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In case you'd forgotten, or you'd assumed it was some kind of dream: Payday 2 is getting some Hotline Miami-themed DLC. The live-action trailer didn't tell us much other than the date, but now we have a few more details ahead of tomorrow's release. $6.99/ 4.99 will get you some new weapons, some animal-themed masks, and will put you on the trail of a Russian mobster known as The Commissar.
We have a new DLC webpage to thank for those details, revealing that you (and any co-op chums you have with you) are doing favours for someone called The Dentist, in order to get a lead on Old Hoxton, your captured companion. It's a multi-part plan: first you'll need to "apply pressure" to a district attorney with connections to the Russian mob. Then you'll need to track down a shadowy figure named The Commissar and force him to reveal himself (so to speak) by causing "substantial damage to his interests". To make things feel a bit more Hotline Miami-y, a range of animal masks will be available, along with some new weapons that will be revealed tomorrow.
It would be nice if there was some sort of 80s video filter, or psychadelic colour scheme, to the first-person co-op heisting action, but we'll need to wait until tomorrow to see screens and video of the DLC in action. Until then, the above info and the following live-action trailer are all we have to go on.
Sep 11, 2014
Overkill has announced a Hotline Miami DLC update for Payday 2, being created in collaboration with the indie murder-'em-up's developer Dennaton Games. There's little to go on, besides a new live-action trailer. How the top-down jazz slaughter of Hotline Miami will work with the co-operative heists of Payday 2 isn't clear. Hopefully the connection will run deeper than some animal masks and an amazing soundtrack.
A Q&A about the release fails to provide much in the way of information. According to Overkill, the project exists because they "fucking love Hotline Miami," which is as good a reason as any. They do confirm that the DLC pack will contain a heist, and that "you'll find out about the rest come end of September."
Payday 2's Hotline Miami DLC is due out on 30 September.
Unsurprisingly, Hotline Miami 2 doesn't look very different to the original Hotline Miami. As a result, you may not want to watch this 80 minute gameplay video in its completion, unless to enjoy the oddly discomforting ambient synth music (interspersed with chainsaw sounds, but y'know).
There are a few points of interest: the new level editor is shown off at various points, while the sequel's new weapon dual-wielding is amply shown off right from the beginning. According to YouTube uploader LennyReviews, the footage is of a very early build, so level layouts may not be final. Gameplay takes place across the first two acts, during which we are promised no story spoilers.
Speaking of the level editor, Samuel Roberts went hands on with the tools at E3 2014, and came away impressed. "I love what I saw of the editor, and I seriously want to try my hand at creating a Hotline Miami level that's of a professional standard, as it were," he wrote. "While Dennaton isn't looking to talk about the story of the main game, it feels like this is the component of Hotline Miami 2 that we'll be talking about for years to come.
Written by Bo Moore
In May 2013, Tom Francis opened preorders for his 2D stealth hacking game Gunpoint. By the time Gunpoint actually went on sale, a week later, Francis had already made enough money to quit his job at PC Gamer and focus on game development full-time. But for many people, the biggest surprise came not from the game's amazing performance three days after release, but rather the way it was made that it was developed using a tool called GameMaker.
GameMaker: Studio, the latest version of the tool, has been developed by YoYoGames since 2006. Its goal is to break down the game development process into something approachable and easy to learn, shifting the main challenge facing game designers from technical knowledge to creative ability. But in part because of this ease-of-use, GameMaker has carried a stigma that it wasn't capable or worthy of powering high-quality, "professional" games. ("I can't believe you made this in GameMaker!" Francis recalls people saying. "That's so impressive!")
At first the tool was mostly used by hobbyists wanting to dabble in game making not anyone looking to sell a game, let alone make a living from game design. But since 2008, a slew of successful, high-profile indie games have emerged using GameMaker Spelunky, Nidhogg, Hotline Miami, and Francis' Gunpoint, to name a few. Slowly, all the game design hopefuls who found coding hopelessly daunting have an approachable way to turn great ideas into great games.
