Novastrike invades PSN this week

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Hi there. I’m Kevin McCann, director of development at Tiki Games in (mostly) sunny San Diego. I’ll go ahead and start off with some undeniably fascinating information about me:

  • Favorite Game Genre: 1st person shooters
  • Favorite Game of all time: DOOM (the original – for me it was just the most ground-breaking title I ever played)
  • Favorite Movie: Jaws
  • Least known game that I worked on: Tanarus (as lead designer)
  • Game you may know of that I worked on: PlanetSide (as lead designer)

And now that you know everything about me (and okay, maybe it wasn’t all that fascinating), I’ll move onto the better news. We just received word that our first game – NOVASTRIKE for the PLAYSTATION 3 – has been approved for release on PSN this upcoming June 5th. So I figure this is as good a time as any to make an appearance on PlayStation.Blog (thanks to the courteous folks at PlayStation.Blog).

NOVASTRIKE is going to be the first self-published game available on PSN so we’re pretty pleased with that. I’d also like to thank SCEA for all their assistance in making that possible. For you gamers that might understandably not mean much, but for any independent developers that are currently developing a title for PSN or thinking about doing it – we’re proof that you can self-publish a game on PSN.

I suppose I should probably give a little overview of the game now. NOVASTRIKE is a free-roaming top-down arcade shooter where you’re flying an advanced fighter and combating the Draelus invasion. Yes, aliens are pretty single-minded in that regard. Airborne enemies consist of fighters, aces, kamikazes, bombers and capital ships, and you’ll also need to deal with enemy ground installations.

Fortunately the ship you’re flying – the Scythe – can acquire and upgrade weapons over time. And there are nine weapons total, each with three additional upgrade states, to aid you in sending the Draelus to the great beyond.

I know that’s a pretty short description, but I just want to start off by briefly introducing myself and the game for now. Feel free to read more details on the game at our website, and I’ll also be responding to questions here (NOVASTRIKE-related or otherwise).

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82 Comments

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  • Oops.. sorry for the double post.. didn’t think it took the first time as it didn’t update.

  • Sry to be a bit harsh but..
    yet another shoot em up for PSN?
    please sce/e/a/j try to bring more variation for psn titles, I mean it great to have many choises but there are what? nearly 10 shoot em ups for psn.

    we want more like pixel junk monsters, toy home, pain or echocrome are great examples what ppl are expecting.

    points for the writer, for liking original DOOM games. Hell of a fun even today.
    still playing some remakes of that game.
    too bad doom3 screwd things up and no I can only hope doom4 fixes things.

    • First off, sorry for taking a bit longer to be expected to get on to start responding to things, but I just got back from a brief vacation and it took longer to get back to the office.

      Anyhow, I\’ll start here. Hi Viper7 – yeah, it\’s another top-down shooter, but like any genre there are multiple \”sub-genres\” and we tried to make sure NovaStrike wasn\’t an identical clone of an existing game (new or old). I certainly agree it\’s good to want all types of games (such as the games you cited), but there\’s a reason that certain genres like top-down shooters see a number of entries on the marketplace – players want these, too. :)

  • Wow. A top-down shooter.

    That’s something I’ve never seen on the PSN Store before…

    …Except for Blast Factor… aaand Everyday Shooter… and Stardust HD… and Nucleus…

    Come on SONY. What’s special about this?

  • Great week for PS3 (except the 2 executed titles, getaway & the other game)

    3 demos so far, Qore (MUST BUY!!), then Nova Strike, next week MGS4. I’m happy to have a PS3!

  • i want to know and this is importance online co op?
    any tropy support?
    any score board so we can see how our friend are doing?
    will there be a demo so i can try it out?
    And what does this game does to make itself diff from the other top side shooter out on the psn?
    One last thing it great that another indie developer made a game on the psn and i will always support indie developer will this be the last game from you guys or are u working on more games?
    please answer back and if u do i will thank you in advance for doing so.

    • Hi eric316. No multiplayer or trophy support, although we do plan on continuing to support NovaStrike and both these items are high priorities.

      There are leaderboards (broken down by difficulty level) and you can toggle between everyone and seeing your friends\’ scores (like other games that support leaderboards).

