Released: Traitor

PLAY AT NEWGROUNDS

My latest game, Traitor, has just been released. It’s a casual shoot’em up set in a universe not quite like ours. The music, which rocks, is by Chris Davis.

Some thoughts about the game itself:

Traitor is what you might call a casual game. Its focus is on that simplest of formulas: do a mission, upgrade your ship, do more missions, upgrade again. It has this gameplay because I enjoy this gameplay. Not because I think it’s all that games should be, but because it’s one form of gameplay I genuinely enjoy. Some people may find this doesn’t fit with their idea of the indie ethos – Traitor doesn’t innovate. Or at least it doesn’t innovate in terms of gameplay. It’s not some mindbending, chaotic bullet hell game, it’s not the-shooter-as-visual-art. It uses a fairly common formula, because I like that formula.

But if I like that formula, I dislike what so many games do with it, or rather what they don’t do with it. I like spending a couple of hours upgrading my ship and blowing stuff up while collecting achievements, but I don’t like it when there is no meaningful context to this gameplay. Perhaps it’s the same reason I love strategy games but chess doesn’t really do it for me: I like narrative, even if it’s only worldbuilding. And that’s where Traitor is different from many similar games, at least to me personally. There’s a world in this game. There are themes and ideas; you may be doing the same old missions, but you’re doing for them for different reasons.

I might elaborate further on how I designed this game at a later date. For now, the Aventinus Complex awaits.

[My very special thanks to: Tom Fulp of Newgrounds for sponsoring the game, Mike Welsh of Newgrounds for helping with API stuff, Jonathan Chung and Cole Forrester at Stencyl for helping me prepare it for publication, and Richard Perrin for taking the time to help me track down a bug. I’m very grateful to you all. And my thanks to everyone who playtested the game for me, especially Verena, who is by now probably sick of seeing it.]

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16 Comments

  1. Damn, I have to clean up this victim and complete an outline. I suppose this will have to wait until later.

    I LOOK FORWARD TO IT

  2. Okay, I’m impressed. This is pretty brilliant and frankly the first shmup I’ve ever played to sport an amazing plot. Excellent work Jonas!

    Oh, and it did run fine on Firefox too… Go figure…

  3. Jonas, from a technical perspective I would love to see some details on what the Firefox bug ended up being.

  4. James Patton

     /  March 22, 2012

    I had an absolute blast playing this. The plot is much more thought-provoking than any other Shmup plot that I know of and, to be honest, most videogames full stop. Mission 3 was an absolute joy. And I love how there are even some missions you can do for no pay, just because you think it’s the right thing to do. Yes, you get rewarded afterwards with tech, but I didn’t really expect that.

    Even though there is a bit of a difficulty lull halfway through the game because of all the upgrades you can get, I found that quite reassuring. A lot of missions that were really difficult when I first tried them turned out to be blissfully simple when I came back with an upgraded ship. Some people might say that’s a downside, but I think it plays powerfully into the plot: you *were* an exile and a nobody, but now you’re a freedom fighter, and that’s reflected in the gameplay. And then, towards the end, you meet some really ugly ships that hike up the difficulty again anyway.

    I played this on firefox and the keys stuck once, but it wasn’t really a problem. It also froze for me in one of later missions, which was a bit sad, but I really enjoyed what I played (which must have been 90% of the game).

    And the art! Oh, the art. How on *earth* did you get that grid effect? Did it takes ages to do each ship? It’s such a unique and effective aesthetic!

  5. I played 15-20 minutes last night. Reloaded the Newgrounds page to make sure I could load my game (It worked). Now this morning when I click the “Load Game” button it does nothing?

    Hopefully this doesn’t ruin my chances of playing more of the game. Just wanted to report this to you in case there’s a reason this happened.

  6. I *think* this happened because I uploaded a new .swf file this morning, and may have accidentally slightly varied the name of the file. A couple of other people reported the same. I certainly hope saving and loading isn’t broken, because it worked fine so far.

  7. Must be it. The game forgot my save from last night so I started over and now it’s working perfectly. But Adam’s right about his first comment: now I’m curious about what was that nasty Firefox bug you solved.

  8. James Patton

     /  March 23, 2012

    Just to help with the saving/loading bug: I played some last night, went to bed, and when I clicked “load” this morning it didn’t work. Starting from scratch, I played for several hours, then it froze in a late-game mission. Playing it now, I can click load and it loads to right before that same mission, so it looks like it could well have been that upload late last night that caused problems.

  9. best fun i’ve had with a computer game since i was properly a kid

  10. Always a pleasure to see you have a new title out, and as always, I’ve submitted it to Mobygames as quickly as I could.

    From the looks of things, Stencyl exports to iOS devices also — any chance we’ll be seeing an iPhone version of this game?

  11. The problem is that I can’t afford an iDevice, so I can’t even imagine whether that would be possible design-wise. I certainly wouldn’t object to it in principle.

  12. The iDevice thing is easily solvable and porting code from flash to ios on Stencyl is pretty easy, but the controls would need rather dramatic changes and, if you thought Stencyl was buggy in flash mode, wait till you try to play your game on an iPhone.

  13. Frozeni

     /  March 24, 2012

    I had a blast playing this.

    I especially like the story.. as you choose to become a rebel and fight for the ones who deserve the help.. leading to so many great ecounters.

    Thank you, again for making this :)

  14. lin

     /  March 26, 2012

    Excitedly popping in during second play:

    Am I right in having noticed that there are changes in the game if you do shoot down the med supply carriers? I’d swear I didn’t see some of those messages before, and now I can’t help wondering what those planets had on them before! Oi, I’m gonna re-restart, aren’t I?

    On second thought, just the fact that I’m wondering is devious enough by itself. What an awesome little touch. And there are so many of them in there, just little touches that make such a difference, that make this game thoughtful and thought provoking without sacrificing the entertainment factor one bit.

    Oh and yeah. Second play through. First one played with boyfriend because I don’t do shooters. Or thought I didn’t. Cause I’m not good at them. Or thought I wasn’t. Guess I was wrong. So let me rephrase that: I only do interesting shooters, with a story, the ones that are comfortingly repetitive without being boring, and those that don’t presuppose I have the reflexes of a 15 year old boy. Which so far in my gaming years means I do THIS shooter. This is the first one I’ve ever really bothered with, and I play ALOT.

    Of course I couldn’t help wondering if the gameplay is too easy for people without my inhibition with reflex based games. Then again my boyfriend has no such inhibitions and enjoyed playing it to the end. He rushed through many missions without worrying about which upgrade to get and rarely gave up on missions, so it was definitely easier for him while I’m playing it much more carefully, but yeah. He didn’t get bored, and I didn’t get bored watching him play it, which is oddly indicative of the fact that it’s both gorgeous and entertainingly interesting.

    I’m excited Jonas, this is an awesome game. I love everything, the gameplay, the exploration elements, the upgrades, the mining and scanning little touches, great stuff. The graphics are gorgeous in their simplicity, the music fits like a glove and the story is of Jonas calibre.

    So yeah, you’re good. Really. Pat yourself in the back. The pacing was unnecessary after all it seems, but it’s always entertaining to irritate the resident feline. I’m now gonna go irritate the birds some, with more annoying shooting sounds.

  15. *glows*

    Yeah, there are some small changes if you do shoot down the transports. Since the medical supplies never get to Occator Prime, the people there die.

  1. Traitor by Jonas Kyratzes | Games That Exist