Pimp your smartphone or tablet with a SteamWorld Heist wallpaper!

Pimp Your Phone or Tablet with a SteamWorld Heist Wallpaper – #Heistuesday 21

Pimp your smartphone or tablet with a SteamWorld Heist wallpaper!

Happy Heistuesday, friends!

Last week we revealed that SteamWorld Heist is going to playable on two continents starting next month. We begin in the U.S. by visiting GDC and PAX East. Shortly after we’ll debut the game in Europe by attending EGX Rezzed in London. There we will show off the game for the first time in public. Expect to see a lot of gameplay impressions and footage on the web!

While we’re putting the finishing touches on the playable demo and ordering posters, banners and the like, we thought we’d hook you up with some swag. Digital swag, that is. Our art director Tobias made you this awesome wallpaper for your tablet and/or smartphone. If you want a background for your desktop computer we have more SteamWorld Heist wallpapers on the official site. The pic below should work equally well on most mobile devices no matter the brand. We tested it on retina iPads and iPhones and were pleased with the results.

Here’s the  wallpaper (right click and select download):

 SteamWorld_Heist_Wallpaper_tablet_smartphone_ipad_iphone_android_2048

If you’re attending any of the expos you’ll find us by looking for the very same illustration as in the wallpaper. By then it will printed on huge banners. And by “huge” I really mean HUGE. Check out the pic below for the smallest one. We’ll be attending the expos together with Zoink Games and their häck-n-släsh bråwler Zombie Vikings.

We're making sure both SteamWorld Heist and Zombie Vikings will be seen at GDC, PAX East and EGX Rezzed!

Even if you can’t attend the events we’ll make sure you get the latest articles and footage directly from us. The best way is to follow us on Twitter or to like the SteamWorld Games page on Facebook. If you want to you can also check out our company Facebook page for exclusive photos from the events.

Speculate freely: What kind of gameplay do you think we’ll show you next month?

 

steamworld-heist-gdc-pax-east-steampunk-world's-fair-eurogamer-expo-rezzed

SteamWorld Heist On Tour: Play it on PAX, GDC and more! – #Heistuesday 20

steamworld-heist-gdc-pax-east-steampunk-world's-fair-eurogamer-expo-rezzed

GDC, PAX East, EGX Rezzed and Steampunk World’s Fair confirmed.

Hi there folks! SteamWorld Heist is still under construction, and lots of you have been asking us to show SteamWorld Heist gameplay footage, release demos etc. Well, pretty soon SteamWorld Heist goes on tour and we’ll have stuff to show you!

First off, Brjann is going together with Klaus at Zoink Games to GDC in San Francisco March 2-4. There they’ll be cooped up in a hotel suite for three days, Brjann showing off SteamWorld Heist and Klaus parading Zombie Vikings to the press.

Late in the evening Wednesday they’ll scoop up gear, cables and dirty underwear and head onto Boston and PAX East, March 6-8. One day of booth building, and then goes the weekend with tons of people trying out our games. We’re quite excited to see how that turns out! If you’re going to PAX East, make sure to stop by and say hello, and be one of the first to try SteamWorld Heist!

SteamWorld Heist will be shown and playable at the Steampunk World's Fair!

Right on the heels of this Julius (yours truly) and Mikael head to EGX Rezzed in London (March 12-14), which is a smaller version of a consumer fair like PAX. Then we rest for a bit, before going to Steampunk World’s Fair in New Jersey on May 15-17. That’ll be amazing, and we’ll probably be the only ones not wearing scrap metal and used-up circuit boards. We’d probably not get through customs if we did. 😉

 Happy to see us go? What do you think we should be wearing for Steampunk World’s Fair?

Valentine's Day Card SteamWorld Heist

Valentine Butterbolt: The Don Juan of SteamWorld Heist? – #Heistuesday 19

Happy Heistuesday!

Or should I say, Happy Valentine’s Week? Ok, the 14th isn’t until this Saturday, but since we decided to call our weekly updates Heistuesday we can’t really break our combo by blogging on a Saturday. That would be crazy!

Valentine Butterbolt SteamWorld Heist

Valentine Butterbolt – The chimney-sweeper.

