Many of the users on this site likely recognize Nick Puleo as our former managing editor/Co-Optimus founder. A few may also recognize him as one of the two gentlemen, the other being Dave Paul, behind Brain Shape Games. This month in Indie-Ana Co-Op, Nick and Dave give breakdown for us how they went about developing the co-op for SCHAR: Blue Shield Alliance, which recently saw its Steam debut.
Video games have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. The high I get from playing a great game is only rivaled by the high I get from creating something. So it’s no surprise that I combined those two passions into game development. When I was 11 years old I started creating text adventure games in QBasic and shortly after started developing twin stick shooters in Visual Basic. But I was never alone on that journey, whatever content I created as a kid I created with my friend Dave. I’ve lost count of how many comics, movies, video games, and other media we created together, and it wouldn’t shock anyone that knows us that 25 years later we legitimized our childhood hobby and released a “real” game to the public.
SCHAR: Blue Shield Alliance was our first attempt to try the whole game development thing for real. It seemed like the perfect time now as Indie games legitimized themselves in our industry as great values for your dollar and a passion filled product. When I started Co-Optimus in 2008, I did so because of the co-op experiences I had playing games with Dave, marathon sessions of Gears of War in co-op reminded me of the days of Streets of Rage and Golden Axe on the Sega Genesis. I knew this was a genre of gaming that had a following and needed a community.
When we scoped out BSA I knew I had to put my love for cooperative gaming in it. Over the years I’ve learned a few things on Co-Optimus as to just what makes a good co-op game.
- Everyone needs to have an equal role in the story or gameplay experience
- The abilities of each player or character should complement each other, so one character’s deficiency can be overcome by another player’s strength
- All players should be rewarded equally for their success
- Players should be able to help other players when they fail, overcoming disproportionate odds to have a greater feeling of success
- The game needs to have those “silly fun” moments that make a great story later
We initially released SCHAR: Blue Shield Alliance on Xbox Live Indie Games and PC in 2012. It never took off like I had hoped. We had poured countless hours of lives over nine months all while working day jobs. This was our game and every jab at its quality or shortcoming stung deeply. I poured a lot of my own money into the game as well but things looked quite grim as to whether or not I’d even make it back. The indie scene had become crowded and muddied and we struggled to get noticed.