Traitor around the Web

I’m somewhat surprised to see Traitor getting quite a bit of attention. I think I’d been sitting on it for so long that I’d allowed my frustration to take over so much that I was convinced everyone was going to hate it, especially the people who liked my previous games. I’ve made some eccentric and/or ambitious games over the years, but somehow Traitor – despite being fairly straightforward – was pretty far outside my comfort zone. I also have to say that making a shooter in Flash isn’t the easiest of tasks, even with the very helpful tool that is Stencyl.

Anyway, here are some links!

My favourite of all these reviews, however, is the one by Games That Exist. Games That Exist is a relatively new blog, but I’ve really admired every article it’s published so far, and the one about Traitor hits the nail on the head in terms of my intention:

Reinventing the wheel isn’t always necessary when it comes to providing something fresh. In many cases, all you need to reinvigorate a proven formula is a shift in focus . Traitor is a shoot’em up that doesn’t throw excessive hordes of enemies and explosions at you. It doesn’t let you shoot a million bullets per second. What it does provide is context for what you’re shooting at and a carefully conceived universe. Nothing gets me excited about shooting stuff like the prospect of overthrowing a tyrannical empire. A funny thing about context in shoot’em ups: when it’s not there, you might not miss it so much, but when it’s there, it makes all the difference.

That’s pretty much a perfect a summary of what I was striving, in my own clumsy little way, to accomplish: context. Because I believe that context matters so very much, and it’s something too many games aren’t doing properly (or at all). There are so many games that impress me with the brilliance of their design and the power of their engines, but fail to make me care. I’ve played so many games that were great fun, but where I felt that they could be so much better if only the setting was more than wallpaper. That’s one reason I stayed away from more complex “storytelling scenes” in Traitor. I know I can do those, and do them well (judging from the response to my Lands of Dream games). I wanted to use the simplest tools available – just mission descriptions and place names – to create a world-based narrative with interesting themes and ideas.

I’m very much aware that despite my best efforts, Traitor still has many flaws, both in its design and its execution. Where games like The Fabulous Screech forced me to go beyond what I’m used to emotionally (and man was that game hard to write), Traitor was a far more technical challenge, and I’m not as good at those as other people are. But I’m really glad that despite these flaws, the game has managed to grip people. I always intended for this game to have a sequel, after all, and revolutions can be complicated affairs.

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8 Comments

  1. vanlock

     /  March 24, 2012

    I haven’t finished Traitor at all for now, but I really enjoy it, although there’s some strange lag in the mission menus for example.
    Might be the firefox issue you mention on the newsground page.

    Anyway this is a nice work, and what jumped at me after the end of the “introduction” was the realization that those mindfields and story context for missions really reminded of Tyrian. And I didn’t see any mention of that on the RPS page for example.

    So man holy hell! I would be dreaming if Tyrian had the same mission hub / Galaxy system as your game !!!

    As Tyrian is quite opensource nowadays and can run pretty well without dosbox I think, would you think about changing the linear story mode into the same thing you’ve done in Traitor ? 😀

    Or simply take all the inspiration you want from Tyrian (maybe you could use the music, i’m not the only one to have grown up with it) and make something similar to it ?

    Similar in the art department and upgrade system for example.

    This is asking a hell of a lot I know.

    Maybe it will at least give you inspiration for something else…

    PS: I enjoyed Jamestown, if we think of recent oldschool shmup, but it’s not that fun being so linear. And short.
    Tyrian wasn’t short! And re-playability was insane!

  2. Argh! Jonas, I’m so embarrassed. But I think I fixed it. Was it in the first sentence, where I attempted to use your name in the possessive form? Let me know if you still see any remaining errors.

  3. Don’t be embarrassed, it happens all the time. I have a sense of humour about it. (One magazine consistently printed my name as Kryratzes – the journalist got it right, but his editor decided to change it.)

  4. It has been a victory then! Hooray, hooray!

    Seriously though, isn’t it wonderful that everybody seems to love Traitor? Especially writers like Alex, Adam and Cassandra?

    Congratulations Jonas!

  5. vanlock

     /  March 24, 2012

    I loved The Infinite Ocean even more, I played it this morning.

  6. Sean Penn's Notable Performance (which one? I mean, come on!)

     /  March 26, 2012

    I don’t read review for movies, so I definitely don’t read reviews for games, and that without saying short, free games. But I’m really glad you’re getting good reception. As for me, I’ve been playing it, and sorry, it didn’t surprise me at all. What can I say? It just didn’t.

    I already knew it would be an INCREDIBLY FUCKING AWESOME game! Yeah, in that voice. “Get your SUPER BIG-ASS NACHOS here!”. In its simplicity and non articulated sort of way, it still expresses what it needs to express. It’s injected with, you know, people being sort of naive, nice and funny, and subversive and that fuck-you-big-guy-with-the-gun kinda thing. And that, I’m thinking, can’t be a bad thing.

    Gameplay-wise, had minor bug: when I called support -type 4- when they pulled away the game freezed. The savegame wasn’t or anything -that happened to me with Phenomenon 32, which I was enjoying very much, in a pretty advanced stage, and I haven’t touched it since; no, here I just had to play that level again. Checked it a couple times, and it happened every time. I’m playing it on a standalone Flash Player, not from a web browser. The bug is avoidable by very simple means, just don’t call that support type, so I can keep playing at ease (yay!).

    Ok, so, congrats on the good reception, and obviously, thank you for keep doing what you do! That would be all. Dismissed!

  7. Kathy

     /  March 27, 2012

    I have just finished Traitor and I really enjoyed it! Great job!

  8. I’m about to fall heavily asleep, but I wanted to add another thumbs up. Thank you very much for placing actual flesh around the well-gnawed bones of the shmup. You’ve helped to delay yet another Botaram entry! (As if I needed any help.)