"For me it was Spelunky that tipped the balance," Francis said. "Just from name it sounded like it would be easy to use. And I figured, if you can make something that good in GameMaker, then there's really no excuse the only limit is how well you can design your game."
A Problem With Perception
GameMaker has existed in some form for more than a decade, and it really hasn't changed that much over the years. Technologically, it's been capable of creating games like Gunpoint (which was built in 2010's GameMaker 8) and Hotline Miami (built in GameMaker 7, an even older version) for some time.
"The definition of what a professional game is has changed," Francis said. "You can make things that are technologically simple, but still be financially successful. Those things have always been possible in GameMaker, it just wasn't possible to get them out there." Digital distribution services such as Steam have helped otherwise obscure games have a chance at widespread recognition and distribution things built using GameMaker included.
A sampling of games showcased on GameMaker's website.
But the indie revolution has been happening for years. Steam has been the mega-behemoth distribution service it is now since at least 2007. So then why have we really only started hearing about GameMaker in the past year or so?
It really comes down to a problem with perception. Jordi de Paco, creator of the recently-released GameMaker-built Gods Will Be Watching, says he had been aware of the software for some time, but his prejudgment kept him from giving it a try.
"I felt this preconception that if you made games with GameMaker," de Paco said, "it was like using RPG Maker, where it wasn't really a game. But at some point I realized that the players don't care what tools you used to make a game, they only thing they ask is if the game is fun."
"GameMaker appealed to people who were more into being creative than they were good at programming," said Jonatan S derstr m, creator of Hotline Miami. "Many of these people needed a couple of years to build up their skills before they could finish a cool big project." In other words, game development takes time, so we're only now seeing the output of these early adopters. (It took Francis three years to complete Gunpoint, for example.)
But even so, GameMaker to some degree still carries a stigma a problem that largely stems from confirmation bias. "There's nothing about many great GameMaker games that's particularly technologically advanced," Francis said. "The problem is that if something looks good, people don't ask themselves how it was made. They just see a game. But if they see something really crude that was made by a complete amateur, and then they find out it was made in GameMaker, that's the perception that sticks.
"Lots of great games have been made in GameMaker, but for a long time it just wasn't knowledge that's how they were made because people didn't ask that question."
Starting From Scratch
YoYo Games' vision for GameMaker is all about democratizing the game development process, breaking it down to something simplified and approachable. "For most game development processes, the limitations of the process dictate what can go into the actual game," said YoYo Games CTO Russell Kay. "GameMaker is all about taking away those barriers."
In GameMaker, you build a game by creating "rooms," placing objects inside, and assigning events to affect those objects all via a drag-and-drop interface. Rooms are not necessarily physical rooms an adventure game might give each scene its own room, for example, or a space game could use a single giant room for the entire galaxy and objects can either be physical things in the game or abstract things you never see or interact with, such as the camera or a level generator.
An example "room" in GameMaker.
Most of a game's code is housed in "events" that affect objects every time a frame is rendered. For example: movement would be handled by an event that tells an object to move a certain distance in a certain direction every single frame whenever a certain key is pressed. Using a traditional engine like Unreal 3, you would have to write that event as a script from scratch in GameMaker, you simply drag-and-drop the pre-built script event and apply it to whichever object you like.
An example scripted event in GameMaker.
"It just depends on how much you want to use this drag-and-drop interface, or how much you're ready to start coding," Francis said. "The cool thing for me is I wasn't confident enough to start coding, and so I was able to use these drag-and-drop actions to define how I wanted things to work on a very basic level."
As games get larger and more intricate, it becomes more and more useful to build them using code not so much out of necessity, but more of convenience. The more complex an event, the more space it takes up in GameMaker's visual interface. "If I feel like something's going to be a pain in the ass with the drag-and-drop interface, I'll just look up what the code instructions are for those particular actions and write them in a little script," Francis said. "I only need to learn one bit of code at a time, so I can gradually build up from there."
The Right Tool For The Job
Now that GameMaker is coming into its own as a respected development tool Gunpoint, Hotline Miami, Samurai Gunn, and many others have more than proved that the next issue is finding its niche. It will always be outclassed in terms of power and ability by things such as Unity, or even further, an in-house triple-A development platform such as Ubisoft's Snowdrop, EA's Frostbite, or Valve's Source engine. So when should GameMaker be used?
