THE HISTORY OF PROJECT OUTBUDDIES
Greetings! In 2013 I started the journey of my life, the challenge to create a Metroidvania in the spirit of Super Metroid as a single man, and I did this next to being a daytime employee, husband, and (meanwhile) father. The odds of finishing something that scope were all against me and I honestly was super naive back then and had no idea what I was getting myself into...
I’ve sunken more than 6,000 hours into the project by now, and TBH, that number feels pretty crazy. Anyway, I was stubborn enough to push through. OUTBUDDIES will release on PC on Oktober 15 and ports to all major consoles will follow early 2020.
The game's soundtrack was composed by Robin Ogen (OGRE Sound) and you can listen to the tunes on Bandcamp!
I‘ve worked with players from around the world since the early prototype was finished in 2016 and feedback is always very welcome to help me make OUTBUDDIES the best it can possibly be. In OUTBUDDIES, you’ll run, gun, and explore an open undercity with your sidekick droid Buddy, rescue Wozan miners, fight really mean bosses, and find your way home. That probably puts it best.
One could describe OUTBUDDIES as putting Mario in Samus’ suit and fusing the good memories of both childhood games into one unique experience. You play as Nicolay Bernstein, a mustachioed archaeologist and adventurer obsessed by the idea of an unknown alien civilization that suddenly vanished before the rise of ancient human high cultures.
Sidekick droid Buddy was originally implemented as a gimmick but evolved into a fully playable character over the last few years, including a local Co-Op option. OUTBUDDIES' backstory also involves the fate of the Wozan, an enslaved folk of mining people, as well as your obscure role in a conspiracy among some of the Old Gods, that were left behind to guard what remains of the sunken fortress of Bahlam.
PLATFORMING AND EXPLORATION
OUTBUDDIES follows a classic handcrafted Metroidvania design, that is very much on the Metroid-side of things. Unlike most titles, the Undercity of Bahlam can be explored with high freedom of movement like climbing, crawling and diving right from the start. Btw, unlimited oxygen is included.
As you progress your set of options will expand by discovering four upgradeable weapon systems, as well as five suit upgrades and hacking protocols for your droid. All gear was carefully balanced in terms of combat abilities and has to be used selectively to overcome specific hazards and puzzles. In OUTBUDDIES', grinding mechanics are skipped in total. Some MV protagonists tend to become quite overpowered towards the endgame, something I really wanted to avoid for the game. Each biome offers a unique set of enemies that need to be approached in specific ways; the game even has an optional stealth system. Players will have to rely on their bare skills and select gear wisely to overcome those challenges.
The map size of OUTBUDDIES can be compared to titles like Super Metroid and Axiom Verge. The game has four main areas, all divided into two sub-areas, as well as various bridging zones and three Wozan colonies, where you can talk to NPC and gather some additional information about the game's world. I'm the dialogue skipper kind of player and Outbuddies reflects that with a clear focus on environmental storytelling. Our beta testers needed around 15 – 20 hours to complete the game in their first run. Most of the areas are constructed as loops to minimize backtracking as much as possible. Also, some essential sequence breaks are possible to execute for experienced players and I implemented various secret pipes as well as portals that can be unlocked to speed up traversal a lot.
COMBAT AND BOSS BATTLES
OUTBUDDIES uses ranged weapons and classic 4-way shooting, which was chosen by intention and forces the player to directly engage all types of foes. Poisonous bugs and spiky crawlers inflict contact damage while bigger enemies can be passed-by and use both ranged and melee-type attacks to kick your ass.
All types of hazards can be dodged by steam-rolling and a late-game upgrade, the Spin Blade, even allows to harm enemies by dodging them. All four upgradeable weapon systems also function as a selective tool and there are two weapon slots available, that can be equipped in parallel to create some interesting mix-ups.
The Seahorse Revolver: Your standard plasma gun and best friend. Unleashes a powerful vaporizing beam when charged-up. It has a high fire rate and good damage output.
The Missile Launcher: Your best choice when facing heavy duty like boss encounters or multiple tanky enemies at once. They can even break stones, but your storage is very limited and has to be upgraded by searching for missile tanks.
The Bubble Blaster: A tactical weapon that fires organic ooze that can immobilize enemies and turn them into a suitable platform to step on. When charged, immobilizing clusters will spread to stun whole groups of foes.
The Corridium Galvanizer: Energizes wall structures and can re-power shut-down facilities. When charged it unleashes a powerful dash that can connect to a spider-ball like wall-run and enables you to reach every corner of Bahlam.
OUTBUDDIES Bosses follow strictly gear X skill-based approach, meaning upgrades will heavily expand your mobility but never overpower you in a way that statically shooting anything will cut it. Every boss encounter has a unique duel-topic to it, that will make sure the fight feels special and like a real achievement.
All bosses require profound memorization of attack patterns, anticipation frames, and your environment to stand a chance. Some others also include puzzle elements that have to be decoded in the heat of battle. There are five major bosses and four minibosses in the game, as well as several hidden challenge rooms, where groups of stronger standard enemies will lock you in for a good beating.
OUTBUDDIES is a hard game for sure, especially when it comes to boss fights. There are several options to support players on their quest to escaping Bahlam though. Punishing throwbacks were skipped in total, and there are dark creatures called Soul Eaters that trade one-time resurrection batches close to every boss room. Also, rescuing members of the Wozan Tribe will make sure some allies show-up in battle and help you out with healing upgrades.
BUDDY AND CO-OP PLAY
The game‘s sidekick droid Buddy is implemented in both single-player and Co-Op mode. Buddy has three basic abilities: Scanning, Telekinesis, and Hacking.
Scanning is a quality-of-life tool that avoids random wall-bombing to find secret areas and gives clues about how to interact with unknown objects and facilities.
Telekinesis is used to move physical objects and modify platforming obstacles or use the environment against your enemies. OUTBUDDIES uses a hybrid physics engine to allow realistic object movements while maintaining the pixel precision of a custom engine for all player movements.
Hacking is an ability to modify enemy behavior or functionality to your advantage, a bit like the famous glitch ray in Axiom Verge. Upgrade your hacking level by collecting so-called Corridium Protocols. Use your scanner to determine an enemy's security level and the possible hacking effect. Those effects range from health and missile drops to creating platforms, movable objects or friendly fire.
The idea of local Co-Op emerged around the Buddy droid leaving his gimmick status behind and becoming a fully fleshed character with various interesting abilities. Local co-op games were a big part of my childhood, and I hope the experience will be valued by our players, providing a possibility of team-speedrunning as a fresh take on the scene. Due to the asymmetry of both characters and the shared screen, a lot of real-life communication will be needed to become an efficient team. Steam just recently announced it's new "Remote-Play" feature launching October 21, meaning all local CoOp games on Steam will receive an online multiplayer functionality though the Steam platform!!
Compared to the single player experience, the Co-Op mode needed to provide a more constant activity flow for the Buddy player. On Co-Op, more random enemies are hackable and every boss exposes a Buddy-specific weak point. Co-Op mode also exclusively allows Buddy to create walkable blocks and modify the game's level design or create protective structures around the main character. Buddy's slingshot-like hacking seeds will also inflict damage on non-hackable enemies, enabling Buddy to actively engage in combat situations. Those Co-Op specific mechanics will fundamentally change the game's balance and feel, allowing for Co-Op speedruns as a very unique take on the metroidvania scene.
OUTBUDDIES for sure is by far the greates project of my life and I hope you'll all enjoy the game!
Julian Laufer (Developer)
Steam Page: Store.steampowered.com
Follow on Twitter: Twitter.com