      As far as how NovaStrike differentiates itself from most other top-down shooters on the marketplace – probably the objective-driven gameplay. The environments are pretty large, and you\’re not on rails so you can go in any direction, but an objective is always present guiding you along. Some shooters in the past have certainly had objectives, but a number of recent shooters are very \”arena-based\” – often where the edge of the screen may be the boundary.

      We wanted to make the environments larger, and focus more on accomplishing objectives. It\’s not just staying alive along as possible while destroying enemies to rack up a high score. In some objectives you\’re not even the primary target of opponents, and are instead defending (whether it\’s a ground colony, transports, or a capital ship).

      I know that\’s not a terrifically detailed response, but our goal was to avoid creating a redundant shooter that some other developer already made.

      As far as working on other games – initially our focus is to continue to support NovaStrike. We do have another game that I\’m hoping to finish someday, and I\’m hoping NovaStrike makes that more feasible.

  • i miss the arcade shooters. will there also be a demo and online play?

  • This will be a nice addition to my shooter collection (currently comprised of everyday shooter & stardust hd)

  • Well, I guess there werent good PS Store updates earlier because they were saving it for this Thursday.

    Qore,Novastrike,Civ Revolution etc.

  • Nice, this looks like the hold style top down airplane style shooters.

  • Congrats
    I am a total sucker for independent games. I will totally buy it and support you. And juice to Sony for making it easy for you guys to make some games and hopefully some money.
    Buy the game everyone. We want more of this.

  • @JDPoZ
    Stop your whining and carry on. You ungrateful thing. Don’t like it don’t buy it. Show some appreciation and support to those private developers. Do you know how difficult to develops a game?I think this look like the old fashion shooter on the arcade once. Keep up with the good job
    Cheers

  • Another shooter? Probably will suck compared to Super Stardust HD.

  • SSD:HD is the pinnacle for the type of shooter it is. It was a classic on the Amiga and is a classic on on the PS3. Even though this upcoming game is a shooter it is still a different style than SSDHD. I for 1 will be picking this game up ASAP.

  • Hmm, Everyday Shooter wasn’t self-published? I thought it was done by one guy… I’d like to see custom soundtracks and some multiplayer options, yes, like Super Stardust HD. That game really has set the bar for all PSN/XBL shmup. Always great to see indie developers able to make it through content delivery systems such as this, XNA, and Steam!

    • Everyday Shooter was self-developed – hats off to Jonathan Mak for that. But on PSN it was published by Sony (as you see in the initial splash screen).

  • I’m definitely buying it as I am a huge fan of shooters like 1941,1943 and all that stuff. Galaga etc…etc… This looks like “just another” thumb stick shooter for the ps3 and that’s bad but it looks better than 90% of the ones on there now and I have all the ones PSN has to offer so far, I’d hate to not include your game into my collection.

    So I’m pretty amped for tomorrow… even more so cause you’re bypassing that absurd “new” service Sony is wanting everyone to jump in on and putting it directly up on the PSN. Thanks for that!!

  • wow, this looks awesome! I wonder the coop is up to what? 2-3-4 players?

  • could careless bout this game:).

  • looks nice…keep it up!!

  • More PSN games is never a bad thing. Awesome work Kevin.

    … But I’m dying for more offline multiplayer titles….

  • Hello Kevin I can’t wait to see what is next for you and your team. May be revist a past PSP game. I can’t wait to finally be able to play NOVASTRIKE because NOVASTRIKE looks great.

    • Hey Joe, how are you doing? Part of what\’s next is continuing to support NovaStrike.

      But yes, I very much want to finish the other game you mentioned.

  • The game looks excellent! I’ll be getting it!

  • i would like to know how many levels there are and what different kind of environments the game has.

    • Hi ky181.

      There are seven stages, but they\’re pretty large. Environment-wise it goes across four planets, the first being more temperate-themed environments, then desert, then arctic, then – yes, volcanic. Hey, it\’s a shooter – you need lava or your game doesn\’t get street-cred. :)

      The game also has three difficulty levels. The first (RECRUIT) is actually recommended to get used to the gameplay and weapon systems. SOLDIER is the middle-ground, but can be pretty tough at first. VETERAN is the hardest, and something I wouldn\’t say anyone should start off trying, as it\’s the most unforgiving.

