Rhythm Storm

Rhythm Storm

 This topic has been pinned, so it's probably important
Radiangames  [developer] Feb 14 @ 3:57pm
Rhythm Storm F.A.Q.
Just wanted to post some answers to some questions I've seen or expect to get asked a lot. If you have a question I didn't answer, just ask away.


A: No. I've been making twin-stick shooters since 2005 on my own (when I still worked at Volition), and I started releasing my own games as Radiangames in 2010, but I've never worked on a Geometry Wars game. The background grid in Rhythm Storm was inspired by Geometry Wars games, with Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved having the objectively best grid of all the GW games.

As far as aesthetic influences go, TRON: Legacy was the reference point I kept coming back to above everything else, both for visuals and audio. String Theory by Chris Jones was also a big influence for the intro sequence. I'll post a behind-the-scenes video sometime showing the evolution of the visuals, as I captured some footage of the game every so often. I knew it would be an iterative process I'd probably enjoy looking back on (and want to share eventually).


A: Rhythm Storm started as an evolution of Devastator code-wise, and the art style is based on Devastator, but it's definitely a separate thing. All the art is re-done (and better), and is now vector-based instead of converted to PNGs and rendered as sprites. The same is true of sound, which is 99% new, as is the UI, and gameplay code is more new than not. In retrospect, Devastator also moves too fast, and there are 0 upgrades in Devastator (Rhythm Storm has ~250 if you count ones not in the demo). The Devastator vehicle is in Rhythm Storm, but it's just one of many, and has numerous ways to customize/upgrade it. Rhythm Storm is also not a twin-stick shooter, as the vehicles auto-aim and fire (some vehicles don't have a turret).


A: No. The turret aims and fires weapons automatically. You control movement, an ability (unlimited), and a power (uses energy, which you collect from enemies). I'm not saying there will never be a difficulty/mode/vehicle that has TSS controls, but the game has been designed/balanced with automatic turret aiming, and I find the game a lot less tiring to play for long sessions, which is important for this kind of game. There is one vehicle in the demo that is more skill-driven than the others, but it's the one that doesn't have a turret or need to fire it's weapons to succeed (the 3rd vehicle, Scorcher).


A: In the most basic respect, yes. I have good reasons for making this game, and I'm trying my best to make it stand out and be more than a clone. This is something I probably think about too much, but here we go...

In 2010 (aka 13 years ago), I made JoyJoy as my first solo released solo project on XBLIG. It was a twin-stick arena shooter, and had 6 upgradeable weapons and other upgrades. Later that year I made Inferno, a twin-stick shooter similar to Gauntlet but with upgrades. Then Crossfire 2 was another shooter with an extensive upgrade system. Ballistic (early 2011) was another TSS with a fairly extensive upgrade system (every 5 waves). So making shooters with lots of upgrades is something I've done a lot.

In late 2020/early 2021, I re-worked a previous game, Devastator, into a more polished and enjoyable console/PC version. Near the middle of development, I considered making the game have an extensive upgrade system, but decided I didn't want to make it into "Devastator UPGRADES". I finished the game and was proud of it, but in retrospect, the gameplay speed was simply too fast, and I never figured out which of the 3 game modes was the MAIN mode, so they all were good but not great. The gameplay had lots of cool little twists/quirks you could use to get really good at the game, but they were too obscure for most people to notice. I didn't expect the game to sell well (it didn't), but it was partly because the game was a bit too old-school in it's high-score and high learning curve gameplay.

In the summer of 2022, I was having some troubles working on Instruments of Destruction consistently, particularly while doing some tedious level editor tasks. I was making progress, but when I needed a break I was looking at future projects. Most of the future projects were roguelike twin-stick shooters, and I was writing down ideas for how to do a twin-stick shooter with roguelike elements. I started watching YouTube channels for ideas, and that's when I discovered that Vampire Survivors was a "thing" (over 6 months late, I know).

After a week or so I decided to just take Devastator and make a VS-like mode in it for fun. I'd regretted not doing a Binding of Isaac-like game when it was a relatively fresh idea. I didn't want to regret not doing a VS-like game while it was still pretty new. At that time, I didn't realize that EVERYONE else was also already doing the same thing. But competition doesn't really bother me, it motivates me, so I just kept going with development when I figured that out.