Today we’ll introduce you to a new crew member for Captain Piper to recruit in SteamWorld Heist. Fittingly, this steambot’s name is Valentine Butterbolt. And surprisingly he’s not the Don Juan of SteamWorld. But a senior steambot with a passion for all things chimney. That’s right: he’s a chimney-sweeper.

After losing the love of his life due to a series of unfortunate events, Valentine found comfort in his only friends: the chimneys. The difference between a steambot and a steam engine pipe isn’t that big, after all. Utilizing his engineering skills he upgraded himself with a chimney-sweeping kit as a way of dealing with the recent hardships. The upgrade served him well as a Royalist chimney-sweeper and got him promoted to highest of ranks within the chimney-sweeper community.

But when Valentine reached the age of retirement the Royalist government stripped him of his privileges and sent him to a home for senior steambots. The pain of no longer being able to clean sooty pipes was unbearable, so he escaped from his shackles and joined rebel spaceships as an engineer specializing in pipe cleaning.


As a way of thanking you peeps for all your love and support we have crafted a special Valentine’s Day Card. Agnes and Peter have been working closely with Valentine on this awesome poem and picture filled with old-school pixel art. We hope you have a wonderful week filled with love from friends and family!

Happy Valentine from SteamWorld Heist!

Question: How would you surprise Valentine on a romantic date?

Hint sleeping is not one of the ingredients ;)

The Recipe for Great Game Graphics is Quite Surprising – #Heistuesday 18

Hint sleeping is not one of the ingredients ;)

Howdy, partners!

Thanks for tuning in this #Heistuesday! Last week we revealed some of our best kept game dev secrets. But a game is nothing without its graphics. And here to tell you more about how we create the imaginative art and characters of SteamWorld Heist is our very own guiding light of graphic design: Agnes Mikucka.

Julius: Hi Agnes! Tell us a bit about about yourself and your favourite games.

Agnes: Hi there! My friends call me Agnes. I’m an artist here at Image & Form. My main interests are arts, comics and creating self-published fanzines. My favorite games are the Fire Emblem and Legend of Zelda series as well as Final Fantasy VI.

J: What are your main responsibilities as a graphic artist on SteamWorld Heist?STEAMWORLD HEIST CONCEPT ART 4

A: I mostly do character concept art and then turn selected characters into in-game sprites. I’ll hopefully do some marketing artwork and illustrations later on in the project!

J: Do you have any other responsibilities at Image & Form?

A: I sometimes have the opportunity to create marketing artwork and comics for our games, and I’ve made all the employee portraits for our website.

J: From start to finish: What goes into creating a new steambot?

A: I first try to make up a background story for the character. It won’t necessarily be the official background story for it, but it helps me to sketch up some ideas and designs. I also gather a lot of different references to help me along the road. When I’m satisfied with a design, I open up Illustrator and start making it into an in-game sprite. A lot of changes happen during that process so I make sure I have a sketch book next to me, as I sketch to find better design solutions. There are times when I have to “kill my darling”, because the concept might be great and interesting but just won’t work as a sprite.

Captain Piper Concept Art – SteamWorld Heist

J: Do you have any influences?

A: Artwork from various games will always have an influence on me. For example, various Nintendo titles, early Final Fantasy, Suikoden, Ace Attorney and Mega Man. It’s hard to decide when it comes to artists since I discover new ones every day to be inspired from. Artists who still influence me greatly are Hayao Miyazaki, Akihiko Yoshida, Alphonse Mucha and J. C. Leyendecker. Quite the mix, don’t you think?

J: Yeah, totally! By the way, what’s the secret behind your creations?

A: Loads of tea, KitKats, my trusty unicorn mask and funny cat GIFs! Jokes aside… ah no… that was no joke. Great headphones, music and a peaceful working environment are also mandatory!

J: You have a background with writing/drawing comics and graphic novels. How does that benefit you in your work on video games?

A: It helps me with (as I mentioned above) creating a background story for a character that’s work in progress. There are times when I help out the team with creating storyboards or share ideas for the main plot. A few times I’ve been able to draw comics for our games. I hope to be able to join the story team one day, perhaps on the next project of ours.Those metal bangs are lovely!

J: Will we ever see an official SteamWorld cartoon?

A: Oh, who knows? A web comic would have been fun to see or perhaps even some fan-made ones! I’m a fan of 80s and 90s anime… I would have loved to see a SteamWorld cartoon created during that time.