      We even have a short tutorial (accessible from the Main Menu, but 100% optional) that covers objectives, weapon acquisition and upgrades, the ship\’s armor and shield, and so forth. But again, if folks get the hang of the game right away then they don\’t have to go through the Tutorial. It\’s just there for players that might have a tough time starting out.

  • Kevin –

    Congrats to you and Tiki Games for bringing the first self-published title to the PSN. Well done!

    • Thanks. Hopefully it\’s not too much longer until other self-published games make it onto PSN.

  • This game will be different than the other shooters and will have it’s own place on PSN…

    “Hi Kevin. Thanks for spending the time to chat with us today.
    Let’s start with Novastrike. We’re all familiar with shooters like Super Stardust and Everyday Shooter – what sets Novastrike apart from the current PSN titles?

    Just like the games you mentioned NOVASTRIKE is its own sub-genre in the already fairly crowded top-down shooter marketplace so if you’re developing a top-down shooter nowadays you need to make sure it’s different enough from the competition while still retaining the core shooter action appeal. I feel NOVASTRIKE has a lot of parts that as a whole make it work well. One of those selling points is that the maps are pretty large. And while the game is free-roaming there are always objectives guiding you. The objectives help set the game apart from current top-down shooters – there’s always a goal, and that goal isn’t just “stay alive as long as possible while killing as many enemies to rack up a high score.”

    So it’s more mission based?

    Yes. NOVASTRIKE is spread across seven stages and a stage can take around 15 minutes to complete provided the player isn’t dying a lot and restarting stages. This timeframe is also a bit variable as some objectives give you more freedom in accomplishing them (like destroying an enemy base isn’t generally timed). Another thing that’s a bit different is that enemies aren’t generally one-shot kills. Bombers take multiple hits to shoot down, and enemy fighters will also take a certain amount of damage before going down. In general the larger the enemy the more hits they take before dying. And while you’re shooting an enemy you’ll see the enemy ship start to catch on fire – so you’ll have an idea which enemies are damaged versus the healthy ones – but it’s typically not a “one shot equals one kill” game.”

  • Could someone get into a bit more about what “self-published” means?

    Oh btw, the game looks awesome. I don’t really like the two stick controlled “shooters” but the game looks pretty sick so I might have a look.

    • Hi barom. Self-published means that we both developed and published our game. A lot of games that are developed as downloadable titles may be developed by a studio similar to Tiki Games, but end up being published by a larger existing publisher. There are advantages and disadvantages to that. In some cases it\’s unfortunate for the developer because they end up using all of their resources on finishing the game, but can\’t self-publish it, so they need a publisher to get it out (which means the developer ends up getting a lot less of the revenue). But in other casees it can be good – it can mean a lot more marketing exposure and so forth. That said, it is important for developers that want to self-publish a title to know that it\’s a viable avenue. And honestly, I know this sounds a bit off a kiss-up to Sony, but when it comes to consoles I do feel that Sony offers the best route for an independent developer to be able to self-publish a game.

  • Free-roaming? I think I’m gonna like this :)

  • The game looks nice. I might have to pick it up eventually when I have time away from some of the other games I play. I have a couple questions. Is there going to be custom soundtrack support in the game? If not, is that something planned down the road?

  • Hi Kevin,

    Does every independent developer have to pay the full price of the PS3 development kit to make a PSN game? It’s a high barrier of entry, and I’m curious to know whether Jonathon Mak (maker of Everyday Shooter) had to pay for a dev kit or if Sony foots the bill if they think a prototype has potential.

    Thanks.

    BTW, I especially like the water effects from the video.

    • Since Everyday Shooter was published by Sony he probably received it as part of the deal.

      But to answer your other question – yeah, expect to pay the full price of the PS3 development kit.

      Part of it depends on the route you want to take. In our case we chose to be self-published because honestly we\’ve racked up a larger budget than originally anticipated (and part of this was due to an earlier game we had to put on hiatus). So being self-published gets us the best revenue potential while also risking the most financially if it does poorly over time.

      Do you want your game to be self-published (which means you incur greater financial risk and cost), or do you just want to develop the title and have a publisher release it?

      As I touched on earlier in another response there are real advantages to have a publisher release your game. Sure, the immediate disadvantage is that you probably won\’t own the IP if they fully fund it, and you\’ll get less return, but at the same time they\’ll be able to market it a heck of a lot better for starters. And you don\’t incur financial risk to your own studio.