I also used the opportunity to port the particle system from Instruments of Destruction to 2D and utilize the power of GPUs, which was sometimes just as much as fun as working on the gameplay itself. I love having millions of particles to work with, and unleashing tons of them is something that always makes me happy. Anyway, as I worked more on the project, it just evolved naturally (mostly, see the next section) into what you see today. I ended up doing more new/unique stuff than I expected, such as rhythmic gameplay and the all-new vector graphics pipeline, and I spent a week or so on the 15 second intro sequence (worth it). And if someone tells you working on an extensive upgrade system is easy--one of the core features of any roguelike game--they are wrong. It is a lot of work.

What was the question again? Yes, Rhythm Storm has some similarities to VS, and wouldn't exist without VS becoming popular. I'm ok with that, because this is the best 2D action/arcade game I've ever worked on, it's really fun to work on and test, and I can't wait to add more stuff (weapons, vehicles, upgrades, etc) to it.

[And it's also helped me figure out what I'm doing with Instruments of Destruction for the next 6 months.]


A: Not really, no. I tried many levels/variations/controls/whatever you want to call of making it a rhythm game. It was very difficult to make it feel "fun" when the player had to move or push buttons to the beat. The problem wasn't that it didn't feel good when you did it right, it just felt worse when you missed the beat timing. I struggled with this issue for a while and tried many different kinds of gameplay balancing (good timing vs. not), but I kept coming back to it being more fun when the game didn't care what you did (timing-wise). The rest of the world/game felt better with music-synced movement/actions/etc than without, so I was conflicted.

I didn't feel comfortable making the final decision until I re-discovered Just Shapes & Beats while looking up other music games on YouTube. Once I saw the gameplay for that (a game I'd seen before but never played), I realized it was ok to have the player un-synced while everything else was synced. From that point on I've just been focused on making the best not-quite-a-rhythm game that I could.


A: Not in the demo, but the full-game will have tools made available to allow you to make custom meta-data for new songs, and chain songs together. I don't know how custom campaigns will be distributed though. It's very easy for me to add new music to the game currently, and create all the wave event/spawning data, and the data format is pretty simple to edit.


A: I don't multi-task, so I guess I never technically work on them at the same time. I wake up early (5-6AM) every morning and just walk downstairs to my basement office. Between the early mornings (up to 2 hours of morning time every day) and working about 8.5-9 hour regular work days, I work 55-60 hours a week. I don't consider this crunching, as I'd rather do what I enjoy the most in my free time, and what I enjoy most is making games. I don't work most evenings after 6PM, and not much on the weekends unless there's a really good reason. There are some weeks I'm less into work so I just work less (40-50 hours), and I still take breaks for family vacations/etc.

Working on multiple projects helps prevent me from getting burnt out. I used to get burnt out and would end up wasting time doing non-work stuff (YouTube, Hearthstone, Twitter, reading about sports, etc) while struggling to be productive. Now when I get tired of something, I stop working on it and work on a different project. Still getting close to the same amount of work done on Instruments as I was last spring/summer, but now I'm getting a 2nd project done at the same time.


A: It will be in a Next Fest closer to the release date. This is just the first (alpha) demo.
The demo will be updated significantly when it's in Steam Next Fest, with new vehicles being the most likely significant change. It may use a different song as well (too far away to know details).


A: I put Q4 2023 as the release date, but I really have no idea. The game will need a lot of balancing, so maybe Early Access makes sense, but in terms of how I feel about the overall direction/features, I know pretty much what I want in the game. For content I expect to add a lot more "currently unknown" upgrades/vehicles/bosses/etc, but none of that should change the overall scope.


A: Yeah, it'll come to Xbox Series S/X and PS5. Older consoles I'm not as sure. It has full controller support already. It could use a little controller remapping, but with only 2 action buttons it's not a high priority (both actions are already mapped 3x on a controller).


A: As of the demo, it works on SteamDeck, but I've heard it runs around 30FPS. I'll probably need to get one to figure out why (and speed it up).
Last edited by Radiangames; Feb 19 @ 10:19am
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Tidbit of feedback: I love the blue and orange but its ever so nice when the reds pop in, hope we see a few more colours occasionally too. Tron Legacy was nice but OG Tron was gorgeous too. Hoping that you design some bike enemies that leave trails you can crash into...
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