J: The SteamWorld games are (until now) in a 2D perspective. Do you ever think we’ll see a 3D steambot running around in the future?

A: Hmm. I guess it depends on what kind of game we’re working on? I personally hope to stick to 2D as long as possible. There is something about 2D graphics that 3D simply can’t replace.

J: From a graphic artist’s perspective: What makes SteamWorld Heist a unique experience?

A: Compared to SteamWorld Dig, Heist is a much larger game that allows for more creative expression. We’re adding tons of fun and quirky characters, and we’re hoping the player will be able to connect with each and every one of them.

J: Awesome! Thanks for the chat, Agnes 😀


Feel free to ask Agnes any questions of your own in the comments below. If you enjoyed this interview, we’d be very grateful if you’d help it spread by e-mailing it to a friend, or sharing it on Twitter or Facebook. Thanks!

Game Dev Secrets You Probably Didn’t Know – #Heistuesday 17

Ulf Hartelius from Image & Form share his thoughts on developing SteamWorld Heist.

Today we’ll continue the series of SteamWorld Heist related interviews with a look at the technical aspects of making a game.

At a rather small game studio like Image & Form not every role is easily defined. We have lots to do in a relatively small team. And while we have people specializing in areas like art direction, programming and level design, we also have our fair share of chums gracefully wearing not one, but two or three hats.

This week I’ll introduce you to one of those team members: Ulf Hartelius. He’s skilfully juggling both programming and game design and is said to be indie enough to make all other indie devs look like Disney. So without further ado, let’s go!

Julius: Firstly could you introduce yourself, tell us a bit about what you are working on and what your favourite games are?

Ulf: Heya! I’m one of the coders and designers on SteamWorld Heist. On the wee hours when I’m not busy fiddling with that (actually or just mentally) I’m trying to learn Japanese, make small artsy games, and listen to a lot of music.

As for playing games, right now and for the foreseeable future I’m rocking out with the new Guilty Gear!

J: A lot of people are asking us about our development tools, what game engine are you using for SteamWorld Heist?

U: We’re using a custom-built thing that’s grown and evolved for almost as long as the company’s been around; from way before my time. Luckily it’s frequently given love, care, and a lot of trimming, so unlike some engines that have lived for more than one game it remains pretty manageable. And for those who wonder: it’s 100% C++.

J: What are the perks of creating a custom engine instead of using an existing one (like Unity or Unreal)?

U: The main perk is the Nintendo 3DS, I’d say. Neither Unity nor Unreal has any support for the 3DS, and even if they did there’s a big risk that the overhead such engines add would outdo any benefits. Having our own engine also allows us to make whatever changes we want without any middlemen, which is practical and fast. Of course, the flipside is that nothing happens with it when we’re busy with other stuff; like making game content.

Ulf working hard with coding and stuff.

Ulf working hard with coding and stuff.

J: Could you briefly describe a typical day as a programmer?

U: Most of my work is tied closely to either design or graphics, like implementing gameplay abilities or getting the user interface (buttons and stuff) to behave. So I often have a lot of close teamwork with other people, which is the coolest thing about making games: that you’re not working in a vacuum, but that your little cog becomes part of a greater steambot.

J: Is there a specific process for finding and eliminating nasty bugs?

U: Absolutely. For instance, say the game crashes whenever you shoot someone. That’s not the game’s way of telling you that it’s better to be nice; rather it’s definitely something going awry in the code handling shooting or dealing damage. That way, you can narrow it down. “Divide et impera”, like the Macedonians said.

J: Are the graphics applied to the code or is it the other way around?

U: It’s a collaboration, definitely. The artists make mockups and tests with just graphics, so they can get a feel for how they want it to look. We then discuss how we can bring that into the game, how much work it would take, and how players might react to it.

J: We haven’t revealed too much info on actual SteamWorld Heist gameplay. Without giving too much away, what’s the essence of what makes the game unique from a programmer’s point of view?

U: There are a lot of different systems working together, like shooting, managing the crew, creating the heist encounters, and of course ______ [REDACTED].

J: What’s the best part about your job?

U: Being able to work closely with a bunch of terrific individuals and to craft an experience that I believe gamers will enjoy a lot.

J: You rule, Ulf! 