      For NovaStrike there were a number of factors that led me to choosing self-published. And it wasn\’t to be the first – my account manager was actually the one to let me know that. But in the future we\’re certainly open to being published for other games.

      And if you do just want to develop your game then have it published by an existing publisher I highly recommend trying to do a prototype on the PC. If you don\’t already have a PS3 Development Kit (or whatever you\’re targeting) make the prototype on a PC and then approach the respective publisher with it and just make sure they know \”yeah, this on the PC, but we\’re targeting a downloadable PS3 game on PSN!\”

      Hope this answers your question.

  • @ Kevin McCann
    Just a few questions
    1) Does it run at 1080p?
    2) Will it support custom sound tracks like StardustHD?
    (I’m not entirely sure how FW 2.40 is going to work with the sound track thing so this might be a dumb question)
    3) Could you give some examples of the objective-based gameplay? Like is it fly in and blow everything up, or protect a convoy, or rescue P.O.W.s or what?

    • Hi crystalx3d –

      1. No, we don\’t support 1080p – sorry. 720p is the recommended resolution.
      2. By default it doesn\’t support custom sound tracks (like Super Stardust HD).
      3. Sure. There are a number of fairly straightforward Destroy enemy base or defend human base, and subset objectives (destroying or defend certain structures), as well as destroying capital ships, escorting friendly transports, and the like. Everything is based around destruction (to state the obvious), but the objectives really do help establish some variety. For example, attacking an enemy base makes you the center of attention, and you need to focus on surviving both aerial opponents and ground batteries while destroying the base, while escorting friendly transports you become the secondary target for enemies – this makes it less likely for you to die during this type of objective, but at the same time you need to be aggressive in taking down enemies before too many pile-up. You may even find yourself purposely colliding with a kamikaze or enemy heavy rocket to protect a shuttle (provided your ship has enough shielding and armor to survive the impact).

  • Hey Kevin,
    First, the game looks great! I do hope to see some multiplayer at some point in the future though.

    I would like to know more about how you found the process for putting a game out on the psn. Any info you can give on how much it costs to get a game through the process would be nice. Does your development team have a website where people can ask about more information without breaking any rules of the blog?

    • Hi Bus. I\’m asking Sony what kind of info I can provide here without violating any NDAs and such. I\’ll get back to you soon.

      I do want to be able provide some help for interested developers that are looking to make a title for PSN.

  • thanks you kevin please don’t back out of the psn i hate when indie developer back out of a system i picked as my main system of play.also i have 1 2 last thing to ask sorry if im bugging you one thing is it OK if i buy it next week i can’t buy it this week im a huge supporter of indie.also can u add me to ur psn buddy list i would like to try and top ur score in nova.
    psn id erico316ecw
    let me know if u can.

    • Well, I certainly don\’t plan on backing out of PSN – especially with our first game coming out just about now. :)

      We\’re hoping things work out so we can continue to optimize our engine for the PS3 (and possibly finish another project we have in development). If we can stick to PlayStation development that\’s fine with us.

  • I’m curious what kind of support you are planning. I read that the game does not support multi player right now; I’m guessing it will come in the future. If multiplay does come, will it be a free add on? It’s a big buying decision for me.

  • I always support small companys so you got my 9.99!

    Also, make sure when that demo hits it has the option to buy the full game from it, this option helps alot (thats how I got Pixel Junk Monsters)

  • Hey, great job on getting the game out there. It looks interesting, all I’ll give it a download.

    I’m glad to hear that you guys are planning on adding features (hopefully without milking wallets too much) and supporting the game heavily post release. It’s understandable that with limited resources not everything can be added on, but I find the idea of competitive and cooperative multiplayer very exciting. Even a four player local competitive multiplayer with item drops, kill counts, etc would be a real blast to play and nicely fill that ‘casual party game’ niche that remains relatively vacant on the PS3.

    Also, I was wondering if there is some kind of survival mode planned for the game? From the sound of your mission objectives, it could be possible to simply have a never-ending stream of procedural objectives and enemies to kill until you finally blow up. That’d be great fun.

    Again, looking forward to playing the game, and I look forward to more PSN/PSP/PS3 games to come from your studio.

    • The first update (which I can\’t go into details on the specific contents just yet – sorry) will be free.

