Indie Interviews: Speed Limit (Gamescom)

Speed Limit is an homage to the action movies and arcade games of the 1980s, and it’s one of the many remarkable games that are taking part in this year’s digital Gamescom. You can grab a free demo for the game through its Steam page already, but we decided to check in with the developers at Gamechuck to find out more about this action-packed retro indie.

What inspired the creation of Speed Limit?

Igor Kolar, our creative director and co-founder of Gamechuck, wanted to create a modern mashup of his favorite arcade games – Afterburner, Hang On, Metal Slug, Spy Hunter… He prototyped one level of the game and showcased it on the local game festival Reboot infoGamer 2017, alongside the custom-built arcade cabinet. Both were well-received by the public and the local press, so he continued to work on them. Yes, we have a line of arcade cabinet in the works too – Gamechuck Arcades

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What makes this game unique?

Every two levels of the game the player will have a perspective and gameplay shift and thus enjoy a completely different experience – from side-scrolling to top-down to fake-3d and many more. In addition to mixing various arcade genres and gameplay perspectives in one, continuous experience, Speed Limit is an incredibly tight platforming / shooting game. You have very little time to think about your surroundings and plan for action. Instead, Speed Limit throws a series of hurdles towards you, to which you have to respond very quickly. It is very much a skill-based game that will put your reflexes to the test. To make things more difficult, checkpoints are sparse and the game features instant death-combat. If someone shoots you in the head, it’s game over. So basically, we took the most difficult elements from both the old and the new, retro-styled games and put them together for the ultimate challenge.

How did you settle on a look and feel for the game with all these different gameplay styles?

Igor drafted moodboards for each level pretty early on, that is, three years ago. He also drew and animated all levels and a big chunk of enemies and objects in the concept phase. However, the development did not start until last year when we secured funds and gathered the team. We found a great pixel artist and started detailing and animating every level step-by-step. We always knew that we wanted to make this game in an old-school style, so everything you see in the game is hand-drawn and hand-animated. We used no modern shortcuts, such as tweening or skeleton-animations. Also, the code is all made in the way old games were made (e.g. the fake-3d levels feature an old-school fake-3d rendering method instead of just using modern 3d perspective). You can check out more about our process in a series of short devlogs we made about the game:

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What can you tell us about the team that’s been working on the game?

Apart from Igor Kolar, who is the lead game designer, there is also Jurica Cvetko, a pixel artist enthusiast who has previously worked on many pixel-art gamejams. Jan Juračić is the level designer, he actually drafted the game design for the highway levels by making the highway blueprints in CAD software. Vanja Karanović, Karlo Koščal and Sara Pranjić were in charge of the development of the game in GameMaker Studio, while Matija Malatestinić does the sound design and composes tracks. As was the case with the art and code, Matija did not take any shortcuts and made the sounds and music for the game with a microphone and a combination of analog and digital synthesizers. Apart from the development team, there is also Igor Gajić, our community manager who churns out our daily tweets and posts, while I (Lucija) do PR and biz dev related jobs, such as this interview!

What have been some of the more interesting challenges during the development process?

The biggest challenge was making each level great on its own within the small timeframe we had, so the process of developing this game was more akin to making 6 different games than one. The later levels with strange perspectives were most interesting programmatically. For example, in the plane level we used a 4D coordinate system: the angle in the cylinder, the vertical offset of the cylinder’s center point, the distance from the camera and radius from the center of the screen, and then rendered it on-screen for the weird and awesome front-view perspective.

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2020 has been bizarre, to say the least – did this affect your development process?

Yes, it has definitely affected our development process. We just released a demo before our country (Croatia) went into total lockdown, so on the one hand there were a lot of active players on Steam, but on the other we had to completely re-organize our work processes because everyone was now working remotely instead of being in the office. It didn’t take that much time to get accustomed to it because we were previously communicating via Discord about game dev tasks, but what really impacted us was that, shortly after the lockdown, the Croatian capital Zagreb, where most of us live, was hit by a 5.5 earthquake, the strongest earthquake in 140 years in this area, so our mental reflexes were highly put to the test in that period. Fortunately, the development of Speed Limit is now nearing its end, and we’re mostly in the playtesting phase now.

When the game releases, what do you hope people will take away from the experience?

The sheer joy of accomplishment and the burning desire to repeat it all again, but on a higher difficulty mode.

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