What did you think of this more in-depth kind of interview? Ulf will be down in the comments section and do his best to answer any questions you might have. So ask away! 😀

Poor Rusty!

What’s Art Direction in Video Games? – #Heistuesday 16

Hello!

Last week we delved into the analytical mastermind of our programmer Tobias Lilja. Today we’re having a chat with SteamWorld Heist’s Art Director Tobias Nilsson. Yup, there are two of them. Mix-ups aside we’re happy to have 200% Tobias in the office. But let’s zoom in on Nilsson for a moment.

Julius: Hi and welcome Tobias! Please introduce yourself.

Tobias: Hi folks! I’m the Art Director at Image & Form Games. I live in Gothenburg with my wife and two kids. I’m into science fiction, old cars and to create and fix stuff.

J: Art Director, huh? What are your main responsibilities?

steamworld_heist_robot_concepts

T: Well, I lead the process of creating the graphics theme and style of the game together with our art team. During the development I make sure the style, and consistency of all art, animation and UI (user interface) elements match our goals for the game. During development I mostly do character design, environment art and animation.

J: Do you have any favorite types of games?

T: I like immersive story-driven games, survival games and sci-fi settings. Once in a while I play shooters and strategy games. One of my all-time favourites has to be Journey.

J: When faced with the challenge of creating a new art style for a game, how do you take it on?

T: It all depends on the platform and theme but ultimately comes down to what we like and our own personal styles. With a sequel like Heist, we had to consider the art style of SteamWorld Dig. We discussed it and made concept art of different styles, but we decided to evolve the existing direction to make our Dig fans feel at home.

J: What was your inspiration when setting the art style of SteamWorld?

T: SteamWorld Dig kind of set the style. The Dig universe and characters are inspired by steampunk, Spaghetti Western movies and games like Metal Slug and Day of the Tentacle. The vector art style is inspired by illustrations by Trevor van Meter. The game had to look good on the 3DS low-res screen, so we discussed making the game in a retro pixel art style. Finally we went with a straight line vector style, that still had some retro feel. It worked great on the 3DS and scaled great on HD screens.

At one time Rusty even had the bad habit of smoking...

J: Has the art direction evolved from SteamWorld Dig to SteamWorld Heist?

T: Yes, absolutely. The art in Heist is much more detailed. More focus on character art. We have a bigger art team now making that possible. The environment graphics are on a completely different level.

J: You’re working with quite a big team of talented artists. How do you make sure everyone follows your direction without them losing their own creative spark?

T: I look over their shoulders constantly (laughs). Seriously though, I usually make some concept mockups together with the team and we have regular meetings discussing changes or suggestions. I really try to encourage new ideas and designs as long as they’re in line with the overall style and goals with the game. Someone might come up with something great and we decide to implement it in the art style. It’s like taming this big evolving organism.

There's a new art style in town...

There’s a new art style in town…

J: What’s it like designing space settings and steam-driven spaceships?

T: Space is awesome and spaceships are awesome, so it’s awesome! Almost all of us is really into sci-fi stuff so the fact that SteamWorld Heist is set in space is really fun.

J: We’ve confirmed several platforms for SteamWorld Heist. Do you think the game will look the best in full HD 1080p on a big screen or in stereoscopic 3D on a 3DS?

T: The 3DS with stereoscopic 3D is really up close and immersive. With it we have to make sure every detail works, although many of the details are lost. HD is a graphic artist’s best friend, and worst enemy at the same time – everything you’ve created is there in plain sight. It’s interesting that the 3DS is still doing well, although there are so many other HD systems. It means we have to make graphics that work both in low and high resolutions, and believe me – it’s pretty tricky.

The art of SteamWorld Heist is VERY detailed.

The art of SteamWorld Heist is VERY detailed.

J: Community member Lover of steambots asks: “I’d really like to hear about how you create the spaceships in Heist … Do inspiration just strike you or do you plan it out? Are you given an idea of what the game designers need?”

T: The spaceships and backgrounds are inspired by old 1930’s submarines and aeroplanes mixed with late 1800’s tech. The characters’ abilities are defined by the game designers. We artists are pretty free to create what we like as long as it matches the overall style as well as character classes and abilities. We’ve come up with some pretty cool robots!

J: What’s the best part of your job?