      A survival-type mode you mentioned isn\’t available in the first release, but the approach you mentioned would be the most likely (as the game doesn\’t really suit itself to straight out \”survive until you die\” gameplay – but a mode such as you suggested would work better). It\’s definitely something I\’d like to add to provide additional replayability beyond the Campaign mode.

      Honestly, the sales of the game will determine the scale of updates we can provide in the future. We definitely will update the game, and if it\’s doing well it will allow us to add more features. That\’s just the truth.

      We want to evolve and improve the game over time, and while I won\’t rule out eventual expansion packs that do cost, I don\’t want to charge for anything unless it adds a lot of content.

      And don\’t worry – we\’re not holding back a content pack that we\’re going to release and charge for a couple months from now – our initial follow-up is working on the update.

  • Hey guys, congrats on the independent publishing that’s awesome.
    The game looks a lot like a free-roaming version of Super Stardust HD, which is one of my favorite games on the PSN. From the game play footage I assume it will control in a similar fashion (left stick controls movement, right stick controls shooting direction?)
    As long as the campaign is a decent length,and at 9.99, you’ve sold me. Thanks for your effort and good luck in the future.

    • The left analog does control the direction of the ship, but keep in mind the ship actually has a turning speed – it\’s not instant where you fly north then pull the stick down and you\’re instantly flying south. The ship is agile and turns fast, but again it won\’t be instant.

      Most of the weapons are actually forward-firing, as well as a few weapons that aren\’t (electro-mines are \”laid\” behind the ship, and the beam weapon strikes a nearby enemy 360 degrees around the ship). The Omni Cannon is actually controlled by the right analog, and does shoot automatically when pushed in the direction to fire (like Super Stardust). However, this is much more of a backup weapon (as well as a good combination weapon).

      There are basically three weapon groups: Primary (right trigger), Secondary (left trigger), and tertiary (the right analog). Four primaries, four secondaries, and one tertiary (the omni cannon).

      So you do need to charge most enemies to shoot them down with the vulcan cannon or other direct fire weapons, but you also have some seeking weapons are your disposal where you can get the enemies in front of the ship, and fire and forget.

  • TheSlayerIsBack

    seems nice but when are the good zombie blasting games going to come, I’m pretty tired of shooter about the army and war, when are the zombie games coming!!!

    • Umm, what if I told you that the invading Draelus armada was composed of alien zombies? Would that work? :)

  • Very nice! Reminds me of a game I loved playing on my C64 as a child, Raid on Bungeling Bay. Can’t wait to try it out. =)

  • I’d REALLY like a demo, I know you guys probably won’t have one tommorow, try to get one out eventually though. I’ll probably end up buying it anyway though. -_- It’s 10 bucks

  • Forbidden_Darkness

    Damn, this week is going to be awesome, we have the Civilization demo, the Battlefield demo, Novestrike, Qore and more. Thanks Tiki Games for making a game for PSN.

    By the way, is this also being made for the xbox 360?

    • No, we\’re not currently developing NovaStrike for XBLA. Nor do we have any immediate plans to do so. Our first plan of order is to support NovaStrike on PSN. If we can do well enough to stick with the PlayStation family then we\’d like to do that – it\’s much easier from a development standpoint, we can have a smaller team, and we really like developing for the PS3 (and the PSP for that matter).

  • HI. Just wanted to say that game looks really cool and Congrats for self publishing this game. However i really wanted to ask you guys is that How supportive Sony was and how hard Ps3 is for programming?

    • Sony was pretty good for support. If I say anything else they threatened to immediately remove NovaStrike from PSN, firebomb my studio, and kick my dog. No, they didn\’t. :)

      But seriously, we were pleased with the overall level of support from Sony; they were particularly helpful toward the end as we were finishing the product.

      As for the PS3 – yeah, it presented challenges. Fortunately I have an extremely solid lead programmer that\’s worked on most major consoles in the past, and his background experience combined with overall aptitude really gave us the engineering backbone to make it feasible to do NovaStrike on the PS3.

  • Very interesting this self-publishing thing. I’ll be checking the responses where you said you’re gonna check with Sony. So please do.

    I was also wondering. Could you tell us a bit about Tiki Games. How did it get started? How many are you? Have you guys made any other games? And/or how much time did you spend making the Novastrike (a year?).

