we
were seeing a fraction of it And also how she contrasts with Licorice where,
you know, you’ve got an Android who has all of your strengths [chuckles] effectively and then you go back to the–you get to finish on this big…traditional…
bullets…you know, chaos, action everywhere (Sanatana) – It’s really a celebration of everything
in the game, not just the bosses that you’ve already defeated, but all of the
mechanics and systems, the bullet-hell the swirling elements, the lasers, it’s a
beautiful collage of all the cool things that you’ve enjoyed up until now, in
their most pure form, in one fight (Tim) Yeah, it was it’s supposed to kind of really
be a best-of boss fight [chuckles] Throwing together all these elements (Sanatana) -But
at the end of the best-of, you still need something new and fresh and exciting as
well, which hopefully is for how people feel about the final moments, I’m not so
sure (Tim) – Yeah it was an interesting one when we’re planning it out, like…we wanted
to wanted to have a fake-out we wanted to…want to mess with the player (Sanatana) – And then you go back to that classic classic retro style (Jeff) – The Aetherspehre! [Tim chuckles] (Tim) – The mysterious Aethersphere
(Jeff) – I’d like to visit the Aethersphere (Sanatana) – Got one battery, got limited enemies And no, you can’t shoot the big thing in the
center, I’m sorry [Tim chuckles] (Tim) Yeah we’ve had some interesting reactions to it, like some
people–some people kinda really get it, some people Would either misinterpret or
be frustrated with it but I still I still feel really good about how it
distills the purity of what Cactus is about gameplay-wise into a short segment (Sanatana) – Yeah, 60 seconds of the purest gameplay across the entire game which is really
nice as a finisher for a boss that’s also about showcasing the best elements
of the entire game (Tim) – Yeah (Sanatana) – In this 60 seconds, you have to dodge
better than you’ve ever dodged Shoot better than you’ve ever shot, use your
weapons better than you’ve ever used That you’re kind of like, swapping
between, you know what mean It’s just this kind of perfect moment of when you get
to the end you should feel like you’re the best you that you’ve ever been
across the entire campaign (Tim) – Yeah, it’s like the final exam you been trained the
whole game for this (Jeff) – From a music perspective It gets the heaviest
that the soundtrack gets Fastest most full-on intense music
bit there, got crazy weird choirs, distorted choir samples going on, and
super fast guitars and…yeah, at one point like, I know it when I was mixing it, it
was–the whole like, my system was just like everything was just going full-on
and on the edge of overloading and stuff It appropriate for the moment I think (Tim) – Yeah it’s the most intense
song in the game and it’s great because it just builds steadily for a whole
minute and then kind of climaxes (Sanatana) – And after that climax, the game is done You get to move on to the complete screen and With that our developer commentary is also done, and I hope you’ve enjoyed listening (Tim) – Thank you very much (Jeff) – We’ll see you next time

16 thoughts on “Assault Android Cactus – Complete Developer Commentary

  1. This actually looks pretty good. Smooth, fast-paced, graphics look great, screen-shake isn't over- or underdone, the list goes on!

  2. I played this game quite a bit! I’m not great a the genre, but I love everything about it! I’m so happy so see this exists!

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