Transition to full release

Today marks a major milestone for us: today we pulled the trigger on the transition to full release!

oh-hero-image

It’s been a long (but fun) couple of years, full of experimentation and learning. While we’re sad to see it come to an end, we know this is just the start of something much bigger!

Thanks to all who supported us during Early Access, and watch this space for news about our upcoming games!

To celebrate the full release, we’re offering a week-long launch discount of 25% off the base game and OST, and 35% off the Deluxe Edition.

Visual updates: Spicing up the graphics for full release

Hey all, Ricardo over here. In this post I’m going to showcase some of the updates we’ve made to the visuals of the game in the last few weeks while we gear up for full release.

After releasing Operation Hardcore as Early Access a few months back, development focused fixing bugs and tweaking the game mechanics, while also making adjustments to enemy placement and stats to improve the difficulty curve of the game. After most critical bugs were fixed and the difficulty of the game felt right, we moved on to apply some much needed coats of polish to the game’s visuals.

Since I joined the development of the project, I’ve made updates to the assets used, which were made by different artists and also obtained from royalty free/open art repositories, such as OpenGameArt.org. To enrich the visuals and give the game more personality, I also made custom assets from scratch, and thus, as we development moved along, it became clear there needed to be a global revision of the assets to make them as cohesive as possible. Stuff like color palettes, textures and details, player sprites, readability of sprites against background art, among others.

So basically we worked with a top-down approach, by iterating on the assets for each level of the game, starting from the first one. The idea was to improve the game’s visual appeal, make the world seem cohesive and spice up the colors as much as possible while keeping the dark ambience and mood of the game.

Here are some before and after screens of the game showcasing the updates to the visuals for the first three levels:

As you can see in the gallery above, we’ve improved the assets in different ways: Color palettes were tweaked across all levels, lighting improvements were made, both baked directly in the sprites/tilesheets and in engine, tilsesheets were mostly redone and additional tiles were created for each level to add details and variations (cracks in the stone, dents, pattern variations, etc.). Some new props were made to beef up the visuals. It’s a good way to add variety and personality to each level and make them stand out more.

We are thrilled to be nearing the end of the Early Access phase for OH and we’re going to be sharing some additional information about the final release date.

We’re looking really forward to full release and having people enjoy our game.

Thanks for reading this update!

Ricardo

Early Access

Hey all, Snug here with some big news! After much contemplation, Ricardo and I have decided to release the game in Early Access initially.

“Why?” you ask. “Isn’t the game mostly done?”. Well, yes it is, and that’s exactly why we’ve decided to pursue Early Access:

We’re at a point where we feel the game is “good enough” to release, but we don’t want to release something that’s just “good enough”, we want to release something that’s GREAT!

So, this left us with two options:

  • Release the game as it is, with minimal opportunity to improve it down the road (there are just some things that we wouldn’t feel right about tweaking after full release, such as level designs)
  • Delay the game further

We didn’t really like either of these options.

Enter Early Access.

We feel that by going this route we can maximize our chance of making something great: we’re able to get it in the hands of more players sooner, and we’re able to actually respond/react to the feedback we receive and make changes to the game accordingly. The fact that the game is already stable is a win: you’re not buying a prototype, you’re buying a nearly full game, along with the chance to help take it to the next level.

So here’s the plan:

  • We’re going to drop the price by $2 USD for Early Access (so, $5.99 USD)
  • Those who participate in Early Access will also receive a copy of the soundtrack (which will be available prior to full release)
  • We intend to build and foster an active community during the Early Access period (likely ~2 months). We will be using Slack for internal dev chat and will be opening it up to those who are interested in being more actively involved in shaping the game.
  • We will also watch the community (reviews, discussions, etc.) very actively during this period

We hope to have the game live in Early Access within a week or two, so watch this space for another announcement.

Thanks for your interest in Operation Hardcore, we look forward to working together to make something great 🙂

PC release date and details

Hey all, Snug here!

I just wanted to take a moment to share our current thinking around release date and details.

We had originally hoped to release by the end of 2015, but when push came to shove we just didn’t feel the game was quite ready for prime time. As you can likely tell from the latest batch of screenshots and video, it’s “almost” done, but what’s left are all the fiddly little details that are needed to really polish it and present it as a professional product. Stuff like:

  • mastering of audio: this is also necessary for the OST, which we plan to release at the same time
  • bug fixes: not only game-breaking stuff, but also some nit-picky things that don’t quite meet our own quality standards
  • usability stuff like ensuring the game handles as many different gamepads as possible, gracefully handles gamepads being disconnected, etc.
  • etc. etc. etc.