T: Well, the worst part is pondering about if the game’s good enough, like “Could I have improved on this and that?”. The best part is I get to create games together with very talented people! Sometimes I have to pinch myself to see if it’s all just a dream.

J: Same here! Thanks for your time 😀

T: My pleasure! 🙂

Question: If you could work with Tobias for a day, what would you create/draw together with him?

Delve into the analytical mind of our game programmer Tobias Lilja

#Heistuesday 15: Coding Of The Heist – Meet A Game Programmer

Happy Heistuesday!

This week we’re starting a series of interviews with a number of people of the SteamWorld Heist crew. We’ll interview our artists, programmers, designers and many more! A few months ago I had a chat with Markus Månsson about his stellar work on level design. Today we’ll let you delve briefly into the analytical mastermind of one of our game programmers: Tobias Lilja.

Julius: Hi Tobias! Please introduce yourself to our readers.

Tobias: Of course! My name is Tobias Lilja. I’m a 27-year-old guy from the northern parts of Sweden. I’m married, have a dog, and I’m very much into space stuff. I like writing short stories but I’m also way too good at procrastinating .

J: Do you have any favorite types of games?

T: I like most games! I have a soft spot for strategy games but I have yet to play something really serious like Crusader Kings, so I stick to the likes of Civilization and Starcraft. Shadow of Mordor and Far Cry 4 were highlights for me last year. I also like adventure games, and am playing Telltale’s Game of Thrones game with my wife right now (Day of The Tentacle is my all-time favorite, though). My most played game on Steam is Kerbal Space Program, with 102 hours played.

The Image & Form Office Dog: Louie

Louie is Tobias’ trusty doggy friend and a regular visitor at Image & Form.

J: What is your role as a game programmer?

T: Planning, designing and implementing the design choices we make for SteamWorld Heist. I work with everyone else on our team when coordinating what should be done. I also work on adding features to the level editor we used for SteamWorld Dig, and now use for Heist.

J: What was the latest thing you worked on for SteamWorld Heist?

T: I’ve worked quite a bit with adding sound effects, recently. We have quite a solid sound system, so adding new sounds to play is simple. For adding footstep sounds when the characters walk around, I’ve modified the Python script (which we use for exporting animations from Blender) to support adding markers with text strings to individual frames. Now our animators can add markers to frames, which are then read into the game, so that sounds (like footsteps!) can be triggered by animations. I’m now working on importing these markers into the game and getting the sounds to play when the markers are hit.

J: Are there any challenges when programming a game?

T: Programming a game is nothing but challenges! It’s always about weighing different aspects against each other: performance, memory consumption, implementation time, etc. And as a programmer it’s very important to write code for your colleagues rather than for yourself. You know that in six months someone is going to look at the code you just wrote, scratch their head and wonder how you were thinking. It’s really important to make sure the code you write is concise and clear.

J: Cool! Thanks for the chat 😀

T: No problem! 🙂

Question: Who do you want us to interview next? Check out our “Meet the team” page and leave your suggestions in the comments below!

The merry and heart crew of SteamWorld Heist

#Heistuesday 14: Gabriel “Sea Brass” Stubb

In SteamWorld Heist you recruit a team of rag-tag robots and fight explosive battles while boarding enemy space ships. A few months ago we introduced Captain Piper Faraday, the protagonist of the game. Though strong in mind and body, Piper is nothing without her hearty crew. Today we’ll introduce Sea Brass, the first of the many crew members Piper will battle alongside with in SteamWorld Heist.

Gabriel "Sea Brass" Stubb

For Gabriel “Sea Brass” Stubb, the adventure is everything. His purpose of life is to live it and to taste experience to the utmost. He’s always reaching out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experiences. To him, a life without adventure is simply not worth living.

Far back during more peaceful times Sea Brass spent his days as a simple fishing robot. Fishing for whales, that is. You see,  whales carry huge ambergris reserves. One medium-sized whale can supply a wealthy family of five steambots with fancy joint lubrication for three years. As you can imagine they carry a hefty price.

Sea Brass wasn’t there for the money, but for the thrill of searching the oceans for the biggest beasts known to steambotkind. His only company during his hunts was in his son Toby. Toby was one frail ‘bot, but was ace when it came to preparing the harpoons for his dad. The two of them shared a happy life at sea for many years.

