**UPDATE: The below online versions are out of date. Either get the Chrome Web Store version, or play it here.
Get it from the Chrome Web Store: Click here
Five word summary: Nazis in Hell fighting demons.
Today’s the day I finally decided to release Subbania to the public. Countless times I wanted to drop the project and even give up game development entirely. Many frustrations came from unexpected bugs introduced in Chrome updates, poor testing of my old code that resulted in game-breaking bugs months down the road, and my own poor work ethic. It’s a game I should’ve finished a year ago, but I let it stew.
I’m glad I did.
Most of my greatest ideas were conceived in the last 4-5 months of production. If I’d given up and simply released it when I’d thought it merely felt “good enough”, the game would’ve lacked a cutscene system, most of its object interactions, many of its bosses and enemies, and the current plot. It would’ve lacked little graphical refinements and the soundtrack it has now. All of these came together in the last days and left me with a work that I’m not only satisfied with, but proud of.
So what’s the end result?
118 levels, 25 songs, around 20000 lines of code, so many enemies and entities that I’m not even going to bother counting them, and a few solid hours of content. I’d estimate that a typical playthrough will take a good 3-5 hours, with most leaning towards the longer side.
As for my frustrations that led me to consider quitting, what was the biggest? Chrome, probably.
Two-thirds of the way through development, a small update was released for Chrome. This update yielded one hell of a strange bug: if no wall tiles were visible, the game would slow down. Frustrating, yes, and my frustration was compounded by the fact that this slowdown would continue to worsen even after walls came into view. The only solution was to restart. The only “fix” was to plop small, essentially worthless walls in open spaces.
Problem solved, right? Not exactly. In rooms with no shadows enabled, this same error would occur. Obviously it was an issue with shadows not being cast off walls. The problem only existed when a function wasn’t being called, and this function’s sole purpose was to draw a polygon.
It gets worse: this issue only seemed to exist on my laptop, which was running OS X Lion at the time (which is a disaster in many other ways), and my desktop had zero issues entirely. Clearing out all browser-related data did nothing to fix it, and the only full solution was installing Mountain Lion, which unexpectedly fixed everything. If anybody out there is still running Lion, then I’m sorry—any slowdown can safely be pushed onto Apple.
Yet another annoyance from Google, but mostly a consequence of my own negligence, was discovering that Chrome store apps need to be packed into 10 MB zips. Subbania was 90 MB of content at the dawn of my realization, resulting in an assload of fat being trimmed by compressing my audio all to hell. As somewhat of an audiophile it pained me, but it was the only way to cut size without cutting content. Simply converting my MP3s to OGG of similar quality reduced my file size by about 40%. Still, this clearly wasn’t enough and I had to settle for Q1 for most files, and Q0 for a small number of larger files that didn’t have any majorly audible drop in fidelity.
In the end, I managed to pack all of my assets into a 13.5 MB folder. I feared the worst—cutting content. The music couldn’t be compressed any further and nothing else could possibly be shrunk.
Then I zipped up the folder.
9.8 MB. Disaster narrowly avoided.
My only remaining hope is that no major update with game-breaking “features” is released immediately before or after Subbania, killing it at launch.
Now, why am I asking for money for “just” a browser-based game? Because it’s more than “just” a browser game. It’s a full game that happens to be played through a browser. HTML5 up to this point has been nothing but Pacman clones and 40 second minigames made to test the technology. I want to push this with games that have a little more meat and story. Just thirty minutes would be a pretty damn good length for any browser-based game. Subbania is eight times that.
So here’s my game. It started as a simple test of HTML5 tech back around June of 2010. By July it was decided that it’d be a short, simple game about pirates with a submarine. Around November was when I decided that it’d be a game about Nazis in Hell, and now, over two years since I started, it’s a full adventure with more content than any other native HTML5 game I know of.
Since I’m sure players would like to know what they’re getting, here’s a more thorough description: Subbania’s an action-adventure game with a considerable degree of focus on exploring and dialogue between characters. The player comes to face countless demons, many aggressive, some with mitigating backstories, and some who only want the player to succeed. The player takes up the role of a Nazi captain and his crew assigned a mission to lead a silent invasion against the American fleet on the east coast.
I’m shit at describing my own work, so just watch the video or play it. 30 seconds of video says more than a dozen paragraphs ever could. It’s a game with shooting, Nazis, Hell, some light puzzle solving—not a brain-busting overabundance of “How the hell was I supposed to figure that out?” puzzles that most indie games these days have—and loads of action and bosses with some dialogue in between to make you want to play even more. If this sounds like your kind of game, then it’s probably worth the price or more.