It adds up fast–a little bit faster than we had anticipated–and because of this we’ve had to drop a couple things from the initial launch feature set, most notably:

  • death match mode
  • leaderboards

The reason we chose to drop deathmatch is because it was always just an “extra” or “add-on” in our minds, so it never received as much attention as the main game.  After some deliberation we agreed it would be unwise to spend time on something secondary, potentially risking the quality of the main game experience in the process.

That said, there are already a few deathmatch maps implemented, and we plan to make these available via a beta branch shortly after launch. (While we’re not doing “Early access” for the main game, we hope to implement new features in the spirit of early access: by sharing our ideas, getting feedback, iterating on what works, dropping what doesn’t.)

With respect to leaderboards, these are not difficult to implement per se, but we felt it would be prudent to let the game “normalize” a bit before implementing. Specifically, if there’s a need to tweak any level designs or mechanics whatsoever then this would negate existing leaderboard standings and lead to possible frustration.

In other words, you can expect leaderboards to be added via a patch relatively soon after launch.

So in terms of a release date: even with these changes we’d estimate there’s about 2 months left to get things in good order. This is just a best guess, of course, and many things can change between now and then, but we’ll do everything we can to try to stick to this schedule.

By the way, thanks to all of those of you who have followed or wish-listed the game on Steam! It means a lot to us, and gives us a pretty good idea as to the level of interest in the game!

If you have any questions about the game at all feel free to start a discussion in the Steam community.

Thanks and more to come,
Adam / the OH team

We’ve been Greenlit!

This afternoon as I was plugging away at something when I happened to peer over at my e-mail for a moment, only to be greeted by a fairly nondescript looking message:

Greenlit

😐

At first I thought it was a mistake. I mean we’d only been on Greenlight for all of 46 days, and although we saw a pretty steep spike in visits and “yes” votes on our first few days Greenlight, things had really slowed down. In fact, we were just ramping up for a long marketing and promotion slog; everything I’d read suggested that we would need to make it to the top 100 to even be considered, and we still had a looong way to go.

Well, all of that became irrelevant in an instant! And while we’ll never really know what factors contributed to us being Greenlit so quickly, Ricardo and I speculate it may be due to:

  • having a playable demo (rather than solely videos/images/etc., which can easily be faked/doctored)
  • having a website and social media presence (albeit a modest one)

In any case, we’re quite grateful to Steam for giving us this opportunity, and to everyone who voted or commented on Greenlight. We can’t overstate what a huge milestone this is for us–not only for the game, but also to us personally!

And though we still have a ways to go, this milestone will no doubt give us an insane amount of motivation and energy to help us see this thing through to completion. We won’t let you down! 🙂

Operation Hardcore is hard. And we’re not sorry.

When I was a kid I smashed an NES controller. And I mean smashed it real good. It was absolute toast when I was done with it. I don’t even remember why I did it. MegaMan, maybe?

The point is that some games are hard. Some games are really hard. And some games make you want to smash controllers.

We think Operation Hardcore is just a few steps away from “controller smashing” hard, and we think that’s a good thing.

A testament to this: the folks over at Gone With The Win were nice enough to give the demo a spin and share their thoughts. They had a few choice words with respect to the difficultly.

“no chance in hell”
“unexplainably hard”

In some ways, this is hard to swallow–we want people to have fun with it, of course. In other ways, we couldn’t be happier!

When we started making Operation Hardcore we set out to make a game that captured the essence of classic action games of the NES era: no hand-holding, no second chances, no quick-saving, etc.

We want the satisfaction to come from mastery. From knowing the controls, the levels, and the “traps” inside and out. (knowing the location of the hidden spread gun in level 2 also helps)

We think we’re close. Have we gone too far? Is it too unforgiving? Too unfair? Ricardo and I, as well as the play-testers, say no. But we’d love to hear what you think!

 

Public demo available now

Snug here! Ricardo and I are beyond excited–you might say exuberant–to announce that the first public demo of Operation Hardcore is available now!

We’re not going to go into some big long spiel about the many hours of bleeding, sweating and crying that went into this thing. We’re just going to keep it simple and say: we hope you enjoy!

Without further ado:

Download demo!

If you do enjoy the demo please vote for us Steam Greenlight and consider pre-ordering to help offset our development costs.

Thanks for your support, and stay hardcore!