Tuesday afternoon, we were able to sit down with an independent developer from Toronto named Jonathan Mak who let us play one of the most intriguing games we've seen in a long time. The game, Everyday Shooter, is a beautiful fusion of art, gaming and relaxing audio that won all three Independent Game Developer Awards for which it was nominated.
The game has eight “levels”, but as we were playing it, we came to agree with Jon who described them as “tracks” that are part of an “album”. He explained how the game is more like experiencing music. I describe it as codified relaxation.
Everyday Shooter plays something like Blastfactor, however it has a far more laid back feel. You don't feel like the game is attacking you, and even as you dodge between different flying dangers, there is a definite air of relaxation that you feel.
You play the game as a pixel, and you move and fire in order to not get hit by the flying objects that travel around the screen. Jon's website describes the game's premise as, “what if God made you a pixel, and the music in your head wouldn't go away?”
As you play through each level, the music track continues, and with every enemy that you destroy, a note or a riff will play. “It's like there's a jam session playing music, but then you can jam while you're playing the game,” Jon describes. The music, which was all electric guitar, was so relaxing and well done, that we felt compelled to ask who composed the music. Jon replied, “I did”. He went on to tell us that “everything is done by me - except the font”.
The games mechanics are based around chaining your shots as opposed to destroying all the enemies on screen. “There's actually a lot of replay in this chaining system,” Jon explained. Every level has a different trick to it that you use to chain your shots and make the level easier to beat.
The art style is similar but unique on every single track. The graphics are reminiscent of cell shading techniques, but it has a visual appeal that is quite unique. Jon said that he used nothing but vector graphics on the game, and he created several impressive visual effects that you can purchase with the points you earn inside the game.
Jon also talked about the game's prospects as a network game, particularly as a Playstation Network game. Extra “levels”, which he described more as albums, (and we completely agree), might be able to be offered through online distribution sources. He said that people will also be able to download and customize the background visualizer.
Jon said that he has shown the game to Sony and they liked it, however he has not found a publisher yet, and so it is currently unclear if this would end up being on the Playstation Network and/or a PSN exclusive in the online area. He said that he felt it appealed most as a portable and a network game, and that although he likes the Playstation Network, it would depend on the publisher and the contract they offered. We feel Sony would be foolish to not pick this game up.
As an independent game, it's simply spectacular, and it does a lot of the things that most games in the industry miss. Be sure to take a serious look at this game when it comes out, and you can check out Jon's other work by visiting his website.