Kickbomb Entertainment PC/Mac/Linux 2016

Legacy of the Elder Star is a side-scrolling shoot-em-up with a twist: using a one-handed, mouse-driven control scheme, you’ll dodge and strike with 1:1 precision and unlimited movement speed. Evade intense bullet patterns in the blink of an eye, then dash through entire enemy squads to crush them in a single gesture. Movement is everything in Legacy of the Elder Star, and no other shoot ‘em up moves like this.

How to get it

Legacy of the Elder Star can be downloaded for free from itch.io and Steam.

The original soundtrack is available on Bandcamp:

Accolades

“Legacy of the Elder Star knocks it out of the park, retaining the retro charm of the genre without shackling itself to the past.” — GamerPros.co

“[The dash is] a great mechanic, that allows for a fresh new take on an age old genre and makes for an intense and thoroughly enjoyable shmup experience.” — Alpha Beta Gamer

“The game runs like heaven, and controls wonderfully.” — Enemy Slime

“Fans of the genre should definitely be checking this game out.” — True PC Gaming

Development overview

This was my first major indie title built for commercial release. It was entirely self-funded, self-directed, and self-published. I did all the design, programming, music, and UI, and worked with local artist Erik Exeter to produce the art style, game assets, and animations.

The game is built in Unity and shipped on Unity 5.4. I used 2D Toolkit for in-game sprites and UI, and Spine for character and environment animations. Steamworks.NET provided Steam API support with which I integrated leaderboards and achievements. I also wrote extensive custom utilities and editor extensions for object pooling, visual level scripting, sequencing effects, and mixing audio, among other things.

Throughout development I produced several trailers which I scripted, shot, edited, and scored, including the launch trailer shown above.

Lessons learned

This was my first completely independent commercial release, which meant I had to learn how to start and run a business: Kickbomb Entertainment. After a decade working for other people’s studios, it was extremely enlightening – and at times challenging – to see the view from the other side of the table. That business lasted four years, and while it’s now shuttered, it remains one of the proudest achievements of my professional life.

As it turns out, marketing is hard, and is a completely different skill set from development. I underestimated both the importance and difficulty of that aspect of the product development pipeline. I made mistakes and tried new things, and while ultimately the game’s market penetration still fell short of expectations, I came out the other side with a much clearer and more practical understanding of the state of the industry and how rapidly things have been changing.