Those years suddenly came to an end the day the legendary white whale appeared before their ship. Sea Brass, thinking he’d never get a chance like this again, rushed to the harpoon cannon, aimed for the beast and fired a powerful shot. But attached to the end of the harpoon wire was Toby, who only seconds before the shot was trying to straighten out a devious tangle.

Sea Brass and Piper

Sea Brass joined forces with Captain Piper.

Toby flew away with the harpoon straight into the gaping mouth of the white whale. Neither of them have been seen since. Filled with anger and remorse Sea Brass searched for the white whale in hope of avenging his son. A few years later his travels came to an abrupt end, along with his dreams of revenge.

Being tormented with sorrow, anger and an everlasting itch for things remote, Sea Brass joined Captain Piper’s crew in hope of sailing new forbidden seas and setting foot on barbarous coasts.

Question: What do you think happened to the white whale? Is it still swimming around somewhere out there?

The steambots sure love their glögg!

#Heistuesday 13: SteamWorld Holiday Competition!

Howdy partners!

This week we’re all out of the office for a well-deserved year-end break. But we’re still working on SteamWorld Heist: before leaving, we updated our 3DS test units with the latest SteamWorld Heist build. Six of us will be home enjoying the game over the holidays.

Our dev team hard at work.

The game is actually working most of the time, and personally I must say it’s very fun to play (not that I’m biased or anything). We’re looking forward to sharing more gameplay footage and other spicy details next year.

As thanks for all of you being awesome we thought we’d host a small giveaway. The two winners will receive five SteamWorld Dig download keys on the platforms of their choice (mix and match freely), as well as a SteamWorld Heist t-shirt! The codes and t-shirts will be sent to the winners in January.

The rules are simple: Get in festive spirit by gazing upon this year’s beautiful Holiday Greeting Card by our artist @AgnesMikucka, and write a holiday poem/verse related to SteamWorld. Long, short, fun or serious doesn’t matter! You’re the Leonard Cohen of your holiday poem, so to speak. Be sure to submit your entry in the comments below before January 1st 2015!

The steambots of SteamWorld Heist sure like their glögg.

So from all of us at Image & Form: Happy Holidays! 

#Heistuesday 12: Saving The World with Video Games

Hi all,

We’re extra proud of today’s #Heistuesday, as the robots in SteamWorld Heist step up to fight HIV and AIDS.

…say what? Let’s explain: here in wintry Sweden, there’s an annual charity initiative called Musikhjälpen (“The Music Aid”) hosted by the Swedish public TV and radio broadcast service. It’s quite clever; a few famous musicians and TV & radio personalities shack up for 144 hours straight in a glass cage (quite spacious, mind you). Into this cage they invite musical artists to perform, as well as regular people and companies that come up with ideas on how to raise money for a fixed cause.

The main means for this fundraiser is having people call in and wish songs to be played throughout the event. Every song comes with a small fee, which is added to the total funds. This year, the cause was the battle against HIV and AIDS, with Mozambique as the targeted recipient for the efforts.

Musikhjalpen_2013_Glasburen

Last year’s event, in that most beautiful of cities: Gothenburg.

The event was a great success: they raised some 30 million Swedish Krona (SEK), which translates into roughly 3 million Euro, or 4 million US dollars. Musikhjälpen also teams up with Tradera, an auction site where all kinds of things and services are offered in the name of the cause.

And this is where Image & Form came in: we auctioned off a day of collaboration on SteamWorld Heist, where the highest bidder will help us shape steambot imagery that’ll appear somewhere in the game. Of course I’m delighted – HIV/AIDS isn’t a thing of the past. The spotlight has come and gone, but the need is as grave as ever. Last year 4,000 people died every day from AIDS, and the disease has claimed 36 million lives to date. It has to stop.

The auction turned into a dramatic bid fest that lasted until the very last minute of the auction. The winning bid came from Varberg, Sweden – not that far from Gothenburg, actually! It turned out that the bid is an elaborate Christmas present, so we cannot reveal the name of the winner yet.

Once Christmas Eve has come and gone, we’ll announce and welcome the winner to the office for a traditional 3 o’clock coffee with a brainstorming session to follow. We’ll make sure to show you how the lucky person’s steambot eventually turns out.

Question: If it were you, what would your steambot look like?