The software does have its limits. First and foremost, GameMaker is primarily focused on making 2D games. 3D is possible, but it would be far more effective to use a 3D-focused engine such as Unity. Furthermore, while the drag-and-drop interface is great for beginners, it becomes cumbersome for more complex games.
"Now I work entirely in code," Francis said," and the drag-and-drop interface is, at best, a way of organizing code. But even for that I'm starting to think it might be better to just write it all in text."
Another issue is that, while GameMaker is a great entry-point for someone with zero programming experience, its user-friendliness can end up being a double-edged sword if you want to progress into more advanced game development. Most development programs use standard programming languages people usually program Unity in C#, for example which must be written in a very specific, strict form. But GameMaker uses its own language, GML, which is extremely forgiving in how it interprets inputs.
The 2.5D Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime was built in Unity. Unity 4.3, released in late 2013, included dedicated 2D tools.
"For any given statement there are a hundred different ways of writing it that it will accept and understand," Francis said. "So you can write things in a way that make sense to you, and it will try to guess what you meant."
While this can help someone learn how to code, it doesn't teach them how to code correctly. It doesn't teach the proper habits needed to wrangle with a stricter, more complex programming language, making it difficult to ever transition.
But do you ever need to transition? S derstr m says he never felt limited by the capabilities of GameMaker while building Hotline Miami, but Francis admits that his Gunpoint code ended up fairly convoluted after three years of tinkering.
"If I was fluent in Unity I might use that, but I'm still more comfortable in GameMaker," Francis said. "I've made one game in Unity, but it's a very small game and it took me a long time to learn how to do everything."
Even if he were fluent, Francis thinks it would still take a long time to get everything working in Unity at least a bit longer than GameMaker. When you factor in price, GameMaker is the clear winner. (GameMaker's base edition is now free, while the Professional and Complete editions cost only $60 and $800 respectively, compared to upwards of $1500 for Unity.)
"It might not be as powerful in the long run," Francis said, "but in GameMaker, you'll have your thing working much much faster." This makes GameMaker perfect for quick-and-dirty mockups of gameplay concepts. Professional devs can use it to quickly prototype singular game mechanics just to test if they're fun and game jam participants can use it to build moderately complex games within the time constraints of a jam.
"It really saves a lot of time," de Paco said."Learning the documentation and applying it was all in the same weekend. I was able to learn GameMaker and make a game in just 72 hours. It was awesome. I couldn't do that in another language."
Now de Paco says he can take on more ambitious game jams thanks to GameMaker. "You sacrifice part of the optimization or performance of the game, but you can just forget all the technical and focus on making a fun game."
The Future of GameMaking
Will GameMaker, or something like it, ever fully replace traditional coding-based game development? Certainly not for triple-A developers, but for indies maybe. The upcoming Hyper Light Drifter, which was Kickstarted to the tune of $645,000, is yet another high-profile game being developed in GameMaker, for example.
Additionally, many of the problems Francis encountered making Gunpoint outdated DirectX support and resolution scaling issues, to name a few have been addressed in the 2012 release of GameMaker: Studio, which completely overhauled the entire development software, notably adding the ability to compile games for Mac and Linux. YoYo Games has since continued to add more advanced features for more experienced users, such as shader support and the ability to import third-party developer services in-engine without having to integrate additional SDKs.
While GameMaker may not be the direct inspiration, bigger engines like Unreal are becoming easier to use, too. Epic's Unreal Engine 4 uses a scripting system called Blueprints Visual Scripting to make design more approachable to non-programmers. It's now becoming more and more feasible for anyone with an idea to make a game, even without the ability to code. Even better, it's cheap. GameMaker has a free version. A UE4 licence costs a mere $19 per month.
The next step for YoYo Games is a game marketplace soon to go into Beta which would give GameMaker developers more options for visibility and distribution of their creations before trying to break onto Steam, as well as a way to share individual game components, such as sprites, audio bits, objects, and scripts.