    Most probably don’t care about these stuff but I find it quite interesting so please answer if you can.

    • Hello again, barom.

      Tiki Games actually started at the beginning of 2006. And yes, it\’s now two and a half years and we\’re releasing our first game – but this wasn\’t the original game we were developing.

      We actually began work on NovaStrike a little over a year ago – but twelve months is about right for its primary development schedule. Longer than intended (which always seems to be the case in game development, even when \”you get to do it your way!\”).

      We had some help from an external studio for some art, but the majority of work was actually my lead programmer, art director, and me. We also had another programmer that worked some on tools.

      As for the game we were developing prior to NovaStrike that was a game called Galaxy\’s End – a real-time strategy game for the PSP. Personally I\’d still love to finish Galaxy\’s End, but to do it right (full single-player campaign, skirmish mode, and multiplayer) will take some time. But for the time being it\’s unfortunately on hiatus, and I want to make sure NovaStrike is properly supported. But if an opportunity to finish Galaxy\’s End eventually presents itself you can bet I\’ll take it.

  • “Anyhow, I’ll start here. Hi Viper7 – yeah, it’s another top-down shooter, but like any genre there are multiple “sub-genres” and we tried to make sure NovaStrike wasn’t an identical clone of an existing game (new or old). I certainly agree it’s good to want all types of games (such as the games you cited), but there’s a reason that certain genres like top-down shooters see a number of entries on the marketplace – players want these, too.”

    Well hopefully this one differs enough. Any trial version (free demo) of this coming too?
    it would be nice to give the game a try :)

  • Thanks for answering my questions Kevin. It is exciting for me to see indie developers surface as I honestly feel it’s you folks who have the greatest passion for creating games.

    It’s strange but I’m more excited now for the game after all the replys. I wished there was more videos or something that could show me some more. But don’t worry, I’ll definitately be looking into it. The gameplay sound very much to my liking (I don’t like the usual two-stick controls).

    I just have one last question. Does the game support rumble?

    • Yes, NovaStrike supports rumble (certain weapons have more pronounced rumble effects, nearby explosions, and taking damage – the latter being helpful to aid you in knowing you\’re being hit).

  • I hope the PAL release won’t take very long as we’ve seen many titles to come months later after US.

    • I understand and apologize that we couldn\’t have a concurrent release. But Europea is an understandably very high priority for us.

  • I’d like to reiterate here and tell people to buy this game today and show Sony how important “new” content is to us who own a Ps3. This game looks amazing and it literally hit me out of left field as I knew nothing about it until yesterday when I started doing some checking up.

    I encourage everyone to buy this and enjoy it cause games like this don’t hit the PsN often and Sony would be wise to invest in more talent like Tiki.

    You got my money for damn sure, Kevin & I don’t need a demo. I bought Loco Roco, Go sking, Go sky diving & countless other Cat squirts on the PSN so far. (midway classics anyone?) I’m owed a great game like yours!

  • Game looks good. Hope you guys do well with it and it gets a lot of support from the PS community.

    “Hi Fersis. I’ve responded to a later post, but basically I’ve sent Sony an email to find out what I can do to help provide info without violating any NDAs. I’ll try to give more info later this week if possible.”

    Did it ever occur to Sony to post this kind of information on the blog? Or somewhere easily accessible? PS3 owners are crying out for content and Sony should be encouraging more small indie developers to submit stuff to the PSN. Once again, Sony lag behind and fail.

  • Thanks Kevin for taking the time for all the answers.
    I hope that the Sony PR Ninjas let you say some information about the process of getting a indied game on the PSN.
    This could be a MAJOR selling point for the PS3.

  • Looks great, I like the “freeroam” aspect, unlike either just bottom to top or left to right these kind of games get. Quite intriguing.

  • @96 Kenshin001
    Yeah, if SONY starts to make some kind of program to allow indie developers to put their game on the PSN, it will be huge, and i mean godzilla size HUGE !

    The GREAT trouble is the cost of the PS3 devkit.(and multi treading programming is not so easy as you may think)
    Also ,running a game over the PS3 OS is risky, so they must have some technical requirments and stuff. (Wich is normal when you develop on another platform that PC).

    I would love that Kevin got autorization to talk about these kind of stuff.
    Cheers

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