"It's all part of the democratization of making games that we're going for," YoYo's Russell Kay said. "By allowing developers to share content that they're creating, we hope to spur on the whole community in terms of the quality level of what they can attain."
Jun 11, 2014
Dennaton doesn't want to make Hotline Miami 3, so how about you do it instead?
It's a hell of a sign off to the series, giving fans the tools to make new levels forever. Yesterday I met Dennaton's Dennis Wedin in a caravan next to Hooters at E3 and he talked me through it. The level editor is comprehensive and clearly designed with the aesthetic of Hotline Miami in mind, allowing players to create a decent level for the game in under ten minutes.
Wedin illustrates this for me by doing just that, dropping some basic floor tiling in, picking objects to decorate each room then placing enemies around, too, choosing between the different types and selecting individually what weapons they carry. Lastly, Wedin drops the enter/exit vehicle in there, selects play then expertly slays everyone in sight. That was very cool, and fans are undoubtedly going to get a lot out of a toolset that's been kept so accessible.
"It's built from scratch by Jonathan, our programmer," Wedin tells me. "We feel that it's super simple. We can't make it any simpler than this, which feels nice, because we want people to pick it up right away. If you want to make hard levels for your friends, it's going to be super easy to do that, then we're going to add a lot of tweaking to it when people dig deeper. All they need to do is follow five steps and the level is done."
Players will be able to make collections of levels, and the plan is to offer storytelling potential, too. "We hope to have it so you can basically recreate Hotline Miami, that is the plan. We'll see how much will be there upon release, we might add stuff later on, see how people treat it. We want to add it so you can make intros, outros, and stuff like that." I ask Wedin if any of his developer friends have thrown up any interesting levels, and he says people are creating cool patterns along the floor. As for me, I sit wondering if I can create a dog shelter level where the prisoners have taken over the asylum. It looks perfectly possible.
All of this will bring some closure for Dennaton, who will end Hotline Miami as a series with Wrong Number. "We feel like it's a good way for us to complete it, because Hotline Miami 2 will be the game we make in the Hotline Miami universe, So it feels nice: 'we're done. Here. just keep on going if you want to. You can make Hotline Miami 3 if you want to. Just do it.'" I think this will ensure the fiction of Hotline Miami lives long after the second one comes out later this year.
Every one of the 500-600 assets are indexed in the editor, and easy to find by keyword. "If I want to build a kitchen, I type in kitchen and you get everything that has kitchen in the title." You can also select any music you like from the game's soundtrack, which I'm convinced will be a popular choice. "We wanted the editor to feel Hotline Miami-ish, so it doesn't look Windows grey or anything like that." Look at the screens for evidence of that it's a pretty level editor. "I erase walls by holding the right button. All the commands are listed , so you don't have to go to a manual, so here's what you can do at a certain stage."
I ask about Steam Workshop support, and that's one thing that hasn't been figured out yet. "How we share the levels is still a thing for the future, but of course the point is to be able to share your levels with friends. But how it's going to be made, if it's in the game? We'll see."
I ask Wedin if players can import their own sprites. "That's something I'd love to see and if we could work it out. I would love to give them a sprite sheets of all the enemies and their animations, and they can just paint over it. So a good animator could just screw your animation. But it's one thing I can't say will be in there."
I love what I saw of the editor, and I seriously want to try my hand at creating a Hotline Miami level that's of a professional standard, as it were. While Dennaton isn't looking to talk about the story of the main game, it feels like this is the component of Hotline Miami 2 that we'll be talking about for years to come.
It's bad form to be vulgar in your opening paragraph, and so I'll save my natural reaction to this video for the untamed wasteland below. In the meantime, it's just the facts, sir: a new Source Filmmaker video recreates the spectacular top-down action of Hotline Miami 2's most recent trailer, only in three-dimensions and with Team Fortress 2. It is fu- no, no, save it for the next sentence Phil.
Holy shit this thing! I have an almost uncontrollable reaction to well-made SFM flicks, and, at times, have sat watching the End of the Line trailer on repeat. This has the benefit of drawing from some already exciting looking source material, but the choreography and animation has been pulled off perfectly. All credit to its maker, "Nonamesleft".
For comparison, here's the original Hotline Miami 2 trailer:
Apr 14, 2014
In an age of vague naming, it's reassuring to discover a game like The Hong Kong Massacre, which barely requires further elucidation. Nonetheless, we don't get paid without some elucidation, so it's a top-down indie shooter that caused a stir with its first screenshots on TigSource last month, and now it has a trailer. Inevitable comparisons to Hotline Miami aside, the most impressive thing about Hong Kong Massacre is how deftly it captures the chaotic, super stylish vibe of classic '90s Hong Kong crime movies, but only using a few frames of animation.
Also: there's the quite ridiculous amount of blood being splashed around. Each bullet seems to make the person it hits explode like a McDonalds strawberry milkshake that has been stamped on by a fat giant. Seriously, I can't overstate how much blood there is on show here. Put on your best Patrick Bateman raincoat and see for yourself:
Paper flying through communal cubicles, windshields shattering, endless bullet time, and a figure in white wielding pistols akimbo: it s effectively John Woo s greatest hits on loop, which means I couldn t love it any harder. Those geysers of blood also have a touch of Tarantino about them too, which is no surprise given how much he's lifted from Asian action cinema. I'm also pleased to note that someone over at indie dev Vreski Games clearly has their priorities in order:
Working on the most important feature for HKM now: Dove behavior and animation. #indiedev #gamedev
VRESKI (@vreskigames) February 26, 2014
You can keep up with the game s development at TigSource, where there s an ongoing devlog with more stuff like this
Ahhhh, the music! For all Hotline Miami's poking and prodding of its players' moral core, it was the first game's faux-80s Drive-a-like soundtrack that propelled me through wanton violence and gore. On the basis of this new trailer for Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number, the same is set to happen again.
Cara had some serious reservations when she played a demo of the game last year, and it'll be interesting to see how (and if) the full experience contextualises its narrative extremes. It will also if the previous game is anything to go by be an absolute joy to gun down murderous maniacs to some "thumping" "beats".
Hotline Miami is due out in "Q3", which is industry speak for "around September".
Mar 17, 2014
As someone prone to procrastination, game jams remain an inherently impressive undertaking. Given 48-hours to create something from scratch, I'm far more likely to emerge with nothing but strong feelings on a trending Twitter topic. Five hopefully more dedicated teams are about to squeeze an entire game out of a two-day period as part of Devolver Digital's Super Game Jam. The documentary series will follow a selection of developers, including Hotline Miami's Jonatan S derstr m, LUFTRAUSERS' Jan Willem Nijman, and Gunpoint's (and, once upon a time, PC Gamer's) Tom Francis.
Releasing episodically through Steam, the series will comprise of five 30-40 minute videos and their corresponding games. The five teams each contain two people who have never worked together before, and who seem to have been picked to ensure a variety between each game.
Super Game Jam will kick off in April, with Devolver planning to release one episode each month. In addition, they're promising a series of extras, including early builds, extended interviews, and a soundtrack. You can find more details on the Super Game Jam site, and see cute caricatures of each team below.
We last heard about the remake of PC gaming classic The Chaos Engine a couple of weeks ago, and we’re delighted to hear that the game will be making its way to a speedy release later this summer. Gamers of the appropriate age (read: old) may remember The Chaos Engine, a top-down shooter from 1993 for the Amiga. It featured a steampunk setting, two-player gameplay and blazing-fast 16-bit programming. Sixteen whole bits! Imagine.
The good folks at Eurogamer snagged an interview and gameplay footage from developer Devolver Digital, formerly of Hotline Miami. The new remake of the classic cooperative shooter, which will be coming to Steam in early August.
“The idea was just to bring the original game back as it was. We’re not trying to change too much... We just want to bring back that sort of hardcore, top-down shooter, tough game that people remember,” says producer Stuart Martin.
The game features all of the original voicework and gameplay conventions of the original. It will also come bundled with the usual complement of features, including leaderboards and achievements.
Check out the game’s website for more details. Thanks